The Devil's Cauldron Episode 5: Agony and Ecstasy

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There Will Be Games

Arnhem Sector:

Dawn comes cold and wet. Steady rain with no chance of a let up. The third air drop will be put off again. Future drops will probably be pointless, coming too late to affect the outcome. Today, it seems to the generals talking over their cups of coffee in the gray morning, will be the make or break day.

In Arnhem, things are going from bad to worse. The beleaguered remnants of 1st Airborne suffer horribly. Their small area around the rail bridge is being inexorably squeezed smaller and smaller.

The Germans have heard that XXX Corp is nearing. They have amped up the pressure by applying the might of their guns and armor to drive the Red Devils off the landing grounds and surround countryside. They have fled into the city of Oosterbeek where at least the effectiveness of the armor units is hampered. 

Meanwhile to the west, the glider troops holding back the flood of Von Tettau's troops have finally collapsed. There is nothing to stop them from joining the fray now except the rain and the mud. It slows them down but does not stop them.

Only one company remains in Arnhem itself.  S/1/1 has fortified itself in a group of buildings on the west end of town. They call it "The Citadel" and they hold it despite artillery, army and infantry assaults. 

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Nijmegen Sector:

The combined forces of British and American Infantry have pushed hard and cleared the way to the rail bridge at Nijmegen. Baker Company of the 307th Engineers working at great risk improve the bridge allowing XXX to pass over. If any company of soldiers have earned their pay this day it's these men. Waving their hands and waving flags, they eagerly signal the tankers of XXX Corp to make haste and cross the bridge.

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They surge forward. It is a huge risk. They must travel straight down a raised rail bed with no possibility of maneuver. To the left and right are fields that are more muddy quicksand than ground. A tank driving through that would sink to the center of the Earth or so it seems.

The rain and fog are godsends now, limiting visibility and concealing the tanks. That is until they drive straight into the kill zone of the tanks worst enemy. The dreaded 88! A gun that can tear through any tank like a blazing knife through butter. The first armor unit is blown out of existence.

In a case of high improbability or perhaps, for those of greater faith, showing the hand of God taking part in a righteous cause, a plucky recon unit floors the gas and rushes straight up the deadly road, closing the distance between it and the 88mm guns. How they survive is anyone's guess but how they manage to eliminate the guns with their fire is miraculous.

With the road clear, XXX puts pedal to metal...and speeds north!

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By night fall, the have covered much ground. "Group Hot" has moved to some orchards south of the rail bridge. Not optimal terrain but it does allow them to get off those damnable raised roads and to deploy into fighting formations. Meanwhile "Group Cold" is directed to swing to the East and hopefully hit the units of the reorganized KG Fundsberg in the flank.

The sun sets on an ongoing battle in the town.

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Groesbeek Heights:

Von Feldt had assembled his inexperienced troops with care. Gaining a clear superiority in men and equipment, he unleashed them upon the paratroopers holding the high ground. The rain slowed down their advance and the constant pounding by the over worked American artillery units kept them almost frozen in place. 

It was under this barrage that one man lost his nerve and ran back he knew not where only that it was "away". His fear spread and soon his entire formation was fleeing along with him. With their flank exposed then next formation in line began to run and then a third.  The paratroopers of the 508th had never seen anything like it. Their laughter chasing the Germans all the way back to the border.

By night fall, the Heights are clear expect for one stalwart unit of Germans who, if they are wise, will seek to retreat until their brethren can reform, regroup and return.

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(In game terms, the colored bar formations of Von Tettau and Feldt  have a chance to break if any of the units loose a step during the first three days of the fight. If this happens they and all other units of that colored bar formation are removed from the board not to return until two days later. It was bad luck that all three of those units busted.)

Dawn is not far off. Much still hangs in the balance. XXX still has a chance, a slim chance, to save the Red Devils. Groesbeek is secure but the 508th is far from the fighting and it would take time for them to move north and would leave the American flank exposed. Von Feldt is sure to return eventually.

The Germans are building up a force as to be practically unbeatable. The sheer numbers alone are impressive but they have done some shifting in command. Consolidating some of their formations. This will give them greater efficiency. And as we all know if the Germans love one thing, other than shenanigans, it's efficiency.  

 

There Will Be Games the devils cauldron

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