ASLSK AAR: Decision At Elst CG

Operation: Market-Garden, Elst, Holland, Sept 1944

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ASLSK AAR: Decision At Elst CG
Decision At Elst (MMP)

The History

In the autumn of 1944, the tranquil Dutch town of Elst became the epicenter of a fierce battle between the Allied forces and the German army. This battle was a crucial part of Operation Market Garden, the Allies’ ambitious plan to secure a swift end to World War II by capturing key bridges in the Netherlands.

The Battle for Elst began on the evening of September 20th, 1944, when the bridge over the Waal in Nijmegen fell into Allied hands. The British ground forces were tasked with advancing towards Arnhem to complete the last phase of Operation Market Garden. However, the area between the rivers was not easily accessible by tank, and the dikes, ditches, and orchards stood in the way of a rapid advance.

The British troops finally started their advance at 11 o’clock on September 21st. By that time, the Germans had already set up an ambush to the south of Elst, which the British soon stumbled upon. On September 22nd, the British troops marched along the narrow roads to the west of Elst on their way to Driel. There, they joined the Polish parachutists who had landed there on the 21st.

Advanced Squad Leader - Decision at Elst CG
Elst, Holland

During this maneuver, the British rushed to set up their own ambush for the German tanks of Hummel’s schwere Panzer Kompanie (heavy tank company), destroying at least five of his tanks. Both the Germans and the British saw possession of the village of Elst as the key to success. This resulted in several days of bitter street fighting, with the village changing hands multiple times before finally being secured by the Allies. Subsequently,  Elst was liberated on September 26th, 1944.


AAR By Peyton & BrandonMay 12, 2024

ASLSK AAR: Decision At Elst CG

Module: Decision At Elst
Scenario Publisher: MMP
Designer: Ken Dunn
Date: September 23, 1944
Location:
Elst, Holland
Attacker (Brandon): British (Elements of 43rd Wessex Div & 8th Armoured Brig)
Defender (Peyton): Germans (Elements of Kampfgruppe Knaust)

Initial Setup

Germans (Peyton): The Germans initially set up their 9-2 leader with the radio and the HMG atop the steeple in the main town. Troops of SS were in surrounding houses as a backup in case the British were able to break through. The main German defense was to the western edge of the map with the two Panthers guarding the main choke points for British entry. Machine gun nests peppered the houses facing the western edge of the map. German squads waited along the main road ready with their 19 available Panzerfausts.

British (Brandon): The British set up as far forward as the setup parameters would allow with two groups of infantry, the larger of which were to the southwest. British armor initially moved on board as two groups of armor. The idea was to flank around the polders with the tanks and take as much ground as possible.

Initial Setup

Round 1

The British started off the advance by smoking out the machine gun nests in the first town. With the machine guns blind, the British could advance into melee and quickly the initial defenses were overrun. Major Souper and his men bravely pressed forward and the Germans sounded the retreat. The German leader attempted multiple times to contact the 100mm OBA via radio, but failed each time – thankfully he could try again the next round.

ASLSK AAR: Decision At Elst CG
Souper’s Charge

The two Panthers managed to take out four of the six Shermans, but one of the Panthers got surrounded and was ultimately knocked out. The second Panther made a hasty retreat to try and save itself from destruction. However, a PIAT took careful aim and scored a rear hit – knocking out the last Panther.

ASLSK AAR: Decision At Elst CG
The Graveyard of British Shermans

Refit Phase

During the refit phase, the battle lines were drawn. The Germans opted to take Tiger platoon, an infantry company (with an extra point spent to set the infantry up on board), and one rocket artillery OBA (150mm). The German infantry company was set up surrounding the steeple – the final objective. The high command knew that attempting to divide the force to stop the British exit would mean the downfall of the position.

The British took an infantry company (spending an extra point to set up on board) and two armor platoons. British infantry was set up near the town hall, with Maj. Souper in the center. The freshly recruited tank platoons would have to travel far to reinforce their comrades, but the threat of the Panthers was over.

ASLSK AAR: Decision At Elst CG
Round 2 set up and zones of control

Round 2

Sgt. Robbe (9-1) was excited about his charge to call in the rocket artillery for the Fatherland. However, when it was called upon, it went astray. The result was a stunned Tiger crew, and broken German units. Ultimately, Sgt. Robbe failed.

The British quickly met the 20 exit VP victory condition. Now they just had to take the steeple. the British mortar crews smoked out the HMG nest in the steeple – rendering it useless. The British also smoked out the main lines of defense on the town and jumped into Melee which would ultimately last the remainder of the game. Maj. Souper attempted to run with his men to flank the SS on the other side of town and fully surround the steeple. However, a Tiger defending the town turned its gun and blasted away Souper and his men (not historically accurate in how Maj. Souper actually died, but he did die in our playthrough).

The Tiger crew that was stunned by Sgt. Robbe’s errant shot was taken out by a British Firefly. The other Tiger defending the town malfunctioned its main armament right as a group of five British Shermans moved in. A Firefly then moved into a rear aspect shot and was ready to destroy the remaining Tiger from point-blank range. The German squads were unable to find any panzerfausts and German high command determined that holding Elst was untenable.

When the smoke cleared … the British had taken Elst.

ASLSK AAR: Decision At Elst CG
Remains of the Battle for Elst

British Closing Comments

Playing as the British forces was a slog. The polders along with narrow streets made difficult terrain for my tanks and the overall large map made movement for the infantry an ordeal. Numerically I had overwhelming forces, but it never felt like that until my shermans were able to get past the last polder and surround the German-held steeple. Overall a very fun campaign.

I prefer the full ASL system just because concealment/dummy counters would make my attack much more cautious, but our goal was to experience the refit phase before biting off some larger campaign games. I would recommend this campaign and I hope that MMP will do a reprint of this one (Editor: so do we!) as it is worth having in your collection!

GET TO THE CHOPPA…!!!


© 2024, Neal Ulen. All Rights Reserved. Copyright & Fair Use Notice.
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