"War is a drama, not a game of chess."
Gen Eisenhower

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Opening Battles

Stalin is supposed to have said that it takes a brave man to be a coward in the Red Army. After the first three scenarios of my campaign, I would say that it takes an even braver man to be an officer in the Red Army. After three battles, my company is down to about platoon size, and only one of the original officers is left in action. Although I didn’t have my camera available for these actions, I’ll try and describe them.

The first action was a little one, to welcome Lobachevsky, the new Jr. Lt. It was a Raid scenario, which the dice decided would be a POW Snatch/Listening Post raid. The terrain was mostly open, with fields on the Soviet entry edge, and a ruined factory in the middle of the board to serve as a main objective. To make it even more interesting, I decided that this would be a night scenario. After all, even a brand new Lt. knows that you don’t try to snatch a prisoner in broad daylight. In practical terms, this meant that I never really knew what forces the Germans had arrayed against me, as I never spotted all of the German blinds. There were, however, 4 A type blinds and 2 B type blinds. The good Lieutenant had a force of two platoons, 2xMMGs for light support, and 2x82 mm mortars off board. The Soviets won the scenario by bringing back a prisoner, and inflicted 21 casualties on the Germans. However, 1st platoon took 18 casualties and 2nd platoon took three casualties, for a 1:1 exchange rate. After battle events gave me 2 replacement rolls, for a total of 16 men. Given their light losses, 2nd platoon did not get any replacements. I arbitrarily decided that the start date for this campaign would be August 1941, so the date of the first engagement was August 17. Using the time progression method from TFL’s Charlie Don’t Surf campaign rules, it would be about two weeks until my next battle.

The second action took place on September 3, 1941 and was a full-scale company attack on a German held village. This time, the terrain was moderately heavy and the board looked like this:




Light Woods

Village (with road)

Light Woods

Light Woods



The village only comprised about 6-7 huts, but higher command must have wanted it badly. I say this because every support roll for the Russian forces came up positive. The attacking force was:

Platoons 1,2,3 (1&2 have a 50mm mortar)

Commissar Vlasov, Sr. Lt. Bartov, Jr. Lt. Lobachevsky

4x82mm mortars for off board support

3x T-28 tanks for armor support

3xMMG for light support

1x Engineer platoon consisting of 3xSMG squads with an officer

2x 45mm ATG.

These went up against a defending German force composed of:

2x Infantry platoons,

3x leaders

3x MMG

Off-Board Artillery and an FO team


1x Pz III

The battle plan was tried and true 1941 RKKA. Engineers on the left in the woods, infantry and tanks spread out and making an assault across open ground to get into the village. It was truly a battle of extremes. Commissar Vlasov went down in the very first exchange of fire, and Lobachevsky led at least four successful close assaults with 3 Platoon to bring the right wing of the attack into the village itself. Bartov got his platoon to move into the village later in the attack, and the company pushed the Germans out of the village and won the scenario. In the last shot of the game however, the retreating Pz III fired into one of the buildings, got one kill, and that was Sr. Lt. Bartov. While losses among the officers were bad, the losses among the men were as severe. 1 Platoon had 11 casualties, 2 Platoon had 6, and 3 Platoon had 9 men down. The support units were hit heavily as well, with 2 T-28s and 1 MMG lost. We counted 31 German bodies, and 1 StG III killed.

Die roll results for after the battle proved to be interesting as well. One of the officers improved his skills, and a die roll determined that would be Commissar Vlasov, who was not dead but only wounded. One of the officers won notice from the Company CO, and once again the die roll determined that the lucky man would be Vlasov. Captain Karpov put him in for the Combat Service Medal, but that was turned down by battalion HQ. The company was scheduled to get 15 replacements, but events would negate that result, as I will explain later. Nevertheless, after two hard battles there were two victories, even with my poor quality troops. Clearly, On to Berlin! was our rallying cry. Unfortunately, reality was about to visit the 537th Rifle Regiment via our third battle, which I will describe in the next post.

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