Battle at Arnhem

18th September 1944.  06:00.  Dawn, Weather: good.

The battle for the Arnhem road bridge continued with elements of 2nd and 3rd Battalions, Parachute Regiment of 1st Brigade, 1st British Airborne Division, combined with the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron holding the northern approaches.

From the west 1st and 11th Battalions of the Parachute Regiment were trying to break through to the bridge to support the defence and to bring much needed  supplies.

On the German side 16th SS Training Battalion, supported by the Bridge Defence Company, were trying to block any reinforcements from the west.

At the same time 1st (armoured) Battalion, 9th SS Panxergrenadiers, attacked from the north-west.

9th SS, aware of the need for speed in cutting off the enemy attack, charged down the road in their half-tracks until the first vehicle was knocked out.  At that point the infantry de-bussed and deployed to attack the enemy in house-to-house combat.

The battle see-sawed back and forth.  The Bridge Defence Company was soon wiped out, but the 16th Battalion kept up the pressure until 9th SS could take up the attack.  The British reinforcements struggled on and made contact, but were soon pushed back, struggling to hold the road to the drop zone.

The artillery of 10th SS Panzer Division began to register, not only again the British paratroopers, but also on the homes of the citizens of Arnhem, as street after street burst into flames and fell into ruins.  This became as much of a hindrance to the Germans’ advance as did the defence of the enemy.

After two hours or so, the British had fallen back to a small perimeter stretching from the bridge approach to the road north of the river.

Continue reading Battle at Arnhem

The Defence of Bilsington 17 Sept 1940

The Defence of Bilsington

17 September 1940. 09:30 – 13:00

This was an interesting engagement. Here is the battle map supplied to both sides:

map-11-bilsington-6mmThe commanders are asked to give orders using map squares for reference. The hex grid is for my use when creating the battlefield and fighting the battle.

The British commander had forces retreating from the south after a previous engagement. There were several depleted infantry companies and three intact batteries of 25 pdr artillery, with the Brigade and Artillery HQ units. He also had reinforcements from the north: a machine gun company of four platoons, an engineer platoon and a squadron of three troops of Matilda 1 tanks.

His plan was as follows:

“The broad plan will be for the fresh troops coming from the north to take up defensive positions in and around the village to cover the bridge. The depleted forces will fall back through the village. The force will look to hold the river line, their exact response will depend on the size of the enemy forces and the security of their flanks.

More specifically, the two infantry companies from C1 (road from the north) will take positions in the village and on each flank to cover the bridge. The Matildas will wait at the crossroads as reserve, particularly against anything crossing the river to east or west. The engineers will prepare the bridge for demolition.

The three RA batteries from D4 (road from the south) will pass through the village and unlimber on the hill in C/D1. The infantry coming up the road will rally at the crossroads and those elements not too battered will also form a reserve.

The remains of the two Somerset companies (arriving from the south-west) will move north to the river. If they can cross they will, and fall back towards the village. If not they will move east to the bridge. This will also give the British commanders information about the fordability of the river, and hence the security of their flanks.

Once all the force is on the north bank they will establish their defensive positions and await developments. They will leave the bridge intact is case further British elements appear, but at the first sign of enemy approaching the bridge should be blown. They should hold the river line unless threatened by overwhelming strength, especially from enemy who have crossed the river and approach from the flanks.”

He was unaware that the Germans would be attacking from the east, and therefore north of his defended river line.

Here is the German plan. The German player was aware of the retreating British forces that he wished to cut off, but not of the British reinforcements from the north.

“Expected arrivals in game terms, with draft orders:

Turn 1.  Artillery HQ, 105mm howitzer with 1/2 track and supply truck, 75mm infantry gun and two trucks. 3 x 37mm AT guns with 3 trucks, SP 20mm Flak gun, SP 47mm AT gun.

Orders: SP guns to move directly to the village, then swing south towards the bridge.  37mm guns to take up defensive positions in the village, covered by 75mm gun.  105mm to take position to cover both village and bridge, with artillery HQ.

Turn 5. (approx).  Infantry Regimental HQ, SP 20mm Flak, 150mm Howitzer with 1/2 track & supply truck, Bicycle Infantry Company.

Orders.  Artillery to take position with 105mm battery.  Infantry to move to village and then towards the river line taking defensive posture.  SP Flak gun to take post at crossroads.

Turn 13. (approx). 1 Infantry Company and 2 Rifle Platoons, 3 Pioneer platoons (one with flamethrowers).

Orders. To move towards village or river line as the situation demands.

Turn 17. (approx). 1 Infantry Company.  To be deployed as the situation demands.”

I played this game using my amended memoir 44 rules. The main changes, apart from weapon capabilities for 1940, were to the order structure. Memoir 44 is a card-driven game and players’ orders are restricted by the cards they have in their hand at each turn. Both sides were restricted further due to the fact that they initially had troops only in a limited sector of the battlefield, so cards ordering troops in the left, right or centre sectors could be useless. The number of cards issued to each player was equal to the number of HQ and Radio truck units available added to the number of flags rolled with all eight battle dice. As it happened, neither side rolled any flags, and so the cards were 5 to the British and 3 to the Germans.

Because I was using 3-D terrain (incidentally the models are from Odzial Osmy’s 3mm range and the terrain hexagons are based on Warbases’ 6cm hexagon MDF tiles), the deployment of model bases could not be the same as in the board game. I therefore decided that each base would form a “unit” in M44 terms for all combat purposes, but that for orders, each campaign unit would be treated as a “unit”.  Example: 8/RTS (8th Royal Tank Squadron – reduced scale from 8th Royal Tank Regiment) had three models, representing 1st, 2nd and 3rd troops. Each model could fire individually and take three hits before being destroyed. However, they could be deployed in separate hexagons, but commanded as one unit.

I also expanded the “Command Car” rule to include radio trucks, so that the potential orders in any one sector could be increased. This all helped to limit the sometimes stilted nature of the game where units with clear orders can fail to move for several turns while attention is diverted elsewhere according to the turn of the card.

And so to the battle. I kept a track of the time for each turn (1 average die x minutes per player turn) but will not report it as it seems disruptive to the narrative.

(Note: due to automatic corrective text editing, the expression “anti-tank” has been rendered as “Ant-tank” several times.  Apologies.)

Also the reference to 6th Dorsets in the narrative should be 6th Devonshire Battalion.

Word version:

battle-report-11-bilsington-17-sep-0930-1300battle-report-11-bilsington-17-sep-0930-1300

PDF version

battle-report-11-bilsington-17-sep-0930-1300

An engagement at Postling

Continuing the saga of Operation Sealion, it is now 10:00 am on 17th September 1940 and British reinforcements moving towards Lympne run into a German Parachute Battalion near Postling.

Here is the battle report.  In hindsight it appears from the photographs that the spitfire mentioned in the report is actually a hurricane, but as far as the Germans were concerned it felt like a spitfire!

Word document: battle-report-j-postling-17-sep-1000-1200

PDF: battle-report-j-postling-17-sep-1000-1200

 

 

Defence of Lympne Airfield 17 Sept 1940

The latest action in my PBEM campaign of Operation Sealion – the German invasion of Britain in 1940.  The campaign is fought using the rules supplied by S-2 Shop Productions, which is a useful guide with orders of battle, but also has several failings in accuracy.

Background:  At 01:00 on 17th September 1940 3rd Fallschirmjaeger Battalion landed and captured Lympne Airfield in Kent.  The attached reports document the first British counter-attack.

I have created the report in a PDF format for quick viewing and also a Word document for those who wish to view the photographs in greater detail.

Word  Battle report K Lympne 17 Sep 0920 – 1140

PDF  Battle report K Lympne 17 Sep 0920 – 1140

 

A Blast from the Past

One of my roles in re-enactment is that of a pensioner of les Invalides at the time of Napoleon I.  It is a totally inaccurate representation as I still own two arms and two legs, and thus would be disqualified!

In that role I like to demonstrate, and to encourage visitors to play, a small game whereby I relive my past glories and try to rectify the errors of the past. This game has evolved over the years and is now played in a form akin to chess, on a card table ruled into 144 squares.  I can set up a fictitious battle or a stylised representation of any of the battles of “my youth”.

Today I played a solo game of an actual battle – or as near as I could represent it.  The original battle was fought between less than 700 troops, so it could be represented on my table almost on a 1 figure:1 soldier basis.

Here is the latest version of the rules, updated after this battle ton reduce infantry firing range.  The latest version restricts infantry shooting to one square range, but differentiates between moving to attack or shooting without moving.  Unlike many wargames, shooting without moving is less effective than when moving.  This is because the first reperesents trading volleys while the second represents a column attack.Battle Chess 1800

And here is the report of the skirmish at Rumégies in May 1792, played to the above rules. Rumegies 17920519

An interesting exercise, taking a couple of hours from start to finish including the reporting and photography, all done on an i-Pad in my ManCave.

 

 

 

Battle Report – Cuckmere Haven

As a departure from the normal games in my Operation Sealion e-mail campaign, this was a relatively small, company level, skirmish.

The report is attached as a PDF and as a Word document which should allow expansion of the pictures.

PDF version Battle report G Cuckmere Haven 0900-0935

MS Word version  Battle report G Cuckmere Haven 0900-0935

Sealion: Winchelsea 17 September 1939 07:30-09:00

Here is the report of the battle at Winchelsea on 17th September 1940.  This was an opposed landing, actually opposed only by a single Vickers Machine Gun team in a pill box.

Battle report D Winchelsea 17 Sep 0730-0900