A full Company of US 82nd para’s would be dropped onto the table to confront this Axis force with 30 Corps arriving to support them in turn 7 (I know they did not arrive until day 4 but we had to speed up the game).
The game would be played on a 4 x 1.8 metre table with about a quarter of one end being Nijmegan and the rest being the road leading up to the city. The game would by played with my developing Panzer 1 Rule set.
Craig Windebank would field the 82nd airborne with Mark Burnell being in command of 30 Corps. The German side would be commanded by Victor Perry and I would be his 2IC (I also doubling up as the game umpire unbiased of course) in charge of the German force currently occupying Nijmegan.
Orders where issued and battle maps drawn so that the game could kick off. The 82nd’s orders where to drop in and once rallied secure the main highway leading to Nijmegan. They were to also take and hold the Groesbeek heights located to the east. Upon achieved both of these objectives they where to push on to Nijmegan and secure the bridge. 30 Corps were to arrive and assist in defeating any German resistance and then push on to Arnhem.
Orders for the German side were to hold the bridge at all costs to aid in the German counter attack to be led by the 10th SS.
The game started with Craig conducting his Paradrop on his pre determined LZ drawn on his battle map, this was done by him throwing bits of paper onto the table each piece representing a Paratrooper. As Craig dropped his troops and started to put them on the table I placed on the German forces which I had drawn on my battle which due to where his men had landed would now be seen by him. As it turns out he dropped right on top off an 8 ton with a Quad 20mm on the back. Ambush fire resulted with Craig losing a few Para’s but during his reactive fire stage he was able to shoot all of the crew and after carrying out a skill test to my dismay Craig drove the Halftrack off the hill toward his Company rally point. The para’s which dropped on the right side of the road were not so lucky as they landed right in front of an entrenchment armed with a HMG and a 20mm cannon on the back of a Protze truck. None of these poor devils survived being cut to peaces in a hail of lead.
Due to the rest of Craig’s troops being out of range I could not engage any of them during the German firing stage and my movement consisted of reinforcing my left. While I was doing this Craig was busy trying to get his Para’s to their designated rally points marked on his battle map. Thus ended turn one.
Turn two began with a second Para drop this one being at Craig’s second LZ located at the rear of the table well out of range of enemy fire. Gliders where also thrown onto the table and to my dismay they all landed safe so he did not have to role on the damaged glider chart. The rest of the turn consisted of scheme and manoeuvre with me pushing troops forward on the right to get into range on the Para’s. I did however manage to engage my captured Halftrack during the moving vehicle fire stage with a Hetzer. The shot was good and Craig failed to save as the halftrack burst into flames ending turn two.
Turn three and on rolled the 10th SS lead by the Tiger 1. This force then began to move through Nijmegan at great hast so that we might destroy the Para’s before the arrival of 30 corps. Craig dropped on the last of his Company and during the indirect fire stage started to lob 60mm mortar round at my entrenched Germans on the right. I also moved my German HMG team a little bit too close to his Para’s and as a result they were all killed during the stationary infantry fire phase by Para’s occupying the barn near the centre of the table. No moral checks yet end of turn three.
Turn four was short and sharp with Victor pushing his 10th SS through Nijmegan and Craig beginning to dig his para’s in for a showdown. A few shots were exchanged by mortars but not a lot else happened this turn. I looked across the table and I could see Mark starting to chomp at the bit to get his 30 corps onto the table. Three turns to go mate.
Turn five and the Germans lost the role for initiative. Craig stayed put digging in with his eye lids as Victor continued to drive his 10th SS through to the outskirts of Nijmegan. I mustered a squad of German infantry and attempted to dislodge the 82nd from the barn thus cutting the MSR to Nijmegan. I supported the attack with the 20mm gun from the back of a Protze truck destroying one of Craig’s whilly’s jeeps in the process. Troops dashing for the barn immediately came under ambush fire from loop holes cut into the walls. After suffering 3 dead and one suppressed they entered the building and went straight into hand to hand combat. I ended up suffering too many casualties on my approach to the building and did not role very well against Craig. As a result of this my attack was beaten off with my troops retreating out of the barn and running back to the German lines. Craig then used his hand to hand combat victory bonus to carry out a consolidation move and fully secure the building from further attack.
At turns end I rallied my fleeing Germans and set in to fight defensively on the right side off the table. With only one turn to go before the arrival of 30 corps Victor rolled to change orders and form a defensive parameter around Nijmegan. We knew that we would be outnumbered by 30 Corps in Armour but we hoped that our superior German tanks would hold their own.
Turn six resulted in Germany winning the role for initiative and we began to shimmy our tanks into better defensive positions. The Tiger would hold the left on its own with the Hetzer, StuG Mk G and MK III Ausf M in the centre. Two MK IV’s were deployed to the right to support me. We had a PaK 40 positioned in the town to fire onto the MSR and the 10th SS panzer Granadiers were held in reserve. Craig knowing that 30 Corps was about to come on began to push his 82nd forward led by his heavy weapons platoon. Some Mortar fire was exchanged with Craig losing a couple of Para’s but all held there breath for turn seven. No moral checks this ended turn Six.
Turn seven and here we go. Germany won the initiative and we decided to hold our positions and receive the attack. Some minor troop movement was conducted but that was all. Allies turn and on came 30 Corps looking more like a traffic jam than a tactical deployment I guess that Mark wanted to get them on the table as fast as possible. They were lead on by a Daimler scout car and 2 x Bren gun carriers. This was followed by no less than 13 Sherman tanks ranging from 75mm to 76mm and 1 x 17 pounder Fire fly VC. 30 Corps also possessed a Cromwell IV followed up by 2 x platoons of British infantry fully mechanised in Halftracks. I looked at Victor and he looked at me. I knew what he was thinking, how the hell are we going to repel this. As soon as 30 Corps came onto the table they conducted a radio check with the 82nd to establish comms and then the bulk of the force cut left and right of the Nijmegan MSR with only the recce units and Fire fly remaining on the road. The British infantry remained mounted but out of range of our guns as the 82nd closed ranks with the tanks to provide infantry support. The deployment took some time and at its end the Allied spearhead was out of range of all but our Tiger tank which could engage targets out to 80”. There was however no clear line of sight to make a shot so Victor cried as we ended turn seven and began turn eight.
The allies gained the initiative and on they came as soon as the lead tanks came within range we declared reactive fire and all across the table the German tanks sprung into action. Bad rolling mixed with even more bad rolling resulted in a couple of hits but none of our rounds managed to do anything but suppress a single Sherman which upon the rally from suppressions turn of the game Mark rolled evens and it continued its advance.
Our Tiger which was without question our most potent weapon on the board still did not have a clear line of sight. 30 corps now conducted a full move across the board and then during the moving vehicle fire stage of the game we received there retaliation. The Hetzer was the first of our tanks to come under fire with the Fire fly scoring a hit to its frontal armour, with a front armour rating of 8 and the Fire fly having a PP of 13 Victor needed to role a 5 or a 6 to save. Victor failed to save with Mark then followed up with a EP roll of 6, needing only a 3 or more the Hetzer burst into flames. Other shots missed or failed to penetrate all bar a lucky shot from a Sherman which penetrated the frontal armour of one of my MK IV’s luckily he failed to achieve the required EP role so it received a suppression which I rolled for later in the turn and passed. Infantry were now playing a minor part in the game and all knew that it would be decided by the big guns. This ended turn eight.
Germany gained the upper hand and once again we decided to hold our ground and let them come. And come they did knowing full well that they still possessed the numbers to win this engagement. As soon as the Allies moved we reacted again this time scoring some good hits. A Sherman was destroyed on the left by one of my MK IV’s and to our pleasure the PaK 40 opened up and took out that menacing Fire fly. Our Tiger failed to score a hit and came under risk of being enveloped by no less than five Shermans. The Allies scored hits on my Mk IV’s but failed to cause any damage. Rounds were flying all over the place and the Shermans were getting closer and closer.
We decided to begin a tactical withdrawal back into Nijmegan with our infantry which would be followed by the tanks in due course. Our plan now was to cause as much damage as possible then withdraw into Nijmegan and have our infantry ambush the armour with Panzerfausts firing from the roof tops as they enter the City.
Turn ten sore two more Shermans destroyed but it was at this point in the game that the Germans suffered a major set back. The StuG suffered a flank shot from a Bazooka fired from one of Craig’s Paras’ and was destroyed. The Mk III presented its flank to one of the Shermans on the left and as a result it too was destroyed. My Mk IV’s were also both destroyed as the centre and right side of the table collapsed. All our hopes were now dashed as the mighty 88mm tore the turret clean off a 76mm Sherman it was not enough and with regret the Tiger upon firing smoke began a tactical withdrawal back into Nijmegan and safety.
It was agreed that after 6 hours of war gaming we had reached a decisive point in the game as German resistance to the MSR into Nijmegan had totally collapsed. German forces in Nijmegan still possessed over a Company of determined Infantry armed with anti-armour weapons as well as a Pak 40 and a roaming Tiger 1. It was decided that today would end with an Allied Victory and that we would have another game in a couple of weeks to decide the final outcome to Nijmegan.
Singleton Branch of the Lonely Gamers