This is the second game of “5th Platoon”, the Arnhem campaign for Chain of Command published in issue 73 of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy magazine. The first game was won by the British paratroopers, who continue moving now along the road towards the bridge at the center of the city.
In this scenario a key role is to be played by Major General Kussin, who historically was ambushed and killed when his staff car literally crashed into some British units moving along the road. In this scenario, when the officer’s car emerged from the secondary road in the North, the mission of the German units changes to save the life’s general. As you’ll read later in the report, this action had a major effect in the battle and the demise of the Germans.
The scenario victory conditions were for the British to put at least a unit on the German’s tactical edge by the end of a turn, indicating that they had broken the enemy’s defensive line and therefore the forces could keep on moving towards the bridge.
In the patrol phase, the British started in the western edge of the main road and made quick progress forward. The German player attempted to create a line of jump-off points covering the two main advancing routes under cover (it was unlikely that the British were just to stroll forward through the road) located to both sides of the main road.
At the end of the patrol phase, the British had a forward position in their right flank next to the crossroads and controlled the two houses located left of the road. The Germans established a defensive line north of the main road and covered their left flank with a jump-off point in the woods to the south and next to the cross roads.
The opening moves of the British were hardly a surprise, with a rapid build-up of troops in the forward positions next to the cross roads ready to move forward in strength when the circumstances were favorable to do it. The houses north of the road were occupied with the troops overlooking the secondary road where eventually General Kussin’s car was to appear in the following turns.
The German reaction was not unexpectedly to contain any advance in the south, putting a blocking force in the woods out of sight of the British (looking to avoid the morale and men erosion of the small arms fire exchange). In their right flank several sections were also deployed in reserve in case the British decided to use that route but also to provide protection the General Kussin´s car in the moment it emerges from the table edge.
In this stage of the game both sides were happy to consolidated positions; however it was then one of the German players made a mistake when decided to advance forward one section, placed in the center of the line and in sight of the strong main British force located in the crossroads. The fire of the infantry sections, some quite lucky dice rolls and finally a well placed mortar barrage, liquidated in a few phases this section, causing significant depletion of moral points to the German platoon.
In the middle of this action, Kussin’s car was put into action, emerging at full speed from the road in the north towards the cross-roads. As historically happened, the British Stens and Brens concentrated their fire on the flimsy vehicle and was destroyed almost immediately upon emerging.
Rolling the dice, it resulted that Kussin was still alive but unconscious! A British section run forward to attempt capturing the officer and the Germans jumped from the concealed positions to defend their officer. A ferocious exchange of fire followed, with both sides losing a full section to casualties and moral; Kussin routed with one the German section and left the battlefield seriously injured.
However this heroic feat of the German infantry brought also its demise: the relatively low moral level made it less resilient; having to go through several moral rolls (Kussin and other leaders injured, teams broken, etc) it quickly sank to zero forcing the German troops to make a hasty retreat from the field.
The loss of the jumpoff point close to the action around Kussin’s car made the retreat even more difficult, losing a significant amount of men in the process. With two games lost and the combat forces severely depleted we have decided to use the option of “counterattack” in the following game (the third of four scenarios).
We are aware it is a risky move; but this option allows receiving a significant amount of reinforcements in the form of support points. Additionally we are allowed to deploy armored assets for the first time. The game is scheduled for tomorrow Monday, Spain’s national holiday; you can follow live in my twitter account.