Version: 1.00 (March 2008)
Engine: Battles in Italy
AI or PBEM: AI Included
Download: Fall Gelb
On 24th March, 1940 the German High Command issued the order for the employment of Fall Gelb (Aufmarschanweisung N°4, Fall Gelb): the battle to capture the Low Countries of the Netherlands and Belgium. The plan was to take place in early May.
But the plan had a chequered and at times controversial evoloution. As early as 1939 Hitler wanted to engage the Anglo-French alliance in a war in the west. General Franz Halder, the Chief of the German General Staff, presented to Hitler Aufmarschanweisung N°1 in October the same year, a simple ‘infantryman’s’ attack through central Belgium. The terrain in Belgium was certainly conducive to an armoured advance but as the plan was both obvious and unimaginative, qualities that did not inspire Hitler at all. This and the German leader’s experiences of trench warfare in WWI ensured the plan was sent back for revision.
Over the next six months the Fall Gelb (Case Yellow) plan underwent several transormations until it finally settled on a version first concieved by General Heinz Guderian through his then superiir General Erich von Manstein. This concept placed the main concentration of armour (schwerpunkt) in the Ardennes. Army group B would conduct a holding attack against the main Allied force in Beglium whilst the mobile forces would conduct a deep strike behind the main enemy force. Though this plan would leave a 400km open flank to both the north and south of the schwerpunkt, it was believed that by maintaining mobility and concentration the German forces would bring about a rapid strategic collapse of the Anglo-French forces such had been experinced in Poland the previuos Spetember. Of course if the Allies failed to advance into Belgium to confront Army Group B catastrophe could befall the entire operation. Never the less this was the kind of risky plan that fired Hitler’s imagination and against the better judgement of many of the German General Staff the final plans for Fall Gelb were laid.
Early on May 10 1940, airborne elements of the the 1st and 2nd Fallschrimjager regiments were dropped into western Holland around the Hague - their mission was to capture several bridges to assist the advance of the 9th Panzer division toward Rotterdam and The Hague. This airborne operation was eventually successful though at several times faced complete failure as the Dutch defenders conducted strong and successful counterattacks. Elsewhere an airborne glider force, the first time used n modern warfare, landed elements of the 1st FJ Regiment on top of Fort Eben Emael in Belgium. Their mission was to capture the ‘indestructable’ fort guarding the Meuse River south of Maastricht, thus allowing the German Army Group A access onto the Belgium plain. This airborne operation, unlike its peer in Holland, was completely successful and thus the legend of the Fallschirmjager went down in history.
Whilst the mostly infantry German armies advanced into Holland and Belgium, the Allied High Command follwed the script without flinching. By the afternnoon of the 19th of May elements of 3 French and 1 British army were moving to confront the Germans along the Dyle Line; the defensive line built along the Dyle River to protect Brussels from an attack. The Dyle Line once manned would complete the formidable defensive line that ran along the Meuse River from Dinant down through Sedan and thence onto the impregnable Maginot Line.
It was unfortunate for the Allied forces that the weakest link in their defence was in the southern reaches of the Meuse around Sedan. It was thought that the Ardennes Forest would be unlikely to form the main area of attack simply because it was thought to be not conducive for tank movement; any attack though this area would take so long for the Germans to build up the necessary forces to cross the river there would be ample time to deploy strong counter attack forces. This was to prove a fatal miscalculation.
Late on the afternoon of May 12th the first German forces (1st, 2nd and 10th Panzer Divisions) reached the Meuse in the area of Sedan; this was fully 3 days earlier than was expected by the Allied forces. Further to the north the other two armoured corps of the Kleist Battle Group also enjoined battle along the Meuse. Within 24 hours all 3 armoured corps had captured by coup de mains assault, critical bridges across the river. The schwerpunkt of the German assault then crossed the largest natural barrier between them and the English Channel and thus continued the blitzkrieg legend forged in Poland.
The main Allied Forces, now entrenched and engaged in central Belgium, weer not in a position to counter this thrust. Cut off from their supply bases in south west France, the trapped armies began their slow and difficult retreat under fire toward the ports of Calais and Dunkirk. This retreat would not end for the British Expeditionery Force until Dover...
Fall Gelb: The battle for the Low Countries is a 24 turn scenario for Italy that simulates the capture of Holland, the attack into Belgium and the blitzkrieg assault of the panzer divisions to the English Channel. The game begins on May 10 and continues until the historical time that the Allies completed the evacuation of the BEF at Dunkirk. Although the scenario is weighted to give the Germans an advantage, the outcome is by no means concrete.
The German Player will find they have a decisive edge in combat in the early turns. The trick is to be able to use that decisive edge to gain ascendancy over your opponent and keep them there during the game. You have at your disposal a large arsenal of armour and infantry divisions but will find you need to deploy them in a manner that allows your armour to thrust for the channel. The German General Staff were correct in being wary of a large open flank; it is this flank that the enemy will attempt to infiltrate.
As Allied Player you will quickly discover that there is quite a disparity in the quality of your forces. In addition many of your units begin the game in a state of ‘shock’ whereby the Germans will overrun many frontline positions. Of course you have historical hindsight in that you may know where the German assault is ‘likely’ to develop but it is the heartland of French Industry in the north west of the country that is to be protected. Do you move to the Dyle Line and defend as historically, allowing the possible fatal development of a pocket? Or do you keep your forces to the south, countering the armoured thrust for the channel but allowing the vast quantity of German Infantry into Belgium through Antwerp and Brussels... The choice is yours.
Changes from SSG design::
Nation Surrender: In Fall Gelb there are several objectives that have a white flag as their icon. This icon signifies that if the objective location (or group of objectives in the case of Belgium) is captured and held by enemy forces, the nation that it is located in will surrender. Thus the Netherlands will surrender if the location in Rotterdam is captured, and Belgium will surrender if the three locations at Antwerp, Brussels and Brugge are captured.
When a side surrenders the entire order of battle for that country will be removed from the map in the following turn (if not recaptured). The value of the units will be awarded to the enemy (ie. Germany).
Note: Although a nation may be considered ‘captured’, the physical territory that was under allied control upon its surrender will remain under Allied control until an opposing side physically captures it. Thus the Allies may continue to gain victory points from a location (ie. Amsterdam) until such time as a German unit occupies it (captures it).
Dyle Line: Allied doctrine in 1940 demanded that Belgium must be defended from attack by Germany. This was only thought to be possible by ‘extending’ the existing fortified Maginot Line/Meuse River to the northwest toward Antwerp. The line chosen was for the most part along the Dyle River. The fortifications along this line were far from complete on May10 but still provide defensive benefits for units behind it. This line is represented on the map by icons displaying the nationality and army positioned along it historically. These icons can assist a player to position his/her forces. They are viewable only by the Allied player and will disappear when enemy forces close on them.
Note: These icons are cosmetic only and do not require an Allied player to entrench on them. However, you will note that there are several VL locations of value along the line to encourage an Allied Player to operate historically.
Overall Scenario Tactics:
This scenario takes place a very large map size and has many many units. It may appear in the early turns that there are too many units on the map (German) or that there is little to do (Allied). Rest assured that both of these situations will be void within a short time.
As German player the most important method of gaining VL points will be the destruction of enemy forces. The easiest of these will be the Dutch and Belgium forces who are sadly lacking in anti tank capability. The toughest units will be the British and many of the French units. The best way to destroy the latter is to cut them off from their supply base, thus creating a huge unsupplied pocket in western Belgium. To do this you will need to create a battle plan similar to the historical plan. ie. an armoured strike from the southern Meuse across France to the Channel. Remember though, by doing so you will be offering the enemy a vast open flank by which he may cut off your tanks from their own source of supply. Remember to keep your infantry divisions moving behind the tank spearheads so you have good flank defence if the unthinkable happens.
On turn 4 and 5 you will have the use of very powerful airstrikes to accompany your normal combat. This is representative of a never before accomplished concentration of Luftwaffe ground attack forces that were made available to assist the tank spearheads breach the Meuse. When used in assistance of normal combat, you will find these airstrikes will assist in overcoming all defenders in a hex and inflict near maximum casualties. Use these strikes wisely.
The German player has a near overwhelming superiority in air power which means you will be supplied with regular air interdictions for the period of the scenario. Again, use them wisely to protect vital areas of engagement such as your Meuse bridgeheads and to block enemy reinforcements from ruining your best laid plans.
As Allied player you will find in the first couple of turns that the German is near unstoppable. Do not panic and therefore you will avoid the catastrophic historical mistakes made by the Allied High Command. The Dyle Line, whilst not impregnable like much of the Maginot Line, is still a good defensive position to hold and gain valuable VL’s. Be prepared to be pushed back from this line but attempt to do so at your own pace and not the enemy.
Expect the German to launch across the river in the Ardennes relatively easily. Be prepared to fall back and counter attack if necessary. One of the errors made by the Allied High Command was to commit many of the best armoured formations in ‘penny packet’ attacks against the German forces. Try to harbour some of these forces into decent counter attack forces and pick off the Germans where they are weakest.
Remember, your most valuable Victory Locations are unfortunately in the area of northwest France, which means to protect them adequately you are forced to form a defensive pocket expanding out from the Calais/Dunkirk area. These ports can provide base supply for your forces should you be cut off and in addition will allow most unit to depart to sea if required. This may be a last ditch possibility if all hope is lost!
Download the self extracting EXE from the link above. Double click on the Fall Gelb.exe and then follow the installation prompts. This will install all files into a \scenarios\Fall Gelb folder within your main Battles in Italy Folder. The games may then be selected by choosing 2 Player Game for head to head with another player, or one of the games against an AI opponent from the sub folders in the main directory. Good luck and have fun!
Note: The installer assumes your game installation to be in the default Matrix folder. If this is not so you will need to guide the installer to the location you wish to install to. You may manually install the files if you wish by ensuring they are located within a folder named Fall Gelb in your Italy scenario folder. If you require assistance with the installation, have a question about the scenario or just wish to make a comment, please feel free to contact me at the SSG forums.