Papa Eicke – A Crossfire Scenario

This Crossfire scenario is really an excuse to use my crashed Fieseler Storch objective lovingly painted by Roland Davis. The scenario starts when the Fieseler Storch carrying Obergruppenführer Theodor Eicke is shot down near the Russian lines outside Kharkov. SS Division Totenkopf mount an assault to secure the crash site and recover their commander’s body.

Crashed Storch Objective

Historical Situation

Thanks

Thanks to Craig B and Steve Phenow who sent through some of the material I referenced. Steve provided some material from Mann (2001).Craig sent bits of Nipe (2000) and Syndor (1990)

Setting: Near Kharkov; 26 February 1943

The SS Division Totenkopf was formed in October 1939 (Wikipedia: SS Division Totenkopf). The Totenkopf was initially formed from concentration camp guards of the 1st (Oberbayern), 2nd (Brandenburg) and 3rd (Thüringen) Standarten (regiments) of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, and soldiers from the SS-Heimwehr Danzig. The division had officers from the SS-Verfügungstruppe (SS-VT), of whom many had seen action in Poland. The division was commanded by SS-Obergruppenführer Theodor Eicke. Eicke was a popular figure among his troops, gaining him the nickname “Papa Eicke” (Wikipedia: Theodor Eicke).

Actually Eicke commanded the unit twice:

  1. Gruppenführer Theodor Eicke, 1 Nov 1939 – 7 Jul 1941
  2. Obergruppenführer Theodor Eicke, 19 Sep 1941 – 26 Feb 1943

Eicke was one of the key figures in the establishment of concentration camps in Nazi Germany (Wikipedia: Theodor Eicke). This may explain why, during the course of the war, Eicke and his division became known for unmatched brutality and several war crimes. These crimes included the murder of British POWs in Le Paradis in 1940, the murder of captured Soviet soldiers and the plundering and pillaging of several Soviet villages.

In Early February 1943 Totenkopf was transferred back to the Eastern Front as part of Erich von Manstein’s Army Group South (Wikipedia: SS Division Totenkopf). The division, as a part of SS-Obergruppenführer Paul Hausser’s SS-Panzerkorps, took part in the Third Battle of Kharkov, blunting the Soviet General Konev’s offensive.

Eicke was killed on 26 February 1943 (Wikipedia: Theodor Eicke). The divisional headquarters had temporarily lost radio contact with its panzer regiment (Ailsby, 2002). Worried at the lack of contact, Eicke decided to investigate the situation personally in a Fieseler Fi 156 Storch scout plane. About 1600 hours Eicke spotted elements of the missing regiment holed up in a small village (Nipe, 2000, Snydor, 1990). He ordered the pilot to land without noticing that the next village was still held by the Soviets. The plane was caught in a hail of bullets as it attempted to land between the two villages. The plane crashed and was engulfed in an inferno of flames. This was one kilometre southwest of Artelnoye (near Oryol).

SS Hptschf (Captain) Masarie, with some halftracks from the Recon Battalion and a tank, immediately attempted to rescue Eicke (Nipe, 2000, Snydor, 1990). The halftracks were driven to cover by the fire of the AA guns and the tank was hit and damaged by AT guns. None-the-less the tank tried to approach the wreck and got close enough for an officer on the rear deck of the tank to see that all of the occupants of the plane had been killed. The tank got hit again, and it, and the rest of the force pulled back.

The following morning, SS Hptschf (Captain) Masarie tried again, this time with a specially formed assault group (Nipe, 2000, Snydor, 1990). Syndor says the force was 2 Stug IIIs, 3 tanks, and a motorcycle company. Nipe says it was 2 Stug IIIs, 3 SPWs (i.e. halftracks) and 2 motorcycle platoons. They attacked under cover of artillery fire which knocked out some of the AT guns in Artelnoye and levelled Michailovka near Eicke’s crash. The kampfgruppe fought through a battalion or a regiment, reached the plane, occupied the village, recovered the bodies, and and fought their way back (Mann, 2001). They found the charred bodies of Eicke, his adjutant (SS-Hauptsturmführer Friedrich) and pilot near the plane, however the bodies had been stripped of boots, insignia and decorations. It seems most of the items taken from the wreck were found near the AA gun positions in Artelnoye, having been abandoned by the Russians when they retreated from the village. Most of the defenders had retreated from the artillery, but were returning as Masarie’s volunteers got to the wreckage and the barrage was lifted. The Soviets seemed to have realised what the SS company was doing, tried to cut off the Masarie’s retreat with troops. Masarie had to smash through them. The Soviets had no tanks otherwise as Masarie admitted “Unsere Gans wäre gekocht worden” (Our goose would have been cooked). As it was they lost several men.

Although some accounts make a big deal of Soviet Anti-aircraft weapons in the village others suggest it was just the normal heavy machineguns of the defending battalion. Steve Phenow comments “There is no mention of AA guns [in Masarie’s report] unless a DuShkva HMG is an AA gun. The Soviets seemed to have a lot of 14.5 mm AT rifles in the battle, perhaps more then the usual 6 that would be assigned. There was no mention of AT guns in his report.”

Eicke’s men were deeply saddened by the loss of their commander and he was given a Viking-style burial at a divisional cemetery near Oreika, Russia (Ailsby, 2002). Eicke was portrayed as a hero in the Axis press, and soon after his death one of the Totenkopf’s infantry regiments received the honorific cuff-title “Theodor Eicke” (Wikipedia: Theodor Eicke). Hermann Priess succeeded Eicke as commander (Wikipedia: SS Division Totenkopf).

Mission

This scenario represents the attempt on the 27 February 1943 by Kampgruppe Masarie, from SS Division Totenkopf, to:

  • secure the crash site
  • secure the village
  • recover the bodies of Eicke and his companions
  • recover Eicke’s insignia, decorations and papers

A Guards Rifle Battalion, from 35th Guards Rifle Division, is trying to prevent this.

Map/Terrain

Table for Papa Eicke Scenario

Table for Papa Eicke Scenario

Key features are:

  • Crashed Fieseler Storch along with the bodies of Eicke and his companions
  • Village of Michailovka near the crash site, or at least the ruins of it following the bombardment
  • Village of Artelnoye, or at least a portion of it, including Russian AA positions
  • Usual mix of woods, fields (out of season), rough ground, crests, hedges, hills, roads
  • Germans enter from the west
  • Russians deploy in Artelnoye
  • Russians have lines of fire from Artelnoye to the crash site
  • Russian reinforcements enter from the east

Pre-game preparation

  • Russians plot hidden deployment

Russian Player (Defending)

Objective

The Soviets are trying prevent the Germans from, in order of priority:

  1. securing the village
  2. securing the crash site
  3. recovering the bodies of Eicke and his companions
  4. recovering Eicke’s insignia, decorations and papers

Forces Available

The Russians get a Guards Rifle Battalion from 35th Guards Rifle Division. This is basically a Russian Leg Infantry Battalion 1943-45 from the rules book. However most of the battalion is off table at the start of the game. Only a reduced rifle company is defending the village with lines of fire to the crash site.

Rifle Company 1 (reduced)

  • 1 x CC (+1)
  • 2 x HMG
  • 1 x FO for off-table 82 mm Mortar (12 FM)
  • 1 x on-table 50 mm Mortar (12 FM)
  • 2 x Rifle Platoons: PC (+1/0); 3 x Rifle Squads each with Anti-tank rifle
  • Morale: Regular
  • Command & Control: Poor, i.e. Russian
  • Russian PCs get +1 for close combat but not for rallying.
  • All Russian Rifle Squads have an Anti-Tank rifle. They can group fire with them using the normal group fire rules.

Deployment

Deploys first, hidden, within the village of Artelnoye (east of Line A-A).

Reinforcements

The Russians get reinforcements. Quite a lot of them.

At the beginning of every Russian initiative they roll 1d6 to see if they have the possibility of reinforcements. On a 4+ they roll 1d6 again on the reinforcement table below. This gives the reinforcement batch. No batch can be repeated – if you roll the batch a second time then no reinforcements arrive that initiative. This makes reinforcements in the early initiatives more likely but means it will take a while before all of them arrive.

Russian Reinforcement Table
1d6 Reinforcements
1

Missing Platoon from Rifle Company 1

  • 1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1/0); 3 x Rifle Squads each with Anti-tank rifle
2

Missing Platoon from Rifle Company 2

  • 1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1/0); 3 x Rifle Squads each with Anti-tank rifle
3

Missing Platoon from Rifle Company 3

  • 1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1/0); 3 x Rifle Squads each with Anti-tank rifle
4

Rifle Company 2 (reduced)

  • 1 x CC (+1)
  • 1 x HMG1
  • 1 x on-table 50 mm Mortar (12 FM)
  • 2 x Rifle Platoons: PC (+1/0); 3 x Rifle Squads each with Anti-tank rifle
5

Rifle Company 3 (reduced)

  • 1 x CC (+1)
  • 1 x HMG1
  • 1 x on-table 50 mm Mortar (12 FM)
  • 2 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1/0); 3 x Rifle Squads each with Anti-tank rifle
6

Battalion HQ

  • 1 x BC (+1)
  • 2 x HMG2
  • 2 x FO for off-table 82 mm Mortar (12 FM)
  • 3 x 45mm Antitank gun with optional tow

Notes:
(1) Can attach company level HMG to any platoon of the same company (whether on-table or arriving) or leave under the command of the CC
(2) Can attach battalion level HMG to any on-table platoon or leave under the command of the BC

All reinforcements are deployed anywhere on the line C-C. Deployment of reinforcements is not subject to reactive fire however subsequent move actions are. Reinforcements cannot start ground hugging but can immediately go to ground as per the normal rules.

German Player (Attacking)

Begins scenario with initiative.

Objective

In order of priority the Germans are trying to:

  1. recover the bodies of Eicke and his companions
  2. recover Eicke’s insignia, decorations and papers
  3. secure the crash site
  4. secure the village

Securing the crash site and village are really just mechanisms for recovering the bodies, etc.

Forces Available

The Germans have elements from SS Division Totenkopf including parts of SS Motorized Reconnaissance Battalion 3, SS Sturmgeschütz Battalion 3, and SS Panzer Regiment 3.

Kampfgruppe Masarie

  • 1 x BC (+2) SS Hauptsturmfuher (Captain) Masarie
  • 2 x Stug III
  • 3 x Pz IV
  • 3 x Half-tracks
  • 1 x Motorcycle Company (partial)
    • 1 x CC (+2)
    • 1 x FO for off-table 81 mm Mortar (12 FM)
    • 1 x Motorcycle Platoon: PC (+2); 3 x Rifle Squads
    • 1 x Motorcycle Platoon: PC (+1); 3 x Rifle Squads
  • 1 x FO for off-table 75mm Field gun (12 FM)
  • 1 x FO for off-table Heavy Artillery (4 FM)
  • Morale: Veteran
  • Command & Control: Good, i.e. German

Note: Being “Motorcycle” Platoon or Company makes no difference in the game. They are rifle units fighting dismounted.

Deployment

Deploys second, visible, west of the Line B-B.

Reinforcements

None.

Victory Conditions

Terrain and Casualty (AD) objectives

The game automatically ends when all Germans are off-table for any reason (killed or exited) or the Moving Clock reaches 0800 hours.

The Germans win if they have 21+ VP at the end of the game, otherwise the Russians win.

During the game the German gets victory points (VP) immediately for:

  • +15 VP recovering the bodies of Eicke and his companions
  • +15 VP finding Eicke’s insignia, decorations and papers
  • +5 VP securing the crash site
  • +5 VP securing the village of Artelnoye
  • -2 VP losing each Half track destroyed
  • -5 VP losing each Tank or Stug destroyed
  • -1 VP losing each BC, CC, Rifle Stand, HMG killed (not PC or FO)

Scenario Special Rules

Special rules related to victory conditions:

  • German stands start on table but can move off the western table edge. Once they have moved off they may not return.
  • Securing the crash site means only German stands are in the feature with the crashed Storch
  • Recovering the bodies means securing the crash site, doing a successful search action in the crash site, getting a vehicle to the crashed Storch while the crash site is secure, then getting that vehicle off table. On a failed search the crash site can be searched more than once. If the recovery vehicle is knocked out before leaving the table the bodies can be recovered (again) from the previous transport in the same way.
  • The Russians have taken Eicke’s insignia, decorations and papers into Artelnoye however these items were abandoned when the village was bombarded. Neither side knows where they are. German stands can search features within Artelnoye with a Search action. A successful search means the stand discovers Eicke’s insignia, decorations and papers and the German player gains the associated VP. Otherwise the search action is a failure, the German player can never search this feature again, and initiative passes.
  • Search action: A stand must be within a feature to search it and must remain stationary for the entire initiative without shooting. On a 5+ the search action is successful otherwise the search action is a failure and initiative passes.
  • Securing the village means more features within Artelnoye are in German control than Russian. Control means the side currently occupies the feature and it is uncontested, or that the side was the last to do so. All features in Artelnoye start controlled by the Russian player.

Other special rules:

  • HTD Special Rule 4: The Moving Clock is in use. The Scenario begins at 0800 hours and ends 1600 hours. The clock advances 1 hour on 5+ at the end of each defender initiative.
  • HTD Special Rule 5: Bogging down is in use. Tanks bog down in woods, rough ground, rock fields, boulder fields, streams, and anti-tank obstacles (ditches, barricades) on 4- on 1d6. They unbog on 5+, becoming permanently mired on 1.
  • German half-tracks are sensitive to HMG fire. HMG fire at half-tracks using normal dice (4d6 in the open, 3d6 into cover) but require an extra hit to affect them. So it take two hits to pin, three hits to suppress and four hits to kill. Half-tracks rally normally.

Weapon stats

Type When ARM ACC PEN MG HE/EFF Smoke HD Spd CC Comment
Anti-Tank Rifle -1 -3 0
45 mm ATG +1 -1 1/1 1 -2
Pz IV G 4/2 0 +1 4 4/2 2 +3
StuG III G 4/2 -1 +1 4 4/2 N +2
251/1 Half-track 1/1 4 3 +1

Notes

This scenario, or at least the map, featured in my post on Drawing Powerpoint Maps for Crossfire.

References

Ailsby, C. (2002). SS: hell on the Eastern front: the Waffen-SS war in Russia, 1941-1945. Spellmount.

Mann, C. (2001). SS-Totenkopf: The History of the ‘Death’s Head’ Division 1940-45. Motorbooks International.

Nipe, G. M. (2000). Last Victory in Russia: The SS-Panzerkorps and Manstein’s Kharkov Counteroffensive – February-March 1943. Schiffer Publishing.

Syndor, C. W. (1990). Soldiers of Destruction: The SS Death’s Head Division, 1933-1945. Princeton University Press.

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