Beach Code Named Juno, 11.00hrs, D-Day.
After pushing off the beach, past the engineer's frantic activity, and the bustle of the unloading, C Squadron of the Sherbrooke Fusiliers pushed up at the request of an infantry company ahead of us. They'd been hit hard on the beaches themselves, and were down to nearly a platoon's worth of men. It seems that military intelligence was about as good as the bombardment that was supposed to clear the beach of defenders, because they'd run into a company of Jerry tanks. We'd been called up to clear them out, and keep the push going.
11.10hrs: I had sent one troop of Shermans ahead as a rapid assist force, and was bringing two other troops, and a unit of Achilles that were working their way up the beach. My final Sherman troop had been requested elsewhere, so we'd be fighting for the next few hours with only three troops. The commander of the tanks I sent ahead radioed back that they had encountered incredibly heavy fire, and that they were stopped in a field of crops. He also radioed back confirmation that we were facing StuGs. I got there with my 2iC shortly after, with the rest of my squadron hopefully just behind me, though having only a one-tank-wide gap off the shingle was making for slow progress.
11.15hrs: Well, he was right that we were up against StuGs: An entire company of the damn things, with a couple of bizarre, bus-sized vehicles with eight wheels. The tanks were all in a line not 100m away from me, but had yet to find me. I was less lucky with the 8-wheelers. They zipped up the road, and had barely popped into view around the hedge I was up against when they backed off before Cpl. "lucky" Leckie could swing the gun around. In a way I suspect this was for the best: I did not want to draw the attention of the StuGs before I had a decent force to hand.
I needn't have worried; they must've spotted some movement in the cornfield where my tanks were hiding, as they opened fire. All the shots seemed to drop short, and I realized they were trying to target the FOO we had with us.
11.20hrs: Still no sight of the rest of my Squadron. The FOO took his revenge on the StuGs, calling in fire from our artillery. He reported with some nervousness that the German fire was as yet
ineffective, but that he'd seen a burst of short-range artillery from
the SPs hit and destroy a tank ahead. My troop, assuming the Jerrys were shooting at them, opened fire on the biggest targets they could see, which annoyingly for me was the lesser threat of the 8-wheelers. I couldn't see any damage.
11.25hrs: It appears one of the StuG platoons is creeping through a forest ahead of me. I radio what I can see to the first troop in the cornfields, as shots fly around them, that if they're not careful they'll be surrrounded. The orders must not have gotten through fast enough, as two of the troop continued to fire at the 8-wheelers, while the other two opened fire at the StuGs. At least this time the ones firing at the 8-wheelers manage to take one out, and the ones firing at the StuGs do manage to brew up another.
11.30hrs: The FOO took a hit as I was attempting to warn him of the oncoming StuGs in the forest. I don't know if it was just the radio that was damaged, or if he's dead. I will try to find them after we deal with these bastards. The Firefly from Troop I managed to sight through the hedge bordering the wheatfield, and opened fire on the StuGs in the forest. The rest traded fire with the StuGs hunkered behind a stone wall ahead of them. So far, it seems the cornfield has been just as shell-proof for my tanks as that wall has been for them! Here's hoping that luck holds out.
11.35hrs: I receive frantic radio reports that the platoon of StuGs are breaking out of the forest, along with assurances that my second Troop is approaching. They can now hear the combat, and I've directed them around to the East, hoping they can flank these accursed tanks. It appears our luck is running out, as one of my Shermans takes a hit, and I see a number of figures pile out. I don't have time to count them, but I pray all five made it out safely. Behind me comes a great rumbling of the SP artillery opening fire again; it seems they too have noticed the loss of the FOO, and have decided to move up into view and open fire more directly. I can see their shells landing, and two more StuGs light up. I must remember to get them a round of drinks when we're able to sit.
11.38hrs: Holy Lord be praised, the second Troop just showed up, perfectly to the East of the StuGs! Concentrated fire from a full troop of Shermans and a Firefly seems to make light work of the StuG's side armour. I must report this to command, they'll want to know how to get rid of these things. Most of their tanks that were trying to sneak around are now burning or entirely wrecked, and the rest of the StuGs seem to be pulling back.
So that's the Infantry that owe us a drink, and us that owe the SP boys a drink. I managed to find the FOO, injured but alive, though his radio is a smoking wreck. We lost a few men caught in the Sherman, but made the Jerrys pay for each of them. I hate to write the letters home, but I'll be able to say they died fighting, and well.
[Mission was Pincer, Canadians defending, ended with a 6-1 after 4 turns. Sorry for no images this time, I didn't remember to bring my camera. Next time I promise!]