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Europa Games and Military History

Tag: FitE (page 1 of 7)

1942 SEP I Axis Turn

Weather. Rain in the Arctic (Zone A = Mud) presages the start of winter.

Operations Meat-grinder and Fishhook operate true to their names

This is a turn of slogging and slicing as AGN and AGC grind forward at a snail’s pace while AGS bursts out of its bridgehead south of the Don to the east of Rostov and wheels…….?

Finland & The Army of Norway: In the far north and central Finland troops slowly move into attack and/or blocking positions. German forces welcome what meagre reinforcements OKW deem to spare for this theatre. (a few ski and high mountain battalions). No attacks are made.

In the South of the country north of Lake Ladoga the brave Soviet Tk xxx motti, out of fuel and hope finally succumbs to a combined Finish and German assault. The main Finish line however continues to pull back fearful that a breakout by Soviet forces could trap them as the gap between the ends of the U shaped defensive line grows shorter.

AGN:  German forces gain another hex directly north pressuring the rail-line to Leningrad still further and threatening to cross it 80 miles east of the existing occupation. A Mech and Panzer division are sent to help with this drive.

In the main drive East directly north of Yaroslavl, Axis forces are content to eliminate a one hex bulge in the line and widen the bridgehead from the bend north of the city by two more hexes. One of these attacks offered the opportunity for a further hex advance by overrunning a Guards Cadre in the exploitation phase but the force needed to achieve the required odds would leave no backup or follow up forces so the move is considered too risky given the preponderance of Soviet armour in the area.

The force which failed to eliminate the fort east of the upper Volga NE of Moscow is redirected 40 miles NE and eliminates another one hex bulge in the line.

AGC: No activity other than the final completion of the cross rail project linking north and south in a complete rail network – however security is not sufficient to protect the whole network and engineers are positioned to repair partisan damage as it occurs.

AGS: A Hungarian attack seizes Taganrog while Rumanian/German forces eliminate the other islands of resistance north of the Don outside of Rostov’s fortified ring. One Rostov fort is taken by direct assaults but the defenders fall back in good order into the city.  Only Stalino remains defiant brushing off a combined Rumanian/Italian assault. (4:1 (-1) = NE).

South of the Don the middle of the doughnut of the Axis two pronged Don crossing which is held by a 5-6 Guards infantry is eliminated by infantry who crossed and massed artillery on the north bank with some armoured support from the advanced force turning inward.

The Axis break out!

The Axis break out!

Then in a surprise move the remaining panzers in the southern bridgehead instead of turning Southwest again to attempt a second, more sustained investment of Rostov turn instead Northeast toward Stalingrad. They smash into the hastily prepared Soviet line along the river formed by the outflow from the lake to the south. A 5-4-8 Gds Cavalry holds up the drive momentarily but the cadre is overrun in the exploitation phase as panzers move behind the Don river defenders and reach the Soviet reserve/strike force of three Tk corps and their supporting rocket, motorized and tank brigades. Simultaneously the Germans commit their last mobile reserves save for the Rumanian 1st pz and a tank division arriving in theatre and force a further crossing of the Don at a point 80 miles south of Stalingrad. One panzer swings north to ZOC the gap between the Don and Volga just south of Stalingrad to prevent Soviet counter thrusts from that direction. A mech division holds the bridgehead with a lone Stug Battalion holding a supply route open.  This move places almost the entire Soviet force south of Stalingrad out of supply.

This is not sustainable but is hoped to break up any Soviet counter attack and buy the Axis an extra turn to enable infantry and other troops to cross the Don and assault the city of Rostov from the south.

Supply via the Caucuses is frustrated by a mech division reaching the duel rail lines at Armair

Air War: The air war follows the usual pattern of AS and DAS in the north  and wider ranging rail attacks in the south achieving 3 hits  in an aim to frustrate Soviet reinforcement movements. In a rare victory intercepting fighters sallying from Rostov down two ME110s for no loss.

Battle Report

Attacks: Overruns = 1, Auto = 2, Diced = 11
Losses: Forts = 4 Soviet Isolated = 22    Non Isolated = 38,  Air = 2
German Air = 2

1942 AUG II Soviet Turn

Narrative

Anton lifted his ear from the rail track. “It’s coming, get ready” he shouted..  His jumped down the embankment and sprinted to the cover of the treeline along the side of the railway.

The train came pounding along the track, steam belching, for all it was worth. These woods were a perfect ambush site and the engineman was taking no chances. It was a troop transport, Anton’s favourite target. Stealing the enemy’s supplies was one thing but he had vowed revenge.  Anton watched as the engine and first flatbed with its antiaircraft guns pointing skyward passed; counted three more carriages, then shouted “Now”. A plunger was pressed. The explosion lifted the fourth carriage two feet into the air. It dropped back toward the rails but they were now so twisted out of shape that the wheels found no traction and the carriage started to slide sideways. As it twisted the coupling to the front gave way. The engine and front of the train sped on to safety.  The momentum of the last five carriages drove them forwards thrusting the middle two skyward till they in turn fell back and slid down the bank turning as they went. “Fire” shouted Anton.  The forest treeline erupted into a hail of fire pouring into the carriages. Soldiers that had been “lucky” enough to be thrown free were the first to be cut down.

Some of the group used captured machine pistols but Anton still favoured his father’s old hunting rifle. He raised it, saw a soldier struggling to get out through a window and shot him dead.  A few stray bullets whizzed over the heads of the attackers but they did not pause. Inevitably the occasional shots became denser and steadier as the defenders got organised. Anton glanced up the track and saw more soldiers running back down the tracks from the engine which had stopped a few hundred yards away. “Time to go comrades” he cried. . He turned and joined his fellow partisans as they melted away into the dense forest undergrowth. The enemy would not stray more than a few yards after them for they knew that to do so was suicide.

Later that night the group sat around the campfire exchanging stories of their daring deeds of the day. It was six months since Anton had joined the band. His fearlessness and daring ruthlessness fuelled by his need for revenge and redemption had soon got him noticed and now he led a Section. Indeed the band as a whole was beginning to be referred to as “The Anton Brigade”.

He carved a sixth new notch on the butt of his father’s hunting rifle and wiped it clean. Today was a good day.

Soviets assault Finland.

Soviets assault Finland.

Turn Report

Partisan Attacks = 3 Rail hits

Finish Front:  The line in front of Murmansk is now stabilised and reinforcements continue to flow from the south strengthening the central front and allowing some fight back but the Soviet advanced forces are now out of regular supply so progress is slow targeting weak units such as lone bdr regiments.

Around the shores of Lake Ladoga attacks east to west and west to east damage Finish defenders but the victors content themselves with a pair of strong one hex advances. These threaten to trap the Finnish main front line without the need to expose Tank units to a riposte by the powerful 9th Panzer.

Leningrad/Moscow Front. A great victory!!!.

The stack comprising a 16-10 and 12-10 panzer cut off and surrounded is finally eliminated and with no retreat route the battered survivors trapped in the swamps NE of the main German lines surrender. This assault however takes the whole striking power of the Soviet Tank Corps in the area so little other activity takes place here other than strengthening and consolidation of the line; with DAS where needed. A hex of forces jutting into the lines is evacuated save for a lone 6-4-8 acting as a breakwater to split the German tide of advance.

Soviet attempts to relieve Rostov fail.

Soviet attempts to relieve Rostov fail.

Voronezh Front – No activity other than rail repair and a small number of troop movements south.

Rostov Front: The Soviets assemble an armoured strike force to engage the Axis forces south of the Don but fail in their assault against the northernmost panzer (NE).

Forces from inside and outside Rostov finish off the cadre of the 6-10 motorised infantry division positioned south of the city.

Along the north bend of the mighty Don a spoiling attack by a tank corps fails to inflict losses against a Rumanian infantry division which retreats in good order. The Attackers withdraw back over the river in the exploitation phase.

Air War: As previously most Soviet air flies Defensive Air Support in the Moscow area. In the south a navigation error places a flight of 3x ME110s within striking distance of powerful Soviet fighter forces and two of the three are eliminated in the engagement. In the north a mutual elimination is achieved by a pairing of a ME109F and I-16.

Battle Report

Diced Attacks = 7
German Losses – Isolated = 30.  Finish Losses = 6

1942 AUG II Axis Turn

Narrative

Breakthroughs and Breakout: Against all expectations the Germans attempt a breakout of the southernmost of the two groups of surrounded panzers north of Yaroslavl through a two deep line of Soviet armour – read below to see how this goes.

Simultaneously using newly arriving infantry corps transferred from the southern front the German forces strike directly north into the swamps and eliminate an enemy infantry stack with mobile units gaining a further hex of advance toward the Leningrad rail line.

In the far north German units out of Murmansk turn the left flank of defending Soviet forces and in the far south the Axis pull back from their adventure south of the Don and form a tighter cordon just on the south bank to use as a bridgehead for launching a more sustainable attack when the slower infantry arrive in force from their mopping up operations on the approaches to Rostov.

Turn Report

Finland & The Army of Norway: In the far north troops moving south from Murmansk now operating past the end of their supply lines attack a lone 2-6* inf reg in the mountains eliminating it and advancing towards the narrow strip of land at the south of the lake system. They are assisted by aircraft from Murmansk and Norway bases.  Immediately to the south two Soviet regiments are eliminated aided by a newly arriving infantry regiment from The Reich.

North of Ladoga the 9th pz eliminates a 4-6 xx in wooded terrain then transits west to help contain the rogue Tk xxx still operating well behind the lines.

Battles along the Arctic rail line

Battles along the Arctic rail line

AGN: With two whole infantry corps arriving from the south the Germans strike into the swamps at a corner hex at the neck of the bulge extending north to the forces holding position on the Leningrad/Vologda rail line. Reinforced by panzer and mech units the defenders are eliminated and advancing C/M troops exploit further threatening to take a second hex of the railway line and cut off a whole swath off defenders. At the same time another hex is gained close to the existing line-occupying forces helping to consolidate the German’s hold on this important railway.

The Germans revised tactic of a broad front approach in the drive on Vologda bears fruit as a 3 hex assault can be mounted on one of the larger Soviet defending stacks. With massed rail gun support the hex is taken troops advancing to within 16 miles of the isolated panzer force to the east. Then in a desperate move to be freed from encirclement the surrounded troops attack west!. The Soviets deemed this a suicide mission against an 8-6-8 mech xx plus rocket regiment over a river into woods. However the 3REs of supplies air dropped in by the Luftwaffe are enough to put the 12-10 panzer in supply and gain +1 AECA (the rest of the force having no AEC due to their U2 status). The key to the attack however is the massive GS delivered by the Luftwaffe which is just sufficient to mount a successful 7:1 attack!. The tankers, tired and battered, underfed and low on ammunition are safely reunited with their compatriots but choose to remain in place forming a bridgehead over the river to the north of Yaroslavl. The second group a few miles north are not so lucky.  Herded into a swamp with a wall of Soviet armour supplemented with massive DAS their fate appears sealed, particularly due the miserable effort by the  Luftwaffe to supply them. (see below).

A further attack is launched on the northern tip of the Soviet fort line still occupying100 miles of front on the East bank of the upper Volga between the German drive and Moscow. It fails; the fortified defenders hold firm and after a sustained assault on the fort the Germans call off the attack and await further reinforcement.

AGC: Nothing to report.

The Axis pushes past Rostov

The Axis pushes past Rostov

AGS: Rumanian, Italian and Hungarian forces with a leavening of German units mop up most remaining enemy forces north of Rostov. Stalino remains to be assaulted in due course as does Taganrog. A surviving fort on the Donets completes the list of Soviets outside the city north of the Don.

Advancing infantry establish positions on the west bank of the Don bend except in the east where the line falls short of the river to prevent Soviet infiltration tactics against the intermittent line.

Out on a limb and surrounded by Soviets ZOCs the motorised forces which crossed the Don a fortnight previously are pulled back in a tight cordon to the east of Rostov where an attack punches a hole in the defenders lining the swamps on the south bank of the river to establish a supply line.

A single mech division exploits south to block the rail line to Stalingrad and slow any Soviet relief effort. The surviving 2-8 mot cadre immediately south of Rostov moves further south into the steppe to occupy a rail junction and halt rail movements from the Transcaucuses. Both these blocking moves are aided by a series of lone wolf bombing runs which adding to previous unrepaired damage decimates the Soviet rail net south and east of the city between Rostov and Stalingrad. Air attacks from the AGC sector attempt to hinder transfers south by the enemy.

Air War: As reported in the north GS is the main effort. An air drop to the northern isolated group goes drastically wrong. Early morning fog and mis-direction by Soviet flares and fires scatters 5 of the 7 REs dropped. The two getting through being effectively worthless for the two surrounded divisions.

In the centre and north other than some “topping up” of mopping up attacks by AS all efforts are against the Soviet rail network.  Of the 22 attacks two are driven off by the VVS and the aircraft remaining on target inflict 5 hits.  The Soviets lose 2 aircraft across the front.

Battle Report
Attacks: Auto = 6, Diced = 9
Losses: Soviet Isolated = 33, Un-isolated = 50.  Forts = 5, Air = 2
German. Un-isolated = 8

1942 AUG II Soviet Turn

Narrative

Anton paused for a moment from bailing straw at the back of the small store attached to the farmhouse he had lived in all of his 18 years. He was helping his father at the modest abode he shared with his father, mother and older sister. Theirs was a simple subsistence existence well off the beaten track, or to be more precise some 20km at the end of it; so the war to date had completely passed them by.  He gazed out across the vast plain of central Ukraine the “breadbasket” of the nation. A solitary hawk was circling in the distance. Today was a good day.

The rare sound of a motor vehicle approaching caused him to look up, his father gestured for him to stay hidden while he walked to meet the vehicle as it slewed to a halt in front of the farmhouse.

Four soldiers all dressed in black got out and walked towards the house. Peeping from around the barn Anton saw his father remonstrating with the men, unfortunately he was still carrying his pitchfork and made the mistake of raising it. The leader of the group reached into a leather holster pulled out his pistol, raised it to head height and shot Anton’s father who dropped at his feet.

Panic gripped Anton and with a shame that remained with him and shaped him for the rest of his life; he turned and fled. He ran to his hiding place, a small hollow under an overhang in the bank of the brook that ran along behind the barn. He had used it often as a child when his father’s wrath had spilled over following some misdemeanour or other.

He heard the screams and pleadings of his mother and sister as they were dragged from the house.  The cries were soon muffled and replaced by the laughter and grunts of the men in black. After some time two more shots rang out across the steppe.

Curiosity getting the better of his fear Anton peeked out above the bank. He saw one of the men pull out a gasoline can from the rear of the car and douse a stick with some hessian sacks bound with twine they had gathered from around the farmyard.  The man lit the impromptu incendiary device with his cigarette butt and tossed it onto the farmhouse roof.  Dried from the summer heat the thatch caught and burned instantly. Then one of the men started walking towards Anton. Had he been discovered? Anton ducked down and into his hiding place. Moments later his hair and face were splattered by warm piss cascading down the bank. Was this a ritual humiliation before his own death? He pressed his face tighter in to the now moist earth and held his breath. Moments later he heard the man walk away and then the car engine burst into life as it moved off back down the track. He lay there frozen for 15 more minutes before emerging from his hiding place. The farmhouse was now well ablaze far beyond his abilities to save it. He fell to his knees and vowed that he would never run again and that he would not rest until the Motherland was rid of every last one of these enemy animals.

He moved north for three weeks; on his back a pack containing all that was salvageable from the farm and his father’s old hunting rifle.  Living off the land and avoiding the main towns and occasional enemy patrols he took succour and shelter where it was offered.  Late one night he reached his objective, a swath of dense forest where it was rumoured some men had formed a small resistance group. They made contact an hour later…

The Soviets defend the supply line to the Arctic

The Soviets defend the supply line to the Arctic

Turn Report

Partisans:   2 Rail-line Hits

Finnish Front:  Now the blockage is cleared to the south the Soviets rail a large force of primarily infantry type units north to occupy the rail line east of the 9th pz thus re-establishing the supply to Leningrad. Troops also move north with some Res Pts to renew the central push into Finland.

The isolated cadre trapped against the lakes to the north of Leningrad finally surrenders. (DR, no retreat route)

Leningrad/Moscow Fronts: The Soviets content themselves with reinforcing and consolidating the front line and tightening the noose around the trapped German mobile corps. They do manage one attack against one of the northern panzers but it manages to retreat onto its compatriot following a DR result.

Voronezh Front – No activity other than forces in transit and new recruits moving to the front.

The Soviets desperately hang on to Rostov

The Soviets desperately hang on to Rostov

Rostov Front:  With the crisis abating in the north this Front receives all forces arriving from the East this turn.

The troops fleeing towards Rostov take advantage of the Axis pull-out from north of the city and forces fleeing south occupy/transit through the city and mass to attack a 6-10 mot/AA combination at the western end of the ring which is isolating the city south of the Don. A 2-8 Mot cadre is all that remains after the attack and supply is restored to Rostov and to the light screen remaining to the north and west of the city.

The Axis have bridged the Don to the east of Rostov and formed a chain of C/M blocking forces.  This chain prevents relief forces reaching Rostov from the East but the Soviets surround the block with ZOCs in the hope that the Axis will be forced to withdraw by the end of the month and Rostov can be retained.

Air War: Around Moscow new airfields receive fighters transferring in from other theatres. A flight from Moscow is turned back by aggressive German Patrol attacks.

Most Assault Bombers provide DAS at the narrow points between the trapped Germans and their main front line.

In the north the Leningrad Air Division launches a full scale assault on Finish air fields and knocks out Kotia, Kuopio and Joensuu forcing Finnish fighters out of range of the front although this is at a cost of 1xIL-4 from AA and 1xIL-4 from Fighter interception.

Battle Report

Attacks: Auto=1, Diced = 2
Losses:  German Isolated = 6.
Finish Isolated = 3.

Soviets Air = 2

1942 AUG I Axis Turn

Narrative

In a series of political gestures of no real military significance or effect Stalin announces that the small settlement at the rail junction at point 2107 which saw the elimination of the 14th panzer is to be elevated to the status of “Hero Hamlet” and renamed “Little Stalingrad”

Hitler meanwhile promotes the previously unremarkable commander of the isolated spearhead to Field Marshal declaring “Never has a commander who has not had the guts to stand up to my inane and military incompetent commands ever surrendered”.

Not to be outdone Herman Goring declares that if requested he could supply the whole Front from the air so a few panzer divisional should be a doddle.

Turn Report

Finland and Army of Norway: Troops south of Murmansk with air support eliminate a 2-6* Naval brigade in the mountains in a move to outflank the main line of resistance East of lake Imanada.

In southern Finland now the crisis north of Leningrad is averted the 9th pz moves back to attack East and ZOCs the main N/S rail again. Caution prevents the unit occupying the rail because the Finns are just not strong enough to provide any sort of support or relief should the 9th become embroiled in a Soviet counter-attack.

Collapse of the summer offensive

Collapse of the summer offensive

AGN: Group Frederikus NE of Moscow (named after the disgraced former commander) reaches German lines in force and adds its strength to an attack on the northernmost fort adjacent to the German forces East of the upper Volga, eliminating it and widening the bridgehead.

The stalled southern drive to reach the trapped spearhead turns through 90 degrees north into the flank of the southernmost of the two forts which formed the hole in the middle of the German “doughnut” of occupation. The attack eliminates this island of resistance. Simultaneously its adjacent twin to the north falls to an attack aided by massed rail guns where fanatical NKVD supported defenders take their toll on the aggressors. (DR converted to EX).

North of this action the top part of the donut attempts to make contact with the surrounded north fragment of the spearhead but fails 5:1(-2) = NE.

The surrounded southern fragment also fails in its attempt to drive north through the separating screen of Soviet armour. Here gallant and relentless Soviet fighter interception drives off most German air support albeit at some cost (2 downed fighters) dropping the odds to 5:1(-2) where a poor roll produces another NE result.

AGC: All quiet on the Eastern Front.

Germans battle for Rostov

Germans battle for Rostov

AGS: The drive Southeast continues apace. The Soviet armoured corps fleeing to Rostov is eliminated. Mech units cross the Don River East of Rostov and in the exploitation phase swing in behind the city where a tenuous blockade is created. Meanwhile the mainly Axis Allied assault continues to harry the fleeing Russian hoards taking Makeyevka and Gorlovka.  The 3 panzer units north of Rostov pressed between the city and the units fleeing East extract themselves and move to form an inner wall east of the city preventing any breakout in that direction.

Air War: In the north most air is again used as flying artillery to try and break through to the spearhead.

A large air drop is attempted to supply the southern group of trapped Panzers to the north of Yaroslavl. High cross winds over the drop zone causes many of the supplies to be hopelessly scattered much falling into the hands of the Soviets. Out of 7 drops only 3 REs reach the troops in the pocket.

In the south once again rail interdiction is the major activity aiming to isolate Rostov from reinforcement and minimise interference to the blockading forces.16 missions produce 5 hits.

Battle Report

Attacks: Auto = 5, Diced = 11

Losses:
Soviet Isolated = 21 Un-isolated= 60,   River Flotilla = 1,   Forts = 8 (including 2 abandoned)
German = 13

Air losses:
Soviet 3 (including one under repair overrun on the ground)

Hungarian Order of Battle for Barbarossa (inofficial)

Note to reader: this Order of Battle accompanies a series of esssys by Jason Long about the Axis Allies during Barbarossa and is not official)

Initial Forces

None

Reinforcements

Jul I 41

2x 4-3-8* mot Inf X                1, 2
1x 5-4-8* Cav X                      1
1x 3-4-8* Mtn X                     1
1x 1-2-8* Bdr X                       8
1x 1-8 Bicycle X                      1 Hdsg
1x 1-8 Art X                             Karpat
1x 0-1-8 Eng II                         Karpat
1x 1-8 mot light AA X AA=3  Karpat

Sep I 41

2x 1-5 Sec X                             121, 124
Replace: 1x 1-8 Bicycle X        1 Hdsg

Nov I 41

2x 1-5 Sec X                               105, 108
1x 0-1-8 mot lt AA II AA=1       MC

Nov II 41

Return all initial forces to Hungary

Dec I 41

1x 1-5 Sec X                                102

Replacement Rate:

No replacement points are received. Special replacements generated by the loss of any initial force units are retained in Hungary itself and are unavailable to the Axis player. Special replacements for the units of the occupation force, namely the security brigades and the AA battalion, are handled normally

Special Rules

Only the motorized infantry brigades, the cavalry brigade, and the bicycle brigade of the initial forces may move east of the Dneister or north of the 3C:02xx hexrow (exclusive). Other units may move freely in weather zones C and D.

  • The cavalry and motorized infantry brigades have ZOCs.
  • With the exception of the bicycle brigade, the initial forces are fragile and may not be replaced in the context of Total War.

Designers Notes:

I decided against treating the cavalry and motorized infantry brigades as divisions based on the treatment of the Poles in FtF. A Hungarian cavalry brigade is actually marginally larger than their Polish or Romanian counterparts, but was not reclassified as a division, unlike the latter. These units are larger than normal brigades, but smaller than most divisions and you can justifiably argue in support of either classification.

1942 JUL II Soviet Turn

Commentary

The Soviet counter attack in the north hits home with full force. Significant pure armour attacks are launched on the single remaining supply line to the German spearhead north of Yaroslavl and at the rump of the column fleeing north from Moscow.

In addition a mixed force of reserves, new arrivals transferees and air power strikes at the eastern tip of the German advance. (The 14th pz a 16-10 unit placed on the critical crossroads at point 2107.) The results of these engagements will decide the outcome of the German attempt to isolate Leningrad and the north if not the entire war.

Turn Report

Partisans:  3 rail hits but against little used spurs or unconverted lines as increased security now covers all the main arterial routes.

Finnish Front: No action north as at half strength due to supply difficulties and with no RPs arriving no attacks are allowable anyway.

North of Leningrad forces fall back in front of the assault by 9th pz. The breakthrough Tank xxx desperately seeks escape and moves north away from the nearest route home which is now blocked.

 

German Panzer army destroyed east of Kalinin

German Panzer army destroyed east of Kalinin

Leningrad/Moscow Fronts: Targeted attacks eliminate the tail of the German column desperately seeking escape NW from Moscow. An Inf XX and 2 artillery units are eliminated.

Forces move into the void where the Germans have retracted over the river eastwards just north of Yaroslavl.  Strong mech forces with artillery and katyusha support smash into the remaining German supply route tethering the spearhead to the main front. Forces also attack south from the north; some from an out of supply position; some moving west from positions just at the extreme tip of their supply lines around Vologda. The two forces meet engaging two Axis stacks. When the dust clears the battle field belongs to the Soviets who now have an armoured wall two hexes deep separating the German spearhead from the main body of troops to the west. The Germans loose another truck counter. Two surviving stugs are overrun by exploiting Soviet tank xxxs which stream east bisecting the cut off German spearhead.

The crowning glory of the counter offensive is the attack on 14th pz at point 2107. A supporting 1-10 AA unit is overrun and, completely surrounded, the Panzer unit is utterly annihilated. The first outright kill of a full strength panzer in clear weather in the war. Does this mark a turning point or is it just a bump on the Axis road to victory?

Voronezh Front: No action although a couple of Tk corps with support units previously ordered north have those orders countermanded and move back south due to the emerging battle at Rostov.

Chaos on the Southern Front while the German Sixth Army heads East.

Chaos on the Southern Front while the German Sixth Army heads East.

Rostov Front: It is clear to the Soviet high command that the Stalino line cannot be held. To slow the Axis Stalino itself is fully stacked with NKVD “encouragement” the adjacent city of Makeyevka also stacked. Elsewhere minimal strength is left on alternate hexes to slow the pursuers as the bulk of the forces flee east effectively abandoning the fortified line.

The panzers blocking the hoard are reached and partly enveloped but at half strength the forces are incapable of mounting any sort of attack. In the eastern end of the river bend the isolated Tank corps extract themselves and one moves NE into the river bend and the other towards Rostov to help to counter Axis moves to develop and reinforce the encirclement.

Air War: Leningrad aircraft provide DAS as far east as they can reach. Further east all soviet air power is again directed at GS to aid the crucial attacks.

In the south air raids are carried out against Axis airfields and Valuyki airfield is put out of action. Over Mariupol a battle develops which claims 3 Soviets for one German fighter. Short range Assault bombers provide DAS over the retreated tank corps and some other key hexes.

Battle Report
Overruns = 2.   Combats; Diced = 6

Losses:
German Isolated = 16. German Un-isolated = 29. French = 2
Air Losses: Soviets = 4. German = 1.

1942 JUL II Axis Turn

Narrative

A knock at the door. “Come in”.

“The car is here for the airfield sir”.

Thank you Walter. Walter step inside and close the door will you?

“Sir”.

“Please call me Frederick we have campaigned together long enough now to drop the formalities.”  “Why oh! Why did we come to this godforsaken country?”

“The Fuhrer willed it?”

“The Fuhrer, the Fuhrer that jumped up little corporal.   Don’t be alarmed, we can speak freely, we are alone here”. “Remember Poland, France.  Remember that summer in Paris, Ah! Paris; the food the wine and the women?”

“Yes Sir, er Frederick I remember a certain little French restaurant off the cobbled square with the fountain and a certain waitress you spent quite a bit of time with. What was her name? Feefee, yes, Feefee Labonc”.

Ah!, Feefee, love was in the air that summer, indeed I seem to remember you caught the eye of a certain Mark I tank commander“

“Er, some of us have fonder memories of Paris than others.”

Yes Walter, only teasing, and then we went on to Yugoslavia and Greece. So how was it that with the Low Countries at our feet, France, the Balkans, Poland did we try for more, didn’t we have enough?  And so now we have to deal with the Bolsheviks.

When I was young, growing up in Duisburg my father would take me to the traveling fare. It came round every six months or so. There was one stall I visited every time – the shooting range. The top prize was a large bear as big as I was at the time. All I needed to do was shoot down all the metal ducks. I tried every year for 6 years and every time just as I thought I had them all another duck would appear.

These Russians are like those ducks, it does not matter how many of them we kill, how many we surround and capture, how many our SS “comrades” torture there are always more of them just over the horizon That big Russian bear is always just out of reach.

I tell you what the problem is with these Russians Walter they don’t know when to give up. The Poles did, the Greeks did and the French practically begged us to occupy them. Even the British went back home with their tails between their legs; but not these Russians, – has no one told them they’re defeated?

“The car, Frederick”

“Ah yes the car, we must not keep the men in leather waiting must we?”

“But answer me one thing Walter –honestly please. I did do right by the men didn’t I, ordering the retreat?

“Yes, Frederick you did right by the men.”

“Good, good that is the main thing although I do not think Berlin sees it that way.”

“I will give you one last order before I go Walter, the most difficult of orders, Will you promise me you will carry it out to the letter?

“Yes, of course as always”

“Please go now to the radio room and send this message. It denounces me as a traitor and coward.

“Never!, please do not ask me to do this.”

“You must for your own sake, my fate is sealed but there is still hope for you, after all you were just “following orders””. “Go now and do this for me – if the time we have served together means anything.”

A few moments later Walter is leaning over the radio operator dictating the message to the shocked orderly.

A single shot rings out.

Walter turns to the guard at the front door and commands.

“You there, please go and advise the men by the car outside that their services are no longer required”

Turn Report

Finland and the Army of Norway:

Armoured RPs arrive from Germany at Helsinki and the Finnish 2-10 Arm X is rebuilt.

Little action in the far north as the Germans hold fire and conserve ammunition/RPs for when the Soviets are weakened by supply shortages.

Just north of the lakes in the south however the Finns surround the Soviet XXX behind their lines and block all escape routes. 9th Pz thus attacks due west in support of this operation to push back the Soviets holding the southern end of the causeway over the lakes so that the fate of the XXX is assured.

AGN: A stay behind brigade is eliminated north of the Valdai where the Soviets straightened the line.

On the main front the Germans resolve to reconnect with the isolated spearhead.  Two large stacks attack either side of the soviet “doughnut” centred on the rail crossing.  The trapped forces are given permission to try and connect with the relief force. The northernmost attack is successful and supply is restored but no further progress is made eastwards.

Disaster strikes at the southern edge of the ring however where the stacked Soviet tank corps resists the German attempt to break through and the attack is stalled (5:1-2)=NE. The trapped forces move back East after the failed attack to gain the protection of the river bend just north of Yaroslavl and hope that the northern supply line can hold.

The maverick commander of the attack NE from Moscow is now trapped behind lines. Ignoring orders to fight his way east he turns his forces west and attacks the Soviet fort line on the East bank of the upper Volga. Aided by help from outside the forces connect with the main lines again. However his troops are spread out along an 80 mile long column hindered by slow moving artillery and infantry in the rear so only a single Panzer division crosses the river westwards.

Axis assault repulsed by Soviet armour

Axis assault repulsed by Soviet armour

AGC: All quiet. Fortification and rail conversions continue, the latter to speed the arrival of forces moving north to assist the struggling Operation Meatgrinder.

AGC: In classic Blitzkrieg style the German armour concentrates and eliminates one of the corps formations at the “bottom” of the deep pocket in the great river bend. Armour pours through the gap swinging NE to trap two more corps and SW to reach the Sea of Azov just west of Rostov thus trapping and isolating a vast swath of Soviets and the  major city of Stalino. Meanwhile further north a mixed Axis force lead by Rumanians breach the fortified/river line gaining a bridgehead north of Gorovka.

The isolated U2 fort further north falls to an automatic victory.

Breakout in the South, Stalino isolated

Breakout in the South, Stalino isolated

Air War: In the north all air activity centres on GS to bolster the desperate attempts to re-connect with the spearhead.

In the south the air war sees a more balanced mixture of activity. Some GS assists the Rumanians to break the fortified line and lone raids target some aborted aircraft on the ground with an unrepaired transport succumbing to one such mission. More rail lines are targeted but out of 10 raids only 2 succeed. Seemingly a lot of effort for such a small gain however last turn a single strategically placed un-repaired hit held up 5 or 6 tank corps transferring north so such raids continue.

Battle Report
Combats:  Automatic = 2, Diced = 8

Losses:
Soviet: Isolated = 7. Un-isolated = 55.
Fins = 3

Air Losses: Soviet 2 (on the ground – one overrun).  German = 1 (Ju88a raider).

1942 JUL I Soviet Turn

Commentary

In contrast to the many decisions to be made by the Axis commander this turn the Soviets have only one –

Do they fight to save Leningrad or
Do they start evacuating the North?

Evacuation now while most units still have full mobility would be wise and help to save the army for another day and Leningrad only contributes 3 IRPs per turn and whilst it does still have a factory this now trapped.

On the other hand the troops of the Leningrad Front are well emplaced under forts and/or good terrain along most of the area to be evacuated and are roughly at parity in terms of strength points with the German forces opposing them. Should they remain and drop to half strength the Germans would not necessarily break through at will or in too many places sufficient to initiate a rout.  In addition holding fast along this long front does tie up many German troops

However the arrival of 4x 9-7-8 Tk XXXs three of which can engage the enemy forces in the Moscow/Kalinin area decides the issue. The Soviets decide to hold firm and strike back at the German panzers.  The Soviets can still pack a punch and although they have been dealt a hefty blow they are not out of the fight yet.

STAVKA sifts through the various reports and finds weaknesses in the German dispositions where they have thrust forward with parts of the line of advance held by infantry and support troops and some by lone AT battalions.

They thus prepare their counterstroke and commit all their re-enforcements and last reserves into the battle.

The fate of Mother Russia will be decided over the next couple of months.

Turn Report

Finish Front: The line south of Murmansk falls back again and reaching superb defensive line around the lakes of the Kola Peninsula they decide to make a stand. Due to the increasingly alarming situation in the Kalinin sector the offensive into the heart of Finland is suspended. The isolated tank corps retreats back south the way it came but finds the Cavalry brigade blocking the path home. North of Ladoga the Soviets attack a lone finish infantry cade and eliminate it in a HX.

Leningrad/Moscow Front; The Soviets are not positioned to be able to clear the crucial rail-lines interdicted by German advance units so they devise an indirect approach. They launch a wave of attacks aimed at the weak points of the German advance targeting the enemy formations as close to their main line as possible to cut off as many units as possible and thus minimise the German’s capacity to counter attack. In this they are aided by 3 of the newly arrived/ upgraded 9-7-8 tank corps and many existing 6-4-8s. They also employ massed katyusha batteries. With colossal air support using every airframe which can reach the battles at standard or extended range most attacks gain at least one and some two column shifts for GS. (In one particular battle they miss a shift for the sake of 1/3 GS point, such are the fortunes of war and flak die rolls).

 

Jul I '42 - The Soviets strike back NE of Moscow

Jul I ’42 – The Soviets strike back NE of Moscow

They set up 4 attacks and lady luck for once is on their side. Every attack is successful many gaining DE results (rolling 3 sixes in a row did help).

Attack 1 – Aimed at the German infantry/artillery stack at the bridgehead NE of Moscow this attack completely eliminates 2x inf xxs and a mot art brigade. This isolates 2 other German panzers, one mot div and artillery assets which are now trapped behind the Soviet fort line and high value defensive stacks blocking the path east.

Attack 2: Targets a 13-10 panzer holding the southern ring of the doughnut shaped advance past the pair of forts on the east bank of the upper Volga astride the rail line to Yaroslavl. This is eliminated and the cadre retreats back towards the German front lines.

Attack 3: This goes in unsupplied from inside and outside the Soviet pocket with massive air support. The Soviets attack a mixed stack of a 6-10 mot div, 2-10 eng, 2-1-10 stug, and crucially the forward-most Truck. Again a DE eliminates the stack with the mot cadre falling back westwards.

Attack 4: A bypassed stack attacks out of supply against a lone 1-10 AT units holding a channel open to supply the Axis spearhead at the start of the turn. It is eliminated.

The difference this time when compared to previous such counter-attacks is that the Soviets now have sufficient mobility with the new Tank corps to exploit into the gaps created and form a very strong armoured wall. This wall cuts the Germans off from their comrades to the West and fractures the German swerpunkt into a number of cut off sections. The escape South for the panzers is barred by troops lining the river around Yaroslavl. The way East is blocked by fresh reinforcements railing from the Urals and the way North is blocked by the last reserves from Leningrad and from units pulled out of the line against the Finns.

Armoured brigades move into the lead German Panzer’s ZOC and thus establish supply as far north as Vologda.

In total the Soviets have trapped: 7 pz xx, 2 mot xx, 1 Mot x, 1 pz cadre, 1 inf xx, 11 artillery units and 8 support units but just as the Soviets continually amaze the Axis with their ability to find new reserves and firepower so the Germans amaze the Soviets with their ability to fight their way out of a difficult situation.

Time will tell who finally gains the upper hand.

Voronezh Front: Due to the emerging crisis far to the north approximately 2/3 of the Soviet attack corps/katyusha combos rail north. In this they are greatly hindered by some strategically placed rail breaks courtesy of the Luftwaffe which slows the redeployment.

Jul I '42 - Soviets call retreat in the South, awaiting the Axis next move

Jul I ’42 – Soviets call retreat in the South, awaiting the Axis next move

Consequently the Soviets call off their attack much to the annoyance of local command who were keen to inflict more losses on the aggressors.

Infantry/cavalry/AT combos fall back behind the river lines north and south of the breach and the reduced number of armoured corps move SE in the direction of Stalingrad just out of range of the bulk of German motorized assets. This forms a large inverted bulge in the line tempting the Axis to move East into it. The Soviets sit back behind their defensive wall and wait for the Axis to make the next move. 

Air War: All attacks gain massive air support except for the attack immediately NE of Moscow where massed Me fighter squadrons stationed in the city make this area a no fly zone for the VVS.

Battle Report:
Combat; Diced = 5.
Losses: Soviets = 3, German = 33 and truck;  Finns = 3
Air = 0

1942 JUL I Axis Turn

Commentary

The game reaches a critical phase as the Axis forces approach their objective to the north of Moscow.
So this turn is one of decisions.

 For the Finns – do they fall back as fast as possible to defend the capital or do they fall back slowly in the expectation that their foe will be crippled by events further south and they can resume their attempt at restoring the losses of ‘39.

 For the Germans attacking along the rail line to Vologda – Do they continue their assault East plunging out of supply to obtain their objectives or…
Do they turn inward and eliminate the bypassed forts to their rear to secure their supply lines or…
Do they turn southwards and join with the force thrusting NE from Moscow to surround the East bank fort line thus trapping yet more Soviets.

For the small force moving from Moscow – Do they try to nibble away at the East bank forts, or
Do they attempt to breakthrough to the NE.
If they succeed – Do they play safe and slowly grind forward or
Do they exploit and spread out to create maximum disruption in the Soviet rear?

For the Axis in the South – Do they attack the Soviet tankers head on in a clash of armour or
Do they try and strip away the tanker’s infantry support or…
Do they reverse direction and turn inwards to eliminate the fortified line at their rear?
Either way do they then consolidate their gains or push onwards to Rostov?

Find out below.

Turn Report

Finland and the Army of Norway: – The Murmansk force continues to push south but only manages to retreat a 3-6xx, however this is driven west of the lake system and away from the rail line.

Level heads prevail in Finland. The Fins decide to pull back one hex on the main front to shorten the line. A 3-6 German inf cadre leaguered in Tallinn for possible rebuild is given new orders and sails to Helsinki releasing the Finnish Cavalry brigade there which reaches the North bank of the rail causeway behind the Soviet Tank corp and cuts off the rail line to Leningrad. An infantry division from the main front joins a 6-6 infantry xx pulled from the defensive fort line shielding the approaches to Helsinki and together they ZOC surround the Soviet breakthrough force

Advance units reach two of the objectives of Operation Meatgrinder

Advance units reach two of the objectives of Operation Meatgrinder

AGN. The Germans north of the Valdai mass and gain another forested hex but still only have a single foothold on the Leningrad/Volodga rail line.

In a heated exchange which almost costs at least one Field Marshal his job the German Officers who favour a methodical approach with fort reduction are overruled by an agitated Fuhrer who insists that the eastward momentum must be maintained at all costs. So the panzers drive East in two parallel columns. Both attacks succeed and advance units occupy the river bend adjacent to Ivanovo and 30 miles north. A lone 16-10 pz detaches from the rest and occupies the vital wooded rail junction at point 2107.

The Fuhrer is vindicated as Leningrad/Archangelsk and the North are cut off from the rest of Russia.

The drive NE from Moscow continues at a more cautious pace.  A 6-4-8 is reduced to cadre and retreats into an empty fort behind. This however is a costly victory for the attackers because a 10-10 pz is cadred in the HX. The relief of the Soviet remnant is short lived however as the cadre is overrun in the exploitation phase.  Caution prevails however and the Germans halt and pursue no further content that their advance places another fort out of supply and closes the gap to the main line of advance to 16 miles.

AGC: Fortification continues along this quiet sector.

Axis forces consolidate in the South

Axis forces consolidate in the South

AGS: Contrary to action in the North the Axis forces here turn inwards and eliminate the by-passed fort line. All but one of the forts are annihilated by a combination of massed infantry and artillery over the river and attacks from the Soviet’s rear by the mobile units. Most fall to automatic surrounded attacks. The Axis forces here are strengthened by the Rumanians from Odessa who can now fully engage in the attack. Territorial gains are limited to a penetration of some 80 miles but the attack as desired has drawn of at least 50% of Soviet armour and eliminated the fortified line over a 180 mile frontage. In exploitation the Axis consolidate and form double stacks of divisions which should prove immunity to any Soviet counter thrusts.

It is up to the Bolsheviks to make the next move.

Air War: Some attacks are aided by GS particularly in the north. Soviet rail lines in the south are targeted with some success to try to prevent the Soviets rapidly re-deploying their armour assets from the South to the North.

Battle Report: (I have decided to include air losses from now on)
Combats: Over-runs = 5,   Automatic = 7,   Diced = 3
Losses: Soviets Un-isolated = 117, Forts = 8, Aircraft = 2
German = 8, Luftwaffe = 1

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