Highway to the Reich Dutch Delay at Deest

The following after-action report is of a hypothetical scenario taking place on September 27, 1944 in which the Dutch Princess Irene Brigade is ordered to move from guarding the bridge crossing between Grave and Nederasselt north to Deest in order to delay a German assault expected to come eastward along the Deest-Weurt roadway running into Nijmegen. The German plan is to strike from the west into the exhausted 30th Corps holding the bridge; a vital link to Model’s planned counter-attack towards Antwerp.

However General Horrocks has received an ULTRA intercept of the enemy intentions and orders the PIB to force march from the Grave area to Deest in order to perform a delaying action against the 2nd Panzer Grenadier Regiment in what would become a battle of reserve elements struggling ultimately for control of the bridgehead in Nijmegen.

New Game Options

Realistic Orders Delay, Historical Weather, Favor Allies Reinforcements (as dictated by the scenario designer), and Historical Supply Schedules.

Battle Map and Terrain Considerations

The scenario map is a horizontal battlespace measuring 14 km X 6 km. The major terrain features are the Waal River running the length of the map, and the polder terrain making the use of the roads and tracks necessary for a rapid advancement of vehicles.

Force Composition

The British forces total 1,324 Personnel with the following composition:

  • 98 Armored Fighting Vehicles
  • 37 Artillery Pieces
  • 337 Anti-Personnel Firepower Rating
  • 429 Anti-Armor Firepower Rating
  • 148 Armor Rating
  • 106 Bombardment Rating

There are two reinforcement units scheduled for Day 2 between 15:00-20:00, one an armor unit and the other an engineer unit.

The German force composition is unknown. The battlefield intelligence provided by the scenario designer indicates at the start that there is a single Axis unit on the map, an Engineer Company of 111 Personnel.


There is a single location objective, Weurt which has a value of 118 Victory Points awarded at 57.6 maximum for Occupation and 60.0 for Completion. The stock Destroy the Enemy Objective awards 100 Victory Points based on a scenario specific percentage of enemy casualties.

Initial Orders

While realizing that this is a delaying action and losses will be incurred, I am not inclined to put the forces on the main road to allow them to be nothing more than speedbumps to be overrun (or outright crushed). The polder terrain on either side of the road leading to Weurt allows me to detach and offset individual units with clear line of sight to the expected route of attack.

My thinking here is by moving them off the road but placing their deployment at an angle towards the enemy advance, they can have more of a sweeping field of fire.

The value in detaching all units (except the mortar platoon that I left attached to the HQ unit) is that each can then be given specific orders (such as to withdraw to a new position) without causing the whole brigade (really nothing more than a reinforced battalion)  to reevaluate their overall disposition.  This should reduce load on the AI and allow them to fight to hold onto their ground as efficiently as possible.

By offsetting them from the road I improve the odds of a successful disengagement which should allow me to reroute the units backwards to leapfrog to fill the gaps in coverage. I have no illusion of killing all of the Axis forces on the map; I simply want to delay them as much as possible with the least destruction to the Allies.

I know some have to die, but not all of them have to die.

Combat Action

D01 12:00 The recce unit in the lead has been blown past but the visual sighting up and down the road is excellent allowing the detached artillery unit to fire on the head of the advance as they bunch up when encountering the next Allied pocket.

D01 15:00 After what I perceive to be the main body of the German force moves past the Recce unit that was knocked off its position, I order them to fall back along the Waal River to fill in behind the HQ unit. Although there are only six personnel left in this unit and they are beyond combat ineffective, it is the least I could do for the remaining lads. Likewise the 2nd Combat Team (down to 45 personnel) is also ordered to fall back and take up a new defensive position.

D01 18:00 This leaves the 1st Combat Team to bear the brunt of the Axis assault force in what is effectively "taking one for the team".

D01 20:39 Down to 56 personnel the 1st Combat Team is ordered to fall back along the Waal River to fill in a gap along the road. With these leapfrog steps I am actually situating the forces directly on the roadway this time in an act of desperation to slow the German advance.

Maybe they do all have to die.

D02 00:01 The 3rd Combat Team (down to 68 personnel) is ordered to fall back towards the HQ unit, which I order to move back towards the single objective of Weurt.

D02 06:00 The Germans have advanced past their prior footprint, having moved through the various areas that the exhausted and beaten combat teams were ordered to fall back to. All that stands between the enemy and the main objective is a recce unit consisting of six personnel and a platoon of 20mm anti-aircraft guns.

Cannon fodder to say the least.

D02 08:40 Shortly after 8 AM the Weurt Objective is lost and I am no longer accumulating Occupation Victory Points. Those that I did gain by holding a unit back there for the entirety of the scenario to this point will help to achieve a possible Draw outcome, which I believe is rather optimistic as this point.

D02 12:00 The Germans have amassed their force just off of the main objective and seem not to push forward (towards the off map location of Nijmegen and 30th Corps). This is an engine limitation as the Exit Objective Type would not be available until the next game in the Airborne Assault series, Conquest of the Aegean.

D02 14:31 The remnants of the brigade are ordered to move towards Weurt and place themselves between the enemy and the objective perimeter center in a final act of attrition.

D02 18:01 With the Win-O-Meter squarely in the “You Suck” zone, will the reinforcements save the day, or be more grist for the German mill?

D02 18:09 A Squadron 15/19 Hussars arrives with its 15 Sherman tanks and is ordered to move forward into the objective perimeter. If I can put enough combat power in that area, I can disrupt the Germans from having a 10:1 force ratio and cease them from accumulating Victory Points (if that is how their objective is configured).

D02 18:15 The final reinforcement arrives, the 1st Field Engineer Company consisting of 83 highly fatigued Personnel who are also cast into the furnace.

D03 00:00 By midnight on the final day of the battle, I have sufficient force within the objective perimeter to swing the Win-O-Meter from “You Suck” to “You Suck Less”. In what could only be described as an abject failure of the Axis AI commander, the Germans leave the majority of their force parked just outside of the point zone.

Not to overly criticize the scenario designer, however I would have utilized some other mechanic to influence the Axis AI to move sufficient force within the perimeter, perhaps placing additional non-point Defend objectives within the area (or just beyond it at the edge of the map).

After-action Report

I manage to secure a Marginal Victory outcome with a score of 47 -0 Victory Points (perhaps the Axis objective was scored purely on Completion, and not having a 10:1 ratio at the end eliminated that possibility).

Review Final Situation

With the Germans parked off of the objective perimeter, I basically won on the Occupation points I accumulated on the first day and a half, and the handful of Destroy the Enemy points earned throughout the scenario.

Post Mortem

Although the scenario briefing did not mention this was a “What If” hypothetical mission (as far as I can tell), I am assuming it was because of the date used (9/27/44) and the inability to find any information of the Princess Irene Brigade leaving the Grave bridge to move north to block the Germans from approaching Nijmegen from the west.

This scenario was played 7/11/15 on a Windows XP machine.

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