Command Ops: The Lion Route

The Lion Route is a scenario created by Chris over at The Sharp End Gaming. There are two great AAR’s written so far, one from Chris and the other from Doug over at Cry Havoc! I hope to not embarrass myself here in light of those two well documented battles. This scenario pits the British 1st Airborne against the German 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions (in the area for rest and refit and therefore not at full strength).

Historically this phase of Market Garden did not end well for the Allies, and resulted in the overall defeat of the operational plan as well as a stunning setback for the war effort (no ending the war by Christmas this year). Chris did a great job assembling the scenario in such a way that it is virtually impossible to win as the Allies: in fact a quite satisfactory outcome is a straight up draw between the forces (considering the real life outcome would have been scored as a Decisive Defeat).




In Arnhem at the north end of the heavy bridge sits a force of 751 men which consists of 1 Para Bde HQ (Gerald Lathbury) and 2 Para Bn (John Frost). I order this group to take up a defensive position centered on the North End Bridge Objective (30 Victory Points, all on completion) using an All Around Defense formation with a frontage and depth of 1 km, artillery direct support checked and minimal rest.


Using the Covered Path tool, I examine a possible route for the 1st Airborne Recce Squadron to take to the High Ground Objective (15 Victory Points, all on completion). The unit is ordered to advance to the crossroads just south of Mentenberg to provide intelligence on enemy dispositions once full daylight covers the battlefield and I have an opportunity to check the location using the LOS Area tool.


1 Para Battalion (479 men) are ordered to take up a defensive position on The Lion Route Objective (15 Victory Points, all on completion), using an All Around Defense formation with a frontage and depth of 1 km, artillery direct support checked and minimal rest.


3 Para Battalion (346 men) are ordered to defend in-situ at their current deployments. My intent is to use them to probe the High Ground Objective if feasible, but also to provide a blocking force to delay the Axis units from coming down on Oosterbeek before I can get my other forces in position.


1 Airborne Division HQ (341 men) are ordered to take up a defensive position on the Oosterbeek Objective (15 Victory Points, all on completion), using an All Around Defense formation with a frontage and depth of 600 m with minimal rest. Usually it is not preferred to have division HQ’s or support troops hold an objective, however this is an all hands on deck kind of battle so everyone will be contributing.


At 8:00 AM two reinforcement units arrive on the battlefield: The 2 Airlanding Light Battery (75 mm M1A1 pack howitzers) which are ordered to defend in-situ at their current deployment, and D Squadron Glider Pilot Regiment (133 men) which are ordered to take an avoidance route, minimal rest along the Lower Rhine on their way to The Lion Route Objective.


The LOS Area tool reveals inadequate observation of the battlefield below, so I temporarily abandon plans to use 3 Para Battalion as a probe on that objective until such time as the 1st Airborne Recce Squadron can get there and tell me if the risk is worth the reward (destruction of 3 Para Battalion versus 15 Victory Points on completion).


At 10:05 the 2 Sth Staffords Bn (549 men) arrive and are immediately ordered to attack The Lion Route Objective.


At 11:33 B Coy, 2 Sth Staffords arrive and are immediately ordered to take an avoidance route, minimal rest along the Lower Rhine on their way to The Lion Route Objective.


At 12:00 John Frost holds the North End Bridge Objective while 1 Airborne Division HQ holds the Oosterbeek Objective. 1 Para Battalion are outnumbered almost 2-1 and is struggling to take The Lion Route Objective, while the 1st Airborne Recce Squadron is finally within 1 km of the High Ground Objective.


At 13:00 B Coy, 7 KOSB arrive and are immediately ordered to take an avoidance route, minimal rest along the Lower Rhine on their way to The Lion Route Objective.


At 16:30 F Trp 2 AL AT Battery (four 17 pounder AT guns) arrives and is reattached to 1 Airborne Division HQ which has recently been knocked off of the Oosterbeek Objective by the Axis forces.


At 18:00 I have seen enough with the 1st Airborne Recce Squadron at the High Ground Objective and decide to completely abandon my plans there: the force is withdrawn to the southeast. 3 Para Battalion is ordered to defend at the Oosterbeek Objective using an All Around Defense formation with a frontage and depth of 1 km and minimal rest.


At 19:02 11th Para Battalion arrives and is ordered to defend at the Oosterbeek Objective using an All Around Defense formation with a frontage and depth of 1 km and minimal rest.


At 23:46 I take a combined force consisting of new arrivals 10th Para Battalion, 156th Para Battalion and 4th Para Brigade (1,508 men) and throw everything at The Lion Route Objective using no rest, maximum aggression, rate of fire and losses. Once on the objective this force will take up an All Around Defense formation with a frontage and depth of 1 km.

This is the last big push as far as reinforcements go: what remains is a mixed bag of support troops who will be stacked on the Oosterbeek Objective in order to get the numbers balance more in my favor.


Day 2 06:00: My forces have taken The Lion Route Objective and continue to hold the Oosterbeek Objective, while in the east Frost has been pushed aside from the North End Bridge Objective and are no longer a major factor in this battle (not for long).


At noon it becomes painfully clear it is time to reassess my plans which are failing. The combined force of the 10th, 156th and the 4th has bogged down on the main highway north of the Oosterbeek Objective. I split off the 10th Para Battalion and order them to attack The Lion Route Objective with everything maxed out. The same goes for the mixed bag of soldiers that briefly held the objective: all 539 men there are grouped into one force and are also ordered to attack with everything maxed out. In Arnhem, Frost is ordered to do the same with the North End Bridge Objective.


The situation at 18:00: not a pretty picture.


After Action Report: a Marginal Defeat at a Victory Point score of 20-50. This unfortunately was not one of my best attempts at this scenario as I had managed a few draws previously. In immediate hindsight, the decision to pool the 10th, 156th and 4th reinforcement units into a combined force was a mistake. Those units should have been dispatched independently of each other (even if attacking the same objective).


2 comments:

  1. Hi Tim. Thanks for posting this AAR! Interesting last screen with the 2 German machine gun battalions plus KG Kraaft and Spindler elements coming down from the north against Oosterbeek. I've actually only had the Germans hit me from the north like that once and it was on the first day. A real knife fight developed and I had to pull 1st and 3rd battalions back to defend against it.

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  2. Really nicely written Tim! I really thought you were going to punch through the Lion Route objective and relieve Frost.

    I've not had much luck taking the High Ground objective and holding it for long. It seems like by the time I have enough force to hold it, I need those troops to defend against the troops arriving from the north and east.

    I've been holding off on the CMBN Market Garden module, but I'm thinking it might be fun to come up with some more tactical level scenarios in that based on this scenario.

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