Close Combat: Last Stand Arnhem
Published on 7/7/2010 by Scott Parrino.
AAR the defense of Arnhem North 18th September 1500hrs
The first battle of northern
Order of battle. In the previous battle I faced armored cars so I brought a 6 pdr and piat into play. This time the enemy is strictly infantry so I swapped out the AT weapons for man killers. For the Germans I pulled out one of their heavy machine guns and replaced it with an 8cm mortar to give them a little more suppression.
I deployed defensively aiming only to hold the access way to
Key to my defense is the Vickers. Even though we?re running low on ammo the slow firing MMG still has 1500 deadly rounds.
I station it in a two story building where the gunner can cover part of the open ground and the intersection where I thing the Germans will approach from. South I station two Brens where they can add their fire to that of the Vickers at close range and next to the Vickers I place the all important command unit to bolster their morale. Slightly north with a clear view across the park I?ve stationed the glider pilots, five rifles and a sten gun. Hopefully they won?t need to fight but they?re in a position where they can lend a hand or be pulled but to prevent encirclement. The final piece of the puzzle is a lone sniper defending the northeastern exit to the park. With 50 rounds I hope he can tie up any loose forces for the duration.
Three SS units are seen at the western edge of the park. Brit fire discipline fails and a shot rings out, a second and a third before the sniper goes quiet. I guess they know we?re here now. Seconds later the SS cease milling around and under cover of the mortar start running across the park towards the sniper. What was that about plans falling to pieces once they meet the enemy? My best weapons are either out of LOS or will have minimal effect.
I set the sniper, the Vickers and the pilots loose and start to redeploy my rear bren while I have time. In seconds 1 SS trooper is down and the rest are swearing vehemently in Dutch. Their response is swift.
One squad goes to ground, one retreats to the edge of the park and the other moves north ready to strike my hanging flank. I put the pilots and sniper back on ambush and let the Vickers keep up harassing fire hoping to draw enemy troops in where the Brens can join in.
With 11:31 left to run I have 4 SS truppen down, one and a half squads are still moving across the park, mortar firing is harassing me, the northern SS squad is eating up the yards to outflank me and more SS are appearing on the road to west Arnhem and the St Elizabeth hospital. The good news is the Bren gun has redeployed without incident. They arrived just in time to fire on the northern SS attack pinning them down. More SS are seen approaching from the north. So much for my idea of defending against an attack from the west.
With 10:11 left to run the sniper is firing like a man possessed. A handful of dead and injured Dutch SS troops lay on the road but he is down to 18 rounds. I?ll have to move him back as soon as I can.
At 9:26 I suffer my first loss. One of the redeployed Bren crew is dead, Burris the gunner, several seconds pass before his number two gets the gun working again. More SS are joining the northern attack. I don?t want to redeploy the Vickers and can?t afford to move the second Bren. I?m going to have to consider moving the pilots and the platoon HQ unless I can stem the flow of SS in the north. Even so it?s 6 rifles and 3 stens against? well who knows what? I wait. There are too many SS unaccounted for.
The Bren crew is still keeping the SS suppressed but they?re in a building so I can?t see what damage is actually being done. The surviving two men are consuming ammunition at a prodigious rate.
7:42 left and more SS troops are creeping from the hotel on the west side of the park. My glider pilots fire in volley stalling any attempt at an assault. Any eagerness to die for the fuehrer is gone. Seconds later several squads are seen moving to join the northern attack. I would love to swap over my Brens but this would take a couple of minutes. Time I don?t have with such a small force pool. I free the sniper to fire again and he takes out a three-man ersatz infantry group at twenty meters, the downside is he?s down to 11 rounds.
At 6:43 to move the Vickers and the HQ signaling my intention of meeting a northern attack. This will be less effective, there are too many structures in the way but I can tighten things up by withdrawing the sniper and Bren gun once the others are settled. There are 12 dead and injured SS now and I?m hoping a few more are inside buildings out of sight. Time to get Corporal McDonald the sniper back to safety. I send him back through the line of buildings while the Bren watches the empty boulevard. By now the whole row of buildings north of the park is showing signs of German activity.
Small German attacks are beaten back but still I can see their troops circling around the top of the map out of range. The battle ends with a whimper, not a bang. The British hold what they intended and savage the Dutch SS battle group but the next battle could see a two-axis attack and the births South Staffordshires will be no stronger.
One Briton is dead verses 5 Dutch/Dutch and another 15 are injured. Three squads are totally chewed up, two others are damaged. I?m looking forwards to round three.