Outside Belgorod, August 1943

I often say that you either have time to live or to blog. So you can see from my time between posts that life has taken over a bit. This post is no exception, since the game I’m describing was a spur of the moment thing when I realised I had a few spare hours over the Christmas – New Year break!

Having rebased my 15mm WWII German and Soviet forces, I was itching to use them for a game. Since I’d not finished enough support elements for a company game, I opted for a game of Chain of Command, using one of the scenarios out of the Winter Storm scenario book. I know it’s set in winter 1942, but the weather doesn’t seem to make much difference in the scenarios in the book, also the weaponry in them is top of the line for 1942, so also suitable for the stuff I’ve built for Kursk. So I figured that I’d just use the scenarios as-is. They are inspired by, rather than modelled on, history after all.

I chose scenario 3 in the book, The Defence of Pokhlebin, because that’s the first scenario that I had all the scenery for. It took me a little while to work out a few things when I looked at the scenario in the book because it fails to mention which scenario in the game it represents, and which way the Soviet forces arrive from. A bit of scratching my head and looking at maps ensued, and I went for scenario six, and the Soviets attacking from the north.

Mapping this into the book I’m reading at the moment (George Nipe’s Decision on the Ukraine, which covers Kursk and, with more detail, the operations immediately afterwards) two platoons of Soviet cavalry are assaulting a German outpost, manned by troops of 6. Panzer division, in a village outside Belgorod, on 4 August 1943…

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All set to go.

Leytenant Makarov, in command of a platoon of Soviet cavalry, skilfully infiltrated to the northeast of the village, and made a dash across the open ground to the village outskirts to the cover of a fenceline. I treat fencelines in Soviet villages as farm hedges because they were (and still are) often quite high and overgrown.

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Makarov’s troops dash for cover

The Soviet preparatory barrage was ineffective at keeping the Germans in their shelters. Leutnant Weidner, in command of the German platoon deployed two squads – one lining a fence to the east of the village and the other in reserve.

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Weidner’s troops deploy from their shelters

The Panzergrenadiers poured MG fire onto the second squad of Makarov’s platoon, who were caught in the open. Rostov’s first squad began laying down covering fire, but the second squad was out of action.

The next wave of Soviet cavalry appeared – Leytenant Mozalevsky’s platoon supported by a T-34. The tank fired ineffectively and began moving forward to get a better line of sight. In the copse to the northwest of the village, Obergefreiter Schulz, in command of a Pak 40 anti tank gun, seized the moment. The T-34 was a clear target.

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“Target one o’clock, range 150 meters. Panzergranate 39, T-34″… “Ready”… “Fire!”

The gun fired – and the round hit a small mound of earth and screamed over the top of the tank. The Soviet commander kicked the driver on the left shoulder (kicking was a common means of communicating with crewmen in Soviet tanks thanks to poor intercom systems), and the driver put his foot down, racing for the cover of the village. But by this time the German gunner had his aim in, and the T-34 was knocked out.

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The T-34 burns

Desperate times lead to desperate measures, and under covering fire from Makarov’s remaining squad, Mozalevsky’s platoon charged along the eastern edge of the village to where Weidner’s first squad was somewhat isolated. After a volley from the first squad which wounded the German squad leader, the second squad closed in.

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Mozalevsky’s squad closes in.

After fierce hand to hand combat, the German squad was wiped out, but Weidner’s second squad, deployed to the west of the village, opened up and all but obliterated the Soviet squad. Down to equal numbers, but not equal firepower against the Germans, and having suffered heavy losses, the Soviet attack melted away.

I wasn’t inconvenienced at all by using my two-or-three to a base troops in Chain of Command. I only needed my tiny casualty marker dice a couple of times. And I do feel a little foolish painting the exact same thing in two scales. So 1/72 Soviets can take a back burner for now. This year I hope to have more games with my 15mm Eastern Front troops, using IABSM, CoC, and maybe the Battlegroup rules as well, depending on how the mood takes me.

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