Operation Market Garden

At the beginning of November 2013 I hosted an on-line “play by email” wargame based on Operation Market Garden, September 17-26 1944.  We only reached 19th September in the game.  Maybe the remainder will be played one day…

How the game came about
17th September part one
17th September part two
17th September part three
Correction to last entry. Von Tettau’s brigade was to the WEST of Arnhem, not the East as stated. (from your geographically challenged reporter)

18th September Morning
18th September Afternoon
18th September Evening

19th September 1944 Dawn
19th September 1944 Morning
19th September 1944 Afternoon

The campaign map.
The campaign map.

9 thoughts on “Operation Market Garden”

  1. Enjoyed reading the background to the campaign and rule structures. You’ve been rather a busy chap getting it all sorted out. I’m looking forward to reading the game reports. From a participant’s perspective it was great fun and involved sitting at the PC waiting for emails to arrive providing insights to enemy movements, combat results, delayed (or advanced) reinforcements etc. On the plus side it was great to pit ones wits against other opponents and have someone coordinate everything. I guess, a bit like Paul has said, it was frustrating not being able to complete the game in the time provided. Things were just hotting up and some of the German forces being pushed back and/or eliminated whilst others were holding firm and well dug in to a new defensive line ready for the onslaught. I’m guessing they would have been able to hold and delay the allied advance completely – although Paul might tell me otherwise.

  2. Enjoyed reading the 1st report concerning deployments and drop zones. Interesting use of coordinates from the allies, no wonder a few units got confused. The Germans sorted the problem by double and triple checking every deployment and order set of coordinates. It eventually sank in and was second nature. By that time it really sped up the ability to write orders and get them sent off by return email. No wonder Paul was knackered come the end of the weekend. Lots of thinking and record keeping for him to do. One of the real benefits of taking part in this campaign was that it has re awoken my interest in board gaming, pbem and any sort of gaming. Thanks Paul, I’m sure Wes is going to be pleased about that!

  3. Firstly, As Commander of the Allied Airborne Forces for the Market Garden Operation, may I congratulate and thank Paul, for all his hard work, It made my Weekend, the added Email – Radio message concept was a brilliant undertaking. It gave the player a sense of FOG OF WAR – not knowing the enemy positions – was a lot better than sitting around a table, looking at the “other side” and their commander ( no offence Duncan lol) who can give tell tale signs of movements etc.

    A GREAT concept and BRILLIANT undertaking by Paul.

    I had been prepping myself for the Operation for around 2 weeks of actual News Real Footage, Books, History programs etc and put together with the fact that Arnhem is one of my favourite battle studies – My Step mother Father was actually their with 2nd Staffs Glider Troops, Sergeant Clarke – he was lucky – he survived. I had a personal score to settle.

    I based the deployment of the British on “Johnny Frosts” plan, after his capture ( being the only battalion of Para’s that reached the Bridge) that the Real life Drop zones for the British were far too far away from the Objective – This is shown also in the famous Film ” A Bridge too Far” – some 8 miles away. Their was a Drop zone at the southern end of the Bridge, which was not suitable for Glider landings – BUT PARATROOPERS COULD HAVE LANDED THERE !! – casualties would have been taken, but with the war planners, they would have been sustainable.

    So the Main Force of Para’s Landed WITHOUT their 2x Artillery and 43 Recce just south / south east of the Bridge. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 156th taking Arnhem Bridge and taking up position in the town to the North and probing into the woods where they found German Infantry.

    The reason I landed the Paras without their Artillery is that I wanted them to move in a capture quickly and not have units that moved slower stuck on the road somewhere – “Thunder clap Surprise !” – It was also hoped that from our Intelligence that German opposition was to be light – Old Men on Bicycles / Children….. that kind of thing.

    11th Para Landed in the 1st Wave and Took the Railway Bridge just to the west of the Road Bridge at Arnhem. And Held it – we now had 2 Bridges over the Rhine – Intact, slightly damaged – but Intact.

    The Glider troops also landed in the 1st Wave – KOSB, BORDERS and 2nd SOUTH STAFFS, just south of the railway Bridge at Rhenen, Rhenen is to the West of Arnhem, its accessible from Tracks from Nijmegen, It was a 3rd Objective, although it was further away for XXX Corps to travel it would have given them – if Arnhem was so hard fought over another option.

    After the Gliders landed, the Battalions moved towards the objective, which the Germans held the northern end of – and after some heavy fighting managed to Break out and into the Woods and Streets of the town.

    So we then had ALL the British Objectives taken at that time.

    1st, 2nd, 3rd Polish Paratroopers and 2nd Royal Artillery landed at Rhenen with the 2nd Lift, Re enforcing the 3 Glider Battalions, which were now being attacked by German Infantry and Mech Infantry, KOSB and BORDERS Surrendering after very heavy casualties, British Forces then retired in good order to hold the southern end of the Bridge – which was contested heavily until it collapsed into the Rhine.

    2nd South Staffs were ordered to take the Ferry Crossing further to the West – but nothing was heard of them from the point of the Bridge at Rhenens Collapse as their Radios were not working well.

    1st, 2nd, 3rd Polish Para’s and 2nd Royal Artillery were then ordered to the east – this was the last day of the game – to support the rest of the British force in Arnhem, still Holding the Rail and Road Bridges.

    The British Para’s at Arnhem Held in the most heroic of fashions in Real Life and in the Game – 156th Battalion becoming over run and dissolving into 3rd Para – so the Woods to the North of Arnhem were taken by the Germans, 2 Para Held the Road Bridge with 1 and 3 in the Town in Full defensive positions.

    The Fighting in Arnhem reached the point in the film were the para’s on the Bridge were asked to surrender – and Yes the Germans in the game play did ask us – we gave the line from the film as our reply, ” that we didn’t have the facilities to take you all prisoner, sorry, we would like to, was there anything else ?”

    The Germans then true to form tried to “flatten Arnhem” – Infantry, Mech Infantry, Artillery and the Dreaded TANKS – all battered the Para’s from the North, East and West. – a surprise attack even came in from the south east, on the south side of the River – trying to cut off and retake the Bridge from the South. This was unsuccessful as 10 Para were Holding the British Re supply Zone just south of Valburg, Were ordered to intercept. The Poles were advancing towards the Re Supply area and therefore releasing 10 para to make the attack possible.

    It was rumoured that XXX Corps had reached and were advancing from the Nijmegen road north towards Arnhem, The Germans issued a 2nd Surrender demand to the Para’s at Arnhem, the Para’s asked if their wounded could be evacuated – the Germans Refused stating that they needed a immediate Surrender or the wounded would die with the rest.

    This is the reply the Germans Got.

    “White is the 1 colour that we didn’t bring with us, unless the Germans could hold the flags up above their heads and walk forwards towards our positions we have instructed our men to do the following.
    On this Position we stand or fall we must fight to the last man, show No Mercy as you will be shown none yourselves, We have fought these troops before, they were not up to it then, they are not up to it now. This stand will go down in the annals of History.
    Good Luck Every Body – God Save the King !”

    On the Last turn of Gameplay – British 1st, 2nd and 3rd were unreachable by Radio, But I believe them to still be holding the Road Bridge, with 11 Para Holding the Railway Bridge.

    The 43 Recce did arrive with the 3rd lift and landed on the Historic Landing Zone, they raced towards the Road Bridge at Arnhem – attacking in the rear the German Forces, with hit and run tactics, trying to draw away as much of the build up of Germans in the area as Possible. They did this with Success.

    So the British overcame all odds, a Tribute to the men of the time and the Regiments of the future.

    I will follow up with the 10st and 82nd Reports as a Commander in the next few days – but this was the Prize – the Bridge over the Rhine …..

    From a British point of view the Operation has to be a SUCESS.

    I have taken a picture of the Map on the last turn of play as I knew it – it shows all 3 major Objectives in Allied Hands – Wonderful !!!

    Gavin Collins
    General Browning.

    1. From the GM.
      In fact the area immediately south of Arnhem bridge was good for glider landings and the player’s briefing – although it did not point this out – only excluded PARACHUTE landings within 1 Km of the bridges.
      I rather hoped we might get a sort of Pegasus Bridge scenario from this, but I thought the use of the Airlanding Brigade to take the river crossing to the west was creative.

  4. I felt we did a remarkable job considering we often did not know what was going on! I felt relieving/ taking Arnhem in 72 hours was unrealistic considering the polder ground I had to advance across on a road one tank wide. I had to move up this under fire and I had 15th Wehrmacht Army on my left!
    One thing I had going for me was the RAF and rocket firing Typhoons Whenever the 101st and the 82 could not protect my flank I had airpower to do so. So, as I lost tank after tank up the road I simply pushed them out of the way and kept moving. Besides worried about losing Eindhoven and the critical nightfighter base so I could stage airstrikes from there, I was concerned about German armor (II FJ) forming in Reichwald where airstrikes couldn’t see them, then advancing over Groesbeek Heights at night and turning our flank. My inability to stay in contact with Gen’l Browning was frustrating (one amusing exchange between the GM and I: “Where is Gen’l Browing HQ now? ” GM: ” I don’t think Gen knows where his HQ is.”)
    I was reduced to sending Spitfire recon from Eindhoven carrying messages for the Gen. which were dropped to Airborne forces in the approximate area, and I ended up sending a brigade (eventually two) to re enforce the Paras covering the Groesbeek Heights area.
    I took Nijmegen on the 19th after defeating the German defenders at around 16:00 hours and captured both the railroad and highway bridges. This put me in artillery range of Arnhem and my FACs were free to advance to set up air attacks into Arnhem itself. I doubt the Germans would stand once that started. It appears we are going home by Christmas!

    1. So, even though we did not get as far into the campaign week as I as GM had hoped, we did at least leave the battle at a point when all three players considered that they were winning. That has to be a positive.
      Reports and maps will continue to be published as and when I find the time.

  5. You know reading all the reports etc is quite exciting – Esp the insight on the Germans – Loved the bit about the SS training Battalion with the Ferry trying to cut the chains lol – as the Brits had No orders to advance over the ferries – It was a planning error. Also the single American Para Drop was a diversionary move – if the Germans came into contact and found that a US Paratroop unit was in their rear – what would go through the mind of the German Commander ? – How the hell did they get there, how many more are there, I must draw some troops away from the main attack to guard my Flank / Rear.

    Always good to have an Ace up your sleeve.


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