Arnhem Rail Bridge part 2

18th September 1944, 12:00

Situation:  3rd Polish Parachute Battalion (3 PP) and 7th Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers (7KOSB) had joined forces across the rail bridge west of Arnhem.  Two companies of 3rd Panzer Grenadier Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Division (3/9SS) were still holding out in bunkers at each end of the bridge.  A flight of German fighters was threatening the allied troops.

General Urquhart sent his congratulations and ordered that the remaining enemy troops in the bunkers be eliminated.

Forces.  7KOSB.  3 companies, 10 platoons.  3PP. 4 companies, 14 platoons, including 2 mortars and 1 HQ.  3/9SS. 2 companies, 7 platoons.

Turn 1. 12:00

7KOSBs – Move Out (4 infantry units)  The three companies moved to positions to close assault the northern pill box.  A. 2 infantry. 2 hits  B. 1 infantry, 1 star. 1 hit. Unit eliminated and pill box captured.

3/9SS – Behind Enemy Lines.  Fighters left the table with no appropriate command card.  The company in the south bunker made a break-out.  Moved 1hex,  attacked a Polish rifle company in a defended position. 1 flag, so Poles retreat.  Moved 3 +1 for the road and exited the board, so a successful break-out was acheived.

Casualties.  Germans: 2 of 14=14%.  Allies: none.

Arnhem Rail Bridge18/09/1944

Despite spending over a month preparing my terrain and 6mm specialist infantry bases for this game, bad weather forced me to play it indoors as a board game.

Five companies of SS Panzer Grenadiers were defending the rail bridge.

They were attacked simultaneously by four companies of Polish parachute infantry from the south and three companies of British glider infantry from the north.

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The Poles (at the bottom of the picture) were represented by Russian tokens and the British (at top right) by US tokens.

Because of the peculiar nature of this game, and with the Anglo-Polish side suffering communication difficulties and a potential language barrier I played this game with three independent sides.  Each nationality received one command card for each company.  All troops were rated as elite (Special Forces rules apply.)

Both the Germans and Poles were cut off from their supply base, so a reduction of 1 die was applied for any distant shooting.  The Poles had the benefit of two mortar platoons.  I ruled that if a grenade (1/6 chance) was rolled when attacking a bridge hex with HE, then a second roll of a grenade would damage the section.

The battle would end when either side scored 3 Victory Points for destruction of enemy unts.

Order of play was British, Germans, Poles.

Turn 1. 11:00

British.  Assault left flank (all 3 companies)

The 3 rifle companies manoeuvred to a position from whence they could all fire at the German company defending the end of the bridge at 2 hexes (500m) range.

2 dice per company.  A. 2 tanks rolled, no hits.  B. 2 flags rolled = 2 retreats. Enemy fell back onto the bridge.  The retreat was then blocked by friendly troops, so one platoon was lost. C. (Reduced to 1 die tue to increased range). Grenade = 1 hit.

Germans. Assault Centre (all 5 companies).

The company at the south end of the bridge fired at the advancing Poles at 2 hexes range.  2 dice -1 for short supply. Grenade = 1 hit.   The company in the bunker were unable to shoot at the enemy at 3 hexes range due to the need to conserve ammunition.  At the north end of the bridge the company that had been driven back moved forward again and fired at the enemy infantry on the river bank.  1 die. Grenade = 1 hit.  The company on the centre of the bridge moved to the north end and shot at the same enemy company.  1 die.  Tank was a miss.

Poles. Probe Center. (2 units).  HQ increased this to 3 units. The Two flanking rifle companies moved forwards through the polder.  Three companies fired at the German company in the open at the south end of the bridge.  A. At 3 hexes, no firing, conserving ammunition.  B. At 2 hexes, 1 die due to ammo restrictions. Tank was no hits.  C. At 2 hexes, Star was no hits.

Turn 2, 11:10

British. General Advance. (2 in each sector, all 3 companies included).  A. Shooting at 2 hexes. 2 dice, Infantry, Tank = 1 hit.  B. Shooting at 2 hexes. Infantry, Tank = 1 hit.  German unit eliminated. 1 VP.  C. Shooting at 3 hexes, Infantry = 1 hit.

Germans.  Recon Center. 1 unit +2 on the move.  Company at south end of bridge shoots at nearest Poles at 2 hexes, 1 die. Star is a miss.

Poles. Dig In. All 4 units improved their defensive positions.

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Turn 3. 11:20

British. Probe Center ( 2 units).   Two companies fired at enemy in the open at 2 hexes.  A. 1 grenade, 1 flag.  1 hit, 1 retreat.  B. 1 grenade. 1 hit.

German. Air Sortie played with Left Flank.  One fighter arrived on the left flank. Air check rolled tank, so the aircraft was OK.

Poles. Recon Center.  The centre company  fired at the enemy unit in the open defending the bridge.  At 2 hexes, 1 die. Grenade was a hit.

Turn 4. 11:30

British. Probe left flank.  One company made a close assault on the German bunker at the north of the bridge.  A second company advanced to the north of the bridge and fires at the company on the bridge.  A. Close assault vs bunker. 2 dice. grenade, star. 1 hit.  B. Shooting vs infantry in open at 3 hexes.  1 die. star was a miss.

German. Probe Left Flank used for Luftwaffe support.  Moved 4 hexes east.  No target available.

Poles. Assault Centre.  3 companies advanced to contact. Close assault, left company.  2 dice, 1 hit.  Centre company. 2 dice, 1 hit, 1 retreat. Germans fell back onto bridge, Poles took ground.  Right company. Vs bunker 1 die. No effect.

Turn 4. 11:40

British. Firefight. 4 units not adjacent, +1 die.  Centre Company at 3 hexes vs bunker was 1 die. Tank was no hits.  Left company at 3 hexes is 2 dice. Flag, star was 1 retreat, but retreat was blocked.  1 platoon lost, unit eliminated.

German.  Direct from HQ. Ordered all 3 infantry and 1 LW unit.  LW. Air check OK.  Strafing missed.  Unit in N Bunker.  2 dice at 1 hex.  1 hit.  S. End of bridge. 2 dice at 1 hex. 1 hit.  Bunker at S. end. 2 dice ar 1 hex. 1 retreat.

Poles. Recon in force.  1 unit each section, increased to 2 units center for HQ.   Left company. 1 die. 1 hit.  Centre company. 2 dice, 1 hit.  Unit eliminated.  Poles took the bridge.

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Losses:  British.  2 of 12 = 17%  Poles. 2 of 16 = 13%  Germans. 13 of 20 = 65%

But the Germans still hold pill boxes in company strength at both ends of bridge, even if the allies hold the bridge itself.  We shall see what progresss…

Rethinking my priorities

For some time now I have been running a WW2 play-by-email campaign with five “generals”. The original idea was to give them a strategic game which would provide me with some interesting tabletop solo wargames.

However, I have become too bogged down in getting the visual depiction correct and this has slowed down the execution of the big game.

And so, in the recent spate of bad weather which banned me from both the gaming and painting sheds I had a re-think.

The campaign will now progress somewhat faster and individual engagements will probably be fought as board games or simple tabletop wargames without the frills.

I have already played as a board game the expected table-top game that took more than a month to set up, of which more later…

A poor game…

As part of my somewhat OCD lifestyle my daily tasks are dictated by what emerges from the in-tray.

Today we started with: “Trim back lawn edges”:  No thank you, it is raining.  Task is replaced in the interim tray.

Next: “Trim front lawn edges”:  No, it is still raining.  Similar destination.

“Update blog”:   I have nothing to report since yesterday.

“ASL Napoleonic wargame”.:  Ah!  Now we are talking.  Up to the loft to retrieve the two boxes of stuff – and to get out all the Christmas decorations while I am there.

This game was developed during a week-long solo caravan trip in Spain, between two re-enactment events set in 1710 (Zaragoza) and 1811 (Albuera).

With the boxes of Squad Leader game boards and home-made gaming tokens retrieved, I began to roll the dice.  5, 2, 6 means take the 5th board from the stack, then the 2nd below that and the 6th below that.  I ended up with boards 15, 12 and 12.

Next, each board must be orientated.  Dice again. Odd, Even, Odd.  With an odd number the printed board number is to the right, with an even number, to the left.

Result:

Now to the forces.

Blue and Red dice rolled.  Blue has 2 units, red has 5.Opening the playing tile boxes (note 1), Red’s units are (from top left) :  95th Rifles, Royal Horse Artillery 6pr Battery, Royal Artillery 6pr Battery, King’s German Legion 6pr Battery, 52nd Line.

 Blue has:  3eme Regiment de Ligne, 5eme Regiment de Ligne.

Note 1.  The playing pieces are made by attaching printed sticky labels, designed in Microsoft Excel, onto 13mm x 13mm x 5mm plastic tokens bought from Plastics for Games

Next, dice for sides: higher comes from ‘north”.  Blue.

Both sides now make a plan, assuming they have not yet made contact.

Red is clearly an artillery column being escorted by light troops moving from south to north.  They will take the quickest route on road, with scouts from the 95th to the front and the 52nd battalion to the rear.

Blue is an understrength brigade, moving from the north. A die roll decides that they are deployed, looking for the enemy.

Thus we start the game.

It turns out that the game was most disappointing and not worth reporting,  but I thought that my methodology may be of interest.

Eastbourne, 17 September 1940

Yesterday, 3rd January, I played through another engagement of our long-running Operation Sealion Play-By-Email campaign.  The situation potentially called for a large amount of German units that I don’t currently have painted and prepared, as well as a lot of railway track terrain to build.  I opted to fight this as a “TEWTT” – a Tactical Exercise Without Tiny Troops.

I dug out my Memoir ’44 board game and designed tactical counters for platoon sized units, which were printed on A4 sticky label sheets, cut out and attached to plastic counters which I had previously bought from Plastics For Games.

tactical-labels

These labels follow the principles of the early war German map marking symbols as far as possible, but have additional elements for gaming purposes.  They were designed usin MS Paint on a pixel by pixel basis.  I have decided to create all the forces in the campaign on the same principle so that I can fight any forthcoming battles without delay.  Tokens will be kept in separate bags or boxes according to their current location on the campaign map.

It was one of those engagements that happen in a campaign which could practically only be fought as a solo exercise, and gave me a lot of fun. The situation is that a small, scratch force is being attacked from both sides by brigade sized forces and wisely decides to clear off before the pincers close, but will they make it?  And the battle ended with a “blue on blue” incident.  Unusually in this game neither side had any losses.

The battle report is here in MS Word format

battle-report-25-eastbourne-17-sep-1030-1200

and here as a PDF

battle-report-25-eastbourne-17-sep-1030-1200

The next engagement is at Lewes, concurrent with the attacks on Eastbourne.

 

Blücher plays Commands & Colors

I have owned a copy of Sam Mustafa’s “Blücher” rules for five days and already started to bugger about with them.  Not because there is anything wrong with the rules, but I wanted to see if I could adapt them to my normal hexagon-based playing tables in 2mm and 6mm.

I am pleased to say that very little adaptation is needed.  As a first test I tried the rules with a scenario from Commands & Colors Napoleonics and the here is the result.

I made a few cock-ups in interpreting the rules, but I have to say that was my own fault.  These are probably the clearest, best laid out set of rules that I have ever read.

Blücher plays Commands & Colors

Attack on Boialva 13th June 1808

Report of the action at Boialva, Portugal 13th June 1808

Captain Langton, commanding 2nd Squadron, 20th Light Dragoons and senior officer in Boialva, had orders to hold the town with the assistance of the local militia.
The previous day 1st squadron had suffered casualties south of the town, including the squadron commander, and the regiment had taken up defensive positions in the town.

Major Seillon of the French 3eme Provisional Dragoon Regiment had orders to attack.
He decided to retain two squadrons mounted and to attack on foot with his 1st and 2nd squadrons.
1st Squadron was to form a skirmish line and 2nd squadron two half-squadron columns.

The opening dispositions
The opening dispositions

The action commenced with the two mounted squadrons advancing either side of the town, keeping just outside musket range.
1st squadron then advanced in skirmish order and with their carbines swiftly drove two companies of the militia guarding the defensive outworks well back into the town.
They then moved into the buildings to the southern end of Boialva, but the 20th Light Dragoons moved forward the squadrons held in reserve and with support from a third company of militia drove the French back with severe casualties.

The militia are driven back from the walls
The militia are driven back from the walls

Major Seillon then moved his 2nd squadron up towards the town while the 1st squadron reformed and collected in their stragglers.
Captain Langton moved his dismounted cavalry and about half the militia forward to meet this new threat. A firefight over the southern defences ensued and eventually one troop of the French 2nd Squadron forced their way over the walls and into the south of the town.
With dusk falling and effectively a whole squadron lost, Major Seillon sounded the recall and the dragoons withdrew.

The French begin to withdraw
The French begin to withdraw

Although the British and Portuguese hold the town, the French now occupy positions surrounding it and in a good position to intercept any relief force.

Casualties: French – 161, British 36, Portuguese 42.

Wargaming note: This battle was fought using Commands & Colors Napoleonics, as seen in the photographs.