Category Archives: Eastern Front

The Soviet Winter Offensive Takes the SERPUKHOV to MOSCOW Line – Winter 1942/3

Knots of German Resistance

As the front around MOSCOW collapsed, the landscape filled with large and small  groups of Germans retreating to the west. Lacking heavy equipment, knots and pockets of resistance caused just enough delay to the advancing Soviets to keep a semblance of order and a front line, albeit one with rents kilometers wide.

NQM Delaying Action Winter 1942/3

 

Some resistance was more resolute than others, 12th Infantry Division, in particular, fighting hard to buy enough time for the front to reform.  Advancing against them were 38 and 57 Rifle Divisions.

38 and 57 Rifle Divisions Advance to Contact

For some of the hard-pressed Landser, it was easier to fight and die in position than to continue trudging through the snow. Iron-hard ground and lack of time to prepare reduced the effectiveness  of the German advanced defensive line.

12th Infantry Division Advance Defensive Line

Behind the forward troops, preparations proceeded as fast as the appalling conditions would allow.

Roads Provided Tenuous Lines of Communication

Anxious troops, with little time to rest, wearily awaited the Enemy. To their front, the forward defensive line is breached.

The Forward Line is Breached

Waves of advancing Soviets press forward to the main defensive line.

NQM Soviet Advance Winter 1942/3

The Divisional Railhead is a scene of frantic activity as the Enemy draws nearer.

NQM Divisional Railhead Winter 1942/3

Even a captured Soviet armoured train is pressed into service.

A Captured Soviet Armoured Train is Pressed into Service

But just as 12th Infantry Division, was at the limit of its endurance, the pressure began to ease. The Soviet advance had outpaced its own supply lines and come to a halt. at the end of this two-hour battle with YesthatPhil taking the Axis, and the Author playing the Soviets as a player-umpire (Plumpire). The Change in the map looked like this:

12 Inf Div holds the SERPUKHOV to MOSCOW line

12 Infantry Division holds the SERPUKHOV to MOSCOW line

The Soviet Winter Offensive Takes the SEPUKHOV to MOSCOW Line Winter 1942/3

The Soviet Winter Offensive Takes the SEPUKHOV to MOSCOW Line Winter 1942/3

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Zvezda 1:100 (15mm) T-60

Aww Idda Lidduw Cyoote Tankie

This finely-modelled offering makes its successor, the T-70, look like a hunky, over-engineered brute! It falls under Kemp’s law: If you can see over the top of a tank, standing up – it doesn’t count; so not a suitable tank to go Rommelling in.

The model can be seen next to a T-70 in the pictures below, and  the chap standing next to it is one of the PSC 25pdr gun crew. He would be able to see over the top if the sculptor had put the correct anatomical length into the knees and abdomen, but as it is, he is the same height as the crouching loader, who is standing next to him on his left.

Three years ago, I would have needed lots more of these little tanks, but as the campaign is now entering 1943, the T-70 is more prevalent. You don’t last very long if you go to war in a biscuit tin.

The plan view shows the tiny size of the T-60. The lovely Mrs K. wandered past and made noises to the effect of “Awww look adda cyuute lidduw tank”. She has a point.

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Retreat from MOSCOW – Jan 1943

MOSCOW Encircled from the West

This three-part game followed directly on from the last MOSCOW scenario. YesthatPhil was at all three evenings, and Trebian turned up for the middle session.

A brief unseasonal warm spell gave trouble alike to the advancing Red Army and retreating Wehrmacht as the pincer movement closed around MOSCOW. The Soviets, with their lighter logistic requirements still managed to continue the advance, but the Wehrmacht was forced to abandon much of its heavy equipment in the retreat.

Confusion reigned on the Axis side as orders and counter orders flew around. Little flying took place, as both sides found their aircraft mostly unable to take off from airfields surrounded by fog and low cloud; the Soviets fared better in this respect.

Infantry from the broken front lines struggled to maintain coherence. Soviet armour appeared to be more mobile away from roads than the Axis, but in any case long lines of infantry poured west, attempting to link with adjacent units and form a defensible line, racing to stay ahead of the advancing Soviet armour*.

IMG_7779

Axis Forces are Thrown Back into MOSCOW

Inside MOSCOW, disorder was everywhere. Logistic and Luftwaffe units fled into the city as the airport was overrun. A frozen river MOSKVA proved to be no obstacle to men and horses, although bridges were thrown across the river to allow passage for armour.

20th Panzer Grenadier Division is Attacked

The spell of mild weather was brief as the temperature plummeted and hard snow covered the ground once more.

20 Panzer Grenadier division Surrounded

20 Panzer Grenadier Division found itself surrounded and destroyed in detail as the reorganised  1 Guards Tank and 2 Guards Mechanised Corp lapped around the defences.

18 Guards Rifle Division Overrun the Airport

Fierce dogfights erupted over MOSCOW with the Soviet pilots gaining ascendency. A Bf 109 can be seen crashing into the rail tracks in the picture above.

18 Guards Rifle Division Overrunning the Airfield

18 Guards Rifle Division  continued to push north over the airfield and into the outlying southern districts of the city. They met 258 Infantry Division head on, driving them back with heavy casualties on both sides. Katyushas provided close support from the airfield, with devastating effect. Such Luftwaffe support that did reach the front line was fully occupied attempting to support infantry dug in to the river line, with nothing to spare for counter-battery work.

Desperate German Counterattacks fail to Dislodge the Attacking Soviet Infantry

Desperate counterattacks by the defenders failed to dislodge the attackers. At this stage of the battle, both commanders were wondering if they had enough forces to hold/take MOSCOW. This is one of the features of the game, of which I am proudest. I tend to think that I have the balance right when both players are wondering if the battle is winnable from their own perspective.

MOSCOW Encircled from the West Limited Reserves are Redeployed to Plug Breaches in the Defencess to

38 and 39 Rifle Divisions turned east to attack into the city, having encircled it from the north. After cutting the main railway lines to the west , they made little headway at first against the outer defences, but eventually managed to gain a foothold as the defenders retreated deeper into MOSCOW.

Soviet Infantry takes the Outer Defences of Western Moscow

Having done this, they paused to reorganise and conserve their strength, consolidating their gains against any Fascist breakout down the rail lines. 2 Guards Mechanised Corps can be seen advancing west  in the top left of the picture above, with 1 Guards Tank Corps in the picture below .

Retreating Wehrmacht InfantryForm a Hasty Defensive Line

To the east, remnants of Axis infantry divisions began to reorganise on the rail junction and railhead, throwing up a hasty defensive line in the face of the advancing 1 Guards Tank Corp, with the surviving mobile remnants of 20 Panzer Grenadier Division regrouping behind.

*Trebian, who was present for the second evening, had more armour on the table than he has seen for the previous twenty (real life™) years. He didn’t squander it attacking MOSCOW either, just let it scamper off to frighten the bejazus out of the Axis lines of communication.

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MOSCOW Surrounded

20 Motorised Division Stops 2 Guards Mechanised Corps in its Tracks 20 Motorised Infantry Division halts the advance of 2 Guards Mechanised Corps

Depleted as they were from the previous Summer’s Drive on MOSCOW, 7 Panzer and 20 Motorised Infantry Divisions still managed to blunt the breakthrough by 1st Shock Army on the city’s southern flank. No less dangerous though, was the northern flank breach.

Soviet Infantry Break Through on the Northern Flank of MOSCOW

The initial bridgehead was widened until it burst through the reserve line and soon, long columns of Soviet infantry could be seen trudging through the snow on their way west.

Soviet Infantry approaching MOSCOW to Outflank it by the North

Dislodged from their prepared defences on the canal line, all the disorganised infantry defenders could do was fall back to the east or south into MOSCOW.

Attempts by 20 Motorised Infantry to halt the Soviet advance lacked vigour as they had yet to recover from halting 2 Guards Mechanised Corps. 7 Panzer Division  was in no shape to assist, having had its own battle with 1 Guards Tank Corps, so retired west to refuel and reorganise. As part of its reorganisation,  20 Motorised Infantry was redesignated 20 Panzer Grenadier Division.

The defenders in MOSCOW were in crisis, with continued enemy infantry attacks from the east and south, and the rail line of communication to the west in Soviet hands. LittleHitler formally declared MOSCOW to be a fortress even as a relief  by 3 Panzer Korps was prepared.

Retreating Fascist Forces see MOSCOW Dwindle in the Gathering Gloom Retreating Fascist Forces see MOSCOW Dwindle in the Gathering Gloom

Festung Moskau from Phil's Pb-eye Candy BlogSee More Frontline Soviet News Footage on P.B.Eye-Candy

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KALININ Falls!

As the commander of Army Group Centre watched the Soviet offensive open in front of him, It became clear that the weight of the attack was falling, not on MOSCOW, but on KALININ.

8th Jaeger Withdraws North of KALININ

The already reduced 8 Jäger Division bore the brunt of the opening attack, situated as it was to the north of the VOLGA river along the railway line to the vital rail junction of VELIKIYE LUKI. The Jägers fell back steadily over two days to the west of KALININ, extracting a price, but taking heavy casualties as they did so.

8 Jaeger Withdraws North of KALININ

 27 Army was identified as the controlling enemy formation HQ. As it drew level with KALININ, the leading divisions swung south to attack the city, with Sturmovik and army level artillery support. Already, Wehrmacht reserve divisions were moving to cover the rail bridge crossing the VOLGA, but the main line from VELIKIYE LUKI to MOSCOW was now in Soviet hands.

37 Rifle Division Attacks South into KALININ

The defenders of KALININ, 161 Infantry Division, were unprepared for the ferocity of the attack by 37 Rifle Division. Despite losses to the minefields and prepared defences, and spirited counterattacks by the defenders, first the outskirts, then the centre of the city fell. 

36 Rifle Division Seizes a VOLGA Bridge

A seesaw battle for the river crossing commenced as the leading elements of 36 Rifle Division seized the southern bank in the face of elements of 256 Infantry Division that were rushing to secure the bridge. 8 Jäger Division, reduced to a regimental headquarters and company of infantry, managed to throw the Soviets back to the northern edge of the bridge just long enough to allow 256 Infantry to open a route to KALININ. Through this, the survivors of the city poured, leaving their heavy weapons behind. The bridge was blown in the face of the leading Soviet assault parties.

Back in his FührerBoxfile, LittleHitler was foaming at the mouth with fury at the loss of KALININ and the commander of 161 Infantry was summoned to explain himself. A professional withdrawal under fire, over a bridge being attacked by the enemy, did nothing to save him. The division was ordered to be shipped to France to refit, but its commander and senior staff found themselves stripped of their rank and sent to a penal battalion.

The Line is Breached North of KALINEN

Meanwhile, a serious breach in the front had opened between XX Korps at KALININ and X Korps to their north. With armoured forces concentrated in the South and around MOSCOW, little stood in the way of the advancing divisions, The Luftwaffe had little success in divining the extent of the breakthrough either, as the flanks of the attack were patrolled by large numbers of Soviet fighters.

To be continued …

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Storm from the Northwest – Days 6 to 9

Six months of real time have elapsed since day five of this battle and its resumption on day six. To recreate a long narrow thrust along a railway line in hilly, forested country, the operation is now being prosecuted along the length of my pasting table, again with the lateral scale massively compressed. YesthatPhil took most of the photos for this battle as his camera skills exceed mine by a considerable margin.

The Key Rail JunctionLink to the map

Day six of the offensive began with 4th Tank Corps continuing the attack west along the line of the railway to VELIKIE LUKIE. The  Soviet infantry in the line regrouped and paused as 1st Guards Rifle Division passed through the forward positions and assembled for an assault. Heavy artillery support began to pound VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK.

vyshny volochyok 1942http://city.samondeo.com/vyshny-volochyok-russia.php

From the contemporary aerial photographs, note the relatively open nature of the suburbs and railway sidings even today, apart from the town centre.

Vyshny region today

Army Level Artillery Close Up to the Front Line

4th Tank Corps continued to press west, with 16th Motor Rifle Corps following on, poised to support either 1GR or 4Tk.

4TK Corps Advance

The regrouped Silesians of 8th Infantry Division in VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK braced themselves for a renewed infantry assault as 1st Guards Rifle Division shook out into attack formation, supported by Katyushas, Sturmoviks and KV-1s. Apparently the latter were more plentiful in the north.

1GDs Assault

Historically, 8th Inf were a good unit with a distinguished reputation. They suffered heavy casualties in the initial campaign and were returned to France to convert to a Jäger division; their model counterparts fared no less well. Despite spirited counterattacks that caused delays of a day, they were pushed out of the city with heavy losses by 1GR, reinforced by 16MR when the first assault showed signs of losing momentum.

KV1 of 16 MR Breaks in

Ideally, you would really like something heavier than 3.7cm anti-tank against KV-1s. Yes, those are Soviets behind the dug-in anti-tank position. No, those are not party balloons, they are pin markers*.

Meanwhile, 4Tk were stopping for nothing and no-one. They met the advanced positions of a defended belt and attacked it straight from the line of march … with not unexpected results. Plenty more light armour was available if it was needed. 4Tk‘s T-70s discovered the defending minefields in the traditional way. This is why the Desantny prefer to ride on the T-34s if anyone gives them a choice.

4TK Assault From Line of March

Some distance into difficult country astride the railway, 269 Infantry Division‘s main defensive line provided the defence in depth for the front.

269INF Reserve Defence

Katyushas and infantry deployed as the armour fought on down the railway. More Sturmoviks appeared overhead; “… wo ist die Luftwaffe?” The heavy and medium dice below are all falling on the German infantry!

4Tk Corps Hit Back

When all seemed lost, 8th Panzer Division appeared in a counter attack. The bulk of the division was strung across the frozen countryside, but enough appeared to persuade the Soviets that there would be no more progress on this axis of advance before further reinforcements arrived.

8PZ Div Counterattack

*Thanks to Jaap Boender for pointing out on Facebook that the pins look like party balloons.

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More Big Numbers on the Ostfront Nov 42- Jul 43

1943 was an increasingly desperate year for Axis forces on the Ostfront. STALINGRAD and KURSK spring readily to mind as examples. Some of the numbers tell their own story*.

The Key Rail Junction

The quality of Soviet infantry had been steadily dropping as the most able recruits were drafted into the technical arms and services (Keimke, 1968, p147), compared to the 5 Soviet Tank armies, each of 2 tank and 1 mechanised corps; the best troops generally being found in guards units. German infantry had fought without pause for well over a year, and their generals had commented on the lack of staying power that some divisions were now exhibiting.

The Soviets had been ruthlessly concentrating on production, only innovating if it did not cut volume, or if there was a clear need, so the quantity of tanks available to them does not tell the whole story. This excellent summary gives almost half of the Soviet inventory available at the front as light tanks in November 1942 and roughly a third  in Jul 1943. The numbers are almost constant at about 3,500 tanks, What changed in 1943 is that an influx of nearly 3,000 medium tanks reached the front. In other words, the battles in ’42/3 were as likely to be between Pz IIIs and T-60/70s as T-34s.

In the air, by summer 1943, the PVO outnumbered the Luftwaffe by 2.5:1, so that in November 1942 the Germans, facing some 3,200 aircraft with 4,000 or so machines of their own, found the numbers against them swelling to 8,300 by July. This was triple the size of the PVO in May 1942, and moreover, the new aircraft coming off the production lines were of the latest types.

Balkankreuze2

13th Air Army faced Luftflotte I on the VOLKHOV front with 40-50% extra allocated to the air army as occasion demanded from GKO reserves. In addition the air army had a regiment each of transport (GVF), recce and artillery spotting aircraft:

13th Air Army (formed on 25 November 1942)

  • 275th Fighter Aviation Division “Pushkinskaya Krasnoznamennaya
  • 276th Bomber Aviation Division “Gatchinskaya twice Red Banner orders of Suvurov and Kutuzov
    • 3 Pe-2? (@s3)
  • 277th Assault Aviation Div “Krasnoselskaya Red Banner orders of Suvurov and Kutuzov
      • 15th Guards Assault Aviation Regiment – Il-2 Sturmovik (s3)
      • 566th Assault Aviation Regiment – Il-2 Sturmovik (s3)
      • 943rd Assault Aviation Regiment – Il-2 Sturmovik (s3)
      • 999th Assault Aviation Regiment – Il-2 Sturmovik (s3)

Luftflotte I

  • Kampfgeschwader 1 –  2 Bombers (@s3)  [Ju 88A]
  •  KG1-2“Hindenburg”
  • Kampfgeschwader 76 –  3 Bombers (@s3) [Ju 88A]
  • KG76
  • Kampfgeschwader 77 –  3 Bombers (@s3) [Ju 88A]
  • KG77-1
  • Jagdgeschwader 54 – 3 Fighters (@s3) [Bf 109F]
  • JG54-1 “Grunherz”
  • Jagdeschwader 53 (-) – 1 Fighter (@s3) [Bf 109F]
  • JG53-1 “Pik As”

Subordinated/Attached Units

  • Transport squadron (Ju 52) – Ju 52 transport (L1)
  • five liaison squadrons (Fi 156) – 5 Fi 156 recce (@R1)
  • IV.Flakkorps (anti-aircraft artillery)
    • 2. Flak-Division (Mot)** – Commander (C3) [in Radio truck]
      • Stab/Flak-Regiment 41 – 8.8cm Flak (S3) + Limber (L3) Sdkfz 7
        Stab/Flak-Regiment 151 – 2.0cm Flak (S3) + Limber (L3) Sdkfz 10Stab/Flak-Regiment 164 – 2.0cm Flak (S3) + Limber (L3) Sdkfz 7
      • Flak-Abteilung 517
    • 6. Flak-Division – Commander (C3) [in Radio truck]
      • Stab/Flak-Regiment 43 – 8.8cm Flak (S3) + Limber (L3) Sdkfz 7Stab/Flak-Regiment 164 – 2.0cm Flak (S3) + Limber (L3) Sdkfz 7

leichte Heimat-Batterie 6./I – accounted for in the numbers above

* I have drawn confidence from my last post on numbers that  followers have not just halved. It couldn’t have been the picture of the Ratte could it?

** All the 8.8cm Flak is separated into Regiments 41 and 43. In reality there were approximately 12 guns per regiment.

Sources:

  1. http://chris-intel-corner.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/tank-strength-and-losses-eastern-front.html
  2. Stalingrad to Berlin by Ziemke (1968)
  3. Boyd A. (1977) The Soviet Airforce since 1918. Macdonald and Jame’s – London.
  4. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luftflotte_1
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_army_%28Soviet_Union%29
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/76th_Air_Army
  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Air_Forces_Order_of_Battle_1_May_1945
  8. http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/inhaltsverzeichnisgliederungLw.htm

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Big Numbers on the Ostfront

German Panzer Battalion from the author's collection. Each model represents approximately 30 tanks

German Panzer Battalion from the author’s collection. Each model represents about 30 tanks

One of the pleasures of operational gaming is ruminating on the relative numbers overall of various equipment. Authors are fond of telling histories in terms of events, with the odd number thrown in here and there for key equipment, but they rarely give information in a consistent form.

Wargamers love using the best kit, so sometimes you are left wondering if the Premier Division team that they have picked for the club night is really a good representation of what went on. I enjoy the battles in the corners: The ones that happen when a Panzerarmee is nowhere to be seen, but a divisional staff officer is left scraping cooks and drivers together to prevent a breakthrough that may be on its last legs.

2nd Tank Corps Break Into the Northern Advanced Line

Consequently, I am often left wondering if I have the proportions of tanks to antitank guns, or of aircraft to anti-aircraft correct. John Ellis is usually reliable in this respect, so his orbats and ToEs (Tables of Equipment), scaled by the odd figure that is thrown in by a unit history and rounded for NQM, work well.

Here is a previous guesstimate of equipment at GAZALA. When I applied the same reasoning to the eastern front for the 1943 Soviet summer offensive, Ziemke (1968) gives us on page 144:

German troop strength = 3,064,000 + 150-200,000 allies

German Tanks = 2,088

German Anti-tank guns = 8,063

Soviet troop strength = 5,755,000

Soviet Tanks = 7,855

Soviet Anti-tank guns = 21,050

These admitted German estimates give the Germans a 1:4 Tank Anti-tank ratio (actually 3.86) , and the Soviets nearly a nearly 1:3 ratio (actually 2.68).

Comparatively this gives a Soviet vs Axis superiority of:

Troops = 2:1 (actually 1.79:1)

Tanks = 4:1 (actually 3.76:1)

Anti-tank = 3:1 (actually 2.61:1)

This compares well with Zaloga and Grandsen’s (1984) table on page 223 of Stalingrad to Berlin of 9,200 Soviet AFVs vs 2,374 German AFVs in March 1943 on the Ostfront, a ratio of 3.88 :1. The same source tells us on page 222 that the German proportions of tanks to self-propelled guns to troop carriers was in roughly even proportions (1:1:1). By contrast, the Soviet production was 2 tanks to every assault gun and no significant production of armoured troop carriers.

Even allowing for all the usual provisos of serviceability, tactics and quality, this tells me that I should be allowing the Soviets 3+ tanks for every German AFV.

A separate, and interesting question, is “do all the anti tank weapon totals include anti tank rifles?” I suspect not, as the German ratio is higher, and the Soviets hung onto their anti-tank rifles for longer. A quick NQM ToE check gives the following numbers:

German panzer division5 Tanks, 2 Anti-tank guns (numbers fluctuated)

German infantry division = 0 Tanks, 3 Anti-tank guns

Soviet tank corps6 Tanks, 2 Anti-tank guns (for 1943, the numbers fluctuated)

Soviet infantry division0 Tanks,  3 Anti-tank guns (allowing the 76mm divisional gun an antitank role and counting the 3 regimental 47mm guns as one Sp3 gun.

If we estimate the tank to infantry division ratio on the Ostfront as:

German = 67 Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions versus 331 infantry divisions, (Just under 1:5). (I have taken the German army as a whole but ignored allies giving 335 NQM tanks to 1127 anti-tank guns, or 1 to 3.4.

Soviet = 60 tank and mechanised corps vs 413 rifle divisions (just under 1:7 giving 1 NQM tank to 3.8 anti-tank) from Ellis (1993)38, then these ratios seem reasonable without having to count anti-tank rifles. I do however, need to make sure that the Soviet armour is fielded at full strength or tone down the anti-tank to keep the ratio about right at 3:1. Likewise, the German tank strength needs a lid keeping on it to prevent it creeping too high.

Here is a picture of a Ratte to console the German players :

ratte

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Storm from the Northwest – Days 2 and 3

Day two of the Soviet Winter offensive in the Northwest saw X, II and VIII Korps under heavy pressure along the whole of the line. By this stage of the war, German defensive positions had formalised into an outlying belt of minefields studded with MG42 nests, then a main defensive line backed by a reserve line, all of some considerable depth such that they could not all be carried in the same attack.

II Korps Artillery II Korps artillery in the reserve line supports the failing defensive line of Lt Gen von Seydlitz-Kurzbach’s distinguished 12 Inf Div.

Soviet doctrine was evolving to cope, and although not as tactically proficient as they would become later in the war, the early desperate days of throwing waves of unsupported infantry in to the attack were giving way to more coordinated offensives with artillery and tank support. They would attack along a line, then ruthlessly reinforce success, leaving failing attacks to flounder. Thus it was that Lt Gen Wandel found pressure on his 121 Inf Div slackening as troops were diverted to support the break-in to 32 Inf Div‘s main defensive positions.

This attack had been preceded by violent assaults on two flanks against the distinguished 12 Inf Div veterans of Lt Gen von Seydlitz-Kurzbach. The division fell back in good order, having sustained intolerable casualties in the first day of the attack.

Northwest Front 05The vital rail junction on the divisional boundary of 32 and 121 Inf Divs, looking southwest, before  coming under heavy Soviet attack

This relief was, however, only temporary. Day three of the offensive saw renewed pressure on this sector of the defensive line to break open the main railway to VELIKIYE LUKI (Великие Луки)

121 Inf Div Main Defensive LineAll along the northern half of the line, German infantry were falling back to their reserve positions; most in good order but some in disarray. Soviet flags could be seen fluttering over the main line, and in the odd quiet moment balalaika and accordion music could be heard!

More to follow …

The Attack Develops on Day 3Link to the map

Game Notes:

1.More of this battle from the Soviet side can be seen on YesthatPhil’s P.B.Eye Candy Blog

2. This game was planned for Trebian’s 5×11 foot table at Shedquarters. My pasting table is a quarter of the size, so although the length is adequate, depth has been compressed by half.

3. The marked roads are also railways, which is why a Chibi armoured train is parked at the southern end of the track by VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK Вышний Волочек.

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Storm Forecast from the Northeast

Northwest Front - Opening Stages

The miserable stalemate of the Rasputitsa on the NORTHWEST Front was broken with the first hard frosts of winter. This offensive had been expected for some time, but the ferocity of the assault caught the German line by surprise, and soon reports of heavy fighting were flooding in to X, II and VIII Korps Headquarters in volumes that told of an assault along the whole defensive line north of VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK Вышний Волочек.

Northwest Front 03

126* Infantry Division fought off attacks from militia troops identified as belonging to 30 Rifle Division supporting the northern flank of 31 Rifle Div. The Soviets had blocked the north-south railway from MOSCOW to LENINGRAD, and repeated counterattacks had failed to dislodge them in the previous month.

Northwest Front Rail Crossroad

12* and 32** Infantry Divs came under heavy pressure that the whole of X and VIII Korps Artillery could not relieve. These positions began to crumble as 34 Rifle Div  penetrated the forests in front of them.

Link to the map

To be continued …

Notes:

*126 Infantry Division was commanded by the newly promoted commander of its 422 Infantry Regiment – Maj Gen Hopper.

** 12th Infantry Division distinguished itself in Poland and France

*** 32nd Infantry Division was known as the Löwe (Lion) division and also had an excellent reputation.

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