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1939 Poles errata

Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:57 pm
by Contrarius
Was just wondering whether the costing of the Polish list needs amending in the light of a few minor errors and Rich's changes.

* per Rich's change the BAR team now numbers 1 Operator (3D6) plus three ammo-bearer/riflemen (@1D6, giving 6D6 for the whole team)
* The basic section should number 19 men, not 18 (per the manuals: 14 riflemen, 4-man BAR team, plus a junior leader, termed plutonowy, lit. platoon commander)
* The small Platoon HQ includes a man with binocs with the post of Observer. I assume this guy is usually attached to the AT rifle making up the two-man AT-team, or perhaps the light mortar team, but was this really the case?
* Again per the manuals there was actually a second jr leader, a kapral (corporal) acting as 2-i-c of the rather large section.

The current rating is a rather punitive +5. Any increase in cost will make it even harder to buy support weapons to fend off the invading Zerg, sorry Hun.

Thoughts?

Re: 1939 Poles errata

Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:40 pm
by Archdukek
One quick observation, not all NCOs present in a squad or platoon feature as Junior Leaders in CoC. It really depends on whether they had a discrete leadership and tactical role distinct from the squad leader, for example the Caporale in the Italian squad who was specifically in charge of the rifle team.
I don't know anything about the Poles to say if that distinction would apply to the kapral you mention.

Converting 2 of the existing BAR crew to riflemen in each squad would increase the platoon's Force Rating by +1.

John

Re: 1939 Poles errata

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:12 am
by gebhk
A few points:
- There was no AT rifle team. The anti-tank rifle was a one man operated weapon.

- The binoculars-equipped kapral was the platoon observer (who also carried a signalling pistol). His job was to, in the widest sense, keep the platoon leader up to date on the tactical situation: ie keep an eye on the enemy, observe for friendly signals, keep a note of the terrain, prepare fire plans, organise air and tank observation networks, prepare the platoon leader's observation point etc. Hence his exalted rank of kapral. Due to his role as organiser of the A/T defence network, the anti-tank rifleman came under his direct command but this should not be equated with a role as spotter for the A/T gunner.

- The kapral 2 i/c was a deputy and not a sub-leader in the sense of the Italian or German ones (who were at all times the leaders of the rifle element of the squad). His role was predominantly to assist the squad leader and to lead the squad as a whole when the squad leader was absent. He could be put in charge of part of the squad temporarily if the tactical situation demanded it, however since Polish tactical doctrine stressed unity of action of the squad, this was the exception rather than the rule. Typically a squad might be split up to send out a patrol and, depending on the importance of the patrol, either the squad leader or his deputy might lead the patrol while the other remained with the rest of the squad. In conclusion - the player should probably be allowed to upgrade the kapral to JL if the situation demands it.

- The ammunition numbers of the BAR team were not riflemen in the usual sense. In a firefight, their job was to ensure continuous supply of ammunition to the BAR by fetching ammo from the platoon ammo dump, re-loading emptied magazines and such like. For this reason, unlike the 'rifle shooting' part of the squad, they were equipped with carbines rather than rifles proper. They would only get involved in direct shooting in close defence or attack.

- There is no mortar team in the platoon. All the light mortars were allocated to the company mortar section which consisted of a sergeant as leader, 3 light mortar teams (team leader, gunner and two ammo carriers) and a groom with a 1-horse cart for the mortars and ammo etc. When the mortars went into action, the team's backpacks were placed in the cart, so (for the anally retentive like me) mortar teams in action should be modelled without backpacks. Due to equipment shortages, some companies had to make do with two rather than three mortars in their mortar sections. Regardless of numbers, however, the overriding principle was that the mortars were to be used together to engage single targets and were not to be split up amongst the platoons. The latter did happen in practice, but this was the exception rather than the rule. In principle, therefore, the platoon should be provided with the support of 2-3 light mortars or none at all.

Re: 1939 Poles errata

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:26 am
by Archdukek
On the basis of gebhk's response it doesn't sound as if the existing list needs much change beyond dropping the integral light mortar team to leave them as a support choice.

The BAR team should keep its 3, or maybe 4, crew to reflect Polish practice, while the Observer in Platoon HQ sounds like the kind of role abstracted within the Command system so wouldn't appear on the table. Other squads had deputy commanders who don't qualify for Junior Leader status and that would seem to be the case here too. That would place a further emphasis on the tactics of operating as a section and not as teams.

John

Re: 1939 Poles errata

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:53 am
by Peter
Archdukek wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:26 am
On the basis of gebhk's response it doesn't sound as if the existing list needs much change beyond dropping the integral light mortar team to leave them as a support choice.

The BAR team should keep its 3, or maybe 4, crew to reflect Polish practice, while the Observer in Platoon HQ sounds like the kind of role abstracted within the Command system so wouldn't appear on the table. Other squads had deputy commanders who don't qualify for Junior Leader status and that would seem to be the case here too. That would place a further emphasis on the tactics of operating as a section and not as teams.

John
This. Although maybe there should be a discounted support choice for a section of light mortars, presumably with a JL (ie, not 3*cost of a single mortar).

Re: 1939 Poles errata

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:05 pm
by Seret
Archdukek wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:26 am
The BAR team should keep its 3, or maybe 4, crew to reflect Polish practice
TBH, I'm a little sceptical of the idea of of a single-crew mag-fed gun in any list. In practice as soon as the gun goes into action it's going to require at least one other man to start stuffing magazines. It's pretty easy to shoot through a mag faster than you can load one, and any mag-fed gun that doesn't have at least one person concentrating on refilling mags as soon as they're empty could find itself in trouble.

Re: 1939 Poles errata

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:23 pm
by gebhk
That would place a further emphasis on the tactics of operating as a section and not as teams.
While I would agree with this point generally, we should probably not over-egg it :). In other words it was far from the case that all the squad would engage in exactly the same activity at all times. Most commonly (and this is clearly recognised in the regulations) the 4-man BAR team would be detached to provide covering fire when the rest of the team got stuck in with cold steel (let's face it, it was only towards the end of WW2 that the top brass started having an inkling that this 'cold steel' sort of thing was romantic fiction and even then most refused to believe it). In defence the BAR team might be given a different fire plan due to its greater range and efficacy but also vulnerability.

Also, a squad may be lucky enough to have one or more men with 'sharpshooter' status. To be clear, these are not snipers in the 'Enemy at the gates' sense, nor were they part of the TOE. They were men who had reached a certain above average level of target accuracy and were ideally equipped with rifles also selected for their accuracy (but not, I would emphasize, scoped sniper rifles). Furthermore they would have received some training in priority target recognition such as enemy officers, weak points in tanks etc. They could be given tasks similar to those of the BAR team.

Besides the squad 2 i/c, the squad also had 3 lance-corporals: the BAR team leader and two riflemen. They had a role in the command structure of the squad by providing leadership/mentoring to their juniors.

To put it crudely, unity of purpose meant that the squad would be given the job of occupying one enemy-held building at a time. That does not mean the entire squad would try to get in by the front door!

In this circumstance, for example, the BAR team under its lance-corporal team leader and a group of sharpshooters may be detailed to provide covering fire to keep the opposition's heads down. This 'fire group' could be left under the command of the squad's corporal 2 i/c while the plutonowy squad leader took the riflemen in to close-assault the building. The assault group may also be further divided into door breaching and window breaching sub teams, each under the leadership of a starszy strzelec (lance corporal).

Apologies for labouring this point which I think is that while not having a rigid command structure like, say, the German squad, the Polish squad had as many if not more command resources at its disposal but used them more flexibly. This needs to be taken into account if the Polish squad is not to be at an ahistorical disadvantage, particularly compared to its German counterpart.

Re: 1939 Poles errata

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:36 pm
by Contrarius
A number of interesting points, which all need addressing.

But first, something no one commented on, that the section numbered 19 men not 18, a fundamental error in the list.
1 JL with rifle
4-man BAR team
14 riflemen

Does this affect the Force Rating?

[I can only assume this error occurred because it seemed absurd to have 4 men (thus potentially 4D6) manning a weapon that only kicks out 3D6 of damage.]

For easy reference I'll call this issue A.

Re: 1939 Poles errata

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:03 pm
by gebhk
TBH, I'm a little sceptical of the idea of of a single-crew mag-fed gun in any list. In practice as soon as the gun goes into action it's going to require at least one other man to start stuffing magazines.
Amen to that in general. Almost every army I can think of had 3 men operating the SAW - ie gunner and two ammunition carriers. The job of the latter two was to ferry spent mags to the platoon ammo dump, return with full ones and to act as general dogsbodys for the gunner. However, all being well, mag-stuffing was (in the Polish army at least, but I suspect in most) done at platoon level, where they had special gizmos to speed and optimise the stuffing process. The man in charge of the dump would usually be given one or two riflemen, borrowed from the squads, to help keep up with demand. So, in fact, more men were involved routinely in 'feeding' the SAWs than the TOEs would indicate. Of course in dire need, mags could also be stuffed manually with rifle ammo and since they were loaded from 5-round clips same as rifles, this was not that complex a process.

The Polish army and many others, added a 4th man to the SAW team to act as team leader.

Bestest
K

Re: 1939 Poles errata

Posted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:13 pm
by Contrarius
Issue B - How to model the BAR team.

We are trying to reflect reality 1 to 1, so all four men making up the team should be present on the table. Note that all four carry large canvas belt pouches for storing BAR magazines, so are actually quite distinct visually from ordinary riflemen who carry only rifle ammo stored in smaller leather pouches.

Now, do we stick to Rich's amended rule, with 1 BAR operator (shooting 3D6) plus two ammo-carriers/riflemen (2D6), and add the one missing ammo-carrier/rifleman (1D6)? This gives us a total firepower of 6D6.

Alternatively, perhaps we should have a basic team of two (operator + loader) together shooting as 3D6, plus two ammo-carriers/riflemen who spend most of their battlefield time as ordinary riflemen, pausing only to handover their BAR ammo (effectively replacing the loader who is thus released to become an ordinary rifleman). This gives a total firepower of 5D6.

The first option will presumably increase the Force Rating, the second perhaps not?

For logical consistency I would suggest that when the team is reduced to the last man the BAR can fire only 2D6.