Battle of the Bulge: Volks-Grenadiers

I highly recommend Douglas E Nash's Victory Was Beyond Their Grasp for anyone seeking
information on the Volks-Grenadiers. The subject is the 272nd Volks-grenadier Division which fought in the Battle of Hürtguen Forest and concentrates on Füsilier Company 272, the division's reconnaissance company.

The Volks-Grenadier divisions were Germany's answer to an ever decreasing pool of manpower by trading troops for firepower. The success of these divisions depended on the experience of the founding cadre and time available to train green, or in the case of drafted Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine personnel, reluctant recruits.

Chapter 2 of this book discusses how the Volks-Grenadier divisions came into being, the politics behind them, and has a wealth of organizational information. So far, this chapter contains the most comprehensive coverage in the English language I can find on the Volks-Grenadiers and I will share some interesting facts from the book below.

For anyone interested i…

Roughnecks of Sherwood Forest

When sending me a game turn a friend made me aware of a little known fact of WW2 history.

I had no idea that there was oil production in the U.K. during WW2. By late 1942 Britain needed around 150,000 barrels of oil daily and oil supply routes were under threat by U-boats and the Luftwaffe. While seeking solutions to the oil shortage Britain's Oil Control Board was surprised to discover that England had it's own productive oil field, in Sherwood Forest, no less.

The English oil field only produced 300 barrels a day so American help was requested to expand production. The outcome was a team of 42 volunteers, drillers and roughnecks from Texas and Oklahoma embarking for England in early 1943. All made it to England safely but of the four National 50 drilling rigs sent, one was lost to U-boat attack.

Production at the oilfield soon surpassed all expectations.

Here is a good overview from the American Oil and Gas Historical Society.  In that article there is to another article on…

S&T Magazine Library

Recently, I've been diving into the back issues of Strategy and Tactics (S&T) Magazine looking for the "comparative quantified units" features. More on the CQ's later but over at Strategy and Tactics Press I highly recommend the S&T Premium Membership.

The benefit of this membership is access to the extensive magazine back catalog. For those unfamiliar with S&T Magazine, it ranks up there with Avalon Hill as one of the hobby's vanguards.

S&T started as a fanzine discussing AH games and offering mods but evolved into a military history magazine accompanied by a folio game.

A good history of AH, S&T and the board game hobby can be found in Greg Costikyan's article A Farewell to Hexes (SPI Died for your Sins). This highly recommended article also discusses issues faced by the game publishing industry.

The back issues contain a wealth of information and I strongly agree with the following quote from Costikyan (who incidentally, was no fan of …

Strategy and Tactics Standard Unit Factors

I'm interested in how game designers come up unit factors. The counters from the earliest board games usually had two factors, combat and movement.  
During the research process at Strategy & Tactics, Standard Unit Factors (SUF) were compiled to quantify a unit's combat power and allow comparisons between other types of units.  Eventually, S&T changed the designation to Comparative Quantified Units (CQ's). The CQs served as unit templates across many games. The SUF chart below from a magazine on the war in North Africa (S&T 21).

More after the jump.

Strategy and Tactics Magazine Variant for Avalon Hill's Battle of the Bulge Game

Screenshot from Strategy & Tactics' first magazine. The table below is from a variant of Avalon Hill's Battle of the Bulge game.  Even at the dawn of the hobby, folks were modding and striving for greater realism.

Of interest to this current series of posts are the factors given to the units:

Each unit is the division (e.g. 106th Infantry Division).The unit is divided by regiments (i.e. the playing pieces). Each playing piece is assigned a combat and movement factor (e.g. 293 VG Regiment 3-3). The 18th VG Division's three regiments are rated  3-3 (3 combat / 3 movement factors). The 62nd VG Division's three regiments are rated  3-3. The Führerbegleitbrigade or Fuh. Es. Brigade rated 12-5.
The 106th Infantry Division three regiments are rated  5-4. The 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment rated 6-6.

My guess is that the ill fated 442 and 443 Infantry Regiments have higher combat factors than the VG regiments that decimated them is due to difference in artillery support avai…

Battle of the Bulge: OOBs for the Battle of the Bulge

Below are copies from two of George Nafziger's OOBs which I will reference in the upcoming update of the Bulge scenario series over at the Castalia House blog.

The German OOB can be found under file  # 944GLAA and the American under 944ULAA:

German LXVI Corps

Notes from the original:
2 - The 18th VG Division was formed during 9/44 in Denmark from the cadre of a Luftwaffe field division and drafts from the Luftwaffe and Navy. At full strength and two months experience on the defensive in the Eifel.
3 - Numbers date from 12/1/44 and are "ist starke" (total), "Gefecht stärke" (action), and "Kampfstärke" (battle strength).
4 - 62nd VG Division rebuilt after being destroyed in Russia. Heavily composed of Polish and Czech conscripts who spoke no German.

And a couple of additional notes at the end of the document:

Jung provides a statement at the bottom of his return for 12/1/44 that indicates the "Ist staäke" (total strength) of a Type 44 infantry…

Finding Aid for Nafziger's OOBs

Today I'm researching OOBs for this Wednesday's Battle of the Bulge post and found a useful tool for those referencing George Nafziger's extensive collection of OOB files.

More information and an interview I conducted with Nafziger can be found over at the Castalia House blog. In that post you can find an alternate hosting site for the OOB files which is usually easier to access than the Army hosted server. At the alternate hosting site link you can also find Nafziger's explanation on why he made his OOBs publicly available.

Link here to the Army's Combined Arms Research page with follow on links to the OOBs and the Finding Aid.

By the way, George Nafziger is still translating, producing and selling military history books here.