Company HQ's Varaville D-Day Game

Company HQ

Company HQ Varaville After-Action Report
A historical game marking the 71st anniversary of D-Day

Company HQ is a Historical Miniatures Gaming Club and Community based out of Montreal, Canada. Our main focus is to share our passion for both World War 2 and Flames of War, with all those interested in ether subject.

For the 71st anniversary of the Normandy landings, Company HQ teamed up with JacHOBBY and hosted a Flames Of War commemorative game. The Scenario was designed to reflect the actions of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion - more specifically C Company commanded by Major H.M. (Murray) MacLeod, who was tasked with three mission objectives: destroy the enemy headquarters; destroy the radio station at Varaville; and blow the bridge over the Divette Stream in Varaville. 

Varaville Briefing

As a historical scenario, we did play around with with the core lists from the Overlord and Atlantik Wall books, to give more of a historical feel for the actual forces involved. We also set up an 8’ by 4’ table which was laid out from actual geographical references circa 1944.

Company HQ - Varaville AAR
Right: The town of Varaville before the Canadian Para assault to take the bridge and radar station.
Company HQ - Varaville AAR The Canadian Paras of C coy had a total of 720 points: three Parachute platoons, Company HQ with supporting PIAT teams and one ad-hoc 2” mortar platoon, given an observer team as well as indirect bombardment with a max distance of 24”. Allied players Malcom and Ernst had a variety of special rules to call on: Gammon bombs, Assault troops, Woodsmen, and a rating of Fearless Veteran.
Left: Canadian paratroopers prepare their assault on Varaville.
Atlantik Wall

The Axis forces historically available were units of the 716. Infanteriedivision,  represented on the tabletop by Three Füsilier Platoons from the 3rd Company of the 736th Infantry Regiment and one Ost Grenadier Platoon from the 4th Company of the 642. Ost Bataillon. The Axis were also supported by Two Pak40s and three HMG teams. The Pak40s were deployed as independent teams and the HMGs were attached one team per platoon. The Axis were played tactically by event co organizer Guillaume, who had troops rated as Confident Trained and one platoon as Reluctant Trained. Total Axis points were approximately 685. 

Initial game deployment saw the Axis starting in prepared position covering all three objectives, with the Ost Grenadier Platoon out patrolling the eastern farmhouse just on the outskirts of Varaville. The Canadian paras, finally rallying after being scattered across the Normandy countryside, came in on the eastern edge of the table 16” in.

The first few turns saw the Paras moving in quickly and silently, only being able to move at standard speed since the opening turns were being played as nighttime and double time was not available. The Dawn rule took effect on the Defending player’s third turn on a roll of 5+. (the Axis also had one Fusilier Platoon in reserve, which came in at dawn). 

Company HQ - Varaville AAR
First contact was when the paras came within firing distance of the leading Ost Grenadier Platoon at the farm house. Dice were rolled, nighttime line of sight established and a heavy firefight ensued. It was  only broken up when the paras got within assaulting distance and finally pushed back the Ost grenadiers. The grenadiers did quickly rally and counterattack, but quickly broke again and continued to fall back until finally being destroyed.

With one Axis platoon down, both Allied players Malcom and Ernst picked up the pace and moved forward towards the objectives. Ernst’s platoon, moving along the southern edge of the table, made its way to the radio tower, while Malcom’s platoons got involved in some more hand-to-hand combat as he worked his way towards the Axis Company HQ located in the centre of town.

Company HQ - Varaville AAR
Right: Germans in the town square, having heard the firefight in the outskirts of town, prepare their defence.

By this point in the engagement the defender, Guillaume, had rolled for sunrise, which also meant that he was getting reinforcements coming in on the bridge across the bridge on the Divette. As Malcom’s para platoons were trying to force their way into Varaville, the Axis reserves rushed south towards where Ernst’s platoons were well on their way to capturing one of the three objectives: The radio tower!

The Allies quickly knocked out a Pak40 with a PIAT! After clearing out the Axis defenders around the radio tower, the allies went in for the capture, only to be cut down by MG42s as they tried to stay within range of the objective. Axis reserves made it the radio tower, only to also get torn up, leaving only two Axis platoons within range of the objective, putting it up for contention for the rest of the game. 

Company HQ - Varaville AAR Left: Pak 40 defending the radar station.
The only real hope left was for the one remaining Allied platoon to flank north around the church, in hopes of avoiding more close combat within the village, and blowing the bridge. As the Paras flanked north, they ran into the second Pak40, which was supported by the only remaining Fusilier Platoon. The Axis quickly assembled and counterattacked the assaulting Paras. Fighting raged until the overwhelming strength and determination of the Canadian soldiers broke the German defenders.

The Paras did eventually make it to the bridge… but it was too little, too late. And, with the final turn at hand, the Canadian Paras would not have an uncontested objective for one full turn (or in this case, they did not Blow the Bridge in time). With three Objectives on the table, the Axis forces claimed victory by stubbornly denying the Canadian Paras clear control of any of the objectives.

To sum things up, all players had a great time (understatement!) There was a lot of action for a smaller point game, and all the infantry teams deployed made for a lot of assaulting and firing.

This was the first of three historical games that Company HQ and JacHobby will be hosting. The next game “Bernières sur Mer” is scheduled for September 2015. Keep your eyes open, as we will be posting Game 2 details shortly, and are looking for new recruits!

Thanks, and see you on the battlefield! 

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Last Updated On Thursday, June 11, 2015 by James at Battlefront