A lot of Spaniards fought in French Service in WW2. Both as complete units and as individuals. On the outbreak of WWII the French recruited heavily from Republican refugees of the recently ended Spanish Civil War. The choice for these men was remain in French internment camps or join the French army. During the course of the war these Republicans fought in most theatres, for example at Narvik, in the raid on Brest, with the Long Range Desert Group, Leclerc’s 2nd Armoured Division, the British SAS, and the French resistance. Spanish fought with the Free French Troops and in the F.F.I.
In mid-2003 the guys at the Shed asked me to set up a scenario for a weekend bash. The parameters they outlined were: WW2, Crossfire, 8-9 players (optional umpire), 4 tables, 2 real days of gaming, and BIG. Krasny Bor appealed to me for a number of reasons:
- It involves the Spanish Blue Division
- It is very BIG
- There aren’t many tanks
- It is seemingly one-sided, and I wondered if I could still make it a good game.
The Battle of Krasny Bor was the climax of the Blue Division’s time on the Eastern Front during WW2. Four Soviet rifle divisions, supported by tanks and guns, smashed into the equivalent of five Spanish battalions. the Spanish took a mauling but were only pushed a few kilometres back from their starting positions before the line was stabilised.
The Spanish Blue Division is what got me into WW2. Officially the 250th Infantry Division of the Wehrmacht and comprising Spanish Volunteers, this unit was also know as the Spanish Volunteer Division, Division Azul, or the Blue Division. They are Spanish, of course, but I use them as Germans when needed.
Golpe de Mano literally means “blow of the hand” (Proctor, 1974). The Spanish troops of the Blue Division of World War II used this term for a limited assault. The assault force would consist of 5-40 men, under either an officer or NCO, and armed with automatic weapons, hand grenades, bayonets, and knives (meat cleavers were also favoured). The force would work their way through the Soviet defences, defusing mines and marking their path for the return journey. The attackers would eliminate the Russian sentries then split up in the enemy positions causing as much damage as possible in the few minutes available (never more than 20-30 min). The Spaniards would then regroup, and withdraw under cover of an heavy artillery barrage, taking any prisoners with them.
The Fascist government of Spain contributed an infantry division to the Axis effort in World War II. The Spanish Volunteer Division was designated the 250th (“Blue”) Infantry Division of the Wehrmacht on 25 July 1941. The Division left active service on 23 December 1943 after seeing considerable and bloody combat on the Eastern front, particularly around Leningrad. It was called the “Blue Division” (Division Azul) because the original uniform included the distinctive dark blue shirts of the Spanish Fascists (the Falange), however, the Division adopted German uniforms as soon as they reached Germany. Their climatic encounter of the war was the Battle of Krasny Bor.