The display game was of The Battle of Arnhem , September 1944 with the focus being the first day and the the landing of the parachute brigade and their attempts to secure the bridge at Arnhem.
We were playing in 15mm scale and using the popular Crossfire World War II rules (with some house rules thrown in).
Here is the final table layout for the game. We see the landing zones at the bottom with gliders etc. and the bridge at the far right corner. Near the landing zone is the village of Wolfheze with Oosterbeek in the middle. The Germans started with two platoons deployed hidden between Wolfheze and Oosterbeek.
The Reconaissance jeep squadron ready to move out
In this game we both had learned lessons from our rehearsal game and changed our plans accordingly. Michael commanding the Germans had positioned his forces across both main avenues of approach to Arnhem. My jeep squadron had been well and truly shot up in the last game so I was a bit more tentative. I planned to probe the German defences until I had broken through and then run my jeeps through the gap and make for the bridge.
The game started at 3.00pm game time and we used a moving clock mechanism to determine when German reinforcements arrived. The Paras were to have the initial surprise and outnumber the German defenders but if the Germans could hold up the Paras long enough then their reinforcements could swing the battle in their favour. As it turned out history repeated itself with the Paras breaking through and making it to the bridge.
My initial moves involved A company moving down the North road near the railway track but ran headlong into a German MG nest supported by a Platoon. Ambush fire took out two of my squads and my supporting mortar fire proved ineffective against the stubborn german defenders. My jeeps were originally to follow A company but when the route was blocked moved south through Wolfheze to try the south road.
As they approached the intersection they sent out a lead jeep to check the intersection was clear. It wasn't. Machine gun fire erupted from a copse of trees wiping out the jeep squad. The other jeeps held back at Wolfheze and waited for support. The support came with C company (and later B company) moving towards the intersection to clear the Germans out. We now saw the first appearance of German reinforcements coming down from the hills north of Arnhem. With my left flank attack stopped and the right flank held up and German reinforcements arriving the clock was definitely ticking for the Paras to secure bridge before nightfall.
The perplexed British commander, "Damn those bothersome Jerries!"
How do I get past these Jerries?
Aha! Smoke them! Flank them! And wipe them out in a close assault!
I was finally able to turn the German flank and with a couple of courageous bayonet charges wiped out the machine gun nest and the supporting squad. My jeeps could then high tail it for the bridge.
C company and B company now pushed through the gap following the jeeps while Michael commanding the Germans pulled back what was left of his platoon into Oosterbeek to try and delay the paras further. Another squad of reinforcements arrived moving into Arnhem.
The jeep squadron with C and B companies move towards Arnhem. It looks like the paras have got the battle won. The breakthrough occurred near the river just like it did historically.
The jeep squadron dismounted in Arnhem and assaulted the Germans defending the road and the battle was over. The paras had made the bridge!
Historically Colonel Frost's second battalion was able to secure the north end of the Bridge. The victory conditions were a German victory if less than a battalion held the bridge by the end of the day. If the British were able to get extra troops at the bridge then it would be a major victory for the British. The game ended with at least the equivalent of two battalions at the bridge so a major win for the British.
The game certainly had some tense moments and if Michael had been a bit luckier with the moving clock dice rolls he may have had more troops to stop the British advance.
It is a great scenario, and we will definitely give the game a couple more run throughs to fully explore the possibilities.