Arnhem, 19th September 1944

Gaming information.

This report refers to various unit types. During the narrative I may refer to individual vehicles, guns or aircraft. Each mechanical model represents 3 to 5 real vehicles/guns/aircraft. One base of figures represents a platoon equivalent (30-40 men) at about 1:10 ratio. A wargame company is 3-5 platoons, normally 4.

07:00. It is 15 minutes before dawn. At Arnhem Bridge the 43rd Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment, supported by a company of 1st Somerset Light Infantry, advances into the town of Arnhem. This is not good tank country. The area for about 1km around the north end of the bridge is a smoking mess of ruins. There is no sign of the British or Polish Airborne troops that should have been in possession of the bridge.

Fortunately there is no apparent German presence either.

The Somerset Light Infantry advance cautiously along the rubble-strewn main road, supported by Cromwell tanks of 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment.

To the north of Arnhem the remaining airborne troops had been ordered to regroup in the woodland at map square 1430. The company-strength group from 10 Para makes their way along the railway line towards the RV point, occupied by three companies of 2nd Bn. South Staffordshire Regiment.

On the German side, the remaining infantry of 9th SS Panzer Division have orders to move towards map square 1428, the area north of the bridge, and to continue to prevent British Airborne forces from linking up with the newly arrived ground forces. The machine gun platoon of 16th SS Training Battalion makes the greatest progress through the ruins.

Two of the 75mm anti-tank guns of 1st Artillery Battalion, 10th SS Panzer Division, are able to see and fire on the enemy.

The first gun fires at the Cromwell. The second gun fires at the infantry. Neither gun scores a kill.

The time is now 07:13.

Reacting to the enemy fire, the Somersets attack the enemy guns, supported by the fire from the tanks.

The Germans are disordered by the tank fire, and when attacked by the infantry they fall back, abandoning their guns.

10th Battalion Parachute Regiment links up with 2nd Battalion South Staffordshires.

9th SS Panzer Division continues to move south towards the north end of the bridge.

HQ 1st Artillery Battalion 10th SS Panzer Division calls in howitzer fire against the Somersets. Two 75mm guns and two 105mm guns open fire. Neither battery had any success.

The time is now 07:28

A British resupply drop arrives. 1st Airborne Division have been able to organise this by a radio link from 2nd South Staffordshires via 82nd US Airborne Division in Nijmegen. The aircraft fly in at low level to ensure that the containers are dropped in the designated area. But they fly over a battery of 88mm guns in the south of Arnhem. Taking avoiding action, the supplies are accidentally dropped about 250 yards short of the intended area.

One company of the 2nd South Staffordshires charges forwards into the northern outskirts of Arnhem to retrieve the much-needed supplies. The Machine gun and mortar companies remain in position in the woods.

10th Battalion Parachute Regiment closes up and occupies a large warehouse building.

The Somerset Light Infantry attacks the AA guns that fired on the supply aircraft. Already disordered, the gunners fall back, abandoning the guns.

43rd Reconnaissance Regiment tanks are unable to make any progress through the rubble-strewn streets.

16th SS Training Battalion Machine Gun Platoon opens up at short range on the Somersets in the ruins, but no casualties are inflicted.

One company of 1st Battalion, 9th SS fires at the tanks of 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment to no effect. A second company moves forwards into the church.

The company of 2nd Battalion 9th SS advances along the main road.

It is now 07:46

An RAF Spitfire arrives over the battlefield. The pilot has been briefed about the ground situation and will attack only the centre of Arnhem.

(Apologies for the crappy painting of roundels. This is a model from the new Memoir ‘44 expansion pack, hastily painted for the game.)

The company of 1/9SS in the ruins at the road junction dives for cover. The Spitfire flies off, job done. The pilot returns to base, reports a successful mission and enjoys tea and a tot of rum.

Meanwhile, back at the sharp end…

The SLI company attacks the 105mm howitzer company (2 guns) in the ruins to their east, but are beaten back with no substantial casualties.

43rd Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment are still unable to move through the ruins, but open fire against the enemy company at the crossroads, to no effect.

105mm battery of 10th SS Panzer Division fires over open sights at the Somerset Light Infantry company in the ruins.

The Machine Guns of 16th SS Training Battalion fire at the Somersets company at close (250 yards) range. HQ 1st Bn. 9th SS Panzer Division, with a spotter in the church tower, orders the mortar company to fire at the Somersets, who withdraw in good order to the main road junction.

The rifle company of the 1st Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Division advance south towards that road junction.

The company of 2nd Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Division attack the South Staffordshires as they are collecting the supply canisters. The attack is beaten back.

It is now 08:02

Behind the stalled 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment two more infantry companies of the Somerset Light Infantry are waiting.

The Somerset Light Infantry company in the city is ordered to move to the west into the ruins beside the river and attempt to outflank the enemy. The first part of the order is achieved. The tanks of 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment are still unable to pick a way through the rubble-strewn streets. However, they continue to fire on the infantry they see ahead, but do no damage.

To the north of the town the composite company of 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment and 1st Company, 2nd Battalion South Staffordshires and their 3” mortar company attacks the company from 2nd Battalion 9th SS Panzer Division.

This all-out attack eliminates the enemy company, but leaves all the attackers low on ammunition and unable to attack again without resupply. In the woods there is an unrecovered supply drop sufficient for one company. 10th Parachute Battalion takes over the road previously held by 2nd Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Division, but in a defensive mode only.

The Machine Gun Company advances from the railway southwards into the woods towards the warehouses.

The 88mm Gun battery personnel were reorganised without their guns to operate as infantry.

The 81mm mortar company of 2nd Battalion 9th SS Panzer Division fires at the Somerset Light Infantry, directed by the HQ spotter in the church tower, but again to no effect.

No other units are able to make progress through the ruins.

The time 08:14

1st Company, 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment advances southwards into the town of Arnhem.

A Squadron, 43rd Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment manages to move forwards, followed by the HQ squadron.

1st Company, Somerset Light Infantry advances through the ruins.

South of the Rhine, two more companies of the Somerset Light Infantry have arrived.

The mortar company of 1st Battalion 9th SS Panzer Division attacked the Somersets. The Somersets were shaken but not seriously damaged after taking shelter in the ruins. They were then assaulted by three platoons of the 1st/9th SS. The German infantry were pushed back.

16th SS Training Regiment attacked the advancing enemy tanks to no effect.

The time is now 08:29

South Staffordshires mortar company fires at the mortar companies of 1st Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Division. The bombardment is followed by an infantry assault, which is repulsed.

The Somerset Light Infantry and the lead squadron of 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment attack the disorganised infantry of 9th SS Panzer Division.

The Panzer Grenadiers flee. The tanks push on along the road.

The German 105mm howitzers fire direct at the tanks of the 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment, but no tanks are damaged.

The company of 1st Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Division in the church fires at the Somersets, but also does no damage. The commanding officer attempts to move to rally the fleeing company, but is unable to reach them.

The 16th SS machine guns fire at the tanks. The lead tank commander is shot and the others close down, throwing the squadron into confusion.

It is now 08:44

The South Staffordshires mortars on the railway line fire at the fleeing enemy infantry, directed by the officer of the rifle company in the town.

The Somersets then charge the disorganised panzer grenadiers. The company, surrounded, surrenders. One platoon of the Somersets is detached to guard the prisoners.

The South Staffordshires rifle company reorganises after the earlier repulse.

The company of 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment rushes forward to greet the Somerset Light Infantry, but the remaining 9th SS company opens fire from the church, spoiling the fun.

At 08:52 a joint attack on the church is mounted by 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment and the Somersets. The Church is taken and the last German infantry run. The Cromwells of 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment meet up with the airborne troops. Of the fourteen battalions dropped into Arnhem, little more than the equivalent of one battalion remains.

On the horns of a multilemma

Before I start, I should explain that a multilemma is a bit like a dilemma, but with more options.


Mythically a Multilemma is a creature with horns that grow in a manner similar to a “monkey-puzzle” tree. Once every 1500 years it migrates to the coast (normally Bournemouth or Torquay) to indulge in a bit of sea-bathing, in the process of which it invariably drowns due to the weight of the horns when soaked in salt water. (yes: I made that up, just like the folks at Games Workshop used to do.)

But for our purposes a multilemma is the situation that I face.
In my campaign I have a company of German PanzerGrenadiers in 1944 facing a company of British Glider Infantry, across a bridge. To the right (from the German viewpoint) of the enemy is another company of PanzerGrenadiers, but to their right is a company of British Parachute infantry. The company commander of the southern unit has (by rolling a 6) decided to attack.

My problem is how to play this engagement:

  1. A simple die roll, taking into account the support companies.
  2. Hex and counter boardgame. Each company is 4 counters. 1 hex = 250m. Rules: Memoir ’44.*
  3. 6mm models on hex terrain (similar to option 2 but wth 3D detail), in which case I will probably need to do some terrain building. Rules: Probably Memoir ’44, and my preferred option.
  4. 20mm. I would need to substitute American soldier models for British. As for rules, I have several possibilities. I would probably have to make some quite a lot of terrain, including a river and a rail bridge. Chain of Command rules?
  5. Counters as Sections/Squads with Squad Leader boards and local rules.
  6. Counters as Sections/Squads with Squad Leader boards and 1970s (not Squad Leader) rules.
  • Option 2 has been the normal recent method of resolving engagements, but can be somewhat boring, particularly with small engagements.

So far, from the above, I have a Sexilemma. Not something that I would wish to meet in a wood on a dark night!
But it is looking to me as if the answer may be D6-based. Before I roll the die( and a D3 or a D6) any suggestions?

Thanks for any input.

D-Day and beyond. Part 7

…being the story of a wargame, now in arrears…  Unfortunately my detailed report has vanished into the depths of the internet, but the synopsis is that we chased off the crew of a 105mm howitzer, captured or  scared of a German supply company, deployed two sections of the RA 25 prs which helped drive the enemy at least into cover, and consolidated our position.

Game note.  The Germans having been driven mainly away from board 2 and totally from board 1, board 1 was removed and a new board added to the German side, with all their reinforcements deployed.  The new situation is shown above.  And thus we will start the next day with a German counter-attack.

 

 

D-Day and beyond. Part 6

Being a narrative story of a continuing wargame.

When I had the idea of this project I thought that I would very quickly fall behind the timeline of 75 years to the day.  I was right!  Even without taking into account the restricted weekend gaming time, I cannot afford to spend the requisite amount of time staring at a game board, making decisions and rolling dice.

Anyway, here is the next part of Captain Copley’s report.

8th June 1944.

This morning we began to receive reinforcements.  First to arrive, around 10:00, was a platoon from C Company.

As they arrived, the remains of A Company launched an attack on the Germans who were trying to cut us off from the beach.

One of Lt. Smythe’s PIAT teams moved up into the woods, stalking the SP gun which gave us some bother yesterday.  They successfully put it out of action. They were accompanied by a rifle squad which attacked enemy infantry on the road.  The enemy ran back into the woods, but then the squad came under rifle fire themselves.  To add to their problems they then suffered artillery fire.  None apparently survived.  The PIAT team was also wiped out in this bombardment.

On the left flank Sgt. MacGregor’s platoon began to move southwest towards the main road, and I moved my HQ southwards to keep in contact with the company’s advance.

The Churchill tank moved cautiously up the road and took position in a defile between two cliffs.

I ordered Sgt. MacGregor to try to get his light mortars to a position from which they could attack the enemy artillery, which was believed to be behind the far hill (point 538 on my map).  He acknowledged the order and I observed his platoon moving over the hill crest towards the southwest.  I continued to move my own HQ up to remain in touch with the company.

I ordered Lt. Smythe to keep moving forward.  For the time being I took command of the newly-arrived platoon from C Company, who advanced along the road.  I also instructed the commander of the Yeomanry’s single Churchill to continue along the road, reporting any sighting of the enemy.  After a few minutes he reported that he had found the enemy’s artillery and destroyed one of the guns.  He was intending to pullback behind the cover of the woods.

Around 10:30 I suffered W/T problems and lost touch with both my own platoon commanders, but urged the reinforcing platoon to  push on up the road.

Next to land was a troop of 25pr guns.  They were a sight for sore eyes!  I suggested to the Troop Commander that he should move to point 621 and deploy behind the crest.  He agreed and advised that the whole regiment (16 guns) would shortly be landing.

I could not raise the Yeomanry tank commander and feared the worst.

I heard shooting to the south and looking around from my vantage point on one of the bluffs I was able to make out a column of enemy infantry moving up the road on our left flank.  They  were already engaged With our infantry on the left.  I immediately called up Sgt. MacGregor, who told me he was already taking action to redeploy his platoon to meet the new threat.

Lt. Smythe reported that he had cleared the immediate threat from the west and was turning to assault the hill to his left flank.

A few minutes later Sgt. MacGregor reported that he was in a spot of bother on the southern flank.   One of his Bren teams had “bottled it”, disturbing the chaps behind them as they ran.  I ordered him to hold as well as he could while I attempted to reinforce his position.  On the right I ordered Lt. Smythe to push on up the hill as he had planned.  I had no response from third platoon commander.

As the first 25pr troop began to set up their positions a second troop arrived, followed by another infantry platoon from C Coy.

Sgt. MacGregor established a defensive line against the enemy infantry arriving from the south.  Lt. Smythe pushed on up the hill, encountering some disorganised infantry in the woods.

The first artillery section took position and their observer moved forwards and established an OP in the woods on the forward slope.

I looked at my watch.  11:00.  Had all of this happened within only one hour?

…to be continued…

 

D-Day and beyond. Part 5

Being the continuing story of a wargame

7th June 1944

Report from Captain Copley.

No reinforcements having been received, except for a few stragglers coming in overnight and one of the Churchills that the Yeomanry managed to recover, I reorganised the company into two platoons. Lieutenant Smythe became my 2 i/c and I put the other platoon in charge of Sgt. MacGregor.

Each of the platoons had the standard three  sections with Brens and rifles, but benefitted from two PIATs and two 2” mortars each.

I deployed Sgt. MacGregor’s platoon on the heights around hill 621 to our front and Lt. Smythe’s on the right flank, mainly in the woods.  The Yeomanry took post between the two platoons, guarding the road with their single tank.

I kept one rifle squad with me at the company HQ in the large building near the beach.

The enemy attacked us at 08:00.  Some ineffective small arms fire was received against our forward positions on the hill, which was returned with interest!

But 10 minutes later heavy artillery began to fall on our forward positions and we lost half a dozen men.

At 0840 two SP guns appeared, one on the road and one in the woods on the right flank.  The Churchill had a crack at the one in the road and it ceased firing.  The tank fired again, knocked out the gun and advanced to the gap between the cliff and a stone wall to defend the defile.  On the right flank we lost a bren team to the second gun.

Lt Smythe ordered his platoon to advance, keeping under cover.  He left the two 2” mortars to the rear with the protection of one section.  He moved forward to find a vantage point from which he could direct the fire of the mortars.

The tank was caught in a heavy artillery stonk but survived.  On the right flank the PIAT team crawled forwards and fired at the SP gun to their front.  Some damage was observed.

Two rifle squads dashed forwards to assault opposing infantry in the houses to our front.  The enemy was wiped out and we occupied the houses.

In the centre the Churchill tank fired at a MG in the woods beside the road junction.  Wiping the enemy out the tank advanced and took over the position.  Finally we held the road junction; one of our objectives for yesterday.

Sgt. MacGregor sent two of his sections out to left and right to outflank the MG position in the house to his front.

Suddenly the Churchill was struck by what appeared to be a Panzerfaust bomb fired from the house to its right.  The tank quickly backed off to a position from where it could fire at the building.

The tank fired, then a rifle squad stormed the building while defenders were still shaken and cleared them out.

On the left flank a MG team was driven from the house they had been holding.

At around 09:15 the enemy called off their attack and withdrew.

During the action we lost ten men and one of our bren guns.  We estimate the enemy lost about three times that number, including one SP gun destroyed.

D-Day and Beyond, Part 4

6th June 1944

Report from Capt. Copley, 2 I/c A Company.

It appears that the Major was correct to worry about the German guns.
Although our bombing and naval gunfire had pretty much wrecked the shoreline defences, we ran into several minefields behind the beach area and the Jerrys sent forward three SP anti-tank guns. We managed to knock all three out but not before they had accounted for all 6 of the Yeomanry’s Churchills.

We landed at 07:30 and by 09:00 most of the remains of the company was still pinned down near the shore line and in the ruined houses on the left flank.
Some of our chaps never got ashore until later because the beach was too congested to move.
We did not get the Vickers platoon or the 3” mortars ashore.

Two rifle squads succeeded in punching through on the left flank and took the high ground, capturing one German howitzer and killing both the crew and the OP team, but the road junction objective is still in enemy hands.

We are now digging in within 100 yards of the shoreline against enemy counter-attack and hoping for reinforcements. We have a forward post at Point 621 at our front centre.

Casualty report:
Major Read (Company C.O.), C.S.M Gane,
Lieut. Flitcroft, 1 Platoon
Lieut. Davies, 2 Platoon
Lieut. Cork, 4 Platoon
55 NCOs and Other Ranks.

Fit for duty.
Captain Copley, Lieutenant Smythe, 100 NCOs and ORs.
Equipment Return.
4 PIATs, 4 x 2” Mortar, 6 Bren guns, Rifles and other small arms.

In addition 6 Churchill tanks from the Yeomanry destroyed.

Capt. Copley, Officer Commanding A Company.

A restricted game planner

I have been “unavailable” of late, due mainly to the Memsahib occupying the home office.  It is a public holiday weekend, therefore she has been working on her normal office work for around two thirds of every day (“because I can do it here uninterrupted”).

Therefore I have been excluded from the home office with my main computer and relegated to functions available on my i-Pad or my old Windows 7 Notepad, which is painfully slow (it was the latest technology when I bought it at Currys duty-free at Heathrow)

However, I have this afternoon been allowed an hour to update my Market Garden campaign by a further 30 minutes and send reports to two of my PBEM “Generals”.  We are just approaching 15:30 on 18th September (day 2 of the operation), although some individual combats have progressed as far as 19:00.

It is not easy to keep track of where every unit is on the main map, particularly when a local engagement is played that continues beyond the current campaign time frame.

I think I may have one more engagement to play before everyone settles down for the night and brings in stragglers and recovered casualties.

On other fronts, I have managed some painting, but my 3D printer has packed up and a new “more precise” print head is on order.

I have been able to use the old notepad PC to create unit stickers for my 13mm plastic counters for my planned “D-day and beyond” solo game (of which more later).  I have to find my opportunities to print the stickers during the Memsahib’s coffee breaks, and then spend hours attaching them to the blank plastic tokens.