Turn 2 of the WW!! campaign I’m running produced 3 engagements. 2 of these are between Peter and Neil again, 1 with basically the same forces. The other was between Sandy and Campbell, and it was this one we fought at the club.
Sandy had ordered XXXXIV Corps to advance towards Maikop, while Campbell ordered 2nd Guards Infantry Division to advance cautiously to confirm reports of German armour on their left. Both forces advanced cautiously, Campbell only wanted to confirm the presence of German armour, then withdraw, while Sandy wanted to draw the Russians into a further advance. This made for a different kind of game, as neither player was trying to win!
The Russians started the game with 2 companies of infantry on the table, with hidden deployment. The Germans also had 2 companies of infantry on the table and, whilst not in hidden deployment, were in the forests to the right and behind the ridge. Therefore, they were not in sight of any Russian units. The first couple of turns were spent with each side trying to spot the other. I must admit, I thought the evening would be a waste, as neither player showed any interest in moving forward. However, the Germans spotted some Russian infantry at the edge of the forest and launched a mortar barrage. This inflicted some damage on the Russians and, along with the arrival of another company of infantry, spurred them into movement.
The survivors of the German mortars…
The Russians started filtering through the forest and also advanced in the open, albeit hiding behind the hills. The Germans also moved up to the edge of their section of forest, and the 2 sides began swapping machine-gun fire, with the Germans losing 2 HMG teams, but killing a few Russian rifle stands. However, the real damage to the Russians came in the form of a German airstrike. They only had 1, but they used it to great effect. 2 platoons and their company HQ were hiding behind the hill on the Russian left. Sandy’s strafing run took out most of 1 platoon, the company HQ and forced the other platoon to retreat suppressed.
The Russians advance a little….
…as do the Germans….
…the survivors of the German strafing run….
The Russians that had begun to advance on the right started to take some fire from the Germans in the forest and decided to pull back towards their own table edge, they also used the hill to hide from the Germans. It was at this point that the first German tanks appeared on the table, 4 PzIIIs. They had an immediate effect, by killing another Russian HQ stand. This was not the only German tank unit that could have come on, Sandy had been holding back on his re-enforcements, as he was still hoping to convince the Russians to commit themselves and pursue him off the table. In response to the panzers killing some rifle stands, the Russians called an artillery mission, to stunning effect! The artillery came in on target and Campbell rolled a double 6 on his fire for effect. Of the 3 German tanks caught in the barrage, 2 were destroyed and the 3rd retreated damaged!
German panzers arrive…
…but 2 of them are left burning…
It was at this point I told Sandy that the Russians only needed to lose 5 more stands before they reached their break point and had to take a morale test. It was fun watching Sandy struggle with the choice of sticking to his plan and pull back, or bring on a couple more panzer units and try and break the Russians! In the end, the decision was made for him, as Campbell, deciding 2 destroyed PzIIIs was enough and not to push his luck, started to pull back himself. They both agreed to mutually withdraw without anymore hostilities.
This engagement will go down as a draw. The Russians lost a company of infantry, but the Germans lost 2 tanks and both forces left the hex. Next week we will be fighting one of the encounters between Neil and Peter. We’re not sure what is happening with the other one. It is essentially a refight of their first encounter and Neil has suggested that we have a similar result, with casualties in proportion to that engagement. The Germans are still debating whether or not to accept the offer.
Either way, we will be in the Caucasus again next week, then the campaign will slow down a bit, as we will take 2 weeks per turn from now on.