Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Battle for Pervomaysk Bridge : August 1941

Our fifth and final battle in the Uman Kessel campaign has the German 16th Panzers looking to capture the Bug river bridge at Pervomaysk. Although this is mentioned in the Osprey guide and other sources that I have used as a starting point for the campaign I haven't been able to find any other references to a battle at the bridge at all. However, it seems reasonable that to capture the bridge the 16th Panzers would have to push back the final remnants of the Russian 6th and 12th Armies who had escaped the encirclement. (Importantly I have had the bridge for ages and it would make a great final scenario).

Using a Blitzkreig Commander scenario we gave the Germans approximately twice as many points as the Russians. But importantly the Bug River can only be crossed at the Bridge. The Russian leadership is low reflecting the poor overall strategic position. The Town of Pervomaysk straddles the river and the Russians had to start the scenario with at least one formation on the north side of the river.
Germans enter from the North 1 Battlion of Pz heading straight for
 the town the other looking to cover their approach
We also gave the Germans some air cover which adds to the flavour of the battle but proved very ineffective. You might be able to make out the ME109 ground attack plane.
Overview of the battlefield
The Germans took some early casualties before they were able to get out of their vehicles losing at least one infantry unit and one attached anti tank gun.

Better view from the East the last few remaining Russian tanks
 prepare to counter attack any attempt to get across the bridge

View from the South
The first German Pz's made it to the river bank and began engaging unit across the river at long range whilst bringing up heavy anti-tank guns to clear the town. The remaining Russians who have volunteered to stay behind have dug in in the buildings making it almost impossible to get them out with out and infantry assault. I think BC it particularly realistic here where dug in infantry just cant be shot out as they dug further into the rubble.

German Anti-tank unit unlimbers and begins to bombard the town
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The German panzer grenadiers have dismounted and charged into the town but are repulsed taking quite heavy casualties, eventually heavy fire from the antitank guns eliminates one unit but it is going to be hard to force the infantry out.

Minor success for German tanks at long range

Whilst the infantry tries to force the Town the second Pz Battalion forms
up to rush for the bridge

More air cover but the Russian tank despite being low of fuel can still exchange
fire across the river and get the better of it !

Germans waste time and effort trying to force the town and the
Russian mortar crews on the other side of the river start to pick off units
Eventually the German Tanks rush for the bridge and the Germans bring as much firepower as they can up to support and to clear a way for the tanks to force the bridge.

The lead PzIV's make it across but are pinned down
Infantry dug in on the far side of the bridge meant the Pz's couldn't exit the bridge and as they couldn't assault the infantry in the buildings they had to try and blast them out. Whilst doing this the Russians used up their remaining ammunition opening up with everything in a last ditch attempt to hold the Tanks back.
Road block on the bridge
Whilst the bridge gave the tanks stuck on it good cover they didn't have the space to deploy. At this point we gave a well deserved minor victory to the Russians. They had fought with everything they had rather than running for their lives.

Final position Germans have cleared the North bank but simply can't
get across in any numbers to make a difference.
Another excellent, close fought battle to end the campaign, with all five battles being a close run thing. We have learnt masses running each battle especially around the size of armies we can hope to manage in a single evening and reach a reasonable conclusion. Historically of course the Uman Kessel was a significant victory for the Germans pretty much eliminating the 6th and 12th Armies. With overwhelming air power the Germans mopped up the pocket fairly quickly before spreading out across the Ukraine. We are currently considering where our next encounter with the eastern front will be.........

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