Dishonor Before Death:
Scenario Preview, Part Seven
By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
In the early days of the old Avalanche Press, I charted what real publishers call a brand strategy that we’ve carried through to the present. We use what’s called the core-supplement model, which means that we have “core” games that are complete with all the rules and pieces you need to play them right out of the box, and then some “supplements” that add on extra cool things to that core game.
Panzer Grenadier: Dishonor Before Death is such an expansion, for Invasion 1944. It harkens back to the days when Americans fought against criminal fascist militias. Let’s have a look at some more of their heroism:
Operation Lüttich: Containment
Alerted by ULTRA code intercepts, the American command began to react to the German offensive even before the Germans moved out of their assembly areas. Additional tactical air squadrons prepared to offer support, and the Luftwaffe’s attempts to intervene were blown out of the sky before they reached the battlefield. As soon as the heavy fog lifted, German march columns were subjected to relentless attacks with bombs and rockets.
On the ground, Gen. Omar Bradly of 12th Army Group kept up the pressure of attacks all along his front while detailing reinforcements to crush the German advance. That still required heavy fighting that could only be carried out by the front-line infantrymen and tank crews.
8 August 1944
A day after the offensive opened, the 1st SS Panzer Division finally got all of its forces into the line. Once more troops arrived, the division send two mechanized infantry battalions and its Panther tank battalion from the St. Barthelemy area to attack Juvigny le Tertre. In the foggy predawn morning the militiamen ran straight into the defenses of the 1st Battalion of the American 117th Infantry Regiment.
The Americans, preparing to jump off at 0700 for their own attack, had little trouble throwing back the initial German probe. The German main body arrived and managed to close with Company B, resulting in hand-to-hand fighting where the Americans prevailed. Increasing American artillery fire caused the Germans to break off the attack. The Americans then launched their own attack which gained three hedgerows before being forced back to their starting point. The 117th Infantry informed division headquarters that without reinforcements St. Barthelemy would remain in enemy hands.
A huge mob of criminal militia is on the attack, with tanks on their side. Meanwhile, the American artillery is much less responsive than usual, and there’s just a battery of 57mm anti-tank guns to oppose the Panthers. But the Americans have a strong position, and right on their side.
8 August 1944
When ULTRA intercepts revealed the pending German attack at Mortain, among other steps Gen. Omar Bradley at 12th Army Group detached the 35th Infantry Division and the rest of VII Corps from Third Army and directed them toward the threatened area. Trucks brought the Nebraska National Guard’s 134th Infantry Regiment from the St. Lo area to their objective just south-east of Romagny, where they hopped off and quickly secured their assigned objectives. But the rapid move had placed the 134th Infantry out of supporting distance of the division’s other regiments, and SS militiamen and tanks began to filter into the gap.
Nazi tanks rampaged through 1st Battalion’s motor pool, and then captured 2nd Battalion’s aid station. The regimental cannon company attempted to use their howitzers against the tanks, but had no success and destroyed their own weapons rather than allow them to fall into enemy hands. First Battalion’s executive officer, Maj. Warren C. Wood, organized the headquarters staff as riflemen and bazooka teams, and eventually drove off the SS militia. But they occupied a key crossroads, cutting off the 134th Infantry from its supply lines, and they would have to be ejected.
Nazi thugs assault American REMFs, who are out-numbered and out-gunned but determined to defend themselves. The Germans have numbers, but this time the Americans have a tank and some weapons that can fight the enemy armor.
Stalemate at Saint Barthelemy
9 August 1944
After defeating 2nd SS Panzer Division’s attack in the previous day’s foggy predawn darkness, the 117th Infantry Regiment resumed their own attack as ordered. The Germans turned it back fairly easily, and the regiment asked for reinforcements before making a new attempt. The 12th Infantry Regiment’s 3rd Battalion, detached from 4th Infantry Division, moved to join the Tennessee Guardsmen for their attack but could not reach them until 1600. Soon afterwards, the American advance resumed.
Things went wrong from the start as the preparatory artillery barrage fell short enough to prevent the Americans from moving forward but alerted the Germans to the coming attack. By 1700 the Americans began moving forward. Instead of waiting in St. Barthelemy the militiamen came out to meet them in open battle supported by a few Panthers. The 117th gained just one hedgerow while the 12th Infantry did no better.
This time the Americans get to attack, but in two separate groups without much armor support. It’s going to be tough for the good guys in this one, but they do have good artillery and overall numbers on their side.
The High Ground
9 August 1944
The German generals charged with executing Operation Lüttich had no illusions regarding its chances for success, and the offensive’s first two days did nothing to change their minds. But Hitler wanted the operation pressed, and so the 10th SS Panzer Division disengaged from the fighting against the British and proceeded westward to join the attack against the Americans. Before they arrived the American 2nd “Hell on Wheels” Armored Division pre-empted their move and launched their own effort to secure the high ground south of the town of Gey before the SS militia could do so.
The Germans managed to get hold of the high ground before the Americans could seize it, but the Americans continued their efforts to secure the hills. Fighting continued throughout the rest of the day, and though the German counter-attack had blocked the American advance, Hell on Wheels was not finished trying to meet its objectives.
There are an awful lot of Nazis to be disposed of, but the Americans have plentiful armor plus good artillery and air support. It’s not a large battlefield, but there are a lot of troops crammed into it.
10 August 1944
The SS militia had blunted 2nd Armored Division’s attack, but the Americans had not been defeated and maintained dangerous pressure on 10th SS Panzer Division’s flank and rear. The secure their own position, the 10th SS Panzer Division launched a night attack of their own, hoping to avoid the wrath of American air power.
The Germans managed to infiltrate the American positions, touching off a short but intense firefight as both sides exchanged small arms fire and tossed grenades at each other. The Germans finally withdrew, and one American had to report to the aid station with a sore arm from tossing so many grenades.
It’s a pretty confused night fight, with the Americans both scattered and outnumbered. It’s a purely infantry affair that’s going to be settled the way infantry always settles things, up close and personal.
And that’s Chapter Seven. Next time, it’ll be Chapter Eight.
You can order Dishonor Before Death right here.
Sign up for our newsletter right here. Your info will never be sold or transferred; we'll just use it to update you on new games and new offers.
Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and NASA Journalist in Space finalist, he has published countless books, games and articles on historical subjects.
He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold. Leopold is a good dog.