Last weekend, I started “The Arnhem Campaign”, a five-scenario campaign for Lock ‘n Load’s WW2 Platoon Combat game, “Nations at War”. In my first outing as the British, I’m not sure how well I fared as my HQ had been reduced and my recon jeeps were scrap metal even though the British 7th Paras had successfully captured Arnhem and its sole bridge (P05 hex). The Germans had inflicted enough damage on my units that I was forced to spend all of my refit points (RPs) to get back up to full strength. No new toys for me.
Well, this weekend is the second scenario from the campaign and it features the German counter-attack on Arnhem. The British have to face two German units, the Aufklarung Abteilung 4 and SS Dauer. Along with my refitted units, I end up getting a 3 inch mortar and another platoon of paratroopers. I’ve sure got a lot of infantry!
|The grim survivors of the first scenario.|
|The new additions to the clan.|
The Auf. Abtel. 4 group starts off to the south of the city while SS Dauer, consisting mostly of tanks, deploys far to the north. Knowing full well that infantry fight better inside of a city and that the Germans will most likely sit back and hit my men from afar if I put them around the outskirts of Arnhem, I opt to keep my units near the center of the city, inviting the Germans to walk on in and see what happens.
|The British adopt the turtle defense.|
The game was eight turns long and instead of recounting every event of every turn, I’ll just talk about the major events as they came up. Let’s go then, shall we?
It’s clear from the start that the Germans cannot just walk into the city as they will quickly be overwhelmed by the British infantry. On the other hand, the British cannot completely hide from German tank fire either. The Germans may either try to link up and fight or maneuver their tanks carefully and pick apart the British where they can before entering the city and assaulting any disrupted units. Both of these methods will take time.
Captain McCloud wiped the sweat from his furrowed brow as the early afternoon sun crawled across the sky. So much had gone wrong so far. Too many men were dead. And to top it all off, his radios were useless. Where were the reinforcements? How could he hold this damn city with so little support? He didn’t have to wonder too long as the dreaded sound of Panther tanks rumbled closer to him off in the distance.
SS Dauer starts maneuvering to the east of Arnhem, presumably to hook up with the other German units. This simply cannot be allowed to happen as it poses a huge threat to the British. The commander of the 7th Paras, without any anti-tank weapons at his disposal, is forced to send out a platoon from the north of the city to assault the German tanks in hopes of delaying them.
|SS Dauer approaches from the north.|
|SS Dauer gets a little too close to the city and the British paras assault them.|
On the south side of the city, German Stugs and a recon unit blast a British unit led by an officer. The unit is reduced and the British start pulling into the center of the city even further. The Stug maneuvers west for a better shot.
|The British pull their units back from the south side of Arnhem.|
Back on the north side of the river, the British para unit manages to disrupt the SS tanks and even reduce the HQ. However, the Germans immediately eliminate the paras out in the open. The British are getting squeezed closer together.
McCloud limped back into Arnhem, his weight supported by one of his sergeants. They had given Jerry a bloody nose alright, ambushing several Stugs that had unwisely traveled too close to the city. A heavy price had been paid in British blood however, as half the men he took with him would never return. He wasn’t quite sure if he was a genius or an idiot. There were still German tanks out there, not nearly so many as before. Were his efforts enough?
On the next turn, the Germans on the south side of the river activate and start moving into the city after the Stug disrupts the British infantry again. The Germans have now entered the south side of Arnhem and are tightening the vise.
|The German infantry and HQ enter the south side of Arnhem.|
The Panzers had to be stopped. McCloud’s best officers and men were taking care of the south end of Arnhem but here on the north side, things were falling apart quickly. The German tanks slithered around to the east and they were trying to link up with their comrades in the south. If that happened, there would be no way to defend the city. He looked grimly at his remaining men, tattered and torn, bruised and beaten. Act 4 Scene 3 of Henry V flashed in his mind. Here was his time to rouse everyone… “Let’s do it,” was all that he could creak out.
The British Para commander is caught in a terrible situation. He can either try to wait out the inevitable tank assault in the city and lose control of Arnhem or make an attempt to stop the Germans from entering altogether by surprising the nearby SS units with more assaults out in the open. With two turns left in the game, he hurls his units at the German SS HQ, disrupting them. If the Brits can get an activation early next turn, he can finish the job.
|In a desperation, the British commander leads an assault against SS Dauer.|
The British were spent. Numerous close range assaults had managed to tie up the German tanks and even destroy a few of them. The firepower was merely overwhelming. McCloud’s Vickers machine gun team was silent and all that was left was to wait for the massive German machines to crush them like a bug. McCloud rolled over in the tall grass and looked at the houses on the outskirts of the town he had been defending. The men around him lay broken and bleeding. All he could think was, “Was it worth it?”
However, on turn 7, the German SS Dauer units are the first to activate and they overrun the nearby British, completely eliminating the HQ unit and the infantry with it. What a disaster! There is no one protecting the north side of the city.
In the south, the remnants of the British Paras activate and they disrupt and assault the German infantry in the city. It seems all for naught as the German SS can simply walk in and take what they want on the final turn.
|The British give the south to the Germans and await the onslaught from SS Dauer from the east.|
On the eighth and final turn, fully expecting to be forced to restart the campaign and cursing my luck, I pulled the first chit, which was an End Turn marker. A broad smile crossed my face when I pulled the next chit marker and got the same. The scenario was finished and the British had still held Arnhem. It was by no means pretty, but it was a win.
On the other hand, I lost a lot of units. My remaining British units are: a reduced HQ, two full strength Para platoons, an officer, and a 3 inch mortar. I have 8 RPs to spend on replacements. It’s not much but it’s a start for rebuilding. According to the campaign instructions, I get to spend these babies for the fourth scenario.
|The weary survivors from 7th Para after the battle for Arnhem. Eight RPs left to spend for refit.|