About eight years ago, I was lucky enough to tour the Normandy invasion beaches and it was an incredible experience. Remnants from the war dotted the beaches along with various memorials and souvenir shops, etc. After visiting the Omaha landing site, I struck out on my own and decided to walk the length of the beaches to the east. I trudged along the shore through Gold and on to Juno. It took all day and you don’t really realize how crazy the whole affair must have been until you see for yourself just how much open ground there is between the water and the nearest berm or hill. As a Canadian, I’m quite proud of what our soldiers did and the enormity of what it said about us as people determined to do what is right in the face of so much wrong.
|Captured German soldiers marched off the beach by Canadians at Bernières sur Mer|
So it was with not just a little glee that I found the Juno Beach scenario called “NAN-White” in issue 10 of Lock ‘n Load’s “Line of Fire” magazine. This scenario is meant for LnL’s “Nations at War” system, which is a terrific platoon level war game based on the World at War series rules.
In “NAN-White”, the Canadians get two regiments, the Queens Own Rifles (represented by the 2/16) and the Canadian 10th Armored Regiment (the Fort Garry Horse). The Canadians need to take and hold the village of Bernières-sur-Mer (Saarbourg on map D) and move 4 units off the east edge (the upper part) of the map. The German 716th Infantry Division is defending the beach and trying to stop them.
|Canadian operations on D-Day.|
The Germans start off with lots of infantry in improved positions and some mines but luckily the Canadians get a minesweeper – the awesome Sherman Mine Flail tank.
|The Sherman Mine Flail tank.|
|German mines and bunkers at setup.|
Turn 1: The Canadians hit the beach and go straight for the German positions. There is no subtle maneuvering here. The Canadian infantry takes on fire from the Germans and several platoons are reduced or even wiped out completely as they near the enemy defensive positions. The 10th Armored Brigade enters and the Sherman flail tank tries to remove some of the mines to allow the Canadian infantry to advance. However, the Sherman tank hits an anti-tank mine and is disrupted. At this point, I thought I had made a serious mistake as the Canadian player.
|The Canadians hit the beach and head straight for the German bunkers.|
Turn 2: The Canadians hurl themselves at the German positions but are batted away effortlessly by heavy machine gun fire. Deadly mortar fire pummels the Canadian HQ and the infantry around it is pulverized.
The 10th Armored Regiment activates but the Sherman minesweeper is still disrupted. The Canadians are having trouble just getting on the beach and the tanks don’t seem to be doing their job very well. This is turning into a massacre.
|The Canadians take heavy casualties and the tanks get nowhere.|
Luckily, for the Canadians, any infantry that is destroyed gets to come on board the following turn to simulate more and more troops landing during the battle. Throwing away men like this is an ugly proposition but now that the Canadians are in this situation, it seems like brute force is the only way out.
Turn 3: The Canadian infantry is almost entirely eliminated by the German 716th. The Germans use their only fate point to eliminate the Canadian HQ. It’s turning into a real disaster.The only bright spot is the Sherman Mine Flail tank is back in action and starts clearing the mined route to Bernières.
|Things look grim for the Canucks. Sayonara HQ!|
Turn 4: The Sherman minesweeper gets moving again and finally starts to remove mines in two hexes. Now things seem to be rolling. The Canadians get a break by sneaking in landing units late in the turn, which make a bee-line for Bernières now that the mines are cleared. The Chaos marker gets pulled and the Canucks get another Fate Point to spend.
|3 Fate Points for the Canadians!|
Turn 5: If you apply enough pressure to a situation, crazy things start to happen. In this instance, the Canadian infantry nearest the German HQ churns out a small miracle by rolling extremely well for an assault, dislodging the German HQ and its men. The Germans pull back and the Canadians are now right in the center of the German positions, wreaking pure havoc.
|Queens Own Rifles infantry make a surprisingly successful assault on the German HQ.|
While the Germans are distracted, the rest of the Queen’s Own Rifles are advancing on Bernières.
Turn 6: The German commander knows he needs to pull his troops out of their positions and head for Bernières but with two Canadian platoons in a nearby bunker, the only choice is to take on this immediate danger before heading back to defend the town. The Germans adjacent to the two Canadian units assault their position but merely get bloody noses in the attempt.
Meanwhile, the 10th Armored Regiment moves up on a nearby hill and successfully destroys a German position with the help of some generous fate point spending. The Canadian infantry start to consolidate their hold on the town.
|Infantry starts to pour into Bernieres while the 10th Armored starts moving up.|
Turns 7 and 8: The Germans can’t seem to catch any breaks now but they’re going to try hard to get back to Bernières. The Germans use mortars and heavy machine guns to mercilessly eliminate a Canadian infantry platoon caught outside the city. The Canadians, meanwhile, start to exit units off the map. Both the flail tank and the Sherman platoon advance east and off the map edge. Halfway to victory.
Turn 9: Things are getting pretty serious now. The Canadians try to cover the approaches to Bernières with lots of infantry while two platoons march east off the map. The units are off and the Canadians just need to defend the town for one turn in order to win.
The Germans, however, have other plans. They start staging all of their infantry just shy of the hill crest near the town and prepare for a massive assault on the town. This is it. Turn 10 is their last chance.
|Germans prep for an all-out assault on Berniéres-sur-Mer.|
Turn 10: The Germans start sending units to assault the town and get some great rolls. One platoon takes the north part of Bernières while the other grimly makes its way into the south. The Queens Own Rifles activates and pushes a pair of infantry at the Germans, barely making their assault and clearing one of the German units out. Another Canadian infantry unit assaults a disrupted German infantry platoon to the north and recaptures the city. Bernières is held and the Canadians win.
|The Germans rush the town and try to hold it…|
|but the Canucks win it back.|
Conclusion: Great scenario! What makes it incredibly intense is the small fighting area available and the waves and waves of oncoming Allied soldiers. The additional fate point proved extremely useful for the Canadians as it actually helped to eliminate a German infantry unit that may have been enough to tilt the outcome the other way. I don’t think I realized just how close things were at certain times. The Canadians seemed to really be losing in the first few turns and the Germans seemed to have no hope in the last few turns. The successful Canadian assault on the German HQ around turn 5 seemed to really tilt things in the Canadian favor as it held up the German attempt to get back to Bernières and the Canadians basically waltzed right in to the city. If you like White Star Rising, you should definitely check out this scenario.