Red Victory Operations, part II
by, 05 Jul 10 at 12:39 (4545 Views)
046.Lipovac – 29 May 1944 – 18 turns
“Help From The Skies”
Near Lipovac, 15 KM West of Mitrovica, Croatia
Although "Operation Rösselsprung" is largely known for the daring airborne assault on Drvar; there were many small battles in different parts of Bosnia and Croatia. In most of these battles, Tito's partisans desperately tried to slow the axis forces and gain time for their comrades trying to disengage and seek shelter
in the mountains. As another interesting note, allied air forces assisted the partisan forces during these hard times. The assistance was generally limited with supply of food and ammunition but it had significant effect on the morale of the partisans.
One such event occurred near the village of Lipovac located at the Crotaia - Serbia Border. On 29 May, four days after the raid on Drvar, a partisan company from the 1st Proletarian Brigade was protecting the area near Lipovac in order to provide cover for the general headquarters’ withdrawal. On 14:00hrs, a combat group from the 7.SS Mountain Division "Prinz Eugen" attacked the partisan positions. Running out of ammunition, partisans had strict orders to hold fire until the last moment.
The partisan group resisted fiercely against the superior German fire power; until their ammunition dried. At the very moment the partisan commander prepared for a final hand to hand fight, allied aircraft appeared on the sky dropping canisters full of ammunition. There started another struggle for reaching the canisters before SS troops overrun their positions.
047.Chernyavka – 23 June 1944 – 20 turns
“Paving the Way to Bobruisk”
Berezina River, 40 KM Southeast of Bobruisk
Operation Bagration's purpose was the envelopment of the German Army Group Center in Belorussia by two attacking Soviet forces: a northern force comprised of two fronts and commanded by Marshal Alexander
Vasilevsky, and a southern force, also containing two fronts, commanded by Marshal Georgi Zhukov. The battle for Bobruisk was the first phase of the southern force's mission, and would form the penetration that would allow Zhukov to pursue and envelop German forces from the south. The city of Bobruisk site astride
important crossing sites on the Berezina River, and was key to Zhukov's success in the operation.
14th Rifle Division, part of the 65th Army, was given the mission to seize one of the key crossing sites south of Bobruisk to allow the First Guards Tank Corps to pass to the west. Opposing the division on the west side of the Berezina was a regiment from the 35th Infantry Division, supported by batteries of 105mm howitzers.
The 14th Division commander General Mitka Biryokov developed a tactical plan based on concentration of forces and artillery into a single point in the German lines. Biryokov lacked overwhelming force ratio required for a river crossing. He did, however, have heavy artillery concentration behind his lines. Therefore the key, surmised Biryokov was to gain overwhelming advantage at the decisive point. With the first lights of the attack day, Russian artillery began pounding the German positions across the river. Under cover of smoke, troops from the 242nd Rifle Regiment led the attack.
048.Volkovo – 23 June 1944 – 20 turns
“Hammer Falls Over Sturm”
Near Volkovo, 12 KM Northeast of Dubrovno
While the 39th Army was trying to envelop Vitebsk on its right wing, General Galitskii's 11th Guards Army attacked through the Orsha axis on the first day of the Operation Bagration, the great summer offensive on the German Army Group Center. On 23 June, the 36th Guards Rifle Corps launched its attack to open the way for the waiting armor of the 2nd Guards Tank Corps. The Russian troops had difficulties in advancing on the marshy terrain between Volkovo and Dubrovno.
The German line facing the 39th Guards Rifle Corps was defended by a powerful unit, the 78th Sturm Division an elite formation with special equipment and more firepower. However the unit has the unenviable task of standing directly on the way of the 3rd Belorussian Front. The Soviet attack started with a heavy artillery barrage that shook the ground in all sectors for miles. At 07:00 supported closely by heavy assault guns and flamethrower tanks, the leading 16th Guards Rifle Division sent waves of infantry on the well entrenched positions of the 14. Sturm Regiment.
049.Makarova – 24 June 1944 – 16 turns
“A Gaping Hole”
Makarova, 17 KM Northeast of Orsha
At the initial phase, Operation Bagration aimed to encircle key defensive points like Vitebsk, Mogilev and Bobruisk by coordinated pincer moves. While those pincer moves were pinning the German defenses Stavka
planned another breakthrough at Orsha, the very center of the defenses of the Army Group Center. The task of capturing Orsha was given to General Cherniakovskii's 3rd Byelorussian front. Orsha sector was defended by the strong 78th Sturm Division which had additional heavy weapons and armor.
On 23 June the heavy Russian hammer fell on the German lines. 8th Guards Rifle Corps supported by hundreds of aircrafts and artillery hit the German lines hard. 78th Sturm Division resisted fiercely. However at the end of the first day German defenses were stretched too far. On 24 June, Russian attack intensified at the area between Dubrovno and Orsha. Russian troops were trying to force a breakthrough at the road and rail line leading Orsha. German command frantically gathered troops to support the creaking line. However Russian pressure was too much to handle. General Chernov's 26th Guards Rifle Division, supported by armor including the fearful flamethrower tanks renewed their efforts to punch a hole in the German line. By noon, Russian attack was clearly threatening the communications of the Sturm Division. General Traut sent his only reserve, the Aufklarung Abteilung to block the Russian advance at the town of Makarova.
050.Senno – 25 June 1944 – 20 turns
“Standing Against the Red Tide”
Senno, 60 KM Southwest of Vitebsk
During the planning for Operation Bagration the Oslikovskiy Cavalry-Mechanized Group was assigned the role of leading the drive through the gap created by the 3rd Byelorussian Front at Bogushevsk. Smashing or bypassing the German resistance pockets, the mobile group was ordered to reach their initial objectives at Berezina near Borisov in two days. As the spearhead of the mobile group, 3rd Mechanized Corps' drive towards Berezina began on 23 June after wide gaps had been opened in the German lines by the initial Soviet assault north of Orsha. By the end of the day Bogushevsk was in Russian hands. Soviet armor lost no time and continued their advance westwards.
German command hopelessly tried to plug the gap between Vitebsk and Orsha. The German counterattack by Panzergruppe Hoppe was beaten by the Russian AT gun screen deployed on the Bogushevsk-Senno road. On 25 June, the 3rd Guards Cavalry Corps overran the 299th Infantry Division. By 0700 the 3rd Mechanized Corps captured Senno. Cavalry and tanks continued their attack in the direction of Smolyany. The German 2nd Security Regiment was deployed between Senno and Smolyany to delay the Soviet advance so the shattered front could recover behind Berezina.
051.Simanovichi – 27 June 1944 – 22 turns
“The Escape Door”
Simanovichi, Bobruysk-Slutsk Road
On the third anniversary of the invasion of Russia, Josef Stalin launched a massive onslaught of Red Army forces against Army Group Centre on June 23, 1944. Waves of troops crashed the thin German lines, first in the north, and then progressively farther south until Marshal Rokossovsky's 1st Byelorussian Front attacked the German Ninth Army, just north of the Pripyat marshes.
As the German defenses began to crumble, Rokossovsky committed his southernmost breakthrough group, a cavalry-mechanized unit commanded by General Lieutenant Pliyev. Slipping between the Soviet 28th and 65th Armies, Pliev Cavalry Group raced for the heavy bridge over the Ptich River, which would be the most likely escape route for the tens of thousands of German soldiers fleeing the front from Bobruysk, to the next
city further west, Slutsk. German ad-hoc units formed mainly from security regiments tried to block the Russian cavalry in a swampy terrain just to gain more time for the retreating 9th Army.
052.Slutsk – 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 the Berezina River and kept their momentum in the marshlands of Pripyat.
On 27 June, the 1st Mechanized Corps moved into Glusk, sweeping aside the remnants of the German 35. Infantry Division. By 1700, Soviet armor was pouring through a gap at Glusk in the direction of Slutsk. A very important railway junction, Slutsk was vital for the Soviets maintaining momentum towards 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.
053.Vidzy – 15 July 1944 – 14 turns
“Roadblock to Dvinsk”
Vidzy-Girejsy-Dvinsk Road, Western Belsrus
The Russian Summer offensive shattered the Army Group Center and virtually destroyed two German Armies in two weeks. The success was so overwhelming that Russian spearheads have found their way to Eastern Poland and Baltic Coast open. German High Command sent its scarce reserves to delay the Russian advance while the Red Army's armored columns were exploiting the huge holes on the German Front.
On 15 July, 89th Tank Brigade, the leading unit of the 1st Tank Corps of General Butkov were reconing on
the axis of Dvinsk in the Northernwestern Belarus. The swampy and wooded topography was ideal for ambushes and rearguard actions. Although Soviet tankers were fully alert of the German presence, they had little chance to spot a roadblock before Germans open fire. At noon, leading T34s were cautiously approaching towards a village which looked to be a very suitable position for an ambush.
054.Wolomin – 03 August 1944 – 18 turns
“Holding to Vistula”
Wolomin-Okuniew Road, 20 KM East of Warsaw
The lightening summer campaign brought the Russian armies to the Vistula River at the end of July 1944. Although most of the infantry armies were bogging down with logistical problems and exhaustion from continuous action, the mechanized spearheads pushed one more time to gain footholds at the Vistula. On 28 July 1994, Maj. Gen. A. I. Radzievsky's 2nd Tank Army, which had been turned north from the Magnuszew region to strike at Warsaw, engaged German 73rd Infantry Division and the Hermann Goering Panzer Division 40 kilometers southeast of Warsaw. Unaware of the presence of strong armored forces on their right flank, 3rd Tank Corps pushed aside the resistance and attacked towards the key towns of Wolomin and Radzymin.
Beginning on 30 July, Field Marshal W. Model, the commander of Army Group Center, organized counterattacks on the Russian armored spearheads that were forcing their way towards Warsaw. On 3 August, Germans committed the 4th Panzer Division and the 5th SS Panzer Division "Viking" into the fight.
Both formations struck at the critical Okuniew - Wolomin axis to disrupt enemy movement and isolate the forward units.
On 3 August; Oberscharführer Gerhard Fischer, a decorated tank ace from the Jagdpanzer Abteilung "Viking", moved his Jagdpanzer IV to a road junction near Wolomin. His orders were to intercept the Russian armor moving to his direction and gain time for the entire division which was still on the move. Fischer was supported by a company of panzergrenadiers from the regiment "Germania". With the rising sun, the SS troopers defending the road junction were alerted by the tank engine sounds from the 50th Tank Brigade, the leading unit of the 3rd Tank Corps.
055.Basinow – 06 August 1944 – 16 turns
“Stalins to the Rescue”
Basinow, Magnuzsew Bridgehead
The Soviet attack on Lublin-Brest axis has caught the German command, which was preoccupied with the disaster in Belarussia, off-guard. On July, 1st Belorussian front’s attack from Pripet marshes achieved a quick penetration and Russian spearheads reached the Vistula River in 6 days. While overstretched lines started to slow down the Russian advance, Chuikov’s 8th Guards Army managed to capture a bridgehead at Magnuzsew south of Warsaw on 2 August.
As expected, German response to the Russian presence on the Western side of the Vistula river was violent. 1132nd Volksgrenadier Brigade and 19th Panzer Division launched strong counterattacks from Warka on the eastern side of the Magnuzsew Bridgehead. 45th Volksgrenadier and 17th Infantry Divisions hit the southern flank of the Russian lines. On 5 August, Herman Goering Panzer Division joined the attack on the South. Germans captured Mariampol and Grabnowola and threatened the fragile bridgehead. 4th Guards Rifle Corps
desperately organized new defense lines to delay the enemy advance. Chuikov's main problem was getting his armor on the Western side of the Vistula. 8th Guards Army's pontoon bridges have been under constant air attacks.
On 6 August, Herman Goering's spearheads reached the Russian lines at Basinow and Celinow, 6 km south
of Magnuzsew, where elements of the 35th Guards Rifle Division were deployed. German infantry launched the assault with support from the Panzer Regiment. The same day Russians managed to pass two heavy JSII tanks over the Vistula under heavy bombardment. Chuikov immediately sent the giants to support the hard pressed infantry.
056.Kielce – 16 August 1944 – 18 turns
Kielce-Opatow Road, Southern Poland
During the nights of 13 and 14 August 1944 the 3rd Panzer Division detrained at Kielce in southern Poland. The division's mission was to stop the advance of the Russian forces that had broken through the German lines during the collapse of Army Group Center and to assist the withdrawing German formations building up a new defense line near the upper Vistula. The force was to be led by the 2nd Panzer Battalion consisting of two panzer companies, equipped with Panther tanks, one armored infantry company mounted in armored personnel carriers, and one battery equipped with self-propelled 105mm howitzers.
On 16 August, the leading panzer company under the command of Hauptman Zobel deployed on the Kielce Opatow Road near a heavy bridge. After losing one Panther with the first Russian antitank fire Hauptman
Zobel sent one column southwards for a diversion around a hill dominating the bridge and the village. Unknown to the German commander, the hill was occupied and the Russian troops spotted the diversion early.
057.Jassy – 21 August 1944 – 20 turns
“A Shattering Alliance”
Mare Ridge, 20 KM Southwest of Jassy, Northeastern Romania
The Second Jassy-Kishinev Offensive which aimed the capitulation of Romania and penetration to the Balkan Flank was led off with a massive artillery barrage and air strikes on the axis positions at the Moldovia-Romania Border. General Trofimenko's 27th Army tore a huge gap by destroying the majority of the Romanian 4th Army west of Jassy and started pushing the German 6th Army towards Southeast into a pocket. Early as 10:00, 2nd Ukrainian Front Commander, Gen. Malinovsky committed Kravchenko's 6th Tank Army into the breach.
5th Guards Tank Corps and 5th Mechanized Corps drove south in full speed to gain operational freedom behind the enemy lines. By nightfall, the Russian spearheads reached the third line of the enemy defenses. The wooded "Mare Ridge" was a focal point in the axis defense system in this sector. The ridge was defended by the elements of the German 76th Infantry Division supported by a Rumanian mountain brigade. On 21 August, Colonel Shutov's 20th Guards Tank Brigade launched its attack on this tough enemy position and last line of resistance.
058.Domasin – 31 August 1944 – 25 turns
“A Determined French Lot”
Domasin Heights, Strecno Gap, Slovakia
In 29 August 1944, Slovakian resistance groups launched a national uprising against the German control and the collaborationist government of Jozef Tiso. Based at Banská Bystrica, the rebel army captured two airfields and key road junctions to disrupt the German moves. Heinrich Himmler has sent Obergruppenfuhrer
Gottlob Berger with the task of suppressing the uprising. Berger hastily gathered troops from different parts of Germany and launched immediate attacks on the partisan held cities and passes.
As part of the German countermoves, Kampfgruppe von Ohlen advanced towards Zilina Garrison in order to penetrate the rebel base at Vrutky. Facing, a superior enemy, Slovak Partisans retreated to a favorable position on the hills dominating the meanders of the Vah River. One of the key points in the Slovakian lines was a wooded ridge known as the Domasin Heights. Controlling the roads and the railway tunnel leading into the rebel held valley, Domasin Heights was the primary objective for Colonel von Ohlen.
Interestingly, the hill line was defended not by the Slovaks but French troops under the command of Captain Lannurien. French troops were composed of ex-POWs and labor camp workers; determined to stand against anything the hated Germans send against them. On 31 August, after a brief artillery barrage, German infantry, followed by panzers and assault guns started their advance into the pass. Far away from their country, French soldiers were waiting for them.
059.Radzymin – 10 October 1944 – 16 turns
“Gates of Warsaw”
Radzymin, 20 KM East of Warsaw
The Russian successes in the summer battles brought the Red Army spearheads to the gates of Warsaw on the Eastern side of the Vistula. On 29 July, the 5th Guards Tank Army took Siedlce. The 3rd Guards Tank Corps fought its way to Okunie and Volokin. German command sent the IV.SS Panzer Korps in order to restore the shattered front. SS divisions "Totenkopf" and "Wiking" launched counterattacks towards Radzymin and temporarily halted the Russian advance. Totenkopf immediately organized a defense around the city of Radzymin. The area remained silent until October. On 10 October, Russian troops renewed their offensive to take the key road junction at Radzymin.
060.Cegled – 03 November 1944 – 20 turns
“Bitter Lesson at Cegled”
Halasztelep, Cegled-Orkeny Road, 70 KM South of Budapest
The 1944 Balkan summer offensive has brought the Red Army to the outskirts of the Hungarian capital in October. Soviet armies have destroyed most of the Hungarian Army and mauled the few German panzer divisions that tried to plug every gap on the front. Eager to capture the Hungarian capital and force the Hungarians out of the war, Stalin has ordered one more push towards the capital. Malinovsky, the commander of the 2nd Ukrainian Front replied that his troops needed at least 5 days to prepare which was declined by Stalin, however, who insisted for an immediate attack.
The Russian attack began on October 29th. The mechanized spearheads opened several large holes in the frontline held by the demoralized Hungarian divisions on the first day. However, the Russian push turned out to be a sluggish advance due to a deep autumn mud and logistical problems. The Soviet spearheads' advance towards Budapest created a narrow bulge which was dangerously thin on the flanks since the rifle divisions were unable to keep up the pace. The situation provided a good opportunity for the axis mobile reserves who had learned the art of counterattack after 4 years on the East Front.
On November 3rd, a combined kampfgruppe from the Hungarian 1st Armored Division supported by the elements of the 24th Panzer Division, attacked to penetrate the Russian left flank near the Orkeny - Cegled road. The advance outposts of the 14th Guards Mechanized Brigade have found themselves in a vicious fight to hold the lines against their old foes.
061.Goldap – 03 November 1944 – 20 turns
“Sturmpioneers at Goldap”
Mount Goldap, Eastern Prussia
During the autumn of 1944 the German Fourth Army was engaged in defensive fighting around Gumbinnen in East Prussia. After the Russian 88th Guards Division had succeeded in occupying the town of Goldap on 21 October, the Russian front line formed a salient skirting Goldap. Approximately 2 miles south of Goldap the Russians had occupied an advance position on Mount Goldap which had a commanding view of the surrounding territory. Toward the end of October the commander of the Fourth Army was ordered to retake Goldap.
The plan the German Command drew up called for an envelopment to be launched early on 3 November with the 50th Infantry Division advancing from the southeast while the Fuehrer Escort Brigade was simultaneously driving down from the northwest. To eliminate any threat to the flank of the 50th Infantry Division from the direction of Mount Goldap, the assault engineer battalion directly subordinate to Fourth Army was given the mission of attacking and seizing the forward Russian position from the south.
The Russian advance position on Mount Goldap consisted of a continuous fortified line situated halfway up the southern slope between the two roads leading from Goldap to Angerburg and Szczuczyn, respectively. The summit had been transformed into a strong point with all-around defenses. The main position on the southern slope was protected by wire entanglements, while the approaches to the hill were heavily mined. To achieve maximum surprise, the engineers were to attack Mount Goldap on 3 November, without the usual artillery preparation at daybreak.
During the preceding night the battalion assembled directly south of the hill. During the last hours before
dawn mine-clearing teams succeeded in clearing several lanes through the mine field. Promptly at 0700 the battalion launched its attack in a misty and cold day break. It soon became obvious that the Russians had observed the activities of the mine-clearing teams and redeployed their machine guns to cover the German axis of advance.
062.Polgardi – 23 December 1944 – 18 turns
“Fire Brigade at the Margit Line”
Polgardi, 16 KM Southwest of Szekesfehervar, Hungary
The Soviet offensive aiming the encirclement of Budapest was started on 20 December 1944. Despite the bad weather, the northern pincer, Malinovsky's 7th Guards Army broke through towards Esztergom on the first day, and the 6th Guards Tank Army, under General Kravchenko, took Leva and crossed the Gran river on the second day. The southern pincer, Tolbukhin's 3rd Ukrainian Front launched its assault on the Margit Line East of Lake Balaton after a heavy artillery barrage. On the same day, Tolbukhin's forces achieved a penetration 5 km wide. 7th Mechanized Corps slipped through the narrow penetration and captured the important road junction at Szekesfehervar.
Despite the success, southern pincer's penetration was narrow and vulnerable on the flanks. Colonel-General Maximilian Fretter-Pico, commander of the German 6th Army, organized counterattacks on the flanks of the Russian penetration. Breith's III. Panzer Korps launched furious attacks on the left flank of Tolbukhin's forces that were trying to advance northwards toward Budapest.
Polgardi, a small farming town 16 km southwest of Szekesfehervar had been saved from the destruction of the war. On December 1944, it suddenly became a frontline. As a key position guarding the left flank of the Soviet advance, the town witnessed heavy fighting. In three days, Polgardi changed hands seven times. This scenario depicts the German counterattack led by the elements of the 503rd Heavy Panzer Detachment on 23 December.
063.Biejkov – 16 January 1945 – 20 turns
“No Time for Excuses”
Biejkov, Pilica River, 18 KM Southwest of Warka
With the first lights of 14 January, two days after Koniev's attack at Sandomierz, 1st Belorussian Front commenced its assault from the Magnuszew Bridgehead south of Warsaw. On the left, 8th Guards Army stormed through the shattering German front. Despite German counterattacks by the two reserve Panzer divisions (25th and 19th) Soviet forces achieved a clean breakthrough by noon. At this point, the front commander Zhukov released Katukov's 1st Guards Tank Army which slipped through the hole in the enemy
lines and advanced westwards towards Lodz.
The leading unit of the 1st Guards Tank Army was Colonel Gusakovskii's 44th Guards Tank Brigade. The dashing colonel reached the Pilica River on the night of 15-16 January. Having immediate orders to secure
passings on the River Pilica, Gusakovskii sent his mechanized infantry over the frozen river on foot. Engineers found a ford and blew a lane through the ice for the tanks. Meanwhile, the Soviet infantry formed a perimeter near Biejkov on the other side of the river. Without heavy weapons and armor they waited for the German counterattack. On 16 January, 25th Panzer Division launched a heavy assault from the direction of Bialobrzegi.
064.Mniszek – 16 January 1945 – 20 turns
“Get the Ball Rolling”
Mniszek, 20 KM West of Radom, Poland
Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front opened its attack on the German Ninth Army from the Magnuszew and Pulawy bridgeheads at 08:30 on January 14 after a heavy bombardment. At Pulawy, The 33rd and 69th Armies gained a 30 km breakthrough in the direction of Radom. 69th Army's attack was particularly successful and the defending LVI Panzer Korps disintegrated under heavy pressure on its flanks. Limited
counterattacks by the 19th Panzer Division were repulsed and by the end of the day Soviet infantry captured Radom. At this point, Zhukov released the 11th Tank Corps, the exploitation force of the 69th Army, which rolled on towards the Radomka and Pilica Rivers.
On 16 January, spearheading tanks from the 65th Tank Brigade reached the Radomka River and engaged in a fight against the elements of the 19th Panzer Division. At noon, an armored probe aimed at the bridge at Mniszek was stopped by a German anti-tank screen. The Soviet commander sent a detachment of tanks southwards to outflank the German positions. At 13:00, with the help of some sappers, an armored detachment managed to cross the river and outflanked the German garrison Mniszek. The local German command reacted by sending elements of the 27th Panzer Regiment to counter this threat.
065.Pilica – 20 January 1945 – 18 turns
“Nehring's Roving Cauldron”
Pilica River, 6 KM South of Tomaszow, Central Poland
In January 1945, General Walther Nehring was commanding the XXIV Panzer Korps which was built around the 16th and 17th Panzer Divisions. The Korps was deployed to the south of Kielce as an operational reserve of the 4th Panzer Army facing Koniev's forces in the massive Sandomierz Bridgehead on the Vistula. When the 1st Ukrainian Front burst out from the bridgehead on January 12th, both panzer divisions engaged in heavy fighting in order to hold the front together near Kielce. However, on 15 January, Soviet pressure on both sides of Kielce started to isolate the German armored units. Nehring continued the fighting at Kielce until 17 January to gain time for the retreating infantry divisions. On 17 January, after joining with the elements of the LXII Army Korps, Nehring turned northeast to escape the Russian pincer.
For the next 3 days Nehring's cauldron fought its way to reach the friendly positions behind the Pilica River. Using mainly secondary roads and avoiding contact with large enemy concentrations, Nehring's isolated army reached Pilica River at the night of 19 January and located a wooden bridge between the towns of Sulechow and Tomaszow. Most of the German infantry crossed the bridge while engineers were improving its structure to support heavy vehicles and armor. A couple of kilometers to the east, Nehring's rearguard
consisting of the 342nd Infantry Division and 16th Panzer Division occupied high ground to block or delay any Russian probe. On 20 January, after a snowy night, forward units of the 11th Tank Corps advancing from Pulawy Bridgehead towards Lodz caught the German column.
066.Kortau – 21 January 1945 – 18 turns
“A Shocking Parade”
Kortau, Allenstein Suburbs, East Prussia
During the Soviet offensive into East Prussia, Konstantin Rokossosvky's 2nd Belorussian Front shifted north from the bridgehead at Narew. The change of direction caught the 3rd Panzer Army unprepared. On 21 January, Rokossovsky's right wing spearhead, the 3rd Guards Cavalry Corps reached the outskirts of Allenstein without much opposition.
As a result of Goebbels' propaganda, native population had no idea that Red Army was so near and civilians were shocked when the leading elements of the crack 5th Guards Cavalry Division entered the suburb district of Kortau.
The cavalry stormed the town and brushed aside the weak volksturm resistance. A breakthrough to the North on the direction of Konigsberg seemed inevitable. At this vital moment, a recon detachment from the GrossDeutschland Division counterattacked the Russian cavalry.
067.Liebenow – 17 February 1945 – 20 turns
“The Last Offensive”
Liebenow, 20 KM East of Arnswalde
After defeating the German Army at Vistula and conquering Poland and Pomerania, Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front stopped to regroup at Stargard. Due to slow advance of Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky's 2nd Belorussian Front on its right; Zhukov's forces had to deploy in a bulge shape with a vulnerable flank near Stettin. General Heinz Guderian sought the opportunity to hit Zhukov's forces there. Operation
Sonnenwende (Solstice) consisted of a limited counter-attack by the three corps of the 11th SS Panzer Army (Felix Steiner), which was being assembled in Pomerania, against the spearheads of the 1st Belorussian Front. The German forces would initially attack along a fifty km front around Stargard south-eastwards towards Arnswalde, destroying the spearheads of the 61st Army and the 2nd Guards Tank Army, and reaching their ultimate objective at Kustrin.
As part of the 3rd (Germanic) SS Panzer Corps, Führer Begleit Division launched its attack on 17 February and captured Reetz after intense fighting and heavy losses. Led by the 102nd Panzer Regiment, Führer Begleit pushed southwards to capture the town of Liebenow and secure the eastern flank of the entire operation. At noon, the German spearheads approaching Liebenow reported enemy tanks in the town. Those units were part of the 47th Guards Tank Brigade which was sent to delay the German advance on this axis. Having lost the element of surprise, the German command had no choice but attack and hope for the best.
068.Oder – 28 February 1945 – 18 turns
Oder River, 20 KM South of Frankfurt an der Oder
In early February 1945, after the collapse of the German front in Poland in January, the Russian advance ground to a temporary halt east of the Oder River. During February, Russians attempted several breakthroughs near Frankfurt. All of them were repulsed by the stiff German resistance and difficult topography. However, Russians continued their efforts to establish a bridgehead that was going to support the upcoming spring offensive for Berlin; where German command brought ad-hoc units in order to plug the
gaps on the long Oder front.
The 32.SS Grenadier Division, an improvised infantry formation was deployed on the west bank south of Frankfurt an der Oder. Composed of diverse formations such as security guards, SS units, Volkssturm battalions, training classes and children from the Hitlerjugend organization, the 32.SS Grenadier Division was assigned to a 6 km sector along a river bend that formed a salient approximately 15 km south of Frankfurt.
The night of 27-28 February was marked by poor visibility, rain, and strong winds. At 0300 a strong Russian
patrol crossed the river at the north end of the salient on rafts without being observed by the Germans and broke into the positions of the German left flank. The Germans were unaware of the existence of the bridgehead until 0400, when they suddenly heard the engine sounds of Russian tanks that crossed the river on ferries. To block any further enemy advance, the German regimental commander ordered two companies to assemble near the woods blocking the northern approaches. At 0530 the German infantry near the woods
were attacked by a force driving from the north.
069.Golzow – 22 March 1945 – 22 turns
“Encounter of the Beasts”
Golzow, 12 KM NW of Kustrin
While the battle inside the fortress Kustrin was still raging, the 5th Shock Army and the 8th Guards Army began their operations along the autobahn linking Kustrin to Seelow. On the western side of Oder, the 56th Panzer Korps were standing on their way. The most powerful unit in the German OOB was a kampfgruppe from the "Brandenburg" Panzergrenadier Division. The armored kampfgruppe equipped with Panthers and
King Tigers, engaged in a heavy and costly battle against the Soviet spearheads forcing their way towards Neu Tucheband and Seelow. The counterattack by the panzer group stopped the Russian armor on both side of the autobahn. Stopped dead on their tracks, the Russians tried their chances on the Northern flank.
General Berzarin, the commander of the 5th Shock Army, sent the 47th Guards Rifle Division to outflank the German formations around the Kustrin - Seelow autobahn. The guardsmen were closely supported by the tanks from the 50th Heavy Tank Regiment. The Soviet attack focused on the town of Golzow which was defended by a thin line of infantry from the headquarters company. Four Panthers from the Kampfgruppe "Brandenburg" were providing support for the grenadiers. The heavy artillery and katyusha barrage surprised
the German troops in Golzow. A line of T34s started their advance under the artillery barrage. Russian infantry and heavy armor were following them closely.
070.Kleschkau – 22 March 1945 – 16 turns
“Claw of the Panther”
Kleschkau, Near Danzig, Pomerania
At the end of 1944, the 4th Panzer Division was transferred from Courland to Danzig. The division was deployed in the area between Danzig and Stargard where it involved in heavy defensive fighting. The unit no longer existed as a cohesive entity; rather, elements from the 35th Panzer Regiment were sent to different sectors to help the grenadiers that were struggling under the heavy attacks by General Vlasov's 2nd Shock Army. On March, one panzer company led by Leutnant Tautorus, had been split up into small fire brigades and placed under the command of various grenadier units south of Danzig.
Oberfeldwebel Herman Bix, one of the top aces of the Panzerwaffe, was commanding a platoon under Tautorus command. The company had no battle ready tanks left but they were given six new Jagdpanthers that had been originally destined for an assault gun company. Bix who had achieved ace status in a Panther,
has found another deadly weapon with an excellent gun.
On 22 March 1945, near Kleschkau, Bix had taken up a position with his Jagdpanther at the edge of the village overlooking the positions grenadiers recently abandoned. He had orders for covering the infantry's withdrawal and stopping a possible enemy probe into the town. Other two Jagdpanthers of his command were deployed at the rear due to supply problems. All cover Bix enjoyed was a small platoon of panzer crews who had no tanks to use. At 08:00, Bix's patience paid off. A column of lend lease Sherman tanks
appeared down the road. It was time for Herman Bix to show his skills behind an even deadlier gun.
071.Seelow – 17 April 1945 – 28 turns
“Brauer's Hardest Hour”
Seelow Heights, Kustrin-Berlin Autobahn
9. Fallschirmjäger Division was formed in December 1944 in Stettin under the command of General Bruno Bräuer who was a veteran of the Crete Campaign. Most of the high and middle rank officers of the unit were veterans of the operations in Holland, Italy and Balkans. However, despite its grand name, the 9. Fallschirmjäger Division was composed of Luftwaffe ground personnel with no combat experience. This fact proved to be decisive in the upcoming battles.
In January 1945, division sent two battalions to reinforce fortress Breslau. Rest of the division was deployed in the Seelow Heights to counter the inevitable Soviet attack on Berlin. The 9. Fallschirmjäger Division was positioned between Seelow and Neuhardenberg. On 16 April, the day the Russian attack started, they received the full force of the artillery bombardment by Marshal Georgi Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front. Most of the forward elements of the division routed under the heavy barrage. 27th Parachute Regiment's commander Oberst Menke's and General Brauer's frantic efforts barely managed to rally the troops. On 17 April, the division was holding the area east of Seelow near the train station. The attack of the 4th Guards Rifle Corps (8th Guards Army) started with another heavy artillery and katyusha barrage. Russian infantry, supported by assault troops and dozens of tanks, cautiously advanced towards the German forward positions. Once again, veteran officers of the Fallschirmjäger had the desperate task of maintaining order among the inexperienced troops.
072.Klosterdorf – 19 April 1945 – 20 turns
“The Last Glory”
Klosterdorf, 20 KM East of Berlin
In April of 1945, SS-Hauptscharführer Karl Körner, one of the platoon commanders of the sSSPzAbt 503 was supporting an infantry counterattack in the Bollersdorf area east of Berlin. As part of the III SS
Panzer Corps under Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner, sSSPzAbt 503 was attached to the 11th Waffen SS Panzergrenadier Division "Nordland". Four King Tigers of the 503rd SS Heavy Panzer Battalion were positioned to interdict the main axis of advance of the Soviet 2nd Guard Tank Army's thrust towards Strausberg on April 19, 1945. Körner's group was deployed to engage the enemy on a Hill near the town of Klosterdorf. Meanwhile, Russian 11th Tank Corps was heading on the road linking Grünow to Klosterdorf.
King Tigers opened fire to take advantage of their 88mm guns.
073.Muncheberg – 19 April 1945 – 15 turns
“Rearguard at Müncheberg”
Müncheberg, 30 KM East of Berlin
Tenacious German defense at the Seelow Heights effectively blocked Zhukov's 1st Belarussian Front's advance for a week. However, after continuous heavy fighting, Russian numerical superiority in soldiers and
equipment overwhelmed the German lines. Making things worse, Koniev's 1st Ukrainian Front's penetration to the south at Neisse created a huge gap on the German right wing. German 9th Army started a fighting withdrawal towards Berlin suburbs on 18 April. Zhukov's spearhead, Katukov's 1st Guards Tank Army was aggressively pursuing the German troops in order to cut the retreat route on Kustrin-Berlin autobahn.
On 19 April, remnants of the "Müncheberg" Panzer Division was ordered to the city the division was born
and got its name. Müncheberg was an important objective located between Berlin and Seelow Heights on the Kustrin-Berlin autobahn. Germans hastily organized a rearguard defense around the city. Jagdtigers from the Panzerabteilung 682 were sent to provide the much needed antitank punch against the Russian spearhead
which was just on the heels of the Germans.
074.Baruth – 25 April 1945 – 20 turns
“End of the Road at Baruth”
Baruth, 11 KM West of Halbe
On April 16 the Soviets started the Battle of Berlin with a three Front attack across the Oder-Neisse line. By April 21 they broke through the German front line in two places and started to surround Berlin. The high speed of the advance of Koniev's 1st Ukrainian Front threatened Ninth Army with envelopment by the two massive Soviet pincers that were heading for Berlin from the south and east. The area (known as Halbe Pocket) into which the Ninth Army had been pushed by troops of the 1st Belorussian and 1st Ukrainian Fronts was a region of lakes and forests south-east of Fürstenwalde.
On April 25th, after receiving Hitler's orders which permitted a breakout in a westerly direction to link up with Wenck's 12th Army, 9th Army's commander Theodor Busse formed two battlegroups to lead the attack. Kampfgruppe von Luck, consisting of the 21st Panzer Division and Kampfgruppe Pipkorn, containing the 35th SS and Police Grenadier Divisions, both named after their commanders, attempted a break-out in the direction of the road centre of Baruth to obtain the use of roads to Luckenwalde and Jüterbog. Initially Colonel Hans von Luck made good progress across the Berlin-Dresden autobahn and paved the way for the huge infantry column behind him in the heavily wooded area around Halbe.
Russian reaction to the breakout attempt was quick. Gordov's 3rd Guards Army was rushed into positions close to the Berlin-Dresden autobahn to block all the forest roads leading from east to west. By the night of 25 April, Kampfgruppe von Luck reached the road center at Baruth and hit the defenses of the 50th Guards Rifle Division which had been reinforced by dug-in Stalin tanks. The upcoming night battle was to decide the fate of the 80.000 German soldiers trapped in the Halbe Pocket.
075.Moltke Bridge – 29 April 1945 – 20 turns
“Gateway to Reichstag”
Moltke Bridge, Spree Canal, Berlin City Center
After the unsuccessful attack to capture the Moltke Bridge which was the only intact structure on the Spree Canal in order to enter the Reichstag area, on 28 April, General Kuznetsov, the commander of the 3rd Shock Army designed another assault on the next day. On 29 April, 756th Rifle Regiment (General Shatilov's 150th Rifle Division) deployed at the Alt Moabit, near the Moltke Bridge. Contrary to the failed 28 April attack, Russian troops managed to move artillery and katyushas which provided much needed indirect firepower for the advancing formations. The Russian troops were also supported by the heavy tanks from Kirichenko's 9th Tank Corps.
The approaches to the Moltke Bridge was defended by an ad-hoc force which was formed around the remnants of the SS Anhalt Regiment, 9th Fallschirmjager Division and Kriegsmarine soldiers organized into several Kampfgruppes under Hauptsturmführer Babic's command. The German defenses in the area were centered on the Ministry of Interior and Diplomatic Quarter Buildings, all massive concrete structures German troops turned into powerful strongholds. German troops also had armor and flak support from the direction of the Konigsplatz. With all the heavy guns zeroed to the Bridge and the fanatical defenders dug-in in massive government buildings, Shatilov's men had a daunting mission to secure the area for the upcoming attack on the big prize, the Reichstag.
076.Potsdammer Platz – 30 April 1945 – 16 turns
Potsdammer Platz, Berlin
By the end of April 1945, German defenders of "Festung Berlin" found themselves trapped in a shrinking pocket under an overwhelming pressure from three Soviet armies. On 30 April, spearheads of General Barzarin's 5th Shock Army reached Potsdammer Platz a couple of blocks away from the Brandenburg Gate.
In order to stop the Russian advance German Festung command sent urgent messages to the tactical reserve,
the 503rd SS Heavy Panzer Detachment which had only two operational Tigers. Unterscharführer Karl-Heinz Turk, commanding one of the remaining King Tigers, received orders to drive towards Potzdamer Platz and engage the Russian armor threatening the grenadiers in that sector.
077.Tiergarten – 02 May 1945 – 18 turns
“Out of the Cauldron”
Tiergarten, Berlin City Center
With the coming of May, the bloody fight for Germany's capital started to ease off. Hitler was dead and General Krebs was working on cease fire negotiations with Chuikov. Red Army soldiers' fighting attitude
too changed as they were aware end was near and nobody wanted to get killed in the last hours of the war.
Around Tiergarten and Reichstag, isolated German resistance continued. However on 2 May the surviving soldiers gathered in larger parties for breakthrough attempts to the west and northwest. One of such attempts was undertaken by a battlegroup consisting remnants of 9th Parachute Division and Panzer Division "Müncheberg". German breakout attempt was supported by a handful of armored vehicles including an IR device equipped Panther from the 29th Panzer Regiment. Bogdanov's 2nd Guards Tank Army was standing between them and freedom.
078.Prague – 07 May 1945 – 18 turns
“Der Führer's Last Battle”
Troja Bridge, Prague City Center
After the heavy fighting in Vienna, 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich’s various units were sent to different parts of the frontline. One group remained in Austria; another battlegroup was deployed near Dresden.
Ostubaf Otto Weidinger's "Der Führer" Panzergrenadier Regiment, which was combined with the armored recon battalion and one battalion from the artillery regiment, was reformed as a kampfgruppe. On 5 May 1945, "Der Führer" was ordered to advance Prague where an uprising controlled the city. "Der Führer" was to attack towards Prague's city center; suppress the rebellion and relieve the surrounded German garrison.
Regiment's advance started on 6 May. In the past 2-3 days Czech resistance fighters had placed dozens of road blocks to delay the German advance and "Der Führer" had to stop several times to remove those roadblocks. Czech resistance stiffened in the suburbs. However SS troopers got the upper hand with superior firepower and experience. On 7 May, "Der Führer" was one step away from the city center. The Troja Bridge over the Vltava River remained as the only obstacle between the surrounded garrison and the "Der Führer". Hstuf. Johann Schulzer’s II. Battalion which was supported by armored recon vehicles launched its assault on the bridge. That day was to be the last battle of "Der Führer"s long war.
079.Battle of Tali-Ihantala_1 – 25 June 1944 – 16 turns
“Counterattack at Portinhoikka”
Portinhoikka, 2 KM Northwest of Tali
Historical Background: The Soviet objective in the massive Karelian summer offensive of 1944 was to destroy the Finnish Army, penetrate deep into Finnish territory, and force Finland into capitulation.
After a heavy artillery barrage by the Leningrad Front, the main offensive started on June 10, focusing on the key Finnish stronghold at Valkeasaari. Colonel General Dmitrii N. Gusev's 21st Army achieved a quick penetration on the initial Finnish defenses and pressed forward to the second Finnish Line. The second Finnish line known as VT-line (Vammelsuu-Taipale) was breached in Sahakylä and Kuuterselkä on June 14. After a failed counterattack in Kuuterselkä by the Finnish armored division "Lagus", the Finnish defense
had to be pulled back to the VKT-line (Viipuri - Kuparsaari - Taipale). On June 20, the Soviet juggernaut captured the historic city of Viipuri. Despite the Red army's great success in smashing two Finnish defense lines and capturing Karelian Isthmus in ten days, it had failed to destroy the Finnish IV Army Corps (Gen. Laatikainen) which managed to withdraw to the VKT-line. The Finnish Army was determined to hold the VKT-Line at all costs since it was the only obstacle between Red Army and their homeland. After the fall of Viipuri Soviet forces launched their attack on the VKT-Line on 24 June. They especially focused on the Tali-Portinhoikka axis where they expected the decisive breakthrough. The following battle of attrition known as the Battle of Tali-Ihantala was one of the heaviest engagements of the Second World War.
Tactical Situation: Main Soviet attack on the Tali position started at 07:30 on the 25th of June. 30th Guards Rifle Corps reinforced the Russian units in this sector. The Russian attack sought a breakthrough on the Eastern and Western shores of the Lake Leitimojärvi. The attack on the eastern side of the lake was stopped by the Finnish 4th Division. However, on the western shore Soviet tanks from the 27th Tank Regiment were able to force their way to the Portinhoikka crossroads. Possession of Portinhoikka was vital for the Finns whose units were at risk of being cut off and surrounded. At 12:00 hours; Finnish command managed to organize a counterattack led by the Armored Division "Lagus". The spearhead of the Finnish attack was the elite 3rd Jaeger Battalion supported by an assault gun detachment.
080.Battle of Tali-Ihantala_2 – 27 June 1944 – 18 turns
“Return to Motti Tactics”
Talinmylly, Portinhoikka-Tali Road
Tactical Situation: Counterattack of the Armored Division "Lagus" effectively stopped the Russian advance on Portinhoikka and badly mauled the 27th Tank Regiment which fell back in disorder. Finnish forces
continued their attack southward towards Tali to trap the Soviet units near Lake Leitimojärvi. 46th Guards Rifle Division joined by the 30th Guards Tank Brigade formed a hedgehog defensive position near the village of Talinmylly. At 17:00, 27 June 1944, leading elements of the "Lagus" Armored Division launched their attack on Talinmylly.
081.Battle of Tali-Ihantala_3 – 29 June 1944 – 18 turns
“Crisis at the Portinhoikka Junction”
Portinhoikka Junction, 3 KM Southeast of Ihantala
Tactical Situation: The unsuccessful attack on Talinmylly was a missed opportunity for the Finnish command. After repulsing the attack, the Russians consolidated their positions on the both sides of the Tali - Portinhoikka road. The Red Army resumed its advance on 29 June on two axes. Led by the 46th Guards Rifle Division, one axis attacked the vital Portinhoikka junction; the other one pointed towards the Ihantala village on the Finnish left flank. Threatened by Russian advance on both flanks, Finnish 4th Army Korps was retreating to form new positions North of Portinhoikka. The 3rd Jaeger Battalion was ordered to defend the road junction and gain time for the retreating comrades.
082.Battle of Tali-Ihantala_4 – 02 July 1944 – 20 turns
“The Final Act at Ihantala”
Tactical Situation: Between 29 June and 02 July, Russians tried to achieve a clear breakthrough at and around Portinhoikka crossroads. Despite suffering heavy losses the Finnish 4th Army Corps managed to maintain a continuous line and retreated to new defensive positions further north. On 02 July, Russian pressure switched to the Northeast. 63rd Guards Rifle Division, supported by the 30th Tank Brigade, was
searching a weak spot to outflank the Portinhoikka position. Finnish 12th Infantry Regiment (6th Division) was defending a tiny village named Ihantala on the way of the Russian onslaught. The Finnish command had successfully deployed its limited artillery assets in the sector. At the dawn of 02 July, forward elements of the 63rd Guards reached Ihantala. The Battle for Ihantala village was the climax of the monumental battle of attrition. Near this remote Karelian village the Finns gave one of their crucial fights to resist capitulation and postwar Soviet domination.
083.Operation Sudwind_1 – 17 February 1945 – 18 turns
“Breaching the Line”
Hill 190, Near Svodin, Slovakia
Historical Background: After the failure of the Ardennes Offensive, the bulk of the 6th SS Panzer Army were sent to Hungary to block the Red Army's advance into Austria and southeast Europe. This move was part of a broader plan Hitler designed; a counterattack against the Russian troops near Lake Balaton which was to relieve the Hungarian capital. However, before the attack, German command must have secured their left flank. In order to secure the flank of the Balaton Offensive, German command planned an operation to eliminate a strong Russian bridgehead west of Danube River near Gran (Esztergom). Codenamed "Operation Sudwind" (South Wind), the attack against the Russian bridgehead was led by the newly arrived forces of the 1st SS Panzer Korps (Gruppenführer H. Priess) which were supported by Wehrmacht infantry divisions. 1st SS Panzer Division "LSSAH" was deployed as the schwerpunkt of the attack. Divisional commander, Brigadeführer Otto Kumm assigned Jochen Peiper as the spearhead of the advance. This campaign portraits actions of a combat group belongs to Kampfruppe Peiper on their road to Danube.
Tactical Situation: The German attack on the Gran bridgehead started with the first lights of 17 February with an artillery barrage on the Soviet positions holding northern part of the bridgehead. 46th Infantry Division led the attack on Svodin in order to pave the way for the panzers of Kampfgruppe Peiper. However their attack was bogged down under a strong Russian artillery fire. An hour later, Kamfgruppe Peiper was committed to gain the momentum. German armored column specifically avoided towns and attacked the countryside. Hill 190, located a couple of kms east of Svodin was the first obstacle on their way. Hstuf
Erich Grätz' panzergrenadiers supported by armor including the King Tigers, launched the attack on Hill 190.
084.Operation Sudwind_2 – 17 February 1945 – 20 turns
“Bridge for the Tigers”
Pariszky Canal, 12 KM North of Danube River
Tactical Situation: After defeating the Soviet strongpoint at Hill 190, Kampfgruppe Peiper continued its rapid advance southwards to the Danube River. At the end of the day, German column reached Pariszky Canal, one of the natural obstacles Soviets can form a defensive line. Peiper's grenadiers lost no time and launched an attack in order to capture a bridgehead across the canal. Unable to cross the light canal bridges, panzers provided close support.
085.Operation Sudwind_3 – 18 February 1945 – 18 turns
“Night Watch at Pariszky”
Pariszky Canal, Gran Bridgehead, Slovakia
Tactical Situation: By the end of 17 February, panzergrenadiers defeated the Russian defenses and managed to secure a narrow bridgehead on the other side of the Pariszky Canal. Since the two bridges KG Peiper captured could not support heavy vehicles, pioneers started building a pontoon bridge in order to move tanks and continue the advance towards Danube. Until then, panzergrenadiers were alone on the Soviet side of the Canal. They dug-in and waited for the Russian counterattack. At 01:00 Russians came with tanks.
086.Operation Sudwind_4 – 19 February 1945 – 20 turns
“Closing the Door at Parkany”
Parkany, Southeastern Corner of the Gran Bridgehead, Slovakia
Tactical Situation: After securing the bridges over the Pariszky Canal, Kampfgruppe Peiper resumed its advance southwards. By the end of 18 February, German column reached Muzla which was captured by a spearhead from the 12.SS Panzer Division "Hitlerjugend". Bypassing Muzla, Peiper advanced towards Nana and Parkany in order to reach Danube and isolate the Russian troops fighting in the north. At 13:00 leading companies of the KG Peiper launched their attack on Parkany. Kampfgruppe Krause from the "Hitlerjugend"
was also racing from south. Soviet infantry and armor from the 14th Guards Mechanized Brigade had formed a perimeter around the town, especially strong near the railway station at the northern outskirts of Parkany.
087.Battle for Tempelhof_1 – 23 April 1945 – 16 turns
“Into the Heart of the Reich”
Teltow Canal, Neukoln, Southeastern Suburbs of Berlin
Historical Background: General Vassily Chuikov's 8th Guard Army was born in the ashes of Stalingrad as the 62nd Army. After the victory at Stalingrad, they participated in nearly every important battle in the massive clash known as the East Front. The tides of war brought the guardsmen to Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Germany. 8th Guards Army was Zhukov's spearhead in the hard and costly battles of Küstrin and Seelow Heights. On 23 April 1945, after 4 years of hardship, the guardsmen were at the outskirts of Berlin, the capital of their nemesis. The 8th Guards Army, along with Katukov's 1st Guards Tank Army, entered the German capital from the southeast; advancing towards Neuköln and Kreuzberg. Zhukov ordered Chuikov the capture of the Tempelhof Airport, the largest airport the Nazi leaders could use to escape the Soviet grip. The campaign portrays an assault group's actions during the battle for the Tempelhof Airport.
Tactical Situation: The first considerable obstacle on 8th Guards Army's path was the Teltow Canal southeast of the NeuKöln district. Russians organized special assault groups for the operation. Relatively small, those assault groups included heavily armed crack soldiers that were experienced in street fighting. On the evening of 23 April; Leitenant Dmitri Nesterenko's assault group took their positions on the eastern shore of the Teltow Canal. Germans seemed to blow all bridges in this sector. However Nesterenko noticed that one of the destroyed bridges still provided movement over the debris. Under the low visibility created by the burning houses he ordered his man to grasp the opportunity and surprise the SS defenders at the other side of Canal. Carrying some rubber boats, the guardsmen leaped forward despite the heavy odds.
088.Battle for Tempelhof_2 – 25 April 1945 – 16 turns
“A Wagnerian Night”
Evangelist Cemetery, Kreuzberg, Near Tempelhof
Tactical Situation: After securing the Neuköln District, the 8th Guards Army launched its attack on the Tempelhof Airport. Rather than assaulting directly, General Chuikov sent two pincers in order to isolate the area to deny the use of the aircrafts by the Nazi leadership for an escape attempt. The right hand of the pincer was 39th Rifle Division which advanced towards Kreuzberg and tried to cut the S-Bahn and isolate Tempelhof from North. In 25 April, heavy fighting continued near the S-Bahn that linked the Neuköln area to the city center. Especially road junctions were heavily contested. Remnants of the SS Division “Nordland", supported by a handful of armored vehicles, had setup ambush points in the area. One particularly dangerous point was a road junction that linked Kreuzberg with Wilmersdorf near an old Evangelist Cemetery. Nesterenko's assault group led the way for the riflemen and heavy tanks of the 34th Heavy Tank Regiment in a night assault. The sounds of battle, the light from the burning houses and the scene of an 18th Century Cemetery were yet to draw another gothic imagery in the last days of the Reich.
089.Battle for Tempelhof_3 – 26 April 1945 – 16 turns
“Next Stop Tempelhof”
Tempelhof Airport, Berlin
Tactical Situation: After isolating their objectives, the 39th Guards Rifle Division turned south for the final assault on the Tempelhof Airport. With the first lights of 26 April, Soviet riflemen and tanks launched multiple attacks. Leitenant Nesterenko's group spearheaded one of those assaults in order to capture the administrative buildings of the airport. German defenses had been bolstered by the arrival of the Panzer Division "Müncheberg". Panzergrenadiers, dug-in tanks, elements of the volksturm and Tempelhof's anti-aircraft batteries put up a fierce but desperate resistance against the Soviet onslaught.
090.Battle for Tempelhof_4 – 27 April 1945 – 16 turns
“The Chapel at the Corner”
Kurfurstenstrasse, 3 KM Southeast of Reichstag
Tactical Situation: On 26 April 1945, Tempelhof Airport was firmly in Russian hands. After securing the runway and eliminating last resistance pockets 8th Guards Army resumed its advance towards the city center. At Kurfürstenstrasse, a couple of blocks northwest of Tempelhof a heavy tank was immobilized by a booby-trap. Leitenant Nesterenko's group advanced forward and formed a perimeter centered on a chapel located in an intersection and waited for the rest of the Battalion. At 03:00AM, a heavy armored attack was launched by the remnants of the SS Division "Nordland".