Sunday, 27 May 2012

Operation Bagration: Flames of War Battle Report

Another game at Staney Community Centre with Phil from Deeside being joined by myself and John Walliss on the German side, and Red and Luke from the RGMB taking the roles of the Russians.  With a late war eastern front game the overall aim we decided previously to go for something than just a Total War game, and concocted a scenario based on part of Operation Bagration; the great Russian offensive of mid-1944 which shattered the German Army Group Centre.

Firstly some background: With the Germans reeling from the Red Armies hammer blows they fall back in dribs and drabs as best as they can, with Russian tanks hard on their heels.  The remains of the German 4th Army, in the midst of the storm, retreated towards the bridges over the Berezina River in Belorussia with the Russians racing to cut them off.  Their one hope was the arrival of the 5th Panzer Division, rushed into combat to try and re-establish the line and defend the capital Minsk, it has disembarked from its rail head and headed straight into the front line.

The scenario: Put simply my panzergrenadiers, starting South of the river on the Russian side, represent the 4th Army, with Russian troops on both sides, while Johns and Phils tanks and troops are 5th Panzer Division arriving piecemeal in the centre of the German table edge to try and rescue them and stave off the Russian assault on the river crossings.  The 5 bridges/fords are the objectives, with an additional one available for the Russians if they manage to destroy more than half of the German 4th Army.  Over 11,000pts a side for this one so no room for blow by blow accounts, just a general ebb and flow idea.

The initially setup, Reds Russians on the bottom left, Lukes to the top left, and the river and its all-important bridges in plain sight on the right.
Lukes troops closer up, and the German 4th Army grouped around a very advanced Nuclear power generator, which made a wonderful location for my mortar spotter.
The 4th Army response to the Russian arrival; leg it to the river!
The 5th Panzer response to the Russian arrival; counter attack over the river!
Not that its necessarily a good idea when this many Russians are keen to get at you.
A large platoon of Panthers appear in the central town, despite the large number of 4th Army halftracks going the opposite way!  Their presence at least serves to give the rest of 4th Army hope as they head for the buildings to dig in, although it also serves to give the Russian air force a target…..
The Russian Gods of War – 2 massive companies and the Katysha’s – open up, but cause little damage all game to the great frustration of their owner.
On the Russian left Luke has moved his infantry and special forces into the village to dig in, and controls one of the crossings; the ford.  His T-34/85’s begin an unproductive duel with John’s Tigers and StuG’s, with neither side causing much damage.
On the Russian right a similar story as Reds recon troops take the far right bridge, but this time they have opposition in the form of a Brumbarr platoon with more 4th Army armoured panzergrenadiers on the way.
A colossal battle erupts between Tigers and Reds Russians in the open ground on the Russian right; SU-85’s, T-34/85’s and even IS-2’s queuing up for a bash at the German monster tanks, but unable to cause much damage.
Lukes KV8’s enter the village and attack 4th Army, but apart from destroying the 88’s they cause little damage, and neither Luke nor Red seem keen on pressing home a strong attack with the task of gaining the bridges still before them.
The full battlefield; and of particular note is the German reinforcements now arriving at pace.  Phils exposed Tigers in the foreground now have an additional Konisgtiger and a platoon of Hertzers adding their fire, while John now has five Tigers, StuG’s, PaK40’s and artillery over open sights for his support.
And all this additional firepower came together on the right as John devastates Lukes armour in one savage round of firing.  The tanks that weren’t destroyed ran, and those than remained ‘bought it’ in the following turn, securing the bridge permanently for the Germans.
Phils Tigers go nose to nose with every Russian tank on hand on the Russian right, but still Red can’t inflict any more serious casualties on the Germans, and with additional support at hand it’s the Russians who are now in trouble.
Even their initial success at the bridge is short-lived as the Brumbarrs push them back.
The arrival of the last of the German reinforcements is definitely bad news, as Panzer IV’s stream across the bridges to support the remains of 4th army in the centre, and Phils Tigers on the Russian right.  
Russian tank losses are now at a critical level.
However, after nearly 5 hours of gaming time was nearly upon us, and the Russians pulled off a coup.  Firstly Lukes KV8’s, fuel all spent, sneaked in behind the advancing Panzer IV’s to contest the central bridge.
Then not even the Brumbarrs heavy armour and guns could stop the advance of Reds pioneers as they pushed them from the summit of the far right bridge to hold it.  Even as this action was going on the last of the core of the 4th Army in the village in the centre were driven from the field yielding another Russian objective point.
And then it was over.  The Russians held the far end bridges on each side, and contested two of the three central ones, and had also effectively wiped out 4th Army.  A total result of 3-1 in the Russians favour, and a Red Army Victory.  But only just.

The scenario worked well.  The time limits were kept too, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves!  Credit particularly to Phil who aggressively advanced across the river with his Tigers when he could have chosen a more boring option in staying put and shooting, it was instead Red who was tearing his hair out when his hordes of 85mm guns couldn’t damage them, even from the flanks!  Johns spectacular success on the German right decimated Lukes forces, while my 4th Army nearly escaped destruction.  In the end the Russians had last turn and used it to good effect, snatching victory at the very end.

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