Highway to the Reich Eindhoven Historical Campaign Day One

The Eindhoven campaign is one of three historical campaigns (Arnhem, Eindhoven, and Nijmegen) that are part of the scenario list for the original Highway to the Reich by Panther Games. The scenarios also include some coup de main campaigns and a number of smaller and what-if scenarios. Arnhem and Eindhoven clock in at nine days and nine hours where Nijmegen is approximately half that at four days and ten hours of total scenario time.

These three historical campaigns form the backbone of the Operation Market Garden representation in the Airborne Assault engine at that time (preceded by Red Devils Over Arnhem and succeeded by the HTTR expansion pack for Command Operations, as Conquest of the Aegean focused on a different theater altogether). The missions feature various elements of the Allies 30 Corps fighting against the Axis 1st Fallschirmjäger Army and 2nd SS Panzer Corps.

The following after-action report is one of three that I hope to complete while playing out the original historical campaigns from Highway to the Reich: Arnhem, Eindhoven, and Nijmegen. For this particular effort, I will break the AAR up into a single post for each day of action, and then make a consolidation post at after the completion of the scenario.

New Scenario Options


Realistic Orders Delay, Historical Weather and Reinforcement Schedules, and Normal Supply.

Battle Map and Terrain Considerations


The starting forces are various elements of the 501st, 502nd, and 506th Parachute Infantry Regiments totaling approximately 2,000 personnel. Additional units will drop within the first hour of the scenario bringing the force closer to parachute division strength.

There are several potential crossing points for the follow-on armor units to traverse, however the optimal route is along Hell’s Highway which puts the Son Highway Bridge (17 Victory Points) on the Wilhelmina Canal, the St. Oedenrode Highway Bridge (17 VP) on the Dommel, and the Veghel River Highway Bridge (14 VP) and Veghel Canal Highway Bridge (14 VP) at the top of the priority list. 

Objectives


There are a total of 16 objectives plus the obligatory Destroy the Enemy (5 VP). All objectives are active from the start to the completion of the scenario, and all of them calculate the Victory Points based on 100% of Occupation which will make this scenario difficult if not technically impossible to achieve a Decisive Victory outcome (please see my commentary on this in the Post Mortem section of the consolidation post once the scenario has been completed).

Initial Orders


With no orders delay for the first 60 minutes (and the benefit of a ten day scenario) I run the game until all of the airborne forces arrive (leaving just the 377th Field Artillery Battalion which I will take under my direct Fire Control). This gives me a starting force of 7,224 personnel, a 1,641 anti-personnel firepower rating, a 3,462 anti-armor firepower rating, and a 217 bombardment rating.

From this point forward combat power values will be abbreviated (armored fighting vehicles=AFV, etc.)


1st Battalion 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (564P/137AP/131AA/25B) which has landed some 5 miles (8.0 km) east of its planned drop zone is ordered to take up a defensive blocking position along the canal road leading to Veghel Canal Rail Bridge Objective (7 VP) facing northwest. The Secure Crossing order is given so that the charges placed on the bridge can be unprimed while the force is digging in.

  • Formation – Line
  • Aggro – Max
  • Losses – Max
  • Frontage – 1,000m
  • Depth – 600m

Although the line formation is selected, the force will advance to a forming-up point determined by the AI commander in road column formation (by default), then shake out at the FUP into line formation while digging in. The Rate of Fire is left at Normal because I do not want this blocking force running out of ammunition.


2nd Battalion 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (574P/139AP/132AA/25B) are augmented with A Company 326th Airborne Engineering Battalion and ordered to attack the Veghel River Highway Bridge Objective (14 VP) with a forming up point at the Veghel Canal Highway Bridge Objective (14 VP).

  • Formation – Line
  • Aggro – Max
  • Losses – Max
  • Frontage – 1,000m
  • Depth – 600m
  • Secure Crossing

While the two objectives overlap and I could place the force in between to cover both, I find that somewhat gamey and decide to move them on the opposite side of the second waterway to take up a more logical blocking position facing northeast.


3rd Battalion 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (427P/102AP/98AA/25B) is ordered to attack the Veghel Canal Highway Bridge Objective (which 2nd Bn will be passing through almost simultaneously) with a FUP 1km to the south.

  • Formation – Line
  • Aggro – Max
  • Losses – Max
  • Frontage – 600m
  • Depth – 300m
  • Secure Crossing

Once they have unprimed the crossing point, I intend to move them to the east to also secure the Leest Minor Road Bridge Objective (3 VP) and take up a defensive blocking posture facing southeast.


A Battery 81st Airborne AT Battalion (40P/7AP/65) is ordered to take up a defensive blocking position off of the canal road running through Leest with a southeast facing. Their four 6pdr AT guns will play a significant role in delaying any German advance through this corridor (and they may be able to achieve the Leest objective at the same time).


The 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment HQ (308P/34AP/16AA) having been reduced due to the detachments outlined above is ordered to defend in-situ at their present location. The intent is to move them forward towards Veghel once the bulk of any German resistance there is quelled.


1st Battalion 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (585P/143AP/138AA/25B) is ordered to attack the Best Highway Bridge Objective (3 VP) with a forming-up point in the woods to the northeast of the bridge, which should aid in concealing their approach.

  • Formation – Line
  • Aggro – Max
  • Losses – Max
  • Frontage – 1,000m
  • Depth – 600m
  • Secure Crossing

Depending on the success of this effort, they may be left there to defend the extreme left flank of the Son objective, or moved to the Best Rail Bridge to secure it as well.


The St. Oedenrode Highway Bridge Objective (17 VP) has an orchard approximately 1km south that is concealed by some woods. This area between Vernhout and Neinsel will provide an excellent forming-up point for the attack to secure the vital crossing point.


2nd Battalion 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (585P/143AP/138AA/25B) are augmented with B Company 326th Airborne Engineering Battalion and ordered to attack St. Oedenrode with a forming up point in the orchards directly south of the objective.

  • Formation – Line
  • Aggro – Max
  • Losses – Max
  • Frontage – 1,000m
  • Depth – 600m
  • Secure Crossing

Once the crossing point is secured the force will be left there to hold it throughout the remainder of the scenario.


3rd Battalion 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (427P/143AP/138AA/25B) is ordered to move to the Koevering Objective (7 VP).

  • Formation – Road Column
  • Route – Quickest
  • Aggro – Min
  • Losses – Min

Once they have arrived at the objective they will be spread out in a defensive posture to cover multiple approaches and be kept out of direct action so as to save them as a reserve component if needed later in the scenario.


B Battery 81st Airborne AT Battalion (40P/7AP/65) is ordered to take up a defensive blocking position at the Neinsel Objective (7 VP). This is a simple Defend order with a single click placed on top of the objective which will allow the unit to determine how best to get there.


The 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment HQ (309P/35AP/17AA) having been reduced due to the detachments outlined above is ordered to defend in-situ at their present location and the drop zone.


The 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment HQ (2,247P/501AP/536AA/75B) has landed approximately 2.5km to the northwest of the Son Highway Bridge Objective (17 VP) which is perhaps the single most important bridge in the scenario (if this crossing point over the Wilhelmina Canal is blown by the Germans, the closest heavy bridge is 5km to the west at Best).

The regiment is concealed by the multitude of woods directly in front of it between them and the objective.


The entire force of 2,000 + personnel is ordered to perform a complex attack (any attack that has two or more headquarter units) past the Son objective with a forming-up point directly in front of their present location but concealed by the woods.

  • Formation – Line
  • Aggro – Max
  • Losses – Max
  • Frontage – 1,500m
  • Depth – 1,000m
  • Secure Crossing

Once the crossing point is secured I intend to keep the HQ element and one battalion at the objective and then send two battalions further south along the main highway to secure additional objectives.

When the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment lands on day two, I intend to use them to further secure the approach from the east.


The remaining two units on the map, the 101st Airborne Division HQ and base (678P/67AP/23AA) are ordered to defend in-situ at their present location.


The 377th Parachute Light Artillery Battalion (372P/96AP/176AA/61B) arrives and are ordered to setup up a firebase for their 12 M1A1 75mm Pack Howitzers along a track approximately 2km directly north of their present location which should move the outer blue range ring just enough to provide coverage for the paratroopers assaulting the Veghel bridges.

Combat Action


Once the 377th is in place I immediately issue a bombardment order against identified enemy contacts in Veghel to assist the 2/501st assault on the Veghel River Highway Bridge (14 VP) Objective. Hopefully by the time they are setup and ready to fire 2nd Bn has not already overrun the friendly fire zone.


Likewise at the Son objective, the 377th is ordered to bombard just ahead of the assaulting forces to assist in suppressing the enemy defenders and preventing them from detonating the charges. In this instance the bombardment duration is increased to 25 in order to provide sufficient duration to support the securing of this vital crossing point.


By 18:00 a number of the early objectives have been achieved, and although the St. Oedenrode Highway Bridge Objective (17 VP) is still in play, the crossing point was successfully unprimed during the on-going assault by the 2/502nd.


By 21:00 enough progress has been made to begin evaluating some changes to further strengthen my positions. In the Veghel sector the battalions of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment have achieved their objectives; however there are a number of crossing points that are still primed.

1/501st Bn which is presently executing  a Secure Crossing order while maintaining a northwest deployment facing is struggling with the charges placed on the Veghel Canal Rail Bridge Objective (7 VP) with the meter showing they have completed approximately 20% of the task. To resolve this I detach A Company 326th Airborne Engineering Battalion from 2/501st Bn (who have already unprimed their crossing point) and order them to the objective with a Secure Crossing order.

This frees 1/501st Bn up to be placed with a true Defend order which I will issue as in-situ so the dug-in force does not have to redeploy.


The situation with 2/501st Bn is different in that their original orders were to attack the Veghel River Highway Bridge Objective (14 VP) with a Secure Crossing order (which they have accomplished). After the objective was achieved the force dug-in on the opposite side of the waterway (having exploited past the objective) however they are not in an optimal facing for the duration of the scenario.

A new Defend order is issued so they can redeploy to better defend the approach into Veghel.

  • Formation – Line
  • Aggro – Max
  • Losses – Max
  • Frontage – 1,000m
  • Depth – 600m

With the detachment of the engineer company they will need to dig-in again with the new order and should have this accomplished by daybreak (having been relatively rested and suffering no adverse fatigue).


3/501st Bn which has achieved the Veghel Canal Highway Bridge Objective (14 VP) has not yet unprimed the charges on the bridge. Although they have progressed to approximately 50%, I reallocate the force with a Defend order to face southeast.

  • Formation – Line
  • Aggro – Max
  • Losses – Max
  • Frontage – 600m
  • Depth – 300m

I intend to utilize the engineer company to complete the removal of the charges (once they are freed up from their current assignment) or use some of the British engineering units that will be arriving in the next couple of days.


With 3rd Bn clearing out from the objective, I move the 501st HQ and base units forward with a simple Defend order.


3/502nd Bn is redeployed at the Koevering Objective (7 VP) by detaching all three parachute companies and issuing Defend orders with specific  facings to best cover the approaches to the highway that leads from St. Oedenrode to Veghel. The HQ unit is also issued a separate Defend order on top of its current location without using in-situ, which will allow the AI to reposition the mortar platoon as it sees fit.


The 2/502nd Bn is struggling somewhat with the St. Oedenrode Highway Bridge Objective (17 VP), however the crossing point was successfully unprimed earlier during the assault. I decide to let this play out and make no changes to their current orders.


The complex attack by the entire 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment on the Son Highway Bridge Objective (17 VP) has been a total success which allows me to reallocate the forces to secure additional objectives further to the south leading towards Eindhoven.

1/506th Bn is ordered to race forward to the Woensel Junction Objective (7 VP) and 2/506th Bn is ordered to move to the Phillips Factory Objective (7 VP).

  • Formation – Road Column
  • Route – Quickest
  • Aggro – Min
  • Losses – Min

With the Victory Points in the scenario counted as Occupation in full, it is important that I capture these objectives as quickly as possible (now that the Son crossing point has been unprimed).


A Battery 81st Airborne AT Battalion is detached from the 506th and ordered to take a defensive position facing south just below Breugel which should allow for an gun attack against the axis of any German advance along the canal road west to east. The 502nd HQ with 3/506th Bn still attached is given a simple Defend order at Son.


1/502nd Bn which has already unprimed the crossing point at the Best Highway Bridge Objective (3 VP) is ordered to Defend with a northwest facing.

  • Formation – Line
  • Aggro – Max
  • Losses – Max
  • Frontage – 1,000m
  • Depth – 600m

With elements of the 506th racing forward to secure additional objectives closer towards Eindhoven, their back should be relatively protected to allow for such a facing away from the canal.

To be continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment