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Europa Games and Military History

Month: March 2020

1943 MAY II Axis Turn

Narrative: The War of the Ideologies

Few in the Wehrmacht would have believed in the spring of 1943 that their defences were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than theirs and yet as mortal as their own. As soldiers busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency the Axis went to and fro over their conquests, serene in their assurance of their empire over the Eastern lands. None gave a thought to the vast steppe as a source of danger or thought of it only to dismiss the idea of military might upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most the Axis powers fancied there might be Untermensch still able to fight on, inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of the steppes, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded them with vengeful eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against them. And late in the weeks of May came the great disillusionment.  (with apologies to H.G. Wells).

Turn Report

Weather: The wet weather continues with deep mud persisting across everywhere north of the Crimea.

Finland and Army of Norway: A new Mountain division is split into two supported regiments at Konigsberg for shipping northIt will add to the thin screen, all that is needed to stop the out of supply and Resource Point less Soviet forces advancing north.  The Germans move extra shipping from Murmansk to bring this into the far north risking the effectiveness of the Murmansk defences.

AGN: An attack of opportunity is made against the weakest out of supply stack of Soviet frontline units to the south of Leningrad. The stack is eliminated but no advance is made. Engineers accompany to rebuild the breach in the fortifications.

In the Kalinin sector the one hex Soviet advance here is attacked at 5:1 and retreated. ZOCs eliminate all but the Guard infantry units whose cadres are pursued back to their former jump off point. In the rear fortification continues.

Armoured reserve forces are formed at key points behind the front line in reaction to rumours of Soviet build ups along the flanks of the Front.

AGC: A single attack against the protrusion south of Moscow results in victory as the stack is eliminated in a 6:1(-1) attack. Some losses are taken by the German counterattacking force, but the front line is restored.

AGS: Axis forces south of Voronezh fall back towards the Don river due the continuing Soviet pressure. Meanwhile at Voronezh engineers move to fortify around the city although they may have to await Resources most of which are being directed north.

Air Combat: Most missions again are defensive in nature providing DAS along the line at vulnerable hexes.

Combat Report:
Attacks: 4
Losses:
Axis = 1x fort, German = 7

1943 MAY I Soviet Turn

Soviet Plans for the 1943 summer campaign

Previously undetected the Soviets have been building forces and biding their time awaiting the advent of clear weather to launch the first major summertime offensive of the war.

They are frustrated and alarmed at the continuing wet weather, for every week that passes increases the chance that their plans and preparations will be detected by their Axis foes.  Only the overconfidence and arrogance of the Fascists has saved them so far. The rains have also enabled the Axis to complete their Voronezh operation and the army must press on with the attacks south of the city to pressure and thin the Axis forces and try to minimize enemy redeployment. The commander tasked with the defence of the city has not been seen for some time at STAVKA.

The Soviets review their plans. The Soviets have amassed vast forces in the region of Pskov /east of Lake Piepus for the northern pincer with a second massive force at Tula for the southern pincer. . The plan is to break through the German lines with massed Guards infantry and artillery divisions and rocket regiments. A second echelon of armoured units and motorized rockets where available will exploit any breaches. The main lines of march are as follows; For the Northern force this is Veliki Luki-Vitebsk- Smolensk; and for the southern force; Orel- Bryansk-Smolensk. The intention is a meeting in the region of Smolensk.

The Soviet plans for the summer offensive 1943

The Soviet plans for the summer offensive 1943

Secondary outlying thrusts will move from Narva through Estonia to Riga protecting the right flank of the southern force and securing the east bank of the Dvina. In the south a secondary thrust from Tula in the direction of Kursk will similarly protect the left flank of the main thrust to Bryansk. Across the front forces will move to connect with the Axis defensive line to pin forces and inhibit lateral movement of the enemy troops and wherever possible low odds pinning attacks will be stepped up against the enemy main line within the area of the intended pocket. Should the plan succeed, fully one third of the Axis force will be held in the resulting pocket.

The attack south of Voronezh will continue and will menace the Don river line ensuring little interference from the Rumanian, Hungarian and Italian forces in this sector.

The Soviet plans for the summer offensive 1943 - Southern Front.

The Soviet plans for the summer offensive 1943 – Southern Front.

Axis Plans for the 1943 Summer Campaign

Taking advantage of the Fluhrer’s quiescent mood following the defeat of Finland a heated debate with a cabal of the most competent Officers at the Wolf’s Lair lead by Erich Von Manstein persuade Hitler to call of his planned summer offensive and take a reactive, defensive stance on the Eastern front. They point out to the success throughout the spring of strong fortified defences, of giving up ground slowly and grudgingly, and then destroying the advancing Soviets with local counterattacks. This they extol can be used on a grand strategic scale until the enemy expends all his resources and reserves and will then be ripe for the final Coup de Grass. With this in mind they use the extra month the unseasonal rain has given them as the breathing space needed to redeploy forces from the concluded Voronezh operation.

The Axis expend an additional resource point to boost rail capacity and transfer numerous panzer divisions to assembly areas behind the front lines.  One Corps on the Latvian/Estonian border, one at Veliki Luki.  Two more, one on each rail line, directly west of Moscow and a force at Kursk with a Bryansk force to be formed when reinforcements and replacements allow.

These reserves are intended to cut off and isolate any Soviet breakthroughs through the mainly fortified frontline. The weaker northern front line is supplemented by infantry replacements and reinforcements and furious fort building activity continues in the region of Veliki Luki, Smolensk and Bryansk with secondary fortified lines being completed behind Moscow and the Valdai. The latter to enable withdrawal to that line should Moscow or Kalinin fall

Turn report

Partisan Attacks: 2 rail hits.

Finnish front.  With no Resource Points west of the main Karelian rail line forces moving on Norway spread out and attempt to infiltrate through to the coast. Around Murmansk it is clear to the Soviets that they will have to amass xx, x and artillery in every hex to have any chance of breaking the German mountain divisions defending the city perimeter.

In the south garrison and anti-partisan forces are deployed to hold the captured territories.

Leningrad Front:  Forces move into their assembly points and jump off positions ready for the predicted dry weather at the end of the month. The continuing mud places a section of the front at U2.

In the Kalinin sector a stack of the enemy is pushed back with air support and a 18 point stack advances threatening to cut off the northernmost two German hexes.

Moscow Front: North of Moscow the fortified enemy line is assaulted at 3:1(-1) = AR but NKVD troops ensure that the failed attackers hold their ground. South of the metropolis an attack against the German lines smashes a fort and allows a 21point stack to penetrate the Axis line.

Voronezh Front: Russian forces continue to pressure the Axis lines to the south of the fallen city of Voronezh with the intention of regaining the east bank of the Don. Three attacks are launched against the mixed Axis forces reinforced with German units, resulting in a Retreat each and a DE against a stack cadering a German 7-6 xx. Still however a meaningful breakthrough by armoured units fails to materialize.

Stalingrad Front: No activity.

Air Combat: Once again the VVS concentrates on rail bombing and raids succeed in inflicting a total of 5 hits. A furious air battle develops over the Kalinin sector attack as the Luftwaffe tries to deny the Soviet airmen the skies over the battlefield. The resulting combat between 10 escorts and 9 interceptors results in 12 downed Soviets machines and 3 aborted while the Luftwaffe suffers one elimination and 1 abort.

Combat Report

Attacks: 6
Losses: Soviets; Air =2
Axis: 1x Fort; German Un-isolated 4, Air = 1; Italian = 3,
Loss Ratio; May I ’43 = 0.18

1943 MAY I Axis Turn

Helsinki: Finland ratifies the Surrender but with no forces under arms this is a formality.

Voronezh: After the failed rescue attempt the hopeless, beleaguered and starving defenders succumb to a massed barrage from Rail, Siege and conventional Artillery which pounds them into the rubble which was the city.

Weather: The warming weather starts to thaw the Arctic tundra and rain and mud persist in all areas north of the Crimea.

Finland and Army of Norway: More minor units are shipped to Norway but the Soviet forces are now approaching the Norwegian border from the south and the Axis will need to consider whether they move the supply transports from Murmansk in order to ship more troops in to Norway or indeed whether they transfer some of the Murmansk garrison down the coast.

AGN: No attacks.  Mobile units move into reserve and a second fortified line forms 80 miles west of Kalinin.

AGC: No attacks. The MLR starts to thicken as troops trickle in from replacements and reinforcements.

AGS: The failed Soviet rescue attempt leaves a 27point defensive stack intruding into the Axis line; a far too tempting a target for the forces massed around Voronezh to ignore. They attack nipping of the bulge and totally annihilating this large spearhead including a 10-8 Gds Artillery xx and a 6-4-8 Tk xx. The irony is that had the Soviets not built the 1-2-6 para inf last turn and allowed the German panzers to overrun Voronezh the tanks may well have decided to re-locate out of theatre. however as they were trapped in place, they turned their attention to the Soviet thrust. Such are the vagaries of war.

Air Activity: DAS is concentrated where the Axis feel there is the most disparity between their own and the enemy’s force levels. The Soviets for their part make a few desultory intercepts but most bombers are out of reach of the short-range fighters and the encounters result in no significant losses on either side.

Combat Report:

Attacks: Auto = 1, Diced = 1
Losses: Soviets Isolated = 5, 5AA pts, 2 Res pts;
Soviet Un-isolated = 33