LENINGRAD Counteroffensive (3)

The LENINGRAD Front Artillery Masses

The LENINGRAD Front Artillery Masses

As the third day of the counterofensive dawned, leading squadrons of 9 Cavalry Division probed the minefields fronting the 58 Infantry Division position. Early attacks were repulsed easily, but these masked Soviet pioneer companies  moving up to breach safe lanes for 13 Motor Rifle Division.

Short Daylight Hours do not Halt the Offensive

Short Daylight Hours do not Halt the Offensive

A second wave of cavalry, supported by artillery and airstrikes was on the brink of succeeding, but morale failed at a critical point in the assault under a well-timed counterattack from 58 Division’s reserve regiment.

9 Cav Retreats as 13 MR Advances

9 Cavalry Retreats as 13 MR Advances

To the north, the southern defenders of LENINGRAD  were firing onto 13 Motor Rifle Division, in the hope of inflicting significant casualties, but the division maintained its own advance westwards and ignored the pinpricks to its flank.

13 MR Assaults 58 Inf

13 MR Assaults 58 Inf

As the remnants of 9 Cavalry withdrew to the east, more airstrikes paved the way for 13 Motor Rifle to breach 58 Infantry’s northern flank.

Another Wave of Bombers Pound 58 Inf

Another Wave of Bombers Pound 58 Inf

Airstrike Hits 58 Inf with Devastating Results

Airstrike Hits 58 Inf with Devastating Results

Under pressure, the division made its way back  to the airfield at ORIENBAUM. Ju-52s had been ferrying supplies in to LENINGRAD, and casualties out, until the very last moment; but now the last Tante Jus lumbered off westwards, escorted by Fw-190s. After reorganisation, the fighting strength of 9 Cavalry was down to 50%

Overworked Luftwaffe at Flugplatz ORANIENBAUM

Overworked Luftwaffe at Flugplatz ORANIENBAUM

4 Guards Rifle Division and 27 Rifle Division continued to press forward into the eastern defences, gaining ground, then losing it, before subjecting the area to such a fierce combined air and artillery bombardment that the area was left an uninhabitable ruin to defender and attacker alike. ¹

Eastern LENINGRAD in Flames

Eastern LENINGRAD in Flames

28 Rifle Div Breaches East LENINGRAD

28 Rifle Div Breaches East LENINGRAD

4 GR Assaults from the North

4 GR Assaults from the North

4 GR Breaches LENINGRAD from the North

4 GR Breaches LENINGRAD from the North

As the attacks bore in on the outskirts of LENINGRAD, army and front-level artillery added their weight to the assault, exacting a severe toll on the defenders.² The centre of LENINGRAD  began to fill with displaced units and the first bridges over the NEVA were demolished by the rearguard³

LENINGRAD Breached from the North and East

LENINGRAD Breached from the North and East

To be continued …

Game notes:

  1. The first time we ran this sequence, the defender’s reserve regiment managed to evict the attackers. Phil pointed out, quite reasonably, that the bombardment should have fallen on the reserves as well. We re-ran it and this time the defenders were wiped out but the attackers failed their morale due to casualties and withdrew disorganised.
  2. I have been waiting for some years to use my Long Tom masquerading as a 203mm B-4M. We graded it as extra-heavy and  used a red die, which rolled a gratifying number of ones! It can be seen that a Long Tom looks nothing like a B-4M, but I didn’t know that in pre-internet days.B-4M in its firing position.
  3. Shortage of real estate will become critical for the defenders in this game. If there is no space for units, it will force them to reorganise and consolidate stands in order to fit into the space available. It should also be noted that the logistic units can defend, but not counterattack.
  4. The outskirts an roads of LENINGRAD were counted as medium defences. We counted the centre as heavy.
  5. The airstrike on 58 Inf was the most devastating use of heavy dice that anyone can recall. The VVS regiments involved have all been promoted to Guards status!
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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Artillery, Axis War Diary, Eastern Front, Soviet Army, Soviet War Diary, WWII

LENINGRAD Counteroffensive (2)

28 Rifle Div Cross the NEVA with HQ 8 Army

28 Rifle Division Crosses the NEVA with HQ 8 Army

Soviet 8 Army began the offensive from its bridgehead over the Riva NEVA, leading with 27 and 28 Rifle Divisions, and with 4 Guards Rifle Division flanking to the north.

1 Infantry Division defends OSERKI

Resistance from 21 and 11 Infantry divisions was resolute, but the combined weight of air and artillery bombardment, with waves of infantry steadily pushed the defenders out of the position.

 

 

1 Infantry Division Counterattacks Fail to Retake OSERKI

21 Infantry Division Counterattacks Fail to Retake OSERKI

I Infantry Division Repels 4 Guard Rifle Division, but not 28 Rifle Division's Flank Attacks

21 Infantry Division Repels 4 Guard Rifle Division, but not 28 Rifle Division’s Flank Attacks

Regimental level counterattacks failed to regain OSERKI, so a disciplined retreat by bounds of these two largely East Prussian  divisions began, back to the outskirts of LENINGRAD. Meanwhile, the remnants of 21 Infantry Division were reforming in LENINGRAD itself.

I Infantry Division loses OSERKI to 28 Rifle Division and 4 Guards Rifle Division

21 Infantry Division loses OSERKI to 28 Rifle Division and 4 Guards Rifle Division

9 Cavalry Division and 13 Motor Rifle Division Advance

9 Cavalry Division and 13 Motor Rifle Division Advance

On the ORANIENBAUM axis, 9 Cavalry and 13 Motor Rifle divisions made steady progress, against 58 Infantry division.

9 Cavalry Division Pounds 58 Infantry Division with Airstrikes

9 Cavalry Division Pounds 58 Infantry Division with Airstrikes

Ground was given up grudgingly by the Lower Saxon Landser, but in the winter landscape, the Soviet cavalry were in their element.

9 Cavalry Division in Pursuit of 58 Infantry Division

9 Cavalry Division in Pursuit of 58 Infantry Division

LENINGRAD from the South

LENINGRAD from the South

To be continued …

Game Notes:

Observant readers will notice that the Marder III from “Prelude to Leningrad” has morphed into a SiG 33. Phil generously gave it to me, so it only seemed fair to use it against him!

Spot the T-28 and T-35s. They have been sitting patiently in their boxes waiting for LENINGRAD for ages. Don’t they look splendid?

We counted minefields as Medium due to the snow, rather than their usual heavy attack when units cross them.

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LENINGRAD Counteroffensive (1)

Not Quite Mechanised LENINGRAD Front Jan-Mar 1943

Operation Polar Star (Polyarnaya Zvezda – Операция Полярная звезда) did not come as a surprise to Army Group North. The Snail Offensive had slowed from a crawl to a dead stop, and a pause at the River NEVA as both sides regrouped and recovered did not lull the defenders into believing that the Soviet Winter Offensive had run its course. The incomplete intelligence picture for both sides is summarised above. The actual orbats have been modified below now that the game is underway

German Orbat – Defenders

LENINGRAD Garrison: I Infantry Korps – 122, 123  255 Infantry Division

ORANIENBAUM Garrison and forces East of LENINGRAD:

XVIII Infantry Korps –  11, 58 and 21 Infantry Divisions

Soviet Orbat – Operation Polar Star

8 Army – 4 Guard Rifle Division, 27, 28 Rifle Divisions

23 Army – 15 Guard Rifle Division, 13 Motor Rifle Division, 9 Cavalry Division

Front Reserves

55 Army –  48, 49 Rifle Divisions

The ground to be fought over was well-known to both sides:

River NEVA and OSERKI position

LENINGRADLENINGRAD*

ORANIENBAUM and Baltic SeaORANIENBAUM, KRONSTADT, and Baltic Sea

 

  • Casual readers of this blog might be forgiven for thinking that this looks like MOSCOW. It is not, of course. It is completely different. Maskirovka!

 

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Es schneit nie im März

One can be forgiven for thinking that it is spring in England and that German sentries looking skyward would be thinking  “Es schneit nie im März”* . God, however, is an Englishman, and has a dry sense of humour to match; so on the first day of spring Northampton awoke to just enough snow to be annoying, but not enough for a decent snowball fight. After a mildly irritating drive home, (quote it was a nightmare people were driving like lunatics except me of course unquote) I pulled out my Fallschirmjäger to update the Box 57 photo.
The next day at work, I overheard this, rendered in a cheerful Ukrainian accent by one of the clinical delivery drivers – gotta love those guys: “Hah! Iz no snow. Iz just little gayboy flakes!” So in that spirit, here are photos of Northamptonshire in spring. Canadians and East Europeans have full license to be unimpressed.

The Great Wellingborough Cornice

 

Temperatures Plummet to almost Zero

Temperatures Plummet to almost Zero

Shirtsleeve Weather for Action Man Kayaker

Shirtsleeve Weather for Action Man Kayaker

* It never snows in March. A play on words from Operation Market Garden when a German sentry saw parachutes descending and thought “but it never snows in September”.

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I’m so Wonewee – Not Quite the A Team

John Bassett put on an ambitious multi-centre Committee Game Centred around the Tet Offensive and North Korea’s seizing of the Pueblo. Present at Shedquarters were Trebian, in a somewhat conflicted Plumpire role, YesThatPhil as the Minister of  the Army, Chris Ager as the Minister of Security, Nick Drage as the Dear Son and Foreign Minister. Finally, I played the Great Leader himself.

Cutting a long story short, we seized the Pueblo, and shot down an unknown number of US aircraft that we counted as ten, but was probably one. We failed to assasinate the South Korean President, but managed to persuade the Chinese and Russians to send us stuff, and annoyed the Americans on principle. In short, a high time was had by all. No-one was shot for treason, and two members of the Committee were promoted away from areas  that could have seen them staging a coup. Much to my surprise, I was still in control of sorts at the end of the game. We had a parade to celebrate.

Spot the Ministers About to be Promoted*.

*Not a Euphemism- they were both promoted into each others’ jobs.

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11th Honourable Artillery Company RHA

These splendid chaps fought through the GAZALA battles with 25 pdrs in the KNIGHTSBRIDGE box with the Guards Brigade, before being re-equipped with Priest self-propelled guns for 2nd Alamein and fighting with 1st Armoured Division. I have chosen to model the company with a priest, because A, I have one, and B, it provides some variety from the hordes of 25 pdrs that I need to model. PSC carrier crews provided the gunners, with a Peter Pig seated driver furnishing the obligatory “Officer with Map”

I’m currently trying to build extra limbers and to find out if the priests towed them, or used Kangaroos as limbers, or trucks, as I have modelled.

After munching through a PSC box of nine Universal Carriers, and adding five Loyd Carriers* to the eight or so Piggie carriers that I already own, it is clear that I still need more; in particular, FOOs to bulk out my artillery regiments. There is photographic evidence of FOOs in Morris and CMP trucks, and Dingos, but the carriers are such good value, and perfect for the job. More Quads are on the cards too.

* As far as I know, no Loyd carriers made it to North Africa, but they will do as placeholders. (The temptation to write Lloyd is overwhelming)

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1st Armoured Division at ALAMEIN

1st Armoured Division in Box 37 has been getting a bit of work done to it over the weekend. They had a reorganisation and all their divisional tactical signs added, as best I can judge. For amusement, have a close look at the divisional Rhinos. With a bit of imagination, you can see pigs, poodles and sheep pretending to be rhinos. It’s why I dont usually bother in this scale (I’m not fond of transfers either!). The whole exercise took longer than I thought, but was fun.

I came across this photo of 11th Honourable Artillery Company, and was surprised to see that the Div flash is on the wrong side – so I have reproduced it as seen.

The odd-looking 6pdr on a plastic hotwheels truck that is lurking in the top right of the photo above, is a placeholder for a Deacon.

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Rebasing

The very mention of the word sends a shudder through us. We vow that we will never do it (again), so I haven’t been rebasing anything: just reorganising a few Eastern Front divisions to reflect mid war orbats … I’m not fooling anyone, am I?

You may remember the changes that began back on the 8th of January, 2016 to speed up moving the toys around? No? The essence is that you can use whatever you want to depict stands of 3 Strength Points. My current standard is using Flames of War sized bases because they are roughly the size of a 3SP vehicle base. Failing that, a couple of 30mm bases butted together  achieves the same objective. This is a WIP Soviet support base of 3SP, and the reorganised division that it lives in

Soviet NQM Mid War Reduced ORBAT

I still have older orbats around, but they have gradually been reorganising to the new leaner orbats. Here is a Fallschirmjäger Division.

The four bases on the right are Luftwaffe ground crew. Kudos to Will McNally, who has rebased squillions of Renaissance figures. I have managed about 420!

 

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Shed Life – the Workshop

 

True-scale models with terrain ready for the Eastern Front

More true-scale modelling has been filling the absence of blogging, turning the garage into a workshop, with cupboards ripped out of the kitchen finding a new home.

It’s all a bit scrappy at this stage – but the walls are insulated, and power is in

Fascinating as it may be for Shedaholics, I don’t propose to burden readers with endless work in progress shots – just edited highlights. The stuff in the picture above is all boot-fitting or repairing kit from the old shop. I found a heap of certificates that we used to display on the shop walls. They can stay there until I find some military-themed pictures to put in them.

Not a cupboard!

The deal here was that the Workshop would not be as nice as the Den, so I am allowed to spill stuff on the floor and wander in wearing my shoes!  That doesn’t mean that I can’t put blinds and curtains up though. Just painting everything white increased the ambient light levels to figure-painting standards.

Still not a cupboard!

Ok, so just a couple of pictures of some of the kitchen cupboards. They swallowed huge amounts of junk that would otherwise have attracted dust on the shelves.

Look at all that lovely wall space!

Cupboards!

The old Tegometal shop shelves are retreating in the face of a relentless wave of re-purposed Swedish invaders. There is still a lot of work to do, not least being a heater, once the gaps in the new ceiling are sealed up.

 

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Soviet Winter Offensive Jan 1943 Desantny

The Soviet Winter Offensive taxed the Luftwaffe to the limit, with servicability dropping as ground crews struggled in atrocious conditions to keep airframes ready for operations, and airstrips clear for flying.

Tante Ju

One such airfield (Flugplatz Lotti) near VELIKIE LUKIE, was thought to be safely beyond the reach of the enemy. It contained four Geschwäder : JG 54 (Bf 109), KG76 (Ju 88), StG 1 (Ju 87), KG zbV 102 (Ju 52) and a NaGruppe with Uhus.

Flugplatz Lotti

See Phil’s blog for his thoughts on the use of Soviet desantny forces. The two regiments that he deployed brought with them T-60 tanks and the spearhead of the tank and mechanised corps that had broken through from VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK.

The Outer Defences of Lotti are Assailed

Although the Airfield was defended by two reduced regiments of well-armed Luftwaffe ground troops, their morale was simply not up to the task of holding the airfield. An undignified scramble of aircraft and logistic units exiting the base was observed as the unlucky defenders desperately hung on to the perimeter

Logistic Units Scramble for Safety

Before long, Soviets were swarming over the airfield. They have been doing that a lot of late. Casualties were heavy

Game Notes

YesThatPhil got the chance to showcase his new Peter Pig Soviet Scouts. I gave my rebased Luftwaffe field division its second airing. It behaved commendably badly, as one might epect. The air base was laid out in advance and Phil’s brief was:

“commit what you think that you need to take the airfield.”

He finished the job in about an hour of playing, which enabled the whole scenario to be finished from start to finish in about two hours. Coffee, chocolate, cheese and biscuits stopped anyone from starving.

I rated the Luftwaffe division as conscript and the Soviets as veteran.

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