4 DAYS IN SEPTEMBER
KAMPFGRUPPE COMMANDER III CAMPAIGN
Click on the above links to go to each Scenario Page
This is my first operational-type campaign for the Kampfgruppe Commander III rules which was originally available on my blog. I've transfered it this year over to the new website and taken the opportunity to make some updates.
Market-Garden, fought in September 1944 in Holland, needs no introduction and has always fascinated me as a wargamer ever since I learned more about the battle when I was living near Arnhem for a short time in the 1990’s.
I started to wargame these scenarios and gradually built up this ‘4 Days in September’ campaign which we have fought over several times with some interesting results. I present these here hopefully to give more background information and some ideas that other wargamers will find useful.
I’ve organised it as a linked-battle style operational campaign. It follows the first four days of Operation Market Garden, from the start on the 17th of September through to the collapse of resistance at the Arnhem Bridge on the night of 20th/21st September. This was the critical time period when things could have gone either way - can the Allied players capture the bridges and end the war before Christmas 1944?
The game principally follows the Irish Guards battlegroup, which for convenience we’re assuming leads XXX Corps throughout the campaign, and 4 key battles:
Scenario 1: XXX Corps breakout
Scenario 2: Best the Hornets Nest
Scenario 3: Nijmegen, Crossing the Waal
Scenario 4: Arnhem
Depending on how many campaign points the players win over the earlier battles influences the final two battles and ultimately at what point, if at all, the battered Irish Guard group arrives in Arnhem.
I’m not a WW2 expert, and this is just my own take on events of the campaign that I’ve read about. I’m always happy for corrections or new information. For us it was important to develop a game that played well inspired by the history as much as trying to create a simulation which is in reality almost impossible to do. Where I have given ratings for the various formations these are based on game parameters to make the scenario work and are not meant to be taken as a comment on individuals or specific formations.
I’ve researched the various forces as best I can. This is massively time consuming and although there is a lot of information available out there sometimes I’ve made the best guess I can and have tweaked forces, particularly the Germans where I thought necessary to make the game run better. I’d recommend for gamers to use the forces the have available rather than stress about getting exactly the right models. In the real battle commanders on the ground used what they had. Feel free to alter things around the models you have available, or use models to stand in for others as required, as this is well within the spirit of the campaign.
I’ve been a WW2 wargamer for almost thirty years and have played at various scales and operational levels. For me brigade-a-side seems to be the best way to actually fight the battles you can read about in the history books, and gives a good mix of infantry, tank, and support. By far the best rules I have found to fight this level is Kampfgruppe Commander by David Reynolds, now in it’s third edition and available from Capitan Games here . There is also a support group on facebook.
These rules are not overall that complex and after playing a couple games you get the hang of them. Once you do they play like no other for me in this period and handle things like troop quality, and being able to respond (or not) to the enemy extremely well. Typical games in this campaign could be resolved within a couple of hours playing time, and means you can actually get the scenario played in an evening, and they give as far as I can see plausible historical results.
I used the period British O/S 1943 1/100,000 NW Europe maps available from the WW2 Topographic Maps Series at McMaster University in Canada - you can access this online here Maps are supplied under the Creative Commons Attribution: non-commercial 2.5 CA Licence
This is a fantastic resource for wargamers and to me gives just the right amount of detail you need, whatever scale or rules you are using. If you look through this website you’ll find maps for most of Europe, incuding Italy and also Korea for post-war scenarios.
When we translate the maps to the table we generally only put main roads on, and assume the smaller roads are subsumed into Open Ground. Similarly we only portray major groups of houses and use several town blocks under the rules to do this. Since we game in 10mm with buildings from e.g. Hovels (see here ), we generally count one model building as it's own town block under the rules.
In the Scenarios I've given a couple of options for deployment. There is a detailed Historical Deployment section showing where the troops generally were in the real battle for those going for a straight refight. If looking for a less obvious game, especially when gaming with players who know a bit about the battle, it might be worth looking at the deployment options offered by the maps (usually with coloured lines) so you can follow a realistic but not strictly historical deployment. Particularly when combining this with Hidden troops off table, this can make for some interesting twists on the scenarios and in many ways is more 'historical' in that the Allies don't know what to expect, as in the real battles.
I game WW2 in 10mm which for me gives the best balance of big enough infantry to use practically but small enough to use tanks en-masse. I've tried several different painting styles over the years and hope to update this site with a painting page to share my experiences, I find these helpful on other folks sites.
There are a bunch of manufacturers out there nowadays but my forces were built up primarily with Pithead Miniatures .
I also use Pendraken, Minifigs and the new Lancer miniatures. My forces are based to the blitzkreig commander rules format, with 50mmx25mm bases typically for infantry with usually 5 figures to the base. Tanks are generally on 50mmx30mm bases, assets on 25mmx25mm single models, and formation commanders on 40mmx30mm bases.
There is a wealth of information out there for the wargamer, and the challenge is to find appropriate material that can be translated to the tabletop. My main sources for the campaign have been:
Osprey Campaign no24, Arnhem 1944 Operation Market Garden by Stephen Badsey An excellent book and if you get only one book I’d recommend this one. Covers all the main events and timeline very well, with excellent 3D maps of the main actions, and includes a wargamers chapter at the end.
It Never Snows in September by Robert J Kershaw The German view of the operation, but also an overall excellent detailed book and a must have for German force organisations
A Soldiers Story by J.O.E Vandeleur I couldn’t get hold of my own copy but have seen parts of this great book which provides a lot of information on XXX Corps
Irish Guards Campaign Diary - available here Tremendous source of information on the battle.
A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan. The first book I read on the operation and really gripped me after my stay in Holland.
A Bridge Too Far the film Arguably the best war film ever made
Arnhem Spearhead: A Private Soldiers Story by James Sims of 2 Para. This a different kind of book in that it looks at the 'sharp-end' and unlike a lot of books was written from a Privates perspective. Has a foreward by Frost himself. Very useful description and plans of the action at the Bridge itself. Highly recommended.
The Cauldron by Zeno. In progress
Arnhem Lift: The diary of a Glider Pilot by 'Anonymous'. In Progress
WW2 Operation Market Garden website This is a great site full of otherwise hard to find information and photos, I found the chapter on Best particularly helpful here .
Pegasus Archive: Loads of information on this website very useful for those researching the Arnhem campaign. For example 3rd Parachute Battalion war diary is here. Others can be found from here
Battalion by Alastair Borthwick *Not* about Market Garden but for me probably the best book I’ve ever read as a wargamer about the actual reality of combat in ww2 and putting this onto the table. It wasn’t until I read this that I really got some sort of understanding of how battalions and brigades operated in the field. Highly recommended and very readable account of the 5th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders experience of WW2.
Arnhem by Anthony Beevor Recently got this, good book working my way through
last update 22/5/21