E-battle in the Ruhr. Fighting near Emmerich on the west bank of the Rhine as 1st West Front continues local offensive operations. Battle delayed until fuel convoy broke through from Frankfurt thanks to 4th Motorisierte. (Put a different way, I finished them in the wrong order – this battle took place SAT-SUN)
Kampgruppe Bach, 333rd Panzer Battlion
Irony. Hauptmann Bach was attacking toward Wissel, a town on the west bank of the Rhine. Too priceless for words. The damn Poles, of all people, had ripped through the left flank of 11th Panzer Grenadier while the 33rd Brigade was refueling. 32nd Panzer Grenadier Brigade had been rocked back on its heels, and in the confusion, the Poles had flown an assault battalion into the Wissel Segelfluggelande – sail plane landing area - and quickly sown panic in the rear echelon units holding Wissel. Then a group of light wheeled armored vehicles had roared through the town to seize the Emmerich Bridge, 15 kilometers away.
Bach’s force was designated to crush the air head, but had to first cross the Rhine near Rees. The sudden Polish offensive and success had stampeded the Burghers who had convinced themselves the fighting was over, it would never come here, etc. Bach had no stomach for driving over top of panicked Burgers and had used his infantry detachment to get some Anschwein der Ordnung on the bridge, and with a path through the cars, had been able to bring his entire company – 7 Leopard IIs. Two others were being worked over by the mechanics to fix a problem caused by bad fuel. Might be along later.
This was looking to be a nightmare. A very scared Jager lieutenant announced he was in charge of a company of just 62 men who had been manhandled by Polish paratroopers yesterday. Bach’s recon section had alerted the Jagers of Bach’s arrival before driving off in a confiscated Traube to make a scout on the Polish positions. Otherwise Bach was certain they would have used their two remaining Milan missiles on him.
Another indication of how well the 11th’s war was going. They were using civilian cars as reconnaissance vehicles because Luchs were thrown into battle situations to stop the thousands of BMPs and BTRs that came with the PACT advance. No infantry support because civil order had broken down in Emmerich and Rees. No helicopters because battles raging elsewhere had the Korps’ remaining 35 PAH occupied. No air support because the Alphajets were basically dead when they appeared over PACT spearheads and the dual mission Tornados had to be reserved for air-to-air.
His Scout section Leutenant sputtered back down the road in the Traube. There appeared to be more holes in it than when Bach last saw it. Certainly more glass was missing. Two grim-faced Gefreiters were staring out the back window.
“Where’s the other car?” Bach asked.
“In a ditch, maybe we can get it out. Feldwebel Lechtner and his two gunners are crawling along the ditch. I didn’t have time to stop, else I’d be walking, too.”
“Well, report then, Leutenant.”
“Sir, it’s kind of a bad news, bad news story. They either have captured the Emmerich Bridge intact or have one of those fast build ribbon bridges up. I saw lots of the ground version of the BVP, almost none of the airborne version. Or the Polish contraption their falschimjager use to move fast.”
“That’s about what I expected. Numbers, Klaus?”
“Probably 30 BVPs. But that’s not the worst.”
“Nicht beschonigen, Klaus. What else?”
“Tanks, Hauptmann. At least a battalion. T55 from what I saw.
Tank Battalion, Polish 8th Motorized Regiment
Yakub Niktnie walked up on the 8th Motorized Regiment’s command group. Two of the 8th Motorized Regiments were still fighting in Emmerich, slowly driving the single mixed battalion of Jagers and Panzergrenadiers away from the bridge. The 1st Battalion and Tank Battalion were spread out to the west, waiting for orders, already across the bridge. The staff appeared to be trying to talk to Division HQ with no success. This was no time for hesitation. The Soviet Air Assault troops had captured the airfield at Weeze, and the Spetznatz had wrecked the two fixed air defense sites in the area.
Yakub’s command was spread out, linking the Emmerich Bridge to the Weeze airfield. Otherwise he would have dealt with the problem represented by a NATO ‘counterattack’ on the flank of the penetration.
Yakub interrupted the argument. “Give me the honor of coordinating this attack, Comrade Pulkownik,” he said.
“Attack? Those are Leopard IIs! They outclass us!”
“I’ve destroyed them before. Just give men your tanks and two companies of infantry, sir.”
The commander said nothing.
“Just give me your tanks and one company of infantry, sir.”
The commander still said nothing.
“Just the tank battalion, then, and some supporting Spandrel launchers. I’ll supply my own scouts.”
The commander still said nothing, but the political officer broke the silence. “Comrade Pulkownik, Nitknie is right. You must do something. We can’t retreat without orders. If we sit still and watch them, they will be reinforced, and then we won’t be able to stop them. So attack is the only politically acceptable course of action.”
The Pulkownik gave Yakub a withering glare. “Very well, you may have my tanks and accept full responsibility for this insanity."
BH wanted to try some high end tanks against low end tanks and we ended up here. He also wanted to play in open country, having experienced how long moves with lots of woods and hills can lead to difficulties for NATO long range tanks.
A standard TOE would have ended up over a hundred points, so he settled for 82 – 7 Leo IIs and a Gepard zug. BH wanted some PAH but couldn't make them fit
I took 31 T55s, 8 BMP recon, an artillery battery that failed to range in, 4 Hinds, and a Spandrel – only reached to 80 points.
Picking a more or less flat board put us back to Amsterdam or the western Ruhr. Not any particular strategy. So I picked up the narrative in Ruhr where I left off.
We again played Annihilation. BH wanted night, managed to be the ‘attacker’ but the dice said ‘daylight.’
We had a long discussion about corner sitting (to artificially protect his flanks) and the reason I had Hinds, artillery, and Spandrel. In an extended game, the artillery would make sitting in a corner unpleasant, and once he came out, everything would proceed as before. One corner of the map would have been difficult, as it included a protective belt of trees, in which case we would have a draw. He elected to pick the side of the map that offered the least stream crossing problems, and set up as you see depicted.
He set up first. He suffered from me having more units, and thus set everything up before I put any tanks on the table. My Hinds went to loiter first, then two spearheads, then the Spandrels where they had a first turn shot on two of his Leo IIs. Finally I dropped the last three units and the BC, forming long columns with No.3 and No. 2 Company, tucking the First Company behind the hill in the southwest.
BH won the toss. He executed his preplanned maneuver, having intended to use greater speed to get outside my ‘horns of the bull’ and then stay in front of me, gunning down the closest tanks. His stabilizers allowed him to reach the town/hof complex in the center of the south side of the map. But his movement only allowed him one tank to shoot at one of mine, as the combination of woods, set back deployment in my center, and town/hof hexes blocked his fire. He took the shot, missing, and then considered shooting two of this tanks in town down the same narrow axis. I pointed out to him that the ‘turret’ turn would make him vulnerable to a successful blitz move from No.3 company, and with 8-10 dice hitting 6’s he very likely would lose one tank (odds 1.23 hits x .5 turret side x. 83= .53). He declined the shot.
My turn consisted of charging with the T55s while retaining lines of fire to his position for my western BMP unit, T55s on the southern ridge, and the Spandrels. The BC assisted the Spandrels in blitzing to their firing positions. No.1 company successfully blitzed but only two T55s passed cross checks to emerge. The rest of the T55s used their movement to get into the rear of the woods originally occupied by the Leos. No.2 company failed the blitz and so only moved forward. It had no real target anyway. And No.3 company made its blitz, validating my concern, and thanks to his choice, had no target.
My initial fire focused on the Gepards, as vulnerable as they ever would be, hitting on 5’s. My ZSUs even had a shot, but it was frontal armor so no point. I tried to shell the town, and couldn’t range in. Then missiles flew, and finally, with the 2 T55s I got a hit and killed a Gepard. Then I sent in the Hinds. The surviving Gepard threw 5 dice, two hits, and I saved one and he missed firepower on the other. Then his 6 AA MGs fired, and hit me twice, I saved once and he missed his firepower. Four missiles flew, and I managed one hit, toasting a Leopard II. The surviving Gepard stayed.
BH continued with his plan, moving the surviving Leo IIs from 2nd Zug into the town complex. They had no shot on my No.3 company so they fired on No2 company. They hit 3 times and blew one firepower roll, killing two tanks. The other 4 Leos fired 8 times, hit six and failed one firepower roll. Five more dead T55s. Scooting made no sense, as I had tanks on both sides of the town.
My turn. No.1 company blitzed successfully again, and was able to get 4 tanks into his flank – 2 with partial flank and two with full flank. It also got all the other tanks out of the woods, save 1 still bogged. No. 2 company and No.3’s survivors (the bailed guys remounted) charged forward to the best shooting positions they could find, hitting ‘6s.
BMP missiles streaked in and finished the surviving Gepard. The Hinds and the four tanks from No.1 company managed two penetrating hits on No.2 Zug (2 hits from T55s, one low one high, and 1 hit from Hinds), finishing them off. The AA fire from five 7.62mm MGs was enough for 3 hits, 1 save and two failed firepowers. But backshooting the other 4 Leopards just didn’t work despite having 8 tanks in flanking positions.
BH drove through the survivors of No.3 Company, turned around and executed them. Two shots at No.2 Company produced a bailed tank. With Number 2 company out of business, it appeared he was safe...btu
I sent the Hinds to the eastern edge of the board, where they were temporarily impervious to AA fire. I sent BMPs dashing to get possible fire positions, and tried to range in on his presumed sanctuary in the far corner. Spandrels moved carefully to keep out of sight, yet get to a potential firing position. No.1 and No.2 Companies assembled in the shadow of the village so he would have to stay in range of my blitz+move if he wanted a shot. Careful preparation, but in the strangest way, unnessary.
The Hinds fired, rolling two hits. Both were obvious penetrations, and neither converted on firepower. BH passed morale. Then to start turn 4, he failed company morale.
5-2, PACT, with 12 T55s destroyed for 5 Leo IIs and 2 Gepards.
I remain unsure about ‘aggressively’ acting against large numbers of PACT cheap tanks. Without objectives, BH only needed to shoot. Staying in a laager would have protected him from the Hinds until my artillery destroyed the Gepards. In a time limit or turn limit game I would have had to attack. Of course, I could have just called draw. In a campaign, that’s a viable option, but not in a tournament.
Having chosen to come out and fight, his move to central cover was good, and preserved his force long enough to kill one company. Unfortunately the entire unit could not make cover in one bound and that cost him one tank, and eventually it also cost him the Gepards. At the end of the day, it was the Hinds that finished him, even if by accident. However, the Gepards have to stay with the Leos because of range issues (if I’m willing to stand off opposite the Gepards, they have to be within 12” of the FRONT of the targeted LEO to prevent me from nibbling them one at a time. Eventually a missile will find them, or they’ll get flanked by a BMP-1 at close range).
Once he chose to maneuver, the Gepards had to go with him, and thus gave up gone to ground. Doubling their vulnerability.
Hauptmann Bach shrugged when Feldwebel Prinz asked, “Where are the others?” When he had broken off the unequal contest after losing three tanks, he had expected to disengage completely. Somehow he had lost track of the Hinds, and First Zug had two tanks knocked out in seconds. Neither looked like fatal injuries but with 20 or so T55s roaring after him in angry pursuit, picking up the crews had been all he could do. Now Bach had four Leopard IIs as Prinz had rejoined him with the 2 schlect panzers. His company was down to four tanks and one Traube with six men hanging onto it. The Jager Leutenant had attached himself to Bach’s kamphgruppe, like a puppy following a kinder nach haus. Four trucks loaded with infantry, two Milans. No. 2 Kompanie had finally pushed its way through the traffic, bringing a welcome reinforcement of 8 tanks, including the battalion commander. The Feldpolizei had taken over the bridge duty, and the Marders and M113s of the infantry attachment were following the Oberstleutenant’s tank.
“Report, Hans,” Obersleutenant Stransky ordered.
“Enemy over the river in strength. We tangled with 30 T55s. Knocked out 12, but some didn’t burn, may be reparable. Close support by Hinds was the tiebreaker. Estimated crossing force as motor rifle regiment and one of those mixed kamphgruppes. Spearhead force.”
“So we’re merely outnumbered 3 to 1. Just like in the history books,” Stransky joked. “Come with me and I’ll show you where the Balkenkreuz grow. We are ordered to counterattack immediately.”