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.
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.
Arnhem-Oosterbeek, 18th Sept 1944, starting at 08:00.
Three Companies of 10th Parachute Battalion from 4th Parachute Brigade, advancing from the Oosterbeek area towards Arnhem, encountered a blocking line consisting of three companies of 2nd Panzer Grenadier Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Regiment and two companies of 9th SS Armoured Reconnaissance Battalion.
The Panzer Grenadiers were astride the main road, while the railway line was blocked by a company of obsolete French S-35 tanks “liberated” during the retreat from Normandy.To the rear was Hauptsturmführer Gräbner’s HQ, including his captured Humber armoured car.
The Para’s deployed and halted, calling for reinforcements from 1st Airlanding Brigade, holding the drop zones to their rear.Pushing on to Arnhem was paramount, but they had insufficient strength on their own.
Gräbner assessed the situation and also called for support from 3rd Panzer Grenadier Battalion, holding the Rhine railway bridge to his left. At the same time he ordered the tanks to probe forwards.
Luckily for the paratroopers, they had a troop of 17pr Anti-tank guns in tow, which deployedand made short work of two platoons of S-35s.The third platoon was caught by a mortar “stonk”, which put them out of action too.
10th Parachute Battalion deployed their 3rd company, with Vickers MG support, to their right to guard the railway line.The intention was to use the support weapons to keep the enemy’s heads down until reinforcements arrived.
The Germans had no intention of letting that happen, so one rifle company was moved to the top of the low hill to their left flank.Opening fire on the British before they could deploy the Vickers guns, they forced them away from the railway line.
However this forward move put the German company within range of the British mortar platoon, which swiftly retaliated.
The remains of the company moved down to the road to take some shelter in the trees that lined it.A second company, with a MG platoon, advanced to the railway crossing near their centre.
By now the British had established their own machine guns and fired at the company in the roadside trees, causing some damage.But this success was short-lived, for just after 08:30 two companies of 3rd Panzer Grenadier Battalion arrived across the railway bridge to the British right flank.
The British mortars fired again at the enemy sheltering beside the road and put the last platoon out of action.Things were going well for the Para’s, if it were not for this new threat from the south.But where the hell were the glider boys?
The two newly-arrived German companies used their machine guns to great effect against the enemy machine gunners.The parachute company fell apart.
The Germans were now able to advance and deploy, allowing two more reinforcing companies across the bridge.
It was now 09:00.Three companies of the 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment arrived on the northern road (British left flank).
Gräbner took control of the situation.Spotting that the advancing British could outflank his position and march on into Arnhem, he ordered the 3rd Panzer Grenadiers to take over blocking the left flank while he shifted the two companies of the 2nd Battalion to the right, including the mortar platoon which was in the farmyard.He moved his own HQ swiftly to block the roadway on his right flank.Although unable to take serious offensive action he hoped this might delay the enemy long enough for 2nd Battalion to get to grips.He also called Division HQ for support.
While the South Staffs. made their best speed along the road a company of 7th King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSBs) arrived along the Utrecht railway line in the British centre. A few minutes later a second company of KOSBs arrived.
Under fire from the Germans moving to block them, the follow-up companies of the South Staffs abandoned the road and moved up the hill into the heavily wooded area.
The mortar platoon of 10 Para shelled the nearest Germans in support of the KOSBs.
At 09:30 three batteries of 10th Panzer Division field artillery in Arnhem were released to Gräbner for support.Spotting for them from his armoured car he was able to halt the South Staffs.The whole battalion made for the woods, but continued to advance slowly around the German right flank.
They now received the attention of the German mortars, but only a few casualties were suffered.
10 Para, on the right flank, now attacked the 3rd Battalion Panzer Grenadiers
In support of the the lead Company of 7 KOSB, who swung right and took the road toward the now abandoned farm, reaching the eastern level crossing.
3rd Bn Panzer Grenadiers retaliated against 10 Para with concentrated MG and rifle fire and the Para’s gave up after severe casualties.
Two companies of South Staffs. advanced to the edge of the woods, from where they opened fire on the German HQ.No serious damage was inflicted, but Gräbner pulled back 250 yards.
On the German side 2nd Battalion continued to attack the enemy in the woods, while a company of 3rd Battalion raced to cut off the advance of the KOSBs.
They were too late as the determined glider troops beat them to the farm.
A second company of KOSBs advanced to attack the intercepting Germans.
One company of South Staffs managed to get past the Germans and moved on towards Arnhem.
Shortly after 10:00 a second artillery barrage drove the remaining South Staffordshires back into the woods with further casualties.
As the lead KOSB company continued to advance down the main road Gräbner realised that he was outflanked and pulled the rest of 2nd Battalion back to form another blocking line further east.
3rd Battalion dug in to defend the rail bridge from further attack from the north side.Firing could now be heard from the south bank of the Rhine, but that is another story.
Total losses during this engagement (killed, wounded and missing)
Germans: 27%, British 33%
The cost had been high, but the British were one step closer to relieving their friends on the road bridge.
It is a well known fact that in our household very few purchases (except food) are used for their intended pupose. So it was no surprise that when I spotted in the centre aisle of our local Lidl a pack of brown felt pads for the protection of shiny floors against furniture legs for less than 2 pounds/dollars/euros that I snapped them up for potential wargames use.
(I since bought a supplementary pack of beige ones, which have vanished after arriving home.)
The pack has circular pads of 32x10mm, 36x15mm and 48x20mm; square pads of 20x20mm and one sheet 200x200mm. All are about 2mm thick.
Coincidentally, within a week I needed to create for the Market Garden campaign a wargaming area of heathland in 6mm.
Some time ago I bought from eBay some Chinese model trees as an alternative to the “flocked bottle brush” type of which I already have plenty. Examples below.
In the pack were lots of tiny trees which remained in the box for potential future use.
“Aha!” thinks I, “This is my serendipitous moment.”
By twisting the miniscule tree trunks together and pressing them onto to the sticky side of the felt pads I managed to create clumps of bushes. The felt underside helps prevent them from being inadvertantly moved against the flocked base terrain hexagons.
I may decide to use my previously described method of coating the bushes with diluted PVA glue and baking in the oven at a low heat to solidify the models, but for the time being they will suffice, when properly placed, interspersed with occasional trees, to represent my heathland.
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 neededsupplies.
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.
Chris has set his battle scale at (I believe) 1 unit/base =1 battalion. My basic scale is 1 strategic unit = 1 battalion, and 1 tactical gaming unit is the company of 2-4 platoon bases.
But there is still so much that all wargamers can learn from each other’s gaming methods. If I have taken nothing else from Chris’s collection, I have learned about how to box and categorise units. With my gaming method I do not have the luxury of identifying each individual unit, but I can at least store and label units as “Rifles, MG, Mortars, HQ, AT”, etc., with their nationality and type (Para, Regular, SS, Mountain, Commando) and so on included. In one box I can store 12 platoons or 16 vehicles. I am finding this is a great way to proceed.