Command Ops 2: The Stolberg Corridor
Lately, I have been very interested in the fighting around Aachen and the Westwall campaign. Fortunately, Command Ops 2 has an entire module titled appropriately enough “Westwall” covering this period of the war along the German frontier.
As the US VII corps advanced towards Germany in September of 1944, the Stolberg corridor was the likeliest approach from the southeast of Aachen towards the Westwall through a gap in the line of mountains and heavily forested terrain there. German intelligence knew this but had little in the way of reserves to reinforce the line ahead of the American advance. A small kampfgruppe from the 9th Panzer Division was formed along with the remnants of a Panzer brigade. The 12th Volksgrenadier division would be the follow-on force and their staggered arrival is represented accurately in the scenario reinforcement schedule.
Given the defensive challenges facing the Germans, I have decided to play that side.
This AAR contains the orders I issued as the German commander on the first day (the scenario is nearly four days long). I will continue to post AAR’s for each successive day. I will also include some thoughts on important CO2 rules (i.e. rest and resupply) and a mix of historical commentary from a very good book that I am reading about the campaign titled “The Battle for the Rhine,” by Robin Neillands as well as the U.S. Army military studies about the Siegfried Line campaign.
Situation: It is 46 degrees Fahrenheit, with moderate fog and muddy terrain. The day is September 17, 1944.
German written Orders:
0500: 89 Inf Regt ordered to move 5km south to Gressenich to establish a defensive position. This unit, part of the 12th Volksgrenadier division, is at 75% establishment with a 40% training rating. The VG troops in this scenario all have particularly low training levels and model correctly the manpower issues Germany was having during the late war.
0505: 2 Panther tanks ordered to reinforce I BN 89th Inf. My armor is at a minimum and with two armored Task Forces approaching my lines I need to be careful about the application of my tanks.
0550: I Bn 48th Inf Regt ordered to probe 3kms south of Langerwerhe to Heistern village.
0727: 3 Landesschutzen Bn ordered to withdraw 4kms east, pass through Eschweiler and proceed 6km south to Mausbach and establish new defensive positions there. The 2nd and 3rd Landesschutzen battalions assigned to this part of the front are rear area security forces, with low training, minimal experience and, practically no aggression.
American forces have been sighted southeast of Schevenhutte.
8:06 AM 1 Kompanie 9 Panzer Regiment ordered to probe American forces around east of Verlautenheide. Again I am being very careful employing my armor.
The fog is lifting.
8:34 AM I Bn 27th Fusilier Regt attack southeast in orchards outside of Verlautenheide.
9:16 89 Gren Inf Regt completes the move to Gressenich.
10:35 Static positions south of Stolberg began to fall to American forces.
11:06 3rd Bn 32nd Armored regiment sighted moving along the highway from Vicht into southeast Stolberg.
3rd Landenschutzen begins to reorganize for an attack on Mausbach from the NW. Their training and aggression levels make the success of this attack improbable.
12:10 I Bn 27 Regt abandons the attack and begins 1km withdrawal into Wurselen.
12:35 12 LW Festung Bn forced to abandon defensive positions along a 5km line of Dragon’s Teeth. Move 4km north into woods to regroup.
I believe the line of Dragon’s Teeth that this battalion is abandoning is called the “Schill Line” but this isn’t labeled on the map. Perhaps incorrectly, this unit is modeled with limited weaponry. From my reading, Fortress battalions were better armed than the standard 1944 infantry battalion, but that isn’t the case with this scenario.
II Bn 12th Artillerie Regt supports the withdrawal of 2nd Landschutzen from the southern end of Stolberg towards Donnerberg.
15:15 Under pressure from a mixture of armored and reconnaissance forces, II Bn 27 Fus Regt withdraws 4kms east along rail line towards Eschweiler.
16:50 II Bn 48th Regt moves 6km west from Langerwehe to Volkenrath into a reserve position.
12th Volksgrenadier Division reinforcements begin to arrive.
16:58 II Bn 89 Inf Regt arrives as reinforcement at Inden. Ordered to move into position at Werth 8kms south to their position.
20:00 I Bn 48 Inf Regt ordered to rest at Heistern. Their fatigue level has spiked from 30% to 45%.
20:41 I Bn 27 Fus Regt ordered to make a night march to Aachen airfield 5kms to the east of their position in Wurselen.
20:58 II Bn 48th Inf Regt ordered to rest with fatigue levels at 34%. Within the game, units that remain stationary will rest automatically. Units that are given specific orders to rest, reduce fatigue levels more quickly. While unit fatigue is tracked, I don’t think there is any specific mention of its impact on units within the rulebook. My guess is that it is significant, which is why I am always monitoring fatigue levels.
21:03 Two hours after sunset, supplies begin arriving across the sector to my various units.
A moderate fog sets in over the battlefield, the mud is still a factor.
I will post my Day 2 AAR this week…