A step back in time to a simpler age this week as I revisited the Eastern Front in 1942, playing a 2,500pt Flames of War game with my Panzergrenadiers against Luke’s Motorstrelkovy. I hadn’t been sure what Luke would bring; his collection enables him to go either plentiful armour or massed infantry, and in the end I was the only one with tank teams, leaving my StuG’s with no T-34’s to fight as Luke focused on infantry and artillery. This Russian list is classified as a mechanised company, and as such he found himself delegated as the attacker in a Counter Attack scenario.
My infantry, supported by numerous AT guns and artillery, dug in around woods and buildings to defend the direct route from the Russian lines to the objectives. Luke took up the challenge with an unsubtle advance straight towards my lines using an infantry company and two artillery platoons – rolling the guns forward as fast as the infantry moved! My nebelwerfers and 10.5cm artillery failed to do enough damage to stop them, and the panzergrenadier platoon in the small village was forced out by the enemy infantry, with the remains retreating back to the field next to the objective. I brought up an armoured panzergrenadier platoon which, having survived an air attack, stalled the Russian infantry advance for a time before being decimated by direct fire from a 76mm gun platoon.
The German right flank by comparison was quiet; my StuG’s turned up and were joined by my 8-rad armoured cars and pioneers in blocking off the soviet infantry company trying to make its way round that side. Once the enemy armoured cars were destroyed in a one sided battle the rest of the infantry dug in and waited to see if the heavy artillery (15cm guns!) could break the deadlock. The StuG’s started a duel with some Russian AT guns, only to discover how lethal they were at close range and so stood off them to continue it to the German advantage. The pioneers and an 8-rad armoured car hotfooted it (in the pioneers case in their trucks) to where the rest of my army were in trouble.
Back on the left I had made the foolhardy decision to launch an assault from the woods in an attempt at trapping and wiping out the weakened Russian infantry company, but there were enough maxim’s for this to be defeated, and the Russians sent the panzergrenadiers reeling backwards, before heading on to destroy the 10.5cm artillery at close range. Casualties mounted on both sides; my 88mm guns had already fallen to the 76mm guns, my nebelwerfers to the 15cm heavies, and my PaK40’s to the infantry. Meanwhile on the Russian side, with most of their army penned into their deployment zone, the weakened infantry company was all that was between me and victory - it was looking rather tight.
Unfortunately, for the Germans anyway, just as the pioneers were priming their flamethrowers after disembarking from their trucks, my remaining panzergrenadier platoon gave up the ghost; wiped out amongst the trees by the Russian infantry. My dice rolling wasn’t up to the inevitable company morale check, and Luke claimed victory!