Highway to the Reich Devil’s Hill

Berg en Dal, Netherlands: On September 20, 1944 the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment seized and then defended the higher ground in the Groesbeek-Nijmegen area which effectively cut Highway K, preventing the Germans from either reinforcing or escaping through the corridor. After having the inexperienced German 406th Infantry Division fail to remove the US 508th, General Walter Model awaited the arrival of better forces in the form of KG Becker, a regiment from the 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division.

Supported by the remains of KG Stargaard and Fuerstenberg, as well as the 406th, Model ordered the clearing of Berg en Dal to remove the Americans who were holding the hill overlooking the highway. The 508th was stretched to the limit, with one battalion having just returned after having been peeled off to assist in Nijmegen. With the primary focus on the bridge to the northwest, the regiment had to hold the position until reinforcements could arrive in the form of the 504th PIR (1 Bn) and the 8th Armored Brigade on day three.

This is the historical context of the following 2 day 17 hour scenario from the original Highway to the Reich game from 2003. It is a scenario that is playable by either side, however the designer recommends playing as the Germans first. For this after-action report I will be playing as the Americans.

New Game Options


Realistic Orders Delay, Historical Weather, Standard Reinforcements, and Normal Supply Schedules. The screen shot is much larger than normal (651X505 vs. 489X415) due to the scaling issue that I am having with these games (although HTTR seems to be the least affected by it).

Battle Map and Terrain Considerations


The entire playing area of the scenario is a cropped portion of the Nijmegen battle map, approximately 11kmX6km. The Americans are arrayed along the high ground overlooking the Germans who are down in the valley on the polder. The main Highway K (now N325) runs from the southeast to the northwest and the Germans have to navigate through and around several low lying water obstacles to reach the American positions on the hill.

Force Composition

The US forces total 2,543 personnel with the following stats:

  • 34 Artillery Pieces
  • 560 Anti-personnel Firepower Rating
  • 670 Anti-armor Firepower Rating
  • 136 Bombardment Rating

Reinforcements are not expected until day three.

The German forces total 5,710 enemy personnel with the following stats:

  • 56 Artillery Pieces
  • 1,767 Anti-personnel Firepower Rating
  • 1,847 Anti-armor Firepower Rating

Reinforcements are unknown, and battlefield intelligence is always suspect given the temperament of the scenario designer.

Objectives


There are seven location objectives and the standard Destroy the Enemy Objective. All of the location objectives award 100% of the allotted Victory Points on completion, so it is quite conceivable that I could hold a position the entire game just to be overrun at the end of the scenario giving the points to the Axis AI force.

The Americans start in control of all of the location objectives and are fairly well situated on them.

Initial Orders


The 1st Bn 508th PIR is sitting on the Beek/Devil’s Hill Objective (33 Victory Points), and the 3/508th is on top of the Wyler Objective (10 VP). The only suspect deployment is that of the 2/508th who has two companies aligned along the roadway at the DZ T Objective (10 VP) with the HQ, Mortar unit and one infantry company in the rear of the objective.

While I like the profile of the two forward companies, I detach them (E to the south and D to the north) and order them to defend at their current location but to orientate more directly towards the known enemy positions. I then order the remaining components of 2nd Battalion to move on to the Wyler Berg Objective (10 VP) which is currently held by a single company from 3rd Bn.

The remaining force in its entirety is given a Defend In-Situ command as I am more or less happy with their disposition and do not feel inclined to move them about in the face of enemy forces.

Combat Action


D01 12:00 at noon of the first day the situation is steady as the German forces are experiencing difficulty moving against the superior defensive position of the Americans.


D01 18:00 the profile of the German attack has not substantially changed. The Allies continue to hold all of the objectives for the moment.


D02 00:00 at midnight the situation has changed with the Axis forces contesting the Beek/Devil’s Hill Objective (33 VP) enough so that I would not be awarded the points (all Completion) had the scenario ended at this stage. The significant force amassed just behind their lead element has me worried as it could pivot to the West and overwhelm the lone engineering company holding the Hengsldal Objective (33 VP) and thus throw the entire operation into jeopardy.


D02 06:00 the Beek/Devil’s Hill Objective has come back to my side for the moment as it appears as if the Germans are contemplating a move on Hengsldal. Those reinforcements coming on day three will be instrumental in my ability to hold this ridgeline against the Axis thrust.


D02 12:00 the battle is swinging to the neutral position on the Win-O-Meter as the Germans have sufficiently infiltrated the perimeter of three objective in such force as to call them into question. It appears for the moment that the AI commander has given up on the Beek/Devil’s Hill Objective and is fully committed to moving the northern part of his force on the Hengsldal Objective.

That lone engineering company will earn their pay on this day.


D02 18:00 German forces have managed to get behind my line running along the ridge and are moving freely about, however with reinforcements on the way I am not about to dislodge entrenched troops to run after some raiders.


D03 00:00 at midnight the situation does not look all that great, but the key here is to hold on to what I have in order to maximize the force footprint. If I had no reinforcements coming which could take care of the interlopers I would most likely shift my alignment and if not, cobble together a probe of some sort to counter the threat.


D03 05:09 the first reinforcements arrive in the form of the 320th Glider Field Artillery Battalion with their 12 M3 105mm pack howitzers. With the range already sufficient to the task (the blue outer ring), there is no need to move them anywhere (and risk running into the enemy units behind my line). I order them to Defend In-Situ which brings them under my direct fire control.


D03 05:31 the 1st Battalion 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment arrives with the following stats:

  • 585 Personnel
  • 143 Anti-personnel Firepower Rating
  • 138 Anti-armor Firepower Rating
  • 25 Bombardment Rating

They are ordered to attack Hill 64.6 (which lies just off of the Hengsldal Objective) with a Frontage of 1,000 meters and a depth of 300 meters, in a line formation. While this may not be the most cohesive attack formation to utilize, it allows for maximum firepower to the front (however I chose not to max out the other settings such as agro and rate of fire in order to keep up a prolonged assault).


D03 6:04 the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry arrives with the following stats:

  • 600 Personnel
  • 118 Armored Fighting Vehicles
  • 12 Artillery Pieces
  • 434 Anti-personnel Firepower Rating
  • 544 Anti-armor Firepower Rating
  • 521 Armor Rating
  • 56 Bombardment Rating

They are ordered to attack along the southern road running between the Hengsldal (33 VP) and Westerbelling (17 VP) objectives, in an arrowhead formation which allows for maximum firepower to the front at the best retention of cohesion.


D03 12:00 at noon the 1/504th have succeeded in pushing the Germans out of the area as they sit atop Hill 64.6, while the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry is continuing to work on the Axis forces operating along my line on the ridge. The main thrust of the enemy attack is faltering down the slope in the polder, with several units cracking under the firepower of the American forces.


D03 18:00 with the battle drawing to a close I order the British armored units to push their attack southeast in arrowhead formation to unseat the German bubble and take back the Westerbelling Objective.

After-action Report


The conflict ends at D03 22:01 with a Decisive Victory outcome for the Allies, who suffered only 824 casualties compared to 2,662 for the Axis forces.

Bernie is pleased indeed.

Review Final Situation


The Allies finished the fight in control of all of the objectives. The Germans made an attempt to push the majority of their force to the extreme northwest, but the reinforcements that took the hill overlooking the valley below helped insure that the Axis would be pinned on the downward slope.

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