The Alte Häse¹ of 99th Light Division were settling into their recaptured billets and dugouts in DNEPROPETROVSK as the first spatterings of rain heralded the beginning of the Rasputitsa. They were looking forward to a month of rest, albeit a wet, muddy one during which, nothing much could be done.
3rd Army Advances (FSO)
Their peace was about to be rudely interrupted though, as 3rd Army² massed to the northeast, with its sights set firmly on breaching the DNEPR river before rain made movement impassable.
Recce Battalions Advance to Contact (FSO)
Wearily, 23rd Panzer regrouped to meet hitherto un-engaged and unknown to intelligence, infantry divisions and tank Corps. Early attacks in battalion strength were beaten off, but these proved to be only probing attacks by reconnaissance, seeking to find the German main battle line. Once the main Soviet forces were engaged, the initial clash of armour pushed the Axis forces back some 20 kilometers.
Unknown Guards Mechanised Corps and 23rd Panzer Division in a Head-on Meeting Engagement (FSO)
23rd Panzer lost its hold of the bridges on the east bank of the DNEPR, and the already sorely-pressed infantry of 99th Light Division and 9th Infantry Divisions were driven out of the east of DNEPROPETROVSK in vicious street fighting that swung first one way then another. Soviet artillery regiments were employed in direct fire street to street fighting. At the end of the battle, both divisions were down to battalion strength³.
To the Last Man and Bullet
Such was the scale of the attack that the Soviets had enough troops to put pressure on all parts of the line, with at least a Corps of infantry attacking on each side of the DNEPR. These were fresh troops too, not seen before in this sector.
SS Wiking had been pulled from KHARKOV further north to refit over winter, in what had hitherto been a quieter part of the front. It was apparent now though that the tenuous line being held further east along the DON river would have to be abandoned in order not to lose the troops holding it. Accordingly, the SS panzer troops were ordered to swing south to outflank the offensive.
This proved not to be possible – the Soviet front being broader than anticipated, and the panzers found themselves engaging guards infantry head-on.
The game ended at this point after a couple of hours of play. The Germans were commanded by Tim aka (General Frohlich), and Richard (aka General NQ Timoshenko) commanding 3rd Army, with a little umpire help pushing the toys around. Using squares threw up another few conundrums, when units are thrown backwards onto others, that are pushing the game more into ancients territory; but there is nothing that can’t be resolved. YesthatPhil arrived in the nick of time, as is his wont, to take command of 23rd Panzer and thwart a Corps level attempt to bridge the DNEPR to the west of DNEPROPETROVSK.
1.Old Hares – veterans.
2. My 3rd Army from Box 047. The Germans have no idea who is facing them at the moment.
3. Both the German and Soviet divisions survived their morale checks, and the Germans fought to almost the last man, before the shattered remnants withdrew westward to reorganise.