Unintended Consequences part 2. The best laid plans…

South-east of Nijmegen

18th September 1944 13:30

Played to Memoir ‘44 rules, with local scenario special rules.

In this report I will elaborate the game mechanisms, followed by a creditable narrative of the battle action. Extract from it what you will…

Situation

406 Landesshützen Regiment, now reduced to three companies, is facing an estimated two companies of US parachute infantry holding a crossroads near their observed supply drop zone.

With no definite orders from Corps HQ, I rolled a die for the local commander’s decision. A 6 showed that, with odds of 3:2 in his favour, he would order an attack.

Unfortunately for the Germans, when I rolled for the detailed force make-up, one of their company units was no more than a battalion HQ, which can be useful if there are a lot of units under command, but possibly not so useful in this case. The rest of the force was made up of six rifle platoons, one mortar platoon and one platoon armed with Panzerfausts.

The second potential problem was that there turned out to be three American companies rather than the expected two; two with mortar platoons and all elite forces. I use the US Marines “Gung-Ho!” rules for US parachute infantry, which is effectively about the same as giving them a free HQ unit, allowing one more unit to be activated than the number allowed on the command card.

The picture above is looking from the south (US) side. Rough heathland to the left, flooded polder to the right with a farm near the crossroads.

The Germans, with 9 platoons, start with 3 command cards. The Americans, with 12 platoons, start with 4 command cards.

Victory points. Side with the lowest units, with number of units divided by two, rounding down. Both sides have 3 units, so 1 VP ends the battle.

Both sides win 1 VP for eliminating an enemy unit. The Germans will win 1VP by exiting the field at the crossroads.

13:30

The German player, with orders to attack, must make at least one aggressive move. But with no useable cards, he must surrender one card from his hand and take another. The initiative is lost.

The American player has only one playable card: Recon with 1 unit. “Gung-Ho!” rule increases this to 2 units.

The left flank company advanced half-left and opened fire on the enemy, supported by the mortars of the 2nd company. 1 hit and 1 retreat.

Narrative

Observing the strength of the enemy, the attack stalled.

The Americans initially opened fire with mortars, then advanced a rifle company on the left flank which drove the Germans back with light casualties.

13:40

The German player was still not able to use any of the cards in his hand. Nor was the US player.

13:50

Still no useful cards for either player.

Narrative

After the initial engagement there was a lull for 20 minutes before…

14:00

The German player still had no playable cards.

The US player used “Direct from HQ”, allowing orders to any four units.

I use this in the campaign to include off-table reinforcements within one map square, so the four companies of 3rd Bn 508th PIR arrived on the left flank.

This brought the US strength up to 25 units, and thus 8 command cards, so 4 more were drawn from the pack.

Narrative

At around 14:00 US reinforcements arrived from the south-west in the form of 3rd Bn 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment: HQ, 10 Rifle platoons and 2 mortar platoons.

14:10

Finally the Germans had a useable card. Attack Center. The right flank company advanced to fire on the US left flank company, supported by the mortars of the other company. 1 hit and 1 retreat.

The US played Attack Center. 3 units. The mortar platoon attacked the enemy to the left with 1 hit. The two rifle companies advanced and fired. 2 hits and 2 hit respectively. One German company eliminated. 1 VP. End of game.

Narrative.

The Americans advanced both rifle companies, supported by mortar fire. One of the enemy companies broke and ran. The remainder began to fall back.

Result. US victory.

Casualties.

2/508 PIR. 1/12 = 8%

406 LS Rgt. 5/9 = 56%

Returning to Nijmegen

Our campaign has now entered the morning of the 18th September 1944.

The first engagement was a battalion level attack by US parachute troops against a battery of SP AA guns guarding a railway crossing to the north of a heavily wooded area.
The paras moved out before dawn but it was light before they neared the crossing.
Taking advantage of the woods, they first built improvised defences before opening up with rifles, machine guns and mortars from the south and west of the AA position.
The Germans did not even know of the existence of the enemy before they were completely wiped out.

As an exercise it was useful, but as a wargame I am not so sure. It took me ten days to prepare and 90 minutes to play, including a detailed turn-by-turn report.

And now we return to Nijmegen Bridge, where the Americans have moved up reinforcements overnight. Both sides have also recovered casualties and stragglers during the night phase.

I wish that I had taken some better overall photographs of the table when I last laid it out.Nijmegen
Trying to reconstruct it I first made the error of shifting the whole layout 250m to the west, and thereby the hex pattern is not quite as it was. Secondly I am unable to identify from this photograph several of the specific buildings used last time.

Many of the good Burghers of Nijmegen will be somewhat disoriented when they leave their front doors today to discover they now live in a different street!

Operation Market Garden: Day 1

A summary of the events of day 1 of the play-by-email campaign.

14:00.  Allied parachute drops and glider landings north of Eindhoven, east of Nijmegen and west of Arnhem.  Guards Armoured Division moved north from the Belgian border, but was ambushed south of Valkenswaard.  Irish Guards armoured group lost several light tanks in the breakout.

14:30.  German infantry attacked from the Groesbeek area against 82nd US Airborne.  This attack was repulsed with heavy casualties on both sides.  9th SS Recce Battalion and 16th SS Training Battalion attacked British airborne forces east of their landing area.

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15:00.  505th PIR, 82nd Airborne Division discovered that the railway bridge and a minor road bridge across the Waal-Maas Canal had been blown.  101st Airborne Division secured Uden, Vehgel and St Oedenrode.

15:30.  9th SS Panzer Division elements fought with British gliderborne and parachute troops between Arnhem and the landing area north-east of Oosterbeek.  The British Airborne Recce Squadron captured the Arnhem road bridge from the south end.  101st Airborne secured Schijndel.  The German garrison at Helmond was ordered to Eindhoven.

19440917 1515 Arnhem d

16:00.  82nd US Airborne reported Groesbeek was secure, and turned their attention to the road and rail bridges across the Waal.  101st US Airborne secured the bridges over the Wilhelmina Canal.

16:30.  The fight for the British landing zone was won by the British.  The German forces concentrated on re-taking the road bridge at Arnhem.

17:00.  59th Infantry Battalion of 15th Army arrived from the west at Best and split.  One battalion attacked St Oedenrode, the second moved to take the bridges on the Wilhelmina Canal north of Eindhoven.  82nd US Airborne took the Grave Bridge intact.

17:30.  10th SS Armoured Recce Battalion attacked the Arnhem road bridge from the north.  They suffered casualties on the approach but one company managed to charge across the bridge despite the mines laid by the British advanced forces.  A fight began around the north end of Arnhem bridge as both sides moved up reinforcements to the area.

18:00. The Americans approached the Nijmegen bridges from the south while 10th SS Recc Bn raced to reinforce them from the north.

Nijmegen

18:30.  The fight developed around the major bridges at Arnhem and Nijmegen.  These battles would continue until after dusk, with neither side gaining a firm advantage.  St Oednrode was attacked and both sides fought to a standstill.

19:00 59th Infantry regiment attacked 502nd PIR of 101st Airborne on the Wilhelmina Canal rail bridge.  The attack was defeated.

19:30  3rd Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Grenadiers attacked the Arnhem rail bridge and took it from 2nd and 3rd Battalions Parachute Regiment.

Arnhem Rail bridge

By 21:00 the situation was that 101st Airborne held all their first day objectives.  82nd division held the Nijmegen rail bridge while the Germans still controlled the road bridge.  At Arnhem the Germans had captured the rail bridge while the British had the northern approaches to the road bridge.

It started to rain.

Just before midnight the lead elements of Guards Armoured Division, ordered to push on through the night, reached the southern outskirts of Eindhoven, where the Dutch underground informed them the Germans were occupying the town.

To be continued…

Market Garden: First Contact