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Bolt Action - Eastern Poland June 1944
The Scenario

As if the success of the Russian winter offensive along the Dnieper, with its liberation of Kiev, were not enough to dampen Wehrmacht spirits, German forces on the Eastern Front have been further weakened by the removal of several Panzer Divisions, sent west in a futile attempt to throw the Allied landings in Normandy back into the sea. For the Wehrmacht in Eastern Poland they have now suffered a double whammy as the Fuhrer's strategic brilliance has convinced him the next major Russian offensive will come from the Ukraine and so a substantial number of veteran units have been move south, leaving the defences in Eastern Poland looking distinctly threadbare. Having survived similar situations in earlier Russian Campaigns, the German High Command has attempted to maintain some form of armoured response by organizing their remaining panzers into Kampfgruppes of various strengths, placed in reserve along the front. It is hoped that, should it come to the worst, these veteran Kampfgruppes will be able to blunt the edge of the red storm...

Meanwhile, flushed with success after the Dnieper Offensive, Red Army Command, are overjoyed that the Americans and British have finally landed their arses in France. Intelligence reports of trainloads of German armour heading west are music to their ears. However, the advantage may be temporary as the quality and determination of the Western Allies is not known and should the Germans succeed in routing the invasion forces then the railroads might return that armour, and more besides, to slow down the Red Army’s inevitable victory! The patriotic heroes involved in the Dnieper campaign have suffered heavy losses and are exhausted so must be rested and re-equipped before surging forth again. However, the Germans must not be allowed any respite and the Red Army units along the Polish border are still fresh and eager to play a greater role in the Motherland’s victory.

Setting Up

Some confident looking Russian Commanders...

Some less confident looking German Commanders...

The calm before the storm

The Game

Von Hobbit had decided to concentrate his defences along the western edge of the village rather than meet the Russians at the eastern edge and his units were well dug-in and camouflaged. Scheissmeister’s platoon (with the Stug) were in reserve at the farm where they could either hold as a second line or be called forward into the village. Von Dazz’s telephone link to Divisional HQ was silent.

The Russian plan of attack was to throw both infantry platoons, supported by the capitalist Sherman tanks, directly against the eastern edge of Coityblinka, clearly hoping to use their vastly superior numbers to overwhelm the defenders before help could arrive. Meanwhile the armoured platoon would move out to the north and circle around the village before attacking. If all went well the Germans in Coityblinka would either be overwhelmed or encircled. An extra ration of vodka was issued prior to the attack…

The Russian artillery battalion were awake and the preliminary bombardment arrived on time. Although the Germans only lost 1 man to the Russian shells, it proved to be a significant loss as the PanzerSchreck operator found himself without a loader. Elsewhere the Russian artillery effect varied between causing significant disruption to the dug-in Germans to having no effect whatsoever.

The Russian infantry under Pistov and Krapov cautiously advanced towards the eastern edge of the village, clearly awaiting the dreaded fire of the defenders MG 42’s, however they were greeted with silence. The supporting Shermans moved alongside the infantry but the only sound came from Scheissmeister’s Stug’s MG’s as it cut down an unfortunate infantryman. This had no effect on the Russians as more and more squads and support teams advanced against the village. Krapov’s Russian’s made good use of the cover offered by the wood to the south-east of the village whilst Pistov’s men made use of the much lesser cover available to them. This was clearly no reconnaissance and von Hobbit rapidly contacted his HQ to request urgent reinforcements…

Krapov's Russians advancing from the south-east.

Suddenly fire erupted from several points at the northern side of the village and, as the first Russian troops reached the buildings at the eastern edge of the village, more were cut down. Russian return fire intensified but had little effect on the well concealed Germans. However, disaster (in the form of a Fubar roll) then struck the Germans. Their concealed Pak crew were moving more ammo up to their gun when, as the Russian bullets flew, one of von Hobbit’s squads panicked and mistook this activity for a Russian flanking move. One man opened fire and his panic quickly transmitted to his whole squad who blasted away at the unfortunate artillerymen, wiping them out! This was a bitter blow for von Hobbit as the Pak was a major part of his anti-tank defences.

An old Russian proverb says that trouble loves company and this proved to be the case for the unfortunate Germans. Seeing the Russian tide advancing against them, the German Forward Artillery Observer quickly radioed for artillery support. Tragically, in his haste, he gave inaccurate co-ordinates and, instead of the German shells causing chaos amongst the advancing Russians, they fell well short and wiped out a squad of Scheissmeister’s men who had advanced into the ruin at the crossroads to support von Hobbit’s defence of the village. Thus, not only did the German artillery do nothing to harm the Russians, but it actually destroyed the German reinforcements...a definite double whammy! As if this were not enough, a salvo from the Russian artillery took out the German MMG supporting the northern flank and pinned several more units in the area. The Russian commanders appeared more than content with events thus far.

Things looked even darker for von Hobbit as Russian infantry entered the abandoned buildings at the eastern edge of the village to gain a foothold but a ray of light came for the Germans as Scheissmeister’s Stug successfully targeted one of the Russian Shermans and, true to form, it was quickly burning brightly!

The Russians under Pistov, now flushed with success at the capture of the eastern edge of the village, charged forward to repeat the process with the western half. Unfortunately for the leading squad, they ran into a German ambush and were wiped out, but not before inflicting heavy losses on their antagonists. Unfortunately for von Hobbit’s men, the Russian commanders were clearly working co-operatively and the survivors of Pistov’s attack were quickly set upon by one of Krapov’s squads. Despite inflicting casualties on their new attackers, the surviving Germans were quickly overwhelmed and yet another building secured.

During this time the Russians advancing from the south-east had made steady progress, exchanging fire with the German squad defending a treeline. Although they suffered casualties as they advanced, their numbers and weight of fire was giving them the advantage, despite the Germans use of cover.

The inferior capitalist armour advances to support the glorious heroes of the Red Army.

With the significant Russian progress in Coityblinka, Scheissmeister threw caution to the winds and advanced the Stug to engage the Russian infantry with its machine guns, having some effect against the Red Horde. However, it was at this moment that the Russian T34/85 platoon (with their supporting infantry) came sweeping down from the north and were presented with the flank of the Stug. It was too good an opportunity to miss and within moments the Stug was a burning wreck.

Von Hobbit’s position was now clearly untenable. His last infantry squad was about to be overwhelmed and his few remaining scattered troops were about to be cut off by the advancing Russian armour. He made a final radio call to HQ and was informed that Kampfgruppe Dazz was on its way but it would never arrive in time to help von Hobbits men. It was now a case of everyman trying to fight their way out of the threatened Russian encirclement.

As the Russians finally took complete control of Coityblinka a period of relative quiet descended over the battlefield. The troops of Kampfgruppe Dazz advanced in their half-tracks, supported by the Tiger and another Stug whilst the Russian infantry platoons needed some time to reorganize after the bloody engagement they had just been through. Shots continued to be exchanged between Scheissmeister’s men and the Russians slowly advancing from the south-east and Russian mortar fire continued to cause casualties to the Germans at the farm. A most rare event did occur when a German Folke Wolfe (at least I think that's what they were calling it!) descended from on high to rip a Russian infantry squad apart before returning to base in time for lunch!

Major von Dazz deployed his infantry in good defensive positions, supported by his armour, which appeared to give the Russians pause for serious thought. Having achieved their initial objective, the question was whether they should continue to push forward in the face of this new and powerful German force. It was clear that von Dazz was hoping they would, as this would undoubtedly give him the advantage, but as the Russians themselves took up defensive positions it soon became clear that he was to be disappointed. A small but significant event occurred as both sides jockeyed for position as von Hobbit was stalked and brutally cut down by a Russian infantry squad as he fled through the woods. At the same time a Russian anti-tank team that had advanced too far forward was rapidly gunned down by German machine gun fire.

There followed a long range exchange of shots between the tanks of each side but other than the Stug being hit and it’s crew stunned for a while, this proved insignificant (von Dazz’s Tiger continuing with its record of throwing ‘1’s when targeting the enemy which led to the quip that it was more likely to be commanded by Witless than Wittmann!).

Never, in the field of human conflict, has so many '1's been thrown so often by one tank.

As Kampfgruppe Dazz began to manoeuvre to launch their own assault, there was clear movement from the Russians and their armour moved forward, ready to spearhead a renewed assault. However, their enthusiasm was rapidly lost as the leading T34 was destroyed by an anti-tank round from the Stug, which was itself hit, and its crew again stunned, with moments of its victory. Once again the Tiger’s 88mm gun failed to hit the proverbial barn door – yep, those ’1’s do it every time!

The last act of the battle was the death of Lieutenant Scheissmeister, gunned down at the farm after his half-track was commandeered by a terrified German FAO, intent on personal survival!

Scheissmeister's last stand...the German FAO is about to hijack the halftrack and leave Lt. Scheissmeister to the delicate attentions of Krapov's advancing senses this does not end well!

Before von Dazz could order his intended assault, Divisional HQ ordered an immediate retreat as it was clear the Russians had secured Coityblinka in considerable strength and the Kampfgruppe was far too valuable an asset to be wasted fighting in a built up area.

The overall result was the narrowest of victories to the Russians by 21 points to 20 points.

Personal goals… in addition to the overall aims of each side, each individual commander had a series of personal goals to achieve in the battle.

On the Russian side, the capture of Coityblinka meant that none of the commanders would be facing life in a Gulag or even the firing squad and Major Pistov had performed well enough (having enough of his men push further forward) to be well thought of at Divisional HQ.

On the German side, the incredibly unfortunate von Hobbit had gained more than half the German victory points by his gritty defence of Coityblinka, in the face of overwhelming odds, and has been nominated for a posthumous Iron Cross. Lieutenant Scheissmeister was again unfortunate in that the German artillery destroyed half his troops but put up solid resistance with the remainder until they were overwhelmed. Von Dazz was totally frustrated by the Russian armours refusal to fight in the open against his Tiger (it couldn’t keep rolling those ‘1’’s…or could it?) and the success of his Stug against a T34 just wasn’t enough. Of all the German commanders, he alone survived to face the Russians another day...perhaps at the gates of Berlin itself?
Submitted by Richard on 08/04/2013