Market Garden. 18th September 1944, 18:00

Three battalions of Kamfgruppe von Tettau attacked the British re-supply drop zones.
The British had two light artillery regiments and a parachute battalion, who had been ordered to abandon the drop zone and move to the west to consolidate with troops in Arnhem.

The attack started with 1st Battalion, KG von Tettau, advancing on the right flank while the 2nd Battalion used their 75mm guns against the British artillery emplacements.

The British artillery fired on the attackers but with no noticeable effect. The Observation officer for 2nd Airlanded Light Artillery Regiment arrived and set up an OP on the forward slope from the road.

By 18:15 the German infantry had moved within small arms range of the British artillery positions and opened fire. the 75mm battery was disordered and unable to return fire. The 6pr battery fell back in disorder, abandoning their prepared positions. The German infantry continued to advance.

The 2nd Regiment OP called up fire against the Germans who had taken over the 6pr positions, but few casualties were inflicted.

The Germans now opened fire against the retreating British 6pr battery with rifles, mortars and 37mm AT guns. The British guns were eliminated. On the right flank an assault was mounted against the 75mm howitzer battery. One troop was destroyed Nd the second retreated.

2nd Airlanded Regiment RA began to move along the road towards Arnhem.

British artillery fire was inconclusive. The Germans made a few forward moves.

18:27. The Germans opened fire on the retreating British artillery and another 6pr troop was eliminated. On the German right flank the infantry attacked and destroyed one 75mm gun troop and forced a second to retreat. The British focus was now on getting as many units as possible away to the east.

The battle continued with the British trying to escape along the road to the east, towards Arnhem, as the Germans closed in from the south and west.

The artillery OP was overrun, but most of the remaining troops managed to evacuate the area. 156th Parachute Battalion suffered no casualties, but the airborne light artillery lost their HQ, 3 75mm troops and 2 6pr troops (approximately 30% casualties). The Germans came away with negligible casualties.

Market Garden. Feeling pleased

I have had a major clear out and tidy up of the Shedquarters, because tomorrow a group of young local lads will be visiting the Shedquarters to try their hand at a wargame for the first time. I am chucking one of them in at the deep end, as he has one company of Polish paratroopers with a 20mm AT gun against three companies of PanzerGrenadiers, one company of recruits and three batteries of medium/heavy artillery.

But they are hiding in the ruins of what used to be Arnhem. some pictures follow:

But still somehow this all looks too neat and tidy. I have to leave room to place the troop bases, but I would sill prefer a more “organic” look, especially after the destruction. The “aerial” shots make it look like the bulldozers have been in and it’s at least a month after the battle.

Ideas anyone???

Positives and negatives

While I am quite pleased to find that I have almost enough buildings to cover three quarters of my table with ruins and intact buildings representing Arnhem after two days of conflict, at the same time I am disappointed that some of my more appropriate models still languish in the “to paint” box.

Final details like walls, gardens, trees, telegraph poles, etc. are to be added tomorrow before I attempt to introduce some local kids to the joys of “real” wargaming, rather than just pushing 1:35 tanks around the grass verges on the estate.

Apologies for the photo’ quality. Taken using an i-pad, floodlit by 3 multiple-LED work lights just after dusk.

Market Garden: Action at Arnhem Railway Bridge

I played a quick action today of a German attack across the railway bridge at Arnhem.
The rules were my adapted version of Richard Borg’s Memoir ’44.
The only adaptation in use today was that the number of command cards held was a factor of the number of platoon-sized bases on the table. As casualties are suffered or re-inforcements arrive the number of cards held will fluctuate.

The picture shows the view from the south (German) side of the bridge.
3rd PanzerGrenadier Battalion was attacking across the bridge against 7th Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSBs). They were supported by 2nd PanzerGrenadier Battalion attacking from the east, on the north side of the Rhine.
7th KOSBs had the potential support of 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment from the north, but at the start of the action, at 18:00 on 18th September, the British were outnumbered 2:1.

At this point I must apologise to my PBEM generals for a basic error. The actual forces on each side were company sized, but I forgot and placed them at battalion size. However, it made for a more interesting battle and the result is perfectly acceptable for the campaign.

The Germans commenced with a mortar attack in support of an infantry assault across the bridge. At the same time 2nd Battalion advanced from the east. The British responded by a double counter-charge supported by mortars. The counter-attack across the bridge was partially successful but on the east flank the enemy was driven back with heavy casualties.

2nd PanzerGrenadier Battalion recovered and attacked again, surrounding the British company and eliminating it. 3rd PanzerGrenadier Battalion, with the help of their mortar platoon, gradually wore down the British on the railway bridge, then after around 45 minutes fighting both battalions surged forwards, surrounding the last elements of the KOSBs, who had been unable to withdraw to the comparative safety of Oosterbeek.

10th Battalion Parachute Regiment never appeared.

Casualties (dead,wounded and missing): British 100%, Germans 26%

Unexpected Consequences

It is very easy when playing a wargame to lose sight of the objectives.  When playing a campaign it is easier to focus on what needs to be acheived rather than the obvious quick results.  When playing a game within a campaign to other people’s instructions it focuses the mind even more.  When the game involves a card-based order system this complicates the situation.

This was my latest challenge, west of Arnhem on 18th September 1944.

Orders:

The British troops [green tokens] from 1st Airborne Division have an overall objective to push through the town towards the Arnhem road bridge in support of the troops holding the bridge.  They were also tasked with doing maximum damage to enemy armour.

The Polish battalion [yellow tokens] was in defensive mode, protecting the southern end of the railway bridge across the Rhine.

The Germans [black tokens] were initially on the defensive.  Their objective was to destroy as many allied units as possible, and to retake the railway bridge.

Allied forces:

2nd Bn South Staffordshires (Glider Infantry):

     1 HQ Platoon, 3 rifle platoons, 1 MG Platoon.

10th Bn Parachute Regiment:

     1 HQ Platoon

7th Bn King’s Own Scottish Borderers (Glider Infantry)

     9 rifle platoons, 3 mortar platoons

1st Battalion Polish Independent Parachute Brigade

     11 rifle platoons, 1 MG platoon.

Off-table artillery support from two batteries of 75mm Howitzers of 1st Air-Landed Light Battery Royal Artillery.

German forces:

9th SS Armoured Recce Bn.

     3 platoons SdKfz222 scout cars.

2nd PanzerGrenadier Bn, 9th SS Panzer Div.

     9 rifle platoons, 2 mortar platoons, 1 panzerfaust platoon.

3rd PanzerGrenadier Bn, 9th SS Panzer Div.

     1 HQ platoon, 11 rifle platoons, 1 MG platoon.

I use the Memoir ‘44 game system, with some house rules for equipment types not covered in the game.  For example, light armoured cars move like supply trucks but fight like half-tracks. Off-table artillery is activated by “barrage” cards, and if appropriate by artillery order cards.

Game set up

For campaign games I allocate command cards by dividing the number of platoon elements by three.  As casualties are suffered or reinforcements arrived, the hand of cards is recalculated.   This reproduces the friction of battle: as casualties are suffered the number of command choices is reduced.

Victory points are calculated by the number of company units of the smaller force divided by two.  But points are won by achieving goals for the battle or campaign as set by the remote generals.For this battle, Victory points were set at 4.  Allies win 1 VP if the enemy armoured unit is destroyed, and 1 VP for each company that leaves the board by the eastern edge, towards the Arnhem road bridge.  Germans win 1 VP for every allied company destroyed and 1 VP for possession of the rail bridge.

Battle Report

The South Staffordhire’s opened the action with a surprise assault against about a dozen light armoured cars (SdKfz222) in the yard of the Arnhem railway station.  Leaving three or four ablaze they then moved on into the town itself, heading for the road bridge.

South of the river the 3rd PzGren Bn charged the Polish paras south of the bridge.  The Poles fell back with light casualties.  They called in artillery support which pounded the Germans and caused heavy casualties.  The Germans attacked again at close range, this time inflicting heavier casualties, and the Poles retreated, followed up by the victorious Germans.  One Polish platoon counterattacked, inflicting light casualties on the Germans and halting their chase.

Back to the north of the Rhine 2nd Bn commenced mortar fire on the KOSBs. Light casualties were inflicted.  The KOSB mortars replied, and the Germans lost about one third of their number.

The Germans’ answer was to advance to closer range and use the rifle platoons against the KOSBs.  One British company fell back with light casualties and another took several hits.

South of the river the 3rd Bn kept up the pressure on the Poles, effectively wiping out two of the three companies defending the bridge.

\With the situation south of the river getting desperate the KOSBs pressed on with their objective.  The mortars fired again causing very heavy casualties on the enemy and opening up the possibility of breaking through.

In the Polish sector the Germans attacked again and drove the remaining Polish paras away from the bridge, taking control of the railway line.

The KOSBs pushed eastwards and fired at the defending Germans with minimal result.

The Poles charged the Germans on the railway line and retook the south end of the bridge.

The Germans now launched an all-out assault, wiping out the last of the Polish defenders and driving the KOSBs back.  The KOSBs began to dig in where they stood.

In the final act the Germans moved their last remaining company south of the river onto the railway bridge, achieving their objective.

Summary

A battle which the British initiated, with the idea of pushing forwards north of the Rhine, but which was ultimately lost to the south of the river.  Each player started with a wide range of options from the command cards (10 and 9 respectively), but the Germans managed to play aggressively on the south flank, forcing the Allied player to respond to his moves.  When the allied player had a chance, his cards were used well to break down the enemy force, but that, in this battle, did not score him any points.  It may help for the future, but we shall see…

Eventually both sides were reduced to only 4 command cards.

Casualties:

Allies 18/30 = 60%

Germans 16/28 = 57%

Not good news for the newspapers on either side!

Market Garden: Campaign rules

I have been asked several times by gamers within and without this e-mail campaign game to publish my rules.  The truth is that, like so many games, the rules evolve as the game progresses.

But I think I have reached a point where the rules are fairly stable, and so I am now prepared to share them.  This is a draft, un-proofread document, and I am sure that my grammar school English teacher of 50 years ago, Mr. Tilney-Bassett, would pick many holes in my presentation.  However, here they are in PDF format

I reserve the right as umpire to change, alter, amend or otherwise muck about with the rules as I think fit.  They are in fact merely guidelines to aid me in conducting the campaign.

Make whatever use of them that you will, remembering always that my main inspiration was SPI publications “Arnhem” game for the map and order of battle, and that they should be credited in any commercial publication.

Rules for the conduct of the Market Garden Campaign

Any comments, suggestions or criticisms are welcomed as part of the development process.