Battle for the Southern Dnepr – Part 2

 

Zaporozhye Bridge Blown

Zaporozhye Bridge Blown

The Battle for The DNEPR river progressed pretty much according to plan for the two Soviet armies.  Army Group South,  had little with which to reinforce the front, and what it did have – 1 Mountain Division in the south, and 9 Infantry Division to the west – was fully occupied or too far away to affect the initial battle.

Although weak in numbers, the Romanians, were able to exchange fire across the DNEPR with the Soviets as they attacked DNEPROPETROVSK.¹ Phil, as Major General Seleznev went about his task in a methodical manner, and was not phased by both rail bridges in his sector being blown, eventually making it across the river and pushing 99 Jäger Division to the western outskirts of the city.²

DNEPR Bridge is Demolished

DNEPR Bridge is Demolished

This is what a destroyed major bridge would typically look like on the Eastern Front:

Destroyed Major River Bridge with the Dropped Span Forming a Passable Infiltration Route

Destroyed Major River Bridge with the Dropped Span Forming a Passable Infiltration Route

It is easy to imagine Scouts infiltrating across under the cover of darkness of smoke, but if the gap was more like the bridge below, with ice churning through the gap, then the difficulty becomes more apparent.

Destroyed Major River Bridge with a Clear Gap to the Centre Span

Destroyed Major River Bridge with a Clear Gap to the Centre Span

ZAPOROZHYE suffered a similar state as Colonel General Vasily Gordov concentrated on reducing the city one block (square) at a time. He benefited from sparing use of his attached army level artillery and armour, and the confidence that came from knowing that the front-level artillery was drawing ever closer. In the event, it was not needed but clattered majestically onto the board at the end of the game as if it owned the table. Deftly switching his attached tank brigades from attacking the north of the city to the south gave him the ability to selectively reinforce his assaulting infantry at key parts of the battle.

Romanian Infantry Division with attached Armour and AA

Romanian Infantry Division with attached Armour and AA

68 Infantry Division lost all of its infantry regiments on the east side of the river when General Meissner gave the order to demolish the bridge. Only the divisional headquarters and rear echelon troops survived to form the nucleus of a new division. It was still not enough to prevent the Soviets from forcing the river line.

Although it was only their second game of NQMsq,  Tim and  Steven picked the fundamentals up quickly.  The whole game took 3 hours, not including setup time, and each player handled two divisions, with Army level support on the Soviet side Apart from some loose ends that need to be soloed, the winter of 1942/3 has drawn to a close now, with troops resting and refitting ready for the summer campaigns when the roads dry out after the Rasputitsa.

 

  1. Against all expectation, the Romanians usually do well, probably because no-one expects too much of them. They spend a LOT of time in the box between games.

  2. The house rule was to roll 4-6 on 1d6 for the German Commander to successfully blow the bridge under fire, becoming easier by one on each subsequent turn. The Soviets could then attempt a crossing if they won the firefight with the far bank – 6 on 1d6 at the first attempt, becoming easier by one on each subsequent turn provided they continued to win the firefight.

4 Comments

Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Artillery, Eastern Front, infantry, Land Battles, NQM Squared, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, WWII

4 responses to “Battle for the Southern Dnepr – Part 2

  1. Interesting looking game- would scout infiltration be part of an operational game such as this?

    Cheers,

    Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good question, Pete.

    My current reasoning is that Scouts represent company level bridgehead infiltration across an obstacle. That could be divisional level recce assets rubber-rafting or swimming their way across a river, or engineer/pioneer minefield breaching teams clearing routes in advance of a set-piece attack.

    In Western desert terms that would be the same as flinging your cavalry chaps with silk cravats off into the blue to find Jerry. In the West, we are accustomed to thinking tactically in much smaller increments of scale. The German and Soviets were much more attuned to using heavy recce companies to fight for information. If the front caved in, then it wasn’t the main defensive line. Hans Von Luck’s autobiography is a good read on the subject, and I’m sure that you will have come across it at some stage. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_von_Luck

    Regards, Chris

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That rational makes sense to me. The scale of the GPW meant that recce had to operate that way.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Tankin’ Along! – Just Needs Varnish!

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