A Bridge Too Far Design Notes

A Bridge Too Far Book Cover

A Bridge Too Far Design Notes
with Mike Haught

Note: A Bridge Too Far is no longer available for purchase.

With A Bridge Too Far, I was excited to continue to the story of Operation Market Garden, one of my all-time favourite operations of WWII. Having completed the first installment with Hell’s Highway, which covered the battle for the corridor up to Arnhem, it was now time to look at Arnhem itself and the British 1st Airborne Division’s epic struggle to hold out against the II SS-Panzerkorps.

The British forces found in A Bridge Too Far include a Parachute Company (British and Polish variants), an Airlanding Company, and an Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron. The German forces are an odd collection of Kampfgruppen (battlegroups) including SS-Kampfgruppe Graebner, SS-Kampfruppe Spindler, and Kampfgruppe von Tettau.

Introduction and British Parachute Company Pages
The Red Devils

While the American paratroopers and the British armoured column fought to secure the 60-mile (100km) corridor to Arnhem, the British 1st Airborne Division, also known as the Red Devils, fought an epic battle in the streets of Arnhem and Oosterbeek to secure the northern most objective, the Arnhem Bridge.

The parachute company has two variants. Each variant has its own flavour and special rules to make them unique and exciting in their own right. Both forces are tenacious defenders and will hold their ground resolutely.

British Parachute 17pdr guns
1st Airbourne Divison Pages
The first variant represents the British parachute companies in Arnhem and Oosterbeek. These troops have been given the tools to get the job done, including plenty of 6 pdr and 17 pdr anti-tank guns to see off any German tank assault. While they don’t have access to 30 Corps’ tanks, they were able to call in artillery support from 5.5” medium artillery batteries in Nijmegen. This artillery support should make it that much easier to break up enemy assaults against your paratroopers.
The 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade in action
The second variant covers the Polish parachute companies that jumped into Dreil. All of the 1st Polish Independent Parachute Brigade’s heavy weapons, such as its anti-tank guns, were sent to Arnhem, so when the paras dropped into combat they were initially under-equipped.However, they doggedly defended their position from the Germans until relieved by the arrival of 30 Corps.

Once their position was secure, the Polish paras teamed up with 30 Corps’ tanks and armoured cars to take the offensive.

No British airborne assault would be complete without the airlanding companies landing in their Horsa gliders with expert precision. Historically, the company was organised to deliver whole platoons together in one place without the need to spend time rallying like the paratroopers. In Market Garden, this allowed them to get on the ground quickly to protect the drop zones for the parachute companies.
As an airplane nut, I’m always keen to play gliderborne troops. They excel at both aggressive and defensive operations. To do this, airlanding companies have extra men and anti-tank guns to bolster the perimeter against the enemy.

Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron under attack
The Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron’s job was to land their jeeps by glider and then rush to the bridge to secure it ahead of the troops. As a result they were not allowed to conduct proper reconnaissance and were quickly ambushed, preventing them from reaching the bridge. I thought their story was so exciting that it would be a shame not to include them in A Bridge Too Far. I like this force because it gives your paratroopers a mechanised option to make a quick and potentially decisive dash for the objective, Vickers guns blazing!
British Paratroopers Advance

One of the cool new support platoons in A Bridge Too Far is the Glider Pilot Platoon. British glider pilots were expected to fight and help where they could until the whole division was pulled off the line. As such they were organised into squadrons (or companies) and put into the line. They were well equipped including Sten submachine-guns and light body armour to protect them from shrapnel, such as flak or artillery. They were all officers or non-commissioned officers, making them a highly professional unit. 

In A Bridge Too Far, you can field a platoon of Glider Pilots as a support choice, giving you an excellent option for a small assault platoon or tough platoon that will hold its position.

Your British and Polish companies from A Bridge Too Far will not fail to tenaciously defend their objective against enemy assaults—they will hold until the last bullet and ration has been used! 

SS-Kampfgruppe Graebner Pages
The Kampfgruppe Units

One of the greatest challenges in writing this book was trying to decide what German forces to include. There were literally hundreds of weird and wonderful German formations in and around Arnhem. I eventually chose the three major players: SS-Kampfgruppen Spindler and Graebner as well as Kampfgruppe von Tettau.

SS-Kampfgruppe Graebner Attacking Across Arnham Bridge
SS-Kampfgruppe Graebner is perhaps the most famous of the three, having been immortalised in the film A Bridge Too Far for its mad dash across the Arnhem Bridge. The Graebner list is based on an Aufklarungs (reconnaissance) company. He had some half-tracks and some trucks to keep his troops mobile.

When Operation Market Garden was launched, Graebner knew that paratroopers were most vulnerable in the early hours of the operation before they could consolidate and dig in, so he made his attack as quickly as possible.
German Reinforced Truck This force allows you to jump into Graebner’s shoes and make the assault across the bridge. You have some armoured half-tracks and reinforced trucks to help deliver your troops into battle. Your troops are among the best available and will follow you into the jaws of hell itself!

SS-Kampfgruppe Spindler placed itself firmly between the British paratroopers that managed to sneak onto the Arnhem Bridge and the rest of the division in Oosterbeek, preventing the two from linking up.

This Kampfgruppe is based on an SS-Panzergrenadier company, but your combat platoons can be quite varied from Panzergrenadiers to pioneers or dismounted tank crews. The flexible nature of this force’s composition will allow you to create an assault force that best fits your play style and help you secure victory.
Flammwagen B-2(f) in action
As Spindler pushed the British from the east, the paratroopers were pressed up against the immovable Kampfgruppe von Tettau to the west. This formation was gigantic and consisted of several training schools and garrison soldiers from the region. This gives the force a very unique look.

When building a force from Kampfgruppe von Tettau, you can choose between battle-hardened SS non-comissioned officer canidates, raw recruits for the Hermann Goring Division, or the garrison troops of Kampfgruppe Knoche. The von Tettau forces are organised as battalions instead of the usual company, which will give you plenty of infantry to push those stubborn Red Devils off the objective.

In addition to lots of troops, Kampfgruppe von Tettau has the option to field the cool new Flame-tank Platoon equipped with Flammwagen B-2(f) tanks converted from old French Char B2 heavy tanks. These odd (but cool) looking tanks will help wipe out threats to your infantry so you can assault successfully.

These German Kampfgruppen are packed with flavour and unique organizations. They will be instrumental in making sure the bold Allied attack fails!

SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Viktor Graebner Warriors

The epic battle between SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Viktor Graebner and Lieutenant-Colonel John Frost is a major highlight during the operation. This made them the obvious choices for the warriors in A Bridge Too Far.

At first glance Graebner seems reckless and rash, but upon close consideration he was anything but. He made very calculated decisions and was able to assess the situation quickly. Once implemented, his plans were often devastating on the enemy. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross for such leadership during the fighting in Normandy.
The Graebner warrior reflects his emphasis on speed and surprise in order to secure victory. He will get your SS-Kampgruppe Graebner force to the objective with lightning speed and make sure that they can secure the objective as quickly as possible.
Lieutenant Colonel John Frost will be forever remembered as the man to call on when you need to hold a bridge against terrible odds. He managed to keep the bridge out of German hands for several days despite many attempts to push the stubborn paras off. Frost managed his perimeter masterfully, making sure that each weapon was kept serviceable for as long as possible and saw to it that reinforcements got to where they were needed most.

Frost’s warrior will help you establish and maintain your perimeter by forming impromptu platoons, keeping your gun teams fighting, and providing motivational leadership wherever he is stationed. Frost will make sure that the Germans will have a tough fight ahead of them if they want what he’s got!

Lieutenant Colonel John Frost
Mini-Campaign Pages
Lt. Col Frost with 6pdr Anti-tank gun
The Mini-Campaign

The story of Frost’s perimeter is one that stands out amongst all of the heroic stories of Operation Market Garden. One of the things I really wanted to include in the book was a series of linked scenarios that would allow players to refight this historic moment. I broke down the battle into four major scenarios. Players can fight their way through the mini-campaign or play the scenarios separately. Each scenario has some special rules to add historical flavour to the fight.

At the beginning of the campaign, the British player establishes their perimeter and must use the same troops from game to game. For the British, a platoon lost in any of the games means its gone for the whole campaign, so they have to be careful and preserve their strength!

The battle begins with Brinkmann’s assault, which took place at 0600 hours on 18 September, followed by Graebner’s assault (0800 hours). These are smaller attacks designed to probe the British lines. The last two scenarios are full German attacks on the line as they try to reduce Frost’s perimeter.
This four-part mini-campaign will allow players to immerse themselves in one of the most famous last-stands in history. So, grab your British and Germans and find out if you have what it takes to hold or capture Arnhem Bridge!
Painting and Modelling Pages
Painting and Modelling

One of the key features of A Bridge Too Far is that it takes place in an urban and town setting. James has put together a great modelling section describing the methods he used to paint the urban figures featured in the book. In addition we have included a small painting piece on the unique German vehicles found in the book, including the new reinforced trucks and the Flammwagen B-2(f) flame tank.

I hope that you have enjoyed the Market Garden books as much as I have. It has been exciting and fun researching the battle and finding out new things every hour! A Bridge Too Far will be available soon, allowing players to fight the battles of Arnhem. Keep your eyes out for exciting new content relating to these battles in future issues of Wargames Illustrated and our website: www.FlamesOfWar.com.