Highway to the Reich Eindhoven Historical Campaign Day Five

The following post is Day Five of the Historical Campaign for Eindhoven, a nine day nine hour scenario in Highway to the Reich by Panther Games. Breaking the blog post up into structured segments for each day should allow for better tactical analysis and reassessment of the battle plan based on the situation on the ground (as well as a more organized approach to writing an after-action report for a scenario as long as this).

The Eindhoven scenario is one of three historical campaigns (Arnhem, Eindhoven, and Nijmegen) that 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). The missions feature various elements of the Allies 30 Corps fighting against the Axis 1st Fallschirmjäger Army and 2nd SS Panzer Corps.

Please refer to the previous entry covering Day Four action for detailed information about how the battle progressed to this point. Note: all links used in this post are to actual articles containing additional information about the subject matter referenced and are not any form of automated link advertising.

Day Four Analysis

I am currently in control of 15 out of the 16 total location objectives. The Veghel Canal Rail Bridge Objective (7 VP) which is the task of 1st Battalion 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment and 3rd Battalion 327th Glider Infantry Regiment persists in being an issue which I will address with a realignment of forces.

The total force strength is 11,308 personnel, 101 armored fighting vehicles, 157 gun units, a 2,997 anti-personnel firepower rating, a 6,567 anti-armor firepower rating, a 648 Armor rating, and a 585 bombardment rating.

If the scenario were to end right now, I would have killed 2,729 Axis personnel, 61 armored fighting vehicles, and 161 gun units (six destroyed by fire and seven by surrender). Allied losses would be 939 personnel, 15 armored fighting vehicles, and 25 gun units.

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

New Orders

1/501st Bn which is defending at the Veghel Canal Rail Bridge crossing point is ordered to shift their facing from the initial deployment (the inset image) to better orientate them towards the primary threat at the moment. The original frontage was 1,000m but for this redeployment it is changed to the default 600m (with a depth of 300m) to concentrate their firepower.

2nd Battalion 327th Glider Infantry Regiment (451P/147AP/484AA/24B) which is defending at the Hulstheuvel Highway Bridge is realigned to better defend the assigned objective. It is interesting that their anti-armor firepower rating has increased from 249 to 484 even though they have lost some personnel during the assault. A quick check of their inventory indicates that there are 55 bazookas spread out amongst the three companies D, E, and F.

1st Battalion 327th Glider Infantry Regiment (444P/143AP/238AA/25B) which is defending at Uden is realigned to better defend the assigned objective. Although they have 54 bazookas spread out amongst the three companies A, B, and C their anti-armor firepower rating is only 238 which is at or near the initial rating. I am unable to determine why the rating for 2/327th has increased to such an extent.

Combat Action

Unit strength has become an issue as paratroopers simply were not meant to be deployed in frontline combat for this length of time (even with resupply they still need to be reinforced with heavy weapons as the enemy they are engaged with did not arrive under a canopy, but in trucks, armored personnel carriers, and tanks).

1/501st Bn on the left flank of Veghel is down to 486 personnel from their beginning strength of 564 (86%), while on the right flank 3/501st Bn is holding steady with 424 personnel (they began understrength with 427) and have yet to see any action coming from the east. Likewise 2/501st at the top of the defensive triangle holding the Veghel River Highway Bridge is at 552 (down from 574). 

To this point I have been holding 3/502nd Bn at Koevering as sort of a “fire brigade”. They are a full strength battalion at 585 personnel who have not lost a single soldier in five days of combat (mostly because they have not been directly challenged yet). If the situation with 1/501st in Veghel deteriorates to where they are combat ineffective (50% initial strength in my opinion) I will relieve them with the 3/502nd (and abandon Koevering if I cannot plug an AT or HMG unit there from among the reinforcements coming later in the afternoon).

At 09:00 I decide to act instead of waiting for the reinforcements in the afternoon. Although the British Sexton battery is continually pounding away at the German attacks amassed on the left flank of Veghel, my own artillery unit in range (the 377th) has already depleted its stores for the day. If the Axis break through into Veghel they can cause all sorts of damage and cut off the main highway.

The 3/502 Bn is ordered to vacate Koevering and take up a defensive line to augment 1/501st and 3/327th Battalions currently under sustained assault in Veghel.

  • Formation – Line
  • Aggro – Max
  • Losses – Max
  • Frontage – 1,000m
  • Depth – 300m

To fill the void at Koevering I order B Battery 81st Airborne AT Battalion to vacate Neinsel, and to replace them I move the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment HQ and base unit out of the landing zone to defend the objective held by the AT Bn (please see the inset).

This is a risky move shuffling infantry units in broad daylight; however I don’t feel comfortable at this point waiting for either the reinforcements or nightfall to strengthen my position in Veghel.

The arrival of 3/502 Bn has aided in the achievement of the Veghel Canal Rail Bridge Objective (7 VP) once again and should help reduce the pressure on 1/501st Bn which has caused some of their units to route.

However the Axis forces smell blood and are doing everything they can to exploit the perceived weakness in the line at Veghel. While airstrikes are helpful (especially when artillery has run out) there are too few in this scenario to have a substantial impact on breaking up force concentrations.

The 151st Infantry Brigade (1,254P/64AFV/24G/269AP/233AA/108A/169B) arrives and is split up to best address the various threats (with the pitched battle going on at Veghel I cannot afford to lose focus of other key points on the battlefield that may be exploited by Axis reinforcements).

K Troop 102nd AT Regiment (four Achilles Tank Destroyers) are ordered to the east of Eindhoven to support C Battery 27th Light Anti-aircraft Regiment who are retreating under sustained heavy fire (some of the incoming rounds are indicated by the red fire line).

The blue line is the Line of Sight Tool which indicates the position should afford them visibility to the main road running into Eindhoven from Tongelre.

B Squadron 61st Recce Regiment (117P/47AFV/46AP/51AA/72A) is ordered to move to a clearing outside of Lieshout on the eastern end of the map. This observation post offers excellent line of sight to the various roads that converge in that area and should provide sufficient early warning to any concentration of German forces that may pose a threat to Son.

The 295th Field Engineer Company (146P/9AFV/43AP/7AA/13B) is ordered far north to the Veghel River Rail Bridge to assist in its defense.

Once both of these units have arrived at their assigned destinations, they will be given basic defend orders to override their movement settings (which are set to get them there without being bogged down).

The remaining units of the 151st (HQ, base and artillery) are ordered to take up a defensive position just south of St. Oedenrode so as to bring their 24 Ordnance QF 25-pounder artillery tubes and its massive 10km coverage area within range of both Veghel and Eindhoven.

The 8th Durham Light Infantry Battalion (631P/24AFV/24G/126AP/208AA/32A/38B) arrives in Eindhoven and is broken up as follows:

  • E Troop 102nd AT Regiment (4 X Ordnance Quick-Firing 17-pounder) is ordered to take up a defensive observation post to the east where they will have excellent LOS to the roads running into Eindhoven.
  • E Troop 25th LAA Regiment (6 X Bofors 40mm AA) is ordered to take up a defensive observation post also to the east, but approximately 1km south of the LAA to cover the lower end.

While stripping the infantry battalion of their heavy weapons (AT and HMG) is not advisable, I have to balance the need to protect the primary objective of the scenario against other competing requirements to best cover as many key locations as possible.

The remaining infantry contingent (559P/24AFV/14G/91AP/77AA/32A/38B) are ordered to assume a defensive blocking position in the Veghel sector perpendicular to the axis of advance for the German group trying to exploit a breach.

  • Formation – Line
  • Route – Quickest
  • Aggro – Max
  • Losses – Max
  • Frontage – 1,000m
  • Depth – 300m

While the line of sight is broken, the battalion will have the benefit of defending high ground as the Germans are sitting in the lowest part of a depression on that side of the canal.

At 17:43 the 44th Royal Tank Regiment 595P/118AFV/12G/425AP/529AA/515A/56B) arrives in Eindhoven and is broken up as follows:

  • Recce Troop 44th Royal Tank Regiment (5 X Stuart VI Light Tanks) is ordered to a defensive observation post between Eerde and the main road leading north into Veghel.
  • C Company 2nd KRRC (48 X Bren Personnel Carriers) is ordered to the Veghel River Rail Bridge to assist in the defense of the engineering units dug-in there

The remainder armor contingent (355P/65AFV/8G/367AP/457AA/403A/56B) is ordered to take a defensive line at the Veghel River Canal Bridge to set a containment area (along with the defensive line of the 8th Durham Infantry which is included in the image for reference).

At 18:10 the 9th Durham Light Infantry Battalion (614P/24AFV/24G/122AP/207AA/32A/38B) arrives in Eindhoven and is ordered to move to Veghel and form a defensive line overlapping 1/501st Bn which has taken a beating and reduced to 262 personnel (approaching 50% strength).

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

The entire battalion with attached heavy weapons (AT and HMG) is moved with no detachments, and once they have dug-in I intend to pull 1/501 Bn off of the line and have them rest within Veghel to serve as a last line reinforcement (albeit they are significantly limited as a fighting force).

By 23:30 the 8th Durham LI, 9th Durham LI, and 44th Royal Tanks have made it to their positions and are shaking out into the assigned defensive lines. As they are digging in through the early morning I will pull 1/501st Bn back to reorganize in a relatively safer area than what they have been holding for the past five days.

To be continued…

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