Red Devils over Arnhem AAR - Allied side

Discussion in 'CO2 - After Action Reports' started by Bie, Apr 16, 2017.

  1. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Had a blast with the Nijmegen scenario. It's only natural that Arnhem is up next. This one is still ongoing, so here it goes:


    Analyzing the briefing:

    The men of the 1st Airborne division are to drop west of Arnhem, after which they will need to secure the bridges over the river Nederrijn. These drops will be spread over three days. On the fifth day the XXX Corps will arrive from Nijmegen and push up north to Arnhem. By that time the bridges need to be secured, so the XXX Corps can push into and through Arnhem.

    The Arnhem sector is the final leg of Operation Market Garden. It is far removed from the frontlines so reinforcements are not to be counted upon. Yet once Arnhem falls, the road to Germany lies open. With this in mind initial resistance will probably be disorganized. Yet enemy reinforcements are not far away and will certainly arrive in force.


    My battleplan:
    1. Secure Amsterdamsche and Utrechtsche weg, cutting of reinforcements from the west.
    2. Let the divisional assets set up defences near Wolfhezen, to secure the supply drops.
    3. Secure the railway bridge near Oosterbeek.
    4. Push into Arnhem and secure the highway bridge.
    5. Hold out until the XXX Corps arrives.
    [​IMG]


    Day one:

    Once the drops are done, 1st Airborne division sets up camp near Wolfhezen. The 1st Airlanding brigade is split up. One battalion is heading north to the Amsterdamsche weg, a second battalion is heading south to the Utrechtsche weg and a third one is kept in reserve near the division. Once the 1st Parachute brigade is organized they go on to Oosterbeek.

    Not long after both positions on the highways got set up the first Axis forces start to show up. In the south the 2nd South Staffordshire battalion repulses a couple units on their way to Arnhem. To the north though the 7th King's Own Scottish Borderers has much more to deal with. A Dutch SS battalion and a fallschirmjager battalion wants to pass through. The 7th defended their position stubbornly and fighting would continue well into the evening.

    [​IMG]
    7th King's Own Scottish Borderers interdict incoming reinforcements for Arnhem

    The 1st Parachute brigade closes in on Oosterbeek, encountering sporadic resistance. I let the brigade form up near the polder at the railway bridge and let them rest for the night. They would need their strength tomorrow for the assault.

    [​IMG]
    1st Parachute brigade sneaking into Oosterbeek at night

    Day two:

    The night is mostly uneventful. Some light fighting happened in Oosterbeek and skirmishing happened on both the north and south highways. In the deep of the night I send orders to the reserve battalion, the 1st Border battalion, to prepare an assault on the interdicted Axis troops on the Amsterdamsche weg. Early morning the assault sets off and takes the enemy by surprise. Some units flee, others are utterly destroyed. By the time the assault is concluded the road is clear of enemies and I order the 1st to take the position of the fatigued 7th.

    [​IMG]
    1st Border battalion flanking stalled Axis forces from the west on the Amsterdamsche weg

    At noon a couple of enemy units drive past my defenses and head up the railroad leading to my divisional HQ. A bold move, but a swift riposte by a couple glider pilot companies soon sends the enemy companies into disarray.

    Near Oosterbeek the combined efforts of the 2nd and 3rd Parachute battalions result in the capture of the railway bridge. With the help of an engineer company the bridge is soon unprimed and the companies start to take up defensive positions. Soon afterwards though multiple units come pouring in from the west. 3rd battalion and the divisional recon company narrowly hold the line and manage to redirect the stream of units to the north. During the night the enemy managed to claw its way through the woods south of the Utrechtsche weg. A lack of foresight and a tactical mistake on my part. One that almost cost me a battalion. Ultimately the repulsed units make their way through north Oosterbeek, creating havoc in my supply lines, and link up with the defenses of Arnhem to the north west of the city. This might well be something that will come back to bug me in the end.

    Meanwhile the 2nd battalion gets battered from all sides. Upcoming troops from Arnhem are putting pressure on the defending companies all the while shelling starts from the far side of the Nederrijn. The 2nd gets pinned down in a most precarious position. Things don't look good in Oosterbeek...

    [​IMG]
    British forces at Oosterbeek being flanked from the west

    [​IMG]
    The situation around Arnhem at 1710 hours on day two
     
    #1 Bie, Apr 16, 2017
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
    MichaelCD likes this.
  2. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Day two continued:

    By now the 4th Parachute brigade is on site and making its way to the divisional HQ. I detach its 11th battalion and send it to the northern highway to clear it from the broken companies left by the Borderers. As night sets in the 11th mops up the northern highway and keeps guard. I do note that there are still assorted, yet formidable companies just north of the highway, so might as well be cautious. On the southern highway, more naval companies come heading up from the west. They are met by my Glider Pilot regiments and after a bit of skirmishing they beat a hasty retreat.

    [​IMG]
    Seamen versus airmen: German Navy companies assault British Glider Pilot companies

    Meanwhile I position the 1st Parachute brigade in a defensive position in Oosterbeek. As the day ends, fighting dies down and I let some of the companies have their rest.


    Day three:

    With the 4th Parachute brigade rested. I order them to form up and assault the western part of Arnhem in the early morning. But while moving into position the brigade is ambushed by enemies who were lurking in the Doorwerthsche Bos, the woods just south of the southern highway. The opposing force is not that big, yet they tie up my forces well enough for me to scrap the assault of the 4th.

    1st and 2nd battalion together with the Scottish Borderers battalion have to pick up the slack and are ordered to make a push instead of the now mired 4th brigade. 1st battalion starts its push too early and gets stumped by a much bigger force in the western outskirts of Arnhem. While I make a withdrawal point it is already to late and the companies scatter. The men of T company take it upon them to create a diversion and head south, while the rest of the 1st battalion head north and west. After a relentless pursuit they make their stand near Diependaal. The men are tired and the unit has lost all of its cohesion, yet they hold out for more than six hours against a far superior force. Ultimately they get all but destroyed and the company gets disbanded. Their valiant efforts will be remembered though. Because of their sacrifice the rest of the 1st battalion returns to safety and comes out relatively unharmed.

    [​IMG]
    Assaulting west Arnhem

    [​IMG]
    T Company being picked apart by a superior force

    Meanwhile fighting continues in the Doorwerthsche Bos. The 2nd South Staffords battalion holds the line at the edge of the forest. The naval companies from last evening come pouring through, but the Staffords hold firm. Together with the 4th Brigade the forest get cleared slowly but surely. At the end of the day the 4th can finally continue on its way to Arnhem. A whole day wasted fighting in the woods.

    [​IMG]
    The situation around Arnhem at 1835 hours on day three
     
    #2 Bie, Apr 25, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017
  3. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Day four:

    After an exhausting day for just about all my brigades I use the night to reorganize my forces and bring some structure into my fronts. Once done the men can have a well deserved rest. The enemy seems to do the same, as no real fights break loose on all fronts.

    I'm somewhat concerned of some sighted enemies near Hartenstein though. Last I saw they were tired cohesion less companies, yet they roam behind my front lines and are a possible threat to my supply columns. I use the 156th Parachute battalion for cleanup duty. They have been mostly in reserve and are not that tired yet anyway.

    Headquarters staff plan through the night for an early morning assault on west Arnhem. With some delays the 1st Airlanding brigade starts of the assault at 0700 o'clock. They attack from the north-west via the Amsterdamsche weg. They move down a light slope in open terrain. The entrenched Germans are waiting and open fire just about immediately with everything they have. The initial rush of the assault is broken and most of the force take heavy losses. As a result two companies are disbanded and the remaining men are dispersed among the rest of the brigade.

    [​IMG]
    1st Airlanding brigade tries yet another assault to gain ground in Arhnem

    At about 0800 o'clock the 1st Parachute brigade comes into action. They push along the Utrechtsche weg from the west. They move up through the woods and slowly begin to push back the defending units. Yet the advance is slow and does take a toll on all the battalions. I decide to bring in my reserves, the 10th Parachute battalion, and let them make a push between both of the already committed brigades. They pierce through the lines and cause the lines to the north to finally buckle.

    [​IMG]
    British Airborne brigades meeting stiff opposition

    With the first Allied troops entering Arnhem Axis troops are starting to leave Arnhem, heading south across the highway bridge. This is unforeseen and at a quick glance I note that the railway bridge is only guarded by two of my companies. I immediately pull the 2nd South Staffords away from their defensive position at the Utrechtsche weg and order them to bunker down at the railway bridge in anticipation of an imminent assault. An attack never came though.

    [​IMG]
    As the first Allied companies enter the outskirts of Arnhem from the west, the Axis forces leave the city going south

    On the northern highway the 11th Parachute battalion still is holding their defensive position. With good reason as during the day they continue to be probed and are almost constantly skirmishing. In the late afternoon they even get assaulted by just about all sides. Yet the battalion holds firm and stands its ground.

    At the end of the day I reorganize my lines in the outskirts of Arnhem. It has been a costly day for them. Most companies that participated in the assault are either at half strength or completely exhausted. I fear that my units will not be able to mount another assault tomorrow. They might even not be able to hold the line if the enemy make a push for it. Yet there is hope. Tomorrow at noon the XXX Corps will emerge from the south and spearhead its way to the Arnhem highway bridge. Hold firm men, reinforcements are coming!

    [​IMG]
    The situation around Arnhem at 1927 hours on day four
     
    MichaelCD likes this.
  4. Daz

    Daz Member

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    Keep it going mate.
    Nearly there :)
     
  5. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Day five:

    Night creeps in and brings rain showers with it. Despite this inconvenience all of the the battalions get a much needed rest. After midnight scattered troop movement is reported along the railway line between Wolfhezen and Arnhem. It seems that multiple cut off companies want to return to their lines and are seeking a way though. As I want to keep my front line battalions rested I dispatch the independent parachute companies and the glider pilot companies to seek out the roaming enemy units.

    A rainy night turns into a foggy morning. I decide to try on more time to break through to the center of Arnhem. The 10th Parachute battalion and the Scottish Borderers battalion are chosen for this task as they seem to be in decent fighting shape still. They both probe from the north west, while the divisional artillery is paving the way for the advance. Initial success is being made and both of the battalion inch forwards deeper into the city. While the defenders are being distracted by the attack, the 1st Border battalion slings around to the north, towards Galgen, in an attempt to bypass the heavy defenses.

    [​IMG]
    1st Border battalion breaking off to the north in an attempt to make a flanking maneuver

    Meanwhile the 11th Parachute battalion succumbs to the pressure put on them by incoming SS battalions. New Axis reinforcements seem to be coming from Ede and they are determined to reach Arnhem themselves. I start withdrawing the battalion towards the divisional HQ at Wolfhezen. But through sheer overpowering numbers about half of the battalions' companies get decimated. 'A' company in particular stubbornly held the crossroad at the Amsterdamsche weg until the last minute. They bought the surviving companies time to withdraw but ultimately got cut down.

    [​IMG]
    The 11th is withdrawing from its position, taking heavy casualties

    On the southern horizon though British tanks enter the field. The Guards Armoured division is the first to arrive, soon followed by the 43rd infantry division. After a quick form up I send the Guards along the highway towards to the town of Elst. The 43rd will take the side roads east of the highway. Just about immediately my forces encounter resistance in the orchards near Oosterbeek and in the village Ressen. By that time the Polish Parachute brigade group had jumped and was already assaulting a more northern part of the highway.

    With the 11th Parachute battalion out of the way. Numerous battalions come flooding through the Amsterdamsche weg. As this highway leads to the back of my front line on the western outskirts of Arnhem this was highly alarming to me. I immediately redirect the 2nd South Staffords battalion to take defensive positions at the back of the front line. Also with the 1st Border battalions' northern flanking maneuver stumped at Galgen, I pull them back in support of the Staffords. Both battalions race to their new positions and without any time to spare immediately have to repulse the incoming flood of enemy units.

    Poor weather continues during the day, leading to the cancellation of all but one airstrike. Because of this the artillery batteries are working overtime. By the end of the day though the munitions stores are depleted and the guns turn silent. With the front in Arnhem stalled and more Axis reinforcements coming in from the north west all my hopes now lie with the Armoured Guards and 43rd infantry division. I order the 1st Airborne division to adopt a more defensive position near Oosterbeek and hope for the best.

    [​IMG]
    Arnhem, day five of the operation at 1800 o'clock. Reinforcements have arrived from the south
     
    #5 Bie, May 5, 2017
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
  6. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Day six:

    Under cover of darkness the Airborne divisional HQ and its assets pull out of Wolfhezen. The already battered 11th Parachute battalion is acting as rearguard, making sure everyone moves on safely. Holding on to Wolfhezen had been of strategic importance as the supply drops landed on one of the fields nearby. As none of my forces will be near the drop zone, the last supply drop will most probably land in enemy hands.

    [​IMG]
    Allies withdrawing from Wolfhezen

    At daybreak my men are mostly rested and were dug into position. To the north, coming from the Amsterdamsche weg SS and Navy companies start probing my lines. One by one my men beat them back into the woods. At the same time there is enemy troop movement in Arnhem. They put pressure on my eastern flank and I preventively withdraw the 2nd Parachute battalion to a better position. Most of the enemy units I encounter are just as battered as mine, but I can not take any chances and my men stand their ground.

    [​IMG]
    1st Airborne division digs in around Oosterbeek in anticipation of reinforcements

    Meanwhile to the south of Arnhem, the tanks of the Guards Armoured division are making headway on the highway. Together with the 43rd Infantry division they have been continuously fighting their way up north the whole night. Most of the enemy units get pushed to the west side of the highway, where they inevitably get fired upon by the long trailing columns of British tanks. At the town of Elst a pocket of resistance makes a stand. A stubborn SS tank battalion refuses to budge and gets practically encircled by a flood of infantry companies.

    [​IMG]
    Armoured columns ploughing through the opposition

    [​IMG]
    43rd Infantry division unrooting Axis units in Elst

    Further up north of the highway two Polish Parachute battalions execute their assault on the highway near Elden. Initially they can take the village, but are soon pushed back out by units from Arnhem bridge. Having sustained only few casualties I put them on either side of the highway and let them open up on anything that goes south.

    As the day progresses the skies open up and command grants numerous airstrikes. Those are certainly welcome as the three Airborne light batteries are still out of ammunition. The planes bomb just about all of the large enemy gun emplacements, sending them into disarray.

    Feeling that the push north is losing traction, I order the Hussars to strike out and assault the enemy units to the west of the Elst. They are largely beaten troops, but they still are a thorn in my side as they keep harassing the Guards’ Armoured divisions’ flank. The tanks fire up their engines and in a quick stroke they clear the fields and orchards of enemy presence.

    Back in west Arnhem, nearing the end of the day, the 1st Border battalion is a continual target for probes and assaults. With the 2nd Parachute battalion pulled back, they are the ones furthest into Arnhem. This makes them a big target, as the Germans are hell bent on pushing the British out of Arnhem. The 1st Border battalion defiantly makes a stand. Most notably the entrenched battalion HQ didn’t move an inch, even when some of its subordinate companies did retreat. It is encouraging to see that their will is not broken, even after six days of fighting.

    [​IMG]
    Mulitple Axis infantry companies putting pressure on the 1st Border battalion

    [​IMG]
    The situation around Arnhem at 1750 o'clock on day six
     
    #6 Bie, May 15, 2017
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
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  7. Rob

    Rob Member

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    Thanks for this highly entertaining AAR!! :)

    Rob.
     
  8. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Day seven

    With the Hussars’ efforts to secure the side roads west of Elst, the Irish Guards are able to organize themselves and are ordered to keep pushing north along the highway. With just about the whole of the Guards Armoured division resting, they keep the pressure on. The Irish are tired themselves, but still follow my orders and head on. Their push is very effective, as most of the units they encounter are cought off-guard in their slumber and soon enough the Irish push through Elst and beyond.

    With the relative calm of the night I turn my attention to the supply situation of the Airborne troops. It occurs to me that, having only a railway bridge to cross the river Nederrijn, the wheeled supply columns from the south will not be able to reach the supply bases. I order a redeployment of the 1st Airborne divisional base and send it across the river along with two companies of glider pilots. As a precautionary measure I also send the 156th Parachute battalion to bolster the defense of the bridge and the supply base.

    [​IMG]
    The 1st Airborne division army base gets redeployed across the river Nederrijn and is awaiting a linkup with the supply convoys of XXX Corps

    Sporadic exchange of gunfire continues during the night in the western part of Arnhem. I decide to relieve the 1st Border battalion as they have definitely endured enough fighting. The 7th King's Own Scottish Borderers move up and start taking the place of the Border battalion. At that very moment German troops move up and start assaulting the lines. Again the 1st Border battalion HQ shows its prowess and refuses to retreat, even though they are practically the vanguard of my defensive line. The German charge is lead by the 3rd company of Kampfgruppe Harder. It boasts a formidable formation of nine Panthers. My men have tangled a couple of times with this company before, but have not even once inflicted any casualties. This time however the 2nd Polish AT platoon was ready and waiting. After about an hour of fighting the Axis troops withdraw back into Arnhem, leaving behind two burning Panther wrecks.

    [​IMG]
    The nine Panthers of 3rd company of the KG Harder try to punch a hole through entrenched British Paratroopers

    At daybreak it is clear that the will of the German units on the southern highway is broken. The Irish Guards are nearing their objective so I wake up the Welsh Guards to take over and continue pushing north. With the shroud of darkness lifted the 13/18 Hussars stand alone in the eerily quiet fields south west of Elst. With no enemies nearby, I let them reorganize and finally order them to rest.

    [​IMG]
    13/18 Hussars reorganising after reigning terror on the western flank

    The displaced German units from Elst all withdraw to the polders to the north. There the 156th Parachute Battalion lies in wait in a small stretch of woods and open fire. Nearby two Polish Airborne battalions have taken position on the highway itself, cutting of supplies to the beleaguered German troops. With the northern route cut of the enemy troops are in total disarray and bunker down. Around noon, and frankly a lot later than anticipated, the Welsh Guards begin their push north. At the same time infantry battalions have been taking up positions on the small roads to the west, as to secure the vital supply route to the 1st Airborne division. It also serves well to cover the last possible way out for the Axis troops.

    [​IMG]
    Multiple SS artillery batteries being trapped by British/Polish Paratroopers and upcoming British tanks

    Meanwhile the 130th Infantry brigade has come in from Nijmegen. I immediately send them to the far east flank. They are to take Huissen. The town itself is of little importance, but it will allow us to open up another flank to ultimately assault the Arnhem bridge. The town itself seems to be defended by half an SS battalion. It doesn't seem to have seen battle yet and the units are well prepared for our arrival. Yet I'm confident that we will be able to displace or even destroy them due to out overwhelming numbers.

    [​IMG]
    The 130th Infantry brigade assaulting the town of Huissen

    At the end of the day. The 1st Ariborne division is still holding its position. Practically no push has been attempted against them during the day. With nearly all the German heavy artillery battalions in a pocket to the south of Arnhem and fresh supplies coming in for the three airborne light batteries things are looking op for the men in Oosterbeek. Also the first link up is nearly a there. C company of the 4th somerset light infantry battalion have pushed all the way through the enemy lines and is about a hundred meter from the 156th Parachute battalion. Tea will have to wait for tomorrow though. Night sets in and the men get a well deserved rest.

    [​IMG]
    Arnhem sector: 1848 o'clock, day seven of the opertation
     
    #8 Bie, May 18, 2017
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
  9. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Day eight:

    The night brings heavy rain showers. I push the 69th Infantry brigade up through the muddy side roads in order to position them to the west of the 130th Infantry brigade. The 130th has reached it destination and manages to displace the opposition in Huissen. During the cover of darkness a company of three king Tigers sneaks up to the far east flank and opens up on anything that tries to come close. On the highway the Welsh Guards keep pushing north. Their target is Elden, the last village to Arnhem. With the Hussars' help they take the village and dig in.

    Once daybreak sets in German troops have inched themselves further towards the defensive lines of the 1st Airborne division. A heavy firefight erupt to the north flank as enemy units have used the cover of the early morning fog to come as close as a hundred meter. Some of my companies flee south, but luckily enough of them hold their ground and repulse the attackers with overwhelming artillery fire. Some time later in the morning close to ten enemy companies come pouring out of the center of Arnhem. They hug the railways and target the 2nd Parachute battalion. Gritty combat ensues in the western rail yards. Massive Allied artillery barrages stop the Axis onslaught though. As the Germans retreat I can't help but feel that they are getting increasingly desperate to break through to Oosterbeek. Yet as long as the Airborne flag in Oosterbeek remains standing I'm confident that the Paratroopers will not turn tail and run.

    [​IMG]
    Another push from Arnhem, each time the Axis are getting more desperate

    The assault of Arnhem bridge commences at 1100 o'clock. The plan is for the 69th to sweep across the open polder fields between Elden and the bridge from the south east, clearing the highway of all opposition. After that the Irish Guards will take the highway and try to pierce through the defenses at the bridge itself. The Irish will be followed by the 129th Infantry brigade. They will provide support if the Irish fail in punching through at the bridge. Alternatively they will cross the bridge if possible and start securing the bridgehead.

    [​IMG]
    The 69th sweep across the last open fields towards Arnhem Bridge

    The plan unfolds like clockwork. The 69th clear the polder and highway, the Irish Guards thunder down the highway and soon after the 129th start their assault as well. As planned the Irish Guards punch through the lines, cross the bridge and form a bridgehead. After which the 129th arrive and waste no time to make a defensive perimeter. At the end of the day we have a solid presence in Arnhem and the center of the city is just a stones throw away. The odds have finally tipped into my favor. We'll see if we can capitalize on that tomorrow.

    [​IMG]
    The Shermans of A squad Irish Guards are the first across Arnhem bridge

    [​IMG]
    Day eight, 1831 o'clock. The breach has been made, Allied forces flood into the city of Arnhem
     
    #9 Bie, May 23, 2017
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  10. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Day nine:

    With Elden secure and a bridgehead formed, I order the Poles to join their fellow British Paratroopers at the other side of the Nederrijn. During the night they cross, after which I immediately task them to clear the north flank of enemy units. The Poles attack with fervor and manage to chase away multiple German companies. I notice that there are still quite a lot of enemy units to the north, so after I scatter their first lines I let the Poles retreat back to the British lines.

    [​IMG]
    Allies in full offensive. Arnhem is about to be taken, while Polish Paratroopers reinforce their British counterparts

    During the early morning my troops at the bridgehead get assaulted by a couple of Armoured companies. It turns out to be an assortement of Tigers and Stugs. Yet the combined might of the Irish Guards and 129th Infantry brigade send them fleeing eventually. At daybreak though multiple enemy flak companies open fire at just about anything that moves around at the bridge. My troops get bogged down for a couple of hours. Soon enough though the Welsh Guards come into action and start their assault from across the bridge, straight into the heart of Arnhem.

    Meanwhile the Irish Guards have had time to reorganize and are tasked to head west to make a breach towards the 1st Airborne division. By now I'm already sending the 214th Infantry brigade across the rail way bridge. They form up in Oosterbeek and start their own assault as soon as the Irish have made contact with the enemy in the western part of the city. Even the 1st Airlanding brigade gets called into action again. They are ordered to leave their entrenched positions and lend their strength to the assault of the 214th. The plan comes together perfectly and multiple enemy units get engulfed by a tide of Allied troopers.

    [​IMG]
    214th Infantry brigade enters Oosterbeek, the beleaguered Airborne troops are jubilant

    [​IMG]
    Irish Guards push along the Nederrijn to the Western part of Arnhem

    Hours beforehand artillery barrages have softened up any opposition in the center of Arhnem. The Welsh Guards pierce through the center. They cripple and push away all of the present units, among which two base regiments. The Welsh fight their way to north Arnhem, where relative fresh units await them. After hours of fighting, they ultimately lose their steam and their assault gets blunted. The Welsh Guards pay quite a toll, as most of its companies sustain heavy losses. I order them to halt and relegate them to a more defensive role.

    [​IMG]
    The 214th Infantry brigade forming up in Oosterbeek to make a push into western Arnhem, while the Welsh Guards push through the center of Arnhem

    Nearing the end of the day the Allies have seized control of the center of Arnhem and are consolidating their positions in the western parts. The joint push of the Irish Guards, 214th Infantry brigade and 1st Airlanding Brigade failed to totally cut off all the defending units in the west, but it did crush, scatter and dislodge ten to fifteen entreched companies. With the end of the operation in sight, the Germans are being pushed back on all fronts and it is just a matter of time before all of Arnhem is in Allied hands. North and east Arnhem remain to be secured. But given that we only have one day to achieve this, I’m not going to bother with that. My objective on the final day will be to seize the eastern railway yard. Victory is within reach, hold firm chaps.

    [​IMG]
    Allies still finding lots of resistance in west Arnhem

    [​IMG]
    The situation around Arnhem on day eight, 1851 o'clock. Arnhem is firmly in Allied control
     
    #10 Bie, May 25, 2017
    Last edited: May 29, 2017
  11. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Day ten:

    During the night all my brigades stay put and rest while they can. They sleep frequently gets interrupted though as they get shot and shelled from dark corners and streets. Early morning Axis troops pour out of the streets from their positions to the northern and eastern outskirts of the city. The 129th Infantry brigade keeps their ground though. They take a beating, but don't budge. Soon the assault peters out and the lines continue to trade shots at each other.

    [​IMG]
    Axis troops assault in force to try and retake central Arnhem

    Along the southern highway multiple positions get assaulted. What little German presence remained in the fields to the south seems to have regrouped and starts harassing all of the highway waypoint objectives. Most of the units are under strength infantry companies, yet there is also one lone company of Tiger tanks rampaging through the fields. This causes all sorts of problems for me though as all my tanks and most of my AT guns are in Arnhem. I decide to pull back the 130th Infantry brigade from Huissen to deal with these threats.

    [​IMG]
    A company of Tiger tanks roaming behind enemy lines

    Meanwhile I let the Irish and Welsh Guards form up and push east towards the rail yard. A number of enemy units bar the way, but they only manage to delay the arrival of the Guards. Both brigades race towards the rail yard and captured it in the early afternoon. Following the success of the Guards I push my luck and start expanding out of Arnhem central from all sides. The 4th Parachute brigade and the Polish Parachute brigade push north towards the Amsterdamsche weg. The Paratroopers do still have a lot of fight in them as they sweep all opposition before them. The 214th Infantry brigade and 13/18 Hussars make a push to capture the north of Arnhem. They encounter a lot of opposition and manage to displace a lot of units, including the Corps HQ. In the evening I task the 1st Airlanding brigade to form up and help with the ongoing assaults in the north of Arnhem. Just when they come into contact with the enemy it is 2200 o'clock and the scenario ends.

    The verdict is a decisive victory! Well done chaps, you've made me proud!

    [​IMG]
    Welsh and Irish Guards capture the eastern railyards

    [​IMG]
    A decisive victory in Arnhem! Knighthood awaits

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    Arnhem, day ten 2200 o'clock

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    The ravages of war after ten days of fighting in and around Arnhem
     
  12. Kurt

    Kurt Member

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    Is your private life and sanity also ravaged after this epic AAR ? :playful: , seriously though , great effort .
     
  13. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Hehe, it did take quite some effort. For the past month and a half I've practically only played this game (and this scenario). I've totalled about 73 hours ingame and god knows how many hours of writing this AAR. I'm really happy with the outcome though. There were times I thought that all would go to hell and that I would be dealt a swift defeat. Luckily it turned out quite the contrary.

    Anyway, I'm still cooking up a debriefing. When I'm done with it, I'll post it here.
     
  14. Bie

    Bie Member

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    Debriefing:

    Arnhem is finally liberated! The local citizens are jubilant and my men can finally get some rest.

    Considering the Allied command's gross underestimation of the Axis forces in the area, the operation went better than anticipated. I stuck to the battleplan for as long as I could. Holding both western highways seems to be key for early success as most of the reinforcements from that direction got interdicted or delayed. Taking the railway bridge was not that difficult as the Germans were definitely taken by surprise. Getting into Arnhem with the 1st Airborne division was a different case entirely. The problem I encountered was the fact that by the time I entered the western outskirts of the city, the Germans had dug in en masse. Taking a city with equal or probably in this case less troops than the enemy is foolish. Yet I had to persevere and did try right until day five. I gained ground and managed to get into the western outskirts of Arnhem but at a heavy toll on the Airborne division.

    Like in Nijmegen, the XXX Corps performed admirably. They just about coasted all the way to Arnhem bridge without to much problems. A small yet important part of the operation was the use of the Polish Parachute brigade to block the northern part of the southern highway. They only had two battalions but did a great job at harassing anyone wanting to go down to help halt the XXX Corps.

    The supply problem of the 1st Airborne division on day six and seven was quite nerve racking. By then they had a good defensive position and still had quite some supplies and ammo. The last supply drops were in enemy territory and I was not at all confident that relief would come in time to help them. It did work out in the end though.

    Taking Arnhem itself was quite a slog. Although XXX Corps did most of the heavy lifting, it was nice to see that the 1st Airborne division still had some fight in them. By the very end most of their brigades were on the offensive again. Those Airborne troops sure are hardy and stubborn soldiers. At the end of the scenario I managed to get just about all of the objectives. I missed the north and east Arnhem capture objectives. But all in all I'm happy how it all played out.


    Reflections:
    • It is baffling to see that Allied command estimated the XXX Corps to be at Arnhem in a mere two or three days. They are a powerful force for sure, but two days is just to short. In comparison: I reached Arnhem on day nine.
    • The historical plan for the recce unit of the 1st Airborne division to race ahead and secure Arnhem bridge is ludicrous to me. If it would have done that, it would have been utterly destroyed in no time.
    • Historically elements of the 1st Airborne division penetrated deeper into Arnhem than I did. I took things more slowly and kept my force closer together. I did not want any of my battalions to get cut of and be picked appart.
    • The British seem to call on their artillery more so than the Americans. In my Nijmegen playthrough I seldom saw AI use higher level artillery units. The British in this scenario on the other hand take more initiative and call on their divisional artillery more often.
    • The XXX Corps heavy artillery battalions are amazing. The three light airborne batteries of the 1st Airborne division did their best, but were totally outclassed by the heavy guns of the Corps. Once on the map they were immediately in position to give fire support to the beleaguered paratroopers. No wonder Urquhart praised them so much.

    Notable units:

    1st Border battalion:
    • Did an early morning assault on day two against numerous companies. Sustaining minimal casualties, while totally routing and destroying most of the opposition.
    • Assaulting west Arnhem on day four, meeting stiff opposition. They pulled through enemy artillery barrages and managed to get a foothold in the outskirts.
    • Made a probe north of Arnhem on day five to try and open up a flank. They did ultimately get beaten back by an overwhelming enemy presence.
    • Served as a vanguard in the defensive line in west Arnhem. Gets assaulted many times during day six and seven. They did not move an inch, until I told them to stand down.
    • Participated, as part of the the 1st Airlanding brigade, in an assault of west Arnhem and successfully held the capture objective.
    The Irish and Welsh Guards:
    • Both brigades spearheaded all the assaults along the southern highway.
    • On day eight the Irish Guards were the first to cross Arnhem bridge.
    • On day nine the Welsh Guards pushed past the Irish, further into the center of Arnhem.
    • The Irish made a link up with the Airborne troops in west Arnhem on day nine.
    • A joint Irish Guard and Welsh Guard push secured the railyard in east Arnhem.

    A few closing words about this scenario: I’m a quite experienced gamer and wargame enthusiast, but this scenario sure tested my mettle. The ebb and flow of the battle kept me on the edge of my seat and the operation in itself is quite a challenge. While playing the scenario I thought many times at the poor men that actually fought there all these decades back.

    Anyway, I had fun playing this scenario and writing this AAR. Maybe I’ll do some more in the future.
     
    #14 Bie, Jun 4, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2017
  15. Daz

    Daz Member

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    I often think about what the troops went through whilst I play the game as well.
    When I do an AAR it's even more immersive, because I often find myself looking for photographs and historic accounts of the battles I am playing.
    This game is great as a historical learning aid. It gives you the incentive to dive deeper into the history.

    Great AAR Bie.
     
  16. jimcarravallah

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  17. jimcarravallah

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    I admit I'm a little off topic, Daz, but your statement about "what the troops went through" while playing struck a chord.

    Being from the other side of the pond where we regularly have had troops in combat roles from before the time I discovered Panther's war simulations, I sometimes find it difficult to get through the game as the casualty numbers mount.

    Even in a simulation, I can't help but imagine the downstream suffering that even a well executed military plan causes to those who have nurtured and loved the troops sacrificed to execute it.

    Translate that to a real life military commander, and it takes a special disposition to invest lives meeting ends which, at least as they have appeared benefit locale, aren't worth the cost.

    It's a little easier thinking about what was at stake in World War II.

    But, at least here, it's hard to translate the World War II struggle for the dominating world order to the wars of convenience and conflicts for treasure and ideology since.
     
  18. Bie

    Bie Member

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    At a first glance this game might seem far removed from any of the fighting and the hardship of battle. Yet once you really get into a scenario and indeed start writing an AAR you get bonded to your units. These are no throwaway units, which you can spawn again later on. These are companies, battalions, divisions... that actually existed and that have a background and reputation. These counters are men...

    That is one of the things I really like about this game. You have your order of battle and that's it. You cannot magically produce units in barracks or tanks in factories like in other games. It makes you cherish your units. Because once they're gone, they're gone. It is tough losing units that you got bonded to, units that did their best and showed real valour.
     
    #18 Bie, Jun 6, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2017
    Daz likes this.
  19. Daz

    Daz Member

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    I agree Jim.

    I have just finished reading Blood Red Snow.
    Blood Red Snow: The Memoirs of a German Soldier on the Eastern Front; by Gunter Koschorrek.
    Fantastic book, about a young German heavy machine gunner, but its a very harrowing read.
    Don't read it if you need cheering up, but for an alternative view on what its like to be on the losing side, for a soldier on the front line, its an amazing insight into what their life was like and what they had to endure.
     
  20. Kurt

    Kurt Member

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    Yeah good book , " Sniper on the Eastern Front " is even bleaker and more brutal .
     

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