Joe's Bridge

Joe’s Bridge is a scenario that first appeared in Highway to the Reich. It is part of the Command Ops: Highway to the Reich expansion pack. The scenario pits the Allies XXX Corps HQ consisting of the Irish Guards Group against the Axis 1 FJ Army consisting of the KG Hoffmann Regt reinforced by 1 ½ battalion strength troops in a two day scenario.

While there is no indication that I can find that this should be played only by one side, I have yet to try either this or the original version as the Axis forces. The Americans have sufficient force composition to win the day if correct tactics are employed and supporting fire is delivered when and where needed. Will my battle plan suffice? Let us find out…

Joe’s Bridge Battle Plan

Support Force

A Bty 153 Gds Arty Regt – This unit is the only artillery I have on the map, so I will keep them safe by detaching them from the Irish Gds Group HQ and leaving them where they are in-situ as their effective range covers the area of operations.

A Sqn 2 Household Cav – Defend at a road fork just east of Belfry with the units facing Neerpelt.

B Tp 94 LAA Regt (5X40mm M1 AA gun) – Defend at an intersection on the main highway south of Lut Lommel with the units facing northwest.

B Tp 21 AT Regt (4X17 pdr AT gun) – Defend along the road approximately 1KM from the De Groote Barrier with the units facing west.

A Tp 94 LAA Regt (6X40mm M1 AA gun) – Defend on the west side of the road bridge just outside of Hoevenderloop with the units facing east.

A Tp 21 AT Regt (4X17 pdr AT gun) – Defend at the main road running north/south outside of Gortenloop with the units facing south. This will be the primary blocking force in the south protecting the rear of my assault force, and is back up by…

I Tp 21 AT Regt (4X17 pdr AT gun) – Defend at a clearing 1/2km northwest of A Tp facing to the southeast to provide supporting fire against anything that slips past the primary blocking force of A Tp.

Assault Force

2 Irish Guards Bn (386 men, 582 anti-personnel firepower & 899 anti-armor firepower) will be the primary assault force across the bridge in Phase One. Even though they number less than 3 Bn, they are virtually equal in AP firepower rating and substantially exceed their counterpart in AA firepower.

This Bn is ordered to attack the Joe’s Bridge objective (the first objective on the other side of the Escaut Canal) with a forming-up point 3km to the southwest at the intersection of the main highways.

3 Irish Guards Bn (578 men, 515 anti-personnel firepower & 446 anti-armor firepower) will be the secondary assault force across the bridge in Phase Two. This Bn is ordered to attack the De Groote Barrier objective with a forming-up point 2.5km to the southwest at the intersection of the main highways.

Irish Gds Group HQ (at this point only the HQ element and the supply base) are to defend at the intersection of the main highways during Phase One.

Operational Plan Phase One – Support Force is to take up assigned positions and remain in-situ for the remainder of the scenario unless needed to fill a gap or react to an enemy threat. Assault Force is to attack the initial objectives specified above.

Operational Plan Phase Two – Support Force remains in-situ while the Assault Force proceeds as follows: 2 Bn will hold their position at the Joe’s Bridge objective while 3 Bn will leapfrog them across the bridge, leaving the De Groote Barrier objective and attacking (by dragging their existing attack waypoint) the La Colonie objective. The Irish Gds Group HQ will move up to the De Groote Barrier objective (by dragging their existing defend waypoint) and secure it in the absence of 2Bn.

These adjustments will have the existing default settings modified by maxing out the Aggro, ROF & Losses settings and changing the rest to none. This phase is scheduled to take place at midnight from D2 to D3.

D1 18:30 – The initial orders as outlined above.

D2 00:00 – All airstrikes are employed against the most significant threats identified at the bridgehead with the intelligence filter set to current.

D2 06:00 – I order A Bty 153 Gds Arty Regt to place concentrated fire (duration modified to 00:21) on a mass of Fallschirmjäger across the canal at the Joe’s Bridge objective. In the south, A & I Tp begin to encounter some Fallschirmjäger coming north.

D2 12:00 – All airstrikes are now allocated to the Joe’s Bridge objective. A Sqn 2 Household Cav has an advantageous position from which to fire against those forces on the other side of the canal, albeit they themselves are exposed.

D2 18:00 – No units have made it across the bridge yet, which will make the shift at midnight all the more difficult to successfully pull off. A decisive victory may be out of my grasp at this point, but I press on with the battle plan as written.

D3 00:00 – I order the shift as described above. 2 Bn, which has not even crossed to take the Joe’s Bridge objective yet, has their attack order modified to max and zero rest. 3 Bn is ordered to leapfrog with the same settings, and the HQ Element is brought up in a similar manner.

All that is left to do now is to employ artillery against known threats and allocate airstrikes in an attempt to further breakup forces that are re-organizing or routing.

D3 06:00 – The Joe’s Bridge objective has been achieved and 3 Bn is advancing towards the La Colonie objective. With judicious use of artillery and airstrikes, we may have the day just yet.

D3 12:00 – With hourly artillery barrages against the German forces, progress is being made by 3 Bn, however in this six hour window I receive no air support (albeit with clear skies). The next six hour segment will be critical in the battle.

D3 18:00 – With only ½ hour remaining (union rules, all battles must end when scheduled or the overtime multiplier is a bitch); I am distressed by no air support this day. 3 Bn has shifted the Win-O-Meter to my favor twice, but now I am out of artillery and can only hope for a classic Matrix Games Last Minute Decisive Victory pendulum swing.

D3 18:30 – A Marginal Victory is declared. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad result considering that the basic battle plan was executed as intended and no deviation took place. The AT blocking forces in the south did an excellent job of holding back Axis reinforcements, whereas the flanks received no attention from the enemy.

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