The British Situation
A company of Paras and two 6 pounder AT guns must hold the river road against German counter attacks or German armor will be able to cut off the British from the Rhine river and bag the remains of the 1st Airborne Division. After a few days, it's obvious that the British will not be able to unite with Frost's troops holding Arnhem Bridge, but the disaster will be far worse if this little strategic spot falls.
The German Situation
This little Western suburb of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, is shaping up to be a very tough nut to crack. After initial confusion, the Germans are organized and have the initiative....and armor. It's time to press home the attack to the British Landing areas and cut off any points where they might cross the Rhine.
The Germans have a four squad scratch motorized platoon of Luftwaffe troops: sweepings from the road, but good enough to spearhead an attack into a tight urban area. Behind them is a recce section of two 20-millimetre-autocannon-armed Sdkfz 251/9 half tracks. Behind them are two platoons of SS trainees from the NCO school, eager to show their mastery of the curriculum. And finally behind them the armor: four StuGs. If they clear a path through the six-pounders and the PIATs, there will be more armor following after.
The Germans were required by the scenario to drive their Luftwaffe platoon up one of the two roads. The recce halftracks led the parade. There was no chance to go left of the River Road as this area was polder and subject to bogging. The idea was to either discover an open road or discover the location of the enemy and then shoot them up with the remains of the Luftwaffe platoon and Scout halftracks, and then drive the SS Infantry through the remains with close support from the self-propelled guns.
The German Blinds card came up first. The halftracks drove as far as the farm and the trucks drove up behind them and disgorged the infantry which pressed around the corner to the right and drove toward the houses they intended to clear.
At that point it was discovered to their great dismay that a platoon of paratroopers occupied the hedge in the middle of the square and the two-story brick building behind. Three of the four Luftwaffe squads were subjected to a tremendous volume of fire from the two forward British squads and (helped by the ambush bonuses and the submachine gun armed bonuses of the Defenders) they were wiped out or broke and ran. A moment later, the two six-pounder anti-tank guns opened up and immediately flamed the first scout half track.
The lieutenant of the smashed Luftwaffe platoon and his sole remaining squad stayed back behind their corner and awaited the second wave. The second scout half track stayed out of the way of the AT guns behind the burning hulk and pumped 20 millimetre shells into the Brits behind their thin little hedges.
The two SS NCO trainee platoons and the four 75mm armed self-propelled guns pressed forward. The infantry occupied the two stout buildings on the square while the self-propelled guns kept up supporting fire. They were giving better than they got against the two platoons paratroops but both sides were being bloodied.
The Germans threw up a poorly coordinated effort to close assault the depleted British squad at the hedge and lost a squad in the effort. In a particularly unlucky turn, the Germans had just placed their medium machine gun detachment on the 2nd floor of a crucial corner that commanded any house and yard in sight only to see the weapon knocked out by a unlucky "17" roll by the Brits. Nevertheless, the sheer volume of the German force was forcing the Brits to inch away.
It was at this point that the brave remains of the ragtag Luftwaffe platoon and their lieutenant dashed forward along side the River Road with hopes of destroying an isolated PIAT crew in close combat. In so doing they discovered and were destroyed in ambush by the last unbloodied Para platoon hiding at the hedge of the farmyard to the south of the River Road.
We played a couple turns more after this event before we called the game as a draw. It was clear there would be more bloody slugging in the lovely leafy suburbs before the Germans could make a clear avenue for the self-propelled guns. It was by no means assured that they would be able to do so. And even then it was by no means assured that the remains of the self-propelled guns would be able to overwhelm the AT guns.
Great effort by both sides
Unlucky breaks and lucky ones happened for each side. As always everyone stuck around afterwards and went through the what ifs.
A very bold forward deployment by the British made this game open up fast. The Germans were constrained by the scenario to lead their scratch platoon to the slaughter. They weren't obligated to get their armored cars shot up. Their initial reverses may have contributed to a less aggressive and coordinated attack then might otherwise have occurred.
They had a few moments where they might have broken the defense wide open with coordinated close assaults, but they contented themselves with hanging back and using their firepower: and in at least two instances, this delay allowed the British Officers and NCOs to remove shock and put units on the verge of breaking back to near perfect health. A lot of credit is owed to the simple fact that the stubborn, well-trained and submachine gun armed paratrooper units are extremely resilient. As in real life, so in wargaming: great troops make good leaders look great!
Great job, Mike, Tony, and Travis for the Germans. Great job, Lee, Brandon, and Will for the Paras.