The 175th Infantry go to La Cambe

At 0530 on D+2, LT “Bucky” Buckner of the 175th Inf Rgt, 29th Inf Div, was feeling pretty pleased with himself. Overnight, his patrols had located an undefended route to a chateau which offered a commanding view of his objective, the outskirts of the village of La Cambe, and he’d managed to infiltrate a squad along with the platoon sergeant,  SSGT Agerholm, and his Mortar Fire Controller, SGT Gray, in there.

The battlefield, looking toward the US end of the table. (Mark Newman)

The battlefield, looking toward the US end of the table. (Photo: Mark Newman)

The Americans’ theft of the silverware did not go unnoticed, however. At his forward outpost, Lt. Gruber, a platoon commander with the 352nd Heer Division, roused his sleepy landsers, and a gruppe of infantry with an MG34 MMG in support laid down an impressive hail of lead.

The US troops in the chateau are feeling the heat. The chateau is Mark's lovely 28mm model from Sarissa Precision.

The US troops in the chateau are feeling the heat. The chateau is Mark’s lovely 28mm model from Sarissa Precision.

Although poor old PVT Kawolski (why is he always the first to go?) took a round through the head, casualties were fairly light thanks to the thick stone walls of the chateau.

As the fight developed Lt Buckner deployed his platoon in a classic inverted triangle with two squads forward on each flank and a reserve squad in the centre to the rear.

SSGT Agerholm rallied his boys and pretty soon they were giving pretty much as good as they were getting, since the Germans were only protected by twigs. From down the road came the roar of tank engines, and Discord, an M4 Sherman commanded by SGT “Randy” Randall, raced the road and then stopped abruptly.

Randy Randall and Discord enter the fray. (Photo: Mark Newman)

Randy Randall and Discord enter the fray. (Photo: Mark Newman)

Discord arrives on the US table edge. The Germans (right) are about to get what's coming to them. Note the US deployment in the chateau, behind the hedge at the top right, and a squad in reserve on the far right of the picture.

Discord arrives on the US table edge. The Germans (right) are about to get what’s coming to them. Note the US deployment in the chateau, behind the hedge at the top left, and a squad in reserve on the far left of the picture.

Randall went all Hollywood, took his shirt off, climbed out of the tank and began firing box after box of .50 cal ammunition at the German infantry behind the hedge.

Perhaps overawed by Randall’s physique, the Germans kept up their grudge match with the squad in the chateau rather than attempting to pick-off Randall. The crew of a PaK 40 became frustrated waiting for a target (the M4 stayed just out of sight) and began firing at an American squad behind some hedges they could see.

Meanwhile, happily ensconced in an upstairs boudoir in the chateau, SGT Gray the forward observer, pressed the talk button on his SCR 536 “Handie Talkie” and called down an aiming shot directly onto the MMG. Also feeling pretty pleased with himself that day, he requested “fire for effect” and the orchard disappeared in a cloud of mortar bombs.

What a few rounds of HE and .50 cal does.

What a few rounds of HE and .50 cal does.

LT Buckner headed over to rally the squad to his left behind the hedges, and decided that it was time to suppress the PaK that was giving his boys a pasting.

SSGT Agerholm thought he knew best, though, and ordered the fire to be centred off to one side of the gun. Another outstanding example of fire direction from SGT Gray (or perhaps force of will from LT Buckner) placed a ranging round directly on top of the gun.

More pain for the Germans. Randall brought his Sherman up closer to the orchard. Suddenly a glancing hit from an 88 sent a splinter into Randall’s left bicep, and a second even more glancing shot made a scratch in the paintwork on the front of the hull. Although the German 88 fire then seemed to slacken, the US mortar barrage went on.

Even more HE. I was beginning to run out of shock markers...

Even more HE. I was beginning to run out of shock markers…

Lt. Gruber rallied the remnants of the troops in the orchard, but the combination of Randall’s .50, a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) team in the chateau, and a 60mm mortar was too much for them.

The US 60mm mortar, as if there wasn't enough HE raining down already. (Photo: Chip Henriss)

The US 60mm mortar, as if there wasn’t enough HE raining down already. (Photo: Chip Henriss)

LT Buckner ordered his third squad to take the orchard. As they appeared, a German rifle team (the squad leader and MG team of that gruppe were pinned down by the mortar barrage) opened up on them but they didn’t have time to inflict much damage before they were wiped out. It looked like Gefr. Speiser, on the German left, might be able to rally a MG team, but they too died for the Fatherland.

A second M4 arrived, and as the Americans closed on both flanks of the battered German zug (platoon), Lt. Gruber shouted “Rearwards to final victory!” and led his surviving troops from the battlefield.

The second US Sherman arrives

The second US Sherman arrives

LT Buckner's troops close in for the coup de grace.

LT Buckner’s troops close in for the coup de grace. (Photo: Mark Newman)

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6 responses to “The 175th Infantry go to La Cambe

  1. And a lovely time was had by all present.

    Chain of Command learning outcome for the victorious Allies: Drinking excellent German Beer while dropping morter rounds on your opponent is Good Infantry Tactics!

  2. Great table an terrain! Is that a 28mm Sarissa building with Airfix buildings? Is the the difference in scale not too drastic?

    • Besides the chateau, the buildings are either 1/76 (Airfix) or HO (1/87) model railway buildings. If the chateau was near one of the HO buildings I think it would jar but in this case it wasn’t. I have an HO rathaus which I may convert to a mairie one day, but since I have plenty of other things to do and Mark offered I wasn’t about to say no. My reasoning about the size is that chateaux are built in the grand manner and this is such a cool model.

  3. Hi Stephen Some great news Sarissa have released the 15mm range of their buildings and the 20mm due in March. So a scale Chateaux might be in your grasp soon!

    • Nice to know. I was looking at scratchbuilding some buildings but I wasn’t looking forward to making the chateau, and there were so many that were fought over – the Chateau at Varaville, the Chateau Saint Come, and the Chateau de Fontaine near Hill 112, to name but a few.

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