Wargaming in Hertfordshire

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Operation Market Garden

Report and Pictures by Fred.

This June, we will be doing three linked Market Garden scenarios for our annual Club WW2 day. Last weekend saw us play-test the "middle scenario" in which elements of the Irish Guards and Wessex Infantry Division tried to clear a route to Arnhem after the capture of the Bridge over the Waal. 

The Germans deployed an 88 and Pak 40s with pockets of supporting infantry.

The Brits immediately ran into trouble as they probed down the left-most road and ran into a PRT which was subjected to a hard-hitting 120mm mortar stonk.

Not to be put off, our resident "Marshall Ney", Tony, decided to push forward with as much armour as possible down a single road rather than try to stretch the Germans by using the rest of the road network. One bren gun carrier went off the road and bogged down in the soft Dutch terrain straightaway.

The lead M5 got smacked in the side by a pak 40.

Rather like the breakout scene in A Bridge Too Far, the British spearhead was heavily exposed as it moved in column down a single narrow road. German Panzer Grenadiers armed with Panzerfausts tussled with the hard-pressed Wessex men in ditches along the side of the road (I'll need to make these for the big game in June - on Sunday we just counted any infantry within one inch of the roadside as in hard cover).

A battery of Stugs entered the fray.

The crossroads in front of the village descended into a wild melee.

But the Germans were not having it all their own way. Their squads were being gutted in their attempts to knock out British AFVs whilst one Stug fell victim to well-placed off-board artillery.

Hell's Highway indeed.

In a final throw of the dice, the British sent a second group of tanks down the middle roadway, including two fireflies which somehow failed to knock a stug with several side and rear shots.

To add insult to injury, one firefly then took a side shot itself from the 88 and went up in flames.

At which point we called it a day after 6 action packed turns. Although the British had taken a real hammering and did not secure their objective of exiting vehicles off the German edge of the board, they were only 3 points closer to their BR total than the Germans, who had less points (800 v 1100) and were therefore more brittle. So it ended up a close run thing.

The key might have been to have thrown two spearheads down opposite ends of the board and prevent the Germans from concentrating their forces. By going down a single road, the British ended up in a tight vice and their attack ground to a halt - rather like the real battle.

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