Saturday, April 30, 2011

Combat Commander

In September 1944 the Allies, after successfully landed in Normandie (D-Day), conquered the north of France and Belgium. There were now two opinions about continuation the battle. The Americans wanted to attack Germany over a long and wide front. The English Field Marshall Montgomery wanted to advance right through Holland to the Ijsselmeer and then proceed eastwards into Germany. That way, the German troops in West Holland would be isolated. In addition, the Allies wouldn't have to face the heavily defended Siegfried line. After a lot of discussion, Montgomery was authorised to execute his plan "Operation Market Garden." The plan existed of two parts.

Market: by means of airborne landings of the 1st Corps of the 1st Allied Airborne Army to conquer the most important bridges between Eindhoven and Arnhem.

Garden: The advance of the 2nd English Army of General Dempsey from which the 30st Army Corps had to push from Neerpelt in Belgium through Eindhoven over the conquered bridges to Arnhem.

On September 17, 1944 between 13:00 and 14:00 hours the airborne landings began. The American 101st Airborne Division "Screaming Eagles" landed near Son and Veghel, the American 82nd Airborne Division "All American" near Grave and Nijmegen and the 1st English Airborne Division near Arnhem.

For many reasons, the operation did not proceed as planned. The advance of the army from Belgium was seriously delayed by unexpected resistance and because the bridge over the Wilhelmina channel was blown up by the Germans. The Allies first had to build a Bailey Bridge making the advance of the army 36 hours behind schedule. Poor radio connections prevented good communications, especially near Arnhem. Bad weather conditions delayed the dropping of necessary reinforcements. The presence of two SS divisions at the Veluwe was fatal for the British troops at Arnhem.

Robert Bolan came over on Thursday night to play a bit of Combat Commander. I wanted to start trying to get in a playing of each of the WBC Combat Commander Tourney scenarios from 2009. There is a tournament I've signed up for at the Geekway next month, and I'd like to not suck too badly. At any rate, this particular scenario was called A Bridge in Belgium (001) and setup the German forces vs the British forces. The Germans held a bridge in the middle of the map as the defensive force, while the British goal was to capture the two ends of the bridge. There were a couple of other interesting factors - no scoring for exiting off the opposite side of the map and night rules were in effect. I chose the Germans and bunkered myself in, determined not to play as the aggressor, but to simply outlast the Brits. It wasn't going to be easy. The British forces advanced into melee combat and devastated the group holding one side of the bridge. On the other side, the Germans held the high ground. The problem was, the Germans only had a single light machine gun and the distance to the targets at night made it nearly impossible to hit anything. I shot at the British every chance I could, knowing the futility, but needing to chew through cards for both sides. Fortunately for me, time was on my side - in this case, time events and running through our decks but a quick end to the scenario. Much as history played out, the Germans held their ground (and blew up the bridge).

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