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Tactics in
Fading Legions




Beyond Normandy:
Designer Musings

By Brian L. Knipple
January 2013

I research game topics initially by what speaks to me from constant reading of a wide variety of books (ask my wife — they are all over the house and she is continually placing them on the stairs to the game room). The battle for Normandy has always been a favorite, and I was reading several books on the fighting in front of and around the city of Caen. I began with the Canadians and took an interest in their drive south during the first few days following the invasion. Additional reading on the fighting in the Odon valley to the west, for purposes of identifying actions related to the Canadian battles, led to my interest shifting to the British attempt to outflank Caen and force a German retreat from the city rather than the heretofore unsuccessful efforts to smash into the city by brute force.

My interest grew as the Odon battles were a clash between a British Army that had for years trained for war and the still-formidable German armored and mobile forces intent on driving the invasion into the sea. The British Army of 1944 was artificially large, inexperienced and, as it turned out, not very well prepared for the costly battle to break out of the beachhead.

The German Army deployed against them represented the best the Germans had to offer at that stage of the war. Each sought to force the other back, and their clash was so engaging on so many levels that I was bitten. The campaign to outflank Caen to the west was conducted within a well-defined area and over a short enough span of time that it made a study as well as a game.

Other Panzer Grenadier titles group scenarios by front and period, but have only limited continuity in the operational sense due to the separation in time of most of the situations. Here were a significant number of actions within a short span of time, all sharing a common thread. As I researched each scenario I found that the relationship of each to the preceding and succeeding scenarios gave me a sense of continuity and a clearer view of the overall situation. The fact that the battle raged almost continuously for the whole of the period covered by the game gives one the opportunity to stand in the division and corps commanders' shoes as each attempts to accomplish their real objectives.

The battle began with high hopes, encouraged by General Bernard Montgomery’s optimistic expectation that the German line would be driven beyond Caen and the city’s defenders would be forced to withdraw to prevent being trapped. Unfortunately for the British soldiers involved, but fortunately for the Allied cause, the Germans were at the same time planning an attack against the British, and gathered their strongest formations west of Caen.

When the British attack opened, the Germans were quickly forced to commit their armored forces to contain the offensive. Each succeeding renewal of the offensive by the British forced a further commitment of German mobile forces and in the end so wore them down that they abandoned any attempt to drive the Allied bridgehead into the sea. All the while, as the battle raged just west of Caen, the all-but-unnoticed American buildup south of the Cotenin peninsula went ahead.

Historians, British and American alike, have accused General Montgomery of bombastic optimism and poor command skills. After delving into the subject, I must admit that I can see his side of the issue. Ordered to take Caen and attract German armored forces, he managed to do the latter while attempting, but ultimately failing to accomplish, the former. His loudly touted statements drew further attention to British efforts and may have been intended, in part, to convince the Germans of the seriousness of the attacks. That his words so poorly served those men under his command is inexcusable, and in the end it is his brusque manner and pompous attitude that is remembered rather than his successful completion of a thankless task.

Beyond Normandy Clarifications

• Download corrected counters here (3.4 MB PDF).

• All British AFV units have inherent tank leaders and are efficient.

• Hedges provide a -1 column shift for direct fire and a -1 drm for anti-tank fire.

• The note about hills and increased spotting range on the back of the scenario book is wrong. Each elevation level adds six hexes for spotting (as correctly stated in the special rule for hills).

• All woods hexes in Beyond Normandy are light woods. The values on the back of the scenario book are correct.

• The maps are not numbered:

Map #1 has the towns of Tourville, Gavrus and Coeville.

Map #2 has Hill 112 & the towns of Fontaine-Etoupefour & Versoz.

Map #3 is the small map with St Mauvieu on it.

• SS 105mm guns should have white, indirect fire values.

• German halftracks have an armor value of 0.

• British Bren carriers should all have a movement value of 7.

• Terrain effects are not cumulative for Towns/Woods hexes. Use the Town effects.

• SS PZIVH tanks should have a movement of 8.

• In Scenario 15, the British off-map artillery value chart should be the same as in Scenario 14.

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