Highway to the Reich PI on the Popenberg

The following scenario takes place on September 5, 1944 in what is present day Bisselt, Netherlands and lasts for 14 hours. The Princess Irene Brigade is ordered to defend the heights at DZ N between Mook and Groesbeek overlooking the road running north into Nijmegen, a critical resupply corridor for the forces fighting for control of that vital crossing point.

The Germans however intend to take the Allied position at Popenberg and cut the highway, thus isolating the units fighting in Nijmegen.

New Game Options


Realistic Orders Delay, Historical Weather, Standard Reinforcements, and Normal Supply Schedules.

Battle Map and Terrain Considerations


The scenario map is a horizontal battlespace measuring 18 km X 5.5 km, and appears to be a cropped portion of the main Nijmegen battle map. The major terrain features are the heights at DZ N/Popenberg, the Meuse River just behind and the Reichs Wald (forest woodlands) to the east.

Force Composition

The British forces total 1,246 Personnel with the following stats:

  • 114 Armored Fighting Vehicles
  • 28 Artillery Pieces
  • 390 Anti-Personnel Firepower Rating
  • 381 Anti-Armor Firepower Rating
  • 271 Armor Rating
  • 106 Bombardment Rating

There are no scheduled reinforcements for the Allies.

The German force is totally unknown at the start as there is no battlefield intelligence available. I know however from having played this scenario in the past as the Axis, that they will have 1,900 + Personnel with an approximation of the following structure:

  • 167 Armored Fighting Vehicles
  • 48 Artillery Pieces
  • 1,290 Anti-Personnel Firepower Rating
  • 1,433 Anti-Armor Firepower Rating
  • 1,073 Armor Rating
  • 308 Bombardment Rating

There are no scheduled reinforcements for the Germans.

Objectives


There is a single location objective for the scenario, Popenberg Hill that awards 83 Victory Points split relatively evenly between Occupation and Completion. The standard Destroy the Enemy Objective is worth 41 Victory Points based on 70% kills (per the scenario editor).

The Princess Irene Brigade starts in control of the primary objective.

Initial Orders


The Brigade is well situated on the objective with the three Combat Teams (approximately 200 personnel each) forward of the objective. B Sqn 44th Royal Tank Regiment (11 Sherman 75 and 5 Sherman Firefly units) are hidden in the light woods near a track by Oostberg. While it is tempting to move them into a better observation position, that goes both ways so I decide to leave them and the entire brigade in place with a basic Defend In-Situ order.

Combat Action


D01 10:00 First contact with the enemy has been made as they are streaming down the minor roads and tracks in front of the forest. The approximate strength from the intelligence is 1,657 Personnel and 65 Armored Fighting Vehicles.


D01 12:00 The forward deployed Recce Sqn has absorbed a direct assault and is routed backwards while they are taking cover. The effort on part of the Axis AI commander is suspect though as it breaks up the cohesion of the thrust of the main attack on the primary objective, effectively sapping its strength where it is needed most - attacking uphill to an entrenched defender.

Whenever I play this scenario as the Germans, I split my forces and send one far north and then west, the other south and east and then into the objective so as to pin the forward Combat Teams and allow my flanking force to come in from behind to use their defensive alignment against them.


D01 15:00 The enemy has realigned their force to attack on the left flank of my entrenched position, and has knocked the 1st Combat Team off of their deployment with an estimated force of 1,238 Personnel and 93 Armored Fighting Vehicles. If they can maintain this assault then it would effective cut my forces in half.


D01 18:00 Once again the Axis AI commander splits off a portion of the attack to go after my Recce Sqn, knocking them out of this screen shot to the north. For a moment the Win-O-Meter swung into the Marginal Defeat zone, but has since swung back pushing towards Decisive Victory territory since the German assault has faltered due to the poor decision of the enemy HQ.


D01 19:30 with only a few hours left in the scenario I take control of the Recce and Amor units and order them to attack the center of the German approach to the objective, while ordering the eight 25lb artillery tubes to focus a sustained fire mission on the center of the attack.

After-action Report


The scenario ends in a disappointing Draw outcome by a score of 100 Victory Points to 90. The losses between both sides were somewhat equal, which is surprising since the British held the high ground against an enemy that had to approach without any concealment.

Review Final Situation


I am significantly outnumbered from within the objective perimeter, so the awarding of 41.4 Victory Points for the Completion phase of the objective seems technically flawed to me. The German AI had the same single location objective, but it was scored at 100 Victory Points, all on completion of the scenario.

Post Mortem

The orders to the Recce and armor unit were too late to have any real effect on the battle, while the artillery barrage did temporarily disrupt the head of the assault.

I have played this scenario many times over the years and have won Decisive Victories as both the British and the Germans: it is short, fun, and a nice vignette of the larger battle in this sector which undoubtedly served as filler material for the game scenario list.

This scenario was played in Windows XP.

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