So this was it, the enemy’s main defensive line. It was not what we had expected. The Germans were clearly in a state of disorder as their positions were hastily occupied and as yet they had not been able to bring forward much in the way of support to prop up their crumbling front. Prisoners had confirmed that the troops in the pocket were only fighting on to give the civilians time to be evacuated from the coastal strip which was still in German hands. Everywhere the roads showed signs of a civilian population fleeing, with abandoned carts and luggage and corpses where our air force had been able to shoot down the fascists.
Our Politruk had confirmed that our objective was to be the first unit to break through to the sea between the town of Brandenburg and the small fishing port of Heide Waldburg from where, it was believed, the Kriegsmarine were still running shuttles to remove the German civilians. After the misery and suffering these people brought to the Motherland they flee the rightful retribution of the Red Army. All fascists must die!
And talking of fascists, here’s Fat Nick, the Lord of the Pies, surveying the table and attempting to do a better job of the Patrol Phase than the last game.
This was our third game of the day and we were obliged to set to it with a will as the the beer in the local pub was already singing its siren song so, sadly, this game will be picture light. Nick had set up the terrain while I went through the campaign set up and we were ready to roll. Here’s how the patrol phase ended, effectively putting two of my jump-off points in the central wood and a third on the hedgerow at the bottom of the picture.
Nick’s jump-off points were in the ruined farm and the wood close by with a third off on the far flank by a small orchard.
Before the game began I had called for my one allotment of replacements to join my force. My CO was in relatively good mood so I did well, the platoon was now down to 19 men, only two short of full strength. The Germans had got their men back from hospital so were just four men down. They fielded one full strength squad and two with eight men in all. I rolled for support and got a healthy roll allowing me to select the Maxim and, somewhat excitingly, a T34-85. Nick had chosen two minefields which he placed out on his right which blocked my route around the left of the barn. This was unfortunate as it was precisely there where I had planned to launch my main attack, so it was a wise choice by him.
The game began with my deploying the Maxim and one squad in the wood. Immediately they came under a crossfire from the Germans who deployed a squad in the ruined farm and entrenched in the small wood nearby. The Maxim took the brunt of this, but it was able to keep up a decent bit of returned fire and chip away at the German squad under Osterman. The Germans deployed another of their support options, a 5cm mortar which someone had got out of stores. This proved to be an irritant as it obliged the Maxim with withdraw due to shock.
However, with the Maxim gone I was able to replace it by bringing forward my T34. You can also see here my second squad under Sergei Gostravnikov setting off on a flank march under cover of the ridge which ran around the flank of the table.
The Germans in the farm maintained their fire under the supervision of Feldwebel Mann who was busy keeping the German firepower as effective as possible. The Panzerschreck had attempted to ambush the Soviet behemoth but missed badly. Now, in the heat of battle, Feldwebel Mann couldn’t locate the weapon he most needed. with no way of countering the lumbering monster the men in the farm fell back under its fire.
With the Germans in the house dropping back I switched the tank fire to the Germans dug into the wood. Under the cover of their fire my first and third squads began to work round through the barn ready to assault their foe.
Meanwhile on the right Gostravnikov had seized a German jump-off point. Mann had attempted to deploy his third squad to block the move, but with him already on the table the squad failed to get his order and the flankw as under pressure. Immediately my squad began working through the orchard.
Then, on my left, Leytenant Timorenko led a violent charge with two squads into the wood. Their PP-Sh 41 SMGs spitting death they hurled themselves forward in the selfless heroism of true Soviet warriors fighting the fascist beast, and the Germans fled. At least those who remained alive did so.
In the farm Feldwebel Mann waved his arm to signal a general retreat and, in a moment, all was still.
A rapid game which we cracked out in about an hour. The tank was a real blessing. Nick used a Chain of Command dice to try to ambush the tank. He hit is but a truly terrible roll saw no penetration; clearly some poor slave labourer had sabotaged this batch of rockets. After that he had no trouble rolling 1’s but the Panzershcrek team steadfastly refused to deploy onto the table. I kept far enough away to mean that the Panzerfausts were just out of range.
A few 85mm shells to pin the Germans in the wood and a resolute charge well led by three Leaders and a whole bunch of SMG troops simply walked into the German positions, scattering the Landser before them. It was the platoon’s moment of glory, doing what they were designed to do and I rather enjoyed it! As stated before, the SMG platoon is good at what it is good at and just about bugger all else. This was our first opportunity to really see them work with their tanks and the combination was nice to see. Of course I was damnably lucky that Panzerschreck team were hiding in the outside toilet!
And thus the fourth game ends. The Soviets list a grand total of NOBODY, but the fascist invaders lost five men dead and three in hospital for the next game. That’s ice dead in total, so twelve men down for the next game which is a fighting withdrawal. I am looking forward to that one tomorrow.
In campaign turns my CO is happy with me, my men are equally happy and Boris Timorenko is beginning to think he is a great leader of men We’ll see how long he keeps that impression as we check to see his outlook after the next game. On the German side things are not so hot. Feldwebel Mann’s battalion commander is unimpressed and his men are unhappy. Their force morale is now affected when they roll at the start of each game, as we’ll see tomorrow. Mann himself is unfortunately retreating into his shell. Officially his status is “Thoughtful”, but his distant attitude sees a further reduction to the force morale; a double whammy.
To make matters worse, Mann has just been told that the delaying action he and his men will be fighting tomorrow is covering the withdrawal of a column of civilians who have escaped the Hell that is Konigsberg and are now using the coast road to get to Brandenburg where a Strength Through Joy Cruise Liner has been sent to evacuate them. Their survival will depend on Mann’s ability to hold out. A terrible responsibility indeed and failure is beyond contemplation. Fortunately his force is being reinforced with some of the elderly men from the evacuee column who have been sworn into the Volksturm by the local SA commander. Volk ans Gewehr indeed.
Well, it’s bee a bit of time since I posted about my wargaming journey towards Stalingrad, largely because I’ve just been so busy with other stuff. Anyway, I have continued picking up a few bits and pieces but I have studiously avoided cracking on with the really BIG job, that of building the city terrain.