Musings of a Hobby Hipster: Task Force “A” – Brittany Speared

The Origins

There were always plans for a portion of the American troops landing in Normandy bridgeheads of the D-Day beachs and to strike west towards Brittany and the Altantic coast ports. This might have been planned for up to three corps of troops initially, but German chaos and disorganisation in the field meant that in actuality only a single coprs would be required – the VIII Corps.

Troy H. Middleton’s corps had fought in Normandy as a part of the First U.S. Army under Omar Bradley, but at the start of August 1944 and, with the activation of the Third Army, it became a part of Patton’s forces. Patton was going to be given the task of taking the ports of the Brittany Pennisula – St Malo, the Quiberon Bay and, of course, Brest. The faster that they could secure these harbours, and bring them online to accept allied shipping the better.

Patton placed to decapitate the peninsula with the 4th Armour Division, whilst the 6th Armoured Division and the 83rd Infantry Division would make their way immediately towards Brest in the west. This plan was out of date with the situation on the ground, adhering to the initial plan by Bradley and sending two armoured divisions into prolonged urban combat that it was ill-suited to.

As part of this push into the peninsular, Brigadier General Herbert L. Earnest was given a bag of dolly mixtures in the form of the fast moving components of VIII Corps and created a new ad-hoc formation called Task Force A. The bulk was brought forward from the15th Cavalry Group, the 15th Calvary Group HQ, the 15th Calvary Squadron, and the 17th Calvary Squadron with additional support from 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion, the 159th Engineer Combat Battalion, and the 509th Engineer Light Pontoon Company

These light, but swift units would race to secure the main railroad from Brest to Rennes and in doing so skirt the north coast of Brittany securing bridges and other infrastructure that supported the railhead before the Germans had a chance to destroy them. The expectation was that French Forces of the Interior would rise up and support the American forces, providing additional manpower and firepower with intimate local knowledge.

Once again, it really is worth taking the time to visit www.tankdestroyer.net and read the Operations of Task Force “A” approved by General Earnest. Tankdestroyer.net is a phenomenal resource and if you have any interest in the operation of US Tank Destroyer units in WW2, if you don’t have this site bookmarked in some way… well I don’t know what to tell you any more.

The V4 List

So, now we have our basic backdrop for the force, where to start? I’m sure that *someone* will point out that there was a V3 list for Task Force “A”, well I’ve never let that stop me in V4 and I’m not about to start now! So, starting with the D-Day: American Force book, and more importantly the associated command cards we are going to base our force on the Cavalry Recon Troop.

The combination of M8 Greyhounds and Jeeps gives us the flavour of the troops screaming across northern France in 1944. Importantly, this formation gives you access to the wonderful M8 Scott, which I am completely in love with, and therefore a decent barrage template weapon. Five of these plunky little gun carriages means you will be re-rolling misses once they are landing rounds on target, making the most of their potential. They also have .50cal machine guns… in fact, this force is dripping with machine guns… which is nice!

The next major component to this list is the element of the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion. Newly arrived, with the super sexy M18 Hellcat, or the 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage M18 as Lee kindly pointed out to me, so thank goodness that the V4 army composition rules allow you to include a formation from the Bulge American book – would you look at that!

Three platooons of AT12 bang-bang-gang is enough to spoil most opponents armour* – the fact that they are Fresh is in keeping with their recent deployment to the NW theatre and brings a lot of speed and hitting power, if very little armour.

The final pieces from support round out the force nicely with some infantry and some ubiquitous Amercian airpower in the mix.

The Engineer Combat Platoon can do pretty much anything you need it to – but be careful as the Aggressive rating will bite you on occasion and you don’t have a huge number of assualt teams in the unit. The Hedge Cutting ability can be useful with all the wheeled vehicles in your force, which is a bit of a bonus.

The FFI are in there for flavour (it is a real shame it is a limited card!) and I’m not sure how they will perform on the table top but could be modelled up in a really interesting way with armed civilians mixed in with some US liason troops.

The Thunderbolts provide some additional capability to barrage or hit high value armoured units from the air. There .50cal shots are also undervalued – strafing Hummels, Wesps and other lightly armoured targets can be really effective and irritating.

The Off-Piste Comments

Right, I’ve not done this before but I think it is entriely feasible and proportional here – I’m going to suggest an alternative Command Card formation for Task Force “A”

As you can see the core of the force is still that M8 Greyhound Cavalry formation but we have rolled in two platoons of M18 and Engineers so they are both black box and grey box options in the formation. The FFI can then bulk out your infantry capabilities without it being a compromise.

I actually think that this formation is a bit spicey but I would like to run it out and see how it performs compared to what we have created above.

Well that was a swift little belt through the Brittany countryside but I’ll be back soon still not drinking from the mainstream – so until then enjoy a cup of single-origin, cold brew flat white artisan coffee with and ponder more thoughts from the hipster’s beard.

– Dunc

One thought on “Musings of a Hobby Hipster: Task Force “A” – Brittany Speared

  1. Add another Cavalry Recon Patrol then you will have all the same , combat and weapons platoons
    as there was in Overlord .

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