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AAR Zerachnaya bridgehead defence afternoon 16th July


We've played more than half a dozen games in our campaign of 6 Panzer Divisions  of divisions defence of theLuga river bridgehead in July of 1941 but these have been small affairs the 500 or less points. At the end of the first afternoon the forces on our campaign map marshalled into something that looked like it might make a good big game so my opponent Russ Mason and myself decided we would set aside a Saturday and play 1000 point battle ,a  large company size game.


I selected my forces from the Panzer division lists in the Battlegroup Barbarossa book and my opponent selected from the infantry division list in the Soviet section of the same book we decided the appropriate scenario for the battle would be the Bridgehead Breakout scenario although we re titled it bridgehead defence. That would mean that the Soviet forces were deploying from a strip 15 inches deep on one side whilst I was in an area on the other side at 20 inches in radius around the road. We rolled for our initial forces are you're a small only got 3 so deployed both my scout forces and a single anti tank gun plus infantry support and  my opponent roll 4 and the president chose to deploy mainly his T26 tanks along with his far greater number of reconnaissance forces including a couple of snipers and a lot of armoured cars. My single sniper was placed right at the front came the furthest forward position I would have. Where he engaged a long and interesting it sniper duel with the Soviet sniper opposite him which  flowed across the game and gave it a wonderful narrative. 

Sdkfz11 and Pak38 deployed 

Sniper scout in old trench line 
Kradschitzen MG team cover the road 

My original plan had been to deploy my anti tank guns to the rght  flank and my Panzer 35t tanks to the other flank to make two gun lines hoping to trap the inevitable Soviet tanks assault  with guns to either side forcing them to turn their flank to one or the other and destroying them in detail with artllery ( mostly Stuka timed strikes and on table guns and Nebelwurfers ) meanwhile my infantry would protect the guns and provide a solid defence in the area around the road which leads to a very important dam across the river our campaign map. However plans do not survive first contact with the enemy..

HQ Pz. Bef.wg,  35t  and motorcycle dispatch rider and wire team 


With my initial forces deployed the battle got underway with the attack by the Soviet Armoured car a Ba 10 and Ba 6. These are  fearsome beasts in 1941 with a 45mm gun. But I had included a Panzerjaeger battery of  two 50 millimeter anti tank guns precisely because of the threat from the Soviet guns. The pak 38’s would give me a long range punch.

Pinned down i the village by persistent artillery. 
Soviet fire on the cross road. as tanks advance. Problems with reserve led to a  characteristically badly coordinated attack by Soviets.  

After initial deployment and seeing where the Soviet armoured cars were I decided to change the deployment setting up one my first anti tank gun on the road to prevent any rapid advance unless as soon as the second one arrived it would had for the left flank to block any advance through the fields there. The Soviets inevitably I suppose lead with their tank forces mostly T26 is of various types including at least one flying tank and it might add a huge T28 tank which headed straight down the road into town I felt I felt fairly confident that my pack 38 was a match for it and left that on Ambush fire fire however the problem will be keeping the gun unpinned. As the Soviets supported their advance with lashings of artillery in the form of four or five timed strikes a turn from 76mm and 122mm gun batteries. 

Panzerjaeger claim a Ba-10 as victim. 

Soviet artillery's fire was fierce and kept a constant attrition of Battle rating 

Initially led by the armoured cars the tanks moved towards my left flank so I reinforce this with infantry and the rapidly arriving antitank tank gun I was really glad I took the sdkfz 11 half track tow vehicles they raced forward to deploy in the orchard and the open field . One Pak 36 was  destroyed by artillery fire another took several casualties but by taking chits I was able to keep them unpinned about the armoured cars tried to rush the line one was destroyed and the others withdrew the tanks thought the better of it and headed for the other flank but by that time my own panzers were heading to form a good line and I also had so unpleasant surprises install in the full of a battery of two IG33 infantry guns and from Wurframmen 41 naval worth of battery. Then began the race between my forward observers and the pinning Soviet artillery to get  all these on the area where his tanks would wish to advance under FAO observation.  I was helped in this with the difficulty of the armoured car getting across a muddy stream very found itself pinned for some time and the Soviets struggling to get their own infantry guns forward through the woods. The commanders having have decided that the road was too dangerous after the first Stuka strike on the road in Turn 2 pinned the entire tank force. Although disappointingly for me didn't destroy a single one! However this slowing down proved vital as my forward observers got into position and any advance towards my right flank would now be through an area observed by artillery fir support. The observers would have a hard time though a sniper would mix exchanging fire with my own sniper with taking potshots at them to try and pin them down at which he was occasionally successful.


IG33 guns "Bender's Organ " as the Infantry gun Company was nicknamed in 6th Pz division Tanks and observer teams  also advance. 
Wurframmen 41 battery reloading - they do a lot of that. 

As more and more of the German infantry arrived and was able to make its way through the still heavy  but slackening Soviet artillery fire and into the buildings around the town and became more and more confident that would be able to hold my own. The Soviet sniper continued to prove a nuisance but between fire from the panzers and appealing artillery fire of the 150 millimeter infantry guns and Nebelwurfer stonks. I was able to inflict steady attrition in both unpinning of Russian tanks and destroying them that led to final Soviet capitulation and withdrawal in turn 9.


Armoured cars failed to spot the mine strike that would KO the T28

Germ sMG34 and Platoon HQ holding the left flank

Pz35t take up fire positions on the right flank as T26 maneuver to advance in the distance 

Soviet artillery pins the guns. White smoke on barrels indicates ambush orders for guns 

German infantry pass a Luftwaffe observer vehicle in Sdkfz 251

Although I'm still not making good use of my counter battery fire four of the additional lists the combination of Stuka strikes label workers and infantry guns which the Russians are unable to counter battery fire as they are placed on the table ( deliberate policy ) I was able to inflict a steady attrition as the Soviets move forward my opponent wasn't helped by a series of poor orders roles mixed in a very unfortunate fashion with very low reinforcements meaning almost none of his infantry arrived until quite late in the game and then all arrived together unlock the orders to move forward that being said Soviets made good use of The OR a special rule style style style to keep the attack moving even when command chaos meant he was lacking orders. Overall in the campaign this leaves the 6th Panzer division Kampfgruppe Raus in roughly the position they were in historically at the end of the first campaign other the second day looks like it might start to diverge from history add launching a mobile raid over Soviet base of operations a small village of Yurki. Now if I could just make better use of that counter battery fire from my off table big guns.

Soviet toatl - just broken and a curious ambphibious light tanks 

Final german total out of 62 BR 


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