Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Vercours Campaign - Part Three - Massacre at Vassieux-en-Vercors

German Paratroopers landing at Vassieux-en-Vercors

From the scenario description: 

"On July 20th, 1944, following several weeks of troops build-up, the Germans launched their attack on the newly proclaimed "Free Republic of Vercors". The next morning, the German 157.Reserve-Division, bolstered with Ukrainian troops from Eastern battalions, completely finished surrounding the Vercors Plateau, trapping the French Resistance in. By early morning, twenty gliders landed in the vicinity of Vassieux-en-Vercors, on a makeshift landing strip the Resistance was busy finishing. They did not contain the allied reinforcements the maquisards had hoped for though. Instead, SS troops stormed out of these gliders to seize Vassieux and the neighboring hamlets of La Mure, Jossaulx and Le Château, indiscriminately killing all they met - French Resistance and local inhabitants alike. Late in the day, French Resistance companies, coming to the rescue from other parts of the Plateau, attempted to encircle the enemy and wipe him out in a counter-attack, but failed due to a lack of heavy armament against the now well-entrenched SS troops.

The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history."

Hoping to nip the German reinforcements in the bud - Masquisards move from cover to hit the exposed Paratroopers

As a result of the previous victories in the game, the Germans were looking pretty bullish and got a second wave of reinforcements - a paradrop of two units. Things were looking grim for the Maquis, who were going to have to strike hard and early to stave of a German victory.

Maquis converge on the glider borne troops, causing several casualties

Mr E takes some further casualties as the paratroopers huddle in the wood waiting for backup

A lone Maquisard opens up on a weakened German unit

Reinforcements arrive

In normal Memoir '44, parachute drops are normally resolved by dropping an appropriate number of plastic soldiers from a height of about twelve inches. This led to some problems as I didn't fancy dropping my figures on the table. We also needed to figure out roughly how high would be appropriate. A standard Memoir board is two feet wide, so we tripled the distance for the big board and substituted corks for toy soldiers. Both German paradrops landed safely. 

It's getting rather lonely out here

The limited German counter-attack that followed the Maquis's attempt to wipe them out as soon as they hit the ground was beginning to bite. A lone Maquis attempted to do for the bloodied German glider troops, he failed to do so and when they shot back.

The result was telling...

With the initial French onslaught driven back, the SS start to consolidate their position

SS Obersturmbannführer Mr E looks over the bodies of his slain troopers and swears terrible vengence, SS Standartenführer Creanor seems less concerned. 

Further French troops move up to contest the landing strip

Exchanging fire with the resurgent Germans

The SS troops consolidate around the farm. Things are looking very grim for the Resistance as the Boche has chalked up a considerable lead and were now ensconced where we would have to attack to dig them out.

Marianne was not having the best of days.

En avant!

Braver then perhaps was wise, the partisans boiled out of the woods. With the vile Boche two points ahead, our best hope was to pick on their two weakened units in the hope of knocking them out. This sadly, did not go well.

Though you die La Resistance lives on

With the partisans out in the open and our high stakes gambit a bust - the SS counterattack was swift and merciless. It was a crushing defeat, two victory points to five and the end of the campaign. There were actually two further scenarios to be played, but we worked out that if the French scored maximum points in both the scenarios to follow and the German scored none - the French could scrape a draw. At that point we thought it best to throw in the towel.

It was interesting to play a campaign in an evening and I think once I have the troops, I would enjoy playing one of the short campaigns from the two campaign books. Sadly, the French Resistance are a gamblers army and very prone to runs of luck, both bad and good, and we found it very hard to come back from our initial defeat. Well done to Mr E and General Creanor, they seized their opportunities when they presented themselves and extracted the maximum possible gain from them.


  1. C'est la guerre, non?

    Good game reports, Conrad.


  2. Following this mini-campaign from the beginning I found it formed quite an interesting narrative, if rather ... tragic ... from the point of view of the Maquis. That looked like some wild country the German counter-insurgency troops had to deal with. It reminded me vaguely of an account of a battle fought between Maquis and Germans that I read in a biography of Nancy Wake, back in the '60s (not that I remember all that much about it).

    An idea about para-drops I've seen used for Command Decision games.

    Write down on separate pieces of paper cut or torn into small rectangles (inch by half-inch, say) the name of each unit (man, squad, platoon, fire-team, as appropriate to your rule set). Place them in a line face up along a ruler (there's your 'stick' of paras). Invert the ruler from a height of,say, 18 inches above the table top.

    Some of the papers will be face up and can be regarded as under command, or at least capable of action. Face down ones are disorganised and have to sort themselves out. If command and control are considerations in your rule set, and if the 'Stick' commander is still doolally from the drop, that might mean the OK guys are limited in what can be expected from them.

    I've always liked this system, as a good deal (as you would expect) was liable to the vagaries of chance, both in the scattering of the troops and who and what was available in the early stages of the operation. Perhaps a daylight drop, with no wind and little FlaK might allow a drop from a foot above the table; Fresh breezes, six-tenths cloud, heavy Flak, possibility of enemy fighters lurking about, and we might be looking at someone standing on a chair to dispense the little bits of paper...

  3. Great report Conrad, I bought Memoir '44 about a year ago, your blog reports had a lot to do with my purchase and have played dozens of Commands and Colors games since.

    In fact I've just finished the Metaurus scenario from CC:A this afternoon.


  4. Crushing those rebellious peasants was all well and good, but I think the real question to be answered here is how the hell that buffoon Creaner got promoted ahead of me!

  5. Another great report, enjoyed reading that. I like the idea of the parachute drop method, the sort of thing that can add much fun to a game.

  6. Well, someone has to die for France, especially if the Foreign Legion isn't on hand to do it.
    A great report.
    I quite like Ion's suggestion for paradrops. Sounds like great fun.

  7. Nice AAR on the Vercours campaign--may have to adapt this to Advanced Squad Leader for a solo game.