By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
Following the conclusion of the Battle of the Bulge, Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower faced political pressure to drive the Germans back across their own border before pressing on with the final campaign over the Rhine and on to Berlin.
Even before the German North Wind offensive in northern Alsace had been brought to a halt, the French First Army began their own attack on the so-called Colmar Pocket on the west bank of the Upper Rhine between Strasbourg and the Swiss border. Commencing on 20 January 1945, by the 9th of February the Germans had been pushed back over the Rhine with heavy losses. Next came Operation Undertone, the liberation of northern Alsace.
Our Alsace 1945 game covers Operation North Wind, as well as the Allied offensives into Alsace in November and early December 1944 that brought the Americans to the Rhine and the German border. It packs a surprising amount of game into its little box, but even so does not cover all of the fighting that took place on this small piece of eastern France and western Germany, making no mention of Operation Undertone.
That puts the game in pretty good company: the historiography in both English and German is surprisingly sparse considering that this was a major battle in the heart of Western Europe involving several hundred thousand troops, most of them Americans. French scholarship is a different story: this was the final battle on French soil that expelled the hated invaders. And the “French” division involved (3rd Algerian Infantry) fought extremely well.
Launched on March 15th, Operation Undertone went well for the Allies; the Germans had lost heavily during the January fighting and only partially replenished their ranks with over- or under-aged conscripts, militarized police and similar emergency levies. The Americans had refilled their own ranks, brought in new units and given additional training to the green formations that had faced the German onslaught in January. Hard fighting took place in many locations, but even so the Americans rolled the Germans back past the pre-war border and to the Rhine.
Including Operation Undertone in our Alsace 1945 game would have required additional pieces, pushing the counter mix past its strict limit of 140. But we’ve fixed that here, with a free download of 14 additional pieces and a new, historical scenario.
Alsace 1945: Scenario Six
With the Allies opening their great spring offensive into Germany along a broad front, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower charged the American Seventh Army with taking back the ground lost during the German North Wind offensive in January and pressing on into German territory. On the German side, the mobile formations that had spearheaded North Wind had moved on to other fronts, and even the better infantry divisions had shifted slightly further north, off the upper left corner of the Alsace 1945 map.
• The scenario begins with the 15 March turn and ends at the conclusion of the 22 March turn.
• The Allied player never rolls for a halt to operations (7.3).
• The Allied player begins with 10 supply points and the German player with four.
• No unit may cross, or attack across, the Rhine River.
• Do not roll the die for Weather or Ground Condition. The Weather is Clear and the Ground Condition is Dry throughout the scenario.
• Do not check Eisenhower’s Attitude. Eisenhower’s Attitude is confident and aggressive. The Allied player therefore receives four supply points each turn. The German player receives one supply point each turn (do not roll the die for German supplies, either).
All units are American unless noted otherwise. Not every hex listed must be occupied by a unit.
Within one hex of Hex 2414:
In or south of, and within three hexes of, hexes 2613 and 2713. All units are French:
3A/3rd Algerian (Infantry)
7A/3rd Algerian (Infantry)
4T/3rd Algerian (Infantry)
In or south of, and within three hexes of, hexes 2111, 2212, 2312, 2412 and 2513:
In or south of, and within three hexes of, hexes 1710, 1811, 1911 and 2011:
In or south of, and within three hexes of, hexes 1409, 1509 and 1610:
Within one hex of Hex 1105:
In or west of, and within three hexes of, hexes 1306, 1307 and 1308:
In or west of, and within three hexes of, hexes 1303, 1304 and 1305:
In or west of, and within three hexes of, hexes 1301 and 1302:
Seventh Army Reserves
These units may not move unless released (see below) or if a German unit moves into a hex adjacent to their location. Once released, they move and fight normally.
14th Armored Division
At the start of each turn, roll one die. On a result of 5 or 6, all units of the division are released.
6th Armored Division
At the start of each turn, roll one die. On a result of 6, all units of the division are released. On a result of 1 through 3, the division has been directed into the fighting off the north edge of the map and all of its units are removed from play.
Not every hex listed must be occupied by a unit.
Within one hex of hex 2710:
In or north of, and within two hexes of, hexes 2612, 2712 and 2813:
In or north of, and within two hexes of, hexes 2311, 2411 and 2512:
In or north of, and within two hexes of, hexes 1910, 2010, 2110 and 2211:
In or north of, and within two hexes of, hexes 1508, 1609, 1709 and 1810:
Within one hex of Hex 1605:
XIII SS (Headquarters)
In or east of, and within two hexes of, hexes 1405, 1406, 140 and 1408:
In or east of, and within two hexes of, hexes 1402, 1404 and 1404:
The Allied player wins if at the end of play no German units remain on the map.
The German player wins if at the end of play at least eight Siegfried Line fort hexes remain German-controlled.
If neither or both players win, the result is a draw.
You can download the new pieces right here.
You can order Alsace 1945 right here.
Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and award-winning journalist, he has published over 100 books, games and articles on historical subjects.
He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold.