After Action Report 05

Guido Van Den Heuvel - Ops Officer Guards Armoured Div

First of all: a big thanks to all the organisers of OMG2004: It was
great fun!

I am not going to repeat the actions of Guards Armoured Division here,
as Rene has done a very nice job in his AAR. I want to describe my view
on things here. Important thing to note is that this was my first
megagame and frankly I did not know exactly what to expect. I read quite
a bit on Operation Market Garden and how to wage war with entire
divisions before the game started (my thing (up to now) being
role-playing and squad-level wargaming) and felt that I knew what Ops
should be doing.

However, with our Logs officer missing my job turned out to be counting
beans (well... fuel and ammo), which I did not know exactly how to do. I
tried to cope but soon I lost track of the precise amount of fuel and
ammo in our supply dump; somewhat later we even lost track of the dump
entirely as it was being transported from Hechtel to Bergeijk and got
stuck in the traffic jam. I got the impression that our advance was
painstakingly slow but was unable to do anything about it as I was
struggling with my own supplies and XXX Corps RASC. Fortunately Therry
came to my rescue and quickly got a grip on Logs (Therry: marvellous job
there!) and it was decided that Therry and I would switch roles, with me
becoming Ops again just as the division passed Eindhoven.

We had just decided to speed up the advance by going along the road to
Best when our advance was halted again: a German counterattack near
Best. We decided to block the attack with 5 Brigade, creating a safe
corridor for 32 Brigade to pass through. In the middle of this we were
quite suddenly counterattacked from the direction of Eindhoven airport
(the by now famous attack by 719 ID). 32 Brigade's Coldstream Guards
were pushed into Best, being badly mauled in the process, whilst the
Welsh Guards were pushed to Zon with the divisional troops and the RASC
column. I agree with Rene that this could have been the end of Guards
Armoured Division as a fighting unit had 719 ID pushed its attack
towards Zon. I can only speculate why this did not happen, but I guess
they had problems with their supplies.

After this we were badly in need of some rest and reorganisation; we
decided to hold the line with the minimum amount of troops and rest the
remainder of the division until the bridge at Zon was repaired, enabling
us to regroup in the Zon forest. My thanks to the hospitality of 101st
Airborne. By then the supply problem was largely solved by the airforce
who were doing a massive aerial resupply. As 101st did not encounter
much resistance at this point it was decided to move at top speed
towards Arnhem.

Thus our rapid advance to Arnhem started. It became clear early on that
the road was clear up to Ravenstein bridge on the river Maas which was
not in our hands but only contained a weak German Flak unit, and that
after the Maas the road was clear up to Arnhem. Ravenstein bridge was
taken on the march, with Welsh Guards (doubling as our recce force)
leading the advance. We did not waste time in capturing the cowed flak
unit but raced on to Arnhem in road column with the entire division (my
orders for that turn simply being "Div: move non-tact to Arnhem"). We
did not make as much progress as expected due to the flooding of "The
Island" and other units seeking the safety of the raised road. I must
say I was frustrated a bit that Game Control decided to end the game at
this point as I actually wanted to take the fight into Arnhem.

To conclude I want to discuss my goals for the day:
1. To get closer to Arnhem than historical (succeeded - largely thanks
to the paras)
2. To advance more rapidly than historical (failure - up to Eindhoven
progress was very slow. I still do not entirely understand why. Were we
very unlucky? Were the real guys very lucky? Was our plan hopelessly wrong?)
3. To capture intact, without assistance from other units, one bridge
(success - due to a large-scale battle between Veghel and Grave
Ravenstein was virtually undefended). I felt we should do at least one
heroic deed. (Although the historical capture of the Nijmegen bridge was
of course much more heroic).

Finally, I want to share with you some thoughts about the game from a
newbie's perspective:
1. I did not appreciate the effects of fatigue on the units. A natural
course of action seemed to be to use as many units together as possible,
in order to get the biggest tactical advantage. I now understand that
you actually should not use everything but allow units to get some rest
by shuffling units.
2. At the start of the game we gave orders to entire brigades. While
convenient, experience showed that maneuvring all battlegroups (and in
some cases battallions) separately actually works much better, besides
making the umpire's job easier. However I feel we were hampered in this
because we only had four players in our team. If we were to give written
orders to all units involved it'd take a lot of time (we had 18 units in
our division). Luckily I was able to give verbal instructions for our
units to our umpire, which turned out to be much more convenient.

best regards and see you next time (I assume there will be a next time?),
Guido van den Heuvel
(a.k.a. Norman Gwatkin, C.O.S. Guards Armoured)