Wargaming in Hertfordshire

Sunday, 5 December 2010

PMZ Campaign: Eindhoven 2

Report from General Sclemm,
commanding First Parachute Army
The 2nd battle for Eindhoven, dated December 29th 1944
General Student has been transferred to the East front.
Upon taking command I placed my troops in heavy defences along the 'West Wall'.
In the centre of my position was a large lake. On the left was the 422nd Infantry Division and the 101st Pz Brigade with two companies of Jg Panzer IVs defending a ridgeline and wooded ground. On the right, on a ridge covering the main highway was a Kampfgruppe consisting of units of the 16th Luftwaffe Division with some Panthers of 101st Pz Brigade and some armoured engineers protected by minefields.

The attack began suddenly with no preliminary bombardment, the British obviously hoping to achieve surprise. Fortunately it was after dawn before the attack developed and we were fully alert. Armoured and infantry divisions attacked both sides of the lake directly into the accurate fire of our units. The British took massive losses, battalions streaming back to their start positions all along the line and both attacks grinding to a halt. We had taken few losses but all our units were fully engaged by the enemy.
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The view from behind the German positions. The 422nd Infantry Division and the 101st Pz Brigade on the left have driven back most of the attacking units. The 16th Luftwaffe on the right are under heavy attack. The British amphibious infantry are about to cross the lake.
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At this point a large force of infantry in amphibious vehicles advanced rapidly towards the lake. Our units were unable to respond to this move. The amphibious infantry moved across the lake, through and behind our positions, capturing the Korps headquarters. This precipitated a retreat all along the line and I have had to withdraw to the Rhine.

There were many British spotter planes overhead but luckily the dreaded Typhoons didn't make an appearance.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

PMZ Campaign: Brest Litovsk 2

Report from General Graser,
commanding Fourth Panzer Army
The second battle for Brest Litovsk, dated Dec 27th 1944
General Balck has been transferred to command Army group G and I have been appointed to command Fourth Panzer Army in his place. Fortunately there have been no major Soviet attacks in this area for 3 months which has given me time to reconstitute my forces.

I deployed the veteran 72nd infantry division on high ground dominating the main communications with their left protected by marshy ground, inpassable to vehicles. Their right was covered by elements of the newly arrived 254th infantry division with tanks from the 16th Panzer division which was in reserve.
The expected Soviet attack came just as the ground froze, making the marsh crossable and exposing the left of the 72nd. I immediately reinforced them with the JgElefants of Pz-Abt 512 and two companies of Jg Panthers, easily capable of stopping T34s.

After the usual massive artillery bombardment, a mass of Soviet tanks and infantry attacked our centre. Despite taking heavy casualties, the Soviets continued to attack, using a new type of T34 which appeared able to damage our vehicles. They also had large numbers of JSIIs, ISU152s and SU85s.
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The view from behind the German positions. The Soviets have overrun the 72nd Inf who are retreating back on their line of communication. The 16th Panzer are endeavouring to hold the line but have lost many of their tanks by this stage.
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Even with a gallant defence, eventually their numbers told and the 72nd were forced back, the 254th also giving way as they were in danger of being outflanked. Despite a valiant counterattack by 16th Pz Division, nothing could stop the tide of men and machines.
With this Soviet breakthrough in the centre, I ordered a strategic withdawal to my next defence line.

Friday, 3 December 2010

PMZ Campaign: Orleans 3

Report from General Obstfelder,
commanding First Army
The third battle for Orleans, dated December 24th 1944

General Knobelsdorff has been out of communication since his command centre was overrun on 17th December. Information on the battle is sketchy but it appears he deployed on a ridgeline with armour and infantry spread out along the front overlooking open ground. He had no heavy tanks available, but they were supported by two companies of Jg Pz4s.

The Americans attacked in mass and, while their lead units were forced back by accurate fire, the American airforce pounded our positions in great numbers, disrupting our front elements. Taking advantage of this, the Americans pushed forward with their second line and overran our forward positions, causing units all along the line to fall back. The Volkssturm units proved particularly unreliable.
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The view from behind the German positions. In the foreground, the German units are withdrawing, badly damaged. The American airforce are bombing the remaing units on the ridge while their troops at the rear are poised to break through.
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The Americans then committed their final reserve which punched though our line, overrunning the command centre and opening a wide corridor though our lines, precipitating the entire Korps to retreat. This in turn caused the First Army to withdraw to the river Seine.
I have been placed in command of First Army and am fortifying positions along the banks of the Seine with those units I have remaining.

PMZ Campaign: Soviet report

Ставка Главного Командования
Вооруженных Сил Союза ССР

STAVKA REPORT
Byelorussian Strategic Offensive
Report by Marshal Zhukov

The liberation of Byelorussia comprised three battles. Of particular significance was the preparatory phase during which we were able to draw off key defending units and mislead the enemy as to our intentions. By varying the strategic point of attack we were able to have the defenders misplace key units and enhance the value of our own attack units.

In the Battle of Bobruisk we faced a difficult initial combat to break into the enemy defences that were well anchored on hills and a lake while being fronted by wooded areas. Our tactical approach was to use tank formations on the clearer flanking areas and infantry assault teams in the central woods. The disadvantage was that we lost the option of synergy in mixing the combat arms and in general the approaches to the defences were too constricted by the choices made in developing our attack. Nevertheless, when able to close with the enemy we were able to overwhelm them and achieve a break-in. Particular note should be made of the efforts of the assault engineers who were highly successful in penetrating the enemy’s position. However, too much was asked of infantry that should be used to hold the ground seized and not enough use was made of the Tank Corps to fulfil the primary mission of taking objectives. From north to south the deployment was 9 Tank Corps, 18 Rifle Corps, 41 Rifle Corps, 130 Rifle Corps, 16 Tank Corps and 11 Tank Corps. However, the Rifle Corps entered combat sequentially making it easier for the defender to fend off our blows. Only in the north on the right flank did we have some success with 18 Rifle Corps and 9 Tank Corps making a coordinated attack. The key to this proved to be the attachment of the assault engineers with flamethrower tanks to 18 Rifle Corps and the use of follow-up units behind the main attack of both 18 Rifle Corps and 9 Tank Corps that could prevent successful counter-attacks. In classic military style the commitment of the final reserve could not be countered by the enemy who had been forced to commit all already. The northern wing troops were eventually able to prise open the defences and force the enemy opposing them to retire and that then caused the Hitlerite army to retreat for 125 kilometres. During this retreat the enemy was forced to abandon much equipment and as a result we have obtained examples of his most recent anti-tank guns and tank destroyers. These could be seen to be formidable developments as shown by his capacity to hold off our left flank attack with a single group of tank destroyers that were able to disable our tanks at extreme range.
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The break-in arising from the first battle then led to the Battle of Minsk. On this occasion the terrain was advantageous to us in being mainly clear with a wood and hills on the right, a village on the left and woods in the enemy’s flanking rear areas. This gave us the opportunity to develop a broad attack with each unit being able to readily support neighbouring units and enabled extensive firepower to be deployed as enemy positions were uncovered, quickly bringing suppressive fire down to disrupt his positions. Deployment from north to south was 18 Rifle Corps and 16 Tank Corps to assault the woods and hills on the right, 11 Tank Corps in the centre, 9 Tank Corps and 130 Rifle Corps on the left to seize the village and advance along the line of communications. Each tank corps was reinforced with an attached heavy-weapon gun regiment and this proved a successful tactic.
Extensive use was made of reconnaissance troops to identify enemy strong points prior to engagement. Rapid engagement of identified targets ensured quick suppression of the enemy positions and as a result reduced our own casualties. At this battle the enemy fielded for the first time his new heavy tank, which was immediately and successful engaged by the available SU85s. Particular mention should be made of the pilots of 16 Air Army supporting the attack whose ground attacks were prompt and accurate, ensuring that the enemy unit was not merely neutralised but destroyed. An unfortunate by-product was the lack of working models to examine. The debris showed thick armour and a powerful gun but a lack of engine power. That it is a potent weapon is shown by the damage inflicted on 11 Tank Corps, which took considerable casualties in the fire-fight with the main enemy defence line while engaging these new tanks. Our troops were able to cause rapid and significant damage on the enemy and most of his tanks were rendered inoperable early in the engagement. His forces hung grimly on suffering ever greater casualties until on the left flank and centre they broke in rout. On our right flank the terrain had slowed the approach to combat so his forces held there a little longer before fleeing. In handling the attack the unit commanders showed they were learning from their experiences in dealing with enemy forces. In the pursuit our right flank was able to overrun the enemy command complex, the centre to capture his forward supply depot and the left flank to advance onto his line of communications. With the Hitlerite army in flight we were able to capture extensive amounts of personnel and equipment, reducing his deployable forces for subsequent engagements and requiring him to draw extensively from reserves to reequip his forces. The pursuit also allowed the considerable unopposed advance of 375 kilometres.

Analysis of the correlation of forces at this point showed a continuation of combat to be unwise. In June we had the advantage of 2:1 in personnel and 3:1 in tanks. The intelligence assessment of our available forces at this point, compared to the enemy forces available at the new defence line under construction, suggested the position was 1.4:1 in personnel and 1.6:1 in tanks. Given that the Hitlerites would field more effective tanks than previously I considered it prudent to pause to rebuild strength, despite the fact that this would enable him to improve his defences. I suspected that in any future engagement the enemy would seek to field higher quality tanks in greater numbers and to cope with this I needed the full strength allocated to me by STAVKA available for battle. We had advanced 500 kilometres, one-third of the way to Berlin, and needed time to bring supplies forward and add replacements to our depleted ranks.
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The third and final battle in the offensive was the Battle of Brest-Litovsk. The terrain at this point proved most difficult as the route required us to pass between two woods, bounded by a lake and covered by a hill that had to be crossed. The wide open nature of the terrain allowed the employment of a mass tank attack but also permitted the Hitlerites a wide expanse to fire from longer range on attacking forces. Deployment from north to south was 41 Rifle Corps and 16 Tank Corps to assault the woods on the right, 11 Tank Corps in the centre to assault the hill complex, 9 Tank Corps and 130 Rifle Corps on the left to seize the woods and open a communication axis into the enemy rear area and advance along the line of communications. Each tank corps was reinforced with attached heavy-weapon units.
At an early stage in the advance the assault began to break-up under the intense fire of the enemy tanks and tank destroyers. Once again the main success against the heavy units of the enemy was achieved by aircraft. Extensive reconnaissance overwhelmed enemy scouting parties to identify the main lines of resistance. Valiant assaults by our troops closed on the enemy and began to break into his positions. On the left flank tank units broke through into his rear areas and threatened to overrun his command centre. In the centre an extensive and prolonged fight between the enemy units defending the hill area and the 11 Tank Corps developed. On the right flank our attacking troops closed with the enemy and forced him out of the wooded area, the advancing troops taking part of the hill defences and reaching close to his forward supply centre. Both the defending flanks were successfully taken and much credit must be taken by the Commissars in maintaining the fighting morale of the units in difficult circumstances, rally troops to further efforts by their exhortations. In the centre the enemy held grimly on to the main hill-line and the woods at the base of it. Intense anti-aircraft defences based on the hill and enemy fighter cover over the battlefield significantly reduced the impact of our air support units. Despite the utmost endeavours of the tanks and infantry who continued their assault until exhausted it proved impossible to shift the enemy from his positions. This prevented the proper exploitation of the successes we had achieved and our forces therefore commenced an orderly withdrawal to their start lines. A large percentage of the enemy had fled the battlefield but the Hitlerites retained sufficient strength to deny the Red Army its well deserved victory. Good tactical skill was once again shown by our commanders in their use of combined arms. However, it was clear that our tank attacks lacked sufficient power and an upgrade in this arm was needed before the next advance could be made. The enemy’s infantry had suffered many casualties and showed evidence of degraded performance but the tank arm still showed much determination.

At this point it was appropriate to close down the Strategic Offensive and commence the Memel-Baltic Offensive with the Second Byelorussian Front. The resource base available to us at this point was such that we could vary the strategic approach by closing exhausted offensives and opening new offensives simultaneously, causing the enemy considerable difficulties. The Hitlerites had been forced to switch forces between fronts and thereby added wear and tear to men and equipment while being able to deploy them less frequently operationally. During the Byelorussian Strategic Offensive the enemy suffered casualties equal to more than 100% of his personnel and 70% of his equipment, while being driven back 500 kilometers. In compliance with instructions First Byelorussian Front had covered one-third of the distance to Berlin.

Georgi Zhukov
Marshall of Soviet Armies



Tuesday, 21 September 2010

PMZ Campaign: Antwerp

Report from General Dietrich,
commanding
Sixth Panzer Army
The second battle for Antwerp, dated
November 20th 1944

As part of operation Autumn Mist, I had been given the task of driving the British back and siezing the port of Antwerp, thus depriving the Allies of their supply base. My orders were to drive as rapidly as possible for the port before the poor weather cleared which would allow the Allied airforce to operate. The British were occupying polder country so I was forced to attack on a narrow front in one of the clear corridors dominated by a line of low hills.

I attacked on the right with the 10th SS Pz Division supported by the 30th SS Inf Division, a Tiger Pz Abteilung and Jg Panthers. On the left the 9th Panzer Division was to make a diversionary attack supported by the 26th Infantry Division. The attack got off to a slow start as the Panthers and Tigers were forced to negotiate forested ground. Emerging from the forest they came under heavy fire from Shermans and antitank guns on the ridge in front of them and took significant casualties as they closed. After considerable manoeuvring, the British gave way and retired behind the hills.

On the left the 9th Panzer swung away from the wooded ground in front of them and advanced on the central ridge. They came under heavy fire from the ridge and forced to stop. At this point they were attacked in the flank by a battalion of Churchills hidden in the wooded ground and forced to retreat. Despite repeated attacks, they could make no further headway. Short on fuel, they retired from the battlefield.

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The view from behind the left flank. The lead elements of 9th Panzer are advancing on the central ridge. In the background 10th SS Pz have driven the British from the ridge.
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The 10th SS Pz advanced up onto the ridge and found themselves facing another British division which had moved up behind it. Another lengthy battle ensued, using up more precious fuel. Eventually the British were forced to retire, leaving the 10th SS Pz in possession of the ridgeline. With intact Britsh troops on the flanking hill, two British divisions in front and very little fuel, I knew it was now impossible to capture Antwerp and so was forced to call off the attack.

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The view from behind the German positions. 10th SS Pz have advanced onto the ridge. The British are in front of them and on the central hill.
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Friday, 20 August 2010

PMZ Campaign: Orleans 2

Report from General Knobelsdorff,
commanding First Army
The second battle for Orleans, dated October 20th 1944

Since the capture of General Eberbach at the beginning of September I have commanded First Army. Knowing it was just a matter of time before the Americans attacked once more, I chose a good defensive position and dug in as best I could with the limited resources at hand. My left flank was covered by impassable terrain, next was high ground with a good field of fire. In the centre the ground was lightly wooded with forest to the rear. The open right flank I protected with minefields and other obstacles. Prior to the attack, I learnt that American paratroops had dropped at Troyes and seized the bridges over the Seine, so I knew I had to stop the American attacks at all costs so the bridges could be recaptured.


The opening American artillery barrage was directed at the recently vacated front positions and so caused no casualties. The opening attack was made by the newly arrived American 14th Armoured division supported by infantry in the centre. Here I had placed the veteran 189th infantry division supported by a Panther battalion of the 2nd Panzer division. These troops stood their ground despite repeated attacks and caused huge casualties on the American units.
The American airforce was largely absent, only one attack being made which missed its target.

The American 4th Armoured division attacked against the high ground defended by the untested 18th Luftwaffe division. Taken in flank by the Panthers, it ground to a halt, only one unsupported battalion of shermans making it through the Luftwaffe positions, however this did present a threat to our rear areas.

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The view from behind the German positions. On the left the shermans have broken through Luftwaffe positions on the high ground. In the wooded ground in the centre, the 189th Inf are holding off the Americans while a spotter plane flies overhead.
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The American 5th Infantry division advanced on the right but stopped short of the minefields. 2nd Panzer was stationed on this flank but facing no attack sent a battalion to aid the threatened rear areas. However this proved unnecessary as the Luftwaffe division, displaying unexpected resilience, counter attacked the Shermans which eventually retired.

As usual, facing huge losses, the American command ordered a withdrawal. I await the next attack. The paratroops of the American First Airbourne Army have been defeated.

Monday, 2 August 2010

PMZ Campaign: Eindhoven 1

Report from General Student,
commanding First Parachute Army
The battle for Eindhoven, dated October 23rd 1944

A month of inactivity by the British has allowed me to regroup my forces and dig in along the 'West Wall'.
The British attacked in mid October. At this position I had deployed the 16th Luftwaffe Division supported by Jg Panzer IVs in wooded ground on the left. In the centre the 422nd Infantry Division (with an attached Panther battalion) was dug-in around a village within wooded ground through which ran the main highway. On the right was the newly arrived 101st Pz Brigade in an area of polders.

The attack began with an AGRA shoot against the central wooded area. Fortunately this caused little damage, the 422nd Division quickly re-establishing its positions. This was followed by an attack of three infantry divisions against the central village and the polders. The British found the polders difficult to traverse and soon came under accurate fire from the 101st Pz Brigade, so this attack ground to a halt, the British infantry retiring to cover. The few fighter aircaft remaining to the Luftwaffe now made an appearance and shot down many allied aircraft; they didn't bother us again for the remainder of the battle.

The British infantry in the centre was having more success, one battalion from 422nd Division being destroyed. At this point the attack on the polders by the central British division was redirected towards the village and two armoured divisions committed to the attack. In response, the Panther battalion in the centre moved forward and attacked one of these divisions in the flank destroying many Sherman tanks. Its mission accomplished, it then withdrew behind the village. The second armoured division struggled through the polders against the Panthers of 101st Pz Brigade. As they advanced the Panzers retired, continually inflicting losses.

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The view from behind the British positions. On the right 422nd Inf are holding the village, the Panthers having retired behind them, the British infantry are engaging them. The 101st Pz Brigade are behind the Polders on the far left. The British infantry have just been stopped.
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At this point with losses mounting and the German fire unabated, the British command realised they were not going to break through our positions, so they abandoned the attack. I ancicipate they will soon be back.

Monday, 31 May 2010

PMZ Campaign: Brest Litovsk 1

Report from General Balck,
commanding Fourth Panzer Army

The battle for Brest Litovsk, dated Sept 23rd 1944


Following the disaster at Minsk, I have replaced General Nehring. August was quiet on this front, the Soviets presumed to be reorganising after outrunning their supply in their advance to Bialystock. There has been a major uprising in Warsaw which resulted in all my replacements being diverted to crush this, however it is being successfully suppressed.

Expecting a massive Soviet attack, my forces were deployed between a lake on the left and open woods on the right. The critical forward wooded area was held by the 275th infantry division with attached Jagd Panthers. The 16th Panzer division was deployed on the high ground in the centre with some of its Panthers deployed with the 72nd infantry division in the woods on the right, this division also had a company of Jagd Panthers attached. Minefields protected the flanks although most of them were ineffective due to lack of material.

The Soviet attack began with a massive katyusha bombardment which disrupted two thirds of my units, however our morale held. The attack was concentrated in the centre. Six Soviet divisions attacked in line, their infantry and tanks quickly entering the important forward woods. The tanks in the centre advanced cautiously and were soon stopped by the Panthers of 16th Pz Division. A long range firefight then developed with the Panthers easily outgunning the T34s, only the JSIIs could engage them effectively. The small groups of ISU152s and SU85s proved to be ineffective in this situation.

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The view from behind the German positions. 275th Inf are dug in, in the woods on the left , with the infantry of 16th Panzer behind them. The Panthers are on the hills in the foreground firing on the mass of advancing Soviet tanks. The 72nd Inf are on the right laying down fire on the advancing Soviet infantry.
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The Soviet airforce attacked in strength but their Sturmoviks were held in check by the small number of Messerschmits we had available.

Soviet infantry on the right were stopped by the 72nd infantry and soon forced to withdraw under heavy fire. The Soviet armour on the right then attacked the 72nd who gave way under the pressure and retreated. This Soviet armour was then attacked in turn by the 16th Pz Division and itself forced to retreat. At this point the 275th infantry broke and retreated from the forward woods which were now held by only a single infantry unit of 16th Panzer, the only remaining German division. This unit hung on tenaciously despite repeated Soviet attacks.

The Panthers eventually won the firefight in the centre and the Soviet tank divisions retreated. With no Soviet units on the right and centre, the 16th Pz Division now counter-attacked into the forward woods, driving back the now exhausted Soviet units. At this point the Soviet command abandoned its attack and their remaining units precipitously retreated, leaving hundreds of T34s behind. I do not anticipate another Soviet attack for some time and so can concentrate on rebuilding my units.

Generalleutnant Dietrich von Müller, the commander of 16th Pz Division has been awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves for his outstanding performance in this battle.

Monday, 10 May 2010

PMZ Campaign: Amiens 2

Report from General Student,
commanding First Parachute Army

The second battle for Amiens, dated September 5th 1944


This report is based on confused evidence pieced together over the past few days.

General Eberbach prepared to stop the expected British attack by deploying the PzIVs of Panzer Lehr division on high ground supported by the Tiger IIs of Panzer-Abteilung 501. On the left he placed the 422nd Infantry Division, resting its left flank on marshy ground with a lake beyond it. The 716th Infantry Division was in reserve protecting the command centre and supply base amidst light woods. To the right of Panzer Lehr was open ground.

The British attacked aggressively with three armoured and infantry divisions in the centre. Panzer Lehr fought valiantly, the Tiger IIs causing one of the attacking divisions to precipitously retreat. On the left, a division of mixed tanks and infantry attacked the 422nd Division, which held on determinedly. Meanwhile the British 7th Armoured division swung wide round the right flank. The British attack faltered at this first setback and they appeared to doubt the possibility of breaking through our position.
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The view from behind the German positions. Panzer Lehr are on the high ground under heavy attack. 422nd are in the marshy ground to the left. In the foreground the 7th Armoured are advancing with the remnants (Pv IVs) of 716th retreating before them.
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Then a battalion of Churchill tanks reached the hill and together with the remaining troops broke into the Panzer Lehr positions. On the left, the British succeeded in pushing the 422nd Division back into the woods. On the right the 7th Armoured turned and smashed into the flank of 716th Division which disintegrated, allowing the command and supply bases to be overrun, General Eberbach being captured along with most of his staff. Being almost surrounded, Panzer Lehr broke at last and retreated from the field. With no effective command, the entire corps now broke and retreated back towards the Scheldt.

I was commanding the Fallschirmjaeger regiments guarding the Scheldt, these were the first elements of First Parachute Army. At this time units of the British First Airborne Army dropped on Antwerp and seized the bridges over the river.

Fifth Panzer Army now split in two, with half facing the Americans and the remainder being pursued by the British. The British armour drove rapidly for the Scheldt, German resistance crumbling in front of them, and they managed to reach the bridges before my troops could crush the First Airborne Army. However I have now contained the British within the Antwerp area.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

PMZ Campaign: Orleans 1

Report from General Eberbach,
commanding Fifth Panzer Army
The battle for Orleans, dated August 28th 1944

Having returned from Berlin, I prepared for the American attack near Orleans.

Knowing they had to take an important highway, I deployed where it passed through heavily forested ground. My right was protected by a large lake and my left by marsh. On the left I deployed 21st Panzer division, on the right I deployed 709th Infantry Division with an attached SS Tiger battalion and some JgPanzer IVs. The 352nd Infantry division with some Pak 40 ATGs was in reserve and guarded the rear echelon.
The Americans attacked with one armoured and one infantry division on my left, two infantry divisions on my right and the weak 3rd Armoured division in the centre. This armoured division advanced rapidly but with the SS Tigers lining the edge of the forest were soon driven back in precipitous retreat.
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The view from behind the American positions. Elements of the 3rd Armoured are in the foreground with infantry beginning to move round towards the lake. They are under fire from the tigers lining the forest, with the 709th behind them. On the far right elements of 21st Panzer can just be seen in wooded ground with the marsh behind them.
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The units on my left advanced more cautiously and soon engaged the Panzer IVs of 21st Panzer division. A prolonged firefight ensued but the 21st were continously hit by P47Ds and heavy artillery while being outflanked. Despite the corps commander's personal intervention, they were eventually overwhelmed by the American units and forced to retreat. Unfortunately with command breaking down, they retreated in total disorder completely from the battlefield, exposing the flank of the 709th and also the rear echelons.

Meanwhile on the other side of the battlefield, the American infantry had swung round our right flank. One division assaulted the 709th while the other headed for the lake. Under intense pressure the 709th held out, refusing to be moved from this vital point. The Americans to our surprise didn't stop when they reached the lake – they had amphibious vehicles!

The 352nd now fought desperately to prevent the Americans breaking through to our rear. Despite the odds, they held out until a kampfgruppe made up of the SS Tigers and infantry battalions of the 709th counter-attacked the exhausted American infantry. This attack, together with their heavy losses, was too much for the American command who ordered a withdrawl. In the confusion, this turned into a retreat, then a rout, with the Americans streaming from the battle area, leaving vast amounts of equipment behind.

I think I am safe here now at Orleans for a some time to come, so can concentrate on the British threat.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Battle of Kagul, July 1770

The allied forces of the Khanate of Crimea and the Ottoman Empire consist of 35,000 Ottoman infantry and 35,000 Ottoman cavalry commanded by Grand Vizier Ivazzade Halil Pashaand. The Ottoman army is represented by 160 units. There are also about 70,000 Crimean Tartar cavalry, these start 10 miles off the battlefield.
The Russian First Army consists of 38000 men under the command of General Pyotr Rumyantsev. The Russian army is represented by 90 units.
In all there are over 2000 15mm figures.
The Ottoman players placed their camp and defence line, then both sides set up simultaneously with a screen across the table.


This picture shows Ottoman camp (centre left) with the heavy cavalry in the foreground. The Russians are on the right.


This picture shows the Ottoman light cavalry (centre right, with the levy infantry behind them. Their heavy cavalry is in the foreground with Sekhans in the rough ground. The line of chained guns is in the distance, with chevaux de frise in front and the camp behind. Kagul is in the foreground. The Russian squares can be plainly seen on the left.


A close up of the previous picture from behind the Ottoman position.


The Ottoman attack has begun. The light cavalry attack the outer most Russian square while the heavy cavalry move round the flank.


The Ottoman Spahi heavy cavalry on their right flank move to attack the Russian square. The Suvalieri cavalry on the left of the picture are reluctant to attack.


A view of this attack from the Russian position. Russian hussars can be seen in the foreground. The Russian gun line is in the centre exchanging ineffectual fire with the Ottoman guns in the background. Sekhans advance on the Jagers in the rough ground and the Suvalieri cavalry obey their orders at last.


Back to the Ottoman left flank. The Spahis have been delayed by the stream. The light cavalry continue to press their attack; these continous attacks are beginning to disorder the square. Meanwhile Russian dragoons and cuirassiers push some of them back and prevent others from penetrating between the squares. Some bashi-bazouks are about to charge the next Russian square from the broken ground.


The Russian square breaks, to the amazement of the Ottomans, the light cavalry pour in and Russians flee to the rear. In the foreground, the first bashi attack is driven back.


On the Ottoman right flank, the Russian horse grenadiers have moved up to support the beleagured square, diverting a number of Spahis. Meanwhile the Russian cuirassiers have swung wide round the square and are about to charge. At this point, the Tartar army began to arrive. Seeing the lines of cuirassiers between them and the Ottomans, they decided that looting the Russian baggage was the best course of action.


The Ottoman Suvalieri charge the gun line, overrunning one of the guns. The Russian square behind the gun line prevents any more guns being taken while the Russian hussars valiantly stop the Suvalieri from moving between the square and the rough ground. The jagers contiue to skirmish with the Sekhans.


On their left flank, most of the Ottoman light cavalry have been driven off by the dragoons, who are now about to attack the second line Ottoman levies.


The Russians begin their long delayed attack in the centre. The square advances against Ottoman guns backed by Janissaries. On the left, the next wave of light cavalry is entering the field.


As the battle nears its end, the cuirassiers sweep away the remnants of the Spahis.

At the end of the battle, as no attempt had been made to take the Ottoman camp, the battle was judged an Ottoman victory (particularly as the umpire was also an Ottoman player!). However as the Ottoman heavy cavalry on their right flank had been almost destroyed and those on the left flank appeared intent on joining the Tartars in raiding the Russian baggage, it was judged to be only a marginal victory.

Monday, 29 March 2010

PMZ Campaign: Le Mans 2

Report from General Eberbach,
commanding Fifth Panzer Army
The battle for Le Mans, dated August 12th 1944

While waiting in Berlin, I received this report on the anticipated American attack near Le Mans.

My subordinate deployed on a group of hills overlooking bocage. The Panzer IVs of Panzer Lehr division occupied this ground in protected positions together with the 709th Infantry Division. The 352nd Infantry division was in reserve and guarded the command centre and supply dumps in the rear area. Minefields were placed on the flanks. The Americans attacked with two armoured and two infantry divisions on the left. The 1st Infantry division, weakened from the battle a week earlier, advanced slowly in the centre.

The units on the extreme left were halted by the minefields, those closer to the centre advanced rapidly and soon engaged Panzer Lehr. Meanwhile the American airforce pounded our positions and inflicted significant damage. After a prolonged firefight, the green American 4th Armoured division withdrew but not before forcing most of Panzer Lehr from its position on the hill. This allowed the American 2nd Infantry division to take the hill and attack the remaining units of Panzer Lehr in the flank.

Meanwhile the other American divisions (the green American 3rd Armoured division and the 90th Infantry division) had moved round the minefield, swung to their left and attacked the 352nd Infantry division. Facing them was only one battalion with attached Pak40 ATGs which was guarding the supply dumps. The ATGs forced the armour to retreat after knocking out many Shermans while the infantry battalion held off repeated attacks by the American infantry.
With our central position crumbling, the American 1st Infantry division made a cautious advance. Seeing this, the commander of the 709th Infantry Division, forming a kampfgruppe from the remaing tanks of Panzer Lehr and his own infantry, attacked the 1st division, driving a wedge between it and the 2nd division. This caused great confusion in the American forces and halted their attack.

Nevertheless the Americans have punched a hole through our line on the left, so the Corps has withdrawn to Orleans.

Bottom right are elements of US 4th Armored.
Top right are elements of US 90th Infantry.
Top centre is the battalion of 352nd and the supply dump with remnants of Pz Lehr in the background.
The US 2nd Infantry are on the hill with US 1st infantry bottom left.
The 709th kampfgruppe is centre left under attack by the US airforce.

Monday, 15 March 2010

PMZ Campaign: Minsk

Report from General Nehring,
commanding Fourth Panzer Army

The battle for Minsk, dated July 28th 1944


I had been summoned to Army Group headquarters regarding a plot against the Fuhrer when I received the reports about the Soviet Lvov–Sandomierz offensive. This was launched by First Ukranian Front against Army Group North Ukraine and drew off most of my armour, leaving only a single Panzer division near Minsk.

My subordinate deployed in a defensive posture with his remaining infantry divisions between open woods on the left and a village on the right, the Panzer division being placed in reserve. Reports of the action are confused but apparently the Soviets made a surprise attack without their normal artillery bombardment. The attack in the centre consisted of twelve battalions of tanks including JSIIs, ISU152s and SU85s plus their supporting infantry, while additional infantry divisions advanced on the flanks. The front line buckled under this onslaught but just managed to hold its position. The counterattack of the Panzer division broke one of the Soviet tank formations, but weight of numbers meant that this was only a temporary respite.

Soon the Soviet armour broke through, surrounding many of the surviving German units and causing the retreat of those units which could do so. The koenig tigers of Panzer-Abteilung 503 are reported as being destroyed by the Red airforce. The entire Korps was effectively out of action and Soviet forces poured through the gap in Fourth Panzer Army's line.

I have been recalled to the front to stabilise the situation. Fourth Panzer Army is now in headlong retreat, two of my divisions have been completely destroyed and another will require rebuilding. The Soviets have bypassed the defence lines around Baranovichi and Bialystok, so I am planning to stop them at Brest-Litovsk, all units have been ordered to stop at that position.


The defence of the village, right flank of the panzer division can be seen on the left.
Massed Soviet armour advancing in the background.

Friday, 12 February 2010

PMZ Campaign: Amiens

Report from General Eberbach,
commanding Fifth Panzer Army

The battle for Amiens, dated August 8th 1944


I am writing this report from Berlin where I have been summoned after the battle for Rouen. I assumed it was to account for my withdrawl to Amiens but it transpired that I was there to be questioned by the Gestapo about my superior, General von Kluge, who has committed suicide after being implicated in a plot against the Fuhrer – not a pleasant experience. He has been replaced by General Model.
Unfortunately Panzer-Abteilung 503 was assigned to the Eastern front, however the Army has recieved replacements for the Tiger Is lost at Rouen.

My subordinate deployed along a ridgeline overlooking open ground, this was occupied by the 9th SS Panzer Division. The left was light woodland and a small village, occupied by the veteran 422nd Infantry Division resting its left flank on marshy ground. The right was light woodland occupied by the veteran 716th Infantry Division (which had replaced the 243rd) and an attached battalion of JgPz IVs.

The British attack was slow to develop. On the left, the only noise to be heard was the buzzing of recconaissance aircraft and the sound of 5.5" shells landing on the forward positions of 422nd. On the right an infantry division supported by a battalion of Shermans advanced rapidly but were stopped by an infantry battalion and the Jg PvIVs. These raw troops stood their ground for a time before retreating back to their start position.

The main attack then developed on the left with the 27th Armoured Division in the lead. They were faced by a battalion of Panthers detached from 9th SS as well as the infantry of 422nd around the village. Despite the pounding from the artillery, the 422nd managed to stop the attacking infantry, while the Panthers stopped the Shermans, destroying many in the process. At this point infantry mounted in Buffalo amphibious vehicles entered the marsh from hiding in the forested area on the extreme left, causing much concern for the 422nd commander, particularly as the Panthers were now under air attack for the first time and also under the fire of 17pdrs from the forest. Fortunately at this moment the 27th Armoured gave way, having lost half of its tanks, retreating back to its start line. 422nd commited its reserve, a battalion of Armoured Engineers, to counter the buffalos.

Captured officers reported that the British command was near to despair, as they felt the position to be impregnable. However they persevered, and attacked with their remaining infantry division. Simultaneously, typhoons made a devastating attack on the Panthers; the artillery accurately hit the infantry around the village, followed up by an attack by the British infantry supported by 25 pdrs; and the buffalo mounted infantry laid down accurate fire on the Engineers. Under this overwhelming pressure the morale of the 422nd gave way and it retreated from the battlefield, taking the few remaining Panthers with it.

Fortunately the 9th SS Panzer commander reacted rapidly, sending battalions of Panthers and Armoured infantry into the wooded area just vacated by 422nd. Seeing this, the British commanders decided to halt the attack and withdraw, which they did on 6th August.

The view just prior to the counter attack of the 9th SS.
Foreground: the 422nd retreats.
Left: the Buffalos are advancing.
Background: the remains of 27th Armoured.
Centre: the British infantry advancing.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

PMZ Campaign: Le Mans 1

Report from General Eberbach,
commanding Fifth Panzer Army.
The battle for Le Mans, dated August 2nd 1944
.

I deployed on a line of hills in bocage country, with marshy ground to my right. The 709th infantry division was in fortified positions in the centre supported by a battalion of Jagd Pz 4s, this division was also holding a vital road junction. The 352nd infantry division was in fortified positions on the left, supported by a battalion of Panthers. My main concern was a turning attack by the Americans round my right flank so I stationed the 9th SS Panzer division there in light woodland, behind minefields. The command centre and supply dumps were in wooded ground to the rear of the infantry.

After our experience in late July, the Corps commander was expecting the arrival of American heavy bombers. They were much more accurate than the British, no bombs were seen to land on the American positions. Our losses were significant, mainly suffered by 9th SS Panzer who were almost forced to give up their position. During the battle, naval bombardment fell on the infantry in the centre but, protected by their bunkers, little damage was done.

American units then advanced all along our front, but more cautiously than the British had done. On the left some weak units stopped just outside our range. In the centre an infantry division supported by tanks moved into covered positions at long range and engaged in an ineffectual firefight with our infantry. Another division moved up to the far side of the marshes, keeping our line under fire and protecting their supply road. It appears that while Patton may be a good field commander, his administrative abilities are somewhat lacking, leaving a tank destoyer unit without fuel and failing to coordinate with his air support. A reconnaissance aircaft spotted the 9th SS panzers but no ground attack aircraft arrived until near the end of the battle.

On the right, the Americans were more aggressive, advancing with the 2nd Armoured and 90th Infantry divisions together with engineers, on the far side of the marshes. The attack reached the minfield, which the engineers started to clear, when an SS Panther battalion and the dug-in infantry battalions opened fire disabling many of the Shermans and forcing the infantry into cover. Nebelwerfers then landed on the engineers who promptly withdrew to cover. Having been refuelled, the tank destroyers arrived at last and moved forward cautiously in the woodland until they were within four hundred meters of the Panthers. They opened fire …. with very little effect. The Panthers replied and a few destroyers managed to retreat from the battlefield. Other Panthers were taking their toll on the remaining Shermans who followed the destroyers, leaving many burning vehicles.

Meanwhile in the centre, an infantry company had been suppressed so an American infantry battalion of the 1st Infantry division assaulted it. The Germans rallied and put up great resistance, while the American attack rapidly disintegrated, the battalion eventually retreating from the battlefield. On the right, the American infantry decided that they could make no progress without tank support so withdrew back towards their lines. The American commander decided not to commit his reserve division, possibly fearing our counter-attack. It was at this stage that squadrons of Lightnings and P47Ds appeared over the battlefield and proceeded to attack the 9th SS panzers. While disabling some of the vehicles, they could not affect the course of the battle, so the Americans ended their attack on 1st August. I decided not to advance out of my fortified line ……. I am expecting another attack soon.

A view from behind the left flank of 9thSS showing the marshy ground to their left. The Panthers are under air attack in the foreground while the retreating American units can be seen in the background.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

PMZ Campaign: Rouen

Report from General Eberbach,
commanding Fifth Panzer Army.

The battle for Rouen, dated July 28th 1944.

I had deployed along the Seine, with Pz Lehr occupying a fortified line in the centre, its right flank resting on swampy ground. To its left was a vital village held by 243rd infantry division, a veteran unit. It also was occupying a fortified line but had to protect a long front out to its left, through light woodland. I allocated a battalion of Tiger I to support it. In reserve was 21st Panzer division equipped mainly with Panzer IVh. This had the additional task of protecting the command centre and supply dumps around wooded ground to the rear of the village.

The Corps commander was awoken by the noise of heavy aircraft, this heralded the arrival of a British heavy bombardment group which bombed our positions, however many of the bombs were seen to land on the far side of the river, directly on the British positions. Our losses were fairly light and it is rumoured that the British took almost as many casualties as us as they were assembled ready to attack. However one important unit was disrupted, the infantry defending the bunkers on our left flank, as will be shown below. At the same time, an AGRA stomp landed in our rear area, fortunately it landed on an area of dummy positions and caused no damage. Next a naval bombardment fell on the village but caused little damage.

British divisions then attacked all along our front. In the centre a weak force moved into covered positions on the other side of the river to Pz Lehr, while others moved towards the swampy ground to our right. This was just a demonstration but appeared to be a credible threat at the time and kept the attention of the commander of Pz Lehr.

On the left, the British advance was slowed by the river, but was soon across, the bridging teams were very efficient. The attack was concentrated on a fairly narrow frontage, with only a few battalions facing it. The main unit defending this area was the infantry in the bunkers, which, being disrupted by the bombers, was unable to prevent the crossing or significantly slow the British advance. A prolonged firefight now ensued, the British taking a large number of casualties and many units being disrupted, while they inflicted few casualties on the fortified defenders. The lack of any British artillery support was very noticeable, and while ground attack aircraft appeared occasionally over the battlefield, they were driven off by accurate anti-aircraft fire. A prisoner reported that Montgomery had entrusted the operation to a subordinate who had failed to ready all of the equipment in time for the attack.

The British were however, able to push fresh units through to the front, having three infantry divisions and an armoured division (7th) to call upon, whereas the German infantry were slowly being disrupted. The Tiger tanks were in heavy protection but this made them difficult to manoeuvre. Meanwhile the naval artillery was disrupting the right flank infantry defending the village.

Eventually, the bunker complex was assaulted by an assault engineer battalion, and once that was taken the morale of the 243rd infantry suddenly collapsed despite the personal intervention of the Corps commander. Just as it was about to attack, the Tiger battalion was caught up in the panic and also retreated. The retreat of this division caught the German command by surprise and there was no immediate response. The village, now being empty, was rapidly occupied by the left most British infantry division.

Pz Lehr was still fixed by the British forces on the far side of the Seine and would not give up its fortified positions, so 21st Panzer was ordered to halt the British. However with many of its units committed to protecting the rear echelon from a possible attack by the victorious British units now moving away from the river line to its left, it could only make desultory attacks. The British, having most of their units disrupted, were in no shape to exploit the attack and concentrated their armour around the village.

Thus the battle petered out on 24th July, with the British in strength across the Seine. I have ordered the withdrawal of the Corps towards Amiens. Hopefully the arrival of the Koenig Tigers of Panzer-Abteilung 503 will slow their advance in the coming weeks.

Friday, 5 February 2010

PMZ Campaign: Bobruisk

Report from General Nehring,
commanding Fourth Panzer Army
.
The battle for Bobruisk, dated July 2nd 1944.
This report is written in haste as my convoy is being strafed by Soviet aircraft as it retreats towards Minsk.

I had taken up a protected position across the main highway with my left protected by a lake and my right on a string of hills. My armour had been drawn off by what I now know to be Operation Maskirovka (Camouflage); this Soviet deception meant that I had no armoured units except for a handful of Jagd Panthers.

The Corps commander deployed two veteran infantry divisions, the 342nd and 72nd, in the lightly wooded ground in the centre through which the highway passed, they also covered a vital hill on the left, in front of the lake. The 275th veteran infantry division was tasked with protecting the command centre to the rear, a village containing supply dumps behind the woods, and also the string of hills to the east. The Jagd Panthers were placed on a dominating position on these hills with obstacles and a minefield in front. We only had time to construct light defences before the Soviet assault.

The attack was heralded by the expected massive artillery bombardment. Fortunately this proved to be ineffective with only minor disruption to our units which was quickly recovered. Artillery continued to hit our forward positions as the Soviets advanced, but we had pulled back deeper into the woods and it had no further effect.

The Soviets attacked all along the line with armour and infantry. We allowed them to close in the centre and left, using recon platoons to hide our positions. As they approached, we opened fire, causing great losses and forcing many units to withdraw. The Jagd Panthers held off the attack by T34s on the right while flanking infantry in the woods pinned down his infantry. Fortunately the absence of Soviet artillery support and the Red airforce meant that our losses were light.
Eventually with weight of numbers (they had six divisions), some Soviet units gained the hill on the left. Assault engineers and flame tanks defeated a battalion on our left flank which was forced to retreat, exposing a dangerous hole in our line. To deal with this, the divisional commander called in all available artillery which disrupted his remaining intact units, then counter-attacked with a reserve battalion, restoring the front.

Captured officers reported that the Soviet command was near despair, as every attack had been shattered and they had few remaining undisrupted units; the commissars had unholstered their pistols and prevented any units running away. Under pressure, they committed their last units to close assault. Our units by this time were exhausted and low on ammunition; failing to stop the assaulting units. The close combat devolved into a series of small combats, with troops falling back on both sides. The German units falling back were misinterpreted as a retreat by other units of the 342nd division so the remainder of the division retreated as well; exposing the entire left flank and resulting in the capture of the vital hill and wooded area.

The Soviets were beginning to rally some of their armoured units and they were able to move a reformed infantry division into the woods to support their forward battalion. At last the Soviet artillery & airforce made an effect and hit the 72nd division in the centre, preventing it from counter-attacking. With the loss of the division on its flank it required the personal intervention of the Corps commander to hold them in position and not join in the retreat.
Knowing the position to be untenable, I ordered the withdrawal of the Corps on 1st July. The Soviet Corps was too damaged to prevent our escape. Unfortunately the Jagd Panthers ran out of fuel and had to be destroyed by their crews.

PMZ WW2 Campaign 1944-45

This campaign is being fought by members of the club and also by Chris R. who created it. Battles are fought using the 'Arras to the Ardennes' ruleset.

Background

Patton Monty Zhukov ("PMZ”) recreates the final twelve months of World War Two in Europe predicated on a race to take Berlin. The three participants are the US Third Army commanded by General Patton, fighting the German Fifth Panzer Army and then the German First Army; BR Second Army controlled by General/Field Marshal Montgomery, fighting the German Fifth Panzer Army and then the German First Parachute Army; the First Byelorussian Front commanded by Marshal Zhukov, fighting the German Fourth Panzer Army. The Germans are controlled by the same player on all three fronts.

In order to avoid the problems of historical hindsight the situation is not the same as what a contemporary might have anticipated. In reality these armies were not always directly commanded by Patton, Montgomery and Zhukov and they did not always follow the given routes in the given months, however it generally follows the course of the campaigns. Unit designations and OOBs are generically approximate to reality!

Objectives

The campaign map is divided into a number of areas as a linear approach from the starting points of Caen, Avranches and Gomel to the objective: Berlin. This campaign comprises 12 'monthly' game turns from June 1944 to May 1945. Patton, Monty or Zhukov achieve victory by reaching Berlin no later than any of others; being first gives an outright rather than shared victory. If none of them take it by the end of May 1945 then the German player wins.