Friday, 14 January 2022

Race Against Time

 As everyone seemed to enjoy the Polish Drop a couple of weeks ago I thought I'd put on the follow on scenario from the CD Market Garden campaign book. This covers the XXX Corps breakout from Nijmegen the following day by 43rd Wessex Div to link up with the Poles and open the road to Arnhem.

As usual I converted this to play with NATO Brigade Commander. Tim, Russell and Mark took the Germans and John and the Jerry the British.

Battlefield from the south, with bends in the Waal visible. The main Nijmegen-Arnhem road runs parallel to to the rail line via Elst. Oosterhaut is off the dirt road to the left and various other villages (Bemmel, Aam etc) scattered across the polder to the right. All offroad movement is bad going for vehicles and the areas of polder are impassable, which will make the Allied advance a bit challenging.

KG Knaust (Russell and Mark) were defending the western side and main road. KG Hartung is on the road junction, KG Knaust itself is in Oosterhaut with the guns of SS Artillery Training Regt Schwepper covering the elevated highway. Pz Ko Mielke with its Pz IIIs is in reserve in Vallenburg. Driel is off to the northwest. 

KG Frundsberg (10th SS Panzer Div) is holding the east. There was in fact rather more of the division in the area at the time but to make more of a game of it I put a lot of it offtable.  I/22nd SS PGR is in Aam to the right.

KG Brinkmann (10th SS Panzer Recce Bn) is in Elst. Just a platoon each of Sdkfz 250/9s and panzergrenadiers in Sdkfz 250s.

The Allied juggernaut lines up! In theory, two infantry brigades, in practice, just a single battalion from each due to the constricted terrain.

On the right, 4th Wiltshires from 129 Brigade run by Jerry. They were reinforced by a squadron of 4/7 Dragoon Guards and a dedicated battery of Sextons. 

On the left, 7th Somersets from 214 Brigade under John. Reinforced with another squadron of 4/7 Dragoon Guards, an MMG company from the Middlesex Regiment, a battery of towed 17pdrs from 59th Gloucesters and a dedicated battery of 25pdrs. There was also 179 Field Regt of 25pdrs in general support.

German reinforcements waiting to arrive. II/22nd SS PGR, Brigadefuhrer Harmels HQ, and  both 'battalions' of 10th SS Panzer Regiment now equipped with some tanks. We last met these boys fighting as infantry outside Nijmegen. Knausts remaining Tigers (iirc three Tiger Is and a pair of Tiger IIs) were reinforced by half a dozen SS Panthers, hastily repaired by the 10th SS workshops. The Panzer IVs were brand new, sixteen of them were issued to 10th SS and shipped across the Rhine at Pannerden. 

The attacked kicked off at 0800 on the 22nd. The Wiltshires pushed up the main road to Arnhem and bumped into KG Hartung. Ineffective shots were exchanged, but the guns in Oosterhaut brought the elevated road under fire.

The Somersets closed in on Oosterhaut, hampered by the very boggy terrain adjacent to the Waal. The leading elements called down artillery fire on the town, but return fire from German mortars inflicted some losses on the British infantry supporting the tanks.

Mielke and Brinkmann held their positions awaiting developments, but the SS Panzergrenadiers double timed down the road towards Elst.

Things were hotting up at the crossroads. Hartungs AT guns managed to knock out some Shermans, but heavy return fire from the British including a devastating artillery barrage inflicted casualties and disorganised the defenders.

John formed up the leading companies of his battalion adjacent to Oosterhaut behind an artillery barrage and shot in by the battalions support company and the Middlesex MG company. German return fire was heavy and knocked out some of the Shermans as well as inflicting more infantry casualties.

Sensing the time was right, the Wiltshires charged the disorganised Germans behind an artillery barrage. Vehicles up the road and infantry either side of the embankment.

Disordered and outnumbered 4:1, the Germans disintegrated and surrendered. In the meantime, SS Brinkmann and I/22nd SS PGR had moved up to line the railway embankment across the British line of advance.

At Oosterhaut the British began to gain fire superiority. The German guns were knocked out. Pz Ko Mielke moved up to the edge of the woods to observe proceedings.

By now the British artillery had largely run out of ammunition and the 25pdrs fell silent. Supplies were very short due to congestion and disruption back along Hells Highway. 

Back east of Elst, II/22nd SS PGR was busily marching to the front, and Harmel had set up a temporary HQ in Aam.

The Wiltshires now had a violent firefight with the SS troops lining the embankment across the main road. Brinkmanns halftracks were destroyed and both sides infantry suffered heavy losses.

The Somersets had meanwhile overrun Oosterhaut and the remaining defenders surrendered. Mielke took some long range shots and retired back to Vallenburg.

As the Somersets pressed on out of Oosterhaut, there was much excitement as Knausts Tigers rolled straight down the main road from Elst! We last met these tanks in the Polish drop. They faced off against the remains of the Wiltshires. Personally I'd have parked them a bit further back to take advantage of their superior range. 

Unfortunately for the Germans, the elevated road was in sight and range of the Somersets towed 17pdrs who duly set about engaging the shooting gallery in front of them. Half the Tigers were knocked out, and I replaced them with a Panther (to represent the other half of the company). Irl Knaust lost a few Tigers to an anti-tank ambush and a couple bogged up to their turrets in the marshy ground, so that seemed fair enough. 

East of the highway, II/22nd SS PGR was lined up on the Wiltshires flank and the Panzer IVs of II/10th SS Panzer Regiment had joined Harmel on the outskirts of Elst. I/22nd SSPGR was down to just one weak company by now.

We stopped for the evening at that point. The Wiltshires position isn't looking great, but the Somersets don't have much in front of them now. If they can capture Vallenburg and the road exit north of there, that will be enough for a British victory.

Next turn the Allies got the drop on the Germans and the 17pdrs polished off the SS Panthers. Those elevated roads are just murder for armour as they are forced into march column and hideously vulnerable.

The Dragoon Guards followed up this success by overrunning the remains of I/22 SS PGR  behind the railway embankment. 

The few surviving Germans fled in terror. The way to Elst was open! 

Apart from II/10th SS Panzer Regiment of course. The Panzer IVs on the outskirts of Elst blew the Shermans apart at point blank range while Harmel directed proceedings. The II/22 SSGR poured fire into the flank of the Wiltshire support company. 

The Somersets approached Vallenburg cautiously. Mielke snapped off a few shots but missed.

Next turn the Somersets got to fire first, and the Shermans duly knocked out the elderly Panzer IIIs, then gingerly entered the village with infantry closely escorting the tanks.

Back at Elst the Wiltshires withdrew, allowing II/22 SSPGR to occupy a blocking position across the main road supported by the Pz IVs. XXX Corps wasn't going this way today.

Back at Vallenburg, there wasn't any remaining opposition so the road to Driel was clear and an imminent link up with the Poles. 

The remains of the Wiltshires withdrew to Oosterhaut to reorganise.

I think it is safe to say that Vallenburg is the British hands!

We called it a day there as the British had achieved one of their objectives and the Germans weren't in a position to counterattack. That was a plausible historical result, although irl the DCLI passed through the Somersets to link up with the Poles. Held up on the main road the Somersets and Wiltshires launched a two battalion attack on Elst after reorganising. I've gamed that action a couple of times already using the scenario Bob Mackenzie did and I'm not proposing to repeat it.

Once again, that all went OK. I really must try and do something different at some point!



  1. Another great AAR with super kit, Martin. The rules seem to work well. What rules were you using this time and were you happy with them?

    1. Just NATO Brigade Commander, tweaked slightly for WW2 ranges, movement rates and unit densities. They produce a believable narrative, which is all you can really ask for. It would probably have looked better in 6mm (like the Waal crossing game I did a few months ago), but at least the players can actually see the bigger vehicles over a Zoom link.

  2. That looks great Martin- shame I was unavailable for it.



  3. Hello Martin

    Another enjoyable AAR. Not sure you really need to do something different if you are all having so much fun 🙂 Although I assume like all of us you have a list of projects calling you!

    1. I just like to ring the changes a bit, but it is hard to find things which work well in a remote environment.

  4. An excellent game with an interesting variety of forces

    1. Thanks Tim. It was the combat debut for my 15mm 17pdr, and unusually for something new, it not only survived the battle but actually hit something!

  5. More great Arnhem gaming! Have you ever done the whole thing as a campaign? I have always wanted to, having been bitten badly by this game as a child:

    1. I've played the whole campaign using figures twice using Megablitz and twice using Panzergruppe. I've done it endlessly using board and computer games, my favourite of the lot being Hells Highway by Victory Games.

  6. This is a great little action packed into a small footprint. Board size seems ideal for presenting the whole board for a remote game.

    1. Yes, 6x8 Hexon fits very nicely into field of view of the laptop camera. 9x8 works too, but by the time you get to 12x8 it is all a bit far away. I prop the laptop up on a pile of boxes.

  7. Good stuff Martin, yes, you are right the Tigers should have been parked further away .. it was the propaganda film enthusiasm which was their undoing. Well done to the Allies for pushing through on the end-around past the Mk IIIs