30 September 2014

Operation Market Garden: Fiasco to Equal Dunkirk ? Part 1 The Protagonists

Market Garden: The "Bridge Too Far" Fiasco

Battle of Arnhem: dropping in on a bridge too far

I first saw the movie of the same name (A Bridge Too Far, in 1975. I was 10 years old. The movie gripped me so much that I remember it too the day, and have seen it several times since then)

Having recently played the D-Day Landings, the natural follow-on would be the race and battle for Caen , the Falaise gap, and then Hell's Highway and The Bridges at Nijmegen, Eindhoven and Arnhem. I had occasion to visit the area in the late 80s .

Operation Market Garden (17–25 September 1944) was an unsuccessful Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany in the Second World War. It was the largest airborne operation up to that time.

The Allied forces that had landed on the Normandy beaches on June 6 had already liberated Brussels and were hovering on the Belgian-Dutch border like those arrows in the opening credits of Dad’s Army.

Monty’s plan was for them to make a swift, narrow thrust up through the Netherlands, bypassing the Germans’ defensive “Siegfried Line”, then swing east to advance on Berlin. Airborne troops would pave the way, capturing and holding bridges for the ground forces to pass over. The Nazis would be crushed by Christmas.

Codenamed Operation Market Garden, it was an ambitious plan – too ambitious, feared Lt General Frederick Browning, who is said to have remarked (perhaps apocryphally) that Arnhem, the northernmost bridge the Allies were required to capture and defend, was “a bridge too far”.

Order of Battle:

Allied Forces

1st Allied Airborne Army
Commander : Lieutenant-General Lewis H. Brereton

1st British Airborne Corps
Commander : Lieutenant-General Frederick Browning

  • 1st Airborne Division and attached units
  • 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade Group
  •  52nd (Lowland) Division (NOT USED)
18th U.S. Airborne Corps
Commander : Lieutenant-General Matthew B. Ridgway

  • 82nd U.S. Airborne Division
  • 101st U.S. Airborne Division
Air Transport Forces
  • 38 and 46 Groups RAF, RASC Air Despatch Units
  • 52nd Troop Carrier Wing, USAAF
  • IX Troop Carrier Command (Less 52nd Wing), USAAF
21st Army Group
Commander : Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery

2nd British Army
Commander : General Sir Miles Dempsey

Dempsey, Front row 2nd from R
  • XXX Corps
  • VIII Corps
  • XII Corps

German Forces

Armed Forces Command (AFC) Netherlands
Commander : General der Flieger Friedrich Christiansen

II S.S. Panzer Korps
  • Kampfgruppe 'Von Tettau'
The Commander-in-Chief German Armed Forces In Holland at the time was Luftwaffe General Christiansen (above)  and it was he who ordered Lt. General Hans Von Tettau to form a 'Battle Group' to combat the Airborne landings.

Lt Gen Hans von Tettau

 In the initial stages of the battle, fought around the landing zones, Von Tettau was able to collect the following forces.
S.S.- N.C.O. School Arnheim (Col. M. Lippert)
S.S.- Training and Replacement Battalion 4 (Lt. Labahn)
Naval Manning Battalion 10 (Kapitan Lieutnant Zaubzer)
S.S.- Surveillance Battalion 3 ( Sturmbannführer Paul Anton Helle)
Tank Company 224  
Fliegerhorst Battalion 3  
Soesterberg Fliegerhorst Battalion  
Regiment Knoche 
S.S.- Battalion Eberwein 
Regiment 42 

Heeresgruppe B {Army Group B}
Commander : Feldmarschall Walther Model

Fifteenth Army
Commander : General Gustav von Zangen

  • LXVII Korps (General Otto M. Hitzfeld)

        346th Infantry Division (Generalleutnant Erich Diester)
        711th Static Division (Generalleutnant Josef Reichert)
        719th Coastal Division (Generalleutnant Karl Sievers)
  • LXXXVIII Korps

First Parachute Army

Commander : General Kurt Student

  • II Fallschirmjäger Korps
  • XII S.S. Korps 

German SS Polizei in position in the woods outside Arnhem ready to repulse Allied Airborne troops. 

The SS IX and X Panzer Divisions of the II SS Panzer Korps were, as Dutch Intelligence had reported, refitting and regrouping to the north and east of Arnhem and proved a formidable opponent despite the surprise of the airborne landings
  • LXXXVI Korps
  • Wehrkreis VI
Luftwaffe West

20 September 2014

FoW: Operation Barbarossa: A sneak Peak and Sale

Flames of War: Operation Barbarossa: Russia Invaded - 

A sneak Peak and Sale

All the Flames of War fans out there: Battlefront miniatures have made a sneak peak available on their Operation Barbarossa book, soon to be released. (Oct 2014) 

Preview Of Barbarossa

The Barbarossa book promises the 3rd Reich rampant:
  • History of the German invasion of the Soviet Russia in 1941,
  • Battle for Moscow and the Soviet counter-strikel.
  • It appears Stalingrad is left out (?) Probably material for a next book.
  • Options for German tank companies: 
    • Leichte Panzerkompanie, Mittlere Panzerkompanie, and Czech Panzerkompanie. 
    • Mobile infantry with a Panzerschützenkompanie, Schützenkompanie, and Kradschützenkompanie.
    • Motorised and foot infantry with a Heer or SS Infanteriekompanie.
  •  Options for Soviet Army: 
    • T-34 tank equipped Tankovy Batalon, 
    • Lend-lease tanks with Inomarochnikiy Tankovy Batalon
    • Motor infantry with a Motostrelkovy Batalon
    • Infantry: Strelkovy Batalon with three different ratings options.
More info on their website (Clicky below)

So, great news for early war fans. Even better news: They have a limited time special on all their early war goodies!

Early-war Sale!

Check things out on their website: Buy two get one free!
(Now wouldn't it be great if Games Workshop took a page out of BF's book -never in a month of Sundays!)

New model releases include:
 New sculpt  Pz III G/H and J, and Pz IV E and F 1/2
• New  range of German infantry with greatcoats Early and Mid War.
•  ZIS-30 - a Zis-2 57mm gun mounted on a Komsomolyets
• Plastic and resin early model T-34.
• Updated sculpts for KV tank series.
• BM-8 Katyusha option included with the BM-13 Katyusha box

Q and A from their site:

Q: When will we be charged for the orders?
A: Just like the Vietnam sale, orders will be charged once they are downloaded from the website. 

Q: Will the new Barbarossa book and releases be included in the sale?
A: Barbarossa is released after the conclusion of the sale. However this is a great opportunity to get your supporting units and figures in preparation for the release of this book.

Q: How is the discount calculated?
A: We will sort your purchases in descending price order and change every third sale item to $0. So if you ordered 2 BR702 BEF Rifle Platoons ($18 USD each), 1 BR310 Daimler Dingo ($14.50 USD) and 3 BR052 Matilda IIs ($13 USD each), you would get the blister of Daimler Dingos and 1 of the Matilda II blisters for free.

Q: Do books count towards the Buy 2, Get 1 Free deal?
A: Yes. If you add any of the four books to your order they will count towards the buying 2 and getting 1 free (at the discounted prices obviously). So if you buy 1 book and 2 other products you will get 1 of them for free.

Q: Will there be stock?
A: Yes, although if demand is higher than our stock levels we will get it made as soon as possible and have orders completely fulfilled in the same order that they came through the webstore. Orders will be fulfilled in the order that they are received so get in early to avoid disappointment.

Q: Will the webstore show the correct discounted prices and freight
A: Yes! Our gnomes have been busy over the past week reprogramming the store so it should correctly determine which products will be free and apply the correct maximum freight charge.

Q: How long does the sale last?
A: The sale starts on 19 September 2014 and ends 6 October. The front page of the website will be updated once the store has the sale pricing.

17 September 2014

Richard III Forensic report from the Lancet. Bosworth revisited

Richard the 3rd  was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field in Leicestershire, central England, on Aug. 22, 1485.

Forensic Evidence confirms that Richard III died a violent death at Bosworth:

King Richard III likely perished at the hands of assailants who hacked away pieces of his scalp and rammed spikes or swords into his brain as the helmet-less monarch fell to his knees in in the mud after his horse sank into mud or was was killed under him.A forensic report published in The Lancet exposes the horrific demise of one of English history’s most controversial monarchs.It backs anecdotal evidence, made famous by Shakespeare, that Richard was unhorsed before he met his doom.
Bringing together 21st-century science and sketchy knowledge of 15th-century history, the analysis provides a chilling tableau of the brutality of warfare in late mediaeval England.

The monarch’s death was the culmination of a three-decade war for the throne, bringing the curtain down on the three-century dynasty of his Plantagenet clan, and ushering in the Tudors.

“The most likely injuries to have caused the king’s death are the two to the inferior aspect [lower part] of the skull – a large sharp-force trauma possibly from a sword or staff weapon, such as a halberd or bill, and a penetrating injury from the tip of an edged weapon,” said Guy Rutty, a pathologist at the University of Leicester.

A halberd was a mediaeval battle axe with spiked point, and a bill was a hooked-tip blade on the end
of a pole.

“Richard’s head injuries are consistent with some near-contemporary accounts of the battle, which suggest that Richard abandoned his horse after it became stuck in a mire and was killed while fighting his enemies,” said Rutty.

The study, published in The Lancet medical journal, used X-ray computed tomography (CT) for a microscopic analysis of a skeleton found in 2012 under a car park at a former church.

After being lost for five centuries, researchers identified the remains as Richard’s, backed by DNA analysis and radiocarbon-dating.

The paper documents nine injuries to the head at or shortly before death, and two to the torso that were likely inflicted postmortem.

The two blows that probably killed the king likely came from a sword or spike driven into the brain at the base of the skull.

They are consistent with the victim having been “in a prone position or on its knees with the head pointing downwards,” the study’s authors wrote.

Non-fatal injuries included three cuts to the top of the skull that would have sliced off much of the scalp. A knife or dagger was stuck right through his face, from right cheek to left.

“Richard’s injuries represent a sustained attack or an attack by several assailants,” said Sarah Hainsworth, a professor of materials engineering at the university.

“The wounds to the skull indicate that he was not wearing a helmet, and the absence of defensive wounds on his arms and hands indicate that he was otherwise still armoured at the time of his death.”

Assuming that he had been wearing his royal armour, two injuries to the trunk must have been inflicted after Richard’s body was stripped, the team said.

One was a blow to the right tenth rib with what was probably a fine-edged dagger.

The other was a thrust, probably by a sword driven upwards through the right buttock that would have penetrated his bowels and other soft pelvic organs – a blow that would have caused fatal bleeding had he been alive.

Without any soft tissue to analyze, the scientists looked at sometimes tiny marks left on the bones – cuts, abrasions, punctures and so on – and compared them with the known impacts caused by the weapons of the time.

The gory reconstruction of his death is heavily dependent on assumptions about the wearing of armour and the loss of his helmet, but chimes with several contemporary accounts.

One version of events penned the year after Richard’s death, said his naked body was slung over his horse like a saddlebag and brought to Leicester.

“Insults” were directed at the corpse by the crowds – which could be when an onlooker inflicted the pelvic wound by thrusting a blade through the king’s buttock, according to the new investigation.

Further mutilation of his corpse would have been stopped – to display his dead body as a trophy, the defeated king had to be recognizable.

Richard died at the age of 32 after only two years on the throne. Contemporary accounts described him as generous and a good monarch, but his reputation was blackened by the victorious Tudors.

In Shakespeare’s play Richard III, the king’s spinal curvature was transformed into a hunchback, and his character was murderous and hungry for power.

England's King Richard III, whose body was discovered under a municipal car park, will be reburied near to where he was slain in battle 500 years ago, a court ruled on Friday, dashing the hopes of his distant descendants who had wanted his remains to be taken back to his northern stronghold.

The unearthing two years ago of the remains of the last English king to die in battle was one of the most important archaeological finds of recent years.

Richard was slain at Bosworth Field near Leicester, central England, in 1485, bringing to an end the rule of the Plantagenet dynasty after 300 years.

His death was the culmination of the Wars of the Roses, a bloody 30-year power struggle between Richard's House of York and the rival House of Lancaster.

The whereabouts of his grave had been a mystery until a skeleton with curved spine and head wounds was found by archaeologists from the University of Leicester, with DNA tests confirming it was indeed the king.

The university was given permission by Britain's Ministry of Justice to re-bury the king at Leicester cathedral.

But the Plantagenet Alliance, a group which included some of Richard's distant descendants, asked London's High Court to block the burial plans, arguing the decision on the final resting place should have been a matter of public consultation.

They wanted their ancestor to be reinterred in the northern city of York, his power base during his 26-month reign.

However, their case was thrown out by three of the country's most senior judge.

"Since Richard III's exhumation of Sept. 5, 2012, passions have been roused and much ink has been spilt," their ruling said. "We agree that is it is time for Richard III to be given a dignified reburial and finally laid to rest."

A tough soldier and popular in the north, Richard remains a hugely divisive figure in English history, seen by some as a monster who murdered two princes - his own nephews - in the Tower of London to take the throne, and by others as an enlightened ruler unfairly maligned by his enemies.

He was cast by Shakespeare as a power-crazed hunchback, who famously went down fighting to keep his crown from the invading forces of Henry Tudor crying out "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!".

After the battle, the victor, the future King Henry VII, had Richard's naked body exposed to the people of Leicester to show the battle was won before he was buried in a monastery which was later destroyed.

In their ruling, the three judges said Queen Elizabeth was content for the dead king to be buried in Leicester, and did not express a wish for a royal funeral or for a re-interment at London's Westminster Abbey where many medieval monarchs were laid to rest.

The judges also said the Plantagenet Alliance, set up by Stephen Nicolay, the 16th-great-nephew of Richard, represented only a fraction of the number of his descendants.

The alliance said in a statement after the ruling: "We believe that the proposed location of Leicester is wholly inappropriate for the burial of King Richard III, who had no connections with the town beyond his horrific death, bodily despoliation and appalling burial in a foreshortened grave.

"It is fitting and respectful and in keeping with all of our national customs regarding treatment of the dead, to bury this king in a place 'appropriate to him' - that place is York."

The University of Leicester will now go-ahead with plans for the reburial, likely to be early next year, while the city council has unveiled plans for a 4 million pound ($6.6 million) visitor centre around the find, hoping that fascination with the monarch will prove to be a hit with tourists.

"This will be a momentous event for the city and county, and an opportunity to show the rest of the world that Leicester is the rightful resting place for the last Plantagenet King of England," said Leicester Mayor Peter Soulsby.

Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist on the dig which found the remains, said it was right they stayed in the city.

"Ultimately a King of England by right of conquest - Henry VII - decided in August 1485 to hand over the vanquished King Richard's remains to the Franciscan Friars in Leicester for burial," he said.

"There they have lain for over half a millennium and have become part of Leicester's history."

A facial reconstruction gives us an idea of what he would have looked like in life:

Contemporary paintings seem to confirm the identity of the body, as does DNA evidence.

7 September 2014

Six weeks of low profile, the Boat club and the driveway

Low Profile August and September

The last 6 weeks have been pretty busy for me, work-wise and 1:1 scale project wise.
Finally got the retaining wall and driveway projects sorted with the help of my good mate Glenn.

Drivin' on it for the first time

My wife's catering business, PartyPerfect Catering, has also had a busy few weeks, having two events in the Visa Wellington-on-a- Plate, presenting Ocean to Table, Kapiti Style. I got co-opted to talk about one of my other passions, sea-life, in this case the edible sea-fishes of the Kapiti Coast of New Zealand, and got my name in the local paper (Kapiti News) in the process. She's furiously working away as I write, preparing for catering for the turning of the first sod on the loooong awaited Transmission Gully Motorway. It will be the second time in as many years that she's been selected to cater for the Prime Minister of NZ. I'm so proud of what she has achieved in the last 5 years.

While I was ranting on my fantasy blog about the direction that Games Workshop was taking, I focused more on my fantasy armies than WW2. Couldn't resist the July Military Modelcraft Magazine though, featuring a step-by step article on the T34, BDRM and the Marmon-Herrington armoured car:

Guideline Publications Military Modelcraft July 2014 vol 18 - 09

It seems that Napoleonics may not quite happen next year for me (Waterloo anniversary), as Nick, the other potential 28mm Shako enthusiast at our club, is following his heart to Hamilton. So my mind has wandered back to Saga, and its possibilities.

I've been buying an interesting bi-monthly magazine from the Netherlands, Wargames Soldiers and Strategy, enjoying it so much that I could hardly wait for the next edition. Rick Priestly has been writing a column, (now sadly in it's last installment) on the mechanics of wargames design.It also features an article on Jugula, the Roman Gladiator game, from the makers of Saga.

Last ed saw a discourse on the Battle of Bannockburne, and also some Batreps on playing Steppe Warriors (Mounted Mongols etc) in Saga and similar skirmish games. This edition is focussed on the 7 years war, Muskets and Black Powder, and an article on Osprey's new medieval ruleset: The Lion Rampant.

What I really enjoy about this mag is that it is neutral in terms of rulesets, and discuss the nitty-gritty of gaming, the models and strategies, and does not preach that one set of rules is better than another. I enjoy how they often discuss how, for example, say mounted Mongols, fits with many rule sets, how it compares with competitors in terms of size, finishing, quality, variety of poses, etc. The stuff my type of modelers and gamers want to know.

This has set me thinking as to what I could do with my Warhammer Fantasy Armies if I should give up on GW. The fantasy genre takes a huge amount of liberties with historical arms and armour, but I think I could well use my Empire Armies as late medieval/early renaissance.