Europa Games and Military History

Category: SE AAR No 1 (Page 1 of 11)

Game Report from a solitary SE game by Ken Newall, 2018

1943 JUL II Axis Turn

R&R (Rescue and Riposte) In the Arctic the Axis launch an operation that eliminates a large section of the Soviet front line.

In the south of Estonia the trapped troops are rescued by counter attack although for one infantry division this is it likely to prove a brief respite.

Between Orel and Kursk the tank on tank battle continues as two more tank corps and two motorised corps are obliterated.

Turn Report

Weather: Automatically clear

Finland and Army of Norway: A light division arrives at Alta and marches to join the fight at Kautokeino attacking with the Mountain division and mountain artillery already in situ they launch a devastating attack across 2/3’s of the sector eliminating in one sweep 64 miles of Russian front Line troops for the very economical cost of 1 Res pt.

Elsewhere all hold in place with one Res Pt being shipped along the coast from Alta to Kirkenes.

Axis counterattacks in the central Arctic Theater

Axis counterattacks in the central Arctic Theater

AGN; Narva/Pskov Sector: The units in the Forested and Swampy terrain screening Tallinn hold fast and await their inevitable fate, they are ordered to “hold in place until relief arrives” which they correctly deduce is code for “no rescue is planned”.

In the south of the former Baltic state a double attack on the forces which penetrated the MLR at Pskov are is executed and the trapped forces rescued however the front line established in Exploitation excludes the infantry division in the forests adjacent to the lake as to include it would extend the line into a cul-de-sac and risk further encirclement. At least it has been brought back into supply. (The Axis would have liked to include it in the attack which would have allowed an advance south but to do so would have sullied the AECA and risked an exchange and there are not enough Armour assets to have raised the odds to avoid this.)

As a general principle the Axis are averse to use their Air Force as flying attack artillery except to top up a small shortfall or for critical attacks preferring instead to use the Airforce for DAS.

The force levels in this sector are now such that the Soviets can pick on most hexes at will and eliminate them, The Axis see this as a delaying force giving time for the Dvina River line to be fortified where they will make their stand.

Veliki Luki Sectors: No possibility for counter attacks here the Axis contemplate falling back to the Veliki Luki fortified hub but decide to stand fast gaining some reinforcements from troops moving West from the Kalinin Sector and maintaining a continuous front while the line fall back on the Dvina.

Kalinin Sector- The Axis have no significant reserves here and the terrain is too difficult for a “Hit and Return” attack from Kalinin so the pincer move on Vishniy Volochek is unchecked (pardon the pun) and the forested crossroads reluctantly evacuated. The focus of so much attention over the last two years, battered by assaults and key to German operations to the East the pressure now is too great so weakened are the defenders. In reality, although of significance in terms of morale the practical importance of this junction has waned to insignificance now the front has shrunk back. It is true that the rail line is needed in winter but in the summer months supplies can arrive from the rails further south. Not admitted publicly OKW is practicing Wargames which allow for a complete withdrawal from this sector dependant on the fate of Kalinin and/or their tenuous grip on the capital. The loss of this junction may, at worst, hasten this decision.

AGC; North Moscow Sector; The Soviets retreated, the breach is sealed and engineers move in to re-fortify.

South Moscow Sector: Defences are prepared against the continuing assaults.

Orel Sector: The isolated Tank corps/Brigade stack is surrounded and annihilated to the last man.

On the southern corner of the pocket closest to Kursk a bold advance by a tank XXX and two motorised XXXs is repaid by annihilation.

Panzers move back to replace the concrete forts previously lost with steel.

Southern Sector; Infantry and support units are reinforced by armour and mech units in an attempt to check any move south while battered infantry forces north of Voronezh abandon forts to shrink the perimeter and maintain contact on their left flank.

AGS: Troops continue to be bled off the Don defensive line but this particular cup is now running dry. The Soviet units West of the Don are for the moment unassailable so are simply contained.

Air combat: Most aircraft on Das a smattering of intercepts result in losses of 1xJU88A, 2x, JU87D for a P39D.

Combat Report:

Attacks: Auto =2, Diced = 6

Losses: Soviet Isolated = 14, Un-isolated = 45, air = 1

Axis; Air = 3:

 

1943 JUL I Soviet Turn

Narrative

R&R – (Rescue and re grouping). The swift armoured response of the German forces requires a turn of consolidation in the south. 4 Tank corps are isolated west of the wall of steel erected between Kursk and Orel and a breakthrough is needed to bring them into supply and safety. 3 are rescued but one cannot reach home so marches NW to interdict the Bryansk-Orel rail line.

Whilst the dash and élan of the southern breakout requires a turn of consolidation this is not so in the north where the slow, steady push on the German forces in Estonia finally cracks the line and the resulting exploitations isolate 5 divisions and 4 REs of cadres and support troops.

Turn Report

Partisans: With many districts completely covered by security assets only 3 rail breaks are inflicted this turn; none of which are in critical areas.

Finnish front. The Soviets continue to reduce the Murmansk perimeter, but their efforts are repulse by fully supplied defenders.

Further west a Luftwaffe penal battalion is retreated into Petsamo.

Leningrad Front:  Narva Sector; The attackers concentrate their attacks into two main drives. The smaller of the two including just one Guards Mech Corps with massed infantry and artillery drives directly West smashing a hodge podge defence of cadres and an 88 flack unit and hooks north to the outskirts of Tallinn trapping the Security division stationed there and the two divisions and engineers in the forested and swamp terrain near the coast. Any move east by these troops is barred by a screen of Guards infantry and Naval Gunfire support.

The second group strikes at the 5-6 infantry division and supports occupying Tartu. Despite two Tk xxxs and a Mech xxx in the van a spirited defence is mounted by the greatly outnumbered rear-guard of flack, stug and a local ethnic contingent which allows the infantry division to fall back intact and block any significant exploitation by the Soviets. (DH)

Soviet Forces liberate Estonia

Soviet Forces liberate Estonia

Pskov Sector; The unprotected gap courtesy of local Fighters out of Pskov driving off a Harassment mission allow an infantry force to advance 16 miles and a lone Cavalry division to penetrate 30 miles into the rear of the MLR. In exploitation a 4-8 mech cadre joins the Cavalry unit to prevent overrun and the advancing Mech/Tanks from Tartu move towards these units and trap and isolate a further 2 divisions and a 5-10 SS mech unit adjacent to Lake Peipus. A massed assault just south of there cadres a 14-10 pz.

Veliki Luki Sector: A direct assault south is mounted by two tank armies against a stack with a 12-10 pz as its primary defender. The German units retreat without loss but are now holding only 30 miles from the vital communication line serving the East/West MLR between Veliki LUki and Kalinin.

Kalinin Sector: An infantry pincer attack is developed by a new thrust close to the small lakes in the northern Valdai Eastwards threatening to meet the continuing drive West from north of Kalinin. The noose is tightening on the Axis hold of the forested junction just north of Vishniy Volochek a junction they have held against the best the Russians could throw against them all through the long cold winters of 41 and 42 and the summer before it.

Moscow Front: North Sector: A rescue attack is mounted against the 12-10 pz trapping the two Tanks corps west of it. To aid the attack the entire Moscow air defence is mobilised adding a full 35 points to the attack. The result only retreats the defenders, but the Tank corps and artillery xx is recued.

South of Moscow: A German fort which occupies the oxbow system between Moscow and Orel and is located East of the river is assaulted, ironically with some soviets attacking back East over the bend from their positions west of it. The hex is cleared as is a second on the direct route to Bryansk but the going is a slow grind with dire consequences for any single hex advances.

Outside Orel a lone 0-1-10 Flack unit passing supplies to a trapped 7-6 in an outlying fort is over-run and the 7-6 subsequently eliminated. Another assault against the fortified redoubt dispatches a Panzer cadre, light inf xx cadre and a 2-8 Stug.

The Soviets rescue 9th Army and keep pushing West

The Soviets rescue 9th Army and keep pushing West

Between Kursk and Orel infantry and artillery rush forward to replace the tanks and mech in the front line. The latter concentrate and hit a 14-10 pz reducing it to cadre. The three isolated tank corps join the fight to reach safety and advance into supply. A lone Tk xxx with a 3-2-8 Guards accompaniment out of reach of rescue and running low on fuel moves northwest to try to interfere with German forces moving from the north.

Along the Voronezh/Kursk road three attacks penetrate the line inflicting losses and retreats.

Voronezh Sector: The infantry/artillery drive continues south of the city and a second strong force advances West of the Don. 2 forts are eliminated.

Stalingrad Front; The soviets note the continual drain of units north but take no action. They are spread thinly in a defensive posture from the Sea of Azov to the end of the Major section of the Don with no offensive capacity.

Air Combat: The massive Moscow air operation is unopposed. The Soviets attempt to support the isolated Tank/Brigade formation outside Orel but two of the three Pe2FTs are driven off by interceptors although the VVS gains comfort by eliminating a Me410A’

Short and medium range Assault craft gain 2 rail hits in the Veliki Luki area and raid an Airbase Aborting a Ju87 on the ground.

The Long Range bomber force is less successful scoring only one rail hit in the Minsk area out of 10 missions there and against Polish and Lithuanian lines.

Combat Report

Over-runs = 1, Auto Attacks = 1, Diced Combats = 19

Losses:
Soviets = 21, Air = 2.

Axis:
Forts = 5,
German Isolated= 7,
German un-isolated = 90,
Air = 3;
Eastern Troops = 1.

Loss Ratio July I ’43 Axis/Sov = 98/83 = 1.18

 

1943 JUL I Axis Turn

COUNTTER ATTACK! The German forces do what they know best utilising their mobility and concentrated firing power they carry out series of counterattacks to check the recent Soviet advances. 

Turn Report

Weather: Automatically clear

Finland and Army of Norway: The supported 3-8 mountain regiment which is west of the river adjacent to Murmansk decides it is too exposed and moves into the city contracting the perimeter to only three occupied hexes.

At Alta a fresh Mountain division broken down to supported regiments arrives with Res Points and moves towards the western end of the front line closest to the Swedish border.

AGN; Narva Sector: Units full back to Forested and Swampy terrain screening Tallinn and widening the perimeter as the right-hand flank moves to defend the river line at Tartu. The gap between these two forces is plugged by a 1010 mech xx

Pskov/Veliki Luki Sectors: Two Panzer divisions are transferred south to loop around the Soviet breakthrough by Strategic railing via Kharkov. Meanwhile weakened by weeks of battering and winkled out of their forts only terrain is now available to augment the defences’ Das Reich & Viking Corps therefore stay in the line adding the panzers to the defending forces.

Kalinin Sector- A defensive posture is still taken here.

SE AAR Axis Jul I ’43

AGC; North Moscow Sector; Just north of the city the unassailable Soviet drive is cut off at the base in a brilliant move which catches the Soviets completely by surprise, The Moscow city panzer defence force strikes directly north into the flanks of the Soviet advance while simultaneously from the west strong Panzer forces assembled from the Kalinin defence force and aided by part of the Moscow reserves attack the north flank.

Both attacks are completely successful smashing the Soviet Guards infantry defenders completely The panzers advance trapping the two Soviet tank Corps, a 14-6 artillery division and their NKVD political advisors.

South Moscow Sector: As expected the Axis forces crush the southern penetration using the balance of the Central Reserves. A 16-10 xx pz advances and stays in the line.

Orel Sector: A 13-10 pz XX loops around the westernmost units of the advancing Soviet units and Totenkopf Corp concentrates and strikes south from Oral. In the resulting combat a 12 8 Guards mech division is completely eliminated and the panzers advance south towards kursk. In this manoeuvre they are joined by the only German Mech unit south of the A/B weather line which has moved from Voronezh. In Exploitation a solid line of Mech and Panzer units isolate four Soviet tank corps west of the newly formed defensive line.

Counterstroke II: The Ais cuts off the tip of the Soviet assault

Counterstroke II: The Ais cuts off the tip of the Soviet assault

Southern Sector; Infantry and support units flee south trying to re-form the line together with units peeling off from the Voronezh defences. These units join the Security divisions along the Voronezh/Kursk rail line unsure at this stage where the Soviet intensions ultimately lie.

AGS: Only the Rumanian Tank division with an Italian Mot brigade and cadre are left as a mobile reserve in the south so the Axis units can do no more than contain the Soviet bridgehead over the upper Don.

Air Combat: A black day for the Luftwaffe; –  Most missions are DAS but Soviet air activity is intense and effective and in the worst week of exchanges in the war so far the Luftwaffe lose 6 air units for a single kill of a Soviet fighter. In other news west of Pskov a Harassment mission is Returned despite Fw escort which leaves a gap in the lines.

Combat Report

Attacks = 4

Losses: Soviets = 62. Air = 1
Axis:  German Air = 6

Loss Ratio for Jun II ’43 (omitted from last report) Axis/Soviet = 137/102 = 1.34

 

1943 JUN II Soviet Turn

Narrative

The door to the billet crashed open, waking the sleeping occupants with a start. The large bulk of the tank commander filled the door. Silhouetted by the low early morning sun he cast a long shadow down the length of the room.

“Hands off cocks!”, he bellowed, “Hey Yuri, wipe that smirk of your face Its the last time you’re going to park your tankette in the baker’s daughter’s garage for a while”.  “Grab you gear, you’ve got 15 minutes before we roll – this is the big one lads, the wait is over. Now we give fritz a taste of his own medicine!

10 minutes later Yuri lowered himself down into the driving position of the T-34, started the 500hp engine and tested the drive controls. The commander sat in the “pirozhok” above and to his rear. Both were waiting for the signal, Yuri caught sight of the flare from his vision slit and slammed the T-34 into gear. Lurching forward the machine kicked up a shower of stones leaving a billowing dust cloud in its wake from the dry earth.

They had been billeted behind the front lines for three months, much longer than expected. The newspapers and official reports spoke of victories at the Front but Yuri had been around long enough to know that all had not gone strictly according to plan and he had witnessed for himself the horse carts moving back east carrying the streams of wounded and the panniers of the dead.

He paid silent tribute to the courage and determination of his comrades in clearing the way for his tank and the many others like it which now moved rapidly west across the steppe. They soon were passing over the remnants of the enemy positions, a network of earthworks and fortifications which had been built up over the last six months or so. Churned and pounded to rubble by the artillery and assaulted by infantry and rocket fire the fortified zone now resembled a lunar landscape. The drop down into ditches and climb up over mounds, passing dragons teeth and logs sticking out at crazy angles and rolls of tangled barbed wire which they crush beneath their steel tracks. Soon they are clear of the erstwhile fortified zone and back on the level. Charging between small groves of trees set in fields of rye and winter wheat they catch up with the enemy a few miles later. A rudimentary rear-guard proves no hindrance to their advance as they charge onwards catching many units in column and crushing all before them leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake.

Eighty miles further on they met the only nest of resistance on the route so far when they came across a small village where the remnants of shattered German infantry division had decided to make a stand. The desperate foe had taken up residence and fortified the hamlet as best they could with logs, carts, some wreaked vehicles and the bodies of their dead comrades. As Yuri’s tank approached the village the commander suddenly screamed “Panzerschreck right”.  Instinctively Uri pushed forwards on his left stick and pulled the right towards him pivoting the tank to face the oncoming threat. To his great relief the trail of smoke passed off to his left and impacted a small group of trees to the rear. Before his commander could give the order to load and fire a return shot the small building from where the smoke trail emanated exploded showering them with the timbers, plaster, thatch and the remains of the recent occupants. One of his fellow tankers had taken the shot. The enemy had no appetite for anymore of such an unequal fight and the survivors, their hands held high, shuffled out from the remaining buildings, ditches and hastily prepared barriers. Soon they were rounded up and passed back down the line to the security guards and a fate only marginally less certain than the one they had just avoided.

“Ok lads” said the commander that’s enough for one day. We are to form up with the rest of the platoon and spend the night here. After all it is only fair that we give our infantry boys a chance to catch up!

It has been a great day for the motherland, now get some rest, you’ve earned it!”

Turn Report

Partisans: Increased Axis patrols restrict activity to 2 rail breaks this turn.

Finnish front. The Soviets continue with their operation to retake Murmansk. Two attacks are launched with assistance from air power most by long range IL4s flying from Archangelsk. Another Mountain division is eliminated whose cadre has no retreat path and is lost. The second attack fails to make progress (NE).

Leningrad Front:  Narva Sector; Three attacks designed to break out the Mech/Tank units fail in their intent and accumulated MP costs prevent any meaningful exploitation despite a HX and DH result inflicting heavy losses on the German defenders.

Pskov Sector; Two DEs from 7:1 attacks inflict losses and eliminate a fort but with no armour and the presence of strong enemy tank formations in the area only one advance is made.

Veliki Luki Sector: The attack on the “shoulder” of the previous hole is successful in widening the breach in the fortified line covering the main rail south. A second attack from the swamps unseats an infantry division and the consequent advance places another fort in a exposed position. The Soviets expect it will be abanded so the occupiers can keep their flanks in contact.

Further east the newly supplied defensive line strikes back in revenge for recent losses retreating an infantry unit and the victors advance towards the east/west rail line from Veliki Luki.

Kalinin Sector: The grind west continues and like a slow-motion car crash the Soviets bend and buckle the German line and cadre a 7-6 inf xx in a DH result.

Moscow Front; Northern Sector; Just north of the city the attack continues pressing forward and threatening the whole Moscow defence. This is an unsung advance without the dash and flare of armoured conflict but just as effective as the NKVD presence so far deters a riposte.

Central Sector: The right flank of the main southern thrust presses forward with a infantry/artillery attack but a HX drains strength and only a token advance to restrict enemy mobility is made. The units are not expected to survive the Axis’ next combat phase.

The Axis have made a tactical error on the approach to Orel where a 14-10 panzer/6-8 light inf division occupies a corner fort which can be assaulted from 3 sides. The Soviets mass and a HX at 5:1 (-1) cadres the occupants and takes the fort.

The Desctruction of Army Group Center

The Desctruction of Army Group Center

Southern Sector; BREAKOUT!. What began as a holding action against the fortified line linking Orel to Voronezh becomes the focus of Soviet attention and the main assault. A three hex wide break has been made on previous turns by infantry and artillery eliminating the fort line for 60 miles of width. The Soviets swing all their armoured formations against the line held by infantry units without armour or AT support. The line is crushed. Massed armour formations burst through; some are tasked with overrunning the surviving cadres but most dash across the open territory beyond.. The advanced guard cannot believe their eyes as they reach the fort line between Kursk and Orel – it is empty! So complete is the pace and surprise of the attack that other than an ET security unit which is overrun the whole fort line is unoccupied Tank and Mech corps exploit to occupy this line and eliminate the empty forts. Some curve back north pinning the Germans at Orel, others enter the outer fort line at Kursk

Fortunately for the Axis a large anti partisan operation utilising 4 Security divisions strung out along the Kursk – Voronezh road prevents any exploitation south of the weather-line else Voronezh would be threatened with isolation.

South of Voronezh:  Although deprived of armoured support sheer momentum carries the attackers across the Don just south of the city. Further south the Rumanians hold the river line against a second attack and force a retreat on the Soviets.

Soviet Mechanized Troops overrun Army Group Center

Soviet Mechanized Troops overrun Army Group Center

Stalingrad Sector: No significant activity.

Air Combat: The pattern of previous turns repeats itself with a series of rail attacks and GS. The Soviets do initiate an air attack against an aborted aircraft west of Moscow where a battle develops over the airfield and a YAK7B and Hurri 2 are lost for an Abort on a FW109. A Me110E is eliminated by a IL2m over the field but the attack succeeds is achieving a Hit eliminating a ME109G on the ground and sending it straight to the Remnants box.

A series of long-range raids over Eastern Poland and the Baltic states causes 2 hits with 3 more inflicted by Assault Bombers in the Veliki Luki region.

Combat Report

Combats: = 21
Overruns (in exploitation) = 5 plus 5x Forts and 1x Res Pts

Losses (including overruns)
Axis:
Forts = 16,
German Isolated = 6,
Uninsulated = 125,
Air = 2,
Eastern Troops = 6
Total 137

Soviets = 31 Air = 3.

 

1943 JUN II Axis Turn

The Axis forces encouraged by the lack of Soviet progress and empowered by the cessation of the interminable rains put their defensive plan into action. The various Panzer Corps each formed around a SS Panzer or Mech Division move to engage the enemy. The tactics are to hit the infantry/artillery stacks which have penetrated the fortified line. The mobile units move in for the kill. The primary targets are stacks where the Soviets have been rash enough to advance through ZOCs. Here odds as low as 3:1 can annihilate a stack or at least reduce it to a pitiful few cadres. But these odds are safe anywhere there is no enemy AT/ACED capability and so elsewhere they attack the Soviet line hoping for a high roll and half or full elimination.

The aim is not to take back territory or expose the Panzers to attack themselves. Thus in exploration the plan is to move back into reserve or fortified city redoubts.

Weather: The skies finally clear across the whole front signalling the end of one of the wettest winters on record.

Finland and Army of Norway: More units arrive by sea transport strengthening the right wing in the far north of Finland. The left flank falls back to the coast; the link with Murmansk broken. With two transports bringing 10Res of supplies each month to the city all but one regiment of the city defence perimeter is fully supplied.

Double attacks at Pskov and Velikije Luki

Double attacks at Pskov and Velikije Luki

AGN; Narva Sector: A low grade infantry division reinforces the centre but the left wing battered by land sea and air, its fort eliminated, falls back along the coast to the forested hex east of Tallinn. The rest of the line holds in swamp and the one remaining fort. A 6-6xx in reserve bars the one-hex wide clear route south.

Pskov Sector: Das Reich Corp attacks a stack which has penetrated the line. A 6 at 3:1(+3) eliminates 2 Guards xxs and a Rocket xx. With nowhere to run they are completely eliminated.

Veliki Luki Sector: Viking Corp attacks the right shoulder of the penetration south of Leningrad and reduces to cadres 3 guards inf xxs and a 9-6 art xx.

Due to the thinness of the infantry line in the above sectors the corps do not retreat back into reserve but fill the line in concentrations sufficient, they calculate, to avoid a viable Soviet attack.

Kalinin Sector- A defensive posture is taken here.

Axis counterattacks south of Moscow

Axis counterattacks south of Moscow

AGC: North Moscow Sector: The presence of a NKVD unit dissuades the Germans from attacking as the inexorable creep of the Soviet blunt force attacks roll on.

South Moscow Sector: The Moscow Defence forces merge now that the threat is clear and form up under Liebenstandart – they attack the soviet bridgehead west of the river sending it reeling back east. 2 Guards infantry and a Guards artillery are cadred in the retreat.  However elsewhere the Germans are forced to evacuate a salient in the line and abandon a fort there.

Orel Sector; Totenkoph Corps detaches a panzer division to Voronezh to herp with the recapture of the SE approaches to the city. The rest of the corps attacks an infantry/artillery stack approaching Orel but the enemy pull back from the assault. Without a kill the tankers return to their fortified positions around the City.

The forts which linked Orel to Voronezh are starting to be eroded and infantry reinforcements arrive to bolster the line with DAS concentrates further enhancing the defence.

Voronezh Sector: The arrival of the 13-10 pz xx from Orel allows a 4:1(+1) attack to take back the ground in front of the city.  Fortunately, there remains a concentration of Siege Artillery in the area which is retained and fires over the river from the north further aiding the attack. A DH forces loss and retreat on the defenders and the ground is retaken.

Its job done the 13-10 returns to Orel.

AGS; South of Voronezh the East bank is fully evacuated. To aid the defence the ground immediately south of the city is evacuated which exposes the road running into the city from the Southwest for the Soviets to regain at no cost which some at High Command think is an error.

West of the Don Engineers move to complete the fortified line and Rumanian artillery transfers in from further south to bolster the defenders.

Air War: Apart from a couple of raids on rail lines south of Voronezh all air power is directed towards bolstering the defence via DAS missions with some brave Luftwaffe units entering the ”No Fly Zone” West of Moscow. Soviet fighters engage where they can and a series of low level engagements swirl along the front.

Despite the mighty FW109’s full spirited escorting skills when the contrails clear the count is 4 Soviet fights for a Ju87D and a pair of JU88As a rough exchange the Luftwaffe can ill afford.

Combat Report

Attacks: = 5

Losses:
Axis; German Air = 3
Soviet; = 71,  Air = 3.

1943 JUN I Soviet Turn

Disappointed with results last month and with the timetable slipping before the offensive has barely begun the Soviets decide to focus their attacks more. Rather than build on last turns breaches in the Axis fortified line and in accordance with their plan they seek to enlarge the breaches to expose the Axis to armoured attack when their second echelon passes through when the forts are cleared.

Turn Report

Partisan Attacks: 4 hits are inflicted on communication lines.

Finnish front. In association with the increased tempo on the main front the Soviets open their operation to retake Murmansk. Two attacks are launched against the perimeter eliminating N6 and forcing the cadre into the city. An adjacent attack stalls but to the west, over the river, an attack northwards severs the link between the garrison and Norway thus Isolating Murmansk.

XXXVI. Mountain Corps surrounded at Murmansk - Soviets march into Norway!

XXXVI. Mountain Corps surrounded at Murmansk – Soviets march into Norway!

Leningrad Front:  Narva Sector. – The Soviets shift their attack to the rail line held by 2x 6-6 Fortified inf XXs. They launch a co-ordinated assault using all three Service arms. A ground assault utilising a combined arms force of artillery, Guards infantry and armour, an air attack of Assault bombers and finally a shore bombardment by the Soviet Fleet making its first appearance since being trapped at Narva by German torpedo boats and mines. One division is cadred and both retreat exposing the fort to capture but holding the road and preventing any exploitation by the advancing Reds.

Pskov sector; The German line running north/south is again assaulted in two places but German solidarity is upheld and all defenders retreat maintaining contact with their neighbours. Two more forts however are surrendered.

Veliki Luki Sector; The Soviets seek to expand the breach held open by the advance last turn and the shoulders are attacked.   The righthand attack succeeds and a further fort is cleared (HX) but the other stands defiant (NE).

Kalinin Sector – Another bloody exchange in this sector clears a hex of Axis. The Soviets now control 3 adjacent hexes of the Forested crossroads in the northern tip of the salient but as summer has arrived this crossroad no longer holds the key to German supply at Kalinin which can be fed by the road from the Moscow highway.

Third Guards Army breakes through at Narva , June 1943

Third Guards Army breakes through at Narva , June 1943

Moscow Front; Northern Sector; Just north of the city the attack continues widening the breach by a further hex. Once again however the Germans manage to retreat without loss and fall back to a second fortified line behind the fort that is removed.

Central Sector: The right flank of the main southern thrust concentrates and makes two assaults in the NW direction where last turn they tried three. Once again lady luck favours the Axis who retreat away but two more forts succumb, and the river line is crossed.

The approach to Orel is assaulted at the point where a sharp river bend places the defenders east of it. The hex is cleared the defending infantry retreating over the river. A recon Motorcycle regiment probes forward eliminating the fort but on making contact with Totenkopf pulls back to the main line. Forewarned by this intelligence the main body decides not to put their head in the noose and does not advance.

Southern Sector: The secondary assault against the fortified line running from Orel to Voronezh is again assaulted in two places. One defending unit retreats the other is cadred (DH).

Voronezh Front:

A move to encircle the city from the south is started and an assault pushes NW some 30 miles to the SE of last turn’s advancing column which is now stalled outside the city.

South of the city the units take up the positions evacuated by the Axis. They catch a mixed stack of stragglers still east of the river. Two German infantry cadres, a Rumanian AA unit and a Luftwaffe ground regiment are assaulted as they que to cross the river. Caught in the open none survive the onslaught.

Stalingrad Sector: The two reserve Tank Corps are upgraded and move North. Local commanders discuss whether they should press SW over the Don to try and trap the Axis forces in the river bend. They are tempted to open up a diversionary assault towards Rostov arguing that the enemy has no reserves in the area.  However true to their rigid command structure and training thy instead choose to continue to move north to joins the assault on Orel.

Air Combat; The Soviets launch a massive three mission attack against German airfields west of Moscow. Each raid consists of 6 Il2m’s with fighter escorts, The German fighter defence masses against one of these raids to protect an aborted unit on the ground. The unassailable FW109s eliminate two Yaks (a 7B and 9B) while other fighters tear into the Il2ms. The bombing mission unsurprisingly fails. The second unmolested raids has two of the assault bombers Aborted/Returned by flak and the third force with a clear unopposed run at the target from both air and ground fire fails to deliver a hit. Across all raids of the 18 assault bombers employed not a single hit is inflicted!

The Long-Range Bomber Flight now based at Leningrad launches 4 deep raids inflicting 3 hits on the rail network and almost isolating the battlefield in this sector. Luckily for the predominantly German defenders one route from Germany still remains open.

Further north a pair of Yak7Bs out of Helsinki avoid all patrol attacks from the two the Tallin based ME109G squadrons and catch a Ju87D on the ground at Parnu aborting it.

Battle Report

Attacks = 17

Losses;
Soviets =32,
Air=4

Axis:
Forts = 9,
German = 45,
Air = 1,
Eastern Troops = 1
Rumanian = 1,
Hungarian = 5

1943 JUN I Axis Turn

Narrative

Across the entire front from Narva to the curve of the mighty Don river the quiet before the morning’s dawn is shattered in a cacophony of artillery, rocket fire and tank engines. Troops surge forward to contact the enemy line and ……stop!

Out of 18 attacks (over 3 times as many as recent turn averages) fully 4 are NEs and 8 are DRs. This does not bode well for the Soviets who are comforted only by the fact that much of their mobile elements are held back in cloying mud with some larger artillery mired up to their axles and so the full weight of their force is not yet deployed.

The Axis for their part are comforted that the much vaunted Soviet attack is not a firestorm but a damp squib. True, 7 forts are lost, but while their line has bowed it has not broken and losses have been light, just under half occurring in the established battlegrounds north of Kalinin and at Voronezh.

The same mud which prevented the Axis feeling the full weight of the Soviet might now serves to limit their own response. None of the reserve forces have the mobility to effectively engage the enemy and only one reaches a meaningful defensive position where Group Wiking laagered at Veliki Luki detaches panzer divisions and support units to seal the breach south of Leningrad.

Turn Report

Weather = 6! Against all odds it continues to rain in the North.

Finland and Army of Norway: More small units are drip fed into the Norway defences.

AGN; Reserve and replacement infantry divisions move to reinforce the breaches in the fort line and bolster the shoulders where the Soviets have advanced. The Narva line breach occupied by the cadred remains of the defending infantry xx is reinforced by an engineer regiment and a flak unit. A JU87R completes the defence by surviving Soviet intercepts aided by two squadrons of Me 109Gs.

Retreat in the North and counterattacks

Retreat in the North and counterattacks

Group Wiking detaches units to enclose the Soviet Army moving south down the rail line from Leningrad but does not reach the lines in time to mount an attack. Meanwhile Group Das Reich to the West moves towards the front line but awaits developments.

Further East the German line faces a thin screen of U3 Soviets and as a target of opportunity again eliminates an enemy infantry stack and decides against advance. The attack is aided by flak Returning a A20B defending air unit.

In the Kalinin area the southern penetration of the line is counter attacked by the powerful units stationed along the line. Here there are sufficient mobile units to counter-attack intrusions and fall back into the line again. The attack is successful and only a single cadre limps back across the line to the Soviets starting position of a fortnight earlier. The northern intrusion however cannot also be attacked and the slow grind west by the Soviets finally persuades the Axis to give up ground. Two hexes in the extreme northern tip are evacuated. This exposes the junction between the Kalinin/Leningrad rail line and the east/west road to Pskov and will bring supply relief to some Soviet units being punished by the current series of German opportunistic attacks in that sector.

The Axis evacuate the area south of Voronezh, a counterattack East of the city fail

The Axis evacuate the area south of Voronezh, a counterattack East of the city fail

AGC: The central reserves move from Vyazma toward the points of main Soviet effort.

The presence of an NKVD unit occupying the Soviet spearhead immediately north of the Moscow lodgement dissuades the Axis from attacking because the risk of an Exchange is too high at the estimated odds.

At the southern end of the Front Group Totenkopf occupies Orel while just to the Southeast. Infantry reserves and units shuffling from the Voronezh sector seal the line against the Soviet forces occupying the former fortified position left by the retreating divisions.

At Voronezh the Soviet drive to the city is attacked but the attack fails to make any headway against the stalwart defenders (4:1 – NE).

AGS: South of the City the mixed Axis force moves to the relative safety of the West bank of the Don most of which is fortified, Engineers and Res Pts are positioned to complete the line by the end of the month. Some units are left East of the river and DAS concentrates to protect these units.

Air Combat: Most units fly DAS missions except in the Moscow sector which has become a no-fly zone for the Luftwaffe due to the concentration of VVS fighters based in the city and nearby airfields. Few of the DAS units are intercepted and where this occurs the results are generally ineffective.

Battle Report

Attacks = 3
Losses: Soviets = 19

1943 MAY II Soviet Turn

Narritive

STAVKA decides it can wait no longer to launch the Summer ’43 Offensive. Almost all formations are in place and Partisan bands and locals are reporting a build-up of enemy defences and have identified at least 4 assembly areas for powerful enemy mobile forces. The meteorologists predict with 100% certainty clear, dry conditions in the south and are 85% confident that the northern rains will cease within the next 2 weeks. With this assurance the Soviets feel they have no choice but to launch the attack……..

The 1st Tula Shock Army commander, Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov climbs up the steps provided onto the front deck plate of a T-76 main battle tank. For the benefit of the cameramen and news film crews he stands in the centre of a crescent 50 such tanks; machines capable of beating all but the most recent models of the enemy. Batting away the megaphone offered to him by an aide he turns to face the assembled tankers and infantrymen arrayed before him.

His deep heavily accented peasant voice bellows out across the step

“Comrades, the moment we have been waiting for has arrived. Today we take our rightful vengeance against the fascist invader and his lapdogs!”

“We fought them on the borderlands, we fought in the forests and the hills, in the swamps, on the plains and on the landing fields but we did not surrender!”

“Do not deceive yourselves, this will not be easy, and we have many months of hard fighting ahead. This is not the end, that will not occur until we place the Red Flag on the ruins of the Reichstag. This is not the beginning of the end, that will not occur until our tanks cross the borders into the enemy’s heartland. But this is the end of the beginning for comrade Stalin has decreed that we will not take one more step back. Now we take the fight to the oppressor!”

“Obedience to our glorious leader, Stalin, and devotion to the Motherland will secure us the victory we deserve.

So, comrades, start your engines, place one more round into the breach and cry havoc for Stalin and the Motherland!”

Turn Report

Partisan Attacks: Are ramped up to cause chaos in the rear of the enemy and 6 hits are inflicted on communication lines.

Finnish front.  Despite the massive commitments of arms further south the Soviet army finds enough capacity to rail reinforcements and Res Points north to prepare to reduce the Murmansk pocket. To the West the line slowly advances north towards the Norwegian border

The Leningrad Sector

The Leningrad Sector

Leningrad Front:  Narva Sector. – The central German Hex, a 7-6 inf XX in swamp is assaulted with a combined arms force of artillery, Guards infantry and armour. The division is cadred and falls back. Due to the mobility limitations of ZOCs, terrain and mud no overrun is possible.

Pskov sector; The German line running north/south is hit in 2 places, a 5-6 is unseated from a fort but retreats in good order, just south of this action a 7-6 inf xx is cadred and the fortified position overrun. The mech forces are still wallowing to the rear in mud and cannot exploit.

Veliki Luki Sector; A 16 mile advance is made down the main rail line south and a brave stack exploits to occupy the vacated fort left by the two retreating 7-6 inf XXs.

Kalinin Sector: The probing/pinning attacks continue north of the city and two parallel 16 mile deep incursions are made into the enemy lines.

North of Kalinin

Combat North of Kalinin

Moscow Front; Northern Sector; Just north of the city a pinning attack unseats a fortified position and pushes unto the German lines threatening the left flank of the Axis’ last toehold in the metropolis.

Central Sector: The right flank of the main southern thrust moves west and north and conducts a three-hex assault against the riverine defences south of Moscow. While the left flank moves to contact and attacks before the artillery can be properly registered the right has been in contact with the enemy for months so attacks at full force. In the central hex swarms of Stormaviks blacken the skies and fighters clear away any opposition from the Luftwaffe increasing the odds by one column. The central attack is launched first with the right and left flanks following a day behind. The German defences; fortified, behind a river and manned by front line infantry divisions hold firm denying the Soviets their river crossing. Only on the extreme right flank is a fort captured at some cost (HX) widening the breach begun last month.

Southern Sector: The Army Group tasked with the capture of Orel is slowed by the mud and neither the artillery nor armoured units are able to contact the enemy line, moving as they are across the widest area of no man’s land of the entire front. On the southern flank, however, the fortified line is attacked in two places by second line infantry units; it bends but does not buckle only one fort is eliminated with the defenders retreating away in good order.

Mixed results in the Tula Sector

Soviet attempts to break the Tula sector meet with mixed results

Voronezh Front:

A direct assault towards the city from the North-East along the narrow peninsular between the flanking rivers pushes back the Hungarian defenders and brings the Soviets once more to within view of the city suburbs.

South of the city the drive to the Don is sustained.  The Axis line, weakened by months of attritional warfare, breaks, allowing a one hex exploitation by two tank divisions.

Stalingrad Sector: The two reserve Tank Corps move to Stalingrad for upgrading.

Attacks south of Voronezh

Soviet Attacks Attacks south of Voronezh

Air Combat;

South of Moscow the Luftwaffe makes a rare appearance here to try to deny the Soviets an odds shift against the central defended hex but strong fighters drive them off sufficiently to allow the attack to be enhanced at a cost of one aircraft. Elsewhere a mix of railine bombing missions and some DAS complete the air operations for this turn.

 

Battle Report

Attacks = 18! (three times the recent turn average)

Losses
Soviets =16, Air=1
Axis: Forts = 7, German = 45, Italian = 2, Eastern Troops = 2
Combat Ratio; May II, Axis/Soviet, 56/64 = 0.88

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

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