Wargame Wednesday: Hürtgen Forest

Wednesday , 16, January 2019 Leave a comment

Last week I was asked if I knew any Battle of Hürtgen Forest simulations. Short answer is I never played,  but know that a few board games were produced. For computer simulations, I am unaware of any unless someone developed a scenario or mod within a game engine.

For those unfamiliar with this costly and probably futile waste of life this Infogalactic link is good.  Think of the Hürtgen of the northernmost extension of the Ardennes, the same wooded, hilly and hard to transverse terrain that favors the defender.  Instead of overwhelming an overstretched front line as the Germans did just to the south in the Bulge, the Americans kept committing troops against strong defenses.  The only strategic sense I can make of it was Allied acceptance of a costly battle of attrition.

Here are a few Hürtgen based board games found on Boardgamegeek:

SPI’s Hürtgen Forest Approach to the Roer, November 1944 (published 1976).  Battalion / Regiment level simulation.

Critical Hit’s Hürtgen Surprise (2008).  Squad level combat. I’m interested in seeing how the game system handles concealment and strongly fortified positions.

Decision Games’ Hürtgen: Hell’s Forest (2012).  Battalion / Regiment level.  Link to a 11 minute video with an overview of a small scenario.

Critical Hit’s game module (from Advanced Tobruk) ATS Historical Module: Huertgen Hell (2014).

A good rule of thumb, just like “don’t advance on Moscow” is “only bad things can happen in the German forests”.

I can recommend Douglas Nash’s Victory Was Beyond Their Grasp: With the 272nd Volks-Grenadier Division from the Huertgen Forest to the Heart of the Reich. I was looking for more information on the Volks-Grenadiers and this book has the most comprehensive overview I can find.

I recommend the movie, When Trumpets Fade. This link has good info on weapons seen in the film. My knowledge of the fighting in the Hurtgen is limited so don’t know if the film’s action scenes are pure fiction or derived from historical accounts but if you doubt the madness depicted in the film, (infantry is ordered to take a bridge in the face of 88’s and impervious armor firing at will from a ridge), I refer you to Paul Fussell.

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