Thursday, 26 September 2019

The Koevering Raid - Operation Market-Garden

Like many of my friends, I was captivated by Operation Market-Garden as a child, when I read Cornelius Ryan's 'A Bridge Too Far'. This was only re-inforced when the film of the same name came out. So with the 75th anniversary of the Operation this year, I planned to play the campaign, but for a variety of reasons I failed. However, I did have enough forces to play at least one part, choosing the cutting of 'Hell's Highway' as the basis for the game.

Dave was up for this and so after a bit of research in Kershaw's excellent 'It never Snows in September' book, the Koevering raid of 245h - 26th September seemed perfect. It had the added bonus that we could play the raid on the same day it happened, 75 years ago. Details of the actual action can be found here.

I used the OOB that I could find as a guide for the game, tweaking things to fit in with our normal mid-week game constraints. If we'd had longer to play, then I would have reflected the actual action much more closely. Anyway, after scribbling I away I was happy with the scenario and forces to hand.
Scenario Details
Broadly speaking Kampfgruppe Jungwirth, re-inforced by elements of Fallschirmjager Regiment 6 (van der Haydte), were to continue with their attacks in and around the hamlet of Koevering on the morning of 25th September, with the aim of preventing any Allied troops passing along the road.

In response the Allies launched counter-attacks with the 502nd PIR from 101st US Airborne Division, later supported by elements of the 44th RTR, 7th Armoured Division 'Desert Rats' and the British 50th Infantry Division.

The Allied troops would arrive at random points and intervals during the game, to try and reflect the random nature of the engagement. There would be the chance of some air support as well, in the form of Typhoons, with the chance that the Americans would show up and the P-47 Thunderbolts causing some Blue-on-Blue action.

Table Layout
The game would be played on our normal 4' x 4' table, with the Germans coming in from the East, the Allies from North, South and/or West.

An overview of the table, with Koevering in the middle, with some Fallschirmjager already in residence.

Fallschirmjager re-inforcements already on their way.

A view along the very exposed 'Hell's Highway'.

Elements of Kampfgruppe Jungwirth in Koevering. In the background smoke can be seen rising from trucks that were shot up the night before.

Turn 1
The Germans got the first move, with all units advancing as much as they could, taking up an all round defensive posture, in anticipation of an Allied counter-attack.

The first Allied troops to respond were the 502nd PIR, who arrived from the South and the West, with both elements making the best use of cover to mask their advance. As a result the Germans had no targets, so there was no shooting. At the end of the turn, an allied FAO arrived and moved into position to try and call down artillery fire next turn.

An overview at the end of Turn 1.

US Paras advance through the woods.

Other US Paras advance towards a hedgeline, which masks them from the Germans.

Falschirmjager move into a building on their left flank, supported by a StuH-42.

A Tiger I in position to dominate the road.

Stug III's cover the right flank.

Turn 2
Both German flanks advanced, with Fallschirmjagers moving to help provide protection to the Stug III's.

The first British troops arrived in the form of the 'Desert Rats', as their Shermans moved of the road and immediately engaged a lone Stug III, suppressing it. The US Paras continued to mve through the woods to threaten the German left flank.

An overview at the end of turn 2.

A suppressed Stug III facing elements of the 'Desert Rats'.

The Fallschirmjagers advance on the left flank, but then fail an order, leaving the StuH-42 in the open.

Turn 3
In response to the Shermans attack, the Tiger I moves to the right flank to help counter the threat.

On the Allied side, a British Recce unit arrives and advances down the road, supported by a Carrier Company. Combined fore from mortars and off board artillery sees the loss of two Fallschirmjager units and the StuH-42 pushed back whilst it was suppressed.

An overview at the end of Turn 3.

The German left flank comes under attack.

The British Recce and Carriers arrrive and advance towards Koevering.

The Tiger I has moved up in support.

Turn 4
In the German turn, mortar fire manages to suppress some of the British Recce armoured cars and the Stug III supresses the Sherman Firefly. However it is destroyed by the other Shermans as they shoot back.

The Shermans continue their attack and with some amazing shooting, destroy the remaining two Stug III's on the right flank. The FAO fails to get through and the cab rank of Typhoons also fail to appear.

An overview at the end of Turn 4.

British armoured cars are suppressed by mortar fire.

The Tiger I is the only armour left on the German right flank.

The Shermans of the 'Desert Rats' have destroyed the Stug III's in quick succession.

Turn 5
As the British infantry have advanced into the open, combined mortar fire leads to the loss of one unit and the others suppressed. With no other targets, the Germans sit tight.

A busy turn for the allies, with the 44th RTR arriving from near Veghel, who immediately move and engage the Germans, destroying the StuH-42. In the woods the US Paras continue to push forward and in the centre the Carrier Platoon de-bus and occupy the building near the road. The 'Desert Rats' engage the Tiger I, but fail to damage it, but combined artillery fire and a Typhoon attack seeing it suppressed and it only just misses out on retreating off the table. The Allies are very much in the ascendancy but they still haven't secured the road.

The Typhoon attack.

An overview at the end of Turn 5.

The 44th RTR arrive.

The German Pak 38 is the only real obstacle to the 44th RTR's Shermans.

The lone Tiger I.

The 'Desert Rats' are having a field day.

The British Recce armoured cars advance to threaten the German right flank and centre.

Turn 6
In the German turn, they are able to suppress a Sherman and hit some infantry, but have no other available targets.

The Allies on the other hand cause devastation with their artillery, destroying a Pak 38, a mortar, an MG and a Fallschirmjager unit and only narrowly fail to destroy the CO as well. The Typhoon once again cames in, but it is the Shermans tha administer the 'coup de grace' on the Tiger I.

The Typhoon on target again.

An overview at the end of Turn 6.

The German right flank is a mass of flaming armour.

The German left flank has little left to halt the Allies.

The devastating 'Desert Rats'.

End of Game
At this point it was obvious that the Allies were now in complete control and the Germans had nothing with which to halt the Allied armour. Some German units were able to retreat, others had no option but to surrender. A resounding Allied victory but the Germans had kept the road closed long enough to prevent re-inforcements and supplies getting to where they were so desperately needed. So honours fairly even at the end.

Post Game Thoughts
A fun game and a fitting way to commemorate Operation Market-Garden. As always a few thoughts on the game etc:

  • I thought the scenario itself worked well, especially the random turns upon which units would arrive and where exactly on the table. This kept both sides in the dark, which made for interesting decisions for both players.
  • Dave's die rolling for his artillery and Shermans was phenominal throughout the game, with the latter really swinging the game in his favour early on, as the 'Desert Rats' gained fire supremacy over the German Stug III's. The Germans were never really able to recover from this.
  • The British artillery was devastating. I'm not sure whether I gave the Allies too many batteries, but probably one less would have been better.
  • The scenario gave both of us a feel as to why it was so hard for the Allies to keep 'Hell's Highway' open and also why it was hard for the Germans to keep it closed for more than 24 hours. The terrain is so open, that you can see why the German guns could pick of any Allied vehicles with ease on the main road. Also there is so little cover, that it is hard for the infantry to advance, as they are so exposed.
  • I know I forgot a few things in the rules during the game, but ultimately it didn't affect the outcome. We used BKCII as the main rules, but combining them with the good ideas from BKCIV, but a good dose of common sense.  The latter applies to all games and allows things to flow nicely, without the stop-start nature of having to constantly check a rulebook.
  • The random nature of the air support worked, but sadly Dave didn't roll a '1', so that the P-47 failed to arrive to shoot up the Allied armour... 

So a nice game and good to be able to commemorate Operation Market-Garden. Next week we are back to our Brexite Campaign, which gives me time to paint some more units as well as carrying on with upgrading my scenery. So until next time...


  1. Nice game Steve and agree on the dose of common sense to keep things moving, we tend to game that way.

    There was a tipping point in the game where Allied gun tubes, artillery and air support ensured the 'win', but I like that the German force can claim their win by causing successful delay. Must get BKC IV back to the table.

    1. Thanks Norm. I think we're at that age now that we've found rules we like and don't feel the need to check every tiny detail, using common sense instead, which is actually very liberating.

      The scenario is a nigh on impossible win for the Germans in the traditional sense, but holding out for long enough to delay the Allies, would be victory in itself. Always nice to have different vcitory conditions and a refreshing change.

  2. This looked like a Turkey Shoot for the Allies. Their shooting was both well-timed and well-aimed. Combined with plentiful artillery and air support, the poor FJ barely had a chance.

    I really enjoy seeing the action from above the table. Provides a good perspective of the action.


    1. Well I thought it would be tough for the Allied armour, but they just got lucky with the die rolls and the Germans didn't. I expected quite a few of the Shermans to brew up, but failed to cause any to!

      I try to give an overview of each Turn, so hopefully you can gain an idea of what moved, etc. Then I add in the 'detail' shots, just for fun.