Europa Games and Military History

Month: December 2020 (Page 1 of 3)

1944 FEB II Soviet Turn

Narrative: Next Christmas

STAKA, military HQ of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  A meeting is in progress of the top military minds in the Union or at least those who had survived the enemy and the Gulags so far.  Supreme leader of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin is also present and there is a lot at stake as the Field Marshals vie for resources to pursue their goals ever mindful of the penalties for failure.

Marshall Ivan Konev (Leningrad Front) is the first speak “The Reserve Army should be placed in my sector, see how much we have achieved so far with so little, only two tank corps in the thrust from Riga yet already we have eliminated a significant section of the enemy’s front and fortifications. My forces are the closest to the German border and Konigsberg could be ours in three months if my forces were suitably reinforced.

Vasilevskiy commander of the Stalingrad Front speaks next; “A German city is all well and good but here in the South my forces are about to liberate Kharkov, Stalino, Rostov, the list goes on and with additional forces I would drive to the coast capturing Dnepropetrovsk , Zaporozhe and the Crimea as well!

Marshal Zhukov in charge of the Moscow Front is the third to speak. He speaks slowly and deliberately to make his point, leaning forward over the situation map arrayed before them.  “Gentleman, Gentleman you are all thinking far too small, what we need is a large prize, nothing less than the destruction of half of the German force and all of the Rumanian and Hungarian forces arrayed against us. Please look at the map. “Here! Here, this is the key”. As he speaks, he jabs his finger at an obscure town on the bank of the Dnieper. Eyebrows are raised as the two other Marshals almost in unison say “Cherkasy? Why is such an insignificant place surrounded by marsh on the western bank of the Dnieper so important? “How does this place hold the key to victory?”. Gentlemen look beyond, what do you see? here a few miles to the south; Kirovograd and the rail net here, here and here supplies the whole of the German Army Group South. By crossing the Dnepr at Cherkasy and capturing Kirovograd we deny them supplies. Deny them supplies and we deny them freedom of movement and firepower. Then from there we capture Odessa sealing their fate and guaranteeing victory.”

With the Strategic Reserve released to me I expect Kirovograd to be in my hands before the end of the spring. We can then drive straight for the Nazi heartland in the summer and remove this scourge from the Motherland for good.

Stalin surveys the map and meets the gaze of each Field marshal in turn.  After a few moments he speaks “Well gentleman I think we have our answer I will release the First Reserve Guard Tank Army at Smolensk to Timoshenko’s Moscow Front. Infantry armies will continue to Kiev while mechanised forces will swing south and west according to the plan just outlined.

In the meantime, Marshal Konev, I expect your forces to maintain pressure on the Axis in the North to prevent a large transfer of forces South. You must, of course continue to Konigsberg.”

“Marshal Vasilevskiy you will continue to drive from the east to the Crimea and  liberate our cities but you will cede encirclement operations to Moscow front.  Continue with your attacks in reducing and harrying the Axis forces to minimise their retreat west. It is important that they do not escape before the trap is sprung.

Gentlemen I expect to be feasting in Berlin by Christmas.”

“Yes Boss!”

Turn Report

Partisans: Due to disarray in the south as the Axis flee west anti-partisan sweeps are limited and the insurgents manage 4 rail hits.

Planning: Due to the unfavourable weather the planned Airdrop/Naval landings at the neck of the Crimea are temporarily suspended.

Norwegian/Finnish Front: An attack is launched along the German right flank eliminating a 3-8 mtn III and pushing the defenders north.  Along the coast forces are still arriving at the front and the bypassed ports are invested in preparation for the elimination and occupation of the Garrisons.

Leningrad Front: in the Riga sector two attacks are made due-west on the extreme left flank of the German position with two eliminations; cardreing a 5-7-6 infantry division and eliminating a mixed stack of existing carders and flak.

Along the rest of the front numerous attacks are made with some defenders retreating in good order others being eliminated. In total three more divisions are carded and two forts taken.  Notably SS DR retreats in good order.

The front in the Baltic

The front in the Baltic

Moscow front: Three attacks are made in this sector resulting in a half exchange and two retreats SS LSAH retreats in good order.

Stalingrad front: By far the most activity is registered in the south where the Axis line has decided it can no longer make a stand against the constant pressure from the Soviet forces and is retreating West. A number of stay behind units are eliminated while penetrations are made of the exposed left flank between Kharkov and Kiev which is growing longer as the Soviet mechanized units’ advances towards Kiev outrun the Axis units retreating east from Kharkov.  However the limited Soviet motorized assets between Stalino and Kharkov have allowed Axis use of delaying forces to gain the separation they desired between the Soviets advance and the main bulk of troops fleeing West.

Situation in the Ukraine

Situation in the Ukraine

Crimea: The Soviet’s toehold on the south-central coast of the Crimea is turning from an irritation to a more significant threat as forces attack out of the perimeter eliminating a police unit and a combat engineer is left high and dry as shaken eastern troops fleeing North from the battlefield. Once again the Soviets have isolated the Fort at the isthmus and its Rumanian defenders. This time however Totenkopf is outside the perimeter and a 5-7-6 inf xx approached from the rail line will even the fight.

Air combat: Approximately half of the Soviets Assault bombers fly Harassment missions to limit the Axis retreat and some rail hits are also attempted in the south, but an aggressive Axis air defence removes sufficient forces to render all 4 rail hit missions ineffective. While some Harassment missions are also deterred in all 11 hits are achieved across the entire front 

Combat Report:

Attacks: Auto eliminations = 6, Diced = 18
Losses: Soviet = 8, Air = 6
Axis; Forts = 10 (including abandoned), German = 49, 4 pos AA, Air = 0, Rumanian = 10, Hungarian = 3, Eastern = 2.  Total = 64.
Loss Ratio Axis/Soviets Feb II ‘44 = 64/10 = 6.4.

1944 FEB II Axis Turn

Weather: The chill Siberian wind mixes with hotter air moving in from Turkey and Clears the south but turning the light snow covering in the Crimea to a muddy slush. Elsewhere low temperatures and snow persist.

Army of Norway: The Axis start to dig in and fortify the flanks of the coastal road at Lakselv. At the south end the isolated 3-8 mtn reg pulls back north out of isolation.

AGN: A newly arrived 5-6 inf moves into the line near Riga as mobile reserves and a rocket regiment add to the defence in an effort to contain the Soviet drive. At the East of the front despite harassment from the air the line pulls back 16 miles to shorted and reinforce the defence.

AGC:  Mogilev and Gomel are evacuated as troops move out of exposed redoubts. South of Gomel armour and infantry divisions form up in front of the advancing Soviet Tank Corps’ to bar the way West and give time for the units of AGS to cross the Dnieper.

AGS: As per the Fuhrerdirective Kharkov is reinforced and ordered to hold. Otherwise orders are given for a general evacuation and troops which have held fast on the Kharkov line for months move back west with only a light screen remaining to stall any pursuit.

Further south the action is repeated at Stalino but south of the city a slow-moving group along the Azov Sea coast runs the risk of encirclement.

Rostov is supplied by air as it faces its second turn of isolation.

In the Crimea SS 3TK breaks out of encirclement but it takes the full weight of the SS armour, two Rumanian division also trapped with it, and the engineer regiment and eastern forces outside the pocket to eliminate the 2-6* Marine barring the way West. The marine has both naval and air support and so every JU88a in range flies to aid the attack. The 4:1 is fortunate to get a high roll and eliminates the Marines. Confident that the Soviet Supply difficulties that came with the warming weather will allow the Rumanians to hold the isthmus fort unaided the SS exploits to contain the Soviet landings to their south and west.

Air Combat: The single Axis attack requires the support of all the long-range bombers in the south. The JU87 force concentrates on DAS across the whole battlefield and in the north long-range bombers are also instructed to support the troops on the ground.

A FW190 protects the JU52s suppling Rostov from interference by downing a P39N. A second P39N does penetrate the screen but runs for home in disgrace after a desultory burst of MG fire fails to inflict any damage on the stream of JU52s.

Meanwhile at the other end of the line near Riga an interception mission is sent packing when a pair of Ju87Ds and their Me109G escort on a DAS mission eliminate a Hurricane 10 and Pe39N.

Combat Report

Attacks = 1
Losses; Axis = 0 but numerous forts evacuated. Air = 0.
Soviet = 2.  Air = 3.

1944 FEB I Soviet Turn

Turn Report

Partisans: The ever-shrinking front means that only two hits are achieved this turn against Nazi rail lines.

Planning: Plans are formulated to air assault and amphibiously invade the neck of the Crimean Peninsula.

Finland and Norway: A long awaited attack is mounted near the Swedish boarder pushing back a 3-8 light regiment and isolating a mountain regiment in the borderlands.  Along the coast the Soviets move forces into place to assault the bypassed ports. This is needed to prevent a German landing in their rear.

Leningrad: The attack out of Riga is developed with two more attacks close to the city. The first a HX catches the German big rail gun as it is entraining and it is eliminated. The advance surrounds a two-division stack adjacent which is reduced to a pair of cardres following a retreat result. Due to ZOCs and lack of a 12:1 ratio neither remnant can be overrun in exploitation and the Soviets keep their mobile divisions stacked against possible reprisals from the powerful German armour in the area.

Two snap attacks are made farther east along the line resulting in an HX which cadres another division and an NE.

Moscow Front: On the Moscow Road a 15-10 pz is cadred by a direct 3 hex assault and a second attack eliminates a mixed scratch defence built around a 3-5 security unit.

In the centre in one of the most unequal battles of the war a 1-5 security regiment is wiped out by a 3 corps strong Tank Army.

The Center retreats

The Center retreats

Stalingrad Front: The dash west continues in the centre with the scattered and disconnected Axis forces powerless to stop the surge. A more coherent front limits Soviet moves south to encircle Kharkov but the whole line from here to the Sea of Azov is assaulted by massed Soviet infantry and artillery formations with a stiffening of mech and tank corps.

In all 9 assaults are mounted along this Front. 3 inf xx, 1 Pzg xx and 2 Rum inf xx are reduced to cadres/eliminated together with some of the few remaining support units.

Makeevka is bypassed from east and west and is now surrounded on 4 sides. In this sector a 1-2-6 Eastern brigade is eliminated in exploitation.

In the Crimea a 14-6 Artillery XX and a number of Guards infantry cross the Kerch straights. The Marine brigade holding the beaches West of the Axis fortified isthmus is re-enforced from the sea by a 4-6 infantry division and additional naval troops with supplies.

Air combat: Some attacks require GS which is provided. A rail hit results from 3 missions in the north on the Riga line while north of the Moscow road swarms of Pe2s harass the retreating German infantry.

The Soviets do not have it all their own way. 3 Harassment missions are returned and in one notable engagement a mission comprising Guards Yak7B, Pe2 FT, Pe2 and a regular Yak 9D are all but eliminated by interceptors with a single Guards Pe2 returning to tell of the encounter.

Combat Report

Arctic = 1;
Leningrad Front (Baltic to Moscow Road) = 5;
Moscow Front (Moscow Road to B/C weather line) = 2 Diced, 1 Auto;
Stalingrad Front (B/C weather line to Black Sea/Sea of Azov) = 9.
Total = 18

Soviets = 12, Air=5.
Axis: 5 Forts in combat plus abandoned. German = 50, Rumanian = 8, Hungarian = 3, Eastern = 4; Total = 65, Air = 0.
Loss Ratio; Feb I ’44 Axis/Soviet = 65/16 = 4.06

1944 FEB I Axis Turn

Turn Report

Weather: Temperatures drop across the continent as a cold front moves in from Siberia and the whole country from Murmansk to Baku is covered in snow.

Army of Norway: No action as the units watch the Soviet build up and wait expectantly for the inevitable assault.

AGN: The counterattack out of Dougavpils had relived the pressure on the Front and allowed the Axis to build up an armoured reserve from the units redeploying after the offensive was called off. These units now rush to contain the Soviet bridgehead south of the Dvina just west of Riga.

At the eastern end of the Front a couple of infantry units fall back a few miles to straighten the line as strong armoured and panzer grenadier units hold the Soviet advance here.

AGC: The lull in the centre continues allowing the German armour to concentrate against the Soviet pressure points in the north.  There is now a large area of “no man’s land” between the Soviet lines and the Axis along the Mogilev-Gomel line.

On the Bryansk axis most units evacuate westwards along the rail line leaving a few retreating Security and rear-guard units who fall back ahead of the advancing Soviets.

AGS: Interpreting the Fuhrer’s orders somewhat liberally the commander of AGS orders units in front of Kharkov to abandon their fortified positions and fall back into the city while extending the line north to maintain contact with the southernmost units of AGC. The garrison units relieved move rapidly west.

South of the city Panzer divisions contain the Soviets main points of advance while on the extreme southern flank of the Front contact is lost with Rostov as units hurry West.

A Garrison remains to deny the Soviets the city for as long as possible and Herman Goering orders the transfer of 6 squadrons of JU52s to Zaporozhe to form an air bridge. He confidently promises 200 tons a day will be delivered to the Rostov Garrison.

In the Crimea a scratch force of Police, Eastern units and an Engineer regiment are joined by a rebuilt TK3 SS Panzer Division. Attacks eliminate the Soviet parachutist but due to a plethora of confusing and contradictory reports regarding the landing the Marine brigade occupying the south coast is bypassed as the tankers move to join the Rumanians occupying the fortified constriction on the isthmus to Kerch.

The passage of the Panzers is long and difficult; their progress impeded by numerous rail breaks due to Soviet air activity and repeated raids by Partisans. In all their passage requires a total of 6 RR construction, Combat and Construction engineers to clear the short length of track to the front.

Air Combat: A series of DAS missions provoke a limited Soviet response. The Soviets decide to change tactics sending a single interceptor against each bombing stream and concentrating their fire against the German fighters. The aim is to strip the Germans of their fighter capability. Consequently, of the 23 DAS missions only 6 are intercepted and only 2 missions aborted/turned back.

The results are disappointing: they lose 2 interceptor squadrons but fail to kill a single enemy fighter, only a Ju87D.

Combat Report:

Attacks = 2 (automatic kills against the Parachutists in the Crimea.)
Losses: Axis: 6 forts abandoned, Air = 1, Soviet = 4 (Isolated), Air = 2.

1944 JAN II Axis Turn


Von Manstein casts his arm across the map spread over the table in the Wolf’s Lair situation briefing room. “Mien Fuhrer, he states “We must pull back, I recommend we instigate an immediate withdrawal of Army Group South to the Dnjepr. This is the only way to preserve the army.” “What of Kharkov”, you say, I say “I would rather lose a city than an army”. The Fuhrer studies the map set in front of him and the dispositions and strengths of troops with the estimated strengths of the enemy. Unlike his predecessor he does not consider himself a super strategist who surpasses in will and intellect those of the military minds arrayed before him.

He turns to Jodl “You are in agreement?” Jodl nods. “When do you propose this withdrawal begins?” “Immediately my Fuhrer, we must act now or we face a danger that the army will be lost.” The Fuhrer continues the questioning. “What of Rostov?. “Rostov is all but surrounded, we can hold at Kharkov and Stalino for a time, it is true, but the collapse of the centre and the subsequent move of Soviet forces southwest poses a grave danger to the troops holding there.

The Fuhrer ponders the map further “This line of defence was to be permanent was it not and yet you ask me to withdraw yet again.

Manstein replies “It was, mine Fuhrer but we did not anticipate a collapse in the centre and the calamity in the North, without the anchor at Bryansk it is no longer possible to hold the centre ground “

The Fuhrer studies the map further and after a long pause speaks “In this I will bow to your greater knowledge but Kharkov and Stalino must become bastions of defence to hold the enemy advance and allow the greater body of troops to reach the Dnieper line.

Wait until our Rumanian allies have reached Stalino and then order a general retreat, but I expect these two cities to be held for as long as possible.

No retreat from the cities!!.

There is a clicking of heals and a forest of stiff armed salutes from the assembled military coterie of Generals and Field Marshals.

“As you order, mine Fuhrer.  Long live the Fatherland” Heil Bormann!”

Turn Report

Weather: A slight thaw in the south brings rain and mud to Zone C, G Frosty, A, B&C Snowy.

AGN: The Axis pull back to the south side of the Dvina river, their great adventure beaten back by weight of arms and especially the Weather.

At the other end of the line two infantry divisions pull back south away from the river where the Soviets advance threatens to encircle them and Panzers and Panzergrenadiers move in to bolster the defence.

AGC: LSSAH and the rest of the relief force pull back over the Upper Dneiper and take up reserve positions again. Other Panzer XXs move south to aid the troops falling back westwards from the Bryansk area.

At the south end of the Army Group’s frontage the thinly spaced line pulls back further to keep in contact with AGS

Counter Attack South of Kharkov

Counter Attack South of Kharkov

AGS: North of Kharkov 6 forts are abandoned as troops move west to prevent the advancing enemy infantry from turning their flank.

South of Kharkov the only German attack this turn is against the Guards infantry intrusion across the river south of the city. This is assaulted by all local Panzer reserves, nearby infantry, security detachments, flak, in fact anything that can reach the small bulge. The bulge is eliminated, and the line restored.

Further south the Rostov garrison is thinned as the retreat west continues.

Air Combat: The recent Soviet program of forward fighter base construction bares fruit as many Axis DAS missions are intercepted. In a series of battles all across the front-line Fighters engage and bypass the Escorts and penetrate to the bomber stream. Many such interceptions are successful with the Luftwaffe loosing 5 units and the VVS 3 fighters (2 Guards).

Combat Report

Diced = 1

Loses: Axis = 5 Air

Soviets = 9, 3 Air

1944 JAN II Soviet Turn

Narrative: Operation Neptune – A sailor’s tale

Dimitri walked up the gangplank through the apparent chaos of the quay at the bustling docks onto the destroyer waiting in the harbour. He was one of a vast throng of comrades moving onto naval ships and troop transports packed into the port. Kit bags slung across their shoulders and hunched forward against the weight of the bag and the upward slope of the gangplank they moved slowly towards the gently moving decks of their target ships.

Despite his heavy load Dimitri had a spring in his step; the waiting was finally over. Rumours were rife as to where the disembarkation point would be. Most thought the Crimea but some of the more imaginative considered a direct assault on Sevastopol may be planned and there was even one rumour that they were bound for Odessa, but Dimitri dismissed these as far too fanciful. His money was on Kerch.

He was a trained marine having this initially been stationed in Leningrad for most of ’42. When the manpower shortage forced his unit into a frontline combat role they were transferred to Tula. The following eight months they had been marching west in fits and starts and had seen some direct action. He was proud to say that his unit had performed well under fire and having maintained cohesion was still close to its paper strength.

Then two months ago they had been pulled out of the line and transferred south by rail. Most places they passed were unknown to him although Stalingrad was a name he recognised. They continued south and west to the Black Sea coast where they were put into intense retraining as a Marine Assault unit. They practised landing craft drill, beach assaults and close combat and it was clear to all that something big was in the offing. It was therefore with relief as much as joy that he now moved up the gangplank onto the big ship. The wait was over. Their officers marshalled him and his comrades to their bunks in the bowels of ship where he caught a few hours of much needed sleep.

The next morning the ship weighed anchor and then moved out to sea. Almost as soon as they reach the open ocean light snow flurries started to fall, not unexpected given the decreasing temperatures they’d experienced over the last few weeks. Winter had arrived in the South.

By midmorning they reached their objective; a golden sandy beach below a shallow bluff south of Kerch.

The ship weighed anchor out in the bay and the massive guns opened fire, pounding the cliffs and then rolling inland to engage the enemy troops occupying the city. Half an hour later the guns fell silent. Dimitri and his comrades went over the sides clambering down the nets into the waiting launches. The fortunate into motor launches the rest to rowboats. As the beach loomed closer Dimitri was expecting them to come under enemy fire at any minute, but it was clear that the ship’s mighty guns had done their work well. Approaching the beach there was little enemy resistance and his boat reached shore without encountering any direct enemy fire. In three hours they had establish their perimeter. Two days later they had moved north and linked up with comrade units who had braved the narrow Kerch straights and landed to the north of the peninsular. The enemy was surrounded.

Once again, the naval guns opened up, pounding the enemy; these were joined by waves of bombers and fighters strafing anything that moved within the town. When the whistles blew and his unit and others surged forward there was little resistance from the demoralized defenders and Kerch was taken.

Within hours Dimitri and his fellow marines were relieved to welcome the arrival of 4th Mech Corp which had been rapidly ferried across the straights. They now changed facing and braced themselves for the inevitable enemy counter-attack…..

 Turn Report

Partisans: 4 Rail hits

Finland and Norway: No action as the Soviet troops and supplies continue to inch towards the German defensive line.

Leningrad Front: The Soviets recommence their attack on Riga following the containment of the German threat from Dougavpils. The attack is assisted by assault engineers and Siege Artillery and forces the German defenders out of the city catching and eliminating 3 enemy aircraft on the ground.

The armoured corps used to counterattack the German drive north are now employed in a snap attack over the Dvina 50 miles East of Riga and cadre a German 5-7-6 division occupying the defenders fort and overrunning the remnant in exploitation.

Further west the bridgehead is widened but here the defenders retreat in good order without loss.


Moscow Front: Outside the SW suburbs of Orsha another 56-7-6 is cadred but to the NW of the city a stack retreats, again denying the Soviets the blood they desire.

In the Bryansk region two small stacks are destroyed in automatic eliminations but a diced attack results in yet another DR.

The bulge to the west of Kursk continues to grow as more troops are redeployed to exploit the weakness at the junction of AGC and AGS.

Stalingrad Front: South of the weather line sees the most attacks as the Stalingrad front is now fully supplied and in contact. This front is a lot weaker in terms of mobile assets and artillery except for a Tank Army south of Kharkov attacking SW. Nevertheless, a series of low odds attack are launched to the north and south of the Kharkov defensive complex and the forts are penetrated in a number of places. North of Kharkov a third inf 5-7-6 is cadred resulting in the only Soviet losses this turn in an EX.

As on the northern Fronts however Axis losses are generally light although north of Gorovka a 7-8 pz cadre is eliminated and a 3-6 luft inf XX with Wehrmacht inf cadre eliminated.

Operation Neptune: Of note this turn is the initiation of Operation Neptune a combined air and sea invasion of the Crimea specifically the Kerch peninsular. Marine units land in an arc around the two Rumanian division occupying Kerch. Only one marine unit is dispersed due to limited visibility on the beaches and attacks at half strength. With naval bombardment and a large air assault the U2 defenders are eliminated and the city captured. A 15-8 Mech unit exploits across the straights to consolidate the gain.

Further west however the part of the operation designed to place the Rumanian reserves at the neck of the peninsular out of supply and prevent a rapid Axis response to the invasion is less successful. The single marine unit is disorganised and of little effectiveness on landing and one of the two Guards Airborne units is disrupted failing to the cut the supplies to the two Rumanian divisions who will now be free to rapidly contain and counterattack the Soviet invasion forces. Overall however the objectives have been met and with artillery corps and Guards infantry ready to ford the straights it is likely the Soviets will be successful in achieving their goal of establishing a foothold in the Crimea; thus widening the front and potentially threatening the withdrawing Axis from the Rostov area.

Air combat: In two attacks DAS is driven off by effective AA fire increasing the odds.  8 rail bombing attacks result from rail net disruption missions all for the loss of a single Pe 2FT.

Combat Report

Auto eliminations = 3, Diced Attacks = 13. Total = 16.

Soviet = 5, Air = 1
Axis: Forts = 8 (including abandoned earthworks), German = 30, POs AA = 6, Air = 4 (3 on ground), Rumanian = 10 (8 Isolated), Eastern = 1.  Total Ground = 39.

1944 JAN I Soviet Turn

Turn Report

Partisans: Reducing Axis territory and increasing Axis security limits the Partisans to 2 rail hits this turn.

Finland/Norway:  No action again this turn as the Soviets crawl slowly to the German line at Kautokeino. Even the single SS inf battalion falling back along the coast from Kirkenes is outside effective attack range as supplies are slowly hauled forward.

Leningrad Front: The recent German lodgement on the north of the Dvina immediately East of Riga is pushed back over the frozen river.  No attempt is made against the German enclave around Dougavpils, however the bridgehead 30 miles SE of Podolsk is widened and Orsha is captured in a 9 to 1 frontal attack.

Moscow Front: The trapped pair of 16-10panzers; isolated, out of supply and completely surrounded are eliminated in an automatic elimination.

On the Bryansk-Gomel road the 4-6-6 inf xx which kept the escape route open for the gaggle of stugs, mobile artillery and panzer cadres succumbs to an assault, but the Knights Cross goes to the 1-7 security regiment which has held a Mech Corps at bay for a month and now is eliminated only by the combined efforts of a Mech and Tank corps.

South of the road the Soviets grind forward against a mixed bag of Axis units struggling to move west hampered by ZOCs, terrain and the need to maintain cohesion.  A 5-6 infantry division is totally eliminated in a coordinated three hex attack against the retreating, mainly German, forces.

West of Kursk the Soviets continue to push into empty space as the German line falls back West. Only the lack of Soviet units prevents attacks against the thinly spaced German units, and the lack of mobile units in strength prevents penetration of the German line.


AGS: South of Kharkov a new Soviet threat is developing as a pair of Soviet Tank Corps with Artillery support and a parallel attack by Guards infantry attempt to batter through the German fort line between Kharkov and the Donets river line. The Soviet plan is to exploit southwest to prevent the retreat of the Rumanian army.  Fortunately German and Rumanian tank forces are in place to hold the southern tank attack in check but the Guards infantry advance south of Kharkov causes concern to the defenders as two forts are eliminated and the river crossed.

Meanwhile Soviet forces driving directly West from Stalingrad reach the northern suburbs of Rostov.

Air Combat: In one of the most dedicated series of similar offensive air missions of the war the Soviets launch an operation tasking every air mission this turn to rail bombardment. The results are disappointing. Of the 26 missions; 2 stacks have the fighters stripped away by patrol attacks and one mission is returned by such attacks. Of the remainder 10 missions are intercepted by German fighters resulting in 4 Aborts and 4 Kills. As a result of all this activity only 18 viable missions remain. Due to the poor weather and reduced visibility over the targets only 4 of these missions cause effective damage to the German rail net.

Combat Report

Attacks; Auto = 2, Diced = 13.
Losses:           Soviet = 20, Air = 4.
Axis: Forts = 3, German Isolated = 32, Un-isolated = 41, Pos AA = 3, Eastern = 3, Rumanian = 4. (Total = 80).
Loss Ratio; Jan ’44 Axis/Soviet = 92/91 = 1.01

1944 JAN I Axis Turn

Narrative: Bloody Sunday (19th Dec 1943).

The battle started in the early hours of the morning when advanced elements of SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler pushing east to free the trapped 5th and 13th panzer divisions encountered the 47th Guards Breakthrough Tank Regiment of 2nd Tatsinskaya Guards Tank Corps on gently rolling wooded hills 90 miles to the east of the upper Dnieper. As the light snow flurries of the night lifted the brigade was caught in column moving in a defiled road. The heavy Tigers together with medium Panthers caught them completely by surprise. The heavier tanks with the massive 88 mm cannon standing off out of effective range of the lighter armed Soviet T34s and light Lend lease tanks picking them off one by one. An hour later the German units which started the encounter outnumbered 10:1 by the more numerous adversaries had eliminated them as an effective fighting force.  Driving forward the division pressed home the advantage. Soviets units short of fuel and ammunition were easy prey to the well-equipped and supplied German force and by the end of the day two entire tank corps of Soviet Guards Tank formations lay crippled on the battlefield and reduced to a mere third of their original strength.  This was by far the largest single day tank battle of the war in the East.

Despite this slaughter the arrival of a Political Re-education unit of the NKVD encouraged a fanatical Soviet defence and the Soviets held onto the battlefield.

By the night of the third day it became clear that the panzers could make no more headway against the veteran rump and the relief force pulled back leaving the battlefield festooned in a  tangled mass of burning steel but also leaving it in Soviet ownership and furthermore leaving their trapped comrades to face a short, and brutal, life in the Gulags.

The German relief effort had failed.

Turn Report

AGN: The German forces lining the Dvina east of Riga take advantage of the U2 defenders and launch a series of attacks across the river. Results are disappointing with only one of the 3 attacks eliminating the defenders. The other attacks retreat the enemy but only one advance is made for fear of overextending into Soviet lines. At the northern tip of the Dougavpils bulge Viking is reunited by a pincer attack which eliminates the 11-8-8 Tk Corps defender and supporting arms although the cost is high with a Pz Cadre and SS inf brigade sacrifice.

AGC: The attack lead by LSSAH is called off after stalling against fanatical Soviet resistance (see above) and while the attack inflicts a great loss on the defenders it fails to secure the release of the two trapped 16-10 panzer units.

The rescue of the southern pocket however is more successful with an infantry division and collection of motorized units and panzer cadres breaking out to wards the Bryansk/Gomel road.

The attack forces the retreat of a 12-9-8 Tk corps and 15-3-8 Rkt corps which are reduced to cadre strength. The mobile units reach the road running west with the slower infantry division stalling any pursuit.

AGS: No attacks south of the weather line as the Army Group pulls back. In the north a dangerous gap opens between AGC and AGS where a single panzer division holds 65 miles of front.

In the south the retreating, manly Rumanian, front line reaches the eastern outskirts of Rostov.

Air Combat: Little to report as the Luftwaffe concentrates of DAS.  The VVS challenges a number of missions inflicting 3 losses for 2 of their own

Combat Report

Attacks: Auto = 1 (against a lone NKVD unit holding a supply line open), Diced = 6
Losses: German = 12, 3xAir.
Soviet = 71 plus 1xFort, 2x air. (Including 1x Tk xxx eliminated, 3x Guard Tk xxx reduced to cadre, and one Gds Rkt reduced to cadre).

1943 DEC II Soviet Turn

Narrative: Containment and Consolidation

The Soviet advanced units in the centre find themselves out of supply and unable to survive the German counterattacks in a single stacked deployment. They therefore make no further move West but instead concentrate on picking off stragglers and isolating as many of the larger German stacks as possible for the slow-moving infantry and artillery to pound these adversaries into submission later by brute force.

Turn Report

Leningrad Front: Soviet forces move to contain the German spearheads counter-attacking the link between Wiking and the main front. They successfully maul the link which loses half its number and retreats in disarray. Viking is again isolated. Success is also achieved against the 11-10 panzer grenadier unit isolated 60 miles north east of Riga which is eliminated.

Moscow front:  As indicated above the lead elements here are out of supply and vulnerable to counterattack from the powerful German mechanised forces roaming East of the upper Dneiper.

The emphasis is in isolating the more powerful German units and so Mech and Tank corps concentrate against the link between the pair of stacked 16-10 panzers and the main front. They can only manage to retreat the defenders but nevertheless succeed in isolating the 16-10s

North of Bryansk a number of attacks pick off some stragglers but a security division in woods south of the city executes a well ordered retreat in the face of Soviet attacks.

The bridgehead south of the Divina is expanded into an adjacent woods hex

The bridgehead south of the Divina is expanded into an adjacent woods hex

Stalingrad front; Dormant for a long period this front has improved its supply situation such that most of the forces are now within range of a supply head. This enables them to concentrate and execute a series of low odds attacks against the retreating Rumanian’s with some success although a three hex frontage attack out of Voroshilovgrad breaks in the face of stiff opposition and flees East abandoning the recently gained city.

Air War; Foolish unescorted raids into northern Poland around Wilno to disrupt the German rail net results in the loss of 2x IL-4s and an A-20G. Meanwhile in the Centre a JU188c is downed and an Me 109G eliminated whilst undergoing repairs on the ground.

Combat report

Attacks: Auto = 6. Diced = 10
Soviet Air = 4.
Axis: German isolated = 39, German unisolated = 15, Air = 1 (in flight), 1 (on ground).
Rumanian = 2

1943 DEC II Axis Turn


Frank acknowledges the tap on the shoulder with a nod of his head, he rotates through 180° and craws flat on his belly. Sliding out of his foxhole as stealthily as humanly possible he glides down the slope to his rear. Once he is clear of the ridge he rises to a crouch and moves quickly towards the field boundary where he is met by his platoon comrades. Together they skirt along the hedge then through a gap into a defile beyond. They transfer to a trot for half a mile down a dirt track to the agreed assembly point. There are gratified that they hear no signs of a pursuit. The waiting troop transport is slid into neutral gear by the driver and rather than mount the vehicle they assemble behind the lorry and push it down the slightly inclined road. Half a mile further on they deem it safe to mount up. When all are safely aboard the driver engages gear and drives as quietly as he can westwards.

Daylight breaks into light snow flurries but by now they are travelling at speed along dirt roads. They are halted 5 miles along by a brigade commander in charge of a Recon unit with half tracks leaguered at a crossroads.

He shouts to the driver “Enemy contact ahead, get your man out and form up it looks like we are going to have to fight our way out after all”

Sure enough at the next village they are heavily engaged by enemy troops ensconced behind rudimentary barricades but supported by two T34 tanks.

Just as it appears to Frank that their great escape has been thwarted at the last hurdle the T-34 immediately to his front which had been traversing its turret towards him spectacularly explodes in a sheet of flame. The turret rises into the air and crashes down just 50 yards in front of him. Seconds later the other T-34 meets a similar fate to the astonished, grateful, cheers of Frank and his comrades.

Through the snow flurries a huge hulking machine resolves itself into the unmistakable shape of a monstrous 54 ton Tiger tank. With Skeleton Keys adorning its turret Frank and his comrades know that SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler has arrived and with it their salvation.

Turn Report

Weather: 6 rolled, so Snow across the whole front from the Arctic to the Crimea, only the deserts of the extreme south remain free of the snow falls.

Army of Norway: German units form up in a crescent at Kautokeino protecting southern Norway: anchored on the Swedish border and the coast. Engineers prepare to fortify the line near the coastal end but the need for resources on the main front means they are likely to wait for some time the means to do so. A single SS infantry regiment remains on the Kirkenes road to retard the Soviet advance from the north.

AGN: The worsening weather and the desperate cries for assistance from Army group Centre determines that the ill-fated pipedream of an offensive into Estonia is called off.

Already Soviet countermoves have isolated a panzer grenadier division and an SS Tank division. The former is provided with air cover and supplies because no escape route is viable. The latter attacks south with assistance from the main front and breaks back into the bridgehead over the Divina which is widened in a secondary action.

AGC: The fortuitous arrival of LSSAH (20-10) and 4th Panzer (17-10) into reserve last turn south of Smolensk allows the Germans forces to mount a relief attempt towards the northern pocket of troops trapped by the Soviet advance. One weakness of the Soviet position is that the connecting corridors to the Russian lines for supplies and which separate the various pockets of German forces are weekly held. This allows a stacked pair of 16-10 panzers to attack south and connect with their colleagues struggling west. Operation “Winter Breeze” comprising of LSSAH, 4th Pz, a 2-10 Luft flak and 1-7 security regiment attacks into light snow flurries from outside the pocket and blasts through an 11-10 Sov Mech XXX holding the ring which finds itself trapped between the relief force and the troops fighting desperately to reach the safety of the main front.  The elimination of this unit allows the two 16-10s and a third16-10 with a motley crew of mobile artillery, Pzg cadre, rocket unit to establish a supply corridor to the accompanying Trucks and form a front line in exploitation. The commander of the rescued troops declares “Please inform the the Fuhrer that the reports of our deaths have been greatly exaggerated”. A 7-8 pz cadre is the price for this escape (HX).

Army Group Center: Operation Winter Breeze

Army Group Center: Operation Winter Breeze

The weaker, less mobile pocket, north of Bryansk does not have the succour of a relief effort but does manage to exfiltrate through the thinner Soviet line here and connect with security forces which move from their anti-partisan positions on the Bryansk-Gomel rail line. For the moment therefore these units also break the isolation.  An infantry division holding a fortified position now deep in Soviet territory holds firm and prepares to fight to the last man and bullet.

AGS: Unmolested by Soviet attacks the southern part of the front continues its controlled retreat West falling back a further 30 miles at its easternmost extremity. The line is now almost at Rostov and with the equivalent of a German or Rumanian division with supporting anti-tank units in each hex is sufficiently strong to prevent any significant attacks from the pursuing Out of Supply Soviet forces.

The northern, left flank, of this Army Group however has become separated from the remains of Army Group Centre which is falling back west from Bryansk. Fortunately, the Soviets do not have sufficiently strong mobile forces to take advantage of this disconnect.

Air Combat: The Luftwaffe and its allies concentrate on supporting troops in the front line with DAS. This results in interceptions by Soviet fighters who gain the upper hand in a number of encounters resulting in five losses for the Luftwaffe against two for the VVS.

Another night raid is attempted against the Stalingrad factory which is again repulsed by dense clouds of anti-aircraft fire which down the escorting night fighters and return the bombers.

Combat report

Auto Elimination = 2, Diced =3.
Losses: Axis; Forts= 4 abandoned. German = 7, Air = 5
Soviets = 27, Air = 2

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