Not having Doomed Battalions has been a bother... I had wanted to do a SASL-CG for a unit from the start of the war to the end (naturally this meant choosing the Germans), but after a number of SASL games against the Allied Minors I was not interested in using small pieces of paper to fill in for the AFVs and Guns that were not included in The Last Harrah. Thus I have chosen to use the 26th Infanterie-Division for my unit since they were not involved in any fights against the minor powers.
For references I have used Feldgrau.com
Fall Gelb: The Invasion of France
12th June, 1940
Our humiliation at being held in laager whilst the rest of the Wehrmacht fought in Poland had been compounded by being forced to be in reserve for the routing of France. I understand that all the men were disgruntled and it is perhaps for this reason that we were set loose today in our first combat action of this short and decisive war.
With the German armies flying across the French countryside many enemy soldiers had been left behind, it had come to Divisions attention that just such a force was massing behind the nearby river using the thick woods as cover. We were to make a dangerous River Assault (#17) right under their noses and then take and hold the road embankment that would allow us to have control over a nearby bridge that our Pioneers were in the process of making. When we gathered our stout-hearted troops and told them of their mission... what a cheer they raised! It does a man good to be in such company!
I was tasked with the initial crossing and the capture of a few farmhouses that promised to be guarded well but the river crossing was un-opposed and all the locations previously scouted out and noted as enemy positions proved to be empty. Maybe the French had seen the Lt MTR and MG positions we had set up on our side of the river and decided that withdrawal was the better part of valour. My men and I hunkered down and set up our perimeter, when the ATRs and MTR came across the river I was tasked with setting them up too. I was especially hampered by the lack of clear killing ground, we would essentially be blind to any attack until the last minute.
Before I could complete my preparations the rest of the force had come and to my right, deep in the woods, I could hear the sound of gun-fire. Later one of the Sergeants told me that his platoon had come upon a few French tanks and had come off second best. The enemy had also covered the single road that led through the woods with multiple foxholes and MG positions. Eventually these were all subdued, though with the loss of men, material and time.
Meanwhile it was obvious that the French were not going to give up without a fight. The CO, who was with our Hvy MG position, noted large masses of the enemy moving towards us through the forests; these men were gunned down as they came, but they pushed up against our perimeter time and time again! If they were led with more co-ordination I am sure that we would not have been able to hold our ground. Finally the attacks slackened and the only movements were of soldiers running away from us rather than towards us! In the action I had lost a Lt MTR and an LMG to burnt-out barrels, while a persistent sniper had managed to eliminate an ATR crew.
German Victory (64:18)
Mapboards 40, 5, 8
CG Score: 1
Barbarossa: The Invasion of Russia
24th June, 1941
Finally! After a year of battling nothing more dangerous than a hangover we have again been allowed to do our duty for the Fatherland under the command of Heeresgruppe Mitte, 3rd Panzergruppe, VI Armeekorps.
With the glorious invasion of the Bolshevik homeland to take back what is rightfully ours, our company had been assigned a most difficult task. With the Panzers leading the way the Russian lines were smashed in many places, but then the Armour went flying off leaving behind whole masses of Russian Infantry. We had been assigned to clean up one of these Pockets (#2) as they cowered behind a swift flowing river; I feel especially proud that the Divisional CO asked for our Company in particular due to our successes last year in France.
The mission started off well; the river crossing was easily achieved in the early dawn and many of the initial suspected Russian positions proved to be empty. Finally we had been able to ascertain that the enemy was concentrated in 3 clusters of units. The good news was that they were not able to mutually support each other, the bad news was that with just a single company we had to split up into 3 attack groups since time was of the essence. Our scouts did not fare so well and at times our marksmanship was very poor but eventually all but a solitary Communist squad were able to be captured or eliminated. The enemy put up more of a fight than I had expected but proved their inferiority to our brave troops when they were finally forced to undergo prolonged attack.
Although it looked like we were going to be severely hurt, especially by the central defenders who were entrenched and well led, in the end we only lost an ATR crew - HQ has said that we shall have to wait for replacements. I have also had to take to task #2 Squad again, they are no better than conscripts and have again proved to be brittle under fire, this is a shameful blemish on an otherwise impressive day for us and for the Fatherland.
German Victory (35:6)
Mapboards 40, 17
CG Score: 2
13th July, 1941
We are pushing deeper into the Russian lands, able to advance slower than the Russians are retreating! In fact by the time that we have set up an attack the enemy have often already started to surrender or, even worse, made some suicidal charge at us. At least today we had a real fight!
We had been pushing towards an old airfield, one of our spotter planes had noted it was surrounded by heavy defences, our company had been detailed to attack and take the field and the defenders. Because the photographs indicated we would be up against some static positions HQ offered us Pioneers and Panzers for Bunker Busting (#4). To our great surprise we received a Platoon of Assault Engineers and a pair of sIG IB's - this scared us more than anything... what were we expecting to face?
The fight was initially easy, as usual the poorly trained Communists were no match for the Fatherland's Soldiers, but once we got closer to the airfield the defence stiffened. Most of the pillboxes were no threat due to their facing the wrong direction, but a single fortified building manned by 2 platoons of Russians held up the entire Right Flank of our attack. Eventually 150mm HE shots from an SPG managed to obliterate both halves of the building and annihilate the occupants, but even that wasn't able to stop a booby trap (RE12) from killing a Lt. MTR crew. With that building's fall a Pioneer unit was able to avenge the loss of some of their comrades with a single well-placed FT shot!
Through the centre came the main thrust of our forces and mopping up the static Russian units was little worry until their spine suddenly stiffened and a series of Close Combats erupted all over the battlefield. Generally we came out victorious but 2 entire squads were wiped out in separate incidences where the Barbarians proved too strong. With our MG's taking the lead under the watchful eyes of our Company Commander we finally managed to leapfrog our way forward with ease, even a concealed .50cal nest firing at the CO's platoon as they moved across the open field was not able to stop us!
The Engineers biggest scare came when they stumbled upon a tank (later identified as a T-28E M40 - it looked more like a battleship with its multiple turrets) hiding in a Stone Building... the poor marksmanship of its crew as they tried to deal with 5 separate weapons meant that they lasted no time at all against the elite troops.
In my case I was able to distinguish myself by personally leading the close combat capture of 3 whole squads of the enemy, as well as leading the initial attack on the central positions.
German Victory (176:18)
Mapboards: 38, 4
CG Score: 3
Losses: 2x 467, 248, 3x 127
Changes: 8-1 promoted to 9-1
467, 3x 127 received as replacements
5th August, 1941
It is hot! Unbelievably hot! But at least someone in Division has forgotten to move the chess pieces around meaning we have had a few days of nothing but lying in whatever shade we could find. The locals are remarkably friendly and after some initial hesitation they have been supplying us with small amounts of food and even some wine on occasion. I really feel that when we have finished subjugating the Bolsheviks this will be an ideal place to settle and start a small farm. God knows they could do with some good German ingenuity, cleanliness and culture.
We had been roused just before our afternoon naps to be told by the local town chief that isolated Pockets (#2) of resistance had been found in the local area and we were asked to clean them up. These people hold little love for their former masters and each day brings us more support from them. Shouldering arms we marched the 2 hours to a very large but isolated farm surrounded by grain fields. Through the binoculars evidence of Russian soldiers could be seen, so we stealthily set up our 50mm Mtr's and MG's and waited for the attack command.
Two areas of resistance were found but they fell quickly with no loss to us, the troops were little more than malnourished conscripts. The highlight was finding a Russian Colonel (6+1) hiding in a grainfield on the collective farm outskirts! He couldn't surrender fast enough, much to the annoyance of the seemingly experienced troops with him. We were back home before nightfall and there I found that my Iron Cross 2nd Class had come through! On a less cheerful note we still have yet to receive replacements for the Squads we lost a few months ago...
German Victory (31:0)
Mapboards: 33, 12
CG Score: 4
Changes: 8-0 promoted to 8-1
467 HOB to 468, 2x 447 Harden to 467
25th August, 1941
Day after day we march deeper into the lands of Russia. We came across an abandoned factory complex today and it was a most eerie place with no guessing what it held. We had passed some SS troopers earlier and they seemed happy that we were marching through the deserted streets first.
As it turned out the streets were not deserted at all.
We came across a Russian Patrol (#8) and immediately the silence was broken by the sound of gun-fire and Russian screams. We feared that we were to be totally out-numbered, (though certainly not outclassed!) but this was not to be. The discipline of our troops came to the fore as we spread out and set up the MGs for grazing fire down the main thoroughfares, eventually we were able to make it to the top floor of some office building and from there did great execution.
The MTRs were placed in the centre to cover a small copse of trees in some sort of playground and the ATR were quickly positioned centrally and on the flanks in case of any armour counter-attack... something that proved fortuitous when a lone T-26 M33 came to investigate the fighting (by this time all hell had broken loose across an area of about a square kilometre; it seems to be some sort of Russian Defensive position). An ATR crew engaged the tank and stunned it before they even knew what hit them! The next shot easily penetrated the thin armour and that was the end of that. Unfortunately this crew was killed when they got too close to a group off teenage soldiers well-led by an experienced Russian Army corporal. It took nearly 3 squads to subdue these brave men, thank God the Russians don't have many who fight like that!
I took our 2 most experienced squads with LMGs and was tasked to break through a series of workshops and capture what seemed to be a small storage area before heading on to the main resistance in a large accommodation block. Things went poorly at first when I was pinned down in the middle of a road by a sneaky long-range snap shot, but eventually I was able to lead the final assault on what remained of their force, about 40 men whose morale had broken... We ended up taking nearly 100 prisoners, though these were rounded up and taken by the SS units (RE# 34-36) who had followed us - they were too late to help, but I am sure the prisoners will make them look like real soldiers!
We were ordered to pull back where some warm soup and bread was waiting for us, along with a squad's worth of some of our brothers who had been wounded over the past months. They had come back to us and we toasted their arrival with soup and song!
German Victory (52:2)
Mapboards: 20, 21
CG Score: 5
Changes: 9-1 promoted to 9-2
2x 467 Harden to 468
468, 127 received as replacements
28th August, 1941
I have had no chance to even think about writing for a few days now as our gains have had to be consolidated.
It seems that the patrol we met just a few short days ago was from an encircled Russian Division. Before we had managed more than a few hours sleep we had received orders to return to the site of the battle and dig-in; we were even allocated a pair of IeIG18 Infantry Guns to put some back-bone in our defence. By the time we returned to what can now be called the 'front-line' the night was aflame with Artillery fire and the occasional flare. Under the cover of darkness we lay down the lines of what eventually turned into a formidable defensive position.
Under a day and a half of sporadic enemy artillery fire we had managed to dig in a whole mine field covering the edge of no-man's land while sighting the Infantry Guns and MG positions on the anticipated axis of attack. A couple of the men set to and made some bunkers from the wealth of lumber and metal found in the abandoned warehouses and workshops. Ivan was going to find this nut too tough to crack if he decided to come at us.
Finally this morning the artillery targeted our sector with a frantic barrage; though it was of very short duration as the enemy must have been close to scraping the bottom of his barrel by now... Then there were the first signs of the brown shirted infantry rushing towards us through the streets and houses. Intelligence had warned us of the full break-out attempt being focussed on our sector, but as it turned out the Enemy Offensive (#9) was focussed elsewhere. What few troops were sent against us were cut to pieces by mines, MGs or the Guns. Unfortunately we also had some casualties when the drunken Russians managed to get close enough to engage our men in Close Combat. When we were finally allocated some artillery of our own (RE# 32) it was all over... the few stragglers were hunted down and captured with no further loss to us.
I had been charged with the holding of our Right flank, and this allowed me to direct our MMG to great effect, though unfortunately it's barrel burnt out and the replacement was faulty... I decided to hold the position and continue to act as a forward scout.
Luckily our casualties were easily patched up and we have already received our orders to move out and further harass the enemy. The Captain has mentioned in dispatches one of the men (8-0 HOB) from 4th Platoon who captured a forward artillery observer.
German Victory (38:2)
Mapboards: 20, 21, 23
CG Score: 6
Losses: 2x 247
Changes: 9-1 promoted to 9-2, 8-0 gained through HOB
447 Harden to 467, 467 Harden to 468
467 received as replacement
9th September, 1941
With the fall of the factory complex we have been tasked with clearing up the remaining Pockets (#2) of resistance within the encircled area. Everywhere we have been in the past week we have seen nothing but smashed equipment and scattered Russian dead. Even more cheering than this has been the long lines of enemy prisoners; their spirits seems shattered and their Úlan as soldiers has gone - without a doubt this has been a great victory that we have gloriously participated in. A Panzer commander told us only yesterday that there might be nearly half a million Russian dead or captured while our losses might be measured only in the 10's of thousands!
Today we fought for a village nestled in a swampy valley. We expected the usual quick victory but unfortunately an ambush shattered our recon unit (247 KIA) as they made their way through over-ripe grain. This hardened us to the task ahead and we quickly set ourselves to eliminating the hold-outs in the hill-side village. With skilful use of fire and manoeuvre we pushed the enemy back to Hill 513 (Bd 41) where the battle was decided in our favour in no time at all as all enemy resistance seemed to slacken (RE #41) once we captured a high ranking officer.
Mortar teams A and B fought especially well, both of them managing to score some lucky hits at vital times. Our snipers were very active too and helped expose holes in what appeared to be a solid defence. Unfortunately we had again lost the use of a mortar team at an important time, I can only guess that poor maintenance is the cause; tiredness and long marches are no excuse for slackness in the Wehrmacht!
I have nothing but praise for our CO... In the final stages of the battle he, along with the HMG squad, suddenly rose up from their cover and finished off the final resistance with no concern for their own safety! All with them were likewise inspired by their heroic actions and I have no doubts that this action is deserving of the Knights Cross - with men such as these how can Germany ever fall?
German Victory (49:1)
Mapboards: 48, 41
CG Score: 7
Changes: 9-2 HOB to 10-3 (battle hardening and heroic), 8-0 Hardens to 8-1
467 Harden to 468
2x 248 received as replacements
17th September, 1941
Could this be the end of it...? Have we finally put an end to these days and nights of marching, fighting and slaughter? I have not written in my diary for over a week now as what little time I have had has been saved for checking my men's weapons and attempting to secure what little food and supplies I can find... sleep was all I had time for otherwise. But now it seems that there is enough of a lull, as we wait some promised transport to take us to the now-distant front line, for me to tell of the days fighting.
We were told to lead our men against suspected artillery positions deep in some unnamed woods. Intelligence had suggested that this area was not only the location of the pesky artillery fire that we have been harassed by over the past days, but also quite possibly the command centre for the Russian remnants in this pocket. All too often though, we have learnt that Communist commander hunting means Bunker Busting (#4). Luckily we were assigned a pair of StuG B's to assist us in this hide-and-seek game in the dense wooded area but the heavy fighting we have all endured over the past month left the guns of one of them in such a poor state that it had to withdraw, while the other found a 122mm howitzer at the cost of the lives of the panzer crew.
As the afternoon passed the fight grew more and more desperate; we were finding the guns and capturing/killing the many high ranking officers but the men were so tired that their morale was failing at a rate that caused us leaders to waste much of our time rallying them to return to the battle - it was not that the Russians were fighting any harder - there were so many of them.
At one of the most desperate points in the fight we were lucky enough to start having other units join us... First a flank attack by some PanzerGrenadiers from an assault detachment (RE #53; 2x StuB B, 2x 548) dove into the heavily defended woods and managed to break up some stiff resistance, though again one of the StuGs had to withdraw due to the poor state of its weapons. Then the black-crows of the SS (RE #35; 4x 658 SS, LMG, 7-0) who usually just follow us as we do the real work joined in to help take out some stubborn bypassed defenders. Finally a detachment of AA guns towed by trucks (RE #25 2x Opel Blitz, 2xFlaK38) wandered into the battle area, they were set to the task of guarding the important forest roads against surprise attacks.
We were not the only ones to be getting some reinforcements. As we were mopping up the last of their positions a platoon of T37's blundered into the battle (RE# 44) but they were dispatched with little fuss since they waltzed straight into the sights of the lone remaining StuG. One of them was even claimed by the Company CO as he directed his MGs against their poor armour.
In all we captured a whole complex of entrenchments, bunkers and fortified buildings as well as over 200 prisoners and 5 guns (4x ART, 1x AT) while 4 high ranking officers (4x 6+1) were KIA or captured.
On a sad note I must write of the loss of my good friend Walter. He was leading his men towards the StuG-killing 122mm howitzer when he attacked an enemy position in close combat. Although he and his men managed to kill the Russian troops they were also killed in the fight (9-1, 468), this is even more tragic considering his earlier exploits in the battle would have led to a battlefield promotion (8-1 HOB to 9-1). His men and I feel the loss deeply.
German Victory (233:16)
Mapboards: 17, 5 (lengthways)
CG Score: 8
468, 247, 127
Changes: 9-2 Hardens to 10-2
2x 467 Harden to 468
468, 248 and 127 received as replacements
1st October, 1941
The toll of the constant battles shows everywhere, the trucks that had been sent to take us to the front line were a shambles and constantly breaking down. We passed massed parks of vehicles under repair or being sent to the rear for re-smeltering into new Panzers and we passed buildings, tents and train stations full of the wounded being evacuated or patched up to be returned to the fray. This would have been depressing were it not for the long, long, long lines of Soviet prisoners were were also passing; one of the transport drivers said that they were to be sent back to the Reich for use in Labour Battalions - I am sure that they will find life better there than they did under their old masters. Even more amazing are the huge graveyards of Russian tanks, if all I saw was just from our sector then the massive reserves the Russians once had must be close to rock-bottom by now!
We had a surprise break to the days of monotonous driving today when we were stopped by an Armoured Car section near an imposing Collective Farmhouse. There have been reports of bypassed Red Army soldiers and foolish villagers banding together into 'Partisan' units and some of these Partisans had taken over the farm and possibly killed the Signals unit that had set up there... we were asked to assist in the capture of the building and then Recon (#2) through the woods and beyond.
Stretching their stiff limbs half the men unloaded from their Opel Blitz's and set up the HMG/MMG; the other half were to rush past the building and beyond in the trucks. We had another lucky break when the Signal Section's vehicular support came along and assisted us (RE# 2: 2x SPW 250/9, SPW 250/7) though as it turned out they were of little use to us in the battle as their Gun's barrels had been so worn down from the constant fighting that they spent much of their time attempting to patch them up.
The farmhouse took some time to reduce, it was indeed over-run by these Partisans, they had massacred our men here and as a result we showed them No Quarter in the bloody afternoon's battle. The lower hall of the building was housing a 37* INF Gun and this, along with a fortified set of rooms took quite some time to capture. An SPW 250/7 managed to sneak past the defenders and attack some Russians around an important wooded crossroads (Bd 34) but when we tried to do the same with a truck it was fired upon with some success and ended up Immobilised. The biggest battles we faced were at the collective farm and then later in the low rolling hills (Bd 11) where we took some time to eliminate a 37L AT Gun in a stone building protected by some infantry... this battle took nearly a whole platoon's efforts to settle in our favour - for peasant farmers the gunners were amazingly accurate... the position was only reduced thanks to some frantic close combat. Unfortunately one of our Squads lost their NCO in this battle (467 ELR to 447).
We passed through some hills, then over a river's bridge to face the next set of defenders, again we managed to capture a pair of important buildings and check out another (this time unoccupied) Collective Farmhouse before regiment signalled for us to stop playing around and keep moving to the front. With just a few defenders left, admittedly occupying some important terrain (5 VPO worth), we broke off the action and reboarded our trucks... as we drove off the sound of the remaining Partisans getting hammered by MG and 20L gun-fire could be heard for miles.
My driver tells me that we are headed for the Moscow area, he said that the Panzer-waffen claim this upcoming battle will decide the whole campaign and are pushing for it to be carried out as soon as possible, but for some reason the Heeresgruppe Mitte commanders keep changing their objectives.
German Victory (72:5)
Mapboards: 6(1), 34(1), 11(1), 3, 19, 40(2), 17, 6 - Superscript = VPOs on board
CG Score: 9
Losses: LMG (replaced)
13th October, 1941
The further North-East we move the colder it has become, and once we crossed the Volga we hit so much rain that mud is starting to impede our progress. Despite the rain we are continuing our Pursuit (#15) of the enemy as they collapse everywhere we hit!
As our company is one of the few with a nearly full complement we were put to the vanguard of the chase and this led us into dealing with the fanatics who had been left behind to trade their lives for our time. As has been so often the case of late the enemy just melted away as soon as we met them (AC# 2).
We had split the Company in two and were sending them down parallel roads to deal with the Russians. I was leading the attack down the road with the least expected resistance, the Captain was leading from the front down the other road but it seems that the Russians had led the Captain and his men into a trap because as they were clearing up an 82mm MTR pit 80mm Artillery started ripping into their ranks (RE# 33) - it was only the Captain's leadership that managed to pull the men together. This was, as usual, the only real challenge we have faced... and although we did allow some of the retreating units to escape there is no doubt at all that Final Victory is close at hand - the Soviets are reduced to a running rabble.
As we were mopping up the last of their routing defenders we had a funny sight as a wagon guarded by some type of AA truck (RE# 16: Wagon, GAZ-4M_AA, S?) came trundling towards us... the AA truck charged a lone squad in the open terrain, but our men held their nerve until the last minute and sent the (no-doubt inebriated) driver to his doom... the wagon and it's old men were easily accounted for.
I have just been informed that my papers for promotion have finally come through and I have been bumped up a whole grade! We also feel that we have been able to find another possible leader for the men and have promoted accordingly (8-0 created).
German Victory (51:5)
Mapboards: 11, 13, 37
CG Score: 10
Changes: 8-1 Promoted to 9-1
8-0 gained through CC Leader Creation roll
447 Battle Hardens to 467
127 received as replacement
25th October, 1941
It is becoming so cold - when we heard that we were to be attacking a small city on our way to attacking the city of Rzhev we were over-joyed, at last a chance to escape the cold of the open terrain. Unfortunately we had no idea how hot today would get!! There was some inkling of what was ahead; the arrival of a section of Combat Engineers (2x 838, 2x DC, FT, 8-1) was a sobering sight, even more sobering was the offer of Assault Gun support - the Major refused that feeling that we were up to the task. It was when we sat down to receive our orders that we realised the job ahead. It seems that the enemy had set up a series of linked defences based upon the city areas... a "Block Party" (#7) the Major called it. We were to move in and bust open those blocks... the Engineers had been sent to help us because scout sorties reported booby traps (Level B) in many of the buildings.
As soon as we entered the battle it hit us that this was going to be harder than anything we had met before. One of our 50mm MTR crews was immediately neutralised from a Maxim nest in the upper floor of an apartment block and another was rendered useless when they gave up the fight (Fate). The intensity of the intended defence was shown by 2x 45L AT Guns, 2x 76* INF Guns and an SU-76m (luckily its weapon failed on its first attempted shot) guarding the very roads our Panzers would have navigated along. Every buildings seemed to be bristling with guns (AC #4) and the enemy Snipers also hit us at every opportunity (SAN 6 - eliminated 127, 248)
Unfortunately it was the lack of leadership that caused us so many problems early on, both the Major and the Sergeant succumbed to shellshock - they have been in the field leading from the front for so long, it was bound to happen, but the effects on the men were very nearly catastrophic. By the time they had recovered the Captain and I had cleared both wings of our attack leaving only the centre for the recovered Major.
As we managed to clear the main areas of enemy activity (as usual the poor quality troops fell apart quickly under our fire discipline) we heard that a PzGr Sturm Platoon (4x 548, 8-0 - RE# 35) was being sent to assist us, that there were some concerns about the speed of our advance! Luckily I was too busy with dealing with yet another suspected gun position to express my feelings fully...
As for myself I am ashamed to admit that I also succumbed to fear in the battle and ran away from the enemy - there were so many of them, we would clear one block and the next would be waiting for us full of fresh troops. We had managed to make it to a huge graveyard in the middle of the city and I was pushing along the Northern edge of our allocated area... when entering a wooden building I saw a Russian Lieutenant and his men ready to fight us and in the face of their SMGs I ran and took my men with me. My only consolation is that the Major (in one of the tallest buildings covering us with the MGs) and the Captain (who was engaging a 37L AT Gun in the Rowhouses on the edge of the graveyard) were not endangered by my own un-manly fear.
The battle raged all afternoon and despite our advances we are unable to progress as far as we had hoped... we even received Stuka support (RE# 06) but when that failed to dislodge the crazed Bolsheviks we were told to pull back. Although we had won the battle (the Russians are withdrawing as fresh German companies are entering the attack) it seems that the enemies resolve is solidifying just like the icy terrain.
German Victory (27:11)
CG Score: 11
Losses: 458, 248, 3x 127
Changes: 237 to 247 - HOB battle hardening
8-0 gained through CC Leader Creation roll
26th October, 1941
Even with the constant sound of battle it was easy to fall asleep, but to be woken as the dawn was breaking to the same sounds... to be also told that the "Block Party" (#7) was continuing and we were invited to attend again... well that just caused a tight ball to form in my gut.
It seems that Ivan had withdrawn, but just to new positions; he was now in the buildings (farmhouses, storage halls and workrooms) on the edge of town - one more push and the town was ours... A glance at the map showed that this quick push was going to be across open ground against men in stone and wooden buildings and that neither AFV nor Engineer Support was available... that ball in my gut was getting heavier by the minute.
Things started off well, the tired Russians had left a number of small holes in their defence (which was centred around a large multi-story building) but until we reduced the defenders in the main building we were going to be getting no-where. Our Support Crews were getting slaughtered by unusually accurate fire as they probed the enemy lines and quickly we became bogged down. Our predicament became so much worse when the Major was wounded by sheer bad luck (Fate), Pinning his men and leaving him in dire straights. Although the men had battled into the main building and had almost claimed the lower floors our attack had slowed down to such a degree that we were not sure we could keep it up. A push for a bridge to the outskirts of town also slowed when our recently promoted Sergeant was mortally wounded just prior to a crazed rush into Close Combat by the Russians which managed to wipe out a whole Squad. The enemy too seemed to have had enough as they appeared to slacken their defence (RE 43: AC# 3), their losses had been horrendous but their endless supply of men is worrisome.
By the time that we had cleared out the main building (22G6) the Russians had seen enough and withdrew, but even that was unusual - we are used to Routs, not withdrawals. Taking stock of the situation we were in shock and hastily prepared to give our fallen a decent burial. We had barely won this battle and a number of things had become clear.
- The Russians seemed to have decided to stand and fight, but somehow they have also managed to find the men to do it too.
- We are at our limit; rations are irregular and being so close to the front and constantly pushing forward against the weather and enemy is taking it's toll on us and our equipment (again we had too many weapons breakdown during the battle and the men's morale is so brittle).
In just 2 days of heavy fighting in this city we have lost nearly a quarter of our Company and all of our support crews were badly mauled; city fights are madness against these crazed Communists and if we had more losses like that we will be in trouble, it is not easy to get reinforcements this far from home. We cannot push on like this, and even as I write this I can hear our wounded Major being patched up while having a discussion about when to dig in and wait for the Spring Offensive.
German Victory (12:11)
CG Score: 12
Losses: 468, 4x 127
8-0 (Succumbed to wounds)
Changes: 4x 127, 467 gained as replacements
MMG and LMG repaired
14th November, 1941
The ground has become so hard thanks to the icy weather, there is even the occasional scattering of snow falling too. It adds some silent beauty to the monotony of the endless marching but without our winter clothing allowance there is a some concern about how we are to manage the cold. We have been told that we are to dig in sooner than later, this is something we are all looking forward too, I have blisters upon blisters and the idea of a nice quiet bunker with a warm stove (my sergeant could scavenge up even a goose-down quilt if I asked it of him) is as close to heaven as I can imagine right now.
I am writing this by the light of a small fire we have built in what the men are now calling The Fortress (#6). It seems that this building has been holding up the advance for the past few days. After numerous attempts by other companies who suffered quite some losses, we were given the opportunity to capture it for 'Folk and Fatherland'! Unlike the previous attacks, which were assaults mounted in the daytime with a preparatory bombardment and armour support, we were tasked with a night infiltration and had a section of Pioneers attached to our ranks for the task. Preliminary recon allowed us to note the probable enemy positions but even we were surprised at how easily we infiltrated (AC# 2), from the masses of AT Guns we captured it seems as though Ivan had expected more Panzers!
We had been told to infiltrate the building and take out as many of the defenders nearby as possible before setting up a defensive cordon in preparation for for reinforcement. We were told to hold out until the other Companies could resume the attack in the morning. As it turned out we were able to send a runner back to HQ with new of our path through the enemy lines and even now there are sounds of fresh men coming in to bolster our position.
Mapboards: 22, 20
CG Score: 13
Losses: 248 127, HMG
Changes: 468, 467, 248, 3x 127 received as replacements - Company now up to full strength
I use a series of tables to decide the chance of Defensive or a Attack mission, likewise I also assign a chance of a Night mission as well.
21st November, 1941
What a difference a week makes! Now the snow is falling and the ground is becoming rock-hard due to the cold. We have been told to dig-in and hold out until the weather breaks - it seems that some General sitting in a nice warm office has decided that we can continue attacking even in this snow! Our positions are reasonably well prepared, through not ideally situated; we are dig-in between two copses of trees a short way behind a low running ridge... it would have been best for us to entrench right behind the ridgeline so our firelanes would be clear of these dense woods - but again I am certain that the same happy General is showing off his nice clean lines on a map! We were told to expect an Enemy Offensive (#9) so as soon as we reached this position we told the men to dig in as deep and as well as possible. Luckily someone in Regimental HQ recognised out plight and allocated us a pair of captured Russian AT Guns (2x 76L Pak36r).
The expected enemy attack came late this morning. The Russians dropped artillery on a part of our line and though there were no casualties it gave the men ample time to prepare a much warmer welcome for the Soviet soldiers than they anticipated.
We have had sporadic contact with their scouts over the past days but obviously the information they passed back was not of the best quality as the first wave blundered into a minefield we had placed in a forest thicket just in front of the Major's Command Post. However, while the first few contacts were spread all over our sector it was obvious that they were deliberately attacking towards the Command Post; this was a bit disquietening. Papers taken from one of the dead officers indicated that the the HQ (situated in an old stone shed right near the front lines) was indeed the focus of their attack.
As it is we totally dominated the battle, the enemy eventually gave up heart leaving the distant thickets littered with their dead as well as the burning remains of a few old tanks - how they managed to keep them safe from our Panzers I will never know. Commendation must be given to the Anti-tank Rifle teams as well as the attached AT Guns who accounted for a tank each.
I can also report with pride that I have been promoted a grade. The Major was kind enough to suggest that my support of the HQ today would have merited this promotion even if he had not asked for it before. I feel proud to be able to do my part for the glory of the Fatherland.
German Victory (11:0) - Control of 2 VPO
Mapboards: 16, 19, 18
CG Score: 14
Changes: 9-1 Promoted to 9-2. 8-1 Promoted to 9-1