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Subject: KG Peiper vs. CCB, 3rd Armored Division rss

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Carl Fung
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To show some of the counters, maps, and research that went into this game, I'll highlight everyone's favorite enemy KG Peiper. So that we don't turn this into an SS love-fest, I'll counterbalance this with showing CCB, 3rd Armored Division who, along with the 30th Infantry Division, fought ferociously against Peiper's men.


KG Peiper is represented as an eight unit formation. As much as BCS's base unit is a battalion, many of Peiper's units are shown as mini-battalions (mostly 2 or so companies)in order to show Peiper's strength and his need to spread out his forces to cover his flanks and rear.

Moving from left to right, the front side of Peiper's HQ shows two numbers: the 5 in the upper left is his command range and the 1 in the explosion graphic is the number of artillery points. The 1 here represents the towed 105mm Howitzers of the 2nd Battalion, 1st SS Artillery Regiment (II/1). What you don't see is the back of the counter which has additional information once the Peiper formation is activated, particularly his activation number which is used if the player wishes to re-activate the formation after the initial activation. Peiper's activation number is a 3, which means he has to roll a 3 or more to re-activate. This is the best number that can be assigned, representing Peiper's initiative (and some say impetuous ego). Most other formations have 4 or more activation numbers assigned.

Following the HQ, the Spitze Company (Spitzen Kompanie) was the leading element (effectively as the recon force for the KG). It consisted of the Spitze (a platoon of Pz IV along with 2x Panthers and some pioneers) followed by the reinforced 10th company of the III Bn, 2nd Panzergrenadier Regiment (III/2). The 501st Heavy Panzer Battalion (schwere Panzer Abteilung 501) had Tiger II's that acted as the 1st SS Panzer Regiment's second Panzer battalion. It technically had its full complement of tanks, but the troublesome maintenance of the Tiger's only had a number of them operational at start as the others were repaired and sent to the frontlines. The game handles this so although you see the full 4 steps (each step is roughly a dozen tanks), this unit starts with 2 and can get armor "replacements" to see if busted Tiger II's get repaired and sent forward. It's a big and nasty unit, but slow. The two mini-battalions to the right of the Tiger's are the Panther companies (1st and 2nd companies) and the Panzer IV (6th and 7th companies) consolidated into the 1st Battalion (in German 'Abteilung', 1st SS Panzer Regiment (I/1)). There were 37 Panthers and 34 Pz IV's at start in the respective units. Next is the remaining forces Panzergrenadier battalion of III/2 split up into mini-battalions. The first consists of the 9th PG company and the 12th Weapons company, the second consists of the 11th PG company and the 13th Self-Propelled Infantry Gun company. Peiper's Order of March at the start of the campaign had the companies coupled in this order (technically 11th followed by 13th, then 12th followed by 9th interspersed with other elements) which gives the reason why the company designations for these mini-battalions were selected. Peiper had with him two Pioneer (Engineer) companies: the 3rd Company of the Divisional Pioneer Battalion, and the 9th Pioneer Company which was inherent in the 1st SS Panzer Regiment. The Pioneers here are combined as a mini-battalion. Lastly, the only non-SS unit with Peiper was the Luftwaffe 84th Flak Battalion, consisting of 20mm flak guns. It was mostly relegated to the rear to secure towns already captured by Peiper.


Moving onto CCB, 3rd Armored Division, this command under Brig. Gen. Truman Boudinot was split off from the rest of the division and assigned directly to V Corps and sent south to assist 30th Infantry Division against the threat near Spa. Originally, the Combat Command consisted of two large task forces, TF Lovelady (abbreviated Love) and McGeorge (McGrg). The former was composed of the 2nd Bn, 33rd Armored Regiment, B Company, 36th Armored Infantry Regiment, and token forces like recon and engineers. The Lovelady counter shows him as a big 7 step unit, having nearly 50 Sherman tanks and a full sized Armored Infantry company. McGeorge originally consisted of 1st Battalion, 33rd Armored Regiment (1/33) and most of 2nd Battalion, 36th Armored Infantry Regiment and some engineers. On the route south before Spa, TF McGeorge split up and TF Jordan was formed around the M5 Stuart Company and F Company of Shermans of 1/33 along with a company of Armored Infantry.


The image here shows the historical routes taken by KG Peiper and CCB/3 in the main fighting area around the famous places like Stoumont, La Gleize, and Trois Ponts superimposed on the game map. The red line is the route that KG Peiper took with the dates indicating when it reached each location. The green route shows the three Task Forces of CCB from Theux south to hit Peiper in multiple places.

Sources that helped research this facet of the Battle of the Bulge, along with contributing to helping research the whole project, includes Hugh Cole's seminal The Ardennes Campaign, Jean-Paul Pallud's Ardennes 1944: Peiper and Skorzeny from Osprey's Elite Series as well as his Battle of the Bulge: Then and Now, Michael Reynold's The Devil's Adjutant : Joachim Peiper, Panzer Leader, The 3rd Armored Division's own history: Spearhead in the West, US Army Maneuver Center of Excellence's 2nd and 3rd Armored Divisions in the Ardennes Campaign, 16 December 1944 to 16 January 1945, along with the National Archives' Foreign Military Studies series such as C004 (KG Peiper), A877 and B779 (I SS Pz Corps).

I hope this gives a taste of what's to come and some of the work that was put into the game. Enjoy!
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Carl Fung
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One thing I forgot to highlight were the CCB Task Force counters. Their combat strength is represented as an arrow with a 2 which indicates they are a Dual unit. Dual means they are assault capable (via the arrow) and also have an Armor Value (AV) component, basically a self-contained combined arms unit.

The yellow coloring in the unit symbol is a variation of the armor type in OCS. Here is means that the unit is "hard" meaning it is a closed-topped with sufficient armor in its vehicles to withstand artillery barrages much better than openly deployed troops or open-topped and thin skinned vehicles.

The Task Force structures are baked into the counters as opposed to having the player create their own task forces via breakdown companies for several reasons. One is that BCS does not have nor need breakdown companies and the second is any breakdown can become unwieldy. Another reason is to remove this hassle from the player as he should be looking at the bigger picture. Players (myself included) would micromanage creating the perfect balance of a combined arm task force and reassemble them every turn. Historically each of the US Armored Divisions had their own style for mixing and matching their constituent units and the game shows this.

While task forces were customized dependent on mission, more often than not it was based on familiar cooperation with the same tank-infantry groupings or a rotation system over a period of a campaign. Some task forces were near permanent and others were more dynamic and the Dual nature of these Task Forces is demonstrated in the counter.
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Gotthard Heinrici (prev. Graf Strachwitz)
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WOW...Thanks for sharing!
So glad it is close to its pre order target. I guess it won't appear December to commemorate the start of Wacht am Rhein (wishful thinking...)
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Kev.
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Are you trying to play historically or trying to win?
 
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Carl Fung
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hipshot wrote:
Are you trying to play historically or trying to win?


Not playing, just showing.
 
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Kev.
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never mind.
 
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Lance G
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Carl,

Didn't Peiper and his men go through Malmedy on the way to Stavelot, a.k.a. The Malmedy Massacre for which Peiper and about 85? men were tried and sentenced for?

Also, there's mention of blowing bridges in the game. Would this be akin to the US Engineers running out front racing to blow the bridges? Historically at Three Bridges (Trois Ponts), right in front of Peiper and forcing him North to La Gleize?


 
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Marty Sample
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The Massacre took place at the Baugnez Crossroads, south of Malmedy by several hexes. Piepers forces never entered Malmedy proper. Later in the battle Skorzenys brigade, now employed as regular ground troops attacked IIRC.
 
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Carl Fung
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4x scalper wrote:
Carl,

Didn't Peiper and his men go through Malmedy on the way to Stavelot, a.k.a. The Malmedy Massacre for which Peiper and about 85? men were tried and sentenced for?


Marty answered this. See my route map and Peiper's route (dark red at the top). KG Peiper's route skirts just south of Malmedy at the crossroads (noted on the game map). History just conveniently termed it the "Malmedy Massacre".



4x scalper wrote:

Also, there's mention of blowing bridges in the game. Would this be akin to the US Engineers running out front racing to blow the bridges? Historically at Three Bridges (Trois Ponts), right in front of Peiper and forcing him North to La Gleize?


A caveat here. Most bridges primed to blow were where US Engineers defended. There was a lot of hesitation to prematurely blow bridges given the fog of war of not knowing where the Germans were heading and also blocking reinforcements and supply from moving forward. So bridges such as Trois Ponts, Stavelot, and Wiltz among others, were only blown as the Germans approached.
 
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Lance G
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Thanks guys,

I'm really looking forward to this one. The Battle of the Bulge is much larger in scope than most folks realize IMO. Peiper's run was early in the Bulge drama with many other battles and manouvers that could have played out differently.

So I'm sure we'll have ample opportunity to try things differently.
 
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Marty Sample
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calvinboy24 wrote:
4x scalper wrote:
Carl,

Didn't Peiper and his men go through Malmedy on the way to Stavelot, a.k.a. The Malmedy Massacre for which Peiper and about 85? men were tried and sentenced for?


Marty answered this. See my route map and Peiper's route (dark red at the top). KG Peiper's route skirts just south of Malmedy at the crossroads (noted on the game map). History just conveniently termed it the "Malmedy Massacre".



4x scalper wrote:

Also, there's mention of blowing bridges in the game. Would this be akin to the US Engineers running out front racing to blow the bridges? Historically at Three Bridges (Trois Ponts), right in front of Peiper and forcing him North to La Gleize?


A caveat here. Most bridges primed to blow were where US Engineers defended. There was a lot of hesitation to prematurely blow bridges given the fog of war of not knowing where the Germans were heading and also blocking reinforcements and supply from moving forward. So bridges such as Trois Ponts, Stavelot, and Wiltz among others, were only blown as the Germans approached.


I can't tell from the map, it might be below the game scale, but Peiper also had a small bridge over Lienne Creek blown in front of his advance. This was SW of Cheneux and basically was the final nail in the coffin that got him bottled up and prevented further advance to the west.

http://www.ss501panzer.com/peiper_trail_part_3.htm
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Lance G
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Marty,
Nice link on the Trail of Battlegroup Peiper, Thanks! I'll definitely look into that more.



 
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Carl Fung
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Marty S wrote:

I can't tell from the map, it might be below the game scale, but Peiper also had a small bridge over Lienne Creek blown in front of his advance. This was SW of Cheneux and basically was the final nail in the coffin that got him bottled up and prevented further advance to the west.

http://www.ss501panzer.com/peiper_trail_part_3.htm


The "bridge" over the Lienne is there (basically a track over the stream) in location C6.20. The game doesn't have this bridge with the plunger icon (indicating that it could be blown) mostly due to design and intent. Earlier designs had allowed for every bridge crossing to be possibly blown. This led to several dilemmas: the Allied player was rolling for every single bridge, whether it be a major bridge over a major river or a small wood bridge over a thin stream. It slowed down play and didn't work out historically. iterations of limiting the Allied player to blow X number of bridges led to gaminess and the Allies debating over every bridge to blow. In the end, the bridge crossings that were deemed critical that were blown or could have been blown were flagged with the plunger icon. To this end, the Lienne bridge (between the Hamlets of Rahier and Chevron) didn't get the plunger icon whereas the bridges by Lorce (which was blown) and east of that over the Ambleve do get the plunger.

Note that at this time, the 82nd Airborne is in the Werbomont area in force (and helps in the defense at Cheneux) to effectively block Peiper's advance. Also, if I remember right, it was a fairly small detachment from KG Peiper that made it past Cheneux toward the Lienne bridge, not a battalion sized unit which is the core unit scale for Last Blitzkrieg.

Hope this helps.
 
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Marty Sample
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calvinboy24 wrote:
[q="Marty S"]
Also, if I remember right, it was a fairly small detachment from KG Peiper that made it past Cheneux toward the Lienne bridge, not a battalion sized unit which is the core unit scale for Last Blitzkrieg.

Hope this helps.


That was my recollection as well; it was a small recon force, not a big battle group. And the crossing was not that wide; but by blowing the bridge, at a minimum nothing wheeled was getting through. And without wheels, you got no supply which effectively stops you.

Many of the Ardennes water crossings I saw when I visited weren't that imposing, width or height wise. But they either had enough of an embankment to prevent fording, and/or had a steep approach that prevented alternate bridging sites nearby. This was especially noticeable in the Our River valley. You can see why th Americans defended back on Skyline Drive given their limited strength. Even after the Germans crossed, their mech units were effectively funneled up the roads coming up out of the valley, kind of like escarpment roads in the desert.

The one exception was the Muese in the Dinant area - there are some pretty tall cliffs, esp on the eastern bank.
 
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Lance G
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Yes, that helps alot.

Good to hear that Dean elected not to allow all bridges be blown. To me the beauty, overall, is IMO his quest to create games eliminating players ability to game the system.
 
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Carl Fung
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Marty S wrote:

That was my recollection as well; it was a small recon force, not a big battle group. And the crossing was not that wide; but by blowing the bridge, at a minimum nothing wheeled was getting through. And without wheels, you got no supply which effectively stops you.

Many of the Ardennes water crossings I saw when I visited weren't that imposing, width or height wise. But they either had enough of an embankment to prevent fording, and/or had a steep approach that prevented alternate bridging sites nearby. This was especially noticeable in the Our River valley. You can see why th Americans defended back on Skyline Drive given their limited strength. Even after the Germans crossed, their mech units were effectively funneled up the roads coming up out of the valley, kind of like escarpment roads in the desert.

The one exception was the Muese in the Dinant area - there are some pretty tall cliffs, esp on the eastern bank.


That's great insight, Marty. I'll definitely need to visit the region to get a first hand feel even though I know urbanization has changed many of the roads and towns.

One thing regarding the bridges over the Meuse that I'm selfishly proud of is that I determined if the bridges were there by December 1944. I make note of this in the historical notes in the game. During the German retreat through the area in September, they destroyed several bridges over the Meuse to slow down the pursuing Americans. The bridges at Yvoir, Godinne, and Nameche were all blown and only replaced after the war. The bridge at Hastiere was also blown in September but was replaced by steel treadway bridge. The contemporary maps of the time will show these bridges as still up and hence more possible crossing points to defend whereas the Germans would have been more funneled (and they knew which bridges were down since they did it) to the existing bridges like Namur and Dinant.

Likewise, there are two road overpass bridges close to the German border that were blown in September 1944. These were at Losheim and Bucholz and are represented on the map. The blown overpass at Losheim and the attempt to bridge it to connect the 6th Army's supply line west was a major cause for Peiper's delay. He bypassed the bridge by weaving his column down into the shallow valley and back up the the otherside. To tactical units, this is no big deal but more importantly to the main supply route transports, they can't cross over unpaved roads.
 
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Marty Sample
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calvinboy24 wrote:
[q="Marty S"]


That's great insight, Marty. I'll definitely need to visit the region to get a first hand feel even though I know urbanization has changed many of the roads and towns.



Actually, a lot of the area has not seen as much urbanization as you'd think. St Vith and Bastogne, sure. And the Luxembourg city areas. But a lot of the surrounding countryside has not, especially in the northeastern part of the battlefield . There are a couple autobahns . We took the Pallud Then and Now book and were easily able to find the various picture sites. Some houses still show visible lines where walls were damaged then rebuilt. IIRC Mark Simonitch said the population has not increased substantially in the region. The Peiper route, if you were to remove the modern automobiles, is not vastly different than it was back then. Hell it took us the better part of an entire day to recreate the march route and nobody was shooting at us. As you progress farther west and get onto the plateau in the Namur/Dinant area it starts to seem a bit more modern.

Normandy is much the same way, along the coast. Many of the beach areas are still not that heavily built up, whereas if you were the US, the shoreline would be packed with houses shoulder to shoulder .
 
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Carl Fung
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Marty S wrote:

IIRC Mark Simonitch said the population has not increased substantially in the region.


Yeah, I did a comparison for locations that had population data between 1940 and 1962 to present and these small towns and hamlets really didn't increase in size (ranging from a few dozen to only a several hundred).
 
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Marty S wrote:


Interesting site. Too bad half of the links are down.

Between you and Carl though, you guys have much more information than I could digest in many years of time.

Thank you for your continuous input and all that you do to make these board games a better experience.

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