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

Market Garden and Memoir ’44

The campaign game, modelling

Work continues on preparing the gaming table for the next engagement at Arnhem, 18th September 1944.
It seems that the consistency of the stone effect spray paint from B&Q has been changed (or as they say in the trade, “improved”).
It is now thicker in texture and does not cover the surface as well as the first batch that I used. The shade has also darkened somewhat. The new spray paint requires two coats, 24 hours apart, to effectively cover a single plastic Kallistra tile. The result is also a rougher texture.

And so I hope to finish the final four city tiles tomorrow, ready for deployment of buildings and the ruins thereof.

The completed version of this part of Arnhem city will not be the same as the same area in previous games. All that matters for the game is that the overall terrain effects conform to the master map.

The Campaign game, operational

This is similar to the way that I roll anew to determine the exact composition of the available troops in each “battle”, reflecting the variable availability of specific arms at any time in this campaign, where both sides made use of ad hoc forces as available to the local commander.

Thus infantry companies may benefit from or be deprived of mortars, machine guns and anti-tank weapons; armour may be PzIVs, Panthers or StuG assault guns (or appropriate Allied choices); and so on, according to the scenario set-up dice rolls.

Before each engagement, the relevant players in command are given a map overview and a list of their forces, together with the estimated overall strength (in companies) of the enemy, with area locations for each battalion unit.

The Campaign game, rules.

I play the battle using “Memoir 44” rules with some local additions, to the best of my ability for each side, according to tactical plans from the opposing generals and the cards drawn during the game.

Notes on application of Memoir 44 rules in the campaign.
Victory Points
An individual engagement (game) ends when one side achieves the number of Victory Points (VP) required.
This is normally set at half the number of companies in the smaller force.
One VP is gained for total elimination of an enemy company.
VP may be allocated for possession of specific hexagons (e.g. bridges), or for leaving the table via specified “exit” hexagons.

Tactical cards.
Each standard battalion unit of 4 companies rolls 1 average die (233445) to determine how many cards are held.
Understrength units roll a D4 (1234) for 3 companies, a D3 special (112223) for 2 companies, or a D2 (coin flip) for 1 company for their card allocation.
Overstrength units roll a D6 (123456).
If a unit has an HQ company/platoon, 1 card is added to the total.

Combat cards.
Each side rolls a D3 special (112223) for the number of combat cards issued.
These cards are generally used to add combat bonuses, but may be used to cancel “retreat” combat results.  (The original intention in the Memoir ’44 game was to use these cards for “winter wars”, specifically the Ardennes battle in 1944/5, but they work well for city combat too.)

Nationality and other cards
All US airborne troops benefit from the US Marines “Gung-Ho” rule, which allows one extra unit to be activated within the tactical card rules.  This reflects the attitude of the US airborne forces after their efforts in Normandy on and after “D-Day”.

All airborne and SS troops are “elite”, which means they may move 2 hexagons (500m) and then fight. (Regular troops can move only 1 hexagon and fight).

British troops have the “Stiff Upper Lip” rule, allowing them to counterattack when a company is reduced to one platoon.  British parachute troops are elite, but not as “Gung-Ho” as the Americans.

House rule.
Polish paratroops are “elite”, may ignore the first “retreat” result and may fight back with 1 die against any enemy attack.  This reflects their hatred of and determination to kill Germans.

Operation Market Garden latest

The latest situation, after early operations on 18th September 1944, is that the 82nd Airborne Division (specifically 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment) is in possession of both the main road bridge and the railway bridge across the Waal River at Nijmegen.

An attack by 59th Infantry Regiment of 15th Army to capture the railway bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal north of Eindhoven failed.  502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of 101st Airborne Division still hold the bridge.

Guards Armoured Division of British XXX Corps is about to attack Eindhoven from the south, but I am preparing for a week away from home, so I guess this will have to wait.

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!

Market Garden – preparation for day 2

Since the last Market Garden report, what has been happening?
In effect, lots of preparation for day 2.

Guards Armoured Division has moved into Eindhoven and faces opposition.
The British force consists of 7 units of 2nd (Armoured) Regt. Irish Guards, 6 units of 1st (Motorised) Battalion Grenadier Guards and 4 units of 2nd (Recce) Regt. Household Cavalry.

I fight the tactical battles with Memoir ’44 rules.
Using known troop types available I use the Memoir 44 battle dice to determine the exact available force composition for the local commander.   This gives me more interesting battles and my e-mail commanders extra tactical issues to consider.  I use a conversion from campaign strength to unit makeup as follows: One strength point = 1 die = 1 company or equivalent game unit.  Note that overnight lost strength points in the campaign may be recovered if the unit is resting.

The British order of battle  for the attack on Eindhoven thus became:
1. Arm’d Regt. HQ (Stuart, “Dingo”, Jeep)
2. 3 Sherman 75s + 1 17pr “Firefly”
3. 3 Sherman 75s + 1 17pr “Firefly”
4. 3 Stuart 37mm
5. 2 M10 17 pr “Achilles”
6. 2 x 17pr + 1/2 track
7. 2 x 17pr + 1/2 track
8. Inf.Bn HQ (Jeep, 15cwt Truck, WT Truck)
9. 4 Rifle Plns + 2 3-Ton trucks
10. 3 Rifle Plns, 1 6pr Gun, 4 1/2 tracks
11. 3 Rifle Plns, 1 6pr Gun, 4 1/2 tracks
12. 3 Rifle Plns, 1 3″ Mortar Pln., 4 1/2 tracks
13. 3 Rifle Plns, 1 3″ Mortar Pln., 4 1/2 tracks
14. 3 Daimler 1 2pr Arm’d Cars
15. 3 Staghound 37mm Arm’d Cars
16. 3 Daimler “Dingo” Scout Cars
17. 3 Daimler “Dingo” Scout Cars

And so I had to start creating some of the units. The Shermans and infantry were already in stock, but I had no Achilles tank destroyers – or so I thought – and no 17pr AT guns.
I set to work with my 3D printer, using M Bergman’s wonderful templates on Thingiverse.com.
Having printed, assembled and painted two Achilles models, I found that I had in the loft a pack of five GHQ models unopened, so I started again.

As for the 17pr guns, these things are always a problem for 3D printing in small scales.  The template provides them on end, standing on the trail. They are designed as 1:200 models, so I start by reducing them to 70% size for 1/285.

A couple of test prints gave me some plastic sclptures that will paint up nicely as trees or bushes!

I rotated the model to print in its normal deployed position. Therefore I needed to add supports for the barrel. After printing, cutting these away without destroying the barrel was a problem (see the header photo).  There is an idea to try to paint them draped in camo netting, but I am also considering removing the barrel and drilling a hole for a pin instead.

Meanwhile I have ordered at considerable expense some GHQ models (The very reason I bought a 3D printer was to avoid this sort of cost) and expect to be fiddling about with superglue some time next week.

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