Ludendorff Bridge Hollywood AAR

Previously WR reported on his basic Flames of War 20mm scale Ludendorff Bridge 1945 scenario played as the morning game at Gamex 2018. For the second or afternoon Flames of War (FOW) game scenario, the same terraced tabletop was used but the units and platoons involved had slight changes for both sides. These changes converted what the basic FOW Ludendorff scenario was, to what WR calls his “Hollywood movie” version, following what is seen in “The Bridge at Remagen” movie (1969). To save some writing, WR refers the reader to the previous Ludendorff Bridge – Remagen 1945 article for specific details on the scenario written at end of scenario write-up. For this Hollywood themed scenario, the following changes are made from the basic scenario; platoon addition or change, team attachments, and adjusted starting positions are listed:

For the German side:

  1. The German 2cm Flak36 platoon is exchanged out for a Reluctant Conscript 88mm Flak platoon of three 88mm A/A guns, their Cmd SMG team, and attached HMG team. all in entrenchment or gun pits. This 888mm Flak36 battery is positioned forward on the Erpeler Ley, till placed on the 3rd level mountain edge overlooking the entire scenario tabletop.
  2. The 2iC SMG team in company HQ is exchanged out for 2iC MG team starting in the same position per scenario notes.
  3. The sunken river barge is anchored (placed) on the opposite side of the bridge, in center of river, and about 3″ from bridge. Change out the sniper team for an independent trained HMG team, concealed and “gone to river” status.

For the Americans:

  1. Add Armored Mortar platoon (81mm mortar) to the reinforcements pool. This Confident Veteran platoon has Cmd Carbine team, M2 or M3 H/T with .50cal AAMG, and three M4a1 81mm H/T. Following the delayed Reserves rules, roll on turn three for possible arrival at zone 3 table edge.
  2. If the Pershing Heavy tank platoon is destroyed, starting on turn three or later, a replacement light tank platoon will arrive. Players agreement, either Confident Veteran  M24 Chaffee platoon (four tanks), or a M18 HellCat platoon (four tanks) without their TD rules applied… just a common tank platoon for scenario. Delayed Reserves rule applies again.
  3. The Engineer platoon has special Ludendorff Bridge rules to follow for repairing or clearing the bridge for vehicle passage.

Remember WR adjusted the map squares to be 15″ wide and 12″ deep for his tabletop since he uses 20mm scale miniatures and basing.

Faced by the deadly 88mm AA Flak36 battery, the American have to target the hated cannon with their armor main guns, those same 90mm, 76mm, and 75mm tank cannon, to blast apart the German tank killing battery. So thoughtful planning the movement and fire control is paramount for the 1st turn. No double timing with the Shermans….. they will be pulped. Even the Pershing platoon needs to keep their distance to upgrade their armor factor by one… 10 to at long-range 11 vs, the 13 AT rating of the 88mm cannon. The Sherman crews just leave the turret and hull hatches open…. 88mm shells will come and go (7 to at long-range 8 vs. 13) against their armor hulls. This of course leaves the 3.7cm Flak 38 gun pit cannon complete alone for the start of the scenario…. all eight of them as they eye the American infantry. A different game mechanic situation is already in place. Much discussion at the lunch break between the scenario games…. let’s now see what the teams actually do on the tabletop. Continue reading

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Ludendorff Bridge AAR

This past Memorial Day weekend WR attended the regional Strategicon Gamex convention based near the Los Angeles Airport or LAX (Hilton hotel). Joined by his son Daniel as GM, the scenario for the convention was the much awaited Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen 1945 Flames of War (FOW) MRB Ver3.0 project. Details for the FOW scenario, hints and notes, and the preparation of 20mm (1/72) miniatures / terrain have been covered in previous articles links below.

Ludendorff Bridge (Remagen) scenario, including the basic and “Hollywood movie” scenario versions: Ludendorff Bridge (Remagen) March 1945 and the Ludendorff Bridge Preparation.

Scenario map 12″x12″ square grid. WR’s version uses 20mm scale miniatures so WR enlarges width by 25% or 15″ wide by 12″ depth.

Table terrain setup clearly shows the Ludendorff Bridge, the Rhine River, the barge, the Erpeler Ley mountain, and railroad ramps with stonework arches leading to the tunnel portal position.

The starting American set up: Pictured below, the Pershing heavy tank platoon, the leading Armoured Rifle platoon (without transport), the Co. HQ CinC and 2iC teams, and the defending VolksGrenadier platoon guarding the RR ramp leading to the bridge.

Starting American positions with the Co. HQ CinC, 2iC teams, the Armored Rifle platoon, and the Pershing heavy tank platoon. Also pictured the defending VolksGrenadier platoon at bridge ramp.

The defending German starting position: The 2cm Flak36 gun pit battery up on the Erleper Ley mountain, the Flak38 3.7cm battery along the riverbank, and a portion of the Volks Artillery battery lower right corner seen. Not pictured below, behind the Erleper Ley mountain at tunnel portal, is the German Co. HQ CinC and 2iC teams, plus the VolksSturm platoon.

The German starting defensive positions…. the flak 2cm battery on Erpeler Ley, the Flak 3.7cm battery on riverbank, and the Volks Artillery battery lower right of photo.

WR refers the reader to the Ludendorff Bridge (Remagen) scenario and note links about the terrain modeled on the tabletop. Continue reading

Battle of Arronches 1801 AAR

Several months ago WR wrote up some background material on the War of the Oranges (Guerra de las Naranjas) during 1801, fought between the invading Spanish army and the defending Portuguese as the main players. Secondary French forces, along with a small French emigrate (English) contingent, marching in the respective rear areas just to add flavor to the proceedings. Later on WR wrote up an enlarged historical scenario engagement between the Spanish and Portuguese armies based upon an action fought near the old town of Arronches in Portugal. That scenario now has seen light to the miniature tabletop and the following After Action Report (AAR) is presented to report the miniatures engagement.

To read the actual scenario design and notes, the forces and units involved, and the battlefield terrain detail, WR refers the reader to the Arronches 1801 article posted on Wargamerabbit:  Battle of Arronches 1801

The scenario starting positions has the Portuguese in army confusion and disarray, surprised by the “fast marching” Spanish advance guard division’s arrival during the mid morning siesta period of the Portuguese army. Only the formed Portuguese now “rearguard” (titled the Advance Guard command) and their cavalry brigade are ready to confront the Spanish army while their main infantry division breaks camp and forms their battalions to march. Not a good way to start a miniature scenario, even the Portuguese HQ starts the scenario with their line of communication towards Portalegre threatened by the Spanish Advance Guard’s division arrival. For the reader’s note, since WR has no 1790 era painted Portuguese, he will use his 1790 Reicharmee as stand in’s for the scenario play.

The Arronches battlefield. The town is off to the left. The Spanish are arriving on the central road. The Portuguese cavalry brigade and escorted wagon train further up the road, across the bridge.

Scenario map. Each square is 12″ or 600 yards.Map legend at right.

View from the west. Clearly the Portuguese 2nd Division is strung out leaving Arronches, heading towards the Portalegre road which has the cavalry brigade and train. Spanish upper right corner. Portuguese “rearguard” and HQ positioned in Arronches.

View from the north. The 2nd Division, cavalry brigade, trains, seen on the battlefield in their starting positions. WR still has to place various “camp and civilians” around the 2nd Division to reflect its “in camp status”.

The eastern table view to complete the 360′ viewing of the terrain and miniature command starting positions, using the wooden block movement system. Dry Caia riverbed clearly marking the battlefield with orange groves across the open fields.

Continue reading

Battles of Nola 216-214 BC

Catching up with the two month backlog of WR gaming activities. At the end of YR 2017, on the last gaming saturday of December, WR drove south to join several friends for a Clash of Arms (COE) 28mm ancients game. David our host had designed a Roman-Carthaginian 214-216 BC battle based from the Hannibal campaigns around the roman city of Nola.

First a little background before the COE game scenario report posted below. Digging about on the internet we found Nola was one of the oldest cities of Campania, its coinage bearing the name Nuvlana. Generally thought as been founded by the Ausones, who were certainly occupying the city by c. 560 BC. During the Roman invasion of Naples in 328 BC, Nola was probably occupied by the Oscans in alliance with the Samnite allies, from which the Romans took the city in 311 BC, during the Samnite War. Later, Nola and nearby Capua rivaled each other as “cities of luxury” south of Rome during the years of peace before the arrival of Hannibal and his army.

The historical city of Nola was the site of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battles of Nola during Hannibal‘s invasion of Italy amid the Second Punic War. On two occasions (215 and 214 BC), it was defended by Consul Marcellus and his roman army. After the departure of Hannibal from Italy, the city returned to their business trade pursuits. Falling to treason, the Samnites controlled the city during the Social War. They held it until their ally Gaius Marius was defeated by Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who subjugated it with the rest of Samnium in 80 BC. It was stormed by Spartacus and his army of slaves during his failed slave revolt to worsen their lot a decade later. Though a relative backwater city by now in history, Nola retained its status as a municipium, its own institutions, and the use of the Oscan language during this period of Roman history. It was divided into pagi, the names of some of which are still preserved to this present day: Pagus Agrifanus, Capriculanus, Lanitanus for examples.

Campaign map for 216 – 214 BC (.doc):  Nola map

Many people think Hannibal’s won all his battles and suffered his only defeat at the battle of Zama near Carthage. That is false. Hannibal himself was held in 3 inconclusive battles outside the city walls of Nola during the 2nd Punic War Italian campaign. All were tactical stalemates, somewhat uncommon for the Punic warfare period, but allowed Republican Rome to regain its momentum against the recent Carthaginian victory on the bloody battlefield of Cannae. Continue reading

Battle of Arronches 1801

Follow up from WR’s War of the Oranges previous post, this article covers the historical Battle of Arronches May 26,1801, pitting the Spanish “ancient regime” army against the Portuguese “ancient regime” army. Geographically, Arronches is a small Portuguese town located midpoint between the border towns of Portalegre and Campo Maior. a local center of orange and other fruit grove production, and a stop on the dusty Portuguese road. Apart from the well constructed Covento de Senora de Luz and the Igreja de Nossa Senhora Assuncao da Luz buildings, there was little to shine a light on behind the white wash walls, surrounded on almost three sides by the wet season / dry season Caia river. To pinpoint the town, WR provides an old Portugal map dated 1801 and drawn by John Gary below.

1801 map of Portugal drawn by John Cary and published in 1808.

Link to the actual John Cary map of Portugal to allow expanded viewing:  Portugal 1801 map

Theater of war in 1801. WR highlights the towns mentioned in the Arronches 1801 article. Expanded view from the John Cary 1801 drawn map of Portugal. Badajoz at right edge.

Modern day Arronches viewed from the northwest or the supposed Portuguese army position across the Caia river.

Historically, the battle of Arronches 1801 was a small action. A Portuguese an hoc brigade was nearly surprised by a “fast marching” Spanish force mostly taken from their Vanguard division near the siege lines of Campo-Maior. Players of the historical battle could simply use the outlined forces and see if they recreate the fate of the Reina Maria Luisa cazadores regiment fight and subsequent rout while chanting “Run Away Mary (Maria) for their earned new nickname. Charging across a stone bridge unsupported into the Portuguese defense should create the same result.

Known Spanish units facing the Portuguese historically at Arronches in 1801 were: Reina Maria Luisa Cazadoes (later hussars), Gerona Light regiment (battalion), 1st Volunteers de Catalonia Light regiment (battalion), Cazadores Voluntararios de la Corona Light regiment (battalion), plus a single battery of artillery. Across the Caia river the Portuguese regiments are unknown but could come from the following units for a brigade sized command, a cavalry regiment or two, and a small artillery battery attached: Continue reading

War of the Oranges 1801

The May-June 1801 War of the Oranges, or Guerra de las Naranjas in Spanish, was fought in the eastern border region of Portugal, Lasting only 18 days from the initial war declaration to the signing of the Treaty of Badajoz, Spanish military forces, instigated by the government of France under First Consul Bonaparte, and from afar supported by a late arriving French military “corps” in theater, invaded Portugal near the fortress border town of Elvas. Military contact between the armed forces of Portugal and Spain was limited to quick sieges of local Portuguese fortified towns or the main siege of the Elvas border fortress except for a brief mention by Manuel de Godoy about “defeating a Portuguese division” near Arronches. More on that “divisional action” later….

Manuel Godoy reclining during the War of the Oranges. The famous painter Goya painted Godoy in this un-warlike pose.

The war came about when First Consul Bonaparte and his ally, the Spanish prime-minister and Generalissimo Manuel de Godoy, demanded Portugal, the last British ally on the continent, to break her alliance with Britain. History will repeat itself again later with the Franco-Spanish marching back into Portugal in 1807, they must have loved the oranges. Portugal refused to cede to the Franco-Spanish demands as standard state policy between Portugal and Spain, and, in late May 1801, French regional detachment troops started to arrive at the northern Franco-Spanish border, preparing to march quickly through the warm summer of Spain towards the Portuguese border. Meanwhile, Spanish regiments under the command of Diego de Godoy (brother of Manuel de Godoy), who commanded the Spanish Army of Extremadura of five divisions, mustered themselves near the Spanish-Portuguese border, in particular near Badajoz of later fame.

Period map of the area and Spanish border. To understand the map, “north” is to the right so the top edge is “west”, the bottom is “east”, and the left direction “south”. The modern-day disputed territory is the “finger” of Olivenca east (below) of the river Guadiana present day border.

The Spanish cross-border attack to Portugal started on the early morning of the 20th of May, and focused on the Portuguese Elvas border region that included the main garrison town and fortifications of Elvas and the smaller fortified towns of Campo Maior, Olivença (Olivenza in Spanish) and Juromenha at start. Typical ancient regime warfare… go for the fortresses and watch the enemy army, which for Portugal, was hasty marched into their eastern half of the country, as their militia fortress garrisons dusted off the cannon when war seemed imminent.

From the Cary map of Portugal 1801. WR has highlighted the named towns of Portugal with a red box. Badajoz is near right edge marked as “Bad…”

Modern overhead view of the historical town of Elvas. Clearly the outline of the town fortifications can be seen, including the hornwork upper right. Google Elvas fortress for more.

View of the old fortress of Juromenha from the land side. The other side faces the Guadiana river and Spanish border.

Continue reading

Ludendorff Bridge 1945

Recent communication with a fellow gamer has drawn renewed attention to the old Flames of War Remagen or Ludendorff Bridge scenario featured in the July 2014 issue (#321) of Wargamer Illustrated. WR remembers reading this scenario but at the time had no late war American Pershing tanks to play out the scenario. Now, several years later, the American tank pool is vast and deep, including the Pershing tank 20mm miniatures required in the scenario American force. So, looking for a small scenario to hopefully play this holiday period, basically and somewhat with the flavor of the historical action, and having a trestle bridge to feature on the tabletop, the scenario green light is lit. Just need to manufacture the four grey stone towers bookmarking the bridge corners.

Painting of the crossing the Remagen (Ludendorff) bridge. (US Army)

Background material on this historical late war battle is easily found with quick internet keyboard taps. To start the process WR found quick reading for background for the approach battle, the bridge engagements, and the resulting American bridgehead created. The Wikipediaa article on Battle of Remagen 1945, information on the actual Ludendorff Bridge, and from the US Army ETO historical record “The Last Offensive” (chapter eleven page 208) covering Operation Lumberjack; the Battle of Remagen, the approach to Remagen, and Rhine river east bank bridgehead actions after capture of the Ludendorff bridge (.pdf): CMH The Last Offensive. Check out the web site covering the V2 rockets and German efforts to destroy the bridge. Excellent site for Remagen photos, historical documents, and first hand reports of events during the battle:  V2 Rockets at Remagen

The 27th Armored Infantry battalion, part of CCB of 9th Armored Division, approached Remagen from the heights above the town. After fighting into the town, the stage is set for the famous battle for control of the Ludendorff Bridge and the scenario.

The complete scenario from Wargames Illustrated issue 321 (July 2014) article for the Remagen or Ludendorff Bridge Flames of War (FOW) scenario (.pdf): Ludendorff Bridge 1945 Scenario Continue reading