Session 2 – Eindhoven Sector, 101st Airborne Division
Quick re-cap from last session – the characters jump out of a perfectly bad airplane several miles south of their landing zone. They re-group and head north to their primary objective: the capture of Best Bridge. So far, they seem to have succeeded; however, Pfc. Smith, the machine gunner, and M/Sgt. Franklin, the sniper, are critical from stress and wounds, respectively.
Day 1 – 17 September 1944 – 1554 hrs.
When we left off last session, the boys had just captured Best Bridge and Both M/Sgt. Franklin, the sniper, and Pfc. Smith, the machine gunner, were critical – Franklin from wounds and smith from stress. Cpl. Amherst, the commando (also Franklin’s spotter), was a little worse for the wear; but, otherwise fine.
I like to have my players recover 1-stress or 1-wound at the beginning of each session, gratis. That’s not a rule; but, I think it’s a good thing to do. It gives them some breathing room. In the Regiment, the health bars for wounds and stress are split in half. Health boxes on the left represent superficial trauma while boxes on the right represent serious trauma. When you “recover,” you eliminate superficial trauma – by erasing one wound/stress from the boxes on the left. When you “heal,” you can eliminate either superficial or serious trauma – by erasing any one wound/stress box (i.e. from the left or right side). Whenever you mark a box on the right, you’re critical, which means that pushing yourself is generally required to take any significant action – GM decides when that is.
Licking Their Wounds
Franklin spends his advance to get the medic move and asks if he can treat his own wounds and his critical condition. I tell him that he can’t do it by himself; but, he can talk Amherst through it. They clear out some space in the blockhouse and Frankiln walks Amherst through the bandaging process. Since Franklin is the one who will ultimately make the move, I have Amherst make the helping move. He hits on a 10+! I tell Franklin to go ahead and make the medic move; but, I tell him he doesn’t get the +1 forward from Amherst’s help – I tell him that without Amherst’s successful move, he wouldn’t get to make his at all. He gets the 7-9 result and clears the critical condition.
Meanwhile, on the south side of the canal, Pfc. Smith and Pvt. Jacobs, the loader, are having a smoke. Smith and Jacobs had endured harrowing fire from the enemy HMG in the farmhouse to the north. I tell Smith that he can make the blow of some steam move for both himself and for Jacobs if he spends an extra 1-smoke. Basically, if he shares his pack of cigarettes with Jacobs, they can both relax a little. Smith does and he succeeds at blowing off steam. Smith heals some stress and I tell him that both he and Jacobs clear their critical conditions. The move blow off some steam doesn’t allow the player to clear a condition, which means it’s not a way for the player to clear their own conditions; however, as a GM, it is my job to clear conditions when the fictional circumstances that caused the condition are no longer present, applicable, or relevant. That get’s Smith and Jacobs back into the fight. They hustle across the bridge and link up with Franklin and Amherst.
Help is on the Way!
6 of the original 8 soldiers in their stick are still alive – the aforementioned plus Adams, the BAR gunner, and Turner, the soldier we last saw cutting through a rat’s nest of wires leading to a control panel in the blockhouse. Since the enemy fire has died down in their sector and some time has clearly passed, I take the opportunity to send some reinforcements their way. I decided it made sense in the context of the larger battle and it would also further my narrative agenda.
A rifle squad, lead by platoon leader S/Sgt. “Papa Bear” Jones, augmented with an engineering team approaches the bridge along the defiladed south side of the northern levee embankment. Long story short, I introduce Papa Bear and make him seem human by describing him, enmeshing them in their affairs, taking over leadership of their squad, and I give them a chance to bond with him.
Charging into the Teeth of the Enemy
Papa Bear orders a recon to the immediate west of the blockhouse position. As the road and levee-canal divide the terrain into quadrants, the NW quadrant has not yet been scouted by friendly troops. Sgt. Barnes and some of the fresh NPCs are tasked while M/Sgt. Franklin and Cpl. Amherst, the scout-sniper duo, volunteer. Pfc. Smith and Pvt. Jacobs get the captured machinegun in the blockhouse back into action.
Franklin and Amherst take the lead on the recon engagement move, Amherst’s on point – 10+! The sniper team sneaks down the north face of the levee through the brush to a position immediately south of the pond. They discover a Flak gun concealed in a thicket just to the north of the pond at close range. Franklin studies his targets and Amherst calls the shots. The +1 ongoing from doping the scope counteracts the -1 ongoing from Franklin using his battle rifle at close range. I ask Franklin who’s first. He replies, “Whoever looks the most important.” I interpret that to mean the leader. I tell him, the gun is pointed at the crossroads, which is not exactly in your direction; but, it’s close. There’s a Luftwaffe NCO with a submachine gun crouching in front of the gun, keeping a lookout. The gun is partially concealed in the brush in what appears to be a sandbagged position. Franklin takes the shot. Dead. He follows up with “the next most important-looking enemy” – again, I interpret that as highest rank and a corporal bites the dust. I maliciously leave the gunner to his work.
At this point, the gun crew is taking action: I tell them that the barrel of the 3.7 cm Flak gun has traversed to their azimuth and the gunner is dropping the elevation for the kill. Now, this is an ugly position for them. The Flak gun is an auto-cannon that hurls 1.5 pound, high-explosive fragmentary shells at Mach 2.5. A direct hit is obliteration. I ask them what they do. Amherst decides to press the attack and considers is options: attack the enemy, make a close assault, or suppress the enemy. Only make a close assault has the desired effect: which is to get the gun crew to surrender before blasting them to bits. Amherst has the commando move cold operator, so he never has to push himself to commit up close and personal acts of violence.
So Amherst, SMG a-blazing, charges the Flak gun as the barrel levels with him. He rolls a 7-9… I walk through each of the options: “they won’t fall back because there’s nothing but a hundred yards of open ground behind them and if they run for it, they’ll surely die; they can’t barricade themselves in because there’s nothing solid between you and them; so that just leaves trade harm for harm.” Amherst: shit. Back to Franklin – he takes one more shot while Amherst charges the enemy. This time he chooses the gunner! The gun will fire, because it’s been decided by Amherst’s move and there are still plenty of crew left to do it. Franklin’s move decided that the gunner is killed, so I decide that that merits lessening the blow: instead of concentrated fire, Amherst takes 4-harm direct and instead of direct fire, Franklin takes 4-harm incidental. Amherst spends 1-gear for spray and mows the rest of the gun crew down, as the shells explode around him.
Amherst goes critical from wounds. I finally remember to tell someone to make the when you see someone close to you go down in battle move! Franklin hits on a 10+, meaning he either has to rush to help Amherst or take 2-stress. Franklin chooses to help and makes the medic move, also with a 10+, and chooses to both clear Amherst’s condition and to recover 1-wound.
Fast-forwarding a bit, Franklin and Amherst turn the Flak gun around on the farmhouse and barn, which are still occupied by the enemy; Smith provides suppressive fire from the blockhouse. The farm and barn are both completely destroyed; but, not before the enemy sniper takes a crack at Amherst. Back at the bridge, the engineers have safed the explosives and Turner gets an atta boy from Papa Bear and the rest of the squad for cutting the cables that would have allowed the enemy to blow the bridge. Franklin and Amherst report back to battalion HQ with Papa Bear and are tasked to track down that sniper. Papa Bear requisitions a heavy machinegun for Smith (who spent 1-supply to make the heavy weapons move). Smith and Jacobs dig in while Franklin and Amherst search for the sniper.
Hunting the Hunter
With the farmhouse threat neutralized, the battalion begins to consolidate their position. Franklin and Amherst take cover in brush on the east side of the Eindhoven-St. Oedenrode highway, just north of the farmhouse. Amherst sets up his spotter scope and begins to search for telltale signs of the enemy sniper. He hits on a 10+ for assess the situation: three questions. The obvious question would be “where is he?” The thing is you have to have a way of knowing the answer to the question. The enemy’s whereabouts are unknown, so Amherst needs to ask questions he can answer.
First, Amherst asks if he can see any disturbances in the grass where the sniper might have passed. I answer yes and draw a couple of lines on the map to show the visible disturbances. They indicate that the sniper may have been heading northwest. Next, Amherst asks if the sniper would be able to link up with friendly units if he continued in that direction. Yes indeed. Based on the path the sniper appears to have been taken and what Amherst knows about the general tactical situation, it’s a reasonable to assume that sniper could link up with friendlies if he and Franklin don’t intervene. Amherst struggled with what to ask for the third question, so I suggested that he ask where he would go if he were in the enemy’s shoes. Since that is something that Amherst can answer, whether or not it’s actually enemy’s position, it’s a legit question. So he asks and I tell him where he thinks the sniper would be.
Based on what they know, they decide to follow their hunch and they make the patrol engagement move. They hit with a 10+, ambush! So, by virtue of the successful engagement move, their hunch was right. I tell them that they get their scopes trained on the treeline where they expect the sniper to be and, sure enough, they spot him crawling across the field toward safety. Franklin lines up the kill shot and hits with a 10+ on one shot one kill. Franklin puts a bullet into the sniper’s head at 200 yards and then he and Amherst slink out of sight and return to the bridge. Meanwhile, Smith, Jacobs, and Sgt. Barnes’ team have dug in their HMG, pointing it west toward the expected enemy counterattack.
That’s where we left it.
Now that the squad has linked up with their battalion and they’ve had a chance to recount their story to the battalion commander, it’s time to honor their service.
If you’re like me and you’ve never served, then figuring out what decorations to award and when, is confusing. My approach is to read up on the decorations themselves (Wikipedia actually has pretty lucid descriptions) and then I search the Internet for citations for the awards. At www.militarytimes.com, you can find numerous citations for a number of different kinds of decorations, including the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, and Bronze Star. Each citation tells the story of the service man or woman who earned it. In addition to gaining an appreciation for their service and sacrifice, you can better understand both what it takes to earn one of these decorations and how to write it up, which I highly recommend you do.
M/Sgt. Franklin and Cpl. Amherst are awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in combat with an armed enemy of the United States near Best, Netherlands on 17 September 1944.
My rule of thumb for the Purple Heart is award it when a character goes critical from wounds (one or more times) during a given session.
Combat Infantryman Badge
The 101st Airborne Division takes great pride in awarding Private First Class Smith, United States Army the Combat Infantryman Badge for professional, soldierly conduct near Best, Netherlands on 17 September 1944. While under heavy fire from an enemy machinegun, Pfc. Smith maintained steady, suppressive counter-fire, which allowed his squad to maneuver into position to eliminate the enemy machinegun. Pfc. Smith captured the enemy machinegun position and provided covering fire for his squad, again under heavy machinegun fire, while they maneuvered to capture the bridge, the battalion objective.
Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” to Master Sergeant Franklin, United States Army, 101st Airborne Division for valorous and meritorious actions while engaged in direct combat operations in support of Operation Market Garden. On 17 September 1944, near Best, Netherlands, M/Sgt. Franklin, after sustaining serious injury in the capture of Best Bridge, volunteered for a patrol in which he encountered an enemy anti-aircraft gun at point blank range. M/Sgt. Franklin engaged the enemy gun crew with effective, aimed fires from his rifle. M/Sgt. Franklin held firm in the face of fire from the enemy gun and rushed to the aid of an injured soldier, applying first aid to treat the soldier’s injuries. M/Sgt. then brought the captured gun into action against the enemy, destroying occupied enemy positions.
Distinguished Service Cross
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Corporal Amherst for gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a spotter in the 502nd PIR, 101st Airborne Division. While advancing on the battalion objective, the bridge near Best, Netherlands, Cpl. Amherst charged an enemy machinegun nest while under fire, destroying it with hand grenades. Cpl. Amherst then took charge of his squad after his sergeant was wounded in action, then he ran across the bridge under withering fire to silence a second machinegun position concealed in a blockhouse, taking several prisoners. Once the enemy position was secured, Cpl. Amherst ran back across the bridge to retrieve his wounded sergeant and carried him across the bridge, in full view of the enemy, to the captured blockhouse, where he provided medical treatment. Cpl. Amherst then volunteered for a patrol in which he encountered an enemy anti-aircraft gun at point blank range. Cpl. Amherst charged the enemy gun crew with his submachine gun while under heavy fire from the enemy, killing the enemy gun crew. Cpl. Amherst was seriously wounded in action; but, despite these wounds, he serviced the captured anti-aircraft gun, which was used to destroy occupied enemy positions.
Really enjoying reading these, Paul. Thanks for breaking it down. Cheers!
Thanks Matthew! The write-up for session 3 is in the works and, in this episode, the pendulum swings the other way…