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A Bridge Too Far

Hummel's Assault:
an Arnhem Battle Report from
A Bridge Too Far

by Mike Haught and Kyran Henry

With the release of A Bridge Too Far, Kyran and I were anxious to try out one of the scenarios in the new book. Kyran had assembled the Arnhem table for the book and I wrote the scenario. Needless to say, we were both excited to have a go with our respective creations.

We chose Hummel’s Assault, the final scenario in the Arnhem mini-campaign. This final assault involved several German Kampfgruppen, or battlegroups in an attempt to crush Johnny Frost’s tenacious British paratroopers that had dug in around the bridge.

In the scenario, the Germans have to wipe the British clean away from the bridge and secure one of the two objectives on the opposite side of the bridge. To do this they have plenty of infantry and tanks to break trough. Needless to say, the British have to stop this from happening.

The scenario is meant to be played in sequence with three other scenarios. The British player has to withstand all four assaults in order to claim victory. They also have to deal with losses, as once a platoon is destroyed in a previous scenario, it cannot return to the battlefield.

Since Kyran and I were planning on only playing the final scenario, we sat down and worked out a hypothetical attrition rate for the British forces. We eliminated several platoons from the British list to help with the scenario balance.

The scenario has some other challenges as well. Historically, the Germans had pounded the bridge hard with artillery and tank fire. This resulted in a good amount of rubble strewn all across the streets. Therefore the roads in the scenario are rated Difficult Going for vehicles, making it a potential hazard to any vehicles attempting to navigate the mess.

Arnhem Map

Above: The Battlefield

German Forces

The scenario follows Kampfgruppe Hummel, which coordinated its attack with Kampfgruppen Brinkmann and Knaust. The three closed in on the perimeter with the goal to reach Frost’s HQ building on the opposite side of the bridge.


Kampfgruppe Hummel:
(Confident Veteran)
Schwere Panzerkompanie HQ (with one
Company Command Tiger IE heavy tank)
Schwere Panzer Platoon (with one Tiger IE heavy tank)

SS-Kampfgruppe Brinkmann:
(Fearless Veteran)
SS-Gepanzerte Aufklärungs Platoon
SS-Heavy Platoon (with a Mortar and a Machine-gun section)

Kampfgruppe Knaust:
(Confident Trained)
Panzergrenadier Platoon
Panzergrenadier Platoon
Panzer Platoon (with four Panzer IIIL tanks)
Artillery Battery (Fearless Veteran)
Motorised SS-Artillery Battery (with four
10.5cm leFH18 howitzers)

British Forces

Frost established his perimeter with his paratrooper platoons and took great care to support them with engineers and anti-tank guns. The scenario has each of these components in place and ready to receive the German assault.

  Parachute Company
(Fearless Veteran)
Lieutenant-Colonel John Frost
Company HQ (with three PIAT teams)
Parachute Platoon
Parachute Platoon
Parachute Platoon
Brigade Support
Airborne Reconnaissance Platoon (with HQ Section and one Recce Squad)
Airlanding Anti-tank Platoon (with HQ Section and two 6-pdr anti-tank guns)
Airlanding Anti-tank Platoon (with HQ Section and one 6-pdr anti-tank gun)
Parachute Machine-gun Platoon (with one
Machine-gun Section)
Parachute Mortar Platoon (with one Mortar Section)
Glider Pilot Platoon
Parachute Platoon, Royal Engineers (with three
Pioneer Squads)
Parachute Assault Platoon

Arnhem Map set up


Before the game begins, the German player uses the Arnhem In Ruins special rule, which allows them to reduce up to five buildings into rubble. Furthermore, there is a chance that they will burst into flames, preventing the British from reoccupying the ruined buildings.

In our scenario game, Kyran’s artillery bombardments (using Arnhem in Ruins) turned four houses into raging infernos and a fifth to rubble, forcing the British to seek refuge elsewhere.

The British paratroopers had expected another fight, just as they had every hour for the last few days. This would be no different, they would push the Germans back once again and keep hold of the vital Arnhem Bridge!

German Turn 1

At 2000 hours the Germans launched yet another assault. This time the attack was spearheaded by two Tiger heavy tanks from Kampfgruppe Hummel.

All three Kampfguppen lurched into action. To the north the Tigers of Kampfgruppe Hummel started down the roads leading into the perimeter, one on the bridge and the other on a parallel road.

SS-Kampfgruppe Brinkmann mounted up into their half-tracks and navigated the rubble-strewn streets toward the bridge’s underpass. 

 SS-Aufklarungs move up

The battlegroup’s mortars dismounted and made ready to support their troops.

Further south Kampfgruppe Knaust kicked into motion with a full-scale advance toward the bridge. The two Panzergrenadier platoons stormed to the buildings in front of them.

The battlegroup’s four Panzer III tanks lined up with the bridge’s underpass and shelled the corner building containing the British Number 3 Platoon from A Company. No one was hurt, but the paras were now stirred up and ready for the fight!

Artillery from south of Arnhem tore into the city causing light casualties among the Glider troops. The first shots had been fired and the final battle for the bridge had begun!

All of the German platoons took advantage of their stormtrooper training and pushed toward the bridge on all fronts.

Arnhem Map Turn 1

Above: Game Turn 1

British Turn 1

Meanwhile inside the perimeter, the Glider platoon rallied from being pinned down by artillery fire despite losing a team.
Just outside the battalion’s headquarters building, three jeeps from the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron spotted a sneaky German observer team creeping along the embankment. They decided to eliminate the threat before it could cause irreparable damage. With Vickers guns blazing they scored several hits on the observer team, but miraculously the Germans managed to survive and kept their heads down.

On the bridge, the sappers of B Troop from the 1st Para Squadron, Royal Engineers, saw an opportunity to knock out the isolated Tiger tank and leapt from their building to assault the tank.

Number 2 gun from the anti-tank platoon fired its 6 pdr anti-tank gun to take a few shots at the approaching Tiger to support the sappers. The shots all hit, and one snuck through the Tiger’s heavy armour, but failed to hit anything vital—the sappers would be on their own for this one! As the 6 pdr’s shells bounced harmlessly off the tank, the engineers failed to muster up the courage to assault and opted to stand idly in the middle of the road instead. The rest of the battalion kept quiet, bidding the Germans to come a bit closer.

Panzergrenadiers prepare for the assault

German Turn 2

The Germans kept the pressure on the British. Without wasting a moment the Panzergrenadiers of Kampfgruppe Knaust positioned themselves to launch an assault against Number 3 Platoon.

The SS-Aufklarungs platoon kicked the doors and windows in of the house opposite of the British position. The troops took charge of window openings and shot across the street in support of Knaust.

The Panzer III tanks stayed put in order to bring their full might of firepower against the enemy paras. The high rate of fire of the Panzer III tanks shook the building, quite nearly pinning the paras down.

The company command Tiger heavy tank lobbed several 8.8cm shells into the building, but it flying clean through the building without causing any damage to the defenders. The SS mortar platoon was met with similar results, failing to range in on the building.

The distant SS-artillery renewed its previous bombardment and succeeded in knocking out one of the British 6 pdr anti-tank guns from B Troop.

On the bridge the Tiger tank backed away from the nearby 6 pdr and opened up on the exposed sappers that tried to assault it earlier. It hit twice, but the infantry shrugged off the incoming fire.

Even though the paratroopers of A Company’s Number 1 Platoon weren’t pinned down the Panzergrenadiers figured they could reduce the incoming fire by hitting the enemy on the flank. The first platoon charged in to sweep the enemy out of the building. As they charged they suddenly received a hail of bullets from Number 1 Platoon defending the nearby building—the Germans had assaulted into a hornet’s nest defended by not one but two platoons of British paratroopers! The British paras opened up cutting down Knaust’s Panzergrenadiers-in-training. The platoon evaporated before it could even toss a grenade.

Having witnessed the carnage, the second Panzergrenadier platoon held back and took up positions behind a small stone wall. They would have to wait for better support before they charged in.

The company command Tiger and the Panzer III platoon stormtrooped forward into better positions. The Tiger on the bridge also moved back a ways from the engineers and out of close-range of the 6 pdr anti-tank gun.

Arnhem Map Turn 2

Above: Game Turn 2 

British Turn 2

In the northwestern corner of the perimeter, the glider pilot platoon, with a few words of encouragement from Lieutenant Colonel Frost, rallied again from the SS-artillery barrage.

In the opposite corner of the perimeter, Number 3 platoon went to ground, making themselves the most difficult targets possible. They knew that the next turn their house would be receiving a dozen tank shells as dinner guests!

Number 1 platoon, however, had nothing to fear and opened up with everything on the remaining few survivors of the failed Panzergrenadier assault. The German platoon finally gave up the ghost and retreated.

The sappers on the bridge still liked their odds at taking down the Tiger on the bridge. Once again they moved into position and once again they had cold feet, opting once again to back off.

Hummel's Tigers charge down the bridge

German Turn 3

The initiative passed once again to the Germans which used the time to manoeuvre into a better positions. Kampfgruppe Knaust was ordered to bypass the British position and make a run for the objectives. Two of the battlegroup’s Panzer III tanks bogged down as they tried to navigate their way through the rubble.

The remaining two tanks pressed on, supported by the company command Tiger tank. They fired a few shells into the building containing Number 2 Platoon. Though ineffectual, the shots certainly told the paras that the fight had finally reached them and it was now time to prepare to defend themselves.

SS-Kampfgruppe Brinkmann supported Knaust as he made the dash to the underpass. The SS troops kept a watchful eye from the buildings opposite the para platoon and traded some small arms fire in an attempt to keep the paras occupied.

The SS mortars managed to just barely range in on Number 3 Platoon, but none of their shells hit the enemy platoon.  However, the 10.5cm guns of the SS artillery once again pelted the same target causing a casualty among the glider pilot platoon and pinning them down. Fortunately for the glider men, their body armour, designed to protect them against flak and artillery shrapnel, saved the team from certain death!

On the bridge the Tiger tank continued its dance with the Royal Engineers, shifting to the side and opening up again with its machine-guns. The engineers again shrugged off the single hit they received and the pioneer waltz continued to swirl.

Knaust stormtrooped his troops to press them further along toward the underpass. Hummel’s company command Tiger followed suit and joined them moving forward.

Arnhem Map Turn 3

Above: Game Turn 3

British Turn 3

Meanwhile in the British camp, Frost made sure that his glider pilots snapped back to their positions after the artillery bombardment.
On the bridge the 6 pdr opened up against the Tiger, which was now in short range. The gun scored a hit but it was reflected off of the tank’s armour.

Undeterred, the Royal Engineers moved in to assault the Tiger. This time the platoon was keen to give the Jerry tank what for! The tank defensively fired at the sappers as they charged it down with satchel charges and Gammon anti-tank bombs. One team was knocked out on the way in, but the remaining four teams continued with resolve scoring two hits of their own on the Tiger.

The tank’s thick top armour easily reflected the hits. it returned to score its own hit on a sapper team. The sappers were unshaken and came back to try once again with its three remaining teams, scoring three hits by shoving explosives into any nook and cranny they could find. Unfortunately, these still failed to knock out the tank. 

The Tiger, highly motivated to fight for the Fatherland, and the determined para engineers fought several rounds of combat. The Tiger managed to reduce the sappers down to a lone team, but the tenacious paras had more fight in them than the Tiger was willing to give. The Tiger’s motivation to keep fighting eventually broke down and the commander pulled back, leaving a single engineer team to reconsider their options. Despite its losses, the Royal Engineer platoon decided to stay around to fight.

On the other side of the bridge Number 3 Platoon saw an opportunity that couldn’t be missed. The Panzer III tanks in front of them had bogged down and the two functioning ones were within easy strike distance from the buildings.

With a little luck they could nail the tanks with complete surprise and maybe even get the company command tank as well. Unfortunately, when it came down to execute the plan, the platoon got cold feet and opted to remain in their safe building.

British paras go Panzer hunting

German Turn 4

Knaust’s tankers-in-training managed to free the two bogged down Panzer III tanks from the rubble and quickly caught up with the rest of the platoon. However, as one of the lead tanks moved forward it snagged a piece of ruin and got stuck.

Hummel’s company command Tiger moved under the bridge to take up the slack created by the bogged down Panzer III. The platoon and Tiger opened up on Number 2 Platoon, hitting a para team hidden away in the building.

Across the street from Number 3 Platoon the Brinkmann’s SS troops opened up with a full volley from their rifles and light machine guns. The battlegroup’s heavy machine-guns also let lose a hail of bullets into the building protecting the paras. Knaust’s Panzergrenadiers joined in as well. The volley hit the platoon several times, pinning them down inside.

On the bridge the German observer took a shot and hit the last remaining sapper team with his rifle. The sapper shrugged off his wounds and looked angrily at the observer team…

Hummel’s second Tiger on the bridge moved to deal with the 6 pdr anti-tank gun. It fired a single shot at the gun, but missed. The anti-tank gun, staring its fate straight ahead, fired shell after shell hoping to halt the tank’s slow assault. However, nothing could be done and the gun was crushed under the weight of the heavy tank.

Knaust took advantage of the assault to stormtroop his panzers forward. Just as they pressed forward one of the tanks threw a track on a piece of concrete and rebar and bogged down. The remaining two tanks pushed forward nevertheless.

Arnhem Map Turn 4

Above: Game Turn 4

British Turn 4

The Royal Engineers realised that they were the last men standing on the bridge and decided to evacuate as quickly as possible. The Airborne Reconnaissance Platoon saw the engineers bug out and decided to take matters into their own hands. The men dismounted their vehicles and scrambled up the steep embankment and shot the hell out of the cheeky German observer.

By now the enemy had crested the embankment and were also coming through the underpass. The British paratroopers had a pair of mortars that, up to this point, had not had any targets to shoot at. However, now the tubes flew into action concealing the Tiger on the bridge with a bombardment of smoke shells.

The paratroopers of Number 3 Platoon rallied from the hail of gunfire they received from the troops across the street. As luck would have it, the Panzers had bogged down right in front of them for a second time!

After a strong word from their commander, they tried once again to pounce on the enemy from the building. They caught the tanks completely flat-footed and knocked out a Panzer with a PIAT anti-tank projector.

The startled Panzers tried to find their way out of the ambush and sped forward, losing the bogged down vehicles left behind. The paratroopers quickly spiked the guns of the captured tanks and retreated back into to their building.

Meanwhile, Number 2 Platoon along with A Company’s commanding officer, prepared to assault the lone Panzer III and Tiger that had stumbled into their reach. However, confusion reigned during the critical moment and the platoon failed to work up the courage to assault the weary German tanks.

The inexperienced Panzer platoon, now only counting a single tank, withdrew from the battle, leaving the company command Tiger to its own devices.

German Turn 5

The loss of the Panzers weighed heavily on the Germans as they geared up for the final assault. The company command Tiger tank moved toward the north west in order to get away from Number 2 Platoon.

The Tiger on the bridge moved up to help support the command Tiger from the embankment above. Both tanks took a shot at the enemy but failed to cause any serious damage. The tanks needed infantry support fast in order to win the objective but they would have to cut through Number 3 Platoon to get there.

British paras go after the company command Tiger tank

Knaust’s last Panzergrenadier platoon manoeuvred into position to assault the paratroopers holding out in the corner building. This time they avoided Number 1 Platoon on their left flank and hit the paratroopers from the front.

The SS troops poured on the fire. Machine-guns, mortars and artillery hammered the building. The stunned paratroopers suffered a casualty and were pinned down.

Just then Knaust’s troops stormed the building, making it through without losing anyone to defensive fire. With guns blazing and grenades exploding, the Panzergrenadiers cleared out the bottom level of the building.

The paratroopers rallied from the shock of the artillery and the assault to return the bloody favour to the Germans. The paras cut down the entire Panzergrenadier platoon with one quick and deadly blow.

Arnhem Map Turn 5

British Turn 5

Barely had the dust settled from Number 3 Platoon’s successful counter assault, then Number 2 Platoon launched its assault against Hummel’s command tank. The platoon and the company commander jumped out of the house with most of the company’s PIAT projectors in tow.

The parachute mortars bombarded the Tiger on the bridge once again to prevent it from lending any support to the company command tank. With that the paras closed in on the lonely command tank.

After a stern word from Frost to keep the attack going, Number 3 Platoon charged the Tiger tank. The platoon’s PIAT men rushed ahead trying to find a weakness in the tank’s armour.

The tank bravely held on, despite the paras’ efforts, and was able to kill a few teams as they scrambled closer. However, the paratroopers overwhelmed it, and eventually found a weakness and it was destroyed.

With the command tank lost, Kampgruppe Hummel and SS-Kampfgruppe Brinkmann would have to fall back and await reinforcements to reduce the British perimeter.

For the tenacious British paratroopers, the battle had been won, but there was still no word from 30 Corps or the rest of the 1st Airborne Division…

The Wrap Up

Well, I managed to see off Kyran’s assault. It was a bit frustrating that none of my platoons seemed all that interested in actually launching assaults against tanks, but that’s pretty normal for me. I simply cannot roll motivation checks to save my life. In retrospect, I should have moved Frost up to help with motivation, but I was too concerned about his safety to risk him getting cut off on the wrong side of the bridge.

The Paras held, but for how much longer? Certainly 30 Corps is its way, or at least the rest of the division!

Lt Col John Frost

Last Updated On Thursday, February 11, 2010 by Blake at Battlefront