Jamie Wish and Chris Harrod played “Advance from Ian Ishora” (KB1F), the first game of my Krasny Bor Campaign featuring the Blue Division defending against overwhelming odds in an epic Crossfire campaign.
Pre-game Campaign Preparation
The guys chose their sides for the campaign
Jamie: “My preference is for the Soviets.”
Chris: “Very happy to be Axis / Spanish. Come to me Ivan and let us embrace death together.”
Then they allocated troops to each of the eight tables and sent their orders of battle to me. In Jamie’s case he had to decide where to put his Divisional and Corps reserves.
I just waited for the fun to start.
Table KB1F Advance from Ian Ishora
This is the first battle of Phase 1 of the Krasny Bor Campaign. The Soviets are advancing out of a town into farm land. They must punch through the thin Spanish lines into the rear of the Blue Division.
The orders of battle were based on pre-campaign decisions.
- 10 x Pre-planned Bombardment
- 3 x Battalion Waves (1, 2 and 3) from a Guards Division (Morale = Regular)
- Battalion Wave 1 has reserves:
- From Central Reserve: 1 x T-34/76 C tank platoons: 3 x T34-76; 1 x FO for off-table 120mm Mortar (12 FM each);
- From Division Reserve: 1 x Pioneer Platoon;
- 1 x Leg Infantry Company
- 1 x Machinegun Company: 3 x HMG; FO for off-table 81mm Mortar (12 FM)
- 1 x Anti-tank Battery: PC(+1); 4 x 5 cm Pak38 ATG (optional tow each)
- 1 x FO for off table 10.5 cm (Heavy) Artillery (4 FM)
- 3 x Snipers
- 12 x barbed wire section (120 by 30mm)
- 1 x Minefield
- 1 x Bunker
The table was quite nice to look at, with the River Ishora on the Soviet right flank. However, what is not obvious is that the entire battle is fought in snow and the river is frozen. You’ll see tanks on it later on.
Like all the games of Phase 1, the Spanish have fortifications. Starting with a long, long line of barbed wire. The Soviets will need armour or engineers to break through that.
The Spanish had a bunker facing the Soviet left flank.
Against these fortifications, backed by only a couple of companies of troops, were three Soviet battalions. One battalion starts on table. On a 6′ frontage that makes for a lot of troops.
The game started at 0800 hours. The Soviets dropped 12 missions of Pre-Planned Bombardment (PPB). A couple of them hit Spaniards, although Jamie didn’t know this until later in the game.
However, one unlucky Spanish squad got spotted straight away by Soviet RBF. It was defending the Central Woods.
The Spanish squad in the Central Woods was unlucky enough to have got suppressed in PPB and now found itself within range of the Russian rifles. It didn’t last long.
With the Spaniard eliminated the Soviets entered the Central Woods.
A Spanish squad, entrenched in the open behind the wire, opened up.
But it didn’t stop the Soviets lining the edge of the Central Wood.
That is when Chris revealed his main battle line on the crest facing the Central Wood.
Meanwhile, on the right, the Soviets also advanced.
Here is a shot of the early part of the battle.
On the right the Soviets attempted to cross the Ishora. But found more Spaniards determined to stop them.
Back at the Central Woods, the Spaniard artillery opened up. 15cm guns. Ouch.
And on the right an Spanish Pak 38 opened fire on the advancing T34s.
That hill, the one with the Pak 38, dominated the Soviet right flank and would be pivotal in holding the river line.
More shells landed in the Central Woods and, more or less, finished off a Soviet platoon.
The moving clocked advanced on a 5+ at the end of each Spanish initiative. Despite the odds, we found it didn’t move very often.
The best wire cutter in the Soviet arsenal were the tanks. They drive straight through wire. Which is why Chris had a Pak38 behind the line. Unfortunately for the crew, they missed the advancing T34.
Then a Soviet mortar took out the Spanish anti-tank gun.
In revenge the other Spanish Pak 38, the one on the hill, blew up the T34.
Of course, that just riled Jamie and he shot up the gun.
Quickly followed by the HMG next to the Pak 38.
Jamie pushed more troops across the river.
And more troops into the Central Wood.
The woods were a very unhealthy place.
Chris realised he needed another anti-tank gun near the river and limbered up a piece that had previously been hidden.
The first house across the river turned out to be a bit of a Spanish strong hold. Jamie moved and up and Chris stopped him. Several times. [I just noticed that the PC got suppressed. As this was a move to contact it should have been killed.]
The sole Spanish squad in the house near the river spent a fair bit of the game suppressed. The first time was 0845.
Jamie sent his remaining tanks up the frozen river, cutting some wire on the way. Infantry shadowed them in the field to their right.
The HQ of the Spanish battalion deployed here, arrived to assist the front ranks. Two stands arrived, the HQ itself and the SMG guard stand.
The Spanish in the house near the river picked of the suppressed PC in front of the house.
Jamie chose to sacrifice a squad of the platoon to bring back another PC.
More wire got cut up in the tracks of the Soviet armour. This time in front of the Spanish held hill.
That particular T34-76 had a wide field of fire toward the Spanish positions. Although, in hindsight, it never fired. The one on the river had better targets.
Jamie tried to push his infantry forward near the tanks but got stopped by Spanish fire.
A Spanish Pak 38 rolled up only to get suppressed by the T34-76 on the frozen river.
As you can see in the next photo the soviet offensive was in full swing. Jamie had crossed the half way line on the right flank near the river.
A NO FIRE finally gave Jamie the chance to close on the house never the river. But the defenders stopped the assault. Dead.
Up on the Spanish held hill things were getting a bit messy. The only fighting stand was suppressed. So Chris was trying to bring any reinforcements he could.
But the T34-76 on the river really had it in for Chris’s Pak 38. Boom.
With things really tight in the centre and right, Jamie decided to launch an attack on the left as well.
Meanwhile a 50mm mortar team and an FO for heavy artillery climbed the hill. Would they stop the Soviet wave?
The Spanish occupants in the house near the river – just an often suppressed squad and PC – always seemed on the brink of being inundated by Soviets. But they held on.
However, the Spaniards on the hill continued to take a pounding. Hills are good because they give you lots of visibility. But hills all make you very, very visible.
The mortars and FO on the hill helped keep the Spanish house active by pounding any concentrations in front.
But every now and then another assault went in. Only to be stopped by Spanish fire.
Chris kept piling troops onto the hill.
And another Spanish HMG, hidden in woods on the base line, also helped stop the red horde.
Over time the Soviet right crumbled under the pressure from Spanish machine guns, mortars and artillery.
And a Spanish Pak 38 burnt another T34-76.
On the other hand, the Spaniards on the left flank seem to have been lulled into a false sense of security. Ambush fire with 4d6 scored, well, not very much.
Mind you the guys in the bunker were a bit more alert and started pecking at the Soviets massing on the left.
In the centre the Soviets found the Spanish minefield. Chris had mined the hill in the centre.
Back on the other flank the Spanish house was still holding out.
The Soviets on the left took the wood facing them.
Then they cleared the Spanish entrenchments near the wire.
Back on the hill near the river the Soviets killed of the SMG Guard squad.
Jamie had taken quite a few loses from Battalion Wave 1, and he wanted to start the Phase 2 game with some assets he’d assigned to Wave 3, so he decided to bring on his second battalion wave. During the battle a random event had been that the Soviet Battalion Wave 2 got lost. So Jamie had to roll for a reinforcement (5+). He got it, so the battalion wave come on table.
However, it was 1 AM on a school night and we decided to pack it in.
Observations and Conclusions
Nobody “wins” a Phase 1 battle in the Krasny Bor campaign. Because we stopped before the bitter end of the game we had to decide the outcome. We decided that, with a full battalion to play with, Jamie would manage to infiltrate a Battalion Wave 3 before the Moving Clock got to 1030.