Another e-battle, maps are the game. 5th Tank Brigade and 1st Poles encounter the Dutch
Confused fighting along Ruhr-Amsterdam border. Dutch troops in bright blue, Belgians in bright green with white, UK Commonwealth in tans, and olive with black ink is 3rd German Panzer 7th Panzer, and 11th Panzer Grenadier. Opposition includes elements of 2nd Guard Tank Army, 3rd Shock Army, and 1st Polish Army. Counters by GDW. When we last saw 5th Guards Brigade, it was working with 1st Polish Motorized fighting around Arnhem. Since that time 3rd Polish Motorized has cleared out regular NATO formations between the Rhine and the Maas, outflanking Nijmegen, allowing further progress south.
The bailed T64 remounted, one of the few benefits of playing Soviet tanks. I had to get reinforcements. It’s a rule. The ‘2’ meant my lone reinforcement came on the eastern corner. Gamble, or play it safe. I gambled. 11 Leopards meant too much to handle in a long range duel with him in cover, as I had just seen. 3 T55s adding to the gun count wouldn’t be decisive. 3 T55s using their 16” corner set on and 10 inches of movement to shoot the flank of his force behind the ridge and his newly arrived LeoIs was something. Effectively double the gun count, for their few seconds of survival. So my T64 barrage continued, and the Poles of 1st T55 battalion bravely charged the German tanks. The T64s managed a kill, and the T55s managed two kills. Go figure.
2 YPRs arrived and there were no T72s in reach so BH put them at center court in cover. BH still couldn’t get the broken Leo I back into business. I can imagine the TC shouting, “Negatieve golven, Nils, stop tie negatieve golven.” He applied the two surviving reinforcing tanks to the T55 unit by moving them into the village alongside me and continued with 6 shooting at T64s. Lightning didn’t strike twice this time, and he managed to bail my BC, but not the damaged tank unit’s vehicles. Two T55s died and one bounced a hit to survive, bailed, and then passed morale.
Having toyed with me, the Dis Iacta now returned their favor. Another single reinforcement, which I took as the 2nd T55 battalion commander and a T55 unit. Another die roll, ‘1’, and they moved into position to support their comrades, shooting one of the reinforcing tanks in the village. 4 dice at 6 sometimes hits, right? The T64s managed to underperform again, but at least the tank died this time.
On the far side, BH debated sending his ‘battalion HQ’ of two tanks to support the eastern flank, and decided against it. 7 PACT tanks against 3 Leo Is was not safe, I told him. Two more YPRs arrived from reserves. His force in the east was melting; the 2nd company had begun with 7 tanks, the reinforcing platoon had 2 dead and the ambush platoon had 1 dead one bailed, but both had passed their last morale checks. The original platoon had dropped one tank. So BH had five working tanks here. He allocated 4 shots to the fresh T55 unit, protected by the smoke of many wrecks, and fired 6 at the T64s. I shook off three hits from the T64s and bounced one off my T55’s front with a 6. Another T55 died, leaving the 2nd BC, 2 2nd BN tanks, and the survivor from the 1st BN.
Two reinforcements this time. The T72s of 2nd battalion ended up on the eastern flank while the remaining T55s of the 2nd battalion ended up on the west. I pushed the 1st BN BC and his T55s forward, dashed the western 2nd BN T55s to catch up, and adjusted the position of the 1st BN T72s to be able to act more aggressively, still keeping them out of sight.
The eastern T72s waded into the action, taking up position behind burning tanks, and added weight of fire to the duel. The T55s of 2nd BN coasted down the hill, occupying the farms behind BH’s lines, and incidentally contesting the objective. 9 122mm guns roared, and again underperformed, killing only one Leo I. The 4 T55s added nothing thanks to moving.
Fortunately for BH, his uncommitted scouts meant that he still didn’t have to take company morale checks. All the surviving tanks on the ridge stayed for the bitter end. Nils still couldn’t fix the fuel filter. BH could see the end coming and broke off the action. He fell back to the woods on the hill overlooking the objective but had to be prompted to position a tank in contesting position. I explained that while the Leo would not have cover from my tank contesting the objective, he would be firing first, and anything else would have to remain on the ridge shooting through numerous wrecks. In short, the contesting position would have cover, as much as if it was in the woods. The commander of No.1 company managed to bog trying to get into the woods. 6 105mm shots rang out, three hits, and a ‘1’ for the contesting T55 left it alive but bailed. Its buddy and the BC’s tank died, but the BC vaulted into the bailed tank. Point, BH.
On the western flank BH repositioned the Battalion command group, shifting into the woods. He could see 7 T55s popping over the crest and fully expected them to light up the BC in the open. Unfortunately the BC’s driver apparently was dozing, and bogged the tank in full open from all directions. When it rains, it pours. BH also moved the No.1 company scouts at dash to contest the eastern objective in his turn 6. He kept them in cover as they couldn’t quite reach contest position and wouldn’t count this coming turn anyway.
I had two T55s in firing position to see his contesting tank, and 3 T72s lined the crest in the east. The T64s cruised forward, with only one target, Nils and his broken Leo I. This time they didn’t miss. Nils and the rest of the bailed crew scattered into the woods.
The BC remounted his tank, never a given, and proceeded to kill the contesting Leo I. That was effectively game over. As all shots are preplanned, the other T55 fired at the Leo in the woods, and got a hit as well. I had allocated the T72s to the company commander stuck in the open, and he disappeared.
On the western flank, again, preplanned shots – the two T55 units had blitzed and reached firing positions, as had my T72s on the ridge, using stabilizers. The T72s targeted the command group and killed one bailed the other. The T55s had targeted the platoon in the village there, hitting twice on 6’s from seven shots. Two dead Leo Is.
The scouts and two Leo Is put the hammer down and drove away to inform 5th Division to seek fuel elsewhere. 5-2 (but very nearly 4-3), PACT. 14 Leo Is destroyed vs 1 T64, 5 T55s.
This battle pretty much came down to all my early reinforcements arriving on my western flank. And the timing. The T55s not only arrived but over-performed, getting 2 hits on 5+, compensating for my otherwise miserable shooting with the T64s. Had they not arrived, the Leo Is would have advanced into the woods lower down the ridge’s slope, dumped as many as 22 dice at close range, probably gaining 11 hits, certainly as many as 4 hits or bails, and subsequent morale checks. Logical outcome is he takes the objective, because the only way to avoid flank shots on T64s would be to retreat. Once he has flank shots, game over.
That turn, and Nils continued failure to remount, told the sad story of the game. BH didn’t allocate enough firepower to be sure of killing the initial T55 unit, so one survived, and then another unit arrived, piling on, and the 5 T55s together accounted for another kill. Then the T72s arrived, adding mobility to the equation, and suddenly BH’s force of 11 Leos was 4 functioning tanks.
BH could have changed things somewhat if he had taken the risk of ploughing ahead with his Leo force, sliding down the hill with the 7 tanks that survived my first shot undamaged, and terrain dashing the reinforcements behind them. The problem with that was the sudden arrival of a T72 company in the position where my T55s arrived could have placed them on the objective, leaving him with few options – moving on stabilizers to get perhaps 6 tanks to firing positions AFTER they survived two cross checks would have been nearly miraculous, and then, of course, they had to hit. And leaving 3 Leos to face off against my reinforcing tanks would have produced much the same outcome as we saw.
Dice. Can’t play wargames without them, and sometimes can’t play with them.
Irony. The fuel dump was an elaborate fake; the Dutch had been hiding it in the industrial buildings around the rail line in Berghem. Bayan’s recon unit had discovered it intact. Had it been up here where the Dutchmen made their stand, it would now be blazing merrily away. The Baraka was still with him. The hill side was dotted with ammunition. Bayan’s support echelon was collecting the small arms ammo, grenades and demolitions for future use – Bayan had taken the AKs away from the support troops and replaced them with captured NATO weapons last week to preserve his stocks of bullets for his infantry battalion, in preference for begging from the Poles. The large caliber ammo was being rigged for demolition. He couldn’t use it, and had to prevent his tank crews from trying to convert one of the NATO Leopards to PACT use. Someone named Nils was trying to convince them of the superiority of their tanks, it seemed. The KGB officer had been really annoyed when Bayan ordered Nils released to find his way back to his unit. His tale of woe would certainly undermine Dutch morale.