Europa Games and Military History

Tag: Game Report (Page 1 of 93)

1944 MAY I Soviet Turn

Narrative

Albert Ramsbottom placed his pipe carefully down on the arm of his chair and rose to turn on the Utility radio sitting in pride of place in the window of the front parlour.   At 12 pounds 3 shillings and 9 pence it was more than twice the weekly wage he earned down the local pit. He’d managed to save a little extra following his promotion to shift supervisor and as the first house in his street to obtain one of the coveted sets his parlour was filled with friends and neighbours. They had all come to listen to the popular wartime show It’s That Man Again (ITMA). A firm favourite of Albert, his wife Nancy and their four children, Peter, George, Elizabeth and the bairn.

He had just sat back down in his chair and was tapping out his pipe on the hearth when an announcement came on the radio.

 “We are sorry to postpone your enjoyment of ITMA which will begin after this important announcement from the War Office.”

“Good news from the Eastern front.  Today at 11.00 a.m. the Soviet War Ministry released the following communique”

“Fellow fighters against Nazi aggression. Our glorious armies under the leadership of Field Marshal Timoshenko have entered German soil. Already our troops have captured Memel and were welcomed by crowds of cheering citizens who are weary of Nazi tyranny.  Our Armies have not rested but have pressed forward towards Königsberg only 60 miles to the West. It is now a matter of time before we will be celebrating victory in Berlin.”

Churchills War Bunker 6th May 1944

Deep in the basement of an innocuous office building in Charles Street, London are gathered the wartime advisers and leaders of the Western Allied power. So secret is the location that Londoners passing by in the streets above have no knowledge that there exists below a vast complex of war rooms, sleeping quarters, radio rooms and offices from which their Prime Minister, Winston Churchill and his military advisors wage war on a global scale. Constructed behind shutters with a revolutionary new American technique of pumped concrete the ceilings have been reinforced to withstand anything the Nazis can unleash including a direct hit on building above.

Mr Churchill stands and addresses the leaders and military men arrayed around the table. “I do not need to tell you gentlemen that the news from Eastern front fills me with mortal dread. We have endured, for a time, Mr Hitler and his allies presiding over their European conquests, but now the tide is turning against them as we prepare to land on the shores of Europe and reclaim those lands in the name of justice and freedom. So I tell you that I draw little comfort from the prospect that the Nazi jackboot will be replaced by the jackboot of Stalin and his Bolshevik minions.  It is therefore imperative, gentlemen, that we return to Europe at the earliest possible moment to ensure that at the end of this terrible conflict we, in the West, control as much of that place as possible so that the will of free men may once again prevail across it. It is therefore my contention, no, my demand, that we bring forward our plans and launch our invasion as soon as possible.  In no later than one month, Gentlemen, we must land.

Turn Report

Partisans = 2 Rail hits

Arctic Front: Two attacks are mounted; one along the coast road where a 3:1(-1) attack fails to dislodge the defenders in Lakelv and one driving south towards Kautokeino which forces a retreat and brings the Soviets to the outskirts of the city.

Leningrad Front: (6 attacks) An auto elimination deals with a stranded infantry cadre in the forests west of Riga, meanwhile, further south a Soviet Guards Tank Army crosses the border into Prussia and passes through the undefended city of Memel towards the Neiman river. It crashes into the infantry defenders forcing them out of their fortified river defence and crosses to the south side of the river seemingly without a pause in momentum. This move brings them within three hexes of Königsberg. Other attacks along the line north-west of Kaunas and south of the city results in retreats and eliminations although a half exchange cadres a Guards Cavalry xx. A third attack exchanges and breaches the German lines allowing an exploitation advance of 30 miles directly West.

A surrounded Minsk held by a single infantry garrison falls to a brute force attack without engineer support but not without drawing blood in the form of a half exchange. Advancing troos find a Ju 87D in the repair sheds.

Moscow Front: (3 attacks) In a dramatic and unexpected development an attack along the Bobruyusk to Borarowicze road carders a 5-7-6 infantry unit. The cardre is then overrun in exploitation by 2 Mech units and with non-divisional units either side of the breach the road West is clear. Only hesitation on the part of the Soviet commanders and aerial reconnaissance revealing a Panzer reserve in the area limits their advance.

The East front in May 1944

The East front in May 1944

Further south just North of Kiev the previous attack over the double River line is developed with an exchange cardreing a 5-7-6 infantry division. Soviet mechanised units push past the retreated cadre and exploit Northwest hooking behind the German lines.

An equally dramatic breakthrough occurs at Cherkassy where a direct assault is made against the 14-10 Panzer division holding the ring around the Soviet bridgehead south of the Dnieper. A 7:1(-4) attack results in a half exchange, cadering the Panzer division and a 15-12-8 Guards Tank Corps in the clash of steel. Not only does this attack widen the bridgehead to 3 hexes it allows second echelon forces to move over the bridge at Cherkassy and exploit South and West from the road junction. The Soviet objective of isolating Axis troops in the Dnieper bend is one step closer to being fulfilled.

Stalingrad Front: (5 attacks) 50 miles further East yet another bridgehead is established over the Dnieper which retreats the defenders and allows the attacking Soviets to cross the river and remove the fortified position.

Zaporozhe is directly assault in a 6 to 1(-1) attack. The DH result eliminates all the Rumanian defenders who have no carders and are surrounded by the attacking forces.

Further west advancing Soviet troops reach the German fortified line linking the road bridge at the neck of the Crimea with the Dnieper River. They make a snap attack against one of the forts unseating the German XX defender and taking the Fort. Because they are advancing out of supply the 13-8 mech supporting the attack pulls back in exploitation.

At the Crimea Causeway an automatic elimination removes the final blockage for forces in the Crimea from moving north and in exploitation the two Mech Corps bottled up in the peninsular join the main front. However their actions will be limited as the supply situation for the Soviet forces is still poor along the south coast and the majority of the Crimean forces are receiving sustenance from huge stockpiles of supplies dropped onto beaches by the Black Sea Fleet.

In a side action the Static ET defenders of Sevastopol are eliminated, and the battered remains of the fortress liberated. The only Axis forces now remaining on the peninsular are the two Rumanian divisions trapped on the sandbar who each turn dice for elimination through isolation.

Air Combat: The recently less mobile nature of the front has allowed the Soviet engineers to construct airfields close the front so their shorter range fighters and bombers can engage with the enemy. As a consequence, almost all Soviet Fighters and Assaults bombers are in range of the front and conduct a series of missions to support their ground bound comrades. Offensive intercepts of Axis DAS last player turn are supplemented by strong well escorted DAS missions of their own over the non-armoured bridgeheads as a hedge against Axis counter-attacks.

They also launch a number of Harassment missions in the North to slow the evacuation of troops in the potential pocket between the two Soviet advances either side of Minsk. Meanwhile a rail break disrupts communications to Konigsberg. The arrival of the first P47D in theatre challenges the supremacy of the Fokker Wolf 190s and a four strong interception by these previously unassailable Knights of the Air is turned back by a combined force of the P47D and Yak9s.

Combat Report

Diced Attacks = 15, Auto Eliminations = 1, Exploitation Overuns = 3

Losses:
Soviets = 27,
Air = 2

Axis:
Forts = 8,
German Isolated = 10, Un-isolated = 35, Pos AA = 5;
Rumanian = 8,
Eastern Isolated = 2, Un-isolated = 1.
Total Axis = 56

 

1944 MAY I Axis Turn

Narrative

The clearing skies signal the start of the long dry summer season and both sides prepare for the easier and more mobile fighting conditions. The Axis immediately take advantage of the sudden weather change by pulling back exposed salients to shorten the line, relocating units which are out of position along the front to more closely counter the Soviet points of attack, and moving forward to attack Soviet units caught exposed or in weak stacks. They manage to form a small number of armoured reaction stacks in the exploitation phase.

The East front in May 1944

The East front in May 1944

Turn Report

Weather Roll = 1, so Clear from the Turkish Border to the Arctic circle where Mud persists.

Army of Norway: Engineers and Res points reach the front to fortify the line along the coastal strip.

AGN: German armour units at the norther end of the line concentrate to attack the 12-8 Guards Mech unit in the vanguard of the Soviet advance outside Memel. It is completely eliminated in the attack but at the cost of the 4-3-8 SS Panzer Battalion and a 2-8 motorised Engineer Regiment.

Further along the line two individual Soviet divisions are eliminated and a Cavalry/infantry stack is also removed from the board, all without loss by mobile units who move back into the line during exploitation.

AGC: The line is adjusted and reluctantly moves west of Minsk, leaving a lone infantry division to deny the Soviets easy access to the regional capital. The rest of Army Group Centre is relatively quiet, and units are shuffled to take advantage of better terrain.

AGS: Powerful panzer forces move against the Soviet bridgehead south of Minsk and a DH result sends survivors reeling back across the river with a single 3-6 artillery division cadre the only survivor to reach the East bank.

Unfortunately, the Axis are not strong enough to attempt a similar attack on the powerful armoured bridgehead at Cherkassy but the armoured defensive ring around the intrusion is strengthened to prevent enemy breakout from this position.

The Dnieper river between Zaporozhe and Kherson is occupied by Hungarian and Rumanian released reserves reaching the front. A combat engineer and 1-2-6 cadre remain in the Fort at the north end of the causeway to the Crimea to deny the Russians an easy breakout from the peninsular. With no chance of reaching the safety of the fortified/river lines to their north and west this pointless heroic suicide mission seems the best strategy.

Air Combat: All Axis units fly DAS to bolster the defences. Interceptors come of worse loosing 3 units in exchange for an Abort and some Returns.

Combat Report

Attacks 5 including 1 auto elim.

Losses:
Axis: German = 6
Soviet = 45 including the 12-8 Gds Mech, Air = 3.

1944 Interim Report Soviet Winter Offensive

May I 44 Weather Roll = 1 so clear skies and hard ground from the Artic circle to the Turkish border. So its time for a inter turn report on the last 6 months.

Interim Report Soviet Winter Offensive 1943/4

(For Period Sept II ’43 – April II ‘44)

Introduction and summary of the main events of the period

In a sense it’s something of a misnomer to call this period an “Offensive” because there was no set plan or objective for the operation rather, the attacks were a continuation of the Summer Offensive upon similar axis of advance.

Defining events of the winter period were, first, the penetrations between Smolensk and Bryansk that resulted in the somewhat premature declaration by the Soviet High Command that Army Group Centre and been destroyed. While it is true that they suffered heavy losses much of the trapped infantry and armour was extricated by skilful local counterattacks and the changing weather with the subsequent degradation of the Soviet supply situation  resulted in much of the trapped units managing to escape.

The second significant event was the surge in the direction from Kursk to Kiev which occurred in the following months. In a replay of the main German offensive of 1942 which almost brought them the isolation of Leningrad and victory, the initial opening in the German lines was created as much by luck and negligence than by any grand design. It was some time before the Soviets realised the potential of the gap that had opened up between Army Group Centre and South. When STAVKA finally moved reserves into the area the push westwards in this central area gained a momentum of its own, stretching the Axis lines to the north and south of the breach and obliging them to retreat. This eventually unhinged the fortified Kharkov-Stalino line which had for the most part resisted Soviet attempts to break through this position. It is true that by the time the line was given permission from High Command to retreat cracks had started to appear and there were a number of Soviet incursions to the south of Kharkov for which the Axis forces had limited ability to respond to.

The third significant event of this period although overshadowed by the former two was the Naval and Air invasion of the Crimea which is now on the verge of bringing the entire peninsula back under Soviet control.

Cities Liberated: Kharkov, Rostov, Riga, Stalino, Gomel, Gorlovka, Kerch, Makeevka, Mariupol, Mogilev, Poltava, Simferopol, Smolensk, Taganrog and Vitebsk.

 

Front line changes in the Ukraine, Oct 1943 to May 1944

Front line changes in the Ukraine, Oct 1943 to May 1944

Statistics

During the period Oct I ‘43 to April II ‘44 The Axis made 37 Attacks and the Soviets made 242 Attacks giving an Attack Ratio Axis/Soviets of 37/242 = 0.15 or 6.5:1 in favour of Soviets.

Combats per Turn

Combats per Turn

During the same period the Axis suffered 886 RP combat point losses against 449 lost by the Soviets for a loss Ratio Axis/Soviets of 886/449 = 1.97:1

Axis and Soviet Losses per turn

Axis and Soviet Losses per turn

Despite the Axis getting more reinforcements and replacements now than the Soviets in all but armour this is a loss ratio the Axis cannot survive for much longer.

Turn Loss Ratio Axis/Soviet

Turn Loss Ratio Axis/Soviet

Axis Plans

Referring to the map we can see that at the start of the winter period the Axis forces were in a relatively secure fortified position from Riga following the Dvina River through to Vitebsk and then vis Smolensk forming a forward bulge around to Bryansk when the line went south to Kharkov. In the far South the evacuation of the Don bend had been reasonably successfully managed by the Axis forces now in position around the Donets bend and this took the Soviets some turns of effort to penetrate in force.

Despite the continued westward movement of the Axis forces they have exited the winter period in a reasonable condition with only two Panzer divisions in the replacement pool despite having several cardres on map. The Axis Allies forces however have been pretty much decimated during the retreat although new reinforcements and released Reserves are presently moving forward to fill holes in the Axis lines in the new defensive position around the Dnieper bend.

The Axis intention is to try to hold the Soviet forces in this position following the Dnieper to Kiev than in a straight line through the eastern most edge of the Pripet to the Neman River in the north. With the end of the winter they will attempt to repeat the feat of the defence of the Kursk-Orel-Moscow line which held the Soviet forces for a number of months at the start of the 1943 Summer Offensive by the process of forming strong Panzer stacks behind a fortified river line using their mobility and firepower to eliminate any penetrations of the line.

The force levels, of course, are significantly more in the Soviet’s favour now and only the most optimistic Field Marshals truly believe that this can be achieved for any length of time. Indeed, there are already two bridgeheads over the Dnieper which will need to be contained or eliminated.

Soviet Plans

For the Soviet side the intention is to continue their offensive much as previously. They do have an armour concentration in and around the Cherkassy bridgehead and their intention is to continue to pursue their earlier goal of expanding from this bridgehead in a south-westerly direction to cut off all the troops in the sweep of the river bend. Secondary action around Kiev will attempt to drive directly West to the former Polish border. In the north the intention is to grind forward with more dispersed armoured concentrations chewing into the German lines where the defensive terrain is less challenging for the attacker. Indeed, it has been a frustrating feature of the attacks in the north that the armoured concentrations achieved limited breakthroughs where often the infantry punctured large holes in the German lines which they were unable to exploit. This the Soviets hope to overcome by some dispersal of the armoured forces thus stretching the German ability to respond in force to several multiple low-level threats. The central section in the Pripet is, and will remain, the Cinderella force simply moving forward as the flank attacks force the Axis west and seizing targets of opportunity with infantry-based assaults as the defender’s line thins in response to threats elsewhere. It is not planned to add any significant armoured presence to this sector.

 

 

1944 APR II Soviet Turn

Turn Report

Partisans: With some the front now outside partisan operational areas and the south almost wholly covered by Security forces there are no hits recorded this turn.

Arctic Front: (1 attack); The hex north of the mountain captured last turn is attacked and the defenders forced back.  More importantly than this lacklustre attack is the air combat raging in the skies above. The solitary Luftwaffe fighter in this sector, a Me 110E, is eliminated clearing the skies for future Soviet air activity.

Leningrad Front: (6 diced plus 2 automatic attacks). The advancing Soviet armies have often been described as a steamroller but a more apt analogy would be an industrial shredder. The Soviets make 8 attacks in this fairly short section of front attacking hexes at intervals apart they rip into the German lines chewing holes and advancing forward where results allow. Additionally, bolder now that the force levels are in their favour, they advance Tank and Mech corps in exploitation to trap and delay the retreating Axis forces.

Leningrad Front attacks in the  second two week in April 1944

Leningrad Front attacks in the  second two week in April 1944

 

Moscow Front: (5 attacks). North of Kiev with artillery now emplaced the attackers press forward across the twin river lines retreating an infantry stack and eliminating a fort. South of the city a second bridgehead over the Dnieper is taken where a 5-7-6 held fort falls to a HX.

The Soviets are desperate to break out of their bridgehead at Cherkassy but the defending German panzers prevent a direct move from the forces west of the river. Instead the Soviets attempt to enlarge the bridgehead to enable a two-hex attack in May. To aid this endeavour a massive air attack is launched to give sufficient GS factors for a 5:1 attack. This will have a (-3) penalty due to forts and defending armour AT.

The GS is engaged by three FW190s. Two are returned by escorts but one gets through the screen eliminating a Pe2B. Defending flack Returns the next 4 bombers! And a further craft is Aborted. When the bombing runs are completed, they have delivered 12 effective points against the 14.25 needed! Consequently, the attack goes in at 4:1 (-3) resulting in an AR!

The Soviets flee back across the river and due to bunching on the East bank some large formations are forced back two hexes making a return is exploitation impossible.

If this was not bad enough 30 miles south a second attempt to cross the river also results in an AR.

The Soviets do return powerful forces over the river in Exploitation, but these are reduced in number and defensive strength. Also the 15-3-6 Rkt will now need two turns to return at full combat strength.

Stalingrad Front: (3 Attacks, 2 Auto). A turn of mopping up as the first major assault on Kharkov by massed Siege Artillery and Assault Engineers takes the city eliminating the 8-6 and 7-6 infantry defenders. In a separate action the Poltava Pocket is finally eliminated

To the west the 10-10 pz gr caught on the “wrong” side of the river is assaulted. Reduced to a cadre the remnants flee across the Dnieper to relative safety.

South of Zaporozhe the Soviets are mainly U2 and move west at a crawl but are joined by better supplied comrades force marching from behind.

In the Crimea the whole Black Sea Fleet continues to feed the supply dumps on the beaches placing most of the assault force in Special Supply. The attacks reduce the one remaining infantry division (4-6-6) to a cadre which flees north over the rail causeway.

A small group peels off and moves south to invest Sevastopol which is manned by a lone 0-2-5 Eastern Static unit.

Air Combat: Other than the activity reported above other assisted combats are successful without serious interference from Interception. A few skirmishes take place between Escorts and rail bombers but no bombers succeed in achieving a hit.

Combat Report

Attacks:
19 including 4 Auto eliminations.

Losses:
Soviet = 7, Air = 2.
Axis: 3x Forts, German = 4x Pos AA, Un-isolated = 44. Isolated = 27. Total = 71
Combat Ratio April II ’44 Axis/Sov: = 71/9 = 7.89

1944 APR II Axis Turn

Turn Report

Weather: Warm air moves north changing the Arctic to mud. In the south the first buds of spring arrive in the Crimea as the skies clear and the ground hardens (Clear).

The two Rumanian division trapped on the sandbar in the Crimea become U4. Both survive the Isolation elimination roll.

Army of Norway: No activity but at Konigsberg Transports are loaded with combat engineers and Res Pts to reinforce the defensive perimeter.

AGN: All forces fall back in front of the Soviet thrust from Riga. A Truck convoy supplying the left flak tries to escape south but is constantly Harried from above by the VVS which slows progress to a crawl.

The Axis decide to try and hold at Minsk and have strong Panzer forces to do so to the NW of the city.  The line south of the City relies as much on the Soviets’ lack of troops and supplies as much as their own resources to hold but the defenders welcome the arrival a rebuilt 5-7-6 to stiffen the line.

AGC: North of Kiev the flanking panzers either side of the hole in the line created by the demise of the engineering stack pull back and a light division joins them to fill the gap.

AGS: The Soviet bridgehead south of Cherkassy is unassailable so a ring of steel is thrown around it to contain the threat.

The Poltava pocket with no chance of rescue sits tight in defiance of the Soviet forces ranged around it. The German mobile forces with no hope of rescuing the trapped divisions pull back over the Dnieper. Only a solitary 10-10 pz gren remains hugging the East bank.

The Crimea sees the only Axis attacks this turn as 3TK and 9L infantry try to break out north. A rescue mission by a combined German and Hungarian relief force is launched down the road from Kherson to try to regain the narrow neck of the peninsular and a 2-6* Marine is eliminated.  However due to conflicting and confused orders 3TK and 9L infantry attack East towards the rail causeway. Fortunately, re-directed air cover arrives in time to assist the attack which retreats the 2-6* Marine defender allowing the German force to advance to the south end of the causeway. In exploitation 3TK drives over the causeway to the Fort and combat engineer securing the northern end of the causeway.

Air Combat: 22 points of air cover are provided to assist the attack of 3TK which leaves AGS short of DAS along the Dnieper, but it is considered a price worth paying to rescue the SS unit. The air bridge to Kharkov again ferries supplies to the city.

In the centre and north all air power is directed to DAS. Some interceptions are made by the VVS but without significant incident. In one encounter a pair of Yak 9s operating at extreme range only have fuel for one pass against a pair of unescorted Ju88As who survive the encounter without adverse effect.

Combat Report:

Attacks 2.
Losses Axis = 0. Soviet = 2.

1944 APR I Soviet Turn

Narrative

Albrecht Schneider pushed away the timber and soil which had fallen into his foxhole and looked out over the rim of his protective defile. With his comrades in the 57th infantry division he occupied a position on the reverse side of the levy on the west bank of the Dnieper River approximately 15 miles south of Cherkassy. The dislodgement of part of his protective cover had been caused by a screeching bombardment of Katyusha rocket fire and some of the fresh recruits were still cowering in the bottom of the hole. From a year of dreadful experience Hans was aware that the Russians did not use these rockets for show and knew that it was vital to be back on station the instant the bombardment stopped. Raising his binoculars, he strained to look out across the fast-flowing water. The morning was typical of a Russian spring in the Ukraine; thick drizzle obscuring all in front of him.  This morning was particularly bad as the density of the air was increased by an early morning fog as a result of the warming ground and the constant miasma from the nearby streams and drainage ditches feeding into the mighty river.  Almost before he had focused the binoculars a dark shape loomed before him out of the mist. That was the last image burned on his retina as a Soviet sub machine gun from the pontoon raft in front of him raked his position. His now limp body fell backwards on top of his comrades struggling and scrambling in the mud of the foxhole to reach a firing position. The infantrymen of the 23rd Guards Rifle division had reached the West bank of the Dnieper. Within an hour dozens of small boats, ferries and heavy-duty timber rafts constructed by the 253rd Tank Engineer Regiment had ferried powerful armoured elements of the 8th and 9th Guards tank Corps across the river who rolled over the remaining positions of the stunned defenders. By the mooring of the next day they had secured a 10-mile perimeter and had begun digging in against the expected counterattack.

Turn Report

Partisans: Limited scope so only one rail hit.

Arctic Front: (1 attack); Advancing troops bring supplies which are now being ferried forward by the destroyer flotilla. Guards, ski and Artillery mass and attack the mountain redoubt which anchors the left flank of the axis line against the North Sea. The attack succeeds in dislodging the 3-8* mountain regiment defender off the mountain into Lakselva.

Leningrad Front: (4 attacks); The Soviets advancing out of Riga assault the SS 11 NL pzg xx cadreing it. They also reduce an infantry stack but further east two other attacks only achieve DRs against the foe.

Moscow Front; (3 attacks); Bobruysk is liberated in a frontal attack over the river which forces out the Pz cadre defender.

40 miles north of Kiev the fortified engineer stack is Exchanged and the Soviet survivors advance into the gap between the two branches of the river eliminating a fort in the process.

The main focus of the Soviets in this sector is, of course, the crossing of the Dnieper. A three hex assault is made against the bend in the river just SE of Cherkassy and a HX clears the Fort allowing an advance. Three Guards Tank Corps, a Guards Rocket Corps and accompanying tank battalions advance over the river securing a bridgehead on the West bank. Unfortunately, accumulated movement penalties prevent exploitation.

Dnjepr Bridgeheads by Soviet Forces

Dnjepr Bridgeheads by Soviet Forces

Stalingrad Front: (10 attacks including 4 automatic eliminations); The abandoned Defenders of Rostov are eliminated by overwhelming odds and in a series of attacks the various pockets along the south coast are eliminated and Mariupol captured. The Poltava pocket is reduced to a single stack of two infantry divisions.

The supply situation is poor in this sector for the Soviet forces which have outrun their Rail Conversion capability which was stalled for a time at Stalino. Thus forward units are now operating at U2.

Outside Kharkov Engineers and Siege guns arrive to assault the citadel next turn.

In the Crimea the forces moving north into the interior eliminate a 1-2-6 ET by overwhelming odds and a 5-7-6 inf is also completely eliminated in an Exchange with no retreat route.

Air Combat: Every eligible short and medium range Assault, Bomber and Escort fill the skies south of Cherkassy to support the crossing of the Dnieper.  Two Luftwaffe FW190s and a Hungarian machine intercept and attempt to bypass the Escorts. One is Returned and the other two lose sight of the bombing stream due to heavy rainfall over the crossing zone and fail to inflict any loss on the attackers. Intense AA fire fairs better Aborting 2 craft and Returning 4, but 23 2/3rd points get through exceeding the 18 needed to bump the odds to 5:1. With -3 mods due to a Fort and ATEC a HX result succeeds in securing the crossing.

The Luftwaffe fairs better in the north where an attempt to increase the odds against the line result in the elimination of a A-20G and Abort of a Pe-2B dropping the odds from the anticipated 5:1 to 4:1 and changing a DE to a DH.

Mission Profile: Bombing Hits = 0, Harassment Hits = 5, GS = 2 Combats, DAS = 2 Hexes.

Combat Report

Attacks 18 of which 4 are automatic eliminations for no loss.

Losses: Soviets = 21, Air = 3
Axis; Forts = 6 including abandoned, German = 35 (isolated), 32 (Un-isolated), Air = 3. Rumanian = 8 (Isolated), Eastern = 1 (Isolated)
Total Axis Losses = 76
Loss Ratio April I ‘44 Axis/Soviet = 76/26 = 2.92

1944 APR I Axis Turn

Turn Report

Weather: No Change (Snow in A, Mud in Zone C & D, clear in G)

Army of Norway: No activity.

AGN: German reserves are drained releasing a total of 6 rebuilt 5-7-6 infantry divisions. 5 are allocated to this sector of the front and take up position along the fortified line previously prepared by combat engineers behind the Neman river.  Meanwhile strong panzer forces bar the way of the main Soviet thrust SW from Riga to buy time for the infantry to fall back and join their comrades manning the fortified line.

North of the Minsk the three Isolated Panzer divisions manage to exfiltrate through the loose Soviet containment without combat.

AGC: A relatively quiet sector of the front as the Soviet forces here are thin and suffering supply difficulties however just North of Kiev difficult terrain and the appalling ground conditions result in a gap between two powerful Panzer divisions being filled by a mixed collection of hastily assembled combat engineers with a single stud battalion for company. They are all that are available to hold a 16-mile section of front.

AGS: The majority of the Axis forces are now well ensconced within their fortified positions behind the Dnieper River awaiting the onslaught from the Soviet armies ranged against them. The Poltava pocket contracts and attempts to move southwest but barely make 15 miles a day progress against the mud and Soviet units pressing down upon them.

In the Crimea Axis forces realise that the situation is now hopeless and move North to try and breakout of the trap set by the landing of the Soviet Marines and Paratroopers. They attack the paratroopers at the crossroads who comprise 2 x 2-5 Guards units and 1-2-6 standard Paratrooper unit. The Guards are disrupted following their landing, so the attackers achieve a 9 to 1 odds, eliminate the opposition, and advance north.

Air Combat: The air bridge to Kharkov continues with the Ju 52 escorted by Fokker Wolf 190s. Most interceptors are swept aside but one “Auntie” is returned damaged. Nevertheless, sufficient supplies are delivered to the beleaguered city.

An attempt to provide air cover over the Poltava pocket is intercepted by a group of three Yak fighters who penetrate the escort screen and return the Luftwaffe bombers and assault bombers without loss to themselves.

Combat report

Attacks = 1.
Losses; Soviet = 5 (Isolated).  Axis; Air = 1.

1944 MAR II Soviet Turn

Turn Report

Partisans: 3 rail hits this turn.

Leningrad Front: The Soviets around Riga attack the SS units blocking the way to the Mech/Tank xxx cut off 2 weeks earlier.  Co-ordination is accomplished by local partisan groups and the isolated corps also join in the attack. German troops are forced back with an infantry division suffering heavy losses although the SS Pzg retreats intact.

Soviet Relief attack at Riga Sector and 50 mile hole further east

Soviet Relief attack at Riga Sector and 50 mile hole further east

 

Elsewhere on this front the Soviet attack is bolstered now by arriving artillery divisions and reinforcements and smashes a 50 mile wide hole in the German lines in the centre of the front. Only the lack of mobile units in this sector stops this attack from isolating a large section of German frontage. Even so further to the west where the front curves South a pincer formed by an infantry advance in the north and a southern wing of mechanised forces isolates three Panzer divisions in a loosely held pocket.

Moscow front: After first entering action at Vitebsk in October 1943 and fighting a continual and monumental rear-guard action from there through Osha and Mogilev the German 9-8 artillery division and its infantry accompaniment finally succumb to Soviet action and are eliminated in a surrounded HX result.

Just North of Kiev a 15-8 Mech corps seeks to take advantage of a weak point in the German line where a gap between two Panzer division is held by a pair of engineer regiments and an assault gun battalion. The engineers are showered with Iron Crosses after defying the Soviet attempts to penetrate the line. [3:1( -1) = AR]

South of Kiev the Dnieper east bank is occupied by Soviet forces.  However rather than the frozen and crossable river they had planned to meet the advanced guard encounters a raging, impassable torrent of spring rains swollen by melting ice. The combination of the melting ice, the mud which restricts mobility and the outrunning of their supply lines brings the advance to a shuddering halt, as the forces find themselves unable to mount any viable attack against the fortified defenders. Almost before it has begun the Soviet plan to cross the river at Cherkasy and isolate the bulk of Army Group South has floundered.

The small secondary move south from the Kursk/Kiev continues its drive through Poltava towards Dnepropetrovsk and isolates three full strength German infantry divisions and thier stiffening of Rumanian and Eastern Troops. The eastern wing of the encirclement engages a 14-10 Panzer division attempting to hold open an escape route for the hapless infantry and obliges it retreat by sheer weight of force.

The Poltava Pocket

The Poltava Pocket

 

Further east on this front Stalino is captured by an automatic direct assault and mopping up operations begin against various stragglers and German pockets along the Azov coast. In preparation of an assault on Kharkov siege artillery and assaulted engineers arrive in theatre from Riga.

In the Crimea Soviet forces advancing along the isthmus bypass the Rumanians bottled up on the sandbar and continue to press North and East enlarging the perimeter of the landings on the south coast. They receive supply from dumps landed by ships and river transports on the north and south coasts.

To further support this effort the postponed naval and para-drop operation is executed. The landing by Marines south of the rail causeway at the neck of the Crimea encounters difficult conditions and both units become hopelessly disrupted on landing. The marines further west land intact but a stout defence by a pair of German combat engineers prevents them taking the Fort on the road to Nikolayev. Two Guards paratrooper units land at the rail/road crossroads in central Crimea to protect the Marines from any move North by the encircled SS Panzer and infantry divisions.

Air combat:  Soviets successfully inflict 4 Harassment Hits in the south and a rail hit on the Zaporozhe/Crimea line.

Combat Report

Attacks;
Arctic = 0
Leningrad = 8
Moscow = 5
Stalingrad = 9
Total = 22 (of which 3 are automatic)

Losses: Soviets = 16, Air = 3
Axis Forts = 6 (including abandoned), German = 80 (of which 14 are Isolated), AA =3.
Eastern = 1 (isolated), Spanish = 2 (Isolated), Air = 2
Total Ground = 83
Loss Ratio Axis/Soviet = 83/28 = 2.96

1944 MAR II Axis Turn

Turn Report

Weather: The warming from the south continues as the majority of the Front dissolves into thick mud. (Mud in Zone C & D)

Army of Norway: The defence falls back a hex further north along the Swedish border.

AGN: At 6 a.m. on Tuesday the 21st March the silence of the early morning is shattered by the screech of a massed Nebelwerfer barrage softening up the Soviet defenders funnelling supplies and artillery support to the Mech Corps leading the breakout towards Siauliai.   German ground forces with close air support then attack the shocked defenders as two SS panzer divisions and an SS panzer grenadier division lead a ground assault smashing a 9-6 artillery division and a Guards infantry division who retreat in disarray at great loss of numbers and leave a tank brigade to suffer total elimination. The head of the Soviet thrust (A Guards 12-8 Mech xxx and 11-8-18 Tk xxx) is cut off by strong German forces advancing to isolate them from their supply lines ready for future destruction.

Axis counterattack Soviet thrust to Siaulilai

Axis counterattack Soviet thrust to Siaulilai

AGC: More minor retreats and line straightening. No attacks.

AGS: A dangerous salient has formed east of Poltava where an advancing Soviet Mech Corps cuts SE behind an infantry corps barring its escape SW to the Dnieper.  A 10-10 mech and 14-10 panzer hold ground to try and offer the infantry an escape route but the masses of advancing Soviets threaten to infiltrate through the lines despite the mud which slows movement to a crawl.

The two pockets along the Azov Sea coast between Taganrog and Mariupol, with no chance of rescue, form a defensive perimeter. With their backs against the coast they brace for the inevitable attack.

In the Crimea a 2-6 Marine brigade is eliminated but due to limited supplies and the defenders air and Naval support it takes the combined might of an 18-10 panzer, 5-7-6 infantry xx and 1-2-6 ET to accomplish the sailor’s destruction.

Air combat: In a supreme effort by the Luftwaffe ground support crews all 5 Aborted aircraft are restored to full operational effectiveness in the initial phase. Again the main focus of the Luftwaffe is DAS in which a Ju87R and Ju88A are lost to enemy action.

Combat Report:

Attacks = 2
Losses; Soviet = 12, Air = 4;  Axis; Air = 2.

1944 MAR I Soviet Turn

Partisans: 3 rail hits this turn

Planning: Now that the bulk of the Soviet forces are positioned to assault the Rumanian fort in the Crimea and the bridgehead east of Sevastopol is secure the airdrops and naval landings at the neck of the Crime are rescheduled for late March.

Norwegian/Finnish Front: (2 attacks) The attack along the Swedish border continues pushing a 3-8 mtn III north.  Along the coast the Jana Garrison is assaulted and dispersed.

It has been decided that it will take too much time, effort and RPs to eliminate the cut off Axis garrisoned ports so a 4-6 XX moves into position to block any landings by Axis forces in the rear.

The situation in the far North

The situation in the far North

Leningrad Front: (5 attacks): Attacks continue along the line resulting in 2xDE, 1X Hx, 2X DR. The Soviets desperately are seeking a breakthrough or decisive elimination and advance two Mech thrusts into the Axis lines; one just west of Riga and a second just north of the Moscow Highway. Neither has a large support train and is open to counter attack but Soviet intelligence reports limited reserves in the respective areas.

Moscow front: (4 attacks) (Per last turn’s commentary units west of Poltava driving South toward Cherkassy are now under the control of Moscow front): Soviet units make two attacks in this generally quiet sector at the northern end of the Front. One automatically eliminates a 7-6 SS infantry division which has become surrounded on three sides by advancing infantry.

Soviet tank Corps race towards the Dnieper with infantry/artillery moving up to tackle stragglers.  In total in this sector 5 infantry divisions are either carded or completely eliminated.

Soviets reach the Dnieper

Soviets reach the Dnieper

Stalingrad Front (10 attacks): In the extended East-West front between Kharkov and Kiev units driving South from the Kiev/Kursk road assault Poltava from the north and a  Guards Mechanised Corps drives through the city to the south catching a damaged Me109G on the ground. This move threatens to form a pocket of German infantry trapped between Poltva and the main Soviet Front moving West from Kharkov. Along the coast the thrust continues to move West flowing round Stalino and other isolated units many of which are eliminated in the ensuing battles.

In the Crimea a prepared assault is made by infantry, artillery and mechanised units against the Rumanian held fort holding the neck the isthmus. Rumanian resistance is well organised, but the Soviets bring overwhelming force to bear and the defenders are forced to retreat north along the narrow sand spit towards the Shivash.

In the exploitation phase a 3-5 security/0-5 ET construction unit is overrun as is a 2-3-6 cadre east of Kiev.

Air Combat: Raids inflict 5 Harassment hits and 3 Rail hits but minimal engagement and losses this turn.

Combat Report:

Attacks =19 (including six automatic eliminations)

Losses:

Axis:  Forts =14 (including abandoned), German = 55, AA = 8, Air = 1 (on ground).
Rumanian = 6, Eastern = 4. Total = 73
Soviets = 5, Air = 1
Loss Ratio Axis/Soviet = 73/7 = 10.43

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