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Europa Games and Military History

Month: July 2019

1942 NOV II Soviet Turn

Narrative

The door swings both ways. Displaying a finesse of strategic slanning and a flexibly hitherto unknown the Soviet Army of Moscow under Timoshenko faced with the German wall of steel in the West takes advantage of the freeze and rotates through 90 degrees. The Army launches a well-supported attack immediately to the east of the small lake cluster north of Moscow. Massed Tanks, and Guards infantry fords the upper Volga and drives north head on into the fortified German line. Waves of IIyushins fill the skies battering the German forts. Joined by a sustained rocket attack from the south banks the defences crumble and the stunned and much reduced defenders fall back. Soviet Tank Corps enter the breach and with motorised rocket artillery in support ride over the shattered survivors. Engineers and a lone artillery regiment in transit west are also crushed under the wide tracks of the T34s.

Follow up forces pass through with lead elements reaching to within 10 miles of the Valogda/Veliki Luki rail line with others overrunning the southern tip of the large German airbase cluster straddling the rail line. They catch a ME109 squadron on the ground; few aircraft escape. A further drive reaches the outskirts of Kalinin trapping a low grade German infantry division in the bend of the adjacent oxbow lake. Second echelon guards mech corp support the operation occupying the NW bank of the river and protecting the right flank.

The pattern of attacks and destruction is repeated all along the northern line of the German bulge and numerous breaches are made.

It appears Hans’ optimism was misplaced.

Turn Report

Partisans:  To Support the regular army’s activities partisans launch a series of raids achieving an impressive 6 rail hits. They also score an airbase hit which had been vacated as support troops rushed forward to shore up the Moscow defence line. They aborting a ME110 on the ground in the process.

Finnish Front: Soviet Arctic Command continues to drive out along the northernmost E/W rail line. Circumventing a German 6-8 mtn they eliminate a Finish bdr guard and German rocket unit to the north and push west parallel to the rail line.

Finland hangs on

Finland hangs on

The 9th Panzer cadre continues to deny the Soviets the breakout they are looking for holding firm against another determined attack on its position at the northern end of the central lakes system. However Soviet motorized units infiltrate the lines seeking the more open terrain of the interior and occupy Kupio overrunning a 0-8 flack unit and eliminating a MS406 on the ground which fails to escape. Meanwhile a surrounded Finnish Inf XX cadre stranded in the woods to the east succumbs to an automatic kill as the main drive cadres another Finnish 5-6 inf XX.

Leningrad Front: The drive south from Leningrad down the Kalinin line continues. At the extreme western edge of the advance infiltrating units take advantage of a German error where a gap opens up between two inf divisions and advance a further 16 miles south enveloping a section of the German the fortified defensive line. Just to the east of this a 11-8 mech XXX leads a mainly infantry attack against a 6-10 mot division cadreing the defender and advancing south into the Valdai hill lake system.

The newly arrived 9-6 Artillery XX adds its firepower to a direct attack south towards the vital crossroads and winkles the German defenders out of a fortified wooded hex. The defenders fall back in good order.

To the east of the NS rail a a risky low odds mixed attack strikes directly East in a bid to trap a large group of infantry struggling south from their previous position astride the Leningrad/Vologda rail line abandoned a month ago. The attack succeeds is driving back the defenders and the advance narrows the gap through which the retreating infantry need to pass to safety. Another attack further east along the line make similar headway.

The mass of Soviet armour defending the objective of Meatgrinder are re-tasked for offensive operations and take on a 12-10 panzer at the NE tip of the contracting German leading edge. They cadre the panzer.

Moscow Front attacks!

Moscow Front attacks!

Moscow Front: The preamble above covers this attack which has placed the leading edge of the German bulge in the east out of supply. If the Soviets are able to link with their comrades pushing south this will isolate around 30% of all German mobile forces on the Eastern front

Voronezh Front: Nothing to report.

Stalingrad Front: Soviet forces press the German defenders still south of the Don but there are no attack opportunities.

Engineers continue to rebuild the shattered infra-structure of the region. Some armour corps move north but the Soviets retain a mobile reserve as a contingency against any renewed Axis aggression.

Air War:  Southern Finland is subject to some rail bombing raids to impede Reinforcements reaching the front and to prepare the way for a planned attack along the south coast in the spring.

On the main front some deep raids are made but these are ineffective as the long range force has been whittled down over the year.

German fighter squadrons rise in force to engage the GS supporting the attacks over the Upper Volga but suffer another defeat. 8 interceptors by pass the escorts but outnumbered over 2:1 two are returned by the escorts. When the fighters engage the bombing force a 109 and 110 are eliminated for the return of a single Lend Lease A20 and the GS is sufficient to keep the odds favourable.

Battle Report

Overruns = 5 !,
Forts Eliminated = 4,
Auto eliminations = 2,
Diced Attacks =  9

Losses Soviet = 8,
German = 35,
Finns = 7

Air:
On the Ground’ German = 1 Finns = 1
In the air German = 2

1942 NOV II Axis Turn

Narrative

“You know what I hate the most about this place? The dirt; in summer it is dry chocking dust, in the autumn and spring thick cloying mud and in the winter it freezes hard as rock”.

“True enough Hans true enough, But at least now for a time it is hard enough to move.“

The comrades had been together since early in June ’42 when Hans had joined the recon battalion. Both from Bavaria they had soon become firm friends through thick and thin. Both had participated in the push over the upper Volga at the start of Operation Meatgrinder.  They had driven forward and at one point late in     straddled the N/S rail line to Vologda and thought that perhaps they had broken the Soviets will to fight. How wrong they were.  The following week they had been amazed to see massed formations of Soviet tanks, armoured vehicles  katyusha and infantry storm out of the East. They had been forced to withdraw along with the rest of the advanced corp. They received news that they were cut off and for two weeks were fed from supplies dropped from the air as streams of “Aunties” filled the skies. A gruelling month followed, reduced to starvation rations and slogging through snow, freezing fog and then sodden muddy marsh they has managed to fight their way out to freedom.

Two months after that they were on the march East again. Counter attacking their foe in a series of swirling battles of attrition and annihilation along the front. They broke through and with open steppe ahead it looked as if their objective might be reached but the cost had been too high and they were ordered to hold their ground.  Then last week grave news had reached the unit.  A large soviet force identified as the 50th Army had captured their lifeline West. The Veliki Luki – Vologda rail line just behind their formation had been cut. Furthermore Soviet forces were reputedly driving south from north of their position threatening them again with isolation.

They waited for orders to withdraw – then rumour had it that the Fuhrer had been persuaded that it was better to lose the chance of gaining a city than the certainty of losing an army. But they feared the week’s delay which had cost at least one field marshal his argumentative head in the Fuhrerbunker would allow the enemy to complete the encirclement. For days they struggled through cloying mud. The wheeled vehicles abandoned their lighter equipment dragged by horses and the tracked vehicles barely inching forward. The whole battalion had been tasked with moving the material. What they could not bring they destroyed.  Artillery split like peeled spring onions their firing block removed littered the fields as the marched West. Trucks mired up to their axles lay abandoned by the roadside, stripped of anything useable, many burned and now rusting hulks of metal.

By the 6th day they were beginning to lose hope. Reports were reaching them of a Soviet breakthrough south along the Leningrad/Kalinin line many miles West and that Moscow was under threat.

But what a difference a few degrees drop in temperature can make.

It was on the morning of day 7 of their slog West that Hans looked out of the log cabin they has requisitioned for overnight shelter and his whoop of joy had shattered the dawn sleep of the exhausted battalion. Its frost! he cried frost! Thick, white frost!”. Indeed it was, covering the landscape. “Perhaps we can make it after all, he cried”

By nightfall the battalion had regrouped, vehicles were unstruck from where they had been clamped by mud. It was not yet so hard to require heavy equipment to smash so trenching tools, pics and farm tools were all that were needed to free and restore the wallowed vehicles.

The next morning the battalion staff sergeant passed out the orders. The corps was fully mobile again and they were to deal a blow to their Soviet foe who had dared to try and trap them A four corps strong attack was hastily organised and once again the pals were riding high and proud for the Fatherland. Three days later it was all over. With mobility had come supplies, air support, tanks and artillery support. The Soviet 50th Army was trapped and annihilated to the very last man – none escaped the German wrath.

Elsewhere formations arriving from the south has formed up against the Soviet Moscow attack erecting a wall of steel against the aggressor. The 14-10 panzer relieved by formations arriving from the NE moved from its fortified position aside the Moscow/Kalinin road and swung into Moscow NE providing a boost to the second line infantry divisions holding the suburb who had feared a Soviet attack for weeks.

North of the Veliki/Vologda road units were flooding West and opposing the Soviet threat from Leningrad.

The situation was saved.

Hans dare not contemplate what might have happened had the frost not come when it did.

“Hey Padre he shouted to the passing battalion chaplain. You can get off your knees – I think your work is done!!”

Turn Report

Weather:  Frost in B all other zones unchanged.

Finland & The Army of Norway: Murmansk front no activity.

In the centre the Axis continue to pull back executing a counter attack against a lone 1-6* inf III (w) and eliminating it.

In the south the 9thpz  cadre holds the as a German 5-6 freshly arrived from Germany joins the surviving Finnish division covering the main rail line north. In the centre of the country engineers continue to fortify and await the inevitable Soviet breakout into the hinterland.

AGN: The changing weather is akin to a miracle for the German army. The low mobility in the mud had stalled any rapid evacuation west or reinforcement of the pressure points at the front. The collapsing bulge north had allowed some infantry to shift sideways but these in their turn had been mauled by the Soviets. Now it was a different story. Panzers and motorized units from the East arrive in strength and movie into the line supplementing the existing defenders. They are content at the moment to take a defensive posture and await developments and or opportunities. With assets arriving weekly from the south and East their situation can only get better.

Meatgrinder is officially declared over (but not officially declared the failure it is) and all forces are ordered to cross back to the West bank of the upper Volga. The troops are not ready to do so without a fight however. The mobility and supplies provided by the frost are put to good use. The strong panzer formations formerly at the van are reversed and join units holding the line to the west. An attack is scrapped together against the 50th army which sits astride the Vologda/Veliki Luki rail line. Favourable odds are achieved and an attack launched. It is completely successful and the DE eliminates the entire stack including 2 Guards XXs who’s cadres cannot retreat.  Other than the arctic combat this is the only attack this turn but nets 27 factors of enemy units.

The destruction of 50th Army

The destruction of 50th Army

At Moscow a Panzer corps arrives from the south just in time. Held by rail breaks just north and west of Tula it was not expected for another month but the frost allows it to move into the line. The 14-10 pz in the line is able then to move to Moscow NE replacing one of the second rank infantry XX hastily thrown into the front at the start of the Soviet assault. The Germans are confident the city can now be held.

AGC: No action.

AGS: The Don River bridgehead contracts back. Still held in mud, progress is slow. The Axis contemplate maintaining a presence in the swamps south of the river to facilitate any future move south and to require the Soviets to station more troops to hold the line.

Freed mech forces move north and engineers move into place to continue to fortify the bend of the river.

Air War: The Luftwaffe decides to give the Soviets some of their own medicine and launches a series of raids against Moscow area airbases with little short of disastrous results.  When the skies clear the tally is Luftwaffe 3xE (including 2x109Gs)  and 2xA for the  VVS 1xA.  6 deep raids elsewhere only achieve 1 rail hit in the north but the 2 in the south should impede soviet assets moving north from the Stalingrad area.

Battle Report

Combats; Diced = 2.

Losses: Soviets = 28;  German Air = 3

1942 NOV I Soviet Turn

Partisans – 6 hits.

Finish Front: As Res Pts are not needed for fortifications in such vast quantities more are spared for offensive operations in the far north. A stock is building which should allow continuous offensive action going forward.  The Murmansk aspect is however still not threatened but the push continues west along the road to Allakurtti. The advance is blocked by a 6-8 mtn division so swings north eliminating the 271 FHH regiment.

In the south the rump of 9th pz is forced out its fortified position at Jonesuii retreating westwards. Soviet mech exploits north with the small lake protecting its flank.

Finland’s agony continues

Finland’s agony continues

Leningrad Front: The main thrust south along the Leningrad/Kalinin axis continues with Soviet tank and mech corps breaking through to the east and west of the main German defence on the rail line. The Soviets are hampered by their poor mobility. The combination of terrain, ZOC costs and overrun requirements means that a single bicycle battalion can prevent an entire Mech corps from advancing in exploitation. The Soviet momentum is also retarded by German rail hits and the low Soviet engineer presence. (an omission which has cost at least one planning officer his head.)  Finally simple congestion on the road prevents some units moving forward in the exploitation phase. Accordingly while holes are made all advances are limited to single hexe.

The Soviets have now lost the element of surprise but still they have a far greater density of assets in the area than the Axis and with newly formed Artillery Divisions due to reach the front next turn they hope to be able to reduce the German roadblock and force their way south towards Kalinin.

To the west of the main attack the German forces have thinned the line and pulled back behind the river … to protect the rail line to Veliki Luki. Soviet troops take advantage of the reduced enemy presence and leaving dug outs they have occupied for almost a year surge south. They cannot hope to prevail against resistance but do hope to prevent the Germans from thinning the line further, dissuade any more sideways movement to re-enforce the rail to Kalinin and draw off units bound for the main attack zone.

Likewise to the East of the main drive the Soviets develop the attack SE and penetrate the German line to as the Germans collapse back to re-establish supply to their northernmost units.

Soviets drive south from Leningrad

Soviets drive south from Leningrad

Moscow Front: Soviet units south of the German main shwerpunkt continue to drive north into the flank of the invaders and capture a hex of the rail line supplying the front with the defenders falling back in disarray. This threatens the main German supply line and with the companion thrust driving south also making progress and only 50 miles separating the two thrusts even Hitler now must realise that Meatgrinder has ground its last lump of gristle.

West of the upper Volga two attacks are made. That west against the 19th pz fails as the unit fends of repeated tank/katyushka assaults but just 30 miles south the 25th pz loses over half its tanks in a bitter HX and retreats SW exposing further the German’s hold on Moscow.

Voronezh Front : Engineers work tirelessly clearing the rails for units transferring  North but reduced winter mobility means some breaks are out of reach and major assets are held up just north of Stalingrad..

Stalingrad Front. While the best Soviet mobile assets entrain for the north those remaining continue to pressure the Axis forces south of the Don mounting a single concentrated attack and eliminating another stack of units.

Soviet attack south of the Don

Soviet attack south of the Don

Air War: The soviets step up their activity in the Moscow area supporting ground attacks and raiding German twin engine fighter bases.  In the ensuing fighter–on-fighter battles the Soviets cannot hope to achieve parity of losses but they are pleased with the overall tally. (Germans suffer Ex5, Ax3. Soviets Ex7 Ax6). Then two deep raiders are caught by an unexpected concentration of enemy fighters and fail to return. Their 6 comrades further east raid the Veliki Luki line unopposed inflicting a single hit.

Battle Report

Diced Attacks = 10

Soviet Losses = 14, Air = 9

German Losses = 49, Rumanian = 2, Fins = 3, Luftwaffe = 5