Command Ops: The Lion Route AAR

The Lion Route is a custom scenario I created (my first!) to simulate the fighting that occurred in and around Arnhem on Sept 18th and Sept 19th, 1944.

For information on how to download this scenario click here.

Situation:
The British 1st Airborne has parachuted into Holland west of the Dutch City of Arnhem on the northern bank of the Rhine river.

Coincidentally, two German armored formations, the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions, are refitting in the area after hard fighting has reduced their numbers considerably.

The German commander's task is to retake the vital Arnhem highway bridge and push the Airborne troops back towards their landing zones.  The British commander's task is to reinforce the 2nd battalion which has boldly seized control of the northern end of the bridge and to keep open the vital Lion Route into the city center.


As the British commander I spend the first few hours of the scenario scouting the roads into Arnhem with 1st and 3rd battalions.  I am receiving reports of German units north of the city in the hills (an objective for 1st Para brigade) as well as across the river.  We have been skirmishing with KG Krafft since yesterday with the heaviest fighting around Wolfheze, but they are shifting east to block our advance into the city and are currently out of contact.

In Arnhem, the sounds of the fighting near the bridge is picking up but just a few miles west of Arnhem in the cafes of Oosterbeek, near our division HQ at the Hartenstein hotel, the Dutch are celebrating their impending freedom in crowds that are growing.

1st battalion is nearing the Lion route objective (left center, north of the river).  At the bridge Frost is being pressed from the south by the 10th SS Panzer Recon battalion and from the north a KG of mixed German units clustered around the City Commandant's HQ.
While the drive into the city makes progress, I send 3rd battalion north towards the Mendenberg. Reports of a German armored battalion entering the city from the north cannot be substantiated.

German units are driving along the rail line in an attempt to split 1st and 3rd battalions.  While from the north KG Krafft has slipped around my left flank and is now driving south towards the Division HQ.  The Lion route objective though is in 1st battalions hands.

The 2nd South Staffordshires have arrived and immediately I send them to engage the German troops around Den Brink woods.

The fighting in the center.  German armor reinforcements can be seen descending from Mendenberg towards 3rd battalion.
The Germans are receiving reinforcements now on both sides of the river.  South of the river, German artillery formations are firing across the river on my troops dug in around Oosterbeek.  The 2nd South Staffordshires have been particularly hard hit.  Reports from the bridge are scarce.  My two batteries of 75mms are firing almost continuously in support of Frost at the bridge.  The Dutch underground reports that the SS have forced Frost away from the bridge but his men are still holding both sides of the ramp to the bridge and have fortified about a dozen buildings there. I am beginning to rely on the Dutch for information instead of the faulty intelligence we received back in England.

Historically German Flak units fired from the southern shore of the Rhine into the city as the British 1st and 3rd battalions advanced.  It is neat to see the game's AI do the same thing.
I am sending the newly arrived 11th battalion along the Ede-Arnhem highway to outflank the Germans.
Hackett and the 4th brigade have safely parachuted onto Renkum heath to the west.  While his brigade is forming up, my adjutant has convinced him to send the 11th battalion to division HQ which I quickly send into battle.  I am also awaiting the arrival of his 156th and 10th battalions, expected near midnight.  My plan is to keep the 10th in reserve and send the 156th further north to grab the Medenberg.

The 156th is being sent into the battle to guard the 11th battalion's left flank as I launch an attack on the Mendenberg.  If this attack succeeds 1st Airborne will have control of the Mendenberg, Oosterbeek and Lion Route objectives. 
While the fight continues west of the city, Frost is losing ground in the city center.  Over half his force is gone but he still has almost 400 men clustered together, fighting off German attacks on four sides.

With 12 hours to go the situation map looks like this.  Frost's men are bravely fighting on.  

The German pocket inside my lines is becoming worrisome. The Germans are fighting tenaciously despite their encirclement.  Every unit of available fire support is pounding their positions in an effort to break them.  Their presence in Oosterbeek is restricting my movement and hampering my efforts to reinforce my front lines. Hopefully I can break them with concentrated fire.

With the high ground north of the city in my hands. I decide to gamble with an attack against the western wall of Frost's pocket with the 11th battalion and to send the 156th battalion against the concentration of German troops around Den Brink. The 11th will bypass the Lion route objective and follow the river road towards the bridge.  The 156th will pass through the woods north of the rail line and attack the Germans simultaneously with the 11th's bypass movement.

German artillery is slowing both the 11th and 156th's movements south.


As 4th brigade (156th and 11th) begin their scheduled movements, in the City center the Germans are making a final push to dislodge Frost.  Our wireless has finally connected with Frost and I've given him permission to leave his positions and break out towards freedom.

Frost is fighting for his battalion's life.  He is down to less than 200 men.  All of his units have been given permission to leave their posts and make for our lines to the west.

The German encirclement of Frost is almost complete. B company has slipped the cordon but the rest of the units are being ground up.

Frost's last stand.  Every unit except for an independent parachute company and B company which manages to flee north is either destroyed or disbands.

The final 10 hours of fighting is intense.  So intense I forget to grab screenshots.  The Germans after turning back the 156th and the 11th battalions, feed two battalions of fresh troops into the battle around the Lion Route objective and quickly push 1st battalion back.  You can see the beginning of this attack in the screenshot above.

My lines around Oosterbeek are strong but the German artillery is beginning to take a toll on my units.  The 2nd South Staffordshires suffer over 50% losses as the fight to repel German armor and withstand the German artillery.

The 156th loses its nerve and withdraws which forces the 11th battalion forced to stop its advance towards the city center.  Freddie Gough's jeep squadron earns it's pay as it uses the road network west of the city to recon the German forces. The 4th RA battery runs out of ammo at a critical juncture of the fight to retake the Lion route objective.

Just before midnight the scenario ends.  Casualty lists are coming in and the losses are appalling. We've held onto the Oosterbeek and Mendenberg objectives but lost almost 2000 men in the process.  Over 20% of the divisions overall strength is gone.  The 2nd battalion has been eliminated and 2nd South Staffordshires are being withdrawn from the line, shell-shocked and spent.

Conclusions:
I thoroughly enjoyed creating and playing this scenario.  This is the 4th time I have played as the Allies and the first time I was able to grab and hold the high ground north of the City.  I miscalculated trying to breakout Frost with the 11th.  I needed to focus on the Lion route objective but incorrectly believed I had the resources to counterattack and retake it.  German artillery played a vital role at the end of the game suppressing and halting my advance from the north and my advance along the river road to retake Lion.

With about 10 hours to go, I actually thought I might eke out a ,marginal victory.  This draw was hard fought and my best result so far.

A Draw.  (ignore the incorrect Bradley sig, I've fixed that)

The final screen.  The single red formation inside Arnhem is an independent company of German and Austrian parachutists who won't be taken alive.

Comments

Doug Miller said…
Great AAR! A draw is the best I've been able to do. Going to give it another try tonight - I'm really enjoying this scenario, Chris!
Chris said…
That's great Doug. I am glad you like it! Let me know if you see anything that needs to be fixed. I plan on making another update to add the unit status reports in.

Marco said…
Great AAR, is this scenario is still playable in Command Ops 1?