The Eastern Front - 1941
An all dayer saw the might of the Wehrmacht attempt to capture a factory complex somewhere in the Soviet Union in 1941.
The day started with a very civilised briefing complimented by bacon and eggs and washed down by mugs of steaming tea.
A German Kampfgruppe had been tasked with capturing a Soviet factory complex adjacent to a major river in southern Russia.
Speed was of the essence. The initial Russian forces consisted of a depleted independent tank battalion, supported by a weakened infantry rifle regiment.
The rules were Rapid Fire - 1st Edition. Fast play and allow a flavour of the period.
A Russian BT7 tank. Rapid fire rules equate 1 vehicle representing a platoon, and one figure 15 men.
The German reconnaissance Battalion advanced quickly down the main road. To be met by some very effective (too effective due to mis-umpiring) artillery fire. Resulting in some heavy damage and destruction to the armoured car companies.
This set the tone for the remainder of the battle.
The devastated armoured car companies.
A Russian T35 tank waiting patiently at the edge of some woods.
Shocked by the powerful Russian artillery barrage the German commander decided to play his ace card, a Panzer battalion of 65 tanks.
The panzer battalion concentrated on the German left flank, unsurprisingly this too came under fire from Russian artillery, and some hidden anti-tank guns.
A Russian anti-tank battery.
The battery lies in wait for the unsuspecting panzer battalion.
On the German right flank on a low hill was an NKVD strong point.
Another Russian anti-tank battery, and Machine gun bunker. This was part of the NKVD fortification.
The German commander needed to take the first village along the main supply route, this was protected by a company of Russian infantry, supported by company of armoured cars. This village and the troops within caused the German commander a major headache.
The German commander was not very keen on engaging the troops in the fortified position, so he is ensured that his main thrust, which basically included everything that was under his command, and on the table, was made along his left flank and through the village on the main road.
In reserve he had three German infantry, and one Italian motorised infantry battalion. Along with some Italian light tanks and a German assault gun company.
Two of the German Infantry battalions had supporting SiG33 self propelled guns.
The concentration of the Panzer Battalion resulted in a terrible logjam of vehicles and tanks, despite the best efforts of the military police. This made it a rather tempting target for the Russian artillery battery.
Even the mighty Luftwaffe did not seem to make much of an appearance over the battlefield, and on reflection this may have been a mistake. The German commander had four sorties available to him for the game, but only used one.
In addition, due to the logjam near the village, the German artillery forward observation team found themselves stuck in some woods far away from a clear position from which to direct their artillery fire.
Things were not going the Germans way.
The only Sortie the Luftwaffe were to make that day. They were targeting an infantry company and artillery spotting team in the house on top of the hill overlooking the village. This attack caused significant casualties amongst the Russian troops.
The Russian medical station, on the river.
All Russian reinforcements had to arrive by cargo vessel across the river. This was a major problem for the Russian commander, who only had limited resources to hold the Germans at bay. He did however, have three complete Russian infantry battalions the other side of the river. His only problem would be getting them across the river in time to protect the town and the factories.
The first wave of much-needed Russian reinforcements arrived on turn four. Meanwhile the German attack had bogged down between the village and the first hill.
A German 88 mm anti-tank team patiently await the arrival of any Russian tanks.
Meanwhile an attack by an armoured car company supported by a BT7 tank company causes havoc amongst the German armoured battalion.
The Russian commander used his meagre forces aggressively forcing the German commander to commit some reserves simply to defend his precarious position.
A Russian T35 tank company has suffered some heavy damage at the hands of a German assault gun company.
The German attack never seem to get off the ground, the commander was overly concerned with the risk to the infantry, and didn't bring them on the table. He concentrated his forces, on his left flank, which allowed the Russian commander to do the same.
The German commander felt that the defensive terrain would be too difficult to overcome, and his infantry, if brought on the table, would be slaughtered.
Russian reinforcements take up position in the damaged factory buildings.
Turn seven another Russian infantry battalion arrive on the riverbank. The Germans had still not taken the first village.
Meanwhile the first Battalion to land move up towards the factory complexes.
Russian troops await the powerful German onslaught.
Around 3 PM in the afternoon the German commander admitted defeat. His panzer attack had ground to a halt under the concentrated defence of Russian anti-tank guns and tanks.
He was not confident at all that his infantry (if committed them to the battle) would survive an assault on the NKVD fortified position, and felt that the defensive situation was very much against the German assault, and that any sensible commander would call off the attack.
The Russian commander felt that the Germans had made a mistake in not committing his infantry, and that by concentrating all his force on one flank and in a small area of the battlefield, had made it easy for the Russian commander to concentrate his assets to stop them progressing up the map.
For the Umpire, he had some sympathy with the Russian argument, adding that he did not feel German commander had utilised his artillery, nor his airpower to full effect.
Regardless, it was an enjoyable day, and everybody has a bad day at the table from time to time.
I commend to you this after action report.