The historic Battle of Dompaire converts well to a brigade sized Spearhead scenario. In addition it includes several interesting aspects, not the least of which of raw German troops, and pits them against veteran French troops.
At Dompaire the French commander, Langlade, took advantage of the poorly sited German units and seized a number of well sited positions overlooking the village of Dompaire. No doubt aware of the loss of these critical positions to French forces, German troops attempted to regain the initiative. The fighting erupted around the east of Dompaire as German Panther tanks attempted to move south. Soon French M10 tank destroyers, supported by accurate and sustained artillery fire were engaged. As the battle progressed air strikes by American P-47s engaged the Panthers strung out throughout the villages. As the battle progressed more German Panzers moved into the area and the battle expanded further.
Above, a photo after the battle which shows French Shermans advancing past German PzIVs near Dompaire on the 13th September 1944.
I wish to particularly acknowledge the research assistance given to me while developing this scenario by Jean-Marc Largeaud. This included research, from French sources in one of his research trips to Paris, that has enabled a detailed order of battle to be drawn up for both French and German forces.
An outline of the historical battle, and a scenario covering the battle, can be found in the Scenario section here.
One of the first scenarios I developed for WWII Spearhead was “Plugging the Gap”. The original inspiration for the scenario came from the scenario “To the Beaches Beyond” in the “White Star Rising” scenario book but for which I did not have the figures.
The scenario is effectively an encounter between German and British forces in Normandy. As such it is in sharp contrast to the large and often deliberate attacks we read so often about in this campaign. However, the scenario provided with both a reasonable sized game and an ability to use a newly painted regiment of Churchill tanks.
I have played the scenario a few times over the years and play balance seemed very reasonable, always a difficult component of scenario design. Interestingly, soon after the scenario was originally placed on line it was played by Hans Johannsen and Steve Weiss of New York who provided comment and feedback. It was pleasing to know that the scenario designer for the original “White Star Rising” scenario book had an enjoyable time playing my own small scenario.
The Plugging the Gap scenario can be found here.
Often World War II histories consider brigade and divsional level attacks but all too often miniatures rule sets focus on company sized actions. Not so with Spearhead which aims to capture brigade and divisional actions and allows them to be played on the wargames table in an afternoon or evening. But these actions should be placed in context.
This scenario attempts to replicate some of the situations confronting a British infantry commander in Normandy where battles of manoeuvre and flanking actions were not always possible. You may well have the armour but it will be typically be there to provide support for the infantry. The actions, though critical, were not rewarded with the same glamour that accompanied the armoured break-through battles. Rewards were the capture of another village, usually one that no one had heard of before, or perhaps the securing of a prominent local hill in the area. They were, all too often, associated with a casualty list too long in itself. However, sometimes there was no other option than to “push forward” and take ground. Of course capturing objectives is only part of the battle. Just as important are the maxims of economy of force.
Sound interesting, if so consider trying “Pushing Forward” set in Normandy in 1944. The scenario can be found in the scenario section of this site.
One of the interesting aspects of Spearhead is, for me, the planning aspects required by the rules. This is especially the case when undertaking an attack on enemy positions. Firstly, the terrain must be considered and how this impacts routes of advance and what delays the terrain will introduce. Further, what are the likely enemy positions and in what strength is he expected? What resources are available for the attack and what can be achieved with these forces and in time available?
Then the attack must be committed to paper with due thought to reserves, support elements and artillery fire plans. Only then can the models be placed on the table.
Getting to grips with these factors can be hard, especially for the new player. As a result some years ago I developed a small scenario which provided those new to Spearhead many of these factors wrapped up in a smaller scenario. The result was the scenario Battalion Advance! which is set in Normandy during 1944. With the relaunch of this site I have updated the scenario. The scenario can be downloaded here.