Arnhem, Netherlands: This mission is the Grand Campaign for the Arnhem map in Highway to the Reich and lasts for approximately ten days, running from D1 08:00 to D10 22:00. This is one of those missions where the force disposition can change from one start to the next.
This scenario pits the Axis - SS Panzer Korps 2 against the Allies - XXX Corps. The Axis have infantry, artillery, and naturally armor units to combat the Allies parachute infantry that feature some AT guns and zero armor support until the Guards come online at D5 as reinforcements.
Although the Allies have usually two distinct D1 reinforcements (one early morning the other early evening), these forces cannot hold their own very well against the Axis reinforcements that come online sometime during D4, a full day before the Allies receive their armor (using the standard reinforcement schedule set for both sides).
There are two main objectives in this mission: Arnhem Highway Bridge North, which is active from D1 18:00 to D10 22:00 that awards only 8.6 Victory Points (VP) for occupation and 65 VP for holding it at the completion of the game, and Arnhem Rail Bridge, which is active from D1 15:00 to D10 22:00 that awards all 30 VP for holding it at the completion of the game.
All of the other objectives are worth 5 or 4 VP, and become active throughout the campaign. Oddly enough, there are no points awarded for destroying the enemy. There is a technical issue with the scenario/map configuration in that the Elden and Arnhem Highway Bridge South objectives that are not supposed to active until D5 at 13:00 and 14:00 respectively that award 5 VP for simple occupation appear to be active from the start of the scenario.
If you move troops into the area and they achieve the necessary 10 to 1 ratio for seizing an objective, it will light up green on the map as well as the Objectives list on the left hand side of the interface, but will not accumulate any points.
Given the length of this scenario (10 days) and the rate of maximum time compression (roughly 24 hours = 24 minutes), under normal circumstances of playing straight through this effort would take approximately 4 hours to complete.
D01 08:00 – This is my initial landing of forces west of Oosterbeek. I will wait until I receive all D1 first wave of reinforcements due in by 9:00AM before issuing any orders.
D01 09:00 – After all reinforcements in the first wave arrive, I break apart the forces in the following manner: All AT Guns (6-pounder and 17-pounder guns) are ordered to key blocking positions along the three major highways leading into Arnhem. These forces are mostly pawns that will be sacrificed for the greater good of the mission.
All three artillery units are moved to the clearing southwest of Deelen airfield and will be initially guarded by the remaining elements of the 1st Airborne Division – namely the A through G Glider Pilot Squadrons along with 1st through 3rd Platoons, as well as the organic Base and Engineer unit.
The remaining forces are moved individually to a clearing northwest of Oosterbeek, approximately 6km away from their intended target of the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective (30 VP). This group consists of the following elements: The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Para Battalions, the 1st Border, 7th KOSB and the 2nd Stafford’s Battalions, and the 1st Para Brigade HQ and 1st Airlanding Brigade HQ (each with their attached Base and Engineer unit).
I move these units to their staging area mostly as separate units to get them there quickly and cohesively, albeit they are not attached to each other. Ordering them there as an attached group would cause a complex movement plan to be developed by the AI subordinate commander, which is something I wanted to avoid at this point in case enemy are encountered along the way.
D01 10:53 – The primary strike force on the Arnhem Rail Bridge is well on their way to consolidating in the assigned staging area. For this attack, I need maximum artillery assets available to suppress the forces garrisoned at the bridge on both sides of the river, so once the artillery units arrive and dig-in at their fire base location, I immediately cycle them with rest after bombardment set to save their ordnance allocation for the day for the attack on the bridge itself.
D01 12:30 – With the primary strike force assembled in their staging area, I form two attack groups with their traditional superior units to move on the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective. I created the first waypoint directly in front of the AI commander’s location to perform the shakeout where they are so the march to the objective will be in their assault phase.
D01 13:53 – Some of the deployed AT Guns are encountering Axis forces along the roadways, so I set up a series of Delay waypoints to give them a fighting chance in their efforts. I know this won’t matter and these units will eventually die trying, but some of them might just surprise me and last until the mission ends.
D01 18:00 – The lead line units of the assaulting battalions are within 1km of the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective as I am pounding the kraut out of the garrisoned troops with my artillery fire base up near Deelen as the final reinforcements for day one arrive on scene.
D01 18:00 – The cluster of reinforcements that I pick up are dispatched as follows: The British units above the river are moved as a complete organic group to a small clearing southeast of the fire base established near Deelen, while the Polish units below the river are split with the 3rd Para Battalion defending at Elden, the Brigade HQ and support units defending at Highway Checkpoint 5, the 2nd Para Battalion defending at Highway Checkpoint 4 and the 1st Para Battalion defending at Elst.
D01 19:44 – The artillery bombardment and the approach of the line units have successfully unprimed the crossing at the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective. Had this crossing point been blown, the scenario would have become immensely more difficult to achieve a positive outcome. Having control of this objective for as long as possible will cause (or should cause in most cases) the enemy AI commander to split his forces in attacking two fronts.
D02 00:00 – My force disposition looks on par with my intent, with the 4th Para Brigade still working their way to their staging area and two of the three AT Guns sent to the main north-south road still working their way through the landscape. My 1st Airborne Recce Squadron hiding out near the forest in the upper right of the map will prove crucial throughout the mission in locating enemy forces.
D02 06:00 – My strike force consisting of the 1st Para Brigade and 1st Airlanding Brigade are transitioning from the assault phase of the attack on the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective into the defensive phase. I order my 1st Airborne Recce Squadron to re-deploy southeast of the Deelen Airfield and assign additional Delay waypoints for my AT Guns defending along the roads.
D02 09:23 – The 3rd Para Battalion that was defending at Elden have encountered some serious Axis forces moving through the area. It is too early in the scenario to be taking heavy losses in the defense of strategic locations, so I order the Battalion to delay back to the northwest towards the 1st Para Brigade and 1st Airlanding Brigade’s defending at the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective in order to bring these Axis forces within their range of fire.
D02 12:00 – The AT Guns defending the main road running west-to-east are encountering a multitude of Axis units, with the majority tentatively identified as the inferior naval infantry units. My vacancy of Elden has left the Axis in control of the crossroads, while the 4th Para Brigade is also encountering some activity on the perimeter of their defensive line.
D02 13:11 – With the Axis flowing freely along the road out of Elden, I issue an additional Delay waypoint for the 3rd Para Battalion further towards the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective in order to draw the Germans into a trap.
D02 18:00 – Given the enemy probes of the 4th Para Brigade’s position southeast of my firebase, I decide to move them to their next phase line, a position outside of Oosterbeek to assist the 1st Para Brigade and 1st Airlanding Brigade’s defending at the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective.
I issue the order at the right time – 18:00 (which would give this Brigade sized group time to process orders, shake out and move under the concealment of darkness), but I set the wrong parameters for the night maneuver.
Their attack order with max aggro and losses in practical terms should have been a move order with avoidance and low aggro so they could make it to their destination as a cohesive unit, which is not what happened as you will see.
In perhaps what was an overreaction, I also ordered the 1st Para Battalion that was defending at Elst to move up to Brigade HQ and support units defending at Highway Checkpoint 5 to assist them in what appears to be another Axis probe.
D03 00:00 – With the concealment of the dead of night, I order the 3rd Para Battalion to probe forward along the road that they have previously used for a tactical withdrawal from Elden. The Germans did not take the bait.
D03 06:00 – The 4th Para Brigade continues to work its way to their assigned destination as I move up the 1st Airborne Recce Squadron and order one of the AT Guns on roadway defense to move back to Oosterbeek to defend there.
D03 12:00 - The orders given to the 4th Para Brigade are coming back to haunt me as they are broken apart and suffering great fatigue. I issue new attack orders to a location closer to the 1st Para Brigade and 1st Airlanding Brigades defending at the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective in a vain attempt to regain some cohesiveness and not lose the 4th as an effective fighting unit this early on.
D03 18:03 - The 4th Para Brigade is making essentially zero progress with the orders issued six hours ago, so I issue them again in what could be the most poorly planned movement of forces during this entire scenario.
D04 00:00 - Having given up hope on regaining some control over the flagging 4th Para Brigade, I finally admit defeat and issue a simple withdrawal to the clearing at the crossroads above Hartenstein. At the same time I also move up another AT Gun off of roadway defense and bring them into the Oosterbeek area of operations.
D04 06:00 - The withdrawal order surprisingly worked out and the 4th Para Brigade is consolidating their position near Hartenstein.
D04 12:00 - Day Four is where the Kraut hits the fan at terminal velocity with the arrival of massive amounts of Axis armor and assorted other units pouring into the scenario from multiple directions, most significantly in the southern area.
The majority of the Polish units that were on roadway defense duties (namely the Polish Para Brigade HQ as well as the 2nd and 3rd Polish Para Battalions which had pooled at the Highway Checkpoint 5 Objective are now surrounded by enemy troops.
D04 13:30 - The 4th Para Brigade has regrouped and is ready to join the fight in a proper manner this time. I issue an attack order directly into the phalanx of enemy above Oosterbeek in an effort to relieve the pressure on the 1st Para Brigade and 1st Airlanding Brigades defending at the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective.
D04 18:00 - The 4th Para Brigade assault is coming along nicely while the Polish Para Brigade and assorted units are taking a pounding at the hand of the day four Axis reinforcement schedule and are starting to lose some cohesiveness in their defense.
D05 00:00 - I had posted the 1st Airborne Recce Squadron on the main road just south of Schaarsbergen to reconnoiter the area for this move by the 1st Airborne Division HQ.
D05 06:00 - The move by the 1st Airborne Division HQ was successful so I posted the 1st Airborne Recce Squadron to a position off of Deelen Airfield to have a clear line-of-sight to the main north-south roadway.
D05 07:35 - Hammer Time: The Irish Guards Group (1,119 men, 97 armored fighting vehicles and 30 gun units for a combined Anti-Personnel rating of 558, Anti-Armor of 819, Armor of 502 and Bombardment of 38) arrive on the scene and are dispatched with a Move order to the Elst Objective.
D05 08:26 - The Guards Armored Division (2,774 men, 214 armored fighting vehicles and 66 gun units for a combined Anti-Personnel rating of 972, Anti-Armor of 1,485, Armor of 932 and Bombardment of 206) arrive on the scene and are dispatched with a Move order to the Highway Checkpoint 4 Objective.
D05 08:39 - XXX Corps (7,899 men, 240 armored fighting vehicles and 194 gun units for a combined Anti-Personnel rating of 1,877, Anti-Armor of 1,837, Armor of 380 and Bombardment of 1,412) arrive on the scene and are dispatched with a Move order to the Highway Checkpoint 5 Objective.
D05 09:11 - The 43rd Infantry Division (5,283 men, 367 armored fighting vehicles and 126 gun units for a combined Anti-Personnel rating of 1,414, Anti-Armor of 1,570, Armor of 915 and Bombardment of 435) arrive on the scene and are dispatched with a Move order to the Elden Objective.
D05 10:47 - The 214 Infantry Brigade (3,216 men, 203 armored fighting vehicles and 84 gun units for a combined Anti-Personnel rating of 892, Anti-Armor of 1,180, Armor of 629 and Bombardment of 170) arrive on the scene and are dispatched with a Move order to the Arnhem Highway Bridge South Objective.
D05 10:57 - The 179th Field Artillery Regiment is dispatched to a fire base location above Bemmel and added to my direct fire control component.
D05 12:00 - XXX Corps is making its way up the road towards Arnhem in their individual efforts as outlined above and the beginnings of the breaking apart of the forces can begin to be seen. With individual single waypoint move orders for each element, the routes chosen will be different and can confuse the enemy.
D05 18:00 - Three distinct groups can be discerned at this point as the advance continues.
D06 00:00 - As the advance progresses, I issue the first set of new orders to an element of XXX Corps, namely the Irish Guards Group that was initially ordered to the Elst Objective are now ordered to the Highway Checkpoint 5 Objective.
D06 05:17 - The 13/18 Hussars (603 men, 121 armored fighting vehicles and 12 gun units for a combined Anti-Personnel rating of 442, Anti-Armor of 553, Armor of 544 and Bombardment of 56) arrive on the scene and are dispatched with a Move order to the Highway Checkpoint 5 Objective.
D06 12:05 - I detach two artillery units and move them north to the Highway Checkpoint 1 Objective to start obtaining some of the Victory Points allotted. I also re-deploy the Guards Armored Division that was initially ordered to the Highway Checkpoint 4 Objective are now ordered to the Highway Checkpoint 5 Objective.
D06 13:58 - The 69th Infantry Brigade (2,696 men, 85 armored fighting vehicles and 72 gun units for a combined Anti-Personnel rating of 470, Anti-Armor of 631, Armor of 114 and Bombardment of 114) arrive on the scene and are dispatched with a Move order to the Highway Checkpoint 4 Objective.
D06 18:00 - The 214 Infantry Brigade has made their way to a position north of Huissen where I issue attack orders on a group of Axis units that are a threat to the right flank of the main advance.
D07 00:00 - The various elements are continuing on to their assigned waypoints, most importantly the staging area in and around the Highway Checkpoint 5 Objective.
D07 03:01 - The 130th Infantry Brigade (3,047 men, 85 armored fighting vehicles and 96 gun units for a combined Anti-Personnel rating of 578, Anti-Armor of 783, Armor of 114 and Bombardment of 283) arrive on the scene and are dispatched with a Move order to the Elden Objective. The 179th Field Artillery Regiment is re-attached to its organic superior.
D07 06:00 - The advance to the staging area continues as the 214 Infantry Brigade starts to struggle with the Axis units on the right flank of the main advance.
D07 09:00 - In an effort to take advantage of momentum, I order the 214 Infantry Brigade to break apart and drop back to several key blocking positions so as not to continue to push the Axis units into the main advance.
D07 12:00 - The 214 Infantry Brigade is heavily fatigued by their advance and subsequent new orders, and falls into a rest state where they are while taking fire from the Axis units just north of their position.
D07 18:00 - Most of the units ordered to the staging area in and around the Highway Checkpoint 5 Objective have arrived and are either dug in or are in rest mode. This force is covered by the 43rd Infantry Division defending at the Elden Objective.
D07 19:30 - This is the moment of truth - the success of the following attack on the Arnhem Highway Bridge North Objective - and the entire campaign scenario - rest on the following commands to the AI subordinate commanders:
I order a six-pronged attack over the heavy road bridge and into the Arnhem Highway Bridge North Objective area with the 129th and 130th Infantry Brigades taking up positions on either flank of the box, the Irish Guards Group to the left of center mass and the 13/18 Hussars to the right of center mass (both inside of the infantry brigades on the outer flanks), with XXX Corps and the Guards Armored Division forming the tip and base of the spear.
This force (albeit operating on separate orders to six different HQ units) will collectively be known as the Arnhem Assault Group.
The remains of the 43rd Infantry Division are left defending at the Elden Objective.
D07 21:15 - I begin to move elements of the 1st Airborne Division HQ towards the Oosterbeek area with the intent to bring them across the Arnhem Rail Bridge to later maneuver onto the heavy road bridge and into the Arnhem area to assist in the capturing the primary objective.
D08 00:00 - The advance towards Arnhem is fully underway with all units having shaken out and advancing along their routes. If this was a massive complex attack with XXX Corps as the organic superior, it would have taken almost 18 hours to process orders and begin movement towards the heavy road bridge.
D08 03:00 - The 1st Airborne Division HQ continues its advance towards the Oosterbeek area as the Arnhem Assault Group is progressing with the capture of the Arnhem Highway Bridge South Objective.
D08 06:00 - The lead elements of the Arnhem Assault Group have broken through the Axis defenses and have spilled over into Arnhem.
D08 12:00 - The push into Arnhem across the heavy road bridge has succeeded and the Arnhem Assault Group has achieved the Arnhem Highway Bridge North Objective. The area is surprisingly barren of Axis units who are split up in their focus on multiple objectives.
D08 15:00 - I issue further orders to the 1st Airborne Division HQ to bring them into the battle.
D08 18:00 - Elements of the 1st Airborne Division HQ move into the Oosterbeek area are encountering heavy enemy activity along the railway line. I should have brought up the 1st Airborne Recce Squadron to reconnoiter the area before committing my troopers to crossing that area. It would prove costly and result in my having to abandon a key element of my plan.
D08 21:00 - In an effort to draw attention away from the massing of forces on top of the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective and to possibly save the maneuver by the 1st Airborne Division HQ, I order all three AT Guns deployed on the main road running north to south to move behind the bulk of the Axis positions.
D09 00:00 - I order an element of the 214 Infantry Brigade, the 1st Worcestershires Infantry Battalion (now only a motley 218 personnel from the badly splintered 214th), on a run up the main road from Elden to Arnhem Highway Bridge South Objective in order to run into the Axis forces that are slowing down the advance of the Arnhem Assault Group.
D09 03:00 - The 1st Airborne Division HQ had broken contact with the forces along the railway line and were moving further south until the slowed in the face of additional Axis units moving into the Oosterbeek area from the west.
D09 06:00 - In an attempt to cause delay to the Axis advance on the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective, I detach a unit from the 4th Para Brigade to take up a defensive blocking position on the road running parallel to the river.
D09 09:00 - Given the high level of engagement and obvious interest of the AI commander on the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective, I order the remains of the 43rd Infantry Division which were defending at the Elden Objective along with the 3rd Polish Para Battalion, to attack towards the west to relieve the 1st Para Brigade and 1st Airlanding Brigades defending at the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective.
D09 12:00 - Approximately 50% of the Arnhem Assault Group have crossed the heavy road bridge by this point thanks to the pressure put on the Axis by controlling the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective from the beginning of the scenario.
D09 15:15 - Having witnessed the decimation of the 1st Airborne Division HQ due to my low-rent tactical planning and implementation, I abandon any hopes of them making an entry into Arnhem at this point for the photo op and drafts. I order a series of Delay waypoints to bring them out of the slaughter outside of Oosterbeek.
D09 18:00 - The Arnhem Assault Group continues to move into Arnhem and begins the exploitation push past their attack waypoints. The 1st Para Brigade and 1st Airlanding Brigades defending at the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective continue to hold their ground against a powerful Axis contingent bearing down on them from two sides.
D09 21:00 - In an act of desperation, I order the remains of the 4th Para Brigade to attack the head of the Axis thrust into Oosterbeek coming from the west.
D10 00:00 - I issue a new order to the 4th Para Brigade, asking them to blunt the approach from the east. The last thing I want to do is unseat the 1st Para Brigade and 1st Airlanding Brigades from their dug in positions.
D10 06:00 - With the 1st Airborne Division HQ almost completely bugged out of the area, the 4th Para Brigade along with the 1st Para Brigade and 1st Airlanding Brigades hold tenuously onto the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective. With the Arnhem Assault Group almost completely across the heavy road bridge, there is no one to bring in to blunt the Axis main thrust.
D10 09:00 - As daylight fully reveals the enormity of my tactical blunder in having moved the 4th Para Brigade, I order the 43rd Infantry Division to attack across the Arnhem Rail Bridge and into the spearhead rolling into Oosterbeek.
D10 12:00 - The units are largely left to fight it out on their own now.
D10 15:00 - In an effort to stem the final push of the Axis forces on the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective, I issue order for a simultaneous attack/defend at key points on the perimeter of the objective zone. If I am lucky enough the forces defending this critical objective can maintain a 10-1 ration against the enemy to retain possession at the end of the scenario.
D10 18:00 - With the Arnhem Highway Bridge North Objective secured by the Arnhem Assault Group (and not in any peril), all focus is on the 1st Para Brigade and 1st Airlanding Brigades defending at the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective and their combined effort to push back any Axis probes.
D10 22:00 - The decision to take the forces defending at the Arnhem Rail Bridge Objective and spread them out to push back on the Axis has proven fruitful as the 10-1 ration of forces is maintained and I win the campaign scenario with a Decisive Victory by a score of 100 Victory Points to 43.
It is a very costly victory however in the end, having lost 22,257 men, 701 armored fighting vehicles and 639 gun units. 13 units were completely destroyed and 11 were forced to surrender.
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