John Mclennan and I tried out my Mekensievy-Gory Scenario. I was the attacking Russians and John the defending Germans. We both had a company of infantry. I had a small pack of supporting light tanks and John had a Panzer III and a couple of 3.7 cm Pak 36 anti-tank guns. (John should have had a Stug D or E, but I don’t have any models so we substituted something that was appropriate for the period.)
As the Russian player I had several possible axis of attack. Each has a relatively narrow entry area which was free of LOS from the village. I chose the route parallel to the railway line, with the reinforcements coming from the opposite side of the village.
My plan supposed that my main body would draw the defenders into the open and at some time my reserves from the main body would conduct an on-table flank attack. As it happens they ended up going to the right.
This photo shows my line of advance from a different angle and at ground level.
As it happens John, as the Germans, deployed as though he anticipated these plans. He had a platoon deployed on my main axis of attack, with his two Paks and Panzer in support. A second platoon covered the axis that the flank attack finally chose, and his third platoon was on the other side of the railway embankment defending the second objective.
My main body comprised two rifle platoons and three T-26 tanks. (The tanks are actually from my Spanish Civil War collection, so please forgive the beret of the tank commanders.)
I advanced my “fire power” platoon – the one with the attached HMG and FOs – in the lead. They came under fire once they’d taken the first house and advanced into the adjacent field.
I kept the second platoon in reserve. I also kept the tanks back until I knew where the enemy Paks and Panzers were.
The “fire power” platoon found itself facing a German rifle platoon and a Pak. Although German fire kept some elements pinned/suppressed my platoon managed to grind forward. In reply the German rifle platoon suffered heavy casualties from the big Russian group fires, and the Pak fell to a close assault.
Throughout this attack John was having remarkably little dice luck – particularly with his FOs. For example his four fire missions of heavy artillery didn’t manage to affect any of my stands!!!! Not even a pin!!!!
With my main attack pushing forward, John was forced to reveal more and more of his troops. After the loss of his first Pak he revealed his Pz III.
With my main attack grinding to a halt just short of the objective, I started probing to the right with one of my T-26s. As it advanced John revealed his second Pak – in the house next to the railway culvert and objective – and took a pot shot. He missed but now I knew where all his tank killers were located.
To try and get things moving in the centre again, I laid down a line of smoke to block off my rear elements, thus allowing them a good chance of rallying, and close assaulted the second Pak. I killed the Pak but his Pz III suppressed my platoon as they advanced into the building. (Actually this is probably illegal as I think that occupation of a building after close combat is not subject to reactive fire – but sometimes you make mistakes.)
With my rear elements smoked off, and my lead elements suppressed, John saw his chance. He counter-attacked. Revealing the remaining two rifle stands of his second platoon, he close assaulted my suppressed stands. My smoke blocked any reactive fire.
Unfortunately for John, his dice luck let him down again. With my stands suppressed he was +2, but threw a 1 to my 5, and lost his attackers. This left him with very little on my side of the embankment – a HMG, a FO, a rifle stand and the Pz III.
Russian Flank Attack
Now was the time to commit my reserves. John still had a reasonable amount of fire power directed towards my main body, so I opted for the flank attack. I was pretty confident he’d revealed all of his stands on this side of the embankment, and decided to attack via the original positions of his second platoon, i.e. where the Pz III was.
My first ploy was a rear attack on the Pz III itself. A good scheme which was let down by the appalling inaccuracy of the T-26 (I give them ACC = -1 due to the 2 crew turret). By and large John just ignored the tank sitting behind him.
Despite this inauspicious start I committed my infantry reserves in the same direction. Some stands were pinned by John’s sole rifle squad in the area, but the advance continued and eventually his rifle squad went NO FIRE.
With a NO FIRE giving me free rein I close assaulted.
Success brought me right next to the Pz III, but my riflemen were still no match for the panzer so I contented myself with threatening him from a (small) distance.
My only option was to ignore John’s tank and take my remaining riflemen around to the rear of the objective. Given the Pz III and HMG were both facing my main body, this assault went in unmolested.
And with predictable results – two rifle stands and a PC will usually kill an unaccompanied HMG.
That gave me one objective. John’s Pz III was his only remaining element on my side of the embankment. It was surrounded, but there wasn’t much I could do to it.
At this time my reinforcements finally arrived giving me an additional rifle platoon and two BT-7 fast tanks.
With a single rifle platoon and panzer facing nearly a company supported by five tanks John didn’t fancy his chances and conceded.
It was a pretty decisive Russian victory but we had to agree the major factor was John’s poor dice rolling. There were several times – notably with his heavy artillery and his counter-attack – where a good die roll would have changed the game considerably. Such are the fortunes of war.
Bearing this in mind we decided the scenario was pretty balanced as it was and we didn’t tweak it at all.
It also has to be said the game played nothing like the historical account. In our game I held my tanks back until I’d eliminated the PAKs – a reasonable strategy, but other options were available, and the alternatives may have ended in a more historical result.