Red Devils: Fielding British Paras from The Battle of the Bulge

6th Airborne Division Red Devils
Fielding British Paras from The Battle of the Bulge
With Mitchell Kemmis

British Paras were my first love when it comes to Flames Of War armies, and over years they are still one of my most favourite armies to play. I have spent a lot of time gaming with them, painting them and reading about their gallant efforts throughout WWII.

However, a lot of my reading was focused on their exploits in Normandy and Arnhem. I was aware of the fact that the 6th Airborne took part in the Battle of the Bulge, but had never looked into it too deeply until recently.

The Battle of the Bulge
In December 1944 the German forces were supposed to be on the back foot, so their desperate push in the Ardennes took the Allies by surprise. Desperate defence by the American and British Commonwealth forces gradually turned to counterattack as they fought to erase the 'Bulge'.

Learn more about The Battle of the Bulge here...

Battle of the Bulge: Allied Forces on the German border, September 1944 – February 1945
The Battle of Bure is yet another example of the extreme bravery and tenacity shown by British paratroopers throughout the war and is described as “'one of the toughest little battles in the history of the campaign”. Throughout the battle the paratroopers had to cross through 300m of open ground in the face of heavy machine gun, mortar and sniper fire, systematically clear houses to make sure they weren’t occupied by German troops, repel countless German counter-attacks and even call down artillery on their own position. What could be more inspiring for a gamer?
Red Devils: Fielding British Paras from The Battle of the Bulge

Fielding a British Parachute Company from The Battle of the Bulge give you a lot of unique modelling opportunities that other British paratrooper lists don’t. The Battle of Bure took place in the snow, and while the Paras didn’t have any form of winter camouflage during the battle, it gives you a good opportunity to model some nice winter bases on your paratroopers.

And all is not lost when it comes to winter camouflage; you can field supporting Shermans from the 29th Armoured Brigade, who would have had a winter whitewash at this stage.

Red Devils: Fielding British Paras from The Battle of the Bulge

Right: British Sherman tanks in the Ardennes.

Red Devils: Fielding British Paras from The Battle of the Bulge

The Battle of the Bulge Parachute Company also has a lot of different aspects from British para lists from the other Late War books. I’ve always tended to field my lists from the Market Garden book and have become accustomed to running paratroopers led by Major General Urquhart, with Medium Gun support and no armour. For this new list, there are a lot of different options available. Let’s explore the options by building a 1650-point list.

In building this list I’ve aimed to achieve a balance between a list that is quite themed to reflect the units involved in the battle as well as competitive to play with.

'A' Company of the 13th Parachute Battalion, 5th Parachute Brigade
Parachute Company (Infantry Company – Fearless Veteran)

6th Airborne
Parachute Company HQ
With 2 x Command SMG teams 60 points
   With 3 x PIAT teams 60 points
Combat Platoons
Parachute Platoon
With 3 x Rifle Squads 230 points
Parachute Platoon
With 3 x Rifle Squads 230 points
Weapons Platoons
Parachute Mortar Platoon
With 2 x ML 3" Mk II mortar teams 75 points
Support Platoons
Armoured Platoon (Confident Veteran)
With 3 x Sherman V tanks & 1 x Firefly VC tank 355 points
Belgian SAS Troop
With 1 x SAS Section 75 points
Airlanding Platoon
With 2 x Rifle Squads 220 points
Airlanding Anti-tank Platoon
With 4 x OQF 6pdr (late) guns 160 points
Field Battery, Royal Artillery (Confident Veteran)
With 4 x OQF 25pdr guns 185 points
Total: 1650 Points
The core of the list is built around two Parachute Platoons backed up with three PIAT teams from the Company HQ. I have always found British Para platoons to be incredibly tough. They excel at assaults against both infantry and tanks, thanks to British Bulldog and being equipped with Gammon Bombs. Also, don’t forget they have the section mortar special rule allowing you to use one of your Rifle/MG teams to fire smoke as a light mortar each turn, perfect for smoking that enemy gun team or tank before you launch your assault.
Red Devils: Fielding British Paras from The Battle of the Bulge
During the battle the Paras were supported by ‘C’ Squadron from the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry, 29th Armoured Division. I wanted to take this opportunity to include some armoured support for my list in form of a Sherman platoon with one Firefly, which will give my force some great mobile fire support.
Red Devils: Fielding British Paras from The Battle of the Bulge One of the coolest things about this list is the option to take Belgium SAS jeeps, as the Belgium SAS completed reconnaissance of the village of Bure prior to the battle. They are the same as the SAS jeeps out of the Nachtjäger book and have a lot of options for adding additional machine guns and .50 cals. I’m always a minimalist when it comes to recon platoons, as I like them to focus on the sole job of recon, so I haven’t added any upgrades to my SAS.

Whenever I run a British Paratrooper list I always like to include a third infantry platoon, as the strength of the list is always the infantry. Normally I would run an Airborne Royal Engineer Platoon to get access to a flamethrower, which is an option in the list. However, in this instance I’ve opted to include an Airlanding Platoon, as the battalion was reinforced by ‘C’ Company from the 2nd Ox and Bucks of the 6th Airlanding on the second night of the battle.

To round out the list, I have also include some mortars, 6-pounder anti-tank guns and 25-pounder Artillery – all essential infantry support platoons.

Now, even though the initial assault for the Battle of Bure took place in daylight, I still plan to night attack with this list, as night attacking with British Paras is too much fun to pass up on. Some of my most memorable and enjoyable games have involved night attacking with my British Paras.

I hope this article has provided with you some ideas to have fun with British Paras as well.

~ Mitchell.

Red Devils: Fielding British Paras from The Battle of the Bulge
Red Devils: Fielding British Paras from The Battle of the Bulge