Red Victory Operations, part I
by, 03 Jul 10 at 22:40 (4429 Views)
Moved during June and had very little pc time, so just getting around to this...
Red Victory Operations
This document is designed to be used with the Scenario_Map.pdf file located in the main game directory, which provides a representation of the eastern front and the general locations of the actions listed here.
The first 5 scenarios are not listed on the map as they are training scenarios.
000.Getting Started - 28 June 1944 – 18 turns
“Tank Cavalry at Slutsk”
Near Slutsk, Bobruisk - Baranovichi Road
After shattering 9th Army's lines near Bobruisk, Konstantin Rokossovsky, commander of the 1st Belorussian Front, committed his exploitation force, the powerful Pliyev Cavalry Group, into action. Pliyev's tanks and cavalry stormed the German defenses behind Berezina River and kept the momentum in the marshlands of Pripyat.
On 27 June, the 1st Mechanized Corps move into Glusk, sweeping aside the remnants of the German 35. Infantry Division. By 1700 Soviet armor were pouring through a gap at Glusk in the direction of Slutsk. A very important railway junction, Slutsk was vital for the Soviets for keeping the momentum onwards Baranovichi and later, Minsk. Frantically gathering reserves from other sectors, German command committed a newly arrived paratrooper unit, Kampfgruppe Schirmer to block the seemingly unstoppable Russian spearhead before Slutsk.
001.Bootcamp_1 – 16 turns
“Assault on a Fortified Position”
Commander; today our battalion will capture a ridgeline which is vital for the enemy defense system. Your rifle company will assault a fortified hill to the north. Recon tells us that the position is defended by heavy machine gun emplacements covered by at least a platoon of infantry. Your infantry will be supported by a sapper platoon and an artillery battery. Good Luck.
• Staying away from the enemy killing zones is vital especially in assaults. It is likely that one or two setup machineguns or mortars are waiting for you. Do not use apparent and easy routes as they are most probably killing zones.
• Try to gather maximum info on the enemy strength in the first turns. Fix enemy troops with diverting attacks and hit them on the flanks.
• Study the map. The LOS angles, covered approach routes and use them but do not forget the covered routes are generally mined.
• Use your specialized units such as engineers at the right time. Do not commit them prematurely. Placing an engineer unit on a wrong hex can cost you a battle in scenarios with limited time.
• The timing for artillery strike and smoke is vital in assaults. Use them to support your troops or reduce casualties at the crucial moment.
• Try to lure the enemy out with diverting moves and attacks. It is high probability that a setup artillery observer is there and a premature enemy barrage will be much better than one hit you just before your assault.
002.Bootcamp_2 – 16 turns
“Combined Arms Tactics”
Commander; your motorized column has stopped near a village where enemy movement has been detected. The leading infantry has dismounted and is ready for the attack. Unfortunately we don't have much information on the enemy forces located in the village so a close cooperation between the infantry and the supporting armor is crucial.
• Do not commit your armor early and never use them as recon vehicles into the unknown. That's the
• Do not bunch up infantry and tanks closely as they will be very inviting targets. Do not place them too far either. Try to maintain a distance ideal for tank-infantry cooperation.
• Never isolate your tanks on terrains with low LOS.
• As a leader try your best to spot enemy positions with your binoculars.
• Suppress the enemy defenses and use your mobility to outflank them. Do not use apparent approach angles as they are likely to turn out killing zones designed by the enemy.
• Do not use roads close to the enemy. They might be mined.
• Do not deploy smoke prematurely. The timing of smoke is very crucial in maneuvers.
• Sometimes moving fast is a better option than returning fire; sometimes not. There are no simple answers on the battlefield.
• Always load AP rounds before ending your turn if there is a risk of encountering enemy armor; so your tanks will opportunity fire the correct shell on the highest risk target. Do not forget to switch to HE rounds against soft targets.
003.Bootcamp_3 – 16 turns
“Defending Against An Armored Attack”
Commander; we are expecting a probing attack on your sector. As our right flank you must hold your lines and prevent an envelopment. Recon reports indicate enemy tanks so expect armor accompanying the infantry. Regiment will send you a self propelled gun to bolster your defenses. Good Luck.
• It is vital to hold your fire until the right time. Don’t reveal your infantry positions by opening fire prematurely. This will give enemy armor a chance to suppress your units to protect its infantry's advance.
• Protect your anti-tank assets. Those are the most valuable items in your arsenal.
• Don't commit yourself propelled gun early. Find good ambush angles behind the infantry screen and wait for opportunities.
• Don’t enter into a direct fire duel with enemy armor in the open. They have more firepower and you have thin armor plate. If possible spare action points to hide behind cover after firing one or two shots.
• Be flexible. Try to predict enemy moves and take necessary actions early.
004.Bootcamp_4 – 16 turns
“Defending Night Attacks”
Commander, reports indicate that enemy will try a breakout to avoid encirclement. They will likely launch an attack tonight, utilizing low visibility. Your unit lies on their shortest path for a possible breakout so be ready for a heavy night attack. It is imperative to defeat the enemy's breakout attempt at this point. Our regiment is spread out thinly so don't expect much reinforcement. You are on your own comrade. Good luck.
• In night battles spotting the enemy is vital for learning their intentions and the biggest asset is your illumination rounds. Use them carefully.
• Check out the illumination ammo allocated to your forces and don't exhaust them prematurely.
• Be wise in using flares; do your best to illuminate enemy forces without illuminating your positions. Check out the flare ranges and do not deploy them too close to your positions.
• Always hold your fire as triggered opportunity fire might reveal your positions too early. This will give you ability to open concentrated fire on enemy troops and give them little chance to recover.
• It is imperative to follow a flexible deployment and preserve a tactical reserve to seal enemy penetrations that cannot be spotted in low visibility.
005.Ozereika - 04 February 1943 – 18 turns
“The Dieppe of the Blacksea”
Ozereika Bay, 12KM Southwest of Novorossiisk
After surrounding the German forces at Stalingrad, STAVKA planned another smaller operation codenamed "Operation Sea". The aim of the operation was to capture the Black Sea harbor town of Novorossiisk and block the 17th Army's path of retreat from the Caucasus into the Crimea. The assault was to be a combined one that included amphibious and airborne landings. The amphibious operation was directed against Novorossiisk while airborne troops delayed the reinforcements. The location of the beach landings was the bay of Ozereika which is a couple of kilometers southwest of Novorossiisk. The Ozereika Bay provided a suitable landscape for landings and advance inland.
The Axis defenses in the area consisted of the 38th Rumanian Infantry Regiment which was defending the beaches and the German 789th Coastal Artillery Battalion with its 105mm howitzers emplaced in the heights dominating the bay and the village of Yuzhnaye Ozereika.
The Soviet plan was to push through the defense in order to reach a line between Yuzhnaye Ozereika and Stanichka; then turn right and envelop Novorossiisk from the West. The mission was undertaken by the elements of the 255th Naval Brigade, a stubborn and crack unit which was supported by lend lease Stuart tanks from the 563rd Tank Battalion. Soviet command used every vessel for naval transportation; patrol boats, rubber boats, fishing boats and barges. The destroyer "Minsk" provided artillery support on pre-assigned targets. At 02:00 hours the first wave of the assault force closed in on the beach. The landing forces found trenches, mines and obstacles intact after the artillery preparation and engaged in a heavy fight with the Rumanian infantry.
006.Krasny Bor - 10 February 1943 – 20 turns
“Viva La Muerte!”
October Station, Krasny Bor, 30KM South of Leningrad
In January 1943 the Red Army managed to breakthrough the bottle-neck near the shore of Lake Ladoga and created a land-connection to Leningrad first time since September 1941. In order to defeat the siege decisively, the Soviet command planned a much larger operation named Operation Polar Star. It was based on coordinated blows from three directions to encircle the enemy forces south of Leningrad. The plan gave the main attack to the 55th Army. The 55th army's orders were to break open the vital Leningrad-Moscow
Highway, starting from its jump-off position in Kolpino towards Tosno, to join with a northbound attack pincer of 54th Army of Volkhov Front, thereby encircling German formations near Leningrad. The vital point for the highway was the town named Krasny Bor which was defended by the 250th Infantry Division, or the "Azul" Division which was formed by the Spanish phalangist volunteers.
On Wednesday, 10 February 1943, a massive artillery bombardment of 1,000 Soviet guns and mortars opened on the Spanish lines at precisely 6:45. Shells, mortars and Katyusha rockets pounded the trenches, bunkers and dugouts. At approximately 8:40, the 45th and 63rd Guards and the 72nd Rifle Divisions, followed by armor started their advance.
Inside Krasny Bor, a company of the 250th Infantry Division was holding the October Railway station. Company commander Captain de Huidrobo had dispersed his troops along the railway embankment directly on the way of the 63rd Guards Rifle Division. That day, along the railway embankment, the Spaniards gave their toughest fight with heaviest casualties. That day would be remembered in veterans' memories as "The Black Wednesday".
007.Chernichevo – 11 February 1943 – 18 turns
“Fire Brigade Meyer”
Chernichevo, Krasny Bor - Mishkino Road
After their success in defeating the German bridgehead at Schlüsselburg, south of Leningrad, STAVKA planned a bolder operation at the junction of Mga. The Russians aimed to isolate a large part of the German 18th Army. The main axis of the Russian penetration was the town of Krasny Bor which was defended by the Spanish "Azul" Division. On 10 February a heavy Russian attack shattered the German Front at Krasny Bor. Pushing aside the defenders and bypassing pockets of resistance, the Russian armor poured westwards in the direction of Mga. Outflanked with the fall of Krasny Bor, the neighboring 4th SS Polizei Division was facing a dangerous envelopment. German command sent their only mobile reserve, one company from the 502nd Heavy Panzer Detachment which was ordered to stop the Russian advance on Krasny Bor - Mishkino axis.
At the dawn of 11 February a Tiger platoon under the command of Leutnant Meyer arrived at the battlefield. From his position Meyer could see that Russian tanks had already occupied the village of Chernichevo. At 07:00, the Russian column consisting of KV1 heavy tanks resumed their advance towards Mishkino. Meyer quickly deployed his panzers to ambush the Russian armored spearhead at a road junction near Chernichevo.
008.Jeremejewka – 18 February 1943 – 20 turns
“Peiper at Jeremejewka”
Jeremejewka, 30 KM East of Krasnograd
After the failure of the German attempt to re-join the encircled Sixth Army in Stalingrad, a Russian offensive on 2,000 Km long line followed in January 1943. The entire front between the Orel River and the Black Sea was active, while the critical sector was the Stalingrad corridor and the Caucasian German Armies. Strong Russian formations attempted to cut the key city of Kharkov and disrupt the German communications between Army Group Center and South. Although being in crisis against irresistible enemy waves, von
Manstein started to prepare a counteroffensive based on the principles of mobile warfare.
On February 16th, Vatutin took Kharkov and sent two armies towards Krasnograd with a left hook; unaware
of the powerful forces ready to envelope him. On February 17th, von Manstein was able to say that his preparations had finished and he was ready to begin the operation. The SS Panzerkorps was sent to Krasnograd to assault Vatutin's flank. Sepp Dietrich divided the 1st SS Panzergrenadier Division "Leibstandarte Adolph Hitler" into three powerful Kampfgruppe: KG Wunsche under Major Max Wunsche; KG Meyer under Major Kurt Meyer and KG Peiper under Major Jochen Peiper. LSSAH's initial task was to capture certain villages to be used as observation & jumping points for the upcoming counterattack. The village of Jeremejewka located 30 km East of Krasnograd, was one of the key objectives overlooking the
flanks of the advancing Soviet 3rd Tank Army. On 18 February 1943; flanked by Meyer's Aufklarung Abteilung; Kampfgruppe Peiper left Ziglerowka for Jeremejewka . Peiper encountered an enemy recon element in the village. Always a daring and aggressive commander; he launched an immediate attack to capture the positions before Russians find time to react.
009.Barvenvoko – 25 February 1943 – 18 turns
“Against All Odds”
Barvenkovo, 30 KM Southeast of Kharkov
After the fall of Kharkov the Russian high command concluded, wrongly, that such an important junction would only have been abandoned under Hitler's express order and that Army Group South must therefore
be in full retreat. Based on this assumption STAVKA ordered Voronezh Front to continue its pursuit towards the Dnyepr River. Despite frantic efforts to stabilize the frontline there was still a huge gap between 1st Panzer Army and Army Detachment Hollidt along the Mius River. Mobile Group Popov thrust into this gap
and advanced south through Krasnoarmeyskoye towards Stalino.
German command blocked Popov's path with the battle weary 40th Panzer Korps. On 18 February, Manstein ordered the first moves of his counteroffensive, orchestrated attacks on Mobile Group Popov's flanks by the 7th and 11th Panzer Divisions, slowly bottlenecking the red armor. As late as the 21st of February, Russians still believed that German Army was in full retreat. By the 23rd, the last resistance of Popov's forces trapped in the Krasnoarmeyskoye area had been broken and remnants of the Mobile Group started a retreat northwards. At this point Manstein committed the 5th SS Panzergrenadier Division "Wiking" on Barvenkovo axis to pursuit and isolate the retreating enemy. Exhausted from continuous fighting in the Caucasus and having only a couple of PzIII and Marders, "Wiking" continued its push towards Barvenkovo.
010.Taranovka – 05 March 1943 – 18 turns
“For the Comrades”
Near Taranovka, 40 KM South of Kharkov
By the first days of March 1943, Mobile Group Popov was isolated and destroyed south of Kharkov with a brilliant counterattack designed by von Manstein. After destroying the powerful enemy spearhead, General Manstein turned his eyes on Kharkov. He sent two pincer columns; the SS Panzer Korps attacked Kharkov from the northwest where the 48th Panzer Korps moved north to isolate the city from the east.
Now its infantry armies were threatened by envelopment, Russian command desperately tried to slow down the German advance towards Kharkov. The 25th Guards Rifle Division was ordered to hold a long line from Taranovka to Merefa. Taranovka, a key position on the eastern flank of the defensive line, was defended by the 78th Guards Rifle Regiment which was supported by a handful of tanks from the 195th Tank Brigade. The high ground to the southeast of the town was particularly important for the defense of the city. On March 5th, the 6th Panzer Division, spearhead of the 48th Panzer Korps started its assault on this key position. Having no illusions for defending the position for a long period, Russian soldiers resisted fiercely to gain time for the retreating comrades.
011.Kharkov – 12 March 1943 – 18 turns
“To The Red Square”
Near Dzerzhinsky Square, Kharkov
After destroying "Mobile Group Popov" in a brilliant counterattack south of Kharkov, von Manstein turned his eyes to the north and the city itself. Elements of the 4th Panzer Army raced northeast to cut the Kharkov-Belgorod road to trap more Russian units. On March 10, 2nd SS Panzer Korps reached the outskirts of the city. Manstein ordered the SS korps to capture the city of Kharkov. "Totenkopf" was ordered to make an enveloping move from North to cut the escape route to Belgorod. "Das Reich" entered the city from southeast and attempted to capture the eastern industrial district. "Leibstandarte Adolph Hitler" attacked the city from northeast aiming the city center.
Early morning 11 March, the Leibstandarte division launched a two-prong attack into northern Kharkov. Kampfgruppe Witt, consisting elements from the 1st SS Panzergrenadier Regiment and 1st SS Panzer Regiment, attacked down the main road from Belgorod and captured Kharkov Airfield. Rybalko's 3rd Tank Army was defending the city center and its' approaches. Fierce Soviet counterattacks were defeated by the SS troopers.
On 12 March, Kampfgruppe Witt made progress into the city's center, breaking through the strong Soviet defenses in the northern suburbs and began a house to house fight towards the center. By afternoon, German spearheads reached a position a couple of blocks north of the Dzerzhinsky Square, the city center of Kharkov. Standartenführer Fritz Witt, the commanding officer of the Kampfgruppe ordered a final push to reach the city center without further delay.
012.Zalyutino – 12 March 1943 – 18 turns
“No Time to Stop”
Zalyutino, Southern suburbs of Kharkov
SS Panzer Korps' attack on Kharkov started with the first lights of 11 March. Leibstandarte entered the city from the northwest and attacked the city center. Totenkopf advanced further north to block the escape route of the Russian forces at the Belgorod road. Das Reich joined the attack from the south, advancing on the Poltava - Merefa axis.
Das Reich's spearhead, Kampfgruppe Harmel, fought its way along the road, and at 16:00 they reached the Kharkov suburb of Zalyutino where their path was blocked by an anti-tank ditch defended by the remnants of the 40th Army.
During the night of March 11-12, Sturmbannführer Heinz Harmel sent a company of pioneers across the anti-tank ditch to secure the houses on the other side. Panzers and assault guns followed the pioneers closely to pin down the dug-in enemy. Russian forces counterattacked and a fierce night battle erupted for the control of the town.
013.Kharkov – 15 March 1943 – 20 turns
“Last Act at the Tractor Works”
Tractor Works District, Eastern suburbs of Kharkov
After 4 days of continuous combat SS Panzer Korps captured most of Kharkov. The "Leibstandarte" secured the area around the city center and the airport west part of the city. The 2nd SS Panzergrenadier Division "Das Reich" was deployed near the northeastern suburbs dominated by the industrial facilities. The Russians still holding the massive Tractor Works district were directing accurate artillery fire over the Das Reich's positions. Divisional command designed an assault on the Tractor Works on 15 March. 2nd Battalion from
the "Der Führer" Panzergrenadier Regiment infiltrated the southern flank of the Russian position and deployed for the attack near the worker settlements. At that point majority of the Russian troops were facing westwards and the SS attack disrupted their defensive plans.
With the first lights of 15 March, Hauptsturmführer Sylvester Stadler's 2nd Battalion launched its attack after a brief artillery preparation. A dozen of panzers and pioneers were supporting the assault. Russian command reacted and shifted troops to support their relatively open southern flank. Remaining armor from the 179th Tank Brigade engaged the German panzers to gain the much needed time for the riflemen. The heavy fighting for the possession of the massive industrial structures was to continue all day.
014.Staraja Russa – 15 March 1943 – 18 turns
“A Moment of Respite”
Staraja Russa, Near Lake Ilmen, Novgorod
After the evacuation of the Demjansk Pocket Army Group North sought ways to create more operational reserves for the expected Russian spring offensive. Battle weary troops were deployed behind the lines to refit, and divisions that saw little action in the winter battles hold the line.
One of these units, the 21st Luftwaffe Field Division formed with the elements of the 21st Jaeger Division and Luftwaffe ground personnel, had been defending the important town and rail station of Staraja Russa near Lake Ilmen. With the coming of March, STAVKA ordered a series of offensives in the region, aiming at better operational deployment for the upcoming spring offensive on the Leningrad Front. Marshall Timoshenko, the commander of the Northwestern Front launched a two pronged attack on the German defenses south of Lake Ilmen.
Pavel Kurochkin's 11th Army advanced along the Moscow-Leningrad Railway and hit the German defenses on Staraja Russa. Lacking firepower to counter the Russian armor, elements of the 21st Luftlande Division had to rely on the bunkers and trenches they had built in the winter.
015.Badayev – 19 March 1943 – 18 turns
“Tigers on the Prowl”
Near Badayev, South of Lake Ladoga, Leningrad Front
On 12 January 1943, the Soviets opened the Second Battle of Lake Ladoga with a tremendous bombardment of more than 4000 guns. When the artillery barrage stopped, the divisions of the 2nd Shock Army under Lt. Gen. W. S. Romanovski launched its attack. The combined assault by the 2nd Shock and the 67th Armies broke the German ring south of Lake Ladoga. At the beginning of March the fighting around Leningrad died down and it appeared that the Second Battle of Lake Ladoga had ended. However, on 19 March the fighting flared up as the battle entered its third phase.
Holding the Leningrad Front were the divisions of L Army Korps bolstered by the Latvian and Flemish volunteers from the Waffen SS. Four Tigers led by Oberleutnant Hans Bölter of the s.Pz Abt.502, were deployed as tactical reserve behind the front line near the village of Badayev. The lines in front of them were defended by the infantry from the SS Volunteer Legion Flandern. On 19 March, 06:00hrs, Russian infantry supported by T34s launched a sudden assault on the direction of Badayev. Flemish volunteers, paralyzed under heavy artillery fire, sent frantic calls for help. Hans Bölter, one of the best tank commanders of the s.Pz Abt.502 moved his platoon towards the gun sounds.
016.Warsaw – 19 April 1943 – 16 turns
“The Bravest Battle”
Zamenhofa - Mila Junction, Warsaw Ghetto
The seeds of the ZOB (Jewish Combat Organization) were planted on 22 July 1942, when the German Nazis under SS General Jurgen Stroop began the GrossAktion Warschau -transportation of the ghetto population to the Treblinka extermination camp- sealing the fate of the Jews confined in the Warsaw Ghetto. Along with ZZW (Jewish Military League), ZOB turned the occupied ghetto buildings into bunkers; tried to gather small arms from smuggling and Polish resistance. However, despite all of the efforts, the Jewish rebels were armed only with pistols, rifles and Molotov cocktails.
On January 1943, Germans started the second phase of the "Grossaktion Warshau". The armed resistance was triggered when a 17 year old girl named Emily Landau threw a grenade into a cluster of SS men from a rooftop on Gesia Street, killing or wounding a dozen of the soldiers. For two months, ZZW and ZOB units fought off SS attacks to control the ghetto. Despite the heavy toll, Germans slowly destroyed the pockets of resistance and pushed the rebels towards Mila and Muranowska Streets.
At the night of April 19, Jürgen Stroop dispatched groups of Lithuanian and Ukrainian SS auxiliaries and Polish police into the ghetto to secure the exits of the Mila street where the headquarters of the ZOB was located. Supported by armored vehicles, SS troops advanced in single file toward the junction of Zamenhofa and Mila. Having sworn to fight to the death, the young fighters of the ZOB under the command of their leader Mordechai Anielewicz were waiting to make their last stand.
017.Cherkasskoye – 05 July 1943 – 16 turns
“The Battle for Cherkasskoye”
Cherkasskoye, 10 KM South of Berezovka
48th Panzer Korps formed the left wing of the 4th Panzer Army's attack as the southern pincer aimed at the Kursk salient. Korps' objectives were to smash the Russian defenses near Berezovka and capture Oboyan located further north. The advance was also vital for the flank protection of the 2nd SS Panzer Korps deployed to attack towards Prokhorovka. The village of Cherkasskoye was the first obstacle for the 48th Panzer Korps. Cherkasskoye, a heavily fortified village defended by the 67th Guards Rifle Division formed the cornerstone of the Russian first defensive line.
During the night of 4/5 July, German engineers prepared lanes of attack through the dense minefields. After an hour artillery preparation German assault teams launched their attack at 05:00. Grossdeutschland Panzergrenadier Division which was the spearhead of Knoblesdorf's Korps hit the heavy defensive line in front of Cherkasskoye. Russian defense was well prepared and German casualties were high. However after one hour of heavy fighting Fusilier Regiment Grossdeutschland, supported by panzers including the Tigers, overwhelmed the first defense line. Elements of the depleted 199th Rifle Regiment started a fighting withdrawal to the village in order to gain time to prepare a new line of resistance. General Chistyakov, commander of the 6th Guards Army sent fresh reinforcements to bolster the defenses at Cherkasskoye. At 09:00 Grossdeutschland's grenadiers renewed their advance and reached the southern edge of the village. At the very moment, both sides collided in a violent battle for the possession of this vital position.
018.Iakhontov – 05 July 1943 – 18 turns
“The Ultimate Sacrifice”
Iakhontov Strongpoint, 4 KM South of Berezov, Southern Sector of the Kursk Salient
At the southern flank of the Kursk salient, Colonel Nekrasov's 52nd Guards Rifle Division was deployed
between Zadelnoya and Berezov, guarding the eastern shore of the Vorskla River. The sector was on the direct path of General Hausser's powerful II.SS Panzer Korps. Colonel Nekrasov deployed most of his firepower on the first echelon. Supported by anti-tank batteries from the 6th Guards Army's arsenal, majority of the guardsmen concentrated their strength to wear SS divisions down before reinforcements arrive. Russian commander also created a security zone by placing platoon sized outposts several kilometers ahead of the main line of resistance. Those strong points were equipped with anti-tank guns, anti-tank rifles and mortars.
At 01:15, on 5 July, Waffen SS troops began recon in force to gather information on the enemy's main trench system. At 03:00, elements of the 3.SS PzG Rgt "Deutschland" (2.SS PzG Div "Das Reich") started their attack on one of the forward strongpoints located at the ruined village of Iakhontov 4km south of Berezov. The attack was spearheaded by Hauptsturmführer Helmuth Schreiber's 10. Panzergrenadier Kompanie. Having no illusions to survive the battle, the soviet guardsmen stood on their way.
019.Maloarkhangelsk – 05 July 1943 – 25 turns
“Hammer Meets Rock”
Maloarkhangelsk, Northern Sector of the Kursk Salient
At the start of Operation Citadelle, 14th Sturmregiment of the 78th "Sturm" Division, one of the best formations in Kluge's 9th Army, was attacking toward Maloarkhangelsk strongpoint which was defended
by the 410th Rifle Regiment (81st Rifle Division). German troops were assisted by the Ferdinand tank destroyers of the 654. PzJager Abteilung. In addition the remote controlled demolition tanks created gaps in the minefields and obstacles allowing an initial penetration for the 654th's armored monsters. By the end of the day, the 78th Division had advanced 4 agonizing kilometers through the well designed defensive network of the Red Army.
020.Zadelnoye – 05 July 1943 – 30 turns
“Leibstandarte at Kursk”
Zadelnoye, Tomarovka - Bykovka Axis
On the first day of the Kursk offensive, SS-Panzer-Grenadier Regiment 2 (Kraas), Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler supported by a platoon of Tigers led by Michael Wittman and a Sturmgeschutz Abteilung moved forward
toward the first day's objective, the village of Bykovka which was located on the Tomarovka-Pokrovka axis. Leibstandarte's orders were to clear a group of small towns along the axis and blocking Soviet flanking movements from the west bank of the Vorskla River.
Moving northward, LSSAH encountered elaborately designed Soviet defensive positions around the village of Zadelnoye. Troops from the determined 52nd Guards Rifle Division (Nekrasov) occupied the trenches and
bunkers reinforced by artillery, anti-tank guns, anti-tank riflemen, tanks and mortar batteries. Realizing the tenacity of the Russian defense, Wittman moved his Tigers forward to accompany the assault troops while they were opening lanes for the following grenadiers.
021.Ponyri – 07 July 1943 – 18 turns
“Little Stalingrad at Ponyri”
Ponyri Station, 60 KM North of Kursk
The Northern thrust of the German attack on the Kursk salient was undertaken by the 9th Army. The main axis of the advance was the railway linked Orel and Kursk. The village of Ponyri was a particularly important objective on this axis. Naturally, the Ponyri village and its surroundings were heavily fortified. The area was defended with the well entrenched divisions of the Soviet 13th Army under General Pukhov. The Ponyri village itself was defended by the elements of the 307th Rifle Division commanded by General Enshin. The 307th Rifle Divisions strong defense line was bolstered by well placed AT guns and dug-in T-34s from the 27th Tank Regiment.
The German spearheads reached the Ponyri line on 5 July. The German attacks of the 292nd, 86th and 78th Infantry Divisions slowly carved into the Russian defenses. On 7 July, forward elements of the 292nd Division (V.Kluge) reached the town center of Ponyri. Kluge ordered an immediate attack on the railway station which seemed to be the cornerstone of the Russian resistance. German infantry, supported by sturmpioneers and tanks including Ferdinands from the PanzerJager Abteilung 653, launched a heavy assault on the station.
022.Kliuchi – 11 July 1943 – 18 turns
“Deadend for Eicke”
Hill 266.6, Psel River, 10 KM West of Prokhorovka
Paul Hausser's II.SS Panzer Korps had been slowly carving its way before a stiff enemy resistance since the German attack on the Kursk salient was started on 5 July. Despite heavy losses, 3rd SS PzG Div. Totenkopf", the left wing of the Korps, reached Psel River on 9 July. At the dawn of 10 July, elements of the Panzergrenadier Regiment "Theodor Eicke" crossed the Psel River and attempted to capture the high ground east of the Kliuchi village, Hill 226,6. The hill was defended by the troops from the 153rd Guards Rifle Regiment. Brutal fighting continued for the rest of the day and at the midnight Waffen-SS regiment held the southern slopes of the hill and a small position east of Kliuchi.
During the night of 11-12 July, both sides finalized their preparations for the next day. According to Hausser's orders for the II SS Panzer Corps, the Totenkopf Division was to gain control of the rest of Hill 226,6 before advancing along the ridge to cut the Prokhorovka-Oboian road and provide flank protection for the "Leibstandarte" for its attack on Hill 252,2.
The German troops were finalizing their deployment for the attack at the dawn of 11 July. Panzers were moving to the assembly areas under the protection of the infantry. At 07:00 forward posts came under artillery fire which was followed by a heavy tank attack. The tanks were part of Bakharovs' 18th Tank Corps which had been sent to capture Hill 226,6 and crush the fragile bridgehead at the northern shore of the Psel River.
023.Belchinino – 12 July 1943 – 16 turns
“The Long Right Flank”
Near Belchinino, 13 KM Southwest of Prokhorovka
It was the second week of July and the armored fist of the 2nd SS Panzer Korps was maintaining its slow and costly advance on Prokhorovka. "Totenkopf" Division was bogged down on the western side of the Psel River and 3rd Panzer Korps' advance was too slow on their right. Therefore German spearheads, the 1st and 2nd SS Panzergrenadier Divisions had to concentrate their limited sources on a narrow frontage. The tough job of defending the extending right flank was given to the grenadiers of the "Der Führer" Regiment.
Elements of the motorcycle company, "Der Führer" Regiment, under the command of Ostuf. Buch was holding a wooded area near the village of Belchinino. Thanks to the skilful tactics and support from Sturmgeschütz Abteilung, SS troopers had managed to fight off continuous Russians attacks aiming to pierce the German flank. On 12 July Russian command commited fresh reinforcements -the 2nd Gds Tank Corps-
to the area. Loosing no time, Russian armor hit the German lines near Belchinino, especially focusing on the woods the SS motorcycle company was deployed.
024.Oktiabrskii – 12 July 1943 – 18 turns
“The Fateful Day”
Oktiabrskii State Farm, 3 KM Southwest of Prokhorovka
By 11 July, 6 days of heavy fighting brought the 4th Panzer Army, the main striking force of the southern pincer aiming the Kursk salient, to the outskirts of the key road junction at Prokhorovka. Von Kluge's northern attack was beaten and Breith's III. Panzer Korps was unsuccessful in providing right flank support for Hausser's II. SS Panzer Korps. However, despite the absence of a breakthrough and bad news from other sectors Hausser's divisions managed to establish strong bridgeheads at the eastern side of the Psel River and were ready for the next push.
By the closing hours of the day, Hausser ordered his spearhead, the 1st SS PzG Div "LSSAH" to advance through the rail line towards Prokhorovka. During the night, LSSAH deployed for the attack in two axes. The left prong was based on Oktiabirskii State Farm; and the right one aimed the village of Jamki to the south of the critical heights codenamed Hill 252,2. However the Russians had other ideas. The very same sector where the Germans expected the breakthrough was chosen for Rotmistrov's 5th Guards Tank Army's counterstroke. Without knowing each other's intentions, both sides' armor deployed for a major collision.
With the first lights of 12 July, the 2nd SS PzG Rgt (Kraas), led by the 11th Company, began its advance
from the trenches at Oktiabirskii State Farm they had captured the last day. The leading infantry was negotiating the ridgeline east of Hill 252,2. Obersturmführer von Ribbentrop's panzers were covering their advance from the small village. At 08:15, the leading troops started to deploy purple smokes, the warning
code for enemy tanks. In a couple of minutes the entire ridgeline was covered with purple smoke. Von Ribbentrop checked the ridgeline with his binoculars and saw a remarkable view; dozens of Russian tanks with riding infantry were advancing in full speed down the slope like medieval knights. Ribbentrop quickly deployed his panzers to slow the Russian avalanche. Michael Wittman's Tiger platoon rushed to support the sector. The carefully planned German attack turned out to be a desperate struggle for survival in a few minutes.
025.Garany – 22 July 1943 – 18 turns
“Crisis at the Mius River”
Hill 196.0, South of Garany
While entangled in a fierce struggle against the German Army in the Kursk Salient, STAVKA launched two local counter-offensives on both German flanks; one near Orel against the rear area of the 9th Army in the North; another near the Mius River against the Army Group South. The attack from the Mius Bridgehead particularly surprised von Manstein and threatened the logistical network of the Army Detachment Kempf.
On 21 July, the 4th Guards Mechanized Corps burst out from the Mius position and overwhelmed the thin infantry screen overlooking the river. The 16th Panzergrenadier Division which was deployed between Garany and Kalinowka was the only obstacle on the way of the Russian breakthrough. The German division was dangerously spread out to cover large areas on a flat, tank country. One particularly important spot, the strongpoint known as Hill 196.0 was defended by the elements of the 156th Panzergrenadier Regiment. A few panzers from the Panzer Abteilung 116 were deployed to the rear as reserves. After a brief preparation, the 4th Guards Mechanized Corps launched a heavy assault on the German held hill. The deadly 88mm Flak Guns were the first to greet them.
026.Maximova – 07 August 1943 – 18 turns
“Steel Inferno at Maximova”
Maximova, 15 KM South of Bogodukhov
Operation Rumyantsev was the third Russian attempt to capture Kharkov. It was a nasty surprise for the German command which believed that after the Battle of Kursk the Soviet mobile reserves were too damaged to launch an offensive in the short term. However, on 23 July, elements of the Voronezh and Steppe Fronts hit the Belgorod line, pushing aside the 332nd Infantry Division and 167th Infantry Division. Soviet command sent two powerful armored spearheads into the breach; Katukov's 1st Tank Army and Rotmistrov's 5th Gds Tank Army. The counterattack by the tired 19th Panzer Division could not prevent the envelopment of Tomarovka.
On 5 August the 3rd Mechanized Corps, the leading mobile element of the 1st Tank Army, was holding static lines south of the Tomarovka Pocket. On 6 August the mobile unit was relieved by the infantry from the 32nd Guards Rifle Corps and continued its advance towards Bogodukhov and Merefa to outflank Kharkov from the West. On 7 August after bypassing the German defenses at Bogodukhov, the Russian spearhead continued its advance south towards Maximova, a key rail line sector between Kharkov and Bogodukhov.
By 17:00, the leading unit of the 3rd Mechanized Corps, the 1st Guards Tank Brigade, was near Maximova where they ran into the elements of the 2nd SS Panzergrenadier Division "Das Reich" which was moving from Olshany towards Bogodukhov to plug the gap and establish contact with Army Detachment Kempf. Russian tanks reacted quickly and engaged the German column South of Maximova. With the arrival of reinforcements, the unexpected encounter developed into a chaotic tank battle which continued for two days.
027.Vorskla Valley – 08 August 1943 – 30 turns
“Back to Akhytrka”
Vorskla River Valley, Northeast of Akhytrka
After the failure at Kursk, 52nd Panzer Battalion, commanded by Major von Sivers was attached to the 19th Panzer Division, receiving refitting near Tomarovka. When Voronezh Front launched Operation Rumyantsev, the counteroffensive against the Belgorod salient on August 3, Sivers got only 27 serviceable Panthers with the rest of his vehicles were under repair and immobile. By August 4, the Soviet 6th Tank Corps started an enveloping move south of Tomarovka, threatening the 52nd Panzer Battalion and the 19th Panzer Division's rear. Locked in a fierce tank battle against the 200th Tank Brigade, von Sivers decided to disengage and retreat through the Vorskla River Valley and reach the depots at Borisovka.
On 5 August, after destroying dozens of immobilized Panthers, von Sivers's Kampfgruppe began retreating southwest with the remnants of the 19th Panzer Division. Katukov's 1st Tank Army was racing down the valley towards Borisovka, trying to cut the escape route of the retreating Germans. On 6 August, von Sivers' column reached the outskirts of Borisovka, finding the town surrounded by the Russian armor. Destroying 17 T-34s after a brief long-range duel, von Sivers turned further south to link up with the elements of the Grossdeutschland Division near Akhytrka.
The pursuit continued for 2 days. Every time Russian armor cut his path, Kampfgruppe managed to breakthrough, thanks to the long range advantage of the Panthers. On the afternoon of August 8, Kampfgruppe Sivers was only a couple of kilometers away from the friendly lines north of Akhytrka, where a probe from the 13th Guards Tank Brigade spotted the German column and attempted to block their path.
More Russian armor was on its way to destroy the evasive column before they link up with the forces at Akhytrka.
028.Nikolajewka – 12 September 1943 – 20 turns
“Duel in the Ukraine”
Nikolajewka, Northeast of Kolomak, Near Poltava Bridgehead
In September 1943, following the heavy battles for Kharkov, Das Reich Division was ordered to consolidate their positions near the Poltava bridgehead at Dnyepr River. Stubaf. Otto Weidinger's Armored Recon Battalion moved to new defensive positions at the outskirts of Nikolajewka a couple of kilometers Northeast of Kolomak. SS infantry worked for the defensive positions during the first week of September. However the effort didn’t change the fact that the German lines were thinly held.
On September 12, around 14:00, German lines were alerted by a growing noise of tank engine and tracks. Forward posts started reporting number of enemy tanks coming from the valley north of German lines: "10, 15, 25, 40!". More than 60 T34's from the 1st Mechanized Corps, closely followed by infantry launched an attack on the German lines. Weidling had so little to throw against such a strong phalanx of armor. His orders were desperate: "Let the tanks overrun your lines; engage the infantry!". The job of dealing with the Soviet armor was left to the Panthers of Hstuf. Friedrich Holzer's 1st Panzer Company. If they arrive in time.
029.Stayki – 25 September 1943 – 16 turns
“Another Blister At Dnyepr”
Near Stayki, 20 KM South of Kiev
By the autumn of 1943, Soviet Armies were at the Dnyepr River near Kiev, a major natural obstacle that would give the Germans a moment of respite. During September Russian units actively sought areas appropriate to establish bridgeheads for the upcoming Kiev offensive. The German command did not have sufficient troops to cover the entire shore of the river bend so they formed mobile units to control large areas in order to destroy any infiltration over the Dnyepr.
One such crossing consisted of 50 men from Moshalenko's 40th Army. They established a tiny foothold near the town of Stayki. Past experiences taught the Germans well that such tiny crossings could expand to a regimental strength in a couple of days, so a recon company from the nearby 34th Infantry Division was dispatched to deal with the "blister" before it goes bigger.
030.Tokmak – 11 October 1943 – 18 turns
“Holding the Wotan Line”
Wotan Line, Near Tokmak, 40 KM NE of Melitopol
The Russian Lower Dnepr Offensive that started on 24 August 1943 applied great pressure on the overextended lines of the Army Group South and German front gradually but inevitably deteriorated
under the continuous enemy attacks in different sectors. While most of the Dnepr battle concentrated around the capital of Kiev, General Tolbukhin's 4th Ukrainian Front launched a diversionary offensive on German right flank near Melitopol. Spearheaded by the 51st Army, the Soviet offensive aimed to breach the German
defensive system codenamed Wotanstellung (Wotan Line) and capture Melitopol, thus isolating the Crimean Peninsula from the Axis main frontline.
On 11 October 1943, the 51st Army launched its attack on the 6th Army defending the line between Melitopol and Zaporozhe. The heavy Rolling barrage pinned down the 294th Infantry Division which struggled to shift troops from one sector to another. The 17th Panzer Division tried to plug the gaps with armored counterattacks but struggled to concentrate its hitting power where dozens of sectors cried for help. To make things worse Hitler's "stand fast" doctrine forced the Germans into a static defense they didn't have the resources to sustain. The line cracked in many sectors but German grenadiers continued to stand against
the red tide in certain places where the Wotanstellung was better fortified.
031.Ternovka – 25 October 1943 – 20 turns
“Panzers to the Stage”
Ternovka, 24 KM South of Melitopol
In October 1943 the reconstituted 6th Army was holding the line at Lower Dnepr and the approaches of the Crimea. After pausing for rest and refitting, General Tobukhin's 4th Ukrainian Front launched another offensive on the German Lower Dnepr positions known as the Wotan Line in mid October. After two weeks of heavy fighting Melitopol, the key for the Crimea fell. Tolbukhin's armored spearhead, the 6th Guards Tank Brigade continued its advance southwards to Akimovka.
The approaches of Akimovka were defended by the weary remnants of the 226th Infantry Regiment (79th Infantry Division). Behind the infantry lines, Colonel Hake's armored group of the 13th Panzer Division was deployed as a fire brigade. On 25 October, Russian infantry attacked the town of Ternovka located at the outskirts of Akimovka on the Melitopol Road. Within an hour Russian troops entered Ternovka and the German infantry retreated to recover around the town. Armor of the 6th Guards Tank Brigade moved into the town to resume advance southwards. At 11:00hrs, when Soviet tanks hardly began their advance, Kampfgruppe Hake attacked to recapture the position of Ternovka. Encouraged by the appearance of the panzers, elements of the 226th Infantry Regiment joined the fight. For the Russians a calm operational routine suddenly turned into a chaotic struggle.
032.Kocherovo – 18 November 1943 – 18 turns
Kocherovo, Kiev - Zhitomir Highway
On the morning of 3 November 1943, the 4th Panzer Army defending the Dniepr line near Kiev, woke up with a massive Russian artillery barrage. 1st Ukrainian Front's two pronged attack smashed the German bridgehead and Kiev was captured in a couple of days. After Kiev secured, 1st Ukrainian Front's objectives were to drive quickly westwards to take the towns of Zhitomir, Korosten, Berdichev, and Fastov and cut the railroad between Army Group South and Center. The powerful 3rd Guards Tank Army, commanded by Pavel Rybalko launched its attack toward Zhitomir on 5 November. Von Manstein committed the newly arrived 48th Panzer Korps on the Zhitomir - Kiev axis to blunt the Russian drive and recapture Kiev. Rybalko reacted the German counterattack by releasing the 7th Guards Tank Corps.
Russian and German spearheads collided near the town of Kocherovo. 48th Panzer Korps' leading division, the powerful 1. SS Panzergrenadier Division LSSAH captured Kocherovo and started preparing defenses for a future attack that will outflank the Russian tank army. However, Russians had other plans. Rybalko immediately ordered the 7th Gds Tank Corps to counterattack and secure Kocherovo. The thinly spread lines of the LSSAH resisted heavy Russian attacks on 17 - 18 November.
Rottenfuehrer Schneidereit was a gunner in the weapons company of the 2. Battalion (1.SS PzGren Regt) who was known for his prowess with the s.PzB 41 28/20 squeezebore cannon. Remnants of his 8th company were defending the Northeastern edge of Kocherovo. The Soviets attacked with tanks and large waves of infantry. At Kocherovo, he knocked out two T-34s by perfectly placing the shots in a vision block and in the turret ring. They received help from a couple of Panthers, assault guns, and a pair of tank destroyers. He then led a counterattack to regain the town after they had been pushed back. For his actions he was awarded the Knight's Cross.
033.Olshana – 30 January 1944 – 16 turns
“Building the Kessel”
Olshana, 30 KM South of Korsun
The Russian attack to encircle the German troops located in the salient at Dnyepr succeeded in 3 days and on 28th January, Vatutin's 1st Ukranian Front's spearheads met Konev's 2nd Ukrainian Front at Zvenigorodka.
This completely isolated two German Korps in an area known as Korsun Pocket.
On 28th January, German command realized that the Soviet penetration could not be contained and started preparations to build the pocket or "Kessel". The southern face of the Kessel was particularly vulnerable since Russian spearheads were very close. Indeed, Konev sent troops to take several key towns and villages and prevent the Germans from building a strong perimeter.
The town of Olshana was a particularly important objective. It was located on a junction with roads leading to key cities of Shpola, Zvenigorodka and Korsun. German XI. Korps command quickly realized the danger and ordered the units of the 5th SS Panzer Division "Wiking" to block the Russian advance until infantry divisions arrive. However "Wiking" had already engaged into a heavy fighting Southeast of Korsun around Gorodische. When the first Russian patrols arrived Olshana, only troops located in the town was the supply troops of the division. Officers hastily formed an adhoc force from clerks, drivers and mechanics. Division also sent four assault guns commanded by Ostuf. Willy Hein from Panzer Regiment "Wiking". Ostuf. Willy Hein left his Panther at Gorodische and headed for Olshana. He was given four StugIIIg which were under repair in the Divisional HQ. The "Alarmheit" troops supported by those four assault guns, managed to defeat several Russian probes on 28 and 29 January. Germans lost one assault gun in exchange.
However Russians continued their attacks. This time a stronger force, the 63rd Cavalry Division from General Selivanov's 5th Cavalry Corps resumed the offensive. Their first attempts to capture the town from south and east were fought off by the German resistance. On the morning of 30 January, Willy Hein planned
a counterattack to hit the Russian flank before the enemy find time to consolidate their forces around the town. Hein's assault guns supported by the newly arrived infantry from the SS.PzG.Btl "Narwa" attacked the Russian left flank which was protected by an AT gun screen. The Russian troops caught completely off guard since they thought the engine sounds were from their own tanks. Hein quickly grasped the initiative. His assault guns followed by the Estonians shattered the disrupted Russian flank and charged on the infantry which was already deployed for a new assault on the town.
034.Shanderovka – 11 February 1944 – 18 turns
“Ritterkreuz for Werner Meyer”
Shanderovka, 22 KM Northeast of Lisyanka
The attempt to relieve the besieged Germans in the pocket around Korsun was started by Hermann Breith's III. Panzer Korps' attack towards Lisyanka. As a necessary precaution, General Stemmerman, the commander of the "Kessel" planned a series of attacks in order to establish an area of deployment north of Lisyanka for his isolated troops. The area Group Stemmerman attempted to secure formed a triangle with key points at Komarovka, Novo-Buda and Shanderovka.
The Northern edge of the triangle was the town of Shanderovka. Shanderovka was a small Ukrainian town located near Paresowiza River 18km southwest of Korsun. A huge brick factory which lies to the south was its only significant structure. This dull Ukrainian village has become a vital point both sides desperately fought to control in the course of the Battle of Korsun.
The German attempt to control Shanderovka was undertaken by the SS. PzG Rgt "Germania" which was part of the 5th SS Panzer Div "Wiking". Sturmbannführer Hans Dorr, the commander of the 1st Battalion, ordered Ostuf. Werner Meyer's 1st Company to lead the night attack on Shanderovka.
To carry out the attack, Dorr's battalion approached the southern skirts of the town, utilizing a large gully to hide their moves. Meyer moved forward to scout out the enemy positions however his presence was spotted by the Russian sentries. Having lost the element of surprise Meyer immediately ordered his men to attack while 2nd and 3rd companies were trying to catch up. The machinegun positions and flamethrower traps manned by the 54th Fortified Region was waiting for them.
035.Novo-Buda – 13 February 1944 – 18 turns
“No Day For Rest”
Novo Buda, 3 KM East of Komarovka, Cherkassy Pocket
The small village of Novo Buda was located on a hill a couple of kilometers south of Shanderovka. It was an important objective in the zone Stemmerman's isolated army secured in order to fight their way to link up with the III. Panzer Korps fighting near Lisyanka. The fall of Novo Buda meant a serious threat on the Shanderovka - Komarovka axis as it was the dominating height facilitating an attack to cut the road.
Two days ago elements of the 105th Infantry Regiment (71st Infantry Division) had captured Novo Buda and fought off numerous Russian counterattacks. On 12 February, Oberst Kastner's grenadiers were awaiting the arrival of the Wallonien Brigade which was supposed to relieve them. After completing a long march in mud and snow, the leading elements of the Wallonien Brigade arrived Novo Buda. Hand over completed at the late hours of 12 Feb. The exhausted Wallons sought shelter in isbas. Ostubaf. Lucien Lippert and Hstuf. Leon Degrelle, the leading Wallon officers were receiving an update on the tactical situation around the village from the wehrmacht officers.
At 07:00, 13 February, Wallons woke up with the sound of incoming katyusha rounds and the approaching tank treads. The off guarded Wallons hurried to reach their positions. Meanwhile, forward elements of the 11th Guards Cavalry Division (Selivanov's 5th Guards Cavalry Corps) have already infiltrated the southern edge of the village. A day of rest turned out to be a desperate struggle for survival.
036.Shanderovka – 13 February 1944 – 20 turns
“Where Are The Panzers?”
Shanderovka, 20 KM Northeast of Lisyanka
On 11 February, Sturmbannführer Hans Dorr's 1st Battalion from the SS Panzergrenadier Regiment "Germania" had captured Shanderovka, a key position for the defense of the pocket while waiting for the relief attempt. Ostuf. Werner Meyer, the commander of the 1st Company had formed a perimeter along the southeastern edge of the town and had been waiting for the inevitable Russian counterattack. Divisional command had promised armor support two days ago. However the anxiously waiting grenadiers did not receive anything but a couple of antitank guns to bolster their defenses. On 13 February at 2100 hours the Russian infantry launched an attack that was supported by tanks and artillery. Meyer and his company were on their own.
037.Oktyabr – 16 February 1944 – 18 turns
“The Last Ditch Effort”
Oktyabr, Near Lisyanka, 2 KM Southwest of Hill 239.0
The link-up of the 20th Guards Tank Brigade with the 6th Guards Tank Army at the village of Zvenigorodka on 28 January completed the encirclement and created the Kessel that became known as the Korsun-Cherkassy Pocket. Trapped in the pocket were around 50,000 men, a total of six German divisions under the
command of General Stemmermann. Manstein, commander of Army Group South, reacted quickly, and by early February the III and XLVII Panzer Korps were assembled for a relief effort. Aware of the weakness of the XLVII Panzer Korps, Manstein ordered Hermann Breith's III Panzerkorps to lead the attempt to relieve the beleaguered Gruppe Stemmermann which was anxiously waiting the sound of friendly armor near Shanderovka. All progress began to bog down with a change in weather, resulting in the thick mud of the spring thaw that came early.
On 11 February; III Panzerkorps continued its drive east. The exhausted force reached the Gniloy Tikich
stream and established a small bridgehead on the eastern bank at Lisyanka. Despite heavy Soviet attacks on his flanks, Breith pushed forward to capture the strategically important point known as Hill 239.0 located a couple of kilometers north of Lisyanka.
The leading unit of the III Panzer Korps was the Kamfgruppe Frank under the command of Oberstleutnant Heinz Werner Frank which was formed around the elements of the 1st Panzer Regiment and the 113th Panzergrenadier Regiment; all part of the 1st Panzer Division. After the failed attacks on 14 and 15 February towards Hill 239.0, German commander planned another attack on the small village of Oktyabr which was blocking the road linking Lisyanka and Hill 239.0.
For the attack on Oktyabr, all Kampfgruppe Frank could spare was the under strength panzergrenadier company of Leutnant Fritz Leben. Most of the panzers were either destroyed or sent to flanks to fight off enemy counterattacks. Nevertheless, four Panthers under the command of Oberleutnant Dörnberg were present to give a much needed cover for the infantry. The regiment also provided Hummels for long range support. On 16 February 1944, at noon, panzergrendiers of Leutnant Leben launched their desperate attack on Oktyabr. The hamlet was defended by the tanks and men from the 20th Tank Corps of the 5th Guards Tank Army.
038.Potschapinzy – 17 February 1944 – 20 turns
“The River of Freedom”
Near Potschapinzy, Cherkassy Pocket, 2 KM North of the Gniloi Tikich River
By 16 February it was clear that Breith's panzers were unable to advance further and link up with
Stemmerman's isolated army waiting at Shanderovka. General Stemmerman decided to attack towards southwest and reach the advance elements of the relief force, the III Panzer Korps. The breakout attempt
was undertaken by three battlegroups formed around the 72nd Infantry Division and the SS Panzer Division "Wiking". On 17 February, at midnight, the German breakout attack started from the direction of Shanderovka towards Lisyanka. With heavy snow and fog, weather was in favor of the Germans for the first time in three weeks. With the help of the fog, German spearheads were able to advance towards the critical heights north of Lisyanka without heavy engagement with the Soviet troops.
Ostuf. Heinz Debus' kampfgruppe which was built around the SS-Pz.Aufkl.Abt.5 "Wiking" were following
Oberst Kastner's "Grenadier Rgt. 105" closely. While powerful, Debus' unit was entirely an infantry formation. Only armored vehicles the kampfgruppe had were a forward observer PzIII with a dummy main gun and two Wespe selfpropelled artillery guns. While Kastner's battlegroup managed to slip through the Russian lines without arising much attention, Heinz Debus had to attack a fully alerted enemy. After defeating Russian outposts near Komarowka and Dshurshenzy, Debus' men reached the outskirts of the Hill 239.0. Bad news arrived at this moment as the scouts reported soviet tanks on the hill. Having their escape path blocked by a phalanx of armor, Heinz Debus shifted to the southeast.
Utilizing the low visibility and a deep ravine, SS troopers managed to enter the forest between Hill 239.0 and Potschapinzy. The leading 2nd Company reached the southern edge of the woods at 04:00 just before the dawn. They had only a couple of kilometers before reaching the Gniloy Tikisch River and freedom. However, at the edge of the forest, Debus' advance was stopped by another Russian strongpoint belonging to the 41st Guards Rifle Division. The "Wiking" men launched a fierce attack to overcome this last obstacle before the enemy tanks catch them.
039.Lembitu – 17 March 1944 – 18 turns
“Carius at the "Kinderheim"”
Lembitu, Narva Bridgehead, Estonia
In the Spring of 1944, German Army Group North was still holding a bridgehead at Narva. The bridgehead defenses linked with the front line with a narrow strip passing in an East-West direction between the marshlands of the Narva River to the south and the Gulf of Finland to the North. This narrow strip was making the German bridgehead vulnerable since a Russian breakthrough might have easily cut the lifeline of the defenses at Narva located further to the east. The railway linking Narva to Vaivara was the prime objective of the enemy.
Elements of the depleted 61st Infantry Division were holding the German line at Lembitu strongpoint which was guarding the railway and its approaches. Tigers from the 502nd Heavy Panzer Detachment were spread along the thin defense line to support the infantry. Lieutenant Otto Carius, one of the best tank commanders of the war was stationed at Lembitu with another Tiger under the command of Albert Kersher.
On 17 March, six divisions, armored vehicles and artillery of the Soviet 109th Rifle Corps and the newly brought 6th Rifle Corps attacked the railway embankment. Russian artillery barrage was so intense, Carius and Kersher was unable to find a moment to reach their panzers for 15 minutes. When they managed to get
into the Tigers, Russian troops were already overrunning the forward positions.
040.Zagrobela – 09 April 1944 – 16 turns
“Roar of the Monsters”
Zagrobela, Suburbs of Tarnopol
In the spring of 1944, two Russian fronts; Zhukov's 1st Ukrainian and Koniev's 2nd Ukrainian; was operating in the vicinity of the key junction of Tarnopol near the Polish border. On 5 March, Koniev's 2nd Ukrainian Front smashed the German lines at Uman and penetrated towards the Southern approaches of Tarnopol. This operation pushed the right flank of First Panzer Army back to the northwest away from the left flank of the Eighth Army. At the same time, Zhukov's 1st Ukrainian Front attacked along the rail line to Tarnopol, trying to isolate the city. Germans counterattacked in order to establish a cohesive line. However growing pressure from the two fronts pushed the 1st Panzer Army into a salient south of Tarnopol. While most of the Russian formations were sent to envelop the 1st Panzer Army near Kamenets-Podolskii, the 13th Army of General N.P. Pukhov turned east and attacked the city of Tarnopol.
The city was defended by Generalmajor von Neindorff's troops which were declared as "Festung Tarnopol" in accordance with Hitler's "stand fast" orders. Germans had turned most of the brick houses into pillboxes. The 13th Army's offensive started on 31 March and continued until the second week of April. On 1 April, the Russians penetrated the positions of the "Demba" Fusilier Battalion which was defending Zagrobela, a western suburb of Tarnopol. The veteran unit managed to seal off most of the Russian penetrations. However, heavy enemy pressure in other sectors forced the Battalion into the city center near the rail station. On 9 April, 117th Rifle Division attacked after a bombardment lasting several hours to take the rail-station. The Russians were unable to destroy the German strong points, so they deployed the SU-152 self propelled
guns in a direct fire role. Oberstleutnant Udo Balzer had nothing but panzerfausts to throw against the armored monsters.
041.Kozlow – 11 April 1944 – 20 turns
“The Mud Offensive”
Wosuszka River, Near Kozlow, 17 KM West of Tarnopol
After the encirclement of Tarnopol the German command sent the 8th Panzer Division for a relief attempt. The main force that led the German attack was Kampfgruppe Friebe consisting of the elements from the 10th Panzer and 8th Panzergrenadier Regiments. On 25 March Oberst Friebe started the attack from the west towards Tarnopol. The kampfgruppe advanced through mud and artillery fire, over three rows of hills, each with entrenched Russians.
By the first week of April the German spearhead was near Kozlow 17 km West of Tarnopol, facing the Wosuzka River and the entrenched 99th Rifle Division. After a brief rest and refitting Kampfgruppe Friebe set out to capture a foothold on the eastern side the river near Kubianka. At 06:00hrs 11 April, German panzergrenadiers supported closely by a Panther detachment started their attack on the bridge while two more diversionary moves were launched on both sides.
042.Pereval – 15 April 1944 – 18 turns
“The Sacrificed Battalion”
Pereval, Yaila Mountains, Southern Crimea
The Soviet attack on the Crimea started on 8 April 1944. Elements of the 2nd Guards Army and 51st Army hit the German and Rumanian divisions defending the Perekop Isthmus and Shivash Sea. After fighting two days to contain the enemy advance, the command of the 17th Army reached the conclusion that they didn't have the strength to hold the long northern front and gave the general retreat order towards Sevastopol. On 10 April, a race started between the Axis units trying to reach the Sevastopol perimeter and the Russian spearheads that tried to catch the retreating enemy on open ground.
With the fall of Simferopol on 13 April, the German 5th Korps at the Kerch Peninsula had only one route of retreat westwards; the coastal road passing through the town of Alushta. While the Axis units were in full retreat towards Alushta; the task of blocking the Russian advance was given to the Rumanian Infantry. The passes in the Yaila Mountains, north of Alushta, were defended by Rumanian detachments. A particularly
important objective, Pereval which was located on the mountain road was defended by Lt.Col. Aurel Vulcanescu's 23rd Mountain Battalion which was supported by a battery of 75mm howitzers. The battalion had the unenviable job of gaining time for the thousands of troops retreating towards Alushta and Sevastopol. During the night of 15 April, Soviet troops from the 19th Tank Corps attacked the village.
043.Lopyashna – 16 April 1944 – 18 turns
“The Hit and Run Game”
Lopyashna, 50 km SW of Kishinev
By the spring of 1944, The Russian winter offensive was losing momentum with over-extended supply lines and tiring troops. Still, Rodion Malinovsky's 3rd Ukrainian Front has conducted probing attacks to infiltrate behind the German 8th Army which was retreating behind the Siret River into Moldova. The fast moving Russian mechanized spearheads were threatening the exhausted German infantry.
However, in April, after refitting at Kishinev, the 3rd SS Panzer Division "Totenkopf" arrived in the region and started operations as a mobile rearguard formation. Following the German flexible defense doctrine, the Totenkopf Division has set up a series of strong points in the valleys and hills of Moldova. Those strong points were planned as road blocks for the Russian mechanized columns where quick armored counterattacks aimed to destroy the enemy before the main part of the column can reach and provide support. In 16 April, at Lopyashna, approximately 50 km West of Kishinev, panzergrenadiers from the "Theodor Eicke" Regiment ambushed a forward column from the 55th Mechanized Brigade.
044.Radcha – 01 May 1944 – 18 turns
“Rage of the Red Bear”
Radcha, 8 KM Southwest of Stanislav
By the end of spring, 1944, southern Russia and the Ukraine were back under Soviet control and the Red Armies were preparing the invasion of Germany's Eastern European Allies. The northern gates of Eastern
Europe was defended by the Hungarian First Army. After their unsuccessful spoiling attack against the Russian concentration at Stanislav, Hungarian forces dug-in around the town of Lisets, waiting for the inevitable attack of the Red Army. On May 1st, Russian armor started rolling again. 1st Ukrainian Front crashed the first line of defenses Southeast of Lvov and continued its advance towards the Hungarian border. Russian spearhead, 162nd Tank Brigade reached Lisets - Radcha line without much resistance from the enemy. At the outskirts of Radcha, Soviet units encountered elements of the Hungarian 2nd Armored Division.
045.Drvar – 25 May 1944 – 25 turns
Tito’s Headquarters, Drvar, Yugoslavia
Following the fall of Mussolini, partisan activity significantly increased in Yugoslavia in the spring of 1944. To counter the threat, German command designed a large anti-partisan offensive. The offensive code named Operation Rösselsprung (Knight's Leap) aimed to destroy large concentrations of Tito's Partisan Army by a series of well coordinated blows in different areas. Although the whole operation contained separate sectors and different units such as 7.SS Mountain Division "Prinz Eugen", "Brandenburg" commandos, Croatian Jager Brigade and Chetnik Corps; the most significant operation of the entire plan was an airborne assault on Tito's headquarters located on the hills surrounding the Bosnian town of Drvar.
The assault on Drvar was given to the 500.SS Parachute Battalion commanded by Hauptsturmführer Kurt Rybka. The SS airborne unit was formed in 1943 near Sarajevo and completed its training in the first months of 1944. An unconventional unit with SS troopers partially recruited from penal companies using paratrooper equipment; 500.SS Parachute Battalion was designed to be used in high risk special operations similar to Otto Skorzeny's successful raid on Gran Sasso that rescued Mussolini.
On 25 May 1944, at 05:00, following an aerial bombardment, SS paratroopers landed on an open ground in front of the hills hosting Tito's dugout. Paratroopers secured the area for the second wave glider landing. There were fewer than 100 Partisans in the area when the operation started. Most of the Partisan troops were dispersed in the countryside. Hills were defended by a company sized unit from Tito's Escort Battalion. Disrupted by the bombardment and the paratrooper attack, partisans struggled to bring reinforcements in order to block the German advance.