Command Ops: Burning Metal AAR Day 1

Burning Metal is a fictional scenario created by Ranger X3X.  You can download it from his website here.

Background: The German 1st SS Panzer Division has moved into position as a blocking force west of Arnhem on the German side of the Rhine around Ede.  The US 2nd Armored division has crossed the Rhine and is moving from east to west along the highway running parallel to the river.  Intelligence reports from the Dutch underground in Arnhem have warned of the German division's presence in Ede.

I assume command of the US 2nd armored division, determined to drive the SS back into the polder west of Ede and away from the other objectives along the north to south road from Ede to Wageningen.

Plan: My first strategic decision is to avoid a direct line of attack.  Fighting along the road in the south looks like it will be a hard slog as does a push through the center along the rail line.  Instead I choose to swing two battalions of my division north in the hope that my speed along the highway will allow me to turn the German left flank before they have a chance to react.

No burning metal please...
This right hook is a strategic gamble. Timing will be key. I need to seize Ede and if possible Reehorst before German reinforcements arrive.  
With my right flank in place I probe the left flank along the river with a battalion of armor driving the German units backwards.

The majority of Ede lies north of a railway and falls quickly to my armor battalions.  South of the railway the Germans form a stubborn line of defense around the infantry barracks and the Reehorst objective.
With the attack underway in Ede I am struggling with my next move in the south.  For over three hours, I hesitate and keep three battalions of my division inactive in reserve. It maybe the mistake that costs me the battlefield.

It took three hours of hard fighting along the southern edge of  Ede to make me commit my reserves in the northern half of the battlefield.
The fighting in Ede is dragging on.  The stout German defense around the infantry barracks has crumbled but the SS elements still within the city limits cling to the southern edge of the city stubbornly.

The fight for Ede is proving to be more difficult than anticipated. 

As I continue my attack against the railway defensive line, my second major mistake occurs and I am afraid this might be fatal.

The fighting in Ede has gone on too long. I am concerned about stalling my momentum so I commit the two companies I was holding in reserve along the railway line that runs into Ede from the northwest in the hopes of tipping the balance south of the city. My move occurs an hour before the moment of German reinforcement from the north when the 2nd SS Panzergrenadier Regiment enters Ede from the north unopposed and splits my forces in two.
Talk about a cock-up. If I were a German commander on the Eastern Front I'd probably be shot for this massive miscalculation.
The disaster in Ede is now forcing me to commit my last reserves to the north. As my remaining two battalions race there, the fighting in the center also heats up, tying down all available artillery that I really need to stop the bleeding in Ede.

My forces are now fighting in Ede and around the Reehorst and Bennekom objectives.

Every inch of Ede is now being contested.  The surprise German movement from the north has split my force in two and driven back a battalion and a half of my men into section of the town to the south of Ede.
As the second day of Burning Metal begins, Ede is engulfed in flames.  There has been continuous fighting in Ede for over 18 hours now.  The Germans are in full control of the city center while continuing to attack my men hanging on in the southwestern part of the city. I've seized the barracks but any attempt to rescue my units to the west has failed.

As the first day closes I am beginning to wonder if my swing to the north and my attempt to turn the German flank was a mistake.  My screen along the northern edge of the city would never have held back the tide of German reinforcements. Had I kept them in place I might have bought some valuable time to reform my lines, especially if my reinforcements had been in reserve closer to Ede. That mistake and my hesitation in the south hours before left me unprepared for the German attack.

I also grossly underestimated the size of the 1st SS Panzer.  My division is fully deployed and I can only hope that is also true of my AI opponent.  I would love to know what kind of artillery support the 1st SS has.  I feel like my units have been under almost constant fire in Ede and around Bennekom.  I also am feeling the weight of the Heavy Tank Companies 1st Panzer has.  Anywhere they move on the field I see my units falling back.

The first day has been full of surprises.  At no point have I held any of the objectives, but I believe that if I can regain control of Ede, I may start to see the battle swing my way.  More to follow...


RangerX3X said…
Thank you for taking the time to do an AAR on your play of this scenario. I really like how you took artistic license and added to a basic if not nonexistent background story. Your first plan of attack – moving north is something that I had not considered in all the times I played as the Americans (achieving a Marginal Victory at best and that is with full throttle attacks and no one held in reserve).

Great write-up and I look forward to how this turns out (as well as any feedback you would care to share on altering the mission to improve it).
Chris said…
Hi Ranger. I am glad you saw my post. I am really enjoying your scenario. I think I might have attacked along the rail line into Bennekom and the highway into Wageningen if I hadn't played the Arnhem 2nd Wave scenario. On the same battlefield as the 1st Airborne I was able to slow down and stop in some places German armored/motorized columns from Kampgruppe Tettau moving in the opposite direction with infantry and some well timed artillery. This time I was worried that would happen to me. The ground around Ede seems more open so I chose to fight there but I left my right flank hanging in the air and I will likely pay the price.

I did some research on both divisions but couldn't find any mention of their fighting each other. Why did you choose these units for this scenario?
RangerX3X said…
Hi Chris, it had been some time since I created any material for the game so I was taking baby steps to get back into it: using stock maps, stock force lists and just pairing up two divisions both trying to take three objectives. There is no historical reality to the action in the area or the units even ever having going up against each other. I would like to get back to the point where I make historical missions that are overlooked by the game or focusing on sections of a larger battle from the games several multiday campaigns, but that is down the road a bit.
Chris said…
Ahh cool. The editor seems neat and something I will definitely look at in the future. It will take me thru the weekend most likely before I finish and post my day 2 AAR. That's if the Germans don't beat the pants off me before then!