The General Staff Archives

Europa Games and Military History

Month: November 2019

1943 FEB II Soviet Turn

Narrative

Kurt distinctly remembered the drill sergeant addressing his basic re-training passing out parade “The Fatherland is in need of fit young soldiers for the Eastern Front, unfortunately all I have got to send are you sorry bunch of old has-beens.”

Being a hill farmer from Bavaria Kurt’s sense of geography was not great but he was pretty damn sure there was not a sea between Germany and Russia – so why on all of god’s good earth was he leaning over the side of a troop transport staring at the half digested remains of his breakfast cascading down into an icy grey, rolling sea?

After the parade he and his regiment has been loaded onto a rail truck and sent to Konigsberg harbour and there onto the troopship bound for Hango.

Having been called to arms as a young teenager he had just had a week of action the last time Germany had called upon him for his dubious soldiering skills. Nevertheless he had managed to acquire a bit more iron in his system than the recommended dose as the icy cold wind constantly reminded him.

He watched as the ship entered the ice floes and followed the narrow channel kept open by their allies icebreakers.

Whilst the national radio stations had been broadcasting heroic stories of daring do from their northern ally he had heard rumours of a complete collapse of the Finish Army. His better informed comrades had said the Fins were shaky allies at best and so the Fuhrer had decided to bolster their resolve by sending them some aid in the form of his unit of reservists.

In the end with the Soviet Fleet bottled up at Leningrad their passage was uneventful and they were moved from the docks at Hango by broad-gauge troop train to Helsinki.

They arrived in absolute chaos. Soldiers and civilians intermixed and scurrying hither and thither as orders or panic directed them.  Soldiers carrying their arms disembarking and marching east to the front; civilians with their suitcases containing what few possessions they could carry fleeing west by whatever means available.

Kurt knew no Finish but heard the panic in the voices and could tell the enemy were not far away.

Two days later the rail line from Hango and the west was cut by advance elements of the Soviet 13th Tank Corps.

It seemed that Kurt’s’ contribution to this war would be shorter than his contribution to the last.

Turn Report

Finnish Front: The pursuit north continues and in the centre more stragglers are cut down.

In the south of the country with their backs against the frozen shores of Lake Paijanne the heroic Finish Motti is finally surrounded and crushed by weight of arms.

Along the cost Soviet 13th tank corps completed the encirclement of Helsinki.

The only highlight for the embattled defenders is that a 0-8 AA unit at Tampere drives off a Soviet GS IL 2 dropping the odds and a low roll allows the defending infantry brigade, against all odds, to check the Soviet two corps tank assault. (NE)

Soviet riposte south of Leningrad, weakened due to the large losses

Soviet riposte south of Leningrad, weakened due to the large losses

Leningrad Front: The loss of the mech division and strengthen of the German defenders forces the Soviets to probe for other weak spots. They identify a 3 division stack to the west of the former thrust and strike pushing back the defenders and advancing into the Axis lines. 

As a matter of course they eliminate a stay behind fortified 3-6 cadre.

Along the Kalinin sector a similar pattern emerges here with greater losses the thrust south of Kalinin is completely stalled but the Soviets do strike further north at a 2 division stack and cadre it including a 6-10 mech unit.  A stay behind fortified 3-6 cadre and 5-6 inf xx are also eliminated in this sector.

Moscow Front: Stalled in and north of the city the soviets launch a surprise attack in a previously quiet sector just south of the city. It fails to dislodge the defenders. (NE).

Winter Battles: Soviet counter attack at Voronezh

Winter Battles: Soviet counter attack at Voronezh

Voronezh Front.  The Soviets take a chance and mustering all available strength including drawing out a guards defender of Voronezh mass and attack the southern Schwerpunkt of the German attempt to encircle thi city. They obtain am Exchange against the 32 point stack cadering the two Panzer divisions (15-10 and 12-10) but weakening their ability to survive a counterthrust in due course.

Stalingrad Front: No action.

Air Combat: The usual mix of rail and airfield bombing results in an even number of kills and aborts for limited results. The Soviets add a harassment hit in a clear hex just behind German lines north of Kalinin to limit their manoeuvrability.

The Soviets mount a massive 12 bomber raid on Kalinin Airport to draw out the Luftwaffe. This it does and 13 Soviet fighters are engaged directly by 9 German fighters. The Soviet airmen’s plan backfires as they exchange 3 aborts each but lose 4 fighters without inflicting a single kill on the enemy. Flak over the city aborts a bomber and returns 3 of the rerst. Of the 3 viable bombing runs from the remainder only one is successful.

Battle Report

Auto eliminations = 3
Diced Combats = 9

Losses:
Forts = 3, Soviets = 27, Soviet Air = 4
German = 41, Isolated = 1,  German Air = 0
Eastern = 1, Hungarian = 2, Finish Isolated = 17,

1943 FEB II Axis Turn

Turn Summary

The Axis decide the time has come in the north to stop running and to deal the Soviets a mortal blow. The two most advanced Soviet stacks project a single hex into the German lines. Powerful forces lead by first line panzer units mass to counter attack.

However the victory is a pyric one at best. To paraphrase the words of the indomitable Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. “To roll a one and Exchange against a 24 point stack may be considered unfortunate, but to follow that by rolling a second Exchanging against a 38 point stack is positively careless.”

And thus it was; a massive bloodletting which eliminates 3 Soviet Mech divisions (one guards) 3 Guards rifles and numerous rockets support troops and an artillery division cadre. However the Exchange is a terribly high cost (DRs would have achieved enough.  As the attacker and ensuring AEC is <50% means the Germans can use infantry for most losses but 5 divisions are cadred including a mech xx.

The next few turns will reveal if this is sufficient to blunt the blows from the Soviet colossus.

Turn Report

Weather. The false spring in the south ends with snow returning across the map.

Finland & Army of Norway: The rout continues in the centre and the Germans the north are reduced to a small perimeter around Murmansk and scattered units fleeing towards the Norwegian border.

In the south the legendary Finnish motti launches a desperate breakout assault against a lone 4-6 XX barring its path and eliminates the Soviet driving 16 more miles westwards. Meanwhile the last reinforcements arrive in Helsinki as a 5-6 German division rails into the city just before a Soviet tank corps swings south to cut the route to Hango forever.

The Axis counteroffensive in the North ends in a bloodbath

The Axis counteroffensive in the North ends in a bloodbath

AGN The soviet drive which project one hex into the line occupying the vital railroad from Veliki Luki is assaulted and eliminated! But in an exchange infliction a 24 point loss on the Axis attacker.

Immediately to the south of Kalinin the exercise is repeated and a massive Soviet mech stack is completely eliminated but again 38 points are exchanged including a 10-10 German Mech xx. However this attack does eliminate two Soviet Mech XXX including a guard mech unit)

3 fortified hexes which now project into Soviet lines are evacuated except for two 3-6 infantry cadres and in the case of the position in front of Kalinin a 5-6 infantry division. Acting as groins to take the power out of the Red Tide they are designed to minimise the enemy’s ability to launch multiple hex attacks against the main line at these points. They also prevent lateral movement along the line. They are provided with maximum DAS to force the Soviets to commit additional forces against them. It is hoped that collectively they will allow at least one turns respite from the blows raining down on the German positions.

AGC: The boundary is contracted north to give operational control of Qxbow to AGS.

Operation Oxbow strives to isolate Voronezh

Operation Oxbow strives to isolate Voronezh

AGS:  The Oxbow phase two swings into action with a second assault being launched North of Voronezh. This attack lead by Das Reich slices through the Soviet fortified line (which has been present, unmolested, since the Axis high watermark of 41) This supports the continuing thrust north which is hooking behind two fortified stacks on the river.

Unfortunately for the attackers the DH results allow remnants to fall back onto the rail line and deny the Axis any exploitation to isolate the city leaving the southern schwerpunkt vulnerable to counter attack. An attack a few miles south by Rumanian and Italian forces eliminates a defending Soviet stack and advances.

Air Combat: In the north most short range bombers and dive bombers are tasked tio provide DAS to the front line particularly over the front line. An air strike eliminated a Guards IL-4 p on the ground and 3 rail hits in the centre attempt to limit any Soviet rail reinforcements reaching the Oxbow engagement.

Two aircraft are exchanged in aerial combat.

Battle Report

Diced Combats = 7

Losses:
Forts = 1, Soviets = 92  Air = 3
German = 60, Eastern = 2 German Air = 1

1943 FEB I Soviet Turn

Finnish Front: In the far north forces close in on Murmansk

Total collapse of the Axis in the centre with a mopping up operation to clean up a few stragglers.

The drive to Helsinki continues chewing up a 5-6 German infantry division reduced to cadre in combat and overrun in exploitation. The 3 division Finnish Motte is surrounded but not engaged.

Leningrad Front: In the far west of the line a division is retreated. The drive directly south from Leningrad is stalled by the increasing density of the defenders. A single 3 hex assault clearing one corner fort.

At the eastern tip of the retreating axis two hexes are assaulted and losses inflicted. But with two DRs out of the 4 attacks these are limited.

Moscow Front: The new commander with the assistance of engineers and new artillery and guard’s rocket divisions succeeds in taking the penultimate hex of Moscow! The Axis have now lost 4 of the 5 hexes they held at the High Watermark of their advance.

Within the Tula fortified zone secret plans are afoot to assemble a vast strike army ready for a summer offensive. Already from scrappage new recruits and replacements a number of the latest Guards Tank corps are in place awaiting infantry support and the end of winter.

Soviet slowly give groud in the Ukraine to the Axis winter offensive

Soviet slowly give groud in the Ukraine to the Axis winter offensive

Voronezh Front.  The majority of non-armour recruits are directed south to bolster the defences but the Soviets continue to pull back placing most units in supply and tempting the axis to advance out of their supply limit. Immediately north of Voronezh rumours of Axis mechanized forces in the area lead the Soviets to bolster the fortified line there.

Stalingrad Front: No action.

Air War: A few airframes are exchanged and Aborted in a variety of  air operations across the front.

Battle Report

Overruns= 2
Auto Attacks = 1
Diced Combats = 6

Losses:
Forts = 4,
German = 71,
Fins = 5,
Eastern = 1
German Air = 2

Soviets = 28,
Air= 1