Volkhov Bridgehead – A Crossfire Scenario featuring the Blue Division

A Crossfire scenario with II/269 battalion of the Spanish Blue Division attempting to establish a bridgehead across the Volkhov River and hold it against Soviet counter-attacks. See also my Battle Report.

Historical Situation

Setting: Udarnik, River Volkhov, Russia; 18-19 Oct 1941


Map produced in CC2
Click on the map to get the full size version

On the night of 18-19 October, in the bitter cold of early winter, two platoons of the II/269 battalion, 250th (Blue) Division, crossed the Volkhov at Udarnik (Proctor, 1974; Scurr, 1980). This was the start of an offensive, made jointly with German troops, intended to complete the encirclement of Leningrad by connecting with the Finns to the east of the Ladoga. The lead elements established a bridgehead and other units including a company of III/263 battalion followed. The later company took causalities, including the company commander, from Russian mortars and machine guns. The Spanish infantry were supported by Spanish and German artillery, but also faced Russian artillery and mortar fire. During the battle for the bridgehead German artillery accidentally fired on Spanish positions. By the evening of the 19th the Spanish had secured the bridgehead – they named the bridgehead “Posición Navarro” in honour of a captain who had died in a Russian artillery barrage two days earlier.

Also see my general Timeline for the Blue Division and my Battle Report.

Map/Terrain

Key features are:

  • Woods, out of season fields, rough, a few hills (contour line with another feature on top).
  • There are a large number of small terrain features, e.g. small copses.
  • The western edge is the River Volkhov.
  • There are six terrain objectives X1, X2, X3 and three others marked X.
  • The river bank is divided into three landing zones (LZ1, LZ2, LZ3). LZ1 is the table edge marked A-A. LZ2 is the table edge to the south and LZ3 to the north.
  • Control of terrain objective X1 secures LZ1, similarly for X2/LZ2 and X3/LZ3.
  • The Spanish start with control of X1/LZ1 and can deploy any where within the line A-A.
  • The Russian outposts deploy between the line A-A and the line B-B.
  • The Russian main body deploy to the east of line B-B.

Pre-game preparation

  • Russian player plots hidden deployment and places visible features (wire, hard-point, mines).

Soviet Player (Defending)

Objective

Prevent the Spanish expanding their bridgehead by holding the terrain objectives. .

Forces Available

Elements of 25th Division of the 52nd Army, divided into an Outpost and a Main Body.

Outpost in the forward zone (A-A to B-B)

One platoon from each of the Main Body companies:

Soviet Outpost

  • 2 x Rifle Platoons: PC (+1/0), 4 x Rifle Squads

Main Body in the rear zone (east of B-B)

The Main Body can only shoot or move once the Spanish Reinforcements arrive.

Russian Company Commander

Soviet Main Body

  • 1 x HMG
  • 1 x FO for off-table 82 mm Mortar (12 FM)
  • 1 x FO for off-table 76 mm Infantry Guns (12 FM)
  • 1 x FO for off-table Heavy Artillery (4 FM)
  • 2 x Infantry Companies
    • 1 x CC (+1)
    • 1 x HMG
    • 1 x on-table 50 mm Mortar (12 FM)
    • 2 x Rifle Platoons: 1 x PC (+1/0), 4 x Rifle Squads
  • 1 x two squad hard- point
  • Russian PCs get +1 for close combat but not for rallying.
  • Morale: Regular

Fortifications

The following can be in either the forward or rear zone:

Soviet Fortifications

  • 3 four stand wire sections
  • 1 four stand mine section

Russian Infantry

Deployment

Deploys first east of the line A-A. All stands can be deployed hidden. The hard point and wire are visible. The minefield can be hidden or visible at the players discretion.

The Outpost deploys in the forward zone between the line A-A and the line B-B. At most one rifle squad can deploy within each feature.

The Main Body deploys in the rear zone east of the line B-B.

Reinforcements

None, aside from the main body described above.


Spanish Player (Attacking)

Begins scenario with initiative.

Objective

The initial Spanish objective is the secure the landing zones (LZ1, LZ2, LZ3) by capturing the associated terrain objectives (X1, X2, X3). Subsequently they need to push inland to expand the bridgehead and capture the other terrain objectives.

Forces Available

Elements of II/269 battalion, 250th (Blue) Division.

Spanish Advance Guard

  • 1 x HMG
  • 1 x on-table 50 mm mortar
  • 1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+2), 3 x Rifle Squads
  • 1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1), 3 x Rifle Squads
  • Morale: Veteran

Deployment

It is assumed the Spanish have already landed are now attempting to establish their position. They can deploy anywhere inside the line A-A.

Reinforcements

Note: the Spanish player may not shoot or move east of the line B-B until their reinforcements arrive.

At the start of any initiative where the Spanish control two or three of the landing zones (LZ1, LZ2, and/or LZ3) they can start rolling for reinforcements. Control of a landing zone is achieved by capturing the associated terrain objective (X1, X2 and X3). The reinforcements arrive on a 5+. They can arrived at any landing zone under Spanish control at the time.


Spanish Infantry

Spanish Reinforcements

  • 1 x Infantry Company (from III/263 battalion , 250th (Blue) Division)
    • 1 x CC (+2)
    • 2 x HMG
    • 1 x on-table 50 mm Mortar (12 FM)
    • 1 x Rifle Platoons: PC (+2), 3 x Rifle Squads
    • 2 x Rifle Platoons: PC (+1), 2 x Rifle Squads
  • 1 x FO for off-table 81 mm Mortar (12 FM)
  • 1 x FO for off-table 75 mm artillery (12 FM)
  • 1 x FO for off-table Heavy Artillery (4 FM)

Victory Conditions

Terrain objectives

The Spanish reinforcements arrive at day break (0700 hours) and the game ends at 1900 hours.

The side that controls the greater number of terrain features at the end of the game wins. At the start of the game the Spanish control X1 and the Russians control the rest. Otherwise control means the objective was/is uncontested, and the player either has a stand in the feature, or was the last to have a stand in a feature.

Scenario Special Rules

  • The game is played in two parts:

    1. The initial initial Spanish infiltration of the
    Russian outposts – played in the forward zone west of line B-B.

    2. The Spanish attempt to expand the bridgehead and the Russian counter-attack – played on the
    entire table. The Russian Main Body cannot enter the battle until the Spanish reinforcements
    arrive. Similarly, the Spanish advance guard cannot shoot or move east of line B-B until the
    reinforcements arrive.

  • HTD Special Rule 1. Night Fighting is in use. The initial part of the battle is fought during night time. The Spanish reinforcements arrive at day break. During night time:
    • Each stand can make at most one move action per initiative.
    • All stands get the -1d6 modifier for protective cover from direct fire, even if in the open.
    • Otherwise a stand in the open is fired at normally.
    • A stand in cover, that has not yet fired during the game, can only be fired at by enemy within the same terrain feature (applies to both phased and reactive fire).
  • HTD Special Rule 4. The Moving Clock is in use. Once the Spanish reinforcements arrive the Spanish have 12 hours to win the game. The Spanish reinforcements arrive 0700 hours and the game ends at 1900 hours. The clock advances 1 hour at 5+ at the end of any Russian initiative.

Notes

References

See my sources page for a more complete list.

Proctor, R. L. (1974). Agony of a Neutral: Spanish-German wartime relations and “The Blue Division”. Idaho research foundation inc.

Scurr, J. (1980). Germany’s Spanish Volunteers 1941-45. Osprey.

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