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.

44BC91B4-3C49-4E07-8CF9-CA4D8FE04887

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…

The Taking of Arnhem Bridge

 

The second attempt at adding this post.  The content vanished on publication last time.

The continuing story of Market Garden re-created as a play by e-mail campaign.

Arnhem Bridge
17th September 1944, 15:15
1st Airborne Recce Squadron attacks the bridge from the south.
Defenders. 1 company of infantry, including 1 platoon in a bunker on the south side of the bridge
Game notes

British take first turn. As there is only one unit on each side, 
command cards are not used.

Victory is determined by either the British capturing the bridge 
or the Germans eliminating the British.
The jeeps raced up the road and opened fire on the defenders, scoring 2 hits.
19440917 1515 Arnhem a
The Germans returned their fire.
One jeep was hit and the other two fell back 200 yards.
19440917 1515 Arnhem b
The jeeps moved around to the left flank and tried again. A third German platoon was wiped out.
19440917 1515 Arnhem c
The last platoon, in the bunker, fired back causing no casualties.
It now came down to a straight firefight which the British won.
By 15:35 the bridge was in British hands, but for how long…?
19440917 1515 Arnhem d

A pre-campaign taster

Today I fought a wargame of the XXX Corps advance through Valkenswaard towards Eindhoven on 17th September 1944.

This was a play-test of my “tweaked ” tactical rules based on the Memoir 44 game system before embarking on the main campaign which involves 6 generals contributing by e-mail.

The battle takes place about 5 miles south of the main campaign map area, and will determine the initial starting strength of the British Guards Armoured Division for the campaign game.

And so to the battle report:

19440917 1400 Valkenswaard

 

Operation Sealion. The Battle of Brighton – 06:30-07:00

Eventually I have reached 90 minutes into the German attack on Brighton.  This battle is beginning to look like the representation of Stalingrad refought by Lionel Tarr in the 1960s and referenced in Donald Featherstone’s books “War Games” and “Advanced War Games”

The following are the reports sent at 07:00 to the German and British overall commanders in this Play by E-mail campaign.  The battle has now reached 07:30 but for security reasons I am publishing one half hour in arrears.

Brighton 18th September 1940 British 0700

Brighton 18th September 1940 German 0700

Operation Sealion – The Battle of Brighton

Hello followers,

Well, it has been a while since I posted, and here is why.

  1. Ongoing arguments between insurers and builders about the re-instatement of our house as it was before the fire of 4th July.
  2. Arguments with caravan insurers, purchasing a replacement caravan and trying to find someone who would insure the replacement.
  3. Finding somewhere to keep the new caravan while the builders – if we ever get any – repair the house and re-fence the garden.
  4. Sourcing a new garden shed/workshop.  Achieved as a local contractor will build a bespoke shed to fit the space available.
  5. Buying an awning that fits the new caravan, and, as yet not begun, selling the old one.
  6. Undergoing a biopsy to investigate my almost certain cancer.

and finally, the fact that I am running a PBEM wargame and anything that I post will be visible to both commanders.

So, with the game now poised at 07:00 18th September 1940, here are the battle reports for the previous 30 minutes from 06:00 to 06:30.

The situation is the German attack on Brighton, with the intention of capturing Shoreham harbour to allow unloading of armoured units.

Brighton 18th September 1940 British 0630

Brighton 18th September 1940 German 0630

 

 

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.

 

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