Saturday 19 June 2021

A Bridge Not Near Enough - Part 1

Having not been able to play a big Halloween game, a big Christmas game or a big Easter game (to be fair, we don't normally do this one, but had hoped to this year), Pete, Matt, Wes and I were finally able to get together to play a big mid-June game.

We took our lead from Operation Market Garden and based a scenario on the unsuccessful Allied push to Arnhem in September 1944.

The scenario was fairly simple: the Allies needed to get Pete's six Irish Guards tanks from the western table edge across the bridge in the centre and into 'Arnhem'. They would only enter from turn 3, and so they would have to move quickly to meet their deadline.

Arnhem itself would be held by Matt's ad hoc Kampfgruppe, including Flampanzer support from Panzer Kompanie 224.

Additional Panzer support would be rushed to the defence of the bridge from turn 3, but the Kampfgruppe had heavy guns of their own lying in wait.

To help the Irish Guards and draw off some of the defenders if the bridge, Arnhem would be attacked from the east by Pete's British Paratroopers moving in from their drop zone.

Additionally, Wes's Glider-borne US troops would be dropped to the south and moved to open up the road for the armoured spearhead.

However, my 6th Fallschirmjäger regiment would also rush to the defence of the bridge from the north, seeking to either destroy or delay the tanks long enough for the thrust to lose its impetus.

The first turn saw a lot of moving on to the board and a good deal of ineffective fire. The most incendiary moment was probably the Flammpanzer incinerating the Paras' armoured car.

Meanwhile, a Panther opened fire across the river, destroying one of the US half-tracks.

The second turn opened with the American advance severely hindered by an artillery strike liberally handing out pins to all and sundry.

The Fallschirmjäger moved into position to ambush the Guards when they advanced up the road, with a Panther rolling across the bridge in support.

Unfortunately, this left it vulnerable. The big cat was subjected to two air strikes and succumbed.

Meanwhile, the Paras continued to flood towards Arnhem, driving the German defenders from the ruins at the edge of town.

However, their progress was hindered somewhat by a rampaging Flammpanzer.

The critical third turn saw the Americans continue to push towards the road, despite taking fire from all directions and facing stiff opposition from the Fallschirmjäger.

The German Paratroopers were sent reeling when the Irish Guards burst in from the west, obliterating the squads that stood in their way.

However, the lead Churchill was abandoned when it was engulfed in fire from a flamethrower and had to be shunted out of the road by the lead Cromwell (shunting destroyed tanks is a house rule we created to prevent the Guards from simply being blocked).

The German defence was bolstered by the arrival of a second Panther, a Panzer IV and a Tiger I.

The Flammpanzer continued to burn to a crisp everything that came into range.

Despite this, the Red Devils were making significant inroads into Arnhem.

The fourth turn saw even more British tanks arrive, causing a somewhat of a bottleneck on the road.

This situation wasn't helped by two Panzerfausts, an airstrike and a blast from the Tiger placing a large number of pins on the lead Cromwell and stopping it in its tracks.

The Flammpanzer found itself suddenly assaulted by British Paratroopers armed with anti-tank grenades, but they couldn't penetrate its think armour.

The remains of the shattered 6th Fallschirmjäger repositioned to try to hold the line against the oncoming tanks and Americans.

And a reserve platoon of Wehrmacht emerged from the centre of Arnhem to defend the bridge.

But this left the Paras free to move into the town proper, virtually unopposed.

We actually ran out of time and will continue on another day, but this left things on a bit of a knife edge. The Allies are making significant inroads and inflicting a lot of damage on the Germans, but the tanks still have a long way to go and lot of obstacles to get past.

There a 2-3 turns to go and it remains to be seen whether the Irish Guards can make it.

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