A fun battle last night which swung one way then the other. Mark had set up trying to cover the more easily defendable points (orchards, towns etc.) - areas which the British were determined to avoid like the plague. The railway embankment would prove no real obstacle as the two closest bridges to the British were unguarded - and were the key to any success the British might enjoy. Had they been defended, the British infantry would have had to clear them - and Mark's nebelwurfers and 150mm guns would have made short work of them. But they also would have been in the open and therefore vulnerable to artillery and overruns.
Mark was hampered by his units being in penny packets and tied to particular locations (the view that villages and crossroads were worth defending, empty fields were not). He could have ordered his troops out straight away, but until he saw the enemy he couldn't change orders and the British use of recon was very good. The Sextons were also well used (smoke then HE reduced a potent Pak force to nothing and their only success was fighting off a tank in a close combat. A lesson for us all in the skillful use of recon.
Marks' central force was pinned by the British recon - they couldn't see them and so couldn't react to them. Also the idea of screening using the first tank squadrons was very effective and much of Mark's potent force (including 6 Pak 40's in a wood) never got used.
There are plenty ifs and buts here. If Mark had been allowed or chosen to defend the first bridges, the British would have found it very tough to get anything across. But tying Mark down to starting positions created many problems for him - and he could have been caught with his pants down when getting into position. His leading unit was doing nothing much (except being smoked) and although he belatedly got them out (and to some effect) to attack the Sextons, they may have been better used by pulling them down the side and swung around to the back of the table. Then again, until the reserves showed themselves, he could have created a huge gap to be exploited (but you can argue that the forces further back would have made this tough anyway).
Hats off to the British - a good plan, executed well (much better than Monty's original) and with excellent recon use. And also to Mark, who essentially prevented any British getting off the table within the time and turn limit. The Germans did lose a number of Stugs and Pak40's but the British lost a lot of tanks. Had the scenario continued it may have been a race between Mark moving some assets to the back line and the remaining British tanks getting there beforehand.
The beauty of these scenarios is that neither side knows what the other has - and also where they are. This has made - in my opinion - a situation much more enjoyable and tense. Had Ian and Russ known the 88mm reception committee and the Stugs were waiting for them, it would have led to a rethink of the plan. As they didn't, it looked like they'd get 17+ tanks off with no problem - then suddenly the whole picture changed.
And Russ got to use all his tanks at last. Shame the Petard didn't shoot in anger!