The General Staff Archives

Europa Games and Military History

Month: August 2019

1942 DEC II Soviet Turn

Narrative

Alexei pulled the controls gently left and then right as he swept over the leading edge of the friendly front line below.  Looking back he saw a wave in acknowledgement from his comrades. Dropping down over no-man’s land he pushed forward and almost brushing the tops of the occasional stands of birch sent snow flurries skyward from their heavy snow laden branches in his wake.

His orders were as usual quite perfunctory, “Fly north till you find your target, you will know when you are there, then attack”. His passage over his earthbound comrades had awed him despite his years of experience on the northern front around Moscow. He had flown over lines of cavalry, ranks of artillery, columns of tanks and the unmistakable formations of rocket equipped trucks also heading north. But what impressed him the most were the long files of men marching forward with a spring in their stride. After 18 months of brutal warfare they were going to give Fritz a taste of his own medicine.

He flew on north, the weather closing all the time. Keeping low to avoid icing and to minimise the lead time for ground observation it was difficult at times to distinguish the grey of the snow covered ground and the grey of the laden autumn sky but he was soon aided by his approaching target.

Stretching across the horizon east to west was a black line clearly separating land from sky.

Stretching out as far as his eye could see was a miserable tide of bearded, bedraggled and lice ridden humanity, in stark contrast to the proud warriors who had driven west and who had almost succeeded in their aim of conquering his proud country.

Now the boot was on the other foot and Alexei was about to deliver a good kicking.

He pulled back on the stick to gain altitude for his attack run. Some of the young bucks in the flight suggested strafing along the column to cause maximum damage; they generally died young.

Alexei however had developed his own style and was a longstanding veteran of his squadron as a result.

He rolled right and dove diagonally across the column of enemy troops and machines. Finger pressed on the trigger the bullets from his guns cut a swath through the enemy ranks. Some targets dived for cover others seemingly oblivious to the danger plodded on.

His low approach and swift transit meant the enemy had no time to react to his attack.  Pulling out from his dive he swept the plane up and left spiralling to gain more altitude. His reconnaissance by fire had revealed an enemy tractor struggling to pull a large artillery piece along the road now churned to soupy, icy mud by the passage of many before it. This was his target. He flew back across the column and pressed the bomb release. His twin payloads of destruction fell earthward and landed right on target. Hearing the crump, crump of the impact he looked back to confirm that he had hit his mark. Satisfied, he dropped down to floor level for his flight home.

Below him those who had sought shelter in the frozen earth rose up…..and the column shuffled on….. 

Turn report

Partisans: Increased Axis security reduces activity to 3 successful attacks on the enemy rail net.

Finnish Front:  Soviet forces infiltrate across the centre of the string of lakes south of Murmansk while ski units sweep around the left flank of the enemy.  On the road to Salla troops drive NW. The Axis line from here to its termination south of Murmansk is thus fragmented by manoeuvre and threatened with isolation.

The only attack is from Salla where minor units are exchanged.

Below the Arctic Circle the elimination of the Finnish army and its Nazi accomplices continues with the destruction of 9th Panzer. This gallant unit has survived attack after attack and held back the Red Tide for months and months but inevitably the dice finally rolled against them.

For those in the Finnish and German High commands who thought perhaps there was hope to salvage the situation comes a further and probably final blow which shatters any such dreams.

The Soviets open another axis of attack this time directly along the coast from Vipurii driving direct for Helsinki. A massed attack lead by an 11-8 mech corps shatters the centre of the Finish fortified line and the 11-8’s advance isolates a further fortified position. Meanwhile just to the north the 3-8 cavalry xx again lunges forward over frozen lakes and infiltrates the Axis line deep into the rear.

Finland on the Brink

Finland on the Brink

Leningrad Front: The Axis policy of strengthening the line in the north and counter attacking in the south starts to pay off. Despite their best efforts the Soviets cannot concentrate to achieve sufficient odds to mount an attack against the stiffening Axis MLR. They do mass adjacent to the rail line to Kalinin and eliminate a wooded fort but this takes them no closer to the critical E-W rail line. It will however give them an extra hex purchase for their impending attack against the central hard nut of Axis resistance – the fortified forested hex barring the way along the rail line south from Leningrad.

Around the easternmost bulge of the rapidly shrinking German army however it is a different story. With a Guards Mech unit in the van German resistance is shattered and the unit drives south meeting comrades advancing north. They trap a full strength and a cadred panzer unit.  Meanwhile by sheer weight of force another panzer is eliminated.

The reverse Meatgrinder

The reverse Meatgrinder

Moscow Front: With the leading edge out of supply the drive north stalls at the tip but follow up forces eliminate the isolated German fort and another infantry division is cadred and its supporting flack and engineers eliminated in front of Kalinin.

VICTORY: Central Moscow falls to a massed attack!!  With engineers leading the assault artillery including rocket and artillery divisions and siege guns join with guards infantry to storm the Central Moscow hex which is retaken.  This is a severe blow to the Nazis hopes of holding the city and the news is suppressed back in Berlin.

Voronezh Front: No activity

Stalingrad Front: No notable activity. Railroad repair and fortification continues.

Air War: No notable large battles but a 0-8 Finnish AA unit turns back 3 Soviet bombers denying them a column shift in one of their assaults.

The Soviets complete a large airstrip building program south of Leningrad to allow their short range fighters to keep pace with the advancing lines.

Battle Report

Diced Attacks: = 16
Losses:  Forts = 4, German = 89. Finns = 5
Soviets = 24
Air : German = 2 (on the ground in Moscow) Soviet = 1

Christmas in Velikiye Luki

After the conclusion of this years staff rides to the battlefields of Bennigton, Fort Henry and Prospect Park, we now return to our regular schedule with news from Ken Newalls Scorched Earth game. Three turn reports in a row means we’re approaching the end of 1942, and the chickens have finally come home to roost for the Axis, with the 11th Army being in grave danger of being encircled around Velikiye Luki by a resurgent Red Army.

After this, we will take a break to recuperate from our excursions and march off some of the excess baggage we collected as a result of the excellent food found in New England.

1942 DEC II Axis Turn

Narrative

The column stretches for 100 miles, A miserable tide of bearded, bedraggled and lice ridden humanity, in stark contrast to the proud warriors who had driven West a year ago. With uncertain and sporadic supplies resulting in fuel and food shortages the mass shuffles forward; the tail trying to keep up with the head. The tail constantly harried by the snarling biting beast at its back. The Russian Bear has awakened from its summer hibernation and is prowling the steppe once again.

In the column’s wake the detritus of 20th century conflict; burned out and abandoned vehicles, the rotting corpses of dead animals and men and hanging over all the smoke and acrid stench of burning fuel oil, buildings and funeral pyres.

Black dots approach from the south and a cry goes out. Some dive into the snow filled ditches and icy cold water lining the road desperately seeking cover. Most shuffle on, seemingly oblivious or immune to the roar of enemy planes, the rat-tat-tat of bullets and the crump of explosions sending shards of death into the mass.

This is the road to Velikiye Luki. This is Total War in December 1942.

Turn Report

Weather: Snow falls across all of Russia in A, B and C zones with Mud in D and Frost in G.

Finland & army of Norway:  Quiet in the North.

In southern Finland a counter attack is made against the 3-8 cav xx which infiltrated last turn. The Finish 3rd Inf XX (6-6)  falls back and the 9th Pz and 3-8 cav* is joined by a newly arrived 2-1-10 pz II to force the Soviets back across the icy lake and the 3rd escapes to freedom. The 9th pz returns to its blocking position in the exploitation phase.

Southern Finland: The escape of 3rd Inf

Southern Finland: The escape of 3rd Inf

AGN: The Axis continue with the policy of blocking the northern thrust and attacking on the southern flank. They do however assemble an attack formed from inf xxs, engineers and mobile units. With Viking leading the charge the force hits a 11-10 tk unit which has advanced into the Valdai lake system.  It is annihilated and the cadre with nowhere to run is cut down. The line is restored but weak spots still remain.

This is nowhere more evident that in the right of centre of the line where the Soviet Guards Mech unit broke through. With a few scattered cadres able to fill the line there is nothing the Axis can do to hold back the drive only slow its progress.

The 3 panzer/pg units at the trailing edge of the march West risk encirclement but it is everyone for themselves now at the exposed eastern end of the column.

Immediately east of Kalinin however a serious counter attack is launched with a view to caving in the Soviets left flank and pushing east . The attack targets a large stack of artillery and katyuskas which is supporting a 10-8 mech , they fall back with the 10-8 covering the retreat.  The German panzers concentrate in the advance and exploit NE overrunning a U2 9-7-8 tank unit oblivious to the DAS above it.

40 miles northwest of this prepared assault a hastily mounted attack comprising of a hodge podge of cadres, engineers, flak, security and fleeing pz cadres eliminate the U2 9-7-8 tx unit which had captured the rail line a fortnight earlier.  Supplies are thus restored to the whole army but the hold is tenuous and open to counter attack.

The cut off fort plays no part being some 20 miles behind the front line.  The troops simply sit tight and await their inevitable fate.

Central Front: The Axis fight to escape West

Central Front: The Axis fight to escape West

Moscow sector: An attack is mounted on the 26th Army which temptingly projects into the German fortified line. The stack is eliminated with one Guards cadre all that survives the determined attack.

AGC: No action

AGS: Rumanian, Italian and Hungarian troops start to consolidate their defensive positions in the Don bend but under the guise of these troop rotations a medium force of infantry with some mobile units is moved to the area of the convoluted river bend south of Voronezh. This bend protrudes into the Axis lines and compromises the use of the rail junctions in the area

The plan is to mount a spoiling attack with a view to clearing the east bank of the river adjacent to the rail junction and if momentum is achieved to capture and eliminate the two Soviet airbases on the east bank which repeatedly interfere with rail bombing missions in the area. Resources for this attack are very limited and will not stand determined resistance but the axis/allies are under pressure from Berlin to take action to try and divert forces and resources flowing north. Furthermore at the southern end of the planned breach Trucks extend the supply lines into the river whereas on the Soviet side their lack of ability to stretch their supply lines means that a long section of their front is now at U4.

Air War: Massive GS aids the attacks by AGN with limited activity elsewhere in Zone B.

In Zone C a series of raids is mounted ostensibly a continuation of the ongoing campaign against the N-S rail but concentrated to isolate the area of the planned attack.  4 of the 6 raids are successful..

Battle Report

Overruns = 1 ,
Diced attacks = 5
Losses: Soviets 44 (9 from overrun).
German = 2 air.

1942 DEC I Soviet Turn

Partisans: Achieve 5 hits on secondary rail lines.

Finnish Front: Constantly replenished with Resources the Soviet drive east along the road to Salla continues unabated and unseats a Finish regimen/German Ski II from the city capturing it.

The 9th Panzer cadre is unattacked this turn as the Soviets muster their forces and the two Tank xxxs move north to try and make an end run around the whole lake system south of the Arctic Circle. They are checked by a German Reserve division in a fortified position at the end of the frozen causeway at Kuopio

By contrast the freeze allows a surprise move by a soviet Cavalry division north of Viipuri who dashes over a frozen lake hexside flanking a strong position held by a Finish 6-6 xx in forest which is now in danger of isolation.

Leningrad Front:

The drive south from Leningrad slows to a crawl as German resistance stiffens and their defence becomes organized and swelled by Mech divisions moving into the area. Nevertheless weaknesses are ruthlessly exploited and two separate one hex advances menace the Veliki Luki road now only 20 miles distant.

On the extreme right flank of the advancing front another German division is chewed up as it finds itself struggling to fall back ahead of the advancing Soviet tide.

The main threat however is further to the east as the German bulge extending north is contracted at the neck. One advance lead by a guards Mech XX overruns a 2-10 flack unit in exploitation and reaches to within 16 miles of the Germans rail lifeline leading West down which all units fleeing to safety are hoping to use.

The only crumb of comfort for the Germans is a skilful defence by a 3-6 cadre/Flak combination which holds back a massed attack by guards infantry and support troops. Here the defenders channel the attack towards clearings made in the light wooded cover and the flak unit firing over open sites repulses wave after wave of attackers and holds firm.

At the head of the retreating German mass in the far East however the Soviets massacre two hexes of Infantry/Artillery eliminating a division and 6 artillery regiments. Trapped in the freezing, driving snow the divisions offers little resistance and the artillery caught in the open in travel mode are eliminated outright. Only a small infantry cadre escapes the debacle retreating over the frozen swamps and somehow finding a route to friendly lines.

Battles for Veliki Luki and the Vologda rail line

Battles for Veliki Luki and the Vologda rail line

Not content with the two hex breach of the German upper Volga river line Russian forces breach NE of the main gap and advance over the frozen river isolating the remaining defenders. Two of the three hexes are eliminated with a single isolated hex forming an island of resistance where a month ago stood a fortified river line extending for 100 miles.

From the bridgehead established last month the Soviet armour advances north. Out of supply they attempt a risky 3:1 assault against a weak defender holding the rail line with air support. Mustering their own air-force in the assault the soviets achieve a DH pushing the survivors back and capturing a hex of the vital German rail lifeline.

The Soviets do not expect the conquerors to survive a German riposte but this will cause the Nazis great difficulties. The advancing tankers are given a large umbrella of air support and await the inevitable counter attack.

The main difficulty now facing the Soviets is that both tips of the advance in the north and south are operating at the extreme limit of their supply net and, in the case of the units on the rail line, beyond it.

However they do have a plan to extend the net a couple of hexes further north……

Moscow Front: The Soviets consider withdrawing the 26th Army which now protrudes unto the German line following the retreat of the 34th but decide instead to reinforce and to try and hold the bulge.

Instead they concentrate all efforts on assaulting Moscow NW. The arrival in force of 9-6 artillery xxs and the new Guards Rocket division allow an attack to be planned against the substantial defences. In place for a year the defenders are well dug in with tank support. The Soviets have assembled siege guns, engineers, Guards infantry and the above artillery/rocket concentrations to achieve a straight 3:1 attack. The ferocity and intensity of the attack stuns the defenders who fall back loosing half their number as the Soviets storm the city. Not only does this grant the Soviets their 4th city hex it also links the Kalinin/Moscow rail line to the rest of the Soviet rail net and extends the supply line to the front.

Voronezh Front: Identifying a potential weakness in the defences the Soviets start to move secondary troops, engineers and resource points to the gap between the Tula fortified bastion and the river which runs north from Voronezh where there is a single fort line in open country. They will establish a secondary fort line here which will result in a riverine or double fort defence, when completed, extending from the Sea of Azov to Moscow. Here as across all fronts the easing of pressure on the defences allows the Soviets to move NKVD infantry to replacement centres for disbanding to boost the falling infantry replacement rate.

Stalingrad Front: No action; Engineers continue to rebuild the damaged infrastructure and second line tank corps form stacks at rail junctions to be in position to react against any local Axis attacks.

Air War.: The precipitous withdrawal of the Luftwaffe from the threatened airfield cluster now at the tip of the Soviet thrust north from Moscow allows the Soviets free reign to provide GS to a number of attacks and place defensive GS on the furthest north out of supply tank units doubling their strength.

A couple of skirmishes do take place and one IL-4 is exchanged for a ME110C protecting the Veliki Luki line and no rail hits are scored.

Battle Report

Over-runs = 1;
Auto Elims = 2,
Diced Attacks =  14
Losses: Forts = 2;
German Isolated = 10,
Un-isolated = 88; ET = 2,
Soviets = 13.

1942 DEC I Axis Turn

Weather:  Snow spreads south from A to B in the south Rain and Mud persists.

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

In the centre the Axis straighten the line but do not attack.

In the south the 9th pz cadre holds position to allow Finish forces further south pull back west as the threat of encirclement from infiltrating Soviet troops grows.

AGN: (Leningrad sector) OKW has determined that despite the rapid Soviet advance further south from the direction of Moscow the main effort should be directed against the Soviet drive south from Leningrad. The Soviet advance here is slow but poses a greater threat. The Russians have a higher force concentration and are driving down a supplied rail line. So it felt that if this is main threat. In addition the German positions here have some fortified sections and are in generally good terrain. Further still as the northern bulge contracts this allows for a greater concentration of force.

Nevertheless German infantry on the left flank abandon their forts and try to exfiltrate south to avoid encirclement from a Soviet mech corps which has now reached the Valdai lake system. Just 16miles East of that corps’ thrust south a 6-10 Mot xx/Artillery stack is forced to surrender its position without a fight and withdraws under threat from superior Russian forces,

The Soviet thrust north Moscow has already outran its supply chain and is thinned. With substantial Axis forces moving West it is believed that the genie can easily be put back into the bottle.

The troops in the East fall back in good order protecting the slower infantry and artillery units. Fortified units remaining against the Upper Volga river (now frozen) hold their positions and a brave infantry division moves out of its redoubt to ZOC and impede the neck of the Soviet spearhead.

Even so the situation along the Veliki Luki Railroad is delicate with only light forces guarding the line.

So relief forces is mustered from rebuilt, upgraded and newly arriving Panzers and the 6-4-8 tk xxx outside Kalinin is annihilated in a counter attack, The German forces cannot afford to concentrate and overrun the corps’ rear support hex of a Tk Brigade and rockets but are obliged instead to fan out and rebuild a defensive line screening Kalinin and the N/S rail line running through it.

After the destruction of the 4th tank army the Axis entrenches around Kalinin

After the destruction of the 4th tank army the Axis entrenches around Kalinin

AGN (Moscow Sector) Patrols, aerial recognisance and reports from the north convince the Moscow defenders that the Soviet forces have thinned and taking advantage of the redeployment of enemy armour the Germans counter attack the 34th xxx which is holding the line adjacent to the MW suburb of Moscow. With dive bomber support and rail gun concentrations transferred from the South they force the 34th back which exposes the right flank of the Soviet occupation forces in Moscow NW.

AGC: Other than minor in-theatre redeployments and engineering work little activity.  Freed of any offensive obligations the Luftwaffe transfers squadrons north but maintains a long range bomber presence to continue to disrupt Soviet N/S communications. Long range fighters redeploy specifically to provide continuous cover N/S along the main communications rail line through Kharkov/Kursk/Bryansk/Smolensk to protect against Soviet deep bombing raids.

AGS: With the majority of offensive capable ground troops transferred north the Axis forces engage in local moves and redeployments to optimise their defence of the great bend of the Don River. They do maintain an occupation of the swamps immediately south of the river to the west of Rostov as a trip wire defence against any Soviet attempt to try to retake the city. Mobile forces meanwhile re-deploy to reserve leaguers at rail nodes.

Air War. Dive bombers assist the attack against 34thxxx and medium and long range units move to provide DAS at critical weak spots in the line. 2 Hits are made against the Leningrad/Kalinin line. The northern force receives a mass reinforcement as fighter and bomber squadrons transfer north from AGS and AGC.

Battle Report

Combats: Diced = 2

Losses:
Soviets = 6
Air German= 2, Soviet = 1