September 16th 1944
This is a tabletop wargame I wrote based on the historical action, to make the game more interesting I changed the forces available.
In an attempt to surround the German Holy City of Aachen, elements of 3rd Armoured Division under the command of General Maurice Rose tried to force a passage between the city and the heavily forested region to the south. This area became known as the Stolberg Corridor. The Germans desperately threw any and all units available into 3rd armoureds path. After three days of hard fighting Attrition began to take its toll on the Americans.
Elements of CCA had reached the outskirts of Stolberg itself, but the Germans held the high ground and still occupied bunkers in and around the nearby town of Buesbach. Yesterday (September 15th) elements of CCA (Task Force Mills) were ambushed by tanks and assault guns just outside Buesbach and driven back. Due to this a gap had developed between CCA at Stolberg and CCB who were battling through the bunker line at the northern edge of “The Weissenburg” municipal forest and the town of Vicht. In an attempt both to plug this worrying gap and facilitate further advance General Rose committed his tactical reserve 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment (from US 1st Division) along with a scratch force of tanks. The orders are for Task Force Hogan to proceed to Buesbach and capture the town and its dominating high ground.
The German side
Buesbach and its locality was defended by elements of 105 Panzer Brigade.
On 2 July 1944, while considering current situation, Hitler stated that the small, mobile, fast and armored Kampfgruppe had proved highly effective against Russian forces in the east. He decided to create a new dedicated formation (called Panzer Brigades). He thought that the appropriate organization for these Kampfgruppe should be one SPW-Battalion, one Panzer-Gruppe with thirty to forty panzers (Panther tanks), one Pak company and several Flak-Wagon. He also requested about twelve of such Kampfgruppe be created. A new order dated July 11th 1944 from OKH was issued to create ten Panzer-Brigaden, designated Panzer-Brigade 101 to 110; they were also sometimes called Panzergrenadier-Brigades occasionally. Mainly Ersatz-Heeres (replacement army) or refitted Panzer and Panzergrenadier Divisions contributed the personnel for these Panzer-Brigades. Each Panzer-Brigade consisted of a Panzer battalion with three Panther companies and one Panzer Jaeger Company, a Panzergrenadier Battalion with four companies. There were also engineer, lt. support artillery and supply units attached. Panzer Brigade 105 was formed on July 28th, 1944, partially from the remains of the recently destroyed 18.Panzergrenadier-Division. On August 6th a new organization was ordered for the panzergrenadier battalion. The numbers of light machine guns was reduced, and heavy machine guns totally replaced by additional 20mm cannon. This was a direct result of the serious shortage of manpower and an attempt to keep the firepower at the same level.
By the time the Brigade arrived south of Aachen in September, it only had 10 serviceable tanks and only two Panzergrenadier companies. The Brigade fell under the command of 9th Panzer Division which itself was badly under strength. The brigades assault guns and Panthers were absorbed into 33rd Panzer Regiment and Panzergrenadier Battalion 2105 was sent to Buesbach.
The scenario this battle was fought in close built up terrain. The Americans have to conserve their manpower whilst pushing through the town to take the high ground beyond. The town has received quite a bit of shelling so there will be plenty of rubble and ruined buildings. Elements of 2105 panzergrenadier battalion should be positioned both within the town and on the hill, they may occupy any bunkers. The umpire should allow the grenadiers to remove the MG42s from their transport as additional platoon weapons. It should be noted that the American 26th Infantry are highly experienced and will act as such, use patrols to spot German strong points then call artillery or armor to suppress or wipeout these positions before moving onto the next. The 2105 grenadiers are also veterans their transport will be of little use in this defensive battle, but the support weapons and SP 20mm should be used for local counter attacks or set up along pre-determined fire lanes.
History the weather was poor on September 16th and the I/26 were unable to call for air support. Colonel Hogan organized a three pronged envelopment using all the battalions rifle companies supported by his tanks. The tankers were quite relieved when there was no sign of the PZ4s and assault guns that had ambushed Task Force Mills the day before. The town was badly damaged by shellfire and the Germans gained plenty of additional cover. There were also quite a few reinforced bunkers at least one of which was camouflaged to look like a house. After a day of bitter fighting the Americans were in full control of the town and its dominating hill. I’m not sure about American casualties but 2105 grenadier battalion lost 62% of its manpower. The survivors were eventually used as a cadre for 9th Panzer Divisions reformed II Grenadier Battalion.
Over the next six days 3rrdArmoured continued its attacks south of Aachen against desperate German resistance and counter attacks. Eventually by September 22nd, with reserves all committed and both combat commands down to a handful of tanks and tank destroyers General Rose called a halt.
Stolberg Corridor scenario pack for Command Decision
Use of Flame-throwers by the US Army article by Stephen Tinsley in Command Post Quarterly 8
The Battle of Hurtgen Forest by Charles Whiting (ISBN 0-7493-0369-7)
Bloody Aachen by Charles Whiting (ISBN 0-88029-229-6)
The Bloody Forest by Gerald Astor (ISBN 0-89141-699-4)
1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment with:
2 infantry companies each with:
4 fig HQ (2 x RTO*, officer, NCO)
3 x 10 figure platoon (BAR, rifle grenade, satchel charge)
Support platoon (Bazooka team, .30cal team, 60mm mortar team, NCO, rifle grenadier, 2 men)
* one radio on battalion frequency, the other connected to divisional support (for off board artillery)
Note only "A" and "B" company are committed with "C" and "D" companies in support, if the attack needs weight, these can be called on (only the battalion mortars were actually used in our game).
Task Force Hogan CO: Lt. Col. Hogan (3rd Armoured)
Team "A" (Team Alex)
2 x Sherman
1 x M5
2 x recce Jeeps (one w/radio, one with .50cal) + 6 men (inc RTO)
12 man engineer platoon (flamethrower team, bazooka team + 8 men w/satchel charges, pole charges, anti-mine gear, etc)
Team "B" (Team Chris)
2 x Sherman
1 x M8 A/C
2 x recce Jeeps (one w/radio, one with .50cal) + 6 men (inc RTO)
12 man engineer platoon (flamethrower team, bazooka team + 8 men w/satchel charges, pole charges, anti-mine gear, etc) + a Half-track & a Jeep
Reinforced Grenadier Kompanie (2105 Grenadier battalion)
Kompanie HQ with: 3 officers, RTO, 2 runners, Sdkfz251/3, Kubelwagon
3 x 10 figure rifle platoons (MG42, panzerfaust)
1 x half rifle platoon (5 figs) w/MG42, panzerfaust
2 x spotter teams
2 x sniper
2 x Pak40 w/crews
3 x 6x6" mixed minefields
10 figure armd platoon (MG42, panzerfaust) in Sdkfz251/1
Simple orders, the Americans have to secure the town, the Germans have to resist them.
The Americans split into two teams, each with a infantry company from I Battalion attached.
The American commanders - Alex (20 in a few days) and Chris (16)
As they had three possible avenues of attack, the guys decided to use the left most road plus the central one. This way the advancing units could mutually support each other if one was held up.
Team Chris on the left starts with his recce element along the road, a sherman and infantry following off road to the right.
Team Alex sent some of his infantry straight into the first houses, whilst an M5 and a Sherman again with infantry moved across the fields towards the centre.
Over the first few turns the Americans discovered some of the houses occupied and came under rifle and LMG fire, to which they replied with tank fire plus infantry weapons. they were forced to spread out through the ruined street
On Turn 4 the M5 tried to exploit a gap between two buildings, but those cunning Germans had mined that area.......
On the left side the Americans lost a Jeep to a machine gun and came under fire from a Sdkfz251/9
Whilst spotting for the LMG, they did find something nasty
Whilst clearing houses and sniper hunting Team Alex also spotted a pak40 too, both RTOs quickly called up mortars and artillery
But team Alex lost a Sherman to a concealed panzerfaust!
With most of his available armour knocked out Team Alex made very slow progess, from house to house
On the other side of the table Team Chris` Shermans begin a duel with the SDkfz251/9
The lead Sherman catches a panzerfaust! The second nails the 251
With the road under fire, his infantry lead by the M8 try to move through the narrow alleys under constant sniper and rifle fire
Turn 10, with both teams needing support they call forward their engineer platoons to assist in the house clearing
The Americans show mercy by allowing the German ambulance to drive to the rear unmolested
Unfortunately the German reinforcements also arrive this turn
The Germans take up a blocking position
By turn 12 Team Alex has cleared the town square, their last Sherman sights and destroys the Sdkfz251/2 above the town
On the other flank the Panzer IV and Sherman exchange shots over two rounds, the second round proves unfortunate for the Sherman
In a desperate attempt to flank the road block, a platoon rushes across the road and is literally chopped to pieces by the sdkfz251/21 (which the player had not identified, thinking it was troop carrier)
The morale effect was profound.........
Luckily team Alex swung left and began to move towards brothers beleaguered force and directed mortars wrecked the 251/21 on turn 15.
The last panzergrenadiers dug in on the north side of the road but were quickly cleared over two turns by engineers with flamethrowers
The Panzer IV knocked out the M8 on turn 16, but was damaged by a Bazooka the same turn and brewed up the next turn by the Americans last Sherman.
Tough game, both sides fought themselves to a standstill very much as they did in history.