RYAZAN lies on the west bank of the River OKA, and by this stage of the spring offensive sat at the southeastern edge of what was beginning to look like a pocket, bounded north and east by the OKA and 13th Army.
Attacking from the south-east was 42 Corps (16 Lithuanian, 202 and 399 Rifle Divisions) from 48th Army.
61st Army comprising 9 Guards Rifle Corps (12, 76 and 77 Guards Rifle Divisions) and five more rifle divisions (97, 110, 336, 356 and 415) marched rapidly to close the pocket along the southern border. The sprawling town¹ boasted its own Kremlin but was otherwise undistinguished beyond being the birthplace of the famous psychologist Ivan Pavlov. Guarding RYAZAN, was 35 Infantry Division. This unit, comprising troops from Baden and Württemberg, had been in continuous action since 1940 on the west front, and then in the drive to MOSCOW, where it had suffered heavy casualties in the winter of ’41-42.
Further losses followed in the retreat from MOSCOW, and by now the division was burned out and Commanded by Major General Baron Rudolf von Roman.²
The opening round of the battle commenced with 48th Army scouts clashing with the forward defensive line south of RYAZAN. They were repulsed with significant casualties, forcing 16 Lithuanian Division to deploy and mount a formal attack.
This eventually succeeded, as 202 and 399 Rifle Divisions worked their way around the west and north of the town to surround it.
The Commander of 42 Corps was in no hurry, waiting for his corps artillery to position itself before launching a heavy bombardment prior to a well-coordinated simultaneous assault from three sides of the town.
The defenders, already low on ammunition, with failing morale, had been pushed beyond the limits of endurance and surrendered.³
1. I rated RYAZAN as a medium defensive position.
2. The Germans were rated as Regular (3morale steps), the Soviets Conscript (two steps).
3. The Germans failed their first morale roll spectacularly, with a one!
4. I fought this as another solo game, thinking it would not hold much interest, other than as part of the campaign.
5. The Front Scale Orbat (FSO) was used for this game.
6. I shall take the opportunity whilst the toys are out on the table to do some more detailing and sticking magnetic tape onto bases.
- This didn’t stop me using the heavily industrialised IKEAGRAD on its first outing on the wargames table.
- Hence the regular rating, rather than veteran.
- The artillery rolled a one first time around! The town had no integral logistics to replenish losses, and the division could not trace a line of supply back to a railhead, due to being surrounded. I was surprised by how quickly the Germans folded, but they had already taken over 50% casualties from the preliminary bombardment.