After Action Report 04

Bart Vetters - Intelligence Officer XXX Corps

As Intel officer for XXX Corps, after reading the various briefing and
game documents, I had a vague idea of what my task was to be. This idea
turned out to be utterly wrong. I showed up (just a tad late) on the day
with the idea that I would sit down at the table and compile neat little
lists of enemy units in contact, suspected enemy movements and whatnot.
I thought I would get this information from the game umpires and from
communications from the XXX Corps divisions and the neighbouring XII and
VIII Corps. Not so. I put away my lists fifteen minutes into the game
and put on my walking shoes instead. My main job turned out to be to go
out to the divisions (any division, not just our own. Well, any allied
division <g>) and pester whomever I found there (usually the Intel
officer, but really anyone I could get to listen to me) for information
as to the little blue counters they had lying around on their maps. Then
I'd run back to the XXX Corps table, update the main Corps map with the
new intel and run all over the place to update the other divisions with
this new intel. And then I'd start all over with another division.
Lather, rinse, repeat.

On to what happened to and with XXX Corps in the game. I'll let Simon
(Horrocks) deal with the overall XXX Corps history, but here's what
happened from an Intel point of view. Most of this will be my suspicions
at the time of the game as to what was happening on the German side wrg
to XXX Corps, which will undoubtedly prove to be wrong once the German
AARs come streaming in

Initially, XXX Corps was (of course) in contact with units from 719
Division, KG Walther and 7 Para division. XII Corps to the west of us
was also in contact with 719, VIII Corps to the east of us with 7 Para.
By and large, we had KG Walther to ourselves. Things went very well
initially as we ploughed through KG Walther along the Lommel - Eindhoven
road. On the Corps map, I had moved the KG Walther counter towards
Eindhoven, and a handful of battalions from 719 Division (and some
stuff from Walther) in a general NW direction, towards XII Corps. Then
we got the message that we had all but overrun KG Walther as they were
pulling up stakes, and - I quote - had scattered elements of 'Paras,
normal infantry, SS infantry and armour' all over the place. Great,
methinks, and I move the KG Walther counter NE, with some flotsam and
jetsam, and remove the handful of battalions (or companies, or
whatever) I had moved NW, assuming that they, too, were scattered.

Big mistake. Turned out that these battalions were not, in fact
scattered, but had simply sidestepped, allowed Guards Armoured to pass,
and then moved back down to cut the road between Valkenswaard and the
Belgian border (K04 to be precise). It came as a bit of a surprise when
the umpire came back and placed his finger on the road saying 'the
road's been cut here'. Eh? By whom? Well, by 86 Corps, who would spend
most of the rest of the game infiltrating units behind and through XII
Corps to occasionally show up threatening the road from the west
(although they never succeeded to cut the corridor again). Luckily, the
road block did not have any severe effect, as 43 division, supplies and
the bridging column for Son were already past the block, and 50 Division
was in a perfect position to stomp on them in an extremely prejudiced
and hopefully quite terminal way (it took a turn or two - three in the
end). Talking to the guys from 86 Corps later (hi, Ludwig ), they
seemed to imply that Guards Armoured was stopped outside Eindhoven
because of their block. I'm sorry to say that Guards Armoured was
stopped because they were trundling through very tank-unfriendly country
and because they caught the brunt of a major German attack between
Eindhoven and Best, as reported by Renee in his AAR. Nevertheless, the
Germans W of Eindhoven were a persistent worry for me because they kept
having little units popping up in the general area W of the Valkenswaard
- Eindhoven road, and even managed to get a fairly major unit almost to
Veldhoven again by the end of the game. (Reading Alex Baumans' report
just now, this turns out to have been 85ID. Eek.)

By now, as hinted above, Guards Armoured had bypassed Eindhoven on the
W-NW (although it was altogether the intention of Corps that they do
this remains for Simon to clear up. Not my job ). 43rd Division had
swept through Eindhoven itself and was just outside of it, on the way to
Son to deliver Harry (the bridging column) and to relieve the 101 US
Airborne units there. Just as 43rd was filtering through Eindhoven, we
got a report (I think it was from GA Intel, Onno) that there were '2000
infrantry' preparing to attack W of the canal along Eindhoven Airport.
OK, update map. Hmm, there's heavy fighting in Best as well (101
Airborne, and by now one brigade of Guards Armoured against a sundry lot
of Germans), perhaps these guys are from the same formation. Next turn,
we get a report that there are 3 brigades of infantry across the canal
and attacking towards Eindhoven Airport, heavily engaging Guards
Armoured in the process. At that point, I grabbed whomever gave me this
report (Onno again, I think) and engaged in a conversation that went
something like this:
' BRIGADES? '
'Yes, brigades',
'Not battalions?'
'No, brigades,'
'Oh joy, 2000 infantry just turned into a division'.
So we had a major divisional attack towards Eindhoven developing. This
division, combined with whoever was attacking Best and what was left to
the W of Eindhoven, probably made up the bulk of a corps, so I grabbed
Simon and told him that this was i) a major German push that should
worry us and ii) that although this was major, it was probably the
maximum effort we could expect in that sector. As it turned out, Guards
Armoured managed to hold them off for a while (there were reports that
the Germans, after capturing the airport, stopped for a while, but the
relevant German players will have to confirm) before pulling out to
rest. This was, BTW, the famous 'pause in the middle game' by Guards
Armoured that resulted in GA getting to Arnhem possibly a turn later
than they could have, also mentioned by Renee. The turn after GA
regrouped around Zon, the Germans sprang to life again and attacked
towards Eindhoven, only to bump into a brigade of 50 Div that had just
arrived there after stomping on the road block further to the south. Bit
of luck for us there. Anyway, from an intel point of view, anything
happening there was old news, so my main interest, and this account,
turned further to the north. As it turned out, it was only in the very
last turn that the last German unit in the outskirts of Eindhoven
surrendered.

After this episode, my main interest turned north, and I started visiting
the 101 and 82nd Airborne tables quite frequently to see what they were
up against. 101 was fighting at Best, Veghel and between St Oedenrode
and Veghel. Around the time when 43rd arrived in Zon, the paras at
Veghel absorbed a fairly large attack from infantry and AT units, but
otherwise, no significant German resistance was noticed along the XXX
Corps line of advance (the Germans between St-Oedenrode and Veghel were
also cleaned up by 101). 82 Airborne, after some fighting at Grave, had
no contact anywhere around Nijmegen, so that should be a breeze as well.

At this point, the intel officer from VIII Corps and myself began to
suspect that there must still be large numbers of Germans somewhere
between Veghel and Grave (or more specific between whatever water is
crossed at Veghel and the Maas), so we started sending air recce all
over the place, me concentrating to the W (Vught and 's Hertogenbosch),
and VIII corps to the E (Gemert - Cuijk). Nothing was found, except a
large supply column on the road down from 's Hertogenbosch. This only
deepened my suspicions - this supply has to be going somewhere, and it
was not Nijmegen as there were no Germans there, and not Veghel, as that
lot was defeated by the paras at that time). By now, 43rd division was
crossing at Veghel, and 2HCR, the XXX Corps recon element at the point
of the advance had bumped some German remnants around Uden, which I
suspected to be the ones that had been fighting at Veghel.

It was when 43rd Division attacked towards Grave that our suspicions
turned out to be true. All of a sudden, lots of units started popping
up. In a woods around Zeeland, air recce spotted what looked like a weak
regiment of infantry with a significant collection of artillery
attached, and the right brigade of 43rd had some heavy going against
what looked like an armoured brigade (Pz Brigade 107?). At the same
time, 101 airborne spotted a force of 5 Fallschirmjaeger battalions
advacing on Veghel from Gemert. All of this added together meant that we
had found the expected German concentration . Luckily, it was all
swiftly neutralised: the force from Gemert was first boxed in by
11Armoured (8 Corps) and 101 Airborne, and then attacked by 2 brigades
from 50 Division. The forces North of Veghel were held by 43 Division
and herded to the Maas by 11th Armoured coming up from Gemert, and were
about to be plastered by every bomber in the Allied air force. In the
mean time, Guards Armoured crossed the 'Island' W of all of this,
crossed at Ravenstein and was on to its well documented arrival just
outside of Arnhem.

All in all, although my role turned out to be vastly different from what
I imagined, and I wore out a pair of shoes on the day, I enjoyed myself
immensely. I'll be definitely back for a next megagame on European soil

Thanks to players and umpires alike for a great experience!

CU

Bart