After Action Report 15
Ops Officer KG Walther (Antoine Mahler)
As the ops officer for KG Walther I would like to say that (unfortunately) our game started (much like the historical version) with a showering artillery barrage and heavy bombardments. Like Erik already said, prior to the first round, we were discussing what to do when the battle would commence. Which units should draw back to what positions and so forth. The initial assault of XXX Corps certainly eased this up for us: half of the units we wanted to pull back suddenly was no longer there
Anyways, I think that there was a misunderstanding based upon the orders I wrote for the front line troops at the end of day 1. I ordered them to hold their position, since they obviously weren't going anywhere... Our TC, Marleen Overkamp, didn't quite understand I meant the Hitler-way of holding one's position, a.k.a. "Kein Weg Zurück!" (as our superior officers from 86 Korps briefly stated). We were told that the units would not have fallen back when this would have been ordered them explicitly. So, I guess that leaves us KG Walther-rookies wondering what would have happend had we been able to hold XXX Corps off for one more turn... Because eventually, there was no stopping them with the limited forces we had under our command.
I also would like to explain and comment on some of the things Marleen mentions in her AAR. First of all, being proud we made it through the game more of less breathing (although in the end also KG Walther's HQ was completely shot up and/or blown to pieces), we did manage to keep "them Tommies" out of Helmond for about two days. Quite an achievement if you take into consideration by that time we ate British lead for more than one breakfast. It still came quite as a surprise that the British were able to cross a river that was guarded by German units so quickly and in such massive numbers. Obviously, Tommies do row a lot faster when under direct fire...
Secondly, the blown bridges on our map... I guess this can also be partially blamed on some miscommunications of the TC's of the various German units. We've been told by 86 Korps that, according to their TC, they managed to blow several bridges (amongst others the two at Helmond). Much to our surprise (and dismay) we were told by Marleen that there was still one bridge intact. So, somewhere something went wrong. So, for the next version, I would like to express the importancy of an accurate report and map update down below in the map room. Stuff like this can be very stressfull (probably especially if you're a British commander heading for a bridge to support your tanks; a bridge that you believe to be intact while in reality it has been blown). Hence the mess on our map when it came to bridges being blown or not...
Thirdly, the withdrawal from 86 Korps out of Helmond. I understood at the time this was done because Army Group B surprisingly choose to drain 88 Korps out of forces, leaving the line stretched way to thin. 86 Korps tried to close the gap that was caused by this. So we were the victims of what seemed to be an acute case of madness higher up the ranks. To make things more deadly for as far as morale is concerned, that same Army Group B ordered to hold on to Helmond at all costs. This made me wonder rather agitated with what they expected us to hold the city since we were in desperate need of pretty much everything they denied us of at that time.
For me, the biggest questions after the game, deal with the "what if"-issue? What if Army Group B decided to send more forces and / or supplies to 86 and 88 Korps? Would we've been able to stop the British tanks somewhat earlier? Would the brave assault of 719 ID on Eindhoven (including remnants of our KG Hoffmann) to be of a longer duration? Or would this simply have led to a disaster on a higher lever of combat? I guess we will never know. It still is fascinating though, how one can keep thinking about such matters. In the end I'm really quite fond we made it through, considering Niek van Diepen told our CO Anthony Willemsen that we should be proud of ourselves if we'd survive for two turns...