Well I finally beat back the Nazi hordes from the slopes of hill 314 by dint of two strokes of stunning strategic insight:
The first was finally learning the value of the half track unit. Previously I had ignored this unit because it has paper thin amour and dies easily. What I had overlooked is that the half track can be used a a mobile infantry re-generator making it the ideal support vehicle for groups of infantry fighting far from base especially when upgraded with a kick ass flack gun. Add in a bunch of engineers to keep the half track repaired and you have a very self sustaining mobile fighting unit.
My second stroke of insight was to lower the difficulty level from hard to normal, cough. Pride having been well and truly swallowed I think I actually prefer normal difficulty level and am going to stick with it. Normal and hard difficulty levels seem to pit you against similar numbers of enemies who show similar levels of AI. The only difference I can see is that the enemy units are harder to kill in hard mode. This has some unfortunate consequences on game balance in my opinion: For example infantry armed with bazookas have a very hard time taking out a German tank in hard mode virtually forcing you to go the tank route yourself. On normal mode the relative units strengths seem more balanced. Thats my excuse anyway.
The real challenge of that level for me was the timer. I like to play a long slow defensive game gradually building up my strength till the balance of forces is at a tipping point and then grinding out a victory. Timer mission don't allow that.
Speaking of tipping points I had an interesting experience on the next level which cast an interesting light on the subject and highlighted some facets of the computer AI in the game. This is already a long post so for clarity I'll explain in my next post.