All American over Nijmegen - German side

miya

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Hallo,

i finished the Nijmegen scenario from the "Highway to the Reich" scenario pack.
I played the german side against the AI. During the last few hours I managed to defeat the Allied troops in the city of Nijmegen. The remnants of several battalions are in a pocket south of the center of the town. In the south the AI is slowly getting the upper hand in the town of Groesbeek.
Reading the AAR at the end, there is one point of critic I want to make concerning the AI. As you can see my Germans lost 67 men due to bombardment. I have a feeling the AI needs to be much more aggressive with its artillery support.
 

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Kurt

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Hi miya , in the past players complained that AI was to aggressive with its artillery so Dave tweaked the code accordingly . The artillery issue whether under human or AI control is a complex one that will be improved in time .
 

miya

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Hi miya , in the past players complained that AI was to aggressive with its artillery so Dave tweaked the code accordingly . The artillery issue whether under human or AI control is a complex one that will be improved in time .

When I saw the numbers of bombardment casualties 68 : 1100 I was a little shocked, but it is good to hear that this will be improved in time.

Hi Miya, what was your strategy here? Looks like you did very well.

The basic idea was to keep the road Nijmegen-Kranenburg open and I had no intentions to recapture the bridges along the Maas-Waal-Canal.
Therefore I moved all the reinforcements, Greshik, Stargaard, Goebel and Becker in to that polder area between the road and the Waal river.
From there those KGs wer ordered probe several places along the highway, Wyler Berg, Beek and the southeastern suburbs of Nijmegen.
In the meantime KG Henke was to hold the city at all costs. KG Harmer would provide some strengthening for the defenders at sunrise of day 2. After the successful probes of the 406th Division along the highway, I saw an opportunity to capture Groesbeek, KG Goebel was to attack. Unfortunately Groesbeek became a black hole which consumed more troops than i liked till the end of game.
For the last day of the scenario I planed a large attack on the city of Nijmegen, KG Becker Regt from the south and the SS units from the north. The aim was to drive british and american units out of the city and secure the points of the objective. Now the open road Nijmegen-Kranenburg became very useful.
Looking from a tactical point of view, micromanaging artillery and the units with the 88s was one key to success. I wanted to use direct fire on allied units. For the rest my KG commanders (the AI) did a very good job.
 

Guy Miller

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nice, thanks.

I find that 90% of the time I take over all the ART above Bn level. One day, we will hopefully get SMOKE as a feature (both for human and AI) and that will be awesome.
 

Kurt

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Whilst on the subject of artillery , Dave suggests you only micromanage half of your artillery units , leaving the rest to friendly AI . This creates a degree of game balance , otherwise you have an unfair and unrealistic advantage against the enemy AI .
 

Guy Miller

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sounds reasonable. I suppose percentage-wise I usually micromanage about 50-70% of ART, but almost always the "heavy guns" and usually just in situations where I want to create an offensive or defensive schwerpunkt. In some situations you just have to have a barrage.

Am I way off track on this?
 

Kurt

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No just stick to the 50% rule and let us know how you get on with it .
 

Roger Kirkham

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I'm not sure the artillery is realistic in terms of the number of artillery units you can assign to a particular target.

In practice, I believe that the largest artillery concentration achievable on an ad-hoc basis would be an entire division (for British divs, that's one unit of heavy and two units of medium artillery if memory serves).

In the game, by micro-managing my artillery I can basically put every single piece in the corps or whatever and target it at a single area within range. That isn't realistic is it?

The one exception to the above is carefully planned barrages that too k place before attacks - but that's a special scenario not really encountered in the game, although the breakout from Joe's Bridge takes place just after the heavy bombardment has ceased.

What I'm saying is, there should be some kind of organisational system whereby no more than all the artillery units under the commnd of a division can be brought to bear on a single point.
 

Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor

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Things are a bit busy here and I'm not going to give you the depth of response your query really deserves. The short answer is that by and large German arty operated "under command". US arty operated in direct support and in support. British arty operated under the principle of unity of effort. See this article here: http://nigelef.tripod.com/maindoc.htm

So with the Brits they could call in arty from just about anywhere using one of their AGRAs (Army Group Royal Artillery HQs). If an opportunity presented itself, such as a enemy Bn forming up for an attack, they would use a code word "William" to claim priority of all guns within a certain command or range and they would all fire on the designated target. There are instances where this practice saw many hundreds of tubes firing at the one target.

The Americans saw how effective this was in Market Garden and tried to replicate it in the Bulge. But they never really managed it to the same extent as the Brits had.

In the game if a request for arty goes up the command chain there is a probability of commitment from the higher HQ. That probability is diminished for the Germans, less for the Americans and greatest for the Brits. So in effect if you are attacking a Brit force then there is more likelihood you will get stomped from guns other than those in the same command chain.

Ideally what I would like to see is better modelling of in support fire but Rome wasn't built in a day.
 
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Roger Kirkham

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Thanks very much for your reply - you obviously have detailed knowledge on this subject and you've inspired me to learn more!

Thanks again,

- roGER
 
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Things are a bit busy here and I'm not going to give you the depth of response your query really deserves. The short answer is that by and large German arty operated "under command". US arty operated in direct support and in support. British arty operated under the principle of unity of effort. See this article here: http://nigelef.tripod.com/maindoc.htm

So with the Brits they could call in arty from just about anywhere using one of their AGRAs (Army Group Royal Artillery HQs). If an opportunity presented itself, such as a enemy Bn forming up for an attack, they would use a code word "William" to claim priority of all guns within a certain command or range and they would all fire on the designated target. There are instances where this practice saw many hundreds of tubes firing at the one target.

The Americans saw how effective this was in Market Garden and tried to replicate it in the Bulge. But they never really managed it to the same extent as the Brits had.

In the game if a request for arty goes up the command chain there is a probability of commitment from the higher HQ. That probability is diminished for the Germans, less for the Americans and greatest for the Brits. So in effect if you are attacking a Brit force then there is more likelihood you will get stomped from guns other than those in the same command chain.

Ideally what I would like to see is better modelling of in support fire but Rome wasn't built in a day.

The issue really revolves around efficiency of communication up to higher headquarters and ability to coordinate a response down from higher headquarters to subordinate units once that communication is exchanged. The game engine offers the pieces to replicate that with the orders delay feature as modified by the factors that address a command echelon's response capabilities and the individual unit's response capability based on its experience and training status. If those are already factored into the call for artillery order when applied at higher echelon levels, then the matter revolves around how unit capability modifiers were addressed by the scenario maker.
 

Daz

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I have found a good discussion regarding German Artillery procedures here:
https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=70&t=149187

Of particular note to me was this statement by Mitchate:

"Recently I stumbled about this:

The Arko of the I. SS Pz. Korps after the war claimed in a study, that radio controlled fire concentrations that he had ordered were executed 12-15 minutes after ordering the target by 40-50 batteries (150-200 gun tubes, or the equivalent of ~15 artillery battalions), which represents a corps's worth of artillery, including some batteries of neighbouring corps that were still in range of the ordered target.

Source is MS B-832."

The entire discussion was very interesting, as like one of the posters commented, it's very hard to find information on WWII German Artillery procedures, and response times, written in English.
 

Daz

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Here is another article from early on in the war (1941) that demonstrates the effectiveness of the German Artillery procedures and the use of forward observers, from the Lone Sentry website:
http://www.lonesentry.com/articles/ttt/artillery-observers.html

In the observation of fire, the greatest reliance by the Germans is placed on forward observers. Often the battery commander himself goes ahead in this role. The part that the observer plays in German field operations is brought out in the following translation from a recent issue of Artilleristische Rundschau.

The artillery forward observer (Vorgeschobene Beobachter) plays a decisive part in the success of infantry. In the attack he goes along with the infantry, accompanied by a radio operator. If the attack is stopped, this observer calls for fire on enemy points of resistance and carries the infantry on to the next assault. In static warfare, the observer orders destructive fire against the enemy and covering fire to aid his own troops. He also directs destructive fire against enemy infantry who are about to attack or actually attacking. The results of this are shown not only in the effective cooperation between the two arms, but in the existence of a spirit of brotherhood in combat--the artillery forward observer becomes the best friend of the infantry.
A few examples from the Eastern Front will illustrate the role of the forward observer.
In one instance, a German battalion was attacking a Russian objective at a place where there was a churchyard in close proximity to the Russian rear; the attack was gaining ground very slowly, impeded by stubborn defense and by poor observation for the German artillery. Finally, a forward observer succeeded in the face of Russian fire in reaching an observation position located at the flank, whence he could observe the churchyard. The signal troops, working fast, established communication in a very short time with the battery, which was then able to deliver well-placed fire. The opponent was so pinned down that the attack regained its impetus. In a short time the village and churchyard were captured.
In August 1941, a German division had been defending for some time a stream south of C--. A battalion received the mission to make a limited-objective attack in order to secure prisoners; the attack was to be made with a reinforced company, supported by heavy infantry weapons and artillery. After assembly in combat outposts, the company began the attack in several groups. The forward observer of a light battery and heavy battery went forward with the company, while at the same time another forward observer was stationed in the advance combat positions of the sector to the right of the attack in order to watch for any threat to the flank. Given excellent support by the artillery, and working skillfully through the terrain, the assault troops succeeded in penetrating deeply into the Soviet positions, without loss, and in capturing prisoners and weapons. At the same time, on his own initiative, the company commander in the sector to the right sent a weaker assault group to capture a Russian scout squad. The forward artillery observer in this sector supported the effort so well that nearly all the personnel of the scout unit were disabled or captured. The result of these two operations was a total of 42 prisoners and 12 captured machine guns and mortars, while on the German side the only casualty was one soldier slightly wounded. The skillful and rapid fire-support given by the artillery as a result of the work of the forward observer played a major role in this success.

Other examples can be found on the website provided in the link above.
 

SamuraiN

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When I saw the numbers of bombardment casualties 68 : 1100 I was a little shocked, but it is good to hear that this will be improved in time.



The basic idea was to keep the road Nijmegen-Kranenburg open and I had no intentions to recapture the bridges along the Maas-Waal-Canal.
Therefore I moved all the reinforcements, Greshik, Stargaard, Goebel and Becker in to that polder area between the road and the Waal river.
From there those KGs wer ordered probe several places along the highway, Wyler Berg, Beek and the southeastern suburbs of Nijmegen.
In the meantime KG Henke was to hold the city at all costs. KG Harmer would provide some strengthening for the defenders at sunrise of day 2. After the successful probes of the 406th Division along the highway, I saw an opportunity to capture Groesbeek, KG Goebel was to attack. Unfortunately Groesbeek became a black hole which consumed more troops than i liked till the end of game.
For the last day of the scenario I planed a large attack on the city of Nijmegen, KG Becker Regt from the south and the SS units from the north. The aim was to drive british and american units out of the city and secure the points of the objective. Now the open road Nijmegen-Kranenburg became very useful.
Looking from a tactical point of view, micromanaging artillery and the units with the 88s was one key to success. I wanted to use direct fire on allied units. For the rest my KG commanders (the AI) did a very good job.

Good job done. I did an operational analysis on realistic assumptions based on the force setup in game (German side):
1) Most likely Nijmegen will be lost. Once the XXX Corps crosses the canal, the Germans can deploy at most a battered division strength force to defend Nijmegen with not enough anti tank weapons. And the Germans will not be able to defend Nijmegen like Stalingrad because of morale.

2) If Nijmegen is to be held, those 5 bridges on the Waal-Maas Canal (the major river flowing from north to south) have to be destroyed. We consider the scenario that one bridge is secured by the Allies and the Germans need to re-prime it. If more than one the Germans are doomed. The rail bridge near Mook is the most dangerous. If it fails to be blown the Germans will have no chance of destroying it again. The heavy road bridge at Honinghutje has be to blown as quickly as possible as it takes too long to prime. The rest three are by no means easy.

3) I would deploy nearly all reinforcements from the north to retake and re-prime the one captured bridge. That should buy 30+ hours for the Germans before the British can bring up a Bailey Bridge over the Waal-Maas Canal. The town of Nijmegen can be yielded to the paratroopers, so more units of 82nd will be tempted to get into town. But at least one bridge has to be kept open for later reinforcements to flow in from the north. Attack from the Reichswald is likely be prepared for by the 82nd, so I would not expect it to make swift progress, but they should draw attention of the paratroopers. The main assault will be mounted by the SS troops from the north at night or before dawn with all their limited armour. It would be a desperate attempt and the chances are not terribly high.

4) From a strategic viewpoint, I would blow up those 2 bridges over the Waal River. At best, the German can destroy one more Allied division and have Nijmegen whose strategic value is quite limited by my opinion. But at worst, the Brits at Arnhem may hold out longer with good cooperation with the Polish Brigade, which could make the whole Market Garden a victory.
 

GoodGuy

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The Arko of the I. SS Pz. Korps after the war claimed in a study, that radio controlled fire concentrations that he had ordered were executed 12-15 minutes after ordering the target by 40-50 batteries (150-200 gun tubes, or the equivalent of ~15 artillery battalions), which represents a corps's worth of artillery, including some batteries of neighbouring corps that were still in range of the ordered target.

Source is MS B-832."

The entire discussion was very interesting, as like one of the posters commented, it's very hard to find information on WWII German Artillery procedures, and response times, written in English.

I just stumbled over these interesting posts from Daz.
The fire concentration he described involved the equivalent of 5 full strength artillery regiments, which the player may actually have at his disposal in one or another big scenario, so such fire concentration wouldn't be a gamey strat.
Dave correctly rated the German artillery as operating "under command", but this could very well involve the support of arty units in neighboring sectors. Let me quote from the article recommended by Dave, where "under command" is described :

"The British Army did not recognise the principle of Unity of Command in the way that other armies did, instead they subscribed to Unity of Effort, a more flexible concept. The consequence of these simple arrangements was highly flexible mobile firepower that could be provided where and when it was needed.
'Under Command' meant that control was centralised under the commander, while 'In Support' meant decentralisation. ........[...] Typically a regiment 'under command' of a division would be 'in support' to a particular brigade, but this did not prevent it firing in support of formations to its flanks."

The Germans held back artillery units as Army assets (just like some AT units, in order to be able to create Schwerpunkt defenses to prevent armored enemy breakthroughs), especially on the EF, which were either assigned to particular sectors, ordered as "add-ons" to create/support Schwerpunkt bombardments or held back as Army (the typical reserve level) or Corps (rare, I think) reserve, respectively/exclusively ordered/to be assigned by the Army commander. While the Russians put entire artillery divisions and even Corps into the Stavka Reserve eventually, which the Stavka (Reserve of the Supreme High Command) could then assign to support a "Front" or individual Armies, for instance, the Germans did not believe in the creation of arty divisions, they just created 2 experimental arty divisions which were then rarely employed en bloc, so the common bodies (additionally) assigned to the different sectors (or particular Corps/divisions) used to be artillery regiments or one or more of its Abteilungen (Bns).

The article then continues to detail the more flexible British approach:

"Corps became the primary level of artillery control for counter-battery action (as it was in WW1) and in the final year of the war for major offensive fireplans. Control was usually centralised for defensive and major attack operations and decentralised for an advance. However it was rare for command to be decentralised below divisional level and decentralisation mostly applied to the army artillery being assigned to corps or division level."

As I understand it, the British approach usually still involved the rather centralized approach "under command" when on the defensive AND during major attack operations (mostly even below div. level) and the rather decentralized "in support" approach during advances - where the latter approach was mostly applied when Army artillery assets were assigned to subordinated echelons (Corps or Div).

The detailed sub-page "command & control" stresses that "the normal centralizing HQ was division for divisional artillery and corps for artillery with counter-battery tasks", but the article section also notes that the Field Service Regulations stressed that "command of any body of artillery should be centralized under the highest commander who can exercise effective control". The regulations also stated that a formation commander should not have to deal with more than one artillery commander, according to the article.
This enabled the British artillery branch to get to a somewhat higher level of flexibility, as - when effective control couldn't be achieved - "then some or all units may be placed under command of a forward brigade or even regiments or batteries under command of forward units."

As I see it, technically - and in the main - vital parts of the British approach were still within the "under command" scope, though, as decentralization of command below divisional level rarely occured and as decentralization of command was rather reserved for artillery above the divisional level and for advances (for the longest time, at least).
 
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