The Battle of Bryansk
This battle was fought in March 1942 in our Campaign back in the 1980s, It was fought over the course of one three-hour evening on a 1.4m x 1.9m table (about 6ft x 4ft 6in for the New World) and I include it here only because I have updated the map to add to the campaign diary.
Each phase consisted of about 4 simultaneous moves, which in this campaign we adjudge to be 1 “day”, which in turn counts as half a month.
Heroic Sons of the Motherland*
The Soviet forces consisted of 60th Army, comprising 4 Tank Corps, 19 Guards Rifle (GR) Division, and 20 GR Division. In addition OREL is being garrisoned by 51 (Res) Reserve Rifle Division. Troops were at between 60% and 30% of authorised establishments.
The Soviet plan was for 20GR to probe North to the OREL-BRYANSK railway then advance along the railway to BRYANSK, forming the centre of the offensive. 4Tk was to swing North shielding the right flank of 20GR. 19GR was to advance West through the wooded country to the South of BRYANSK, then swing North once the clear country to the West was reached
The Axis forces comprised 2 Panzerarmee Headquarters, commanding 255 Inf Div. Regrouping in the area East of BRYANSK were HQ XXIV (24) Mot Corps, 4 Pz Div, 10 Mot Div, and 267 Inf Div. Units were at between 60% and 50% of authorised strength.
The plan was to hold the North-South line of the BRYANSK railway with 255ID and 267ID, 10Mot and 4Pz were to conduct a mobile defence around the infantry line.
Phase 1 – 60th Army Advances
The Soviet Army offensive opened in poor weather (The umpire rolled 1D6 which came up as a one!), which precluded air support. 19GR advanced through woodland S of BRYANSK to engage 255Inf. Several attacks failed to dislodge the Fascists, and the momentum was lost on the L flank of the Soviet offensive.
20GR made good progress, reaching the OREL-BRYANSK railway, where the divisional artillery set up in range of BRYANSK. The division massed in front of BRYANSK for an assault. 4Tk recce discovered HQ XXIV Korps and attacked North causing the HQ to retreat Northeast into 4Pz‘s forming up area. The Panzer division was having great difficulty forming up, losing approx 1/3 of its vehicle strength due to the cold . General March had added its aid to Generals January and February this year!
Phase 2 – 4th Panzer Division Counterattacks
4Tk swung Northwest along the railway, following the tracks of 20GR. At this point, both formations were caught by the delayed 4Pz spoiling attack from the N. Although this attack was beaten off by the Soviet armour, 20GR had lost its gun line, destroyed in the first hour of the counterattack. With no artillery, and the Soviet armour out of alignment, the chances of an attack on BRYANSK in the first half of March was lost.
* Not that I’m biased or anything! Perhaps unusually, our group is never short of players willing to play the Soviets, and this despite the Fascists having nicer toys.