Race to the Meuse
Fall of France #7
|(Attacker) Germany||vs||France (Defender)|
|Germany||7th Panzer Division|
|Overall Rating, 7 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 8 of 588|
|Parent Game||Fall of France|
|Maps||7: 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33|
|Layout Dimensions||196 x 43 cm
77 x 17 in
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Fall of France||maps + counters|
On the evening on May 11, General Corap ordered the vanguard elements of the Division Legeres de Cavalerie in the Ardennes to fall back to the Meuse. The size and power of the enemy was simply too much for the French light cavalry divisions, and they were in danger of being encircled. The withdrawal was carried out early on May 12, with mobile elements covering the retreat of the slower units.
The French infantry divisions on the Meuse were far from ready to hold the line at this stage, so the retreating units had to make a fighting withdrawal. Taking every possible advantage of terrain, the dragoons and chasseurs succeeded in slowing down the Germans so that the less-mobile French units could cross the Meuse in safety. Quite a few panzers were destroyed all along the different retreat routes, and a sole 25mm French anti-tank gun claimed no less than 12 German tanks destroyed in one day. Around 1600 the bridges at Dinant and Bouvignes were blown within view of the first approaching panzers, just after the last French elements had crossed to safety.
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|3 Errata Items|
In 1940: Fall of France, the units show Direct Fire. All units are Indirect Fire.
(rerathbun on 2015 Jun 06)
The reduced direct fire value of the Heer HMG became 5-5 starting with Fall of France.
(plloyd1010 on 2015 Jul 31)
The morale and combat modifiers of German Sergeant #1614 should be "0", not "8".
(Shad on 2010 Dec 15)
|French hold back the Germans, but not quite long enough!|
Note: Score will be denoted by (x-y), where x=French casualties, y=German casualties.
The French block the bridges with their armoured cars. The lead German PzII platoon is reduced by fire from the French (0-2)
German panzers unload into the French armoured cars filling the bridges with wrecks, making them impassable to mechanized and motorized platoons. The Germans begin to cross the river aided by their engineers (7-2)
The French attempt to hold the Germans up at the river. Fighting breaks out on the western shore in the wooded hills. (8-5)
French are overrun by the river and suffer severe casualties. The Germans break through the wooded hills in the north and the French (artillery and anti-tank guns) fire lanes open in the fields beyond. (15-5)
2 hours have passed, 11 hours to go.
Lead panzers are hit by anti-tank fire. German infantry advances against the French as the Trucks wait for passage across the river. In the far distance the retreating French are getting smaller and smaller… (20-8)
An armour battle develops as the Panzers encounter the French H35s supported by some AT-Guns.
Both sides lose a number of tanks. (32-14)
The majority of French troops near the river are lost. They bought as much time as they could with their lives. Did they buy enough?
3 hours have passed, 10 hours to go.
The French need to be careful that they don’t concede too many casualties. Their commander is worried that he committed too many forces at the river and that too many losses have already been sustained.
The armour battle continues and soon the two easternmost sectors (boards) are almost completely French Free. (38–20)
German armour is held up versus a large artillery and anti-tank gun line. (38-22)
German motorcycles are sent to lead the charge against the gun positions.
German trucks begin to head down the roads. Most of the Germans have now reached the second sector (map).
The French lose the first of their anti-tank guns. As the German motorcycles begin to break through the French lines, most of the French guns limber up and fall back to avoid being encircled.
German panzers charge and are hit by anti-tank fire as they try to overwhelm the remaining guns with combined arms. (41-24)
Germans continue to advance as the French engineers reach the Meuse in the far distance. (42-26)
5 hours have passed, 8 hours to go.
French AT Guns destroy more Panzers as the French Cavalry retreats down the wooded roads. One AT Gun battery remains on the French front line, which eliminates a PzI platoon! (44-32)
At the Meuse, the first bridge is blown, as the front of the German column approaches the halfway point.
Another Panzer is hit by the French AT-Gun before it is finally silenced by German artillery. German motorcycles and armoured cars intercept the French AT Guns in transport as the second bridge is blown at the Meuse. (45-34)
German Armoured Cars eliminated by unlimbered AT-Guns. The last remaining H35s are destroyed in the woods by Pz38ts.
French motorcycles are caught behind enemy lines. There is little in the German’s way now to the Meuse. (55-36)
Two more bridges are blown as the Germans advance in the 4th sector.
HALFWAY: 6.5 hours have passed, 6.5 hours to go.
French are all but eliminated east of the Meuse except for some Cavalry with a French portee holding up about 2 km east of the river in a small village. (60-37)
The French position themselves on the far shore.
French portee is lost. (62-37)
The Germans approach the river as the final bridge is blown. 2 French Cavalry and half a motorcycle platoon are stranded on the east side.
8 hours have passed, 5 hours to go.
Some panzers are lost to a cavalry ambush in the woods as the majority of the Germans move around to the south. (63-39)
Germans eliminate the French cavalry and approach the Meuse en masse. German engineers enter the river and get ready to assist the crossing. (68-39)
More German engineers enter the river and they come under both HMG and artillery fire. The first German troops make it across the Meuse and are immediately reduced in assault with the French! (70-40)
10 hours have passed, 3 hours to go.
Additional Germans cross the Meuse and are also reduced. The Germans continue to be hit trying to cross. Eventually 2 more platoons reach the west shore and the French manoeuvre to cut them off. (70-42)
Victory is still in the air. I suspect it is near a draw at the moment, but can the French stem the approaching German tide?
German casualties increase as they continue to cross the Meuse under fire. German armour begins firing across the river into the west shore and the French fall back. (71-46)
11 hours have passed, 2 hours to go.
The final two hours sees the outgunned French troops begin to lose further numbers with only one more German casualty sustained. They are simply overwhelmed and unable to stem the flood. (79-47)
The Race is Over!!!
So, who won? The significant French casualties and only a few platoons left suggests that the Germans have won. But by how much?
Germans Eliminated: 47
French on West Shore: 24
French Eliminated: 79
Germans on West Shore: 31
GERMAN MAJOR VICTORY!!!
I have probably missed a few steps of casualties, but a victory by 39 VPs doesn’t seem to warrant a recount. I’m pretty convinced of the German Major Victory.
So, what went right/wrong? I believe the French should not have tried to make a stand on the eastern river/town. A few pot shots, and fall back. Generally, I believe the French tried to hold ground too long, and therefore took such heavy casualties. If they had more forces at the Meuse they could have possible held the Germans back, particularly some AT Guns.
With this said, they still needed to delay the Germans a bit longer. The German advance was at a crawl at some times and a sprint at others. Had the French been more spaced out, they may have been a tad more effective executing a fighting withdrawal and slowed the Germans to fast walk.
This was truly a “Race to the Meuse”, and the Germans were too fast for the French. Had the scenario ended after 11 hours, I think it may have been a draw, or even a French victory. So it was close.
Scenario Rating: 4/5 It is quite long, and in this reply got a bit bogged down at the end. But otherwise a great scenario. Well done fighting withdrawals are fairly rare, and this is a good one.
This scenario is a marathon, both in duration (50 turns is pretty long) and distance (7 mapboards laid side-to-side). Its a nice tactical puzzle as well. The French need to retreat as many units across the river on the farthest board, and prevent the Germans from crossing the same river.
In my replay, the French cavalry and motorcycles, stiffened by a/t guns, artillery and a few tanks, did a good job of stalling the German onslaught at the wooded ridge at the eastern end of the map. The French decimated the light Panzer 1s and 2s as they struggled through the difficult ground in a futile flanking attack on the French defense. German infantry bogged down trying to root out the French defenders, forcing the follow-on German forces to deploy on the north flank and sweep around behind the French. Mopping-up took an additional few hours as valiant French kept rallying pockets of troops in positions to disrupt the advance of German trucks loaded with troops and artillery.
After many delays, the Germans got their forces organized for an advance again and motored up the road to the Meuse, where the French had blown all the bridges (there were essentially no survivors of the delaying force worth holding a bridge open for). By this point, German losses had been so heavy that they were unable to cross enough troops to claim a victory. Both sides were battered and the countryside was strewn with bodies and wrecks.