The Soviet Winter Offensive Takes the KALUGA to MOSCOW Line – Winter 1942/3

292 Infantry Division Watch the Soviet Advanceiv

292 Infantry Division watches the first Soviet wave attack

KALUGA sat on the northern bank of the OKA River, and straddled the main rail line to BRYANSK. As the Soviet advance ground remorselessly west, only 17 Infantry Division and the reduced 12 Infantry Division stood in their path. Along the south bank of the OKA, from SERPUKHOV to KALUGA, 292 Infantry Division kept an uneasy watch, expecting the massed infantry forces to  swing south at any moment. They did not.

The River OKA today, looking east, from Google Map

As the first wave of Soviet divisions hit the advanced positions, the commanding German General took the bold decision to conduct an active defence, forgoeing the dubious protection of his hasty defences. The Soviet Steamroller crashed into the line, shuddered and recoiled with losses. 38 and 54 Rifle Divisions were in the front wave, locked into a desperate struggle with no thought of retreat.

38 Rifle Division Pushes 12 Infantry Division Back onto their Line of Communication

38 Rifle Division Pushes 12 Infantry Division Back onto its Line of Communication

The Soviets continued to reinforce their attacks, pushing 57 Rifle Division into the front line, in some cases, over the corpses of their fallen comrades. As the pressure mounted, the Germans grudgingly gave ground, hoping all the while that their rear echelons were clear of the line of communication, and were heading towards safer rear areas to reorganise.

57 Rifle Division Forces the divisional Boundary Between 12 and 17 Rifle Divisions

57 Rifle Division Forces the divisional Boundary Between 12 and 17 Infantry Divisions

Determined counterattacks ensured that the Soviets were unable to press their advantage following local successes, but eventually the weight of numbers told, as 40  and 47 Rifle Divisions rolled forward in a third wave to push 17 Infantry Division out of KALUGA

Soviet Rifle Division Closes on KALUGA

47 Soviet Rifle Division Closes on KALUGA

Game Notes:

YesthatPhil took the Germans, and gifted me the rather nice diecst Austin  ambulance.

Will took the Soviets and played a very historical “keep advancing, and give me another division, the first three are broken!

There are a mix of players’ troops. As usual, the nice ones belong to Phil.

In this game, I am using ammo markers to represent pins, because I wanted to see what they would look like en-masse.

 

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The Soviet Winter Offensive Takes the SERPUKHOV to MOSCOW Line – Winter 1942/3

Knots of German Resistance

As the front around MOSCOW collapsed, the landscape filled with large and small  groups of Germans retreating to the west. Lacking heavy equipment, knots and pockets of resistance caused just enough delay to the advancing Soviets to keep a semblance of order and a front line, albeit one with rents kilometers wide.

NQM Delaying Action Winter 1942/3

 

Some resistance was more resolute than others, 12th Infantry Division, in particular, fighting hard to buy enough time for the front to reform.  Advancing against them were 38 and 57 Rifle Divisions.

38 and 57 Rifle Divisions Advance to Contact

For some of the hard-pressed Landser, it was easier to fight and die in position than to continue trudging through the snow. Iron-hard ground and lack of time to prepare reduced the effectiveness  of the German advanced defensive line.

12th Infantry Division Advance Defensive Line

Behind the forward troops, preparations proceeded as fast as the appalling conditions would allow.

Roads Provided Tenuous Lines of Communication

Anxious troops, with little time to rest, wearily awaited the Enemy. To their front, the forward defensive line is breached.

The Forward Line is Breached

Waves of advancing Soviets press forward to the main defensive line.

NQM Soviet Advance Winter 1942/3

The Divisional Railhead is a scene of frantic activity as the Enemy draws nearer.

NQM Divisional Railhead Winter 1942/3

Even a captured Soviet armoured train is pressed into service.

A Captured Soviet Armoured Train is Pressed into Service

But just as 12th Infantry Division, was at the limit of its endurance, the pressure began to ease. The Soviet advance had outpaced its own supply lines and come to a halt. at the end of this two-hour battle with YesthatPhil taking the Axis, and the Author playing the Soviets as a player-umpire (Plumpire). The Change in the map looked like this:

12 Inf Div holds the SERPUKHOV to MOSCOW line

12 Infantry Division holds the SERPUKHOV to MOSCOW line

The Soviet Winter Offensive Takes the SEPUKHOV to MOSCOW Line Winter 1942/3

The Soviet Winter Offensive Takes the SEPUKHOV to MOSCOW Line Winter 1942/3

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Axis War Diary, Eastern Front, Land Battles, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, Wehrmacht, WWII

A Civil Day Out

Lawrence of Arabia Ambushes a Turkish Train in the Arab Revolt

Newark is a splendid place to spend an afternoon, with a plethora of small eating and drinking establishments, and the “National Civil War Museum”. In the same descriptive vein, NQM is the Nation’s “Most Comprehensive WW2 Wargame”.*

Lest this review sound as if the place is not worth a visit, I should hastily add that it is, but that what you find is an excellent local museum that covers the sieges of Newark, and sets it in the context of the English Civil War.** When we visited, a Lawrence of Arabia exhibition was on, which was fun. Who doesn’t love the film? 28mm Figure fans will enjoy the diorama of a train ambush.

Shifting Sands Exhibition Train Ambush 1

The museum exhibits give a good Royalist, town-centric view of the conflict, which is fine, because where else would you go to find out stuff about the sieges of Newark? There is also a rather nice exhibition regarding battlefield medicine and surgery, including an interactive exhibit that allows you to use a musket ball extractor on a suitably gory arm. The ball probably hit the brachial artery from its location! The claim that advances in medicine would not be equalled until WWI are overstated though, (anaesthesia in 1829, inoculation in 1796 and nursing in the Crimean War all spring to mind. Proper Anoraks can visit the two-room Museum of Anaesthesia at the Royal College of Anaesthetists opposite the BBC to have their senses thoroughly deadened.

As has been commentated on previously, by others; museums nowadays are interactive experiences to keep the kiddies happy, so we were in our element! Kiddies learn that armour is heavy, and the Governor’s mansion can be destroyed with one ranging shot and one shot for effect by a heavy gun that has digital sights. Adults are left wanting a more balanced view, and more stuff to look at. A diorama of one of the sieges shown on the website was not in evidence. Cromwell was the ghost in the building (Visit Huntingdon for the opposite treatment).

One of the interactive displays gave a good flavour of the shifting balance of power through the war(s) without detail such as town names. Chandler did it better with a few maps, without having to swat kids away that squeeze between you, aimlessly press a couple of buttons, then who wander off to the next exhibit that makes cannon-shot noises. This leaves you back at the default menu, trying to recover the events of 1643 on the interactive timeline.

Honestly, curators, having to press a touch screen to bring up pop-up boxes is not a good way to scan information, I do it for a living, so I have an opinion! We went on an uncrowded Sunday, a crowded one would have been worse. Information was there, if you took the time to read a lot of  typeface on boards in a relatively dimly lit main room (but I can do that in a book). It seemed to me that there was a disconnect between the hard information and the interactive stuff

My idea for an interactive display, is a set of stocks that lock for a pound a minute. Anyone can add coins when your child is in there. Proceeds to widows and orphans! In the Tudor Hall, Prince Rupert was holding forth in full cosplay; we gave him a miss. So, in summary, the museum is worth a visit if you are passing, but should be titled the “Civil War Sieges of Newark Museum“.

newarkMap

Newark Castle is also worth a visit – the river facade is impressive,  I expected it to feature more in the museum though. The river walk is pleasant, with pubs clustered around the town lock (what could possibly go wrong?) There is a nice micro brewery tucked away behind the riverfront, and an excellent teashop by the old post office behind the market square. We scoffed, quaffed, then came home.

*It isn’t.

** You are firmly corrected and told that they were the British Civil Wars, covering Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The NHS conducts this sort of rebranding exercise for fashionable diseases all the time.

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A Grand Day Out

Grab the Ball!

The Medieval folk that run around hitting each other with sticks were out again at Delapré Abbey this weekend. We wandered down, because Delapré is one of our regular winter walks, and because Trebian was presenting his battle of Northampton game; a Cracking Game Grommet, in which Lancastrians discover that cheese tastes best when toasted …

Cracking Game Grommet

Suzanne played for the first time. Within seven moves, she had sacked and burned Northampton (move 1),

Scrope Sacks Northampton

rampaged through the Lancastrian camp, capturing the King (move 6),

Rampaging Through the Lancastrian Camp

and executed a pile of Lancastrian Nobs, reminding me why I generally avoid arguing with Yorkshire Folk!

So That Will be No Quarter then!

That’ll be no quarter then!

I've Always Wanted To Sack Northampton!

At lunchtime, a pair of re-enactors of ample girth were tucking into a medieval meal that seemed to comprise of a lot of wine and pork pies.

Lightweight Camping Chair With Peasant Porter

Elsewhere, a blacksmith of much leaner thew was hammering an iron bar into a sickle, and some enthusiastic medieval gunners were creating loud bangs and rolling banks of acrid smoke. By way of light relief, I bought Suzanne a solid oak medieval folding camp chair, then had to carry it a mile or so back to the car, through the woods, fortified by a rather good pie at the new Delapré café. Personally though, we miss the old volunteers cafe, with its quirky service, homemade cakes and 1950s price structure.

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Marking Time

It has been a while since the WHELKS* have all been seen together in public, so it was rather fitting that most of them were at Will Whyler’s 70th birthday party. Rather than show a series of photos of 50-70-year old beardies and baldies, here is the the tank that I presented Will with, so that he has no excuse for not being able to get around the battlefield. I must master manual focus – the table is crystal clear!

IMG_7776

Also present was Graham Fordham (no relation to Cap’n Birdseye), who recently celebrated his 60th. My focus was better on this one. He is a Copplestone Beastly Belgian masquerading as a French Naval Officer …. aww, who cares; the figure looks like Graham!

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… even if the hair on the model is too short at the back!

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*Wellingborough Historical andEverso Loosely Kultural Society. Present were:

Chris Ager, The Dormouse, Graham Fordham, Graham Hockley, Sarge, Trebian, Will Whyler, Chris Willey, YesthatPhil, and Tony Hawkins in his professional capacity as a magician (The Amazing Anthony).

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Let the Summer of Fun Begin!

Exams are over now and a huge pile of fun is staring at me from my work bench. I should finally get around to pruning the Sprue Tree that has been flourishing on the corner of the desk (note the superdetailing brushes hiding in the jar – I do own some!).

IMG_7772 (2)

I have been making judicious purchases to round out the orbats of existing divisions, and may even get around to painting some of the models that have lived in not much more than an undercoat for the last five years. But before that, some relaxing is due:

IMG_7773

Having finally got my hands on some of Peter Pig’s new Soviet scouts, I have been impressed by how well-proportioned they are, fitting in nicely with Skytrex and the early PSC stuff. They are much nicer in the round than on the website in a spray undercoat.  Photos to follow … when they have more than a spray undercoat on them!

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51st Highland Division on Parade

51st-infdiv

51st Highland Division

Sometimes, the only way to check that everyone is in Barracks is to put them on Parade. 51st Highland Division looks as if it is ready for a fight … “see Youse Jimmy“*. 40th Light Anti-aircraft Regiment is further back down the line of communications in the photo above.

51st HD infantry Battalions

In Real Life®, my portfolio is in and marked – a pass! My Viva Voce and Ethical paper have both been taken and the final paper is tomorrow. Too soon to celebrate, but I need some playtime!

*A bored colleague of mine, who worked at the Ministry of Defence, used to pick up the phone on  a Friday and announce “War Office … want a fight?

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, Infantry, Orbats, Western Desert, WWII

Bank Holiday Revision

My finals for this MSc module are in early June, so the end is in sight, and I am revising hard …. waving, not drowning!

Waving, not drowning

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Don’t Take a Knife to a Gunfight …

8th Army Artillery

… and if you are going to a gunfight, take lots of guns!

8th Army 25Pdr Field Regiment

Field Regiment. Flames of war 25pdrs, Morris Quad gun tractors and India pattern carrier. Some Peter Pig crew.

The 8th Army has enough field regiments now to equip five divisions, with two regiments of medium guns, one heavy and one light antiarcraft regiment.

Royal Artillery Field Regiment

Spot the new PSC CMP gun tractor on the left and a QRF Austin truck that is – to my eyes – indistinguishable from the old Denzil Skinner die cast.

Keen viewers will spot the usual out-of -scale substitutions, placeholders and WIP models scattered about.

A mixed bag of Artillery In this  Composite Regiment

More Denzil Skinner castings of the Morris Quad gun tractor by QRF, with a mixed regimentof 18pdrs and 25pdrs. Zvezda Dingo.

If Rommel  comes unexpectedly though, the rounds will still be heading down range en masse.

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The 4.5″ regiment is made from Really Useful Guns with Peter Pig crews, Zvezda Matador gun tractors and a Skytrex Dingo

88th and 94th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery

88th and 94th Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery. FoW AA guns, QRF tractors. Skytrex Humber A/C standing in.

Light AA Regiments and 27th (London Electrical Engineers) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery

27th (London Electrical Engineers) Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery with two light antiaircraft regiments.

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Wide Wheelbase 25pdr

PSC and Zvezda have opened up the 15mm market with excellent, if sometimes baffling choices of models. Zvezda is streets ahead in accuracy, with PSC ocassionally making schoolboy errors, such as the axle length on the new 25pdr and gun tractor kit.

Wide Wheelbase 25pdrs from PSC

However, PSC make the better wargames pieces, with a wide choice of options in their kits, and generous inclusion of crews and stowage. Taken together, the wargamer is spoilt for choice. Where all, manufacturers fall down though, is in the anatomy of their figures, and for that , the customer is to blame, preferring the “heroic” look over accuracy. There is nothing that the average bodger like me can’t fix though. Peter Pig’s older figures are amongst the best along with Skytrex.

PSC started well, their first two sets offering well-proportioned figures that were in line with 20mm figures, but soon descended to the currently popular 28mm fantasy look.

25pdr Gun Line WIP

My 25pdr gun line is coming on nicely now.

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