The General Staff Archives

Europa Games and Military History

Month: April 2019

1942 SEP II Soviet Turn

Narrative

“Yuri, pass me some of that gut rot you call vodka.”   “Hey!! who’s calling my vodka gut rot it’s made from the finest potatoes peelings money can buy! I made it myself only last week!”   “Yes but it stinks and tastes of the tank fuel you boiled it up with!”

“Don’t worry my friend, a fascist bullet will get you long before my vodka will.”

“That’s what I like about you Yuri, always the optimist!”.

“Boys – keep your voices down, The fascists don’t know we are here yet. Keep quiet and keep moving”.

“Don’t worry serge Yuri whispered back, almost there and those pampered fools are too fond of their comfort to be out on a night like this; Still holed up in their bunkers I wouldn’t wonder”.

Yuri and his vodka swilling comrade moved further forward. Damp cold and hungry they slid rather than crawled down the ditch that the rain has turned into a small torrent.

Only the sergeant at the rear occasionally ventured to peep up over the ravine sides to ensure they remained unspotted. “Faster, daybreak is only three hours away.” He urged.

Their target was a small mound a few thousand yards ahead barely perceptible above the plain. The Germans had ignored the slight rise concentrating instead on the main defile which lead straight from the airfield perimeter toward the rapidly approaching Russian line.

Yuri and his comrades were the advance party of a company which had been ordered forward to infiltrate enemy lines and occupy the high ground. There they would wait until their strength had built and they could engage the enemy from his vulnerable flank.

Just before daylight the operation was complete.  Yuri and his comrades had occupied the slight mound and dug in. They camouflaged themselves behind the light scrub and the small ravines that coursed down from the centre and they had welcomed a light mortar squad into their ranks.

Seemingly oblivious to the cold and damp they waited.

At daybreak the sergeant, looking out through his binoculars, confirmed their infiltration had gone like clockwork. The German flack unit and the shattered German division which had moved back onto the airfield three days earlier were completely oblivious to their presence on the flank.

Two hours later the whistles blew, and they rose from their hiding places – “Here goes Yuri! Now we will see if a fascist’s bullet is deadlier than your vodka!!

Turn Report

Partisans:
Inflict 5 more rail hits this turn; some close to the front lines which together with strategic rail bombing has caused delays and frustration for the German quartermaster and transport corps and is holding vital reinforcements from reaching the defenders north of Moscow.

Finish Front:
In the far north lack of resource points prevents attack despite numerical superiority.

In Southern Finland it is a different story as the front explodes shattering the former Finnish main front line.  Advance Soviet armoured elements penetrate the line and trap two infantry divisions struggling through the mud to reach safety further west. One is smashed to a cadre the second, surrounded, is forced into a complete surrender. The Soviets now seem unstoppable on this front and the Finns urgently petition Berlin for more assistance.

1942 SEP II Soviet Turn: Collapse of the Southern Finnish Front

1942 SEP II Soviet Turn: Collapse of the Southern Finnish Front

Leningrad/North Moscow Front
The German occupation of a second Leningrad/Vologda rail hex is a blow lessening the chance of a Soviet re-occupation of the line. They fear the 50 miles of unsupplied front could develop from a sore to a festering wound as happened at Kalinin last year. Units are tasked to move towards the sector to bolster the front but few are free to take up position in force and although they hope to have sufficient strength to resist further gains by the out of supply attackers they do not have enough strength to mount any sort of a counter attack.

On the main front units move to a defensive posture and brace for the inevitable German continuation of their main drive.

Army of Moscow
A new army group is designated under Timoshenko as the advance over the upper Volga continues. Unfortunately the initial hope of a drive into the undefended plains between Moscow and Kalinin is frustrated by the changed weather conditions. That same weather which stopped the German response to the attack now serves to prevent  the Soviet Tank corps from inflicting great damage on the mainly infantry defenders. Likewise the reduced mobility restricts the advance to 2 hexes. Nevertheless another fort and infantry division succumbs.

Voronezh Front
STAVKA realise a drive north from Tula at this point would put pressure on the German defenders and threaten Moscow but they simply do not have any spare offensive capability.

In time Infantry and AT units can replace the Tank corps defending against the main enemy drive to Vologda but currently the tanks need to remain to bolster the defence in this critical sector. For the moment, therefore, this Front remains quiet.

Rostov Front
The smashed force West of the Don flees back East but the single Mech division struggles to escape encirclement and reach safety. Doctrine prevents the unit retreating in the exploitation phase and its fate appears sealed.

Sep II '42: The Rostov Front

Sep II ’42: The Rostov Front

On the East bank however the Soviets counter attack with vigour. They eliminate the German bridgehead close to Stalingrad and trap once again the 3rd Panzer xx (16-10). Further south they drive into the weak German screen between the small lake system and the river Don and eliminate two Rumanian divisions pushing through and ZOCing 3 more Axis stacks. Units moving north from the Caucuses reach the Axis lines in force and clamp tight against the shrinking bridgehead immediately east of Rostov.

At Stalino the two surviving Guards cadres gain some reinforcement by organising other stragglers and survivors from the rubble of the shattered city into the equivalent of an infantry regiment. They brace themselves for the next, and final, attack.

Air War
In the north there is considerably more activity this turn as the Soviets send long range bombers against the rail net and try to eliminate Axis dive bombers and fighters by launching attacks against Moscow and Kalinin air bases. This new higher level of engagement is facilitated by an earlier period of airfield construction which places a large fighter and short range bomber force within striking distance of the front lines and enemy air bases.

To their great shock the Soviets encounter the German FW 190 fighter which eliminates and aborts two of the three squadrons sent to engage them without loss.

In the south activity is more muted due to few air bases and the bulk of the force transferring north to try and wrestle local air superiority from the Luftwaffe.

Battle Report

Attacks: Diced = 7
Losses; Forts = 1,  German  = 19,  Rumanians = 8,  Finns =  8  Air =  2 (one destroyed on the ground)
Soviets Air = 2

1942 SEP II Axis Turn

“The most common Russian form of combat was the use of mass. Human mass and mass of material were generally used unintelligently and without variation but, under the conditions, they were always effective. Both had to be available before they could be used so lavishly and were therefore dependent upon limitless Russian supplies. The Russian disdain for life, always present but infinitely heightened by communism, favoured this practice. A Russian attack which had been twice repulsed with unheard-of losses would be repeated a third and a fourth time at the same place and in the same fashion. Unimpressed by previous failures and losses new waves always came on. An unusual inflexibility of mind and unimaginative obstinacy lay in this use of mass and was dearly paid for. It is not possible to estimate Russian casualties in World War II with any degree of accuracy there will always be a potential error of many hundreds of thousands. This inflexible method of warfare with the objective accomplishing everything through the use of human mass is the most inhuman and costly possible.”

Extract from Fighting In Hell – the German ordeal on the Eastern Front edited by Peter Tsouras first published in Great Britain in 1995 c Greenhill Books.
Originally published in the early 50s from the US Department of the Army pamphlets “German Report Series”

The Soviets achieved all of their objectives last turn. Attacks pinned the German main thrust to Vologda and the penetration gained the bonus of eliminating half the German Rail Siege Guns. Elsewhere massed ranks of katyusha and Tanks corps forded the Volga canal and threatens German communications around Moscow. In the South the drive over the Don cut off the German spearhead probing towards Stalingrad and other units isolated German forces South and East of Rostov placing the city back in supply.
But now the cost is to be paid…

Turn Report

Weather Roll = 6.  Zones A and B now Mud!

Finland & The Army of Norway: In the far north and central Finland troops move into a defensive posture as Soviet forces slowly increase.

In the south Finish forces move back into the centre as fast as possible. The 16-10 panzer unit is impotent on its own against the solid ranks of Soviet armour, artillery and infantry slowly moving forward and harrying the retreating Finns.

AGN A low odds, out of supply attack thrusting directly north dislodges the Soviet defenders and allows advanced elements to occupy a second hex of the Leningrad/Vologda rail line placing 50 miles of Soviet front out of supply.

The combination of persistent rain turning the roads to a thick cloying mud and the Soviet penetration of the front to a depth of 30 miles halts the German move east. Forces organise local counter attacks and eliminate the two 6-4-8 Tk corps which overran the Rail Guns and the 9-7-8 Tk corps tethering them to the main Soviet lines.

The infantry probe westwards towards Kalinin is also eliminated by local forces at hand.

However the main Soviet thrust west of the Volga canal north of Moscow remains a serious threat. Two infantry divisions and a few flack and construction units are all that are at hand for the defence to supplement the cadred remains of the fortified line. A hastily rebuilt 12-10 panzer helps stem the tide but with most mobile units embroiled in combat and/or mired in the mud no other help is at hand.

AGC: Units shuffle north but reduced mobility limits the help that can be transferred to Moscow.

'42 SEP II Axis Turn: Army Group South strikes back

’42 SEP II Axis Turn: Army Group South strikes back

AGS: A second attack is launched against the now weakened defenders of Stalino. Most are eliminated but Soviet Commissars lead surviving guards units into the cellars and rubble of the city which remains in Soviet hands.

A mixed force of Axis Infantry and artillery reduce another fort adjacent to Rostov and a low odds attack pushes further into the swamps south of the Don.

The deep German probes into the Caucuses are recalled against the threat of the building mass of Soviet troops moving north.

Further north the Axis mobile forces east of the Don fight for survival and a swirling battle develops on the East bank and the victorious but weak German mech forces re-establish a line screening the Don south of the city from the Soviet tank corps which are now released back into supply.  The armour probing towards Stalingrad executes a fighting withdrawal and reaches the single hex bridgehead held by infantry and a Mech division. Between these two actions two trapped panzers manage to engage a Soviet mountain division and reach the relative safety of the Don crossing back west in the exploitation phase.

However it is in the great bend of the river Don that the Axis force s extract their most devastating revenge. The Soviets had established a screen line across the river in an attempt to isolate German forces east of it and the Axis infantry lining the west bank. This they achieved but in a tactical move for which they are famous the Axis forces execute a backhand blow against the overextended Soviet forces.

The infantry detach from the river and move west and German reinforcements and the last reserve units moved east trap the Soviet advanced forces in a vice. Two tank divisions are eliminated along with a number of tank and motorised infantry regiments. An old style Mech division is isolated and the majority of the Soviet forces west of the river are removed as an effective fighting force.

Air War: Although not without activity with a number of fighter/bomber interactions especially on the main Moscow Front little losses are inflicted and both sides loose just one unit each.

Battle Report

Attacks:  Over-runs = 3, Auto attacks =  6  Diced Attacks =  11
Losses:  Soviet Forts = 2; Soviet Isolated = 18; Soviet Un-Isolated = 88;  Soviet Air = 1
Total Soviet Losses = 106
German air = 1