The Rasputitsa gave the Germans much needed time to recover, with reinforcements reaching the front and tenuous lines being stabilised. The Soviets had not been idle either, with resupply pushing forward along rail lines to reach overextended formations. The failure to capture BRYANSK was felt keenly due to its position on the rail network, but further back, the recovery of MOSCOW meant that rail networks were working smoothly further east.
Little Hitler was, as usual, pinning his hopes on the new Panzer Vs and VIs, with increasing numbers of Jagdpanzers to mobilise the Schnelle Abteilungen. The promise of even larger tank destroyers – Hornisse (later Näshorn) and Elefants – was mesmerising him and causing him to be optimistic about the prospects for the coming summer. His generals were not so sanguine, looking anxiously to their overextended defensive lines, and shortages of fuel. Nevertheless, they were broadly confident that their reserves massing behind the lines would seriously disrupt any plans that the Soviets might have for the coming summer. Perhaps if the enemy could be tempted to overextend himself, then a return to the glorious days of summer 1941 could be envisioned!
Stavka had activated the Steppe Front, comprising 4 and 5 Guards (GdA) , 47 and 27 Armies (A) and 5 Guards Tank Army (GdTkA). This front attacked on a narrow axis with the two guards armies leading. 5 GdA on the southern part of the front hit thinly spread Romanians backed by lightly equipped German infantry. Phil executed Soviet textbook tactics to perfection, and after a spirited defence from a Romanian divisional headquarters, the remaining Romanians either folded quickly and were overrun, or retired on zero strength.
295 Infantry Division (ID) on the main defensive line (MDL) stood until overwhelmed, with very few Landser making it back from the trenches to the reserve line. This held longer, but 47A broke through the line after a sharp exchange of artillery fire, having passed through 5GdA when the guards executed their third attack and had to pause to reorganise.
- YesthatPhil took the Soviets, I took the Germans. We elected to only game one of the two leading first wave armies in Front Scale Orbat (FSO), meaning that a division was 3 or 4 infantry bases strong with one artillery base.
- The countryside is closer and hillier than the steppes. We decided that visibility extended only into the square that the unit was in, unless adjacent to the road/river valley, or on a major hill, when visibility was 2 squares.
- I tried a checkerboard defence to spread the line out further. It didn’t work! Phil was able to attack and assault the lead units from three sides at once! I only took a few photos as the game was over fairly quickly! The whole game lasted from 1430 to 1630, with Phil commanding two armies, and with a weak corps under my command. Phil hit lucky as he was up against Romanians playing to form rather than at the top of their game. The defenders were only placed on the board when unmasked by recce. I marked them with shrublets to remind myself where they were. Phil probably worked it out pretty quickly!
- We last saw 295 ID here.