The Great Patriotic War
(Вели́кая Оте́чественная война́ “ВОВ”)
Velíkaya Otéchestvennaya voyná
March to June 1943 – Spring Offensive (Posted 2020 – 2021)
January to March 1943 – Winter Offensive (Posted 2018 – 2019)
LENINGRAD Front – The Fascists are Driven from Mother Russia’s Second City
MOSCOW Front – Victory along the Line!
January to March 1943 DNEPR Front – DNEPROPETROVSK to the mouth of the DNEPR
November 1942 to February 1943 KHARKOV to DNEPROPETROVSK – The land Bridge between the DNEPR and The DON
Festung Kharkov Phil Steele’s account of the battle
KHARKOV – Trebian’s account of the battle
September to December 1942 – Winter Offensive (Posted Sep 2013 – Dec 2015)
LENINGRAD Front – The Fascists Await their Fate with Fear
October – December 1942 (Posted 2015) Northwest Front – Reclaiming the Motherland
October – December 1942 MOSCOW Front – The Offensive is Renewed
September 1942 – The Western front Stabilises (Posted Aug 2013)
5th Army Defends the TAMBOV railway junctions
The strategic railway junctions 1-3 were important to both sides, as whoever held them controlled the front between MOSCOW and VORONEZH. When the anticipated offensive from the Fascists did not materialise in August, 5th Army began to prepare the area west of TAMBOV for defence. A concerted attack from the west and south in September ultimately defeated 5th Army but did not destroy it due to counterattacks by 4 Tank Corps, which were repulsed, but bought enough time for their infantry comrades to withdraw east of TAMBOV.
In a surprise move, enemy armour broke through to South Western Front headquarters, which was subsequently disbanded. Counterattacks by 20 Guard Rifle and 7 Motor Rifle divisions stabilised the situation, but it was only the onset of the Rasputitsa that finally brought the Hitlerite advance to a halt.
Racing the Rasputitsa sees the German Fall Blau offensive comprehensively defeated.
June 1942 – Reverses around the Western front and gains in the South (Posted Mar 2012)
The Destruction of 16th Army
It became apparent that the MOSCOW offensive was merely part of a greater push along the whole front. As the summer wore on, headquarters South Western Front moved back from VOROSHNEV to BORISOGLEBSK. 16th Army found itself surrounded and destroyed in the area of TULA, 5th Army was isolated and expected to be destroyed around YALETS. A massive hole had opened in the front line held only by Western Front with its headquarters at TAMBOV, three infantry divisions (55,56,58) stretching north from LIPERTSK and four divisions as the front reserve to the east.
Gains in the South
Southern Front, which had been pursuing the Romanian Army, found itself running short of supplies and with significant armoured forces to its north. This successful pursuit, which had retaken ROSTOV and destroyed a Romanian Mountain Corps, consolidated itself around the network of rail junctions to the west of ROSTOV even as a fierce battle for the GIROVKA bend took place. This had scarcely been concluded before a new Fascist offensive, heavily supported by armour, retook KHARKOV and swept into the bend from the north, destroying 5 Tank division.
Stubborn Defence at GIROVKA Bend
The position was saved by a heroic defence conducted by 20 Guard Rifle Div, which repelled successive attacks from 1 Panzer Korps, leaving the Southern Front in a secure position around ROSTOV but no contact with South Western Front to its north.
June 1942 – The Red Army Is Surprised around MOSCOW (Posted Dec 2011)
The Fascists Attack
Before forces had regrouped and formed up for the renewed Summer Offensive on the MOSCOW axis of advance, Hitlerite tanks disrupted 22 Corps and 31 Cavalry Corps in their forming up areas. It took a counterattack from 18 Guards Rifle Div and 1st Guards Tank Div to restore the situation by the end of the month. The Red Army foothold in MOSCOW had been lost however with headquarters Moscow Front moving back to GORKY.
Western Front meanwhile was preparing to launch Operation Mars using OREL as the main springboard, but also TULA, with BRYANSK and SEPUKOV as objectives. 5 Reserve Corps were available for this operation, including 60 Guards Tank Corps and 24 Guards Mechanised Corps.
What the Regrouping Means
Until this part of the campaign, I had been inspired by Frank Chadwick’s Bathtub Barbarossa campaign, and indeed his approach had been instrumental in producing a maneagable campaign, particularly his Europa series of hex-grid maps.
Frank’s campaign scaled everything down 25 times and instead of 3 German Army Groups invading Russia, he had 3 Corps and the whimsically named Klein Deutschland regiment. Initially, I followed that approach. The time had come though to introduce a more satisfactory (for me that is, nothing wrong with the way Frank did it) scaling system. I kept the original orders of battle but downsized each unit by 3 levels of command, representing an Infantry division with an NQM-sized infantry battalion.
It worked for me, but from this point on, the war diaries will have a fracture in them The 3 Far Eastern Corps will disappear to be replaced by their historical units. This last statement is only true to a point, because the NQM Barbarossa campaign has departed somewhat from history already. Proir to this post, all of the battles had been fought using my 20mm collection. In fine Soviet style, all previous shots of my 15mm collection have been assembled after the event for illustrative propaganda purposes!
May 1942 – The Red Army Regroups
End of the Winter Offensive
Everywhere along the front, the Fascists have been fought to a standstill. The prime aim of summer operations must be to recover MOSCOW from the enemy. To this end, pressure must be ceaseless along the line to distract the enemy from this goal. Commanders must expect to conduct these operations with the resources that they have to hand, as the strategic reserve will be committed to the Moscow Front.
The aim of summer operations is to cut off LENINGRAD from the SOUTH and to relieve KRONSTADT
The vital rail junction of VISHNY VOLCHEK is to be seized and denied to the Fascists.
Around MOSCOW the front may have to adopt a temporary defensive posture until the strategic reserve can be deployed.
“NOT A STEP BACKWARDS” is to be the watchword for our brave troops. Even if they are surrounded our troops are to hold out until relieved.
The Front is to attack NORTHWEST to SEPUKOV and TULA. The Fascists are to be driven out in order to relieve pressure on the Moscow Front. The enemy is to be allowed no respite. The winter gains at OREL are to be held and further exploited.
KHARKOV is to be recaptured and links are to be restored with Southern Front. The winter gains made at BRYANSK are to be consolidated.
The winter gains are to be held and further exploited.
April 1942 – The Spring Thaw Arrives
Operation Saturn Continues
Second Far Eastern Corps discovers that elements of the elite Gross Deutschland Regt is holding the Kremlin. It is briefly taken, but counterattacks by the defender drive the our Heroic Troops back out of the Citadel.
1st Cavalry Corps attacks to the South of MOSCOW, using Front level bridging equipment to cross the RIVER MOSKVA in an attempt to isolate troops in MOSCOW. A battle ensues in which the Fascist recce screen is driven in with heavy losses and he is forced to commit tank reserves to restore his battle line to the South of MOSCOW. Despite the most valiant efforts of our cavalry, steel prevails against horseflesh.
A Setback to the South of Moscow
Commander Moscow Front (Marshall of the Soviet Union ZHUKOV) elects to push his Mechanised reserves into the battle for the KREMLIN, rather than push them around the flanks of MOSCOW. At first it seems as if this strategy will succeed, but the Fascists rally with what must surely be their last reserves. The offensive halts as armoured troops drive 1st Cavalry Corps back over the RIVER MOSKVA before the Spring rains make movement impossible.
The Second Battle for Tula
37 Rifle Bde press home the advantage gained earlier in winter and pursue the defeated Fascists back to OREL. To their North, 36 Rifle Bde presses rapidly forward, but is destroyed by an ambush in close country in a loop of the river to the East of KALUGA. In their hasty pursuit of the Fascists to OREL, the commander of 37 Rifle Bde gambles on leaving TULA un-garrisoned. To his dismay, the Fascists re-infiltrate, and retake TULA. At his court martial he offers no defence and is executed.
January 1942 to the end of March 1942 – The Winter Offensive Bites
Operation Saturn Continues
Second Far Eastern Corps attacks the suburbs of MOSCOW from the East, gaining toe-holds in the city from which they cannot be dislodged by the Fascists. Two brigades of 2 FE Corps’ three brigades are rendered ineffective, having been fought to a standstill. As the depth of winter bites, 1 FE Corps fights its way into the city suburbs, gaining ground and forcing back the enemy. Objective line MALINKOV, 1/3 of the way through the city is reached. Prisoners are captured from 4th and 5th Infantry Regiments – the first time that numbers of Germans have been captured..
On the Southern approaches to MOSCOW, Mech Bn, 4 Gds TK Bde attacks the perimeter held only by engineers and second-line troops. Fresh reinforcements from the West prevent our heroic guards from breaking into MOSCOW as March wears on the whole of the MALINKOV objective line is reached, until only the Kremlin remains in Fascist hands on the East bank of the RIVER MOSKVA.
Soviet Mechanised Bn forming up to attack MOSCOW
February 1942 – Second Moscow, Tula and Second Kharkhov
The Second Battle for Moscow
Heavy attacks commence all along the line, driving in outlying Fascist armoured troops to the East of MOSCOW. 5 Gd Motor Rifle Bde makes good progress 4 Gd Mech Bde fights its way up to the airfield to the South of MOSCOW but finds it held by dug-in engineers. The attack halts in the face of deteriorating weather and plummeting temperatures.
The Battle for Tula
36 and 37 Rifle Bdes attack STALINGORSK, which is found to be undefended and TULA. 37 Rifle Bde becomes enmeshed in heavy fighting to the North of TULA itself, and is unable to outflank TULA. 36 Rifle Bde is thrown into the battle and tips the balance, taking the town. This battle is notable for the use of Fascist heavy bombers (He111s) used in failed attempts to break up our heroic attacks. Frantic air activity is observed as the Fascists abandon the airfield at TULA and retreat North to MOSCOW.
The Second Battle for Kharkhov
Third and Thirteenth Corps attack KHARKHOV. Elements of LV Corps have been identified. The attack presses forward with heavy casualties on both sides. KHARKHOV remains contested as the Fascists pour in extra reserves.
December 1941 – The Winter Offensive Begins
Operation Saturn is Launched
Far Eastern Reserves had now been mustered in sufficient strength to contemplate going on to the Offensive. The CENTRAL FRONT was created under Marshall ZUKOV. His forces comprised 3 Corps: 1 Corps(FE), 2 Corps(FE) and 1 Cavalry Corps. As soon as the ground froze hard, a general offensive was launched on MOSCOW. Progress was slow but methodical and soon troops had penetrated the outskirts of MOSCOW..
VLADIMIR fell in early December, and as the bomber offensive built up along the front, a panzer regiment was discovered and bombed heavily. Recce flights a week later discovered no troops in the area, but many destroyed tanks. MOSCOW airfield was also bombed heavily, preventing the Luftwaffe from taking advantage of it as a base for operations.
By late December, 7 Tk Div had pushed forward to the outskirts of MOSCOW, in order to secure a start line for the attacks that were being planned for January.
The Line Holds at GIROVKA
Isolated infantry on the GIROVKA RIDGE between KHARKOV and ROSTOV repulse pincer movements from Italians attacking from the North, and Romanians attacking from the South. This battle was notable for the heroic ambushes carried out by partisans against the lightly defended outskirts of GROVKA.
November 1941 – Fascists held at Gorki and Battle for Kharkhov
The Battle for Ivanovo/Gorki
Far Eastern reserve divisions muster on the line of IVANOVO/GORKI. 7 Far East Tank Div (equipped with 1 T34 & 3 T60s) and 3 Rifle Div(FE) hold firm against a thrust by Fascist Tanks against GORKI, now identified as 1 Pz Div. At IVANAVO to the North, 28 Rifle Div(R) held off attacks against Fascist motorised infantry. After a tense battle, during which the Hitlerites broke into GORKI but were driven out again by a counterattack from 7 Tk Div(FE), the enemy withdrew to VLADIMIR.
The Battle for Kharkov
KHARKOV is lost to the Fascists with great loss of life after heavy artillery bombardments and 5 successive assaults against the city. Even heroic attempts by our flyers operating from improvised airfields close to the front failed to stop the overwhelming barbarian hordes from plundering the once-beautiful city.
October 1941 – Moscow Falls
The Battle for Moscow
MOSCOW falls at the end of October despite heroic efforts by the defenders and relieving forces. 29 Reserve Rifle Div breaks through to the airfield, but is cut off and destroyed. Similarly 28 Rifle Div(R) manages to win through to the eastern outskirts before being driven back and dispersed. The Red Airforce spares no effort to support the attacks, but is unable to prevent the inevitable.
September 1941 – Moscow Holds
The Battle for Moscow
MOSCOW is defended by the cream of the Red Army and Morale is high. The valiant civil population cheerfully build extensive earthworks in front of the city. 19 Rifle Div bears the brunt of the initial attacks in the West and holds firm. Heavy tank and Guards infantry attacks from the North drive in 4, 5 and 6 Militia Rifle Bdes that have been hastily formed from factory workers. The city comes under incessant Stuka attack, and is soon surrounded by tanks and motorised infantry. 2 Paratroop Bde acting as infantry defends the Southern suburbs and the airfield. The decision is taken to evacuate the Government and War Cabinet before the encirclement is complete. Reserve forces are ordered to move West from the interior to join the battle. The Rasputitsa may yet come to the aid of the Capital.
August 1941 – Smolensk Falls
The Battle for Smolensk
SMOLENSK is bravely defended to the last by 23 Rifle Div against all odds. Having fought off tanks and mechanised infantry throughout August, SMOLENSK falls to heavy infantry attacks. A heavy toll is inflicted on the Hitlerites, and resourceful pockets of our infantry fight their way East, avoiding capture. Alas, numbers of our troops who are not sufficiently inspired by socialist zeal traitorously surrender themselves to the enemy.
July 1941 – Smolensk Holds Out
The Battle for Smolensk
SMOLENSK Fights off the treacherous invader against all odds. Fighting off tanks and mechanised infantry, 23 Rifle Div causes such heavy casualties to the Fascist vipers that they will rue setting foot on the sacred soil of Mother Russia.
June 1941 – Fascist Hitlerites Treacherously Attack Bialostok and Grodno
Our forces are resisting fiercely on all fronts, contact has been lost with 10 and 12 Rifle Divs. The last message received from the headquarters 12 and 13 NKVD Coys in GRODNO was “We are being overrun by Fascist Hitlerite Infantry. We shall stand and die to the last man. For the Motherland”
June 1941 – Minsk Falls.
13 Rifle Div , and 2 Arty Bde are overrun and destroyed 10Km in front of BARANOWICZE. Enemy is halted by 14 Rifle Div in front of BARANOWICZE itself at the end of June. As the Fascists stream through gaps in the defences, contact is lost with 14 and 15 Rifle Div, 3 Atk Div, and 3 and 4 Tank Divs. Eventually contact is lost too, with Western Military District HQ.