Saturday, June 13, 2009

War Without Mercy, Kursk AAR #2, Oct '43

The clear skies over Russia disappeared in October. Heavy rains turned the ground to mud, or heavy mud throughout the theater:

Despite the windy seas and stormy skies, the Black Sea Fleet steamed into the Sea of Azov in the hopes of supporting the Crimean Offensive. Unfortunately, even the nearest axis unit was out of range from the fleet's guns. (According to the rules, naval forces can only provide fire support against units on beach, or in port hexes).

STAVKA's plan to inflict hammer blows against the German forces bogged down in the mud. While Soviet forces crossed the Donets River en-mass they couldn't catch the faster German units which were beginning to fall back across the boggy steppes.

Meanwhile on the CEN and NOR fronts, where the mud was thicker and deeper, no headway was made at all against the German defenses.

In Leningrad disaster struck. Once STAVKA felt enough combat power was built up within the city, it ordered the LEN Front to initiate offensive operations against the German lines. Unfortunately, the troops defending Leningrad were content sitting in their trenches and fighting positions. When called upon to attack, they panicked once they came under fire and fled--abandoning Leningrad in their flight. The "Spanish Division" had the honor of being the first Axis unit to march into Lenin's City.

As more Axis units marched into Leningrad, the permafrost up north thawed causing supply difficulties for the Finns guarding the border.

On the third week of October, the weather cleared, drying-out most of the ground within the theater. The Crimea, however remained soggy...

OKH ordered the nearest infantry corps into Estonia to contain the Soviet incursion. Meanwhile Soviet partisans gathered to disrupt rail traffic throughout this Baltic State.

Despite the muddy conditions, the Soviets advanced across the Crimea. Meanwhile on the mainland, German forces began an orderly withdrawal, in order to establish a defensive line along the Dnepr River.

As the German withdrawal continued OKH ordered 3 newly reconstituted Panzer Corps forward to conduct spoiling attacks against the Soviet advance. Soviet partisans were also active on both sides of the Dnepr in an attempt to hamper German rail movement.

Once the fields dried-out and armor replacements arrived, Koniev advanced against AGN's southern flank.

Concentrating his armor between the Dnepr and Dvina Rivers, Koniev slammed into the German positions. The Axis units however, held their ground but were slowly whittled-down.

Obsessed with recapturing Leningrad, STAVKA ordered another offensive, this time turning the guns of the Baltic fleet onto the Axis occupiers. The naval bombardment and heavy street fighting wiped out the tiny Spanish Division. However, the Finns stood firm and threw back the Soviet attackers with heavy casualties.

Supply lines reopened to the Finns lucky enough to be north of the Leningrad cauldron...
Throughout October the muddy ground hampered the movement of armored forces and reduced the effectiveness of air power. (In game terms this meant armored units couldn't utilize their exploitation movement, while "heavy mud" reduced all movement by 1/2. Attacks made by air power were also reduced).

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