Command Ops – Breaking Fortress Holland No. 10

Continuing…

1600

Paulus’ plan, at Den Bosch


Paulus’ plan, east of Dungen

Paulus wins with one vote (thanks, Rob!). Happily, I already had the 484th on the way at the end of last time, so it’s a simple matter to get them into the right disposition now.

I and II Battalions will take on the defense of Den Bosch, along with the regimental HQ. III Battalion will head south and secure the flank from crossings south of Dungen.

1730
Fighting at Dungen is looking pretty iffy at this point. 10 Schützen Regiment has taken a bruising—one of its companies is looking about ready to fall apart, at less than half of its starting strength.

On the west side of Den Bosch, III/SS Deutschland is on the way to seal off that bridge. The 484th Infanterie Regiment is only just now getting under way; infantry units are slower to respond to command than motorized ones.

1800

As the day wears on, III/SS Deutschland looks like it’ll reach its objective by sunset, and the 484th Infanterie are beginning to set up in the south of Den Bosch. Before long, we’ll be able to free the I/33 Panzers and Gruppe Apell.

1820

III/484th Infanterie engages a French tank company in an orchard east of Dungen. How World War II movie.

1900

We have a pretty solid hold on Den Bosch now. III/SS Deutschland is on its way, and 1/33 Panzer Battalion, relieved by the infantry, now has orders to attack west to Vlijmen, where it will be able to exert influence on the road to Waalwijk.

2000

The Dungen bridge position is beginning to look more and more tenuous. I may have to reinforce it, or pull back to the east bank of the river.

Sunset.

2100

Things are happening maddeningly slowly. Night falls, which will let the French maraud, no doubt. It will also take the pressure off of Dungen a little bit, and give me some time to think about how to deal with all these blasted tanks when I don’t have nearly enough of my own.

Twilight.

2145

For all my griping about having maybe sixty tanks to the oh, several hundred the French do, I’m making progress toward Vlijmen, and Dungen is still hanging on.

2200

Nighttime. Thirteen kilometers to go, against who knows what opposition. We’ll see what happens.

2245
I adjust the 484th Infanterie Regiment’s orders so that they cover the south of Den Bosch a little better. Gruppe Appel’s disposition for tomorrow is going to be an interesting question.

2330

With much sighing, I watch as a French tank company trundles over my position at the Dungen bridge. On the plus side, I/33 Panzer Regiment has made a hole at Vlijmen, and is proceeding through it, along with I/SS Deutschland.

0000, Day 3

Twelve hours to go.

Dungen bridge is looking safer now, but may have to withstand another six to eight hours of attack once the sun comes back up. We’re into the backfield in the west, but we need to keep moving there. Predawn twilight starts at about 4:00 a.m. I want to be past Vlijmen and on the way to Waalwijk by then. Den Bosch looks secure right now.

Please note that this is the last decision point in this edition of Breaking Fortress Holland. Four hours (the remainder after this period) isn’t enough to justify stopping and changing plans.

Guderian – The arrival of the infantry has freed Gruppe Apell to follow the mechanized forces west! We must exploit their breakthrough with all available force.

von Rundstedt – The position at Dungen is becoming more tenuous by the moment. Gruppe Apell must attack it immediately.

Paulus – I agree with von Rundstedt, but Grupe Apell has been fighting for thirty hours. They must first rest for a few hours before organizing for the flanking attack.

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Not-being-lazy voting update

I swear! I’ve been working on tafl things for the past two weeks pretty hardcore. I’ll have a blog post coming this weekend on that topic, I expect, and some more exciting tafl-related news at around the same time.

As for Breaking Fortress Holland, my intention is to play on Thursday and update on Friday evening or Saturday morning. Voting currently stands thus:

Paulus – 1

There’s still time and opportunity to make a difference.

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Command Ops – Breaking Fortress Holland No. 9

Diving right in, for Day 2, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

0845

At Dungen


At Den Bosch

Both attacks progressing. Forces are finally moving in to clear Den Bosch. The engineers have orders to join the gaggle at Den Bosch, where we’ll assign them to a task force of some sort later.

0915
Ordering Gruppe Apell to push down to the highway bridge. This will give us a clear route west for the forces we’re sending to the exit objectives.

0930

III Battalion/Deutschland arrives, and gets orders to clear out some Dutch forces from behind our lines north of Den Bosch. They’ll join in the push at Den Bosch and spring for the west once they’re through with that.

1000

I/Deutschland is doing well west of Den Bosch, and it’s looking like that will be the focal point of future operations toward the exit objectives. That said, the French are seriously thick on the ground heading for the Dungen bridge, so I’m going to stick with the plan to use the last battalion of SS troops from the Deutschland regiment to reinforce the near side of the bridgehead there.

Rather annoyingly, the 10th Schützen Regiment appears to have missed the main body of the French force.

1015
I have an airstrike available, so I drop it on one of the French tank companies assaulting Dungen from the southeast. I’ll be doing the same thing through the whole day.

1030

The makings of a French defensive line are now visible south of Den Bosch, as II Battalion/Deutschland arrives. I send them to Varkenshoek, north of the Dungen bridge fight, to organize for their attack.

1115

Let me take a moment to talk about strategy for the rest of the scenario here. I’ve turned off the unit icons for this screenshot. Notice the placement of bridges and rivers, and how they divide the map into three sections.

The first section is that south of Den Bosch—the canal running west from Den Bosch is its northern border in that direction, and the Zuid Willemsvaart is its northern border to the east. It curves up to include Waalwijk at the far western edge of the map. The second section is the northeastern quarter, east of the Dieze (the canal/river that flows from the north into Den Bosch). The final section is the northwestern quarter, including everything between the Maas (at the very northwestern edge of the map), the Dieze, and the canal west of Den Bosch.

Crucially, there are only three ways into the northwestern quarter: by passing through Den Bosch, which we control, by going all the way to Waalwijk and crossing at the bridges there, and by the road bridge at Cromvoirt, on the left side of the screenshot. If I control the bridge at Cromvoirt, I control the northwestern quadrant, and I don’t have to fight my way all the way across the map. I can just send forces straight to the bridges east of Waalwijk and fight the relatively short distance to the northern exit. That’s the plan for the rest of this phase. III/Deutschland gets the orders to march on Cromvoirt.

At the same time, II/Deutschland gets orders to attack the concentration of French forces northwest of the Dungen bridge.

1130

Two new artillery batteries come onto the map, which is a lovely development. Unfortunately, it looks like the French have also crossed the Middelrode bridge (the next one southeast of Dungen), as they’ve shown up behind the front. Fortunately, they showed up next to an anti-tank company, so we’re in a little better shape than you might expect.

1140

As Gruppe Apell pushes south to secure the other Den Bosch crossing into the map’s northwestern quadrant, I issue orders to I/Deutschland to gather some reinforcements (the self-propelled artillery battery and a flak detachment waiting in Den Bosch) and head to Waalwijk. No reason to wait any longer—the breakthrough has been made. Time to get to exploitin’.

1330

An uneventful two hours. Attacks progress, but generally, going is slow.

The last reinforcement we get in this scenario is the 484th Infantry Regiment. The regiment HQ and the first battalion arrive. The first battalion heads to the west side of Den Bosch to free up some forces to flank the French at Dungen, while the regiment HQ gathers some bridging units and heads to Den Bosch to hold onto them until they’re needed.

1400
To my surprise, three companies of troops from II/Deutschland have pushed back six or seven companies at the Dungen bridge. Not bad.

1530
Finally, we start making some serious progress west of Den Bosch. It took half an hour and four batteries of artillery firing in support, but Gruppe Apell and company opened up enough of a hole at the bridges southwest of Den Bosch for the two battalions of SS troops to sneak through.

Reinforcements arrive in the form of two more infantry battalions. I start them on the move now. We’ll decide what to do with them come voting time.

1600

The final situation, which is rather confused. Forward units discover that some French have crossed at Cromvoirt already. 10th Schützen Regiment is moving to defend the Dungen bridge, Gruppe Apell is securing its position southwest of Den Bosch, I/33rd Panzer Regiment is defending the southern edge of Den Bosch, and both SS battalions west of Den Bosch are making exploiting moves.

Time to figure out what to do.

Guderian – The 484th Infantry Regiment should be used to free mechanized forces to attack toward Waalwijk. Use I/484th to secure the Cromvoirt crossing, and II/484th and III/484th to seal off the flank at Den Bosch. Gruppe Apell and I/33rd Panzer Regiment can then withdraw from the defensive line and head west.

von Rundstedt – We have mechanized forces directly behind the enemy at the Dungen bridge. Use one battalion of infantry to take I/33rd Panzer’s place in Den Bosch, one to assist in the defense of the Den Bosch breakthrough, and one to attack the enemy west from Dungen Bridge.

Paulus – The French may be attempting a crossing southeast of Dungen. Position a battalion of infantry to protect against that eventuality. Otherwise, follow Guderian’s plan.

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Breaking Fortress Holland voting update (plus other stuff)

Here are the current vote totals, with course of action on the left and bridging unit strategy on the right.

Guderian – 0/0
von Rundstedt – 3/4
Paulus – 1/0

It’s looking like von Rundstedt again. Get your votes in before 8:00 a.m. Central time tomorrow, and expect the update this weekend.

In other news, Parvusimperator is maintaining his pace over at the Fish Bowl. Have a look at his piece about small-caliber high-velocity battle rifle cartridges, and expect, in the next week or two, my unsurprisingly contrarian take.

In other other news, I’ve done a little bit of housekeeping with respect to the navigation menu. The Blather category here is largely redundant now, given The Fish Bowl’s increasing prominence as a place for commentary on every topic. In the future, Blather here will solely contain these sorts of updates—website news, schedule information, and the like. Longer-form thoughts on writing and all other topics will live at The Fish Bowl, and, as such, it now has prominent placement on the menu bar. See you over there.

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Command Ops – Breaking Fortress Holland No. 8

After a three-way tie twice (first at 1 vote each, then at 2), my designated tiebreaker, mad with power, calls it for von Rundstedt.

0030

The von Rundstedt plan hinges on a relatively quick penetration across the bridge. We’ll use one of the 20mm flak detachments for extra firepower, and probably attach it to I/33 Panzer Regiment to force our way across town.

0100

We’re across at Den Bosch, and beginning to secure the area. SS Deutchland’s reconnaissance company heads south to snag a seemingly-unguarded objective. Some free points can’t hurt.

0120

Attacking into Den Bosch will help to seal the French into the corridor between the Dungen bridge and Den Bosch proper on the northwest and southeast sides, and between the canals to the northeast and southwest.

We’ve lost the Dungen bridge objective, which means that the Allies are coming.

0145

The Den Bosch bridgehead and the Dungen bridgehead are both looking rather precarious at this point, but we should be able to hold on, given what I can see at this point.

0230

I/33 Panzer Regiment went ahead and planned an attack without asking me. I unticked the ‘attacks’ option in their move order. Once they’re more or less in position, I’ll order the attack personally. We’re still in contact with the Dutch and French in a lot of places, and progress remains slow.

This screenshot has the 1km grid enabled, so you can get a better sense for the scale.

0245

The French are attacking the Dungen crossing in force, which, granted, is what I wanted them to do.

0315

33 Panzer Regiment gets some extra attachments, including a 37mm flak detachment and an anti-tank detachment, and receives its orders to attack into Den Bosch.

Worringly, the French have now shown up south of Den Bosch. Either they’re much more spread out than they were at dusk, or there are more of them than I thought.

0345
Everything happens so much slower at night. I/9 Aufklärungs-Regiment is doing pretty well for itself against a superior French force at Dungen. Gruppe Apell is moving into defensive positions. I/33 Panzer Regiment is still preparing its attack.

0500

5:00 a.m. means dawn. Gruppe Apell and I/33 Panzer Regiment are in position across the river, while the 9 Panzer Division HQ moves to hold the friendly side of the bridgehead with a 2cm flak detachment. We have a huge reinforcement drop coming in half an hour.

0510

The French seriously bit on our feint. Time to rouse the artillery boys and get them firing in support.

0530

I/SS Deutschland battle plan


10 Schützen Regiment battle plan

10 Schützen Regiment (motorized infantry) and I Battalion of the SS ‘Deutschland’ Regiment have arrived. 10 Schützen Regiment is going to hit the French at Dungen and hopefully remove them from play, while the I/Deutschland is going to open up the hole at the Den Bosch bridge.

In five hours, we’ll have another two battalions of SS troops to send through the breach. My aim is to be able to send the entire SS ‘Deutschland’ Regiment through the gap we’ve smashed into the lines as soon as the rest of it is here.

0600

The sun peeks over the horizon, to reveal German soldiers marching through the Dutch countryside.

In the south, SS Deutschland’s reconnaissance company has gotten itself into some trouble, but will shortly extricate itself and find a better route to the south objective.

0645

The magnitude of my French problem is becoming apparent.

0730
10 Schützen Regiment’s attack begins. Two bridging units arrive, with accompanying motorized pioneer companies. We’ll decide what to do with them as part of the next vote.

0800

The second round comes to a close, with the situation muddy at Den Bosch and looking more favorable at Dungen.

At Den Bosch, we have three main forces:
1. Gruppe Apell, a motorized infantry battalion plus some support elements, currently without orders.
2. I/33 Panzer Regiment, a tank battalion plus some support elements, currently attacking Den Bosch.
3. I/SS Deutschland Regiment, a motorized infantry battalion, attacking south to enlarge our bridgehead.

Time for some voting. We have two things to concern ourselves with this time.

General course of action
Guderian – Open a new front. The 10th Schützen Regiment will proceed southwest after crossing at Dungen, moving through Stokhoek and Vught before crossing the canal at Cromvoirt and heading for the Rotterdam road. Future reinforcements will be held in reserve until a gap is opened, then push west.

von Rundstedt – Continue as planned. The 10th Schützen Regiment will attack across the Dungen bridge and form a southern pincer against the defenders of Den Bosch. Divide reinforcements evenly between Den Bosch and Dungen.

Paulus – Shift the center to the Dungen crossing. The Den Bosch force will hold. Future reinforcements will be directed to exploit the Dungen crossing.

Bridges
Guderian – Move the bridging units forward. Build a second bridge at Den Bosch to reduce traffic problems. Hold the second in reserve to support the leading edge of our attack.

von Rundstedt – We have sufficient bridges as it stands. Hold the bridging units in reserve, and attach the motorized pioneer companies to line units.

Paulus – The best place for bridgebuilding is not yet clear. Hold the engineers in reserve until an opportunity presents itself.

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von Rundstedt wins!

After a 1-1-1 tie turned into a 2-2-2 tie, Parvusimperator cast the tiebreaking vote for von Rundstedt. I’ll be playing this afternoon and hopefully updating tonight, although I have a number of things on my plate.

At the Fish Bowl, I have a post up on the subject of tafl, the Old Norse board game I’m implementing in Groovy. There will be more in that series.

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Command Ops – Breaking Fortress Holland No. 7

I was planning on providing some historical context here, but I’m running low on time, and in actuality, there isn’t a lot to say. Between noon on the 11th, when the previous scenario ended, and the start of this scenario, the infantry divisions we controlled in Melee at Mill expanded the breach at Mill, and German forces waiting at the border rushed through the gap. Dutch forces disengaged and fell back to the Zuid-Willemsvaart, the canal running south from Den Bosch, and organized a second defensive line. Partially survivors from the battle for Mill, and partially fresh troops, the Den Bosch line was not, in reality, reinforced by the French. Here, though, the scenario briefing says I should expect French resistance.

I suppose there is some extra context to give: why it was so important to push so quickly. The Germans had attacked Rotterdam proper with paratroopers and air-landing infantry on the first day of the war—a bold call, considering that the German border was more than a hundred kilometers away from Rotterdam. In the same spirit as my Bastogne AAR from a few Christmases past, my goal here is to establish supply lines.

1730

As befits this more free-flowing scenario, the Aufklärungs-Regiment of the 9th consists of motorcycle infantry, who use the motorized movement tables. As widely-spread as they are, the pathfinding tools say that it should only take them about 40 minutes to reach the forming-up point.

On the attack order, I tick the ‘secure crossing’ box. The pre-battle intelligence says that the Dutch might have engineers near the bridgehead who can attempt to prime it to blow before we can cross. Secure Crossing instructs my men to specifically discourage any such attempt.

1830

So much for 40 minutes. Maddeningly, 1st Company of the Auflklärungs-Regiment decides to take the long way around, delaying the attack for half an hour or so.

1925

The attack at the Dungen bridge is well under way.

1930

At the Dungen bridge, the reconnaissance troops reach the objective and begin to push across.

Reinforcements arrive: Gruppe Apell comprises some support troops, II Battalion of the 11th Schützen Regiment (motorized troops), and I Battalion of the 33rd Panzer Regiment. I split it into two pieces: the Gruppe headquarters and II/11 Schützen Regiment, which has orders to leave the main highway at the Varkenshoek junction toward Gesticht. It will head west from Gesticht to the road into Orten, where it will then turn southwest to attack the northern Den Bosch bridge. I Bn/33 Panzer Regiment, along with a flak company from Gruppe Apell’s headquarters will continue down the highway to De Built, where they’ll hold until the assault commences.

The northern bridge bypasses the main bulk of the town, and the route on which it sits has fewer bridges between our jumping-off points and points west, so I’m dedicating the heavier force to it.

1945

Tanks and motorized infantry stream down the Den Bosch highway.

1950

The reconnaissance troops at Dungen bridge reach and secure the objective.

2010

One of the biggest things this version of Command Ops has over previous versions (the Airborne Assault series) is the box labeled ‘Assault At’ in this screenshot. That determines when the assaulting forces will leave their jumping-off points, which allows we commanders to coordinate attacks between multiple forces. This one will attack at 2201. (It’s in five-minute increments, and started one minute off the hour.)

2030

With all the attacking forces nearly in place, I bump the start time up to 2130 (or 2131).

2115

As Gruppe Apell reaches its marks, scouts spot the first French unit. I order a brief artillery barrage to say hello.

So far, we have mediocre artillery support: the unit counter marked ‘701’ in this screenshot is an assault gun company, equipped with self-propelled 15cm low-velocity guns. Right now, they’re serving in the indirect fire role. Further up the road is a regular artillery battery, equipped with twelve 10.5cm guns.

2130
The next big wave of reinforcements arrives, but it’s a little disappointing. It’s primarily headquarters: the XXVI Armeekorps HQ, the 9th Panzer Division HQ, and the SS Regiment Deutschland HQ. We also get one company of motorized infantry from the SS Regiment, and two light flak companies, which feature a large number of 20mm guns, which translates to a truly staggering amount of anti-infantry firepower.

2145
Oops. Looking at the orders, I don’t think I ever actually changed the assault time. Looks like we’re starting at 2200 after all.

2200

The assault starts on time. All of the French units my units can see are moving to counter our push at the Dungen bridge.

2230

Although we’re advancing toward Den Bosch unopposed, progress is nevertheless slow.

2300

It takes another half an hour to get close to the bridges. Crossing polder is the worst.

2310

As soon as German forces near the southern Den Bosch bridge, it blows up. That’s not good.

I order I/33 Panzer Regiment to fall back for now. It’s too late for them to join in the attack on the northern bridge.

2320

Gruppe Apell spots a defending company at the north bridge. I order an artillery barrage on it, to keep the Dutch heads down while my engineer company gets in close to cut the wires.

2350

My engineers successfully unprime the bridge! All we have to do now is force the crossing. I give I/33 Panzer Regiment orders to head northwest and rejoin Gruppe Apell on the far side of the bridge.

What happens next? You decide.

Guderian – As soon as we have crossed the bridge, send a panzer company and motorized infantry west as quickly as possible. We must reach the western objective as soon as possible!

von Rundstedt – Consolidate on the far side of the bridge, then attack into Den Bosch to pin the French in place, leaving us room to maneuver next morning’s reinforcements through to the western side of Den Bosch.

Paulus – Divert forces from the Den Bosch crossing to reinforce the Aufklärungs Regiment at Dungen. Expand the bridgehead at Den Bosch, focusing on clearing a path for tomorrow’s reinforcements.

P.S.: I warn you now, it’s going to be a little while before my next update: I have plans for the next weekend, so my usual wargaming time will not be available.

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