Operation Loyton: a Special Air Service (SAS) mission in the Vosges

Operation Loyton

Following up on his Late war SAS reinforced platoons, Hendrick De Coster sets the scene with three new scenarios to challenge your SAS forces this weekend!

 

 

Operation Loyton – the codename given to a Special Air Service (SAS) mission deep in the inhospitable Vosges Mountains of France during World War II.

The mission, between 12 August and 9 October 1944, had the misfortune to be parachuted into the Vosges Mountains, at a time when the German Army was reinforcing the area against General George Patton’s Third Army. As a result, the Germans quickly became aware of their presence and conducted operations to destroy the SAS team.

 

The Vosges is a region in north-eastern France close to the German border. In 1944 it was sparsely populated and consisted of wood covered hills, valley pastures and small isolated villages, an ideal area for a small mobile raiding force to operate.[1] In late 1944 it was also the area that General George Patton’s Third Army was heading towards, but outrunning their supplies they had stopped at Nancy.[1] To counter the American advance the Germans had moved reinforcements, including the 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division Götz von Berlichingen, into the area.[2]

A small SAS advance party commanded by Captain Henry Druce was parachuted into the Vosges on 12 August 1944. The drop zone was in a deeply wooded mountainous area 40 miles (64 km) west of Strasbourg. The advance party’s objective was to contact the local French resistance, carry out a reconnaissance of the area, identify targets for an attack and locate a suitable dropping zone for the main force.[3]

The main party under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Brian Franks arrived 18 days after the advance party on 30 August 1944. Their landing was not without incident. A parachute equipment container filled with ammunition exploded on contact with the ground.[1] A member of the resistance assisting to move the parachute containers killed himself by eating plastic explosive, believing it was some sort of cheese.[2] A Frenchman who was found in the area supposedly picking mushrooms, who the resistance believed was an informer, was detained. In the confusion following the explosion of the ammunition container, he managed to snatch up a Sten gun and was shot trying to escape.[4]

The following day the SAS started patrolling and set up observation posts. Almost immediately they became aware that their presence had been betrayed to the Germans.[3] There were far more Germans in the area than they expected and a force of 5,000 Germans were advancing up a valley near the village of Moussey just a short distance from the SAS base camp.[2] The SAS’s aggressive patrolling, sabotage attacks and the number of firefights they had engaged in, led the Germans to believe they were up against a far larger force than there actually was.[2] Over two nights, the 19 and 20 September, reinforcements were parachuted in which consisted of six Jeeps and another 20 men. The Jeeps, armed with Vickers K and Browning machine guns, allowed the SAS to change their tactics.[5] The Jeep patrols shot up German road convoys and staff cars. A patrol under the command of Captain Druce even entered Moussey, just as a Waffen SS unit was assembling. Driving through the town, they opened fire and inflicted many casualties.[3]

The Germans, unable to locate the SAS base, were aware that they could not be operating without the assistance of the local population. To gain information about the location of the SAS camp, all the male residents of Moussey between the ages of 16 and 60, a total of 210 men, were arrested.[5] After being interrogated they were transported to concentration camps, from which only 70 returned after the war.[5] On 29 September 1944 Captain Druce was sent to cross back over into the American lines, with the order of battle for a Panzer division which had been obtained by a member of the resistance. Together with another soldier, they passed through the German lines three times before they eventually reached safety.[3]

At the start of October, with Patton’s army stalled and supplies running out, the likelihood that the Americans would relieve the SAS had dwindled. It was decided to end the operation, which had only been intended to last two weeks and had now lasted over two months. Lieutenant Colonel Franks ordered his forces to split up into small groups and make their own way back to the Allied lines 40 miles (64 km) away. One patrol was ambushed by the Waffen-SS, killing three men. The fourth, Lieutenant Peter Johnson, was wounded but managed to escape. Another 34 men failed to reach Allied lines.[6]

The Scenarios

The scenarios below are meant to play out as a mini-campaign over the course of a single evening or spread out over the course of 2-3 games.

The first scenario deals with the initial airborne landings and making contact with the resistance.

The second scenario takes place after the second airdrop and depicts the SAS force when they were supplied with jeeps, performing a raid on the local German forces.

The last scenario will tackle the final Moussey raid after which the SAS tried to make it back to American lines.

Scenario 1: Meeting up with the resistance.

This scenario is based upon the initial SAS airdrop making contact with the local resistance groups.

The scenario is played on a 4×4 ft table. The northern table edge is a dense woodland with small clearings into which the SAS were dropped. In the middle of the table, a small village is centred (4-8 houses in a circular pattern and a small fountain/town square/statue located in the middle of the board). There is at least 1 road from the village running south.

 

 

Next to a landmark (Point X), a resistance member is waiting for the SAS team to make contact. Should the SAS team manage to make contact a 250 pts of resistance fighters becomes available for the remainder of the mission. If the Germans, tipped off by local collaborators, manage to make it to this resistance representative first the SAS will have to fight on on their own. Note that the resistance representative can only be killed by troops within 6″ of the model (even the Germans had to make sure they didn’t accidentally shoot the mayor…).

Aside from the above-mentioned rules, this scenario is played as the standard Meeting Engagement scenario (rulebook p. 157 ).

For variety, use the Top Secret scenario (rulebook p. 138) and have both forces trying to take the resistance representative with them.

The forces used are as followed:

-500pts Late war SAS Airdropped reinforced platoon (no vehicles). Deploying from the north.
-250 pts Resistance fighters (see Armies of France and the allies, Partisans (in case the SAS successfully make contact with the resistance).
-750 pts of Germans using the Armies of Germany, 1943-1944 anit-Partisan security patrol theatre selector (no vehicles) or the standard reinforced platoon (no vehicles), deploying from the south.

Scenario 2 & 3 Raids on Mossey and surrounding towns

These games are played on a 6×4 ft table and are based on the various SAS raids and patrols the force carried out as part of Operation Loyton once they made contact with the local resistance and the second SAS airdrop, supplying them with jeeps, had happened.
Place various terrain pieces all over the board, and try to make a small town if possible. Have at least one road leading through the Town from both long table edges. It’s a rocky and forested place.

 

 

For scenario 2, use the envelopment scenario (Bolt Action rulebook p.162). Rather than having a preliminary bombardment roll a dice. On a 2+ the raid captures the Germans by surprise and none of the German units may use the hidden setup. They are simply caught completely off guard by the daring SAS raid.

Scenario 3 uses the same rules as for scenario 2, but with the following changes; The SAS are now using the raids to try and break through and escape to safety to the American lines. Only by making it off the board they can escape the vengeance of the Fuhrer!

The attacker scores 1 victory point for every enemy unit destroyed and 3 victory points for each of his own units that have moved off the enemy table edge before the end of the game. The defender scores 2 victory points for every enemy unit destroyed.

N.B.

  1. In these scenarios, the SAS are always the attacker.
  2. The forces used are as followed:
    -1000pts Late war SAS airdropped reinforced platoon.
    -1000 pts of Germans using the Armies of Germany, 1943-1944 anti-Partisan security patrol theatre selector or the standard reinforced platoon deploying in the town.
  3. Alternatively, use any of the rulebooks attacker-defender scenarios.
  4. You could also switch the roles and have the Germans discover the SAS hideout camp. The level of challenge is now up to you!

I hope you enjoy trying out these unofficial scenarios & remember to give feedback on the Warlord facebook page Yours truly Hendrik De Coster

Deploy your forces for Operation Loyton:

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