HMGS-South Founded March 1996

The Arnhem Trilogy
Report by Marc Rebhun, pictures by Scott Presley

In honor of the theme for Hurricon 2013, "From the Jaws of Victory" RBW Enterprises (Rebhun, Barker and Woodman), in conjunction with Ray Phillips, decided on an Arnhem game using Rapid Fire Second Edition rules. The problem was how to best have a manageable game and still represent the whole of the battle. Any solution also had to fit our model of using the battle problem approach with all players on one side against a programed enemy force. It was Ray who came up with the brilliant idea. Why not have 3 smaller scenarios from the excellent Rapid Fire Arnhem supplement represent the whole campaign! The games would each be on 5 X 8 tables with 2 GMs to a table and 3 players per scenario. This would mean a total of 15 people involved but in a manageable way. The idea was each scenario is linked, the players had to win in all three to win the campaign. Now there would be no direct linkage with forces exiting one table and entering another, nor were the battles at the same time historically. The three would, however, be played out during the same 4 hour game session on Saturday morning.

The first battle would be Grosebeek Heights Counter Attack. Here the first drop from the 82nd. is down and desperately trying to clear the drop zone for the follow on force, mostly gliders, with the equipment they would need to seize the Nijmegen bridges and cross the River Waal. The 82nd were in a roughly fishhook alignment having seized the Grosebeek Heights and the towns of Beek and Wyler. The Germans had an impressive though not very cohesive force to include several armored cars and mobile flak guns. The battle opened with the US rushing forward to reinforce the company holding Wyler. Their thought was rather than abandon this forward position they would reinforce it and assure engaging the German forces on three sides. After some initial losses due to the German armored cars the mortars and 75mm howitzers got the Germans range and soon broke the attack on Wyler. Meanwhile, as in the real battle, the Germans began to overrun the landing zones. And as befitting being airborne the 82nd replied with a spirited counter attack on both the German's front and left flank. The Americans advanced to close range using the various hedges to provide some cover. The game ended with all four of the German Kampfgruppe broken and the 82nd. in charge of the drop zones just in time. Victory 82nd.

The second battle was Dash For Elst. Here elements of XXX Corps were attempting to breakthrough after crossing the bridges at Nijmegen and rapidly advance up the road to link up with the British paras at Arnhem. While having overwhelming armor firepower the British forces were severely handicapped. Due to the condition of the surrounding terrain all vehicles, save halftracks and Bren carriers, were restricted to roads which meant the British would have trouble bringing that firepower to bear. Further the roads were narrow so any knocked out vehicles would have to be pushed or towed out of the way for the advance to continue. And if that were not enough the Germans were able to base their initial defenses on the town of Lent and Elst. A bold move by the British saw Lent taken by a daring coup de main but it wasn't without its losses.

As the British consolidated their foothold on Lent they found it much tougher to make the leap to Elst. Complicating efforts the Germans were able to call on their mobile artillery to help interdict the road and the surrounding area where infantry was attempting to slog on through. Here the Germans had the bulk of their available armor (Pz IVs) backed with anti-tank guns, infantry and the aforementioned artillery. Fortunately it was at this point the German success with their artillery abandoned them and British forces were able to win through to Elst. As the game came to an end Elst fell. However between British losses and the delay it was questionable if they could make it to Arnhem in time to relieve the paras. British marginal victory.

The third and final battle was for Arnhem itself. Here elements of the 1st, 3rd and 11th Parachute Battalion, along with airlanding forces are making a last ditch attempt to right through Arnhem and link up with the Parachute forces holding the north end of the bridge. Initially the Red Devils made good progress on their left flank along the rail line.

However as they penetrated further into the city the fighting became more intense.

The untimely arrival of German assault guns spelled doom for the offensive with the paras unable to push past the stiffening German defenses backed by the assault guns. German marginal victory.

At the after action briefing all players stated they thoroughly enjoyed the game and felt the scenarios well balanced with the results hanging in the balance up to the last few turns. This proved to be an excellent way to refight "a bridge too far" in a manageable way while keeping to the battle problem format and 4 hour gaming session. We ended up with 10 players and 6 GMs yet breaking the game up into the 3 engagements kept the action moving right along with no delays.