Narrative: A time to drive, a time to die?
STAKA while pleased with the relief bought by the transfer of Panzers to the new Western Front opened up by the Allied landing in Normandy realises that it is now a two-horse race to Berlin and orders the Leningrad Front to drive West with all speed. This is not entirely without operational consideration because most Axis transfers have been from this sector and the swirling tank battles at Cherkassy together with the breakout north of Kiev assure them that no support for their enemy will be coming from the south. The multiple holes made in the enemy lines also offer up the possibility of wholesale isolation of numerous enemy divisions and will stretch the ability of the Axis to counterattack all breaches. The Soviet calculation is that they will lose no more than one Mobile corps in any riposte, a price they deem acceptable for the territory gained and the promise of further enemy losses as the noose tightens around the surrounded troops in their struggle to escape the net closing around them. Meanwhile in the south the Tankers at Cherkassy continue to be stuck in the mire of German defensive moves and counterattacks and make little progress.
Partisans: No targets
Arctic front: (2 attacks) The fleet is now supplemented by a number of River Transports who have been wintering south of the A line and now ferry RPs and reinforcements forward. Two attacks are mounted in this theatre. In the first Lakelva again denies the Soviets entry (NE) while a secondary mop up operation mounted against the by-passed coastal towns results in the capture of Vadso.
Leningrad Front: The Soviets launch 5 attacks against the German perimeter, the central section escaping simply due to the precipitous retreat providing no targets reachable in mass. Still along the north facing line between Konigsberg and Kaunas 3 successful attacks produce two breakthroughs. A third division is eliminated but the attackers do not have enough strength to overrun the resulting cadre. The holes are exploited resulting in a ZOC pocket containing 1x Pz xx, 5x infantry xx, 5 regiments/cadres of various kinds. Here the Germans faced a dilemma, do they retreat a cadre into the open to certain death by overrun while limiting the Soviet advance, or onto a nearby cavalry unit, safe from overrun but leaving a two-hex route of advance for the Soviets. They decide on self-preservation but the breakthrough immediately south of Kaunas makes them question the wisdom of this move; allowing as it does for their troops to be surrounded.
On the eastern facing section, the powerful drive towards Bialystok pushes a further 30 miles due West and in exploitation overruns a cadre and security unit.
Within the Pripet the Soviets press the loose line of units guarding the swamps, there are limited ZOCs here and only the harsh terrain prevents the Soviets from penetrating the line.
Moscow Front: (10 attacks) North of Kiev the 15-8 mech unit reunited and reinforced leads the charge driving west from the bridgehead. In exploitation the mechanized forces consider whether to fan out westwards overrunning security units and occupying small cities. The experience of the 1943 breakouts prove that even wounded the Germans are capable of great concentrations of force and the mechanized units decide instead to limit their advances and maintain contact with their supply lines. They split; one moves one hex north and the other one hex south. A bolder NKVD regiment breaks through the marshlands to the north and hooks south. It places itself between its own lines and the unit moving north from Kiev and becomes the last link in a ZOC ring around 2x PxG xxs and a fortified 6-8 lt inf xx who are now isolated.
An infantry stack adjacent to Kiev attacks the clear hex west of the city which after the advance is now surrounded on 5 sides. This advance links with the exploitation to the north sealing a 14-10 pz xx, a pz cadre and 2x inf cadres in a second ZOC’d pocket.
At Cherkassy the swirling tank battle continues with the Soviets turning through 180 degrees and attacking the ring isolating them. In this they are helped by new forces attacking over the river and from the established bridgehead. They easily clear the Pz and PzG cadres occupying the crossing. This sacrifice by the Germans does however limit their advance this turn and after all combats and exploitations the leading edge of the Soviet advance is no further to its objective than a fortnight ago. In secondary actions at the southern edge of the bridgehead a fortified 5-7-6 inf xx is trapped against the river and completely surrounded.
Stalingrad Front: (5 attacks) At the easternmost limit of the Axis forces infantry attacks continue to harry the retreating foe.
A factory in Berlin is brought on stream to mint a vast quantity of Iron Crosses for the defenders of Kherson who once again beat off a massed attack by tank and mech corps, artillery and infantry/cavalry as the Soviets strive to gain a foothold over the southern sweep of the Dnieper to pincer the forces remaining in the river bend.
A secondary attack is successful in a 3-hex attack to the east but the defending Hungarian 5-6 infantry division retreats in good order. The fort is lost but the Soviets gains no exploitation opportunities.
Air Combat: A few GS missions are executed and two Harassment missions in the north seek to limit the retreat of forces just outside the northern Pripet. The Soviets try to pressure the Luftwaffe by launching a series of raids on airfields by fighters. They are met in the sky by FW190s in large quantities and come off badly.
In the south there are few aircraft left over after most aid the ill-fated attack on Kherson but some attempt rail hits and are mauled by interceptors. The total tally in the air this turn is 5 Soviets losses for 2 Luftwaffe and one Rumanian loss.
Attacks = 22 (including one auto elimination), 8 overruns (2 in initial, 6 in exploitation).
Soviet = 23, Foreign Contingents = 2, Air = 5
Forts = 14 (including abandoned), 1 Res pt;
German = 57,
Pos AA = 5,
Air = 2,
Garrison = 1 x 4pt.
Hungarian = 13,
ET = 1,
Rumanian = 1 Air.
Axis = 71,
Soviets = 25,
Loss Ratio Axis/Sov = 23/71 = 0.35