The first battle in our Uman Kessel campaign sees the Russian 12th Army commanded by General Ponedelin attempting to escape the German 17th Army under Von Stulpnagel. Using Blitzkrieg Commander rules we used the pursuit scenario where the smaller Russian force sets up in the centre of the battlefield with the German forces entering with mobile deployment from a random baseline, we also agreed the Germans were allowed to bring one formation (elements of the 16th Panzer) from the NE flank.
|Germans as the attacker get the first turn and come on from the North (right)|
The 1st Mountain Division is leading the way for the Germans represented by 3 battalions of the 98th Mountain Infantry Regiment, these are crack troops with good mobility in trucks and halftracks. They can be seen coming on from the right in the first few pictures, but immediately taking some casualties as the Russian 4th Anti Tank Brigade guns open fire. The Germans are supported by the 44th Panzerabwehr (Antitank) battalion which can bee seen in the foreground unlimbering. Again in the second photo the Russians have opened fire taking out one gun early on.
|Russian set up in centre around farmhouse with infantry dug in in the central wood|
The Russian forces shown above on the left consist of the 240th Mechanised Division on the road, the 44th Rifle Division dug in around the farm and woods, and elements of the 39th Tank Division (2 light companies of BT7's and one medium Company of T28's) attempting to hold the flanks.
|Overview of the battlefield, German 50mm anti-tank guns have opened up on Russian Armour|
The objective for the Russians in the battle is clear they are trying to get as much off the battlefield intact as possible. They are outnumbered and for a 'minor objective' they need to get ten elements of the field. This looked easy to start with but he battle proved to be an excellent challenge. The Russians having to decide between leaving units behind and running the risk of being overwhelmed and the Germans having to try and drive forward as quickly as possible.
|German infantry starting to dismount and Anti tank guns fully active|
One big challenge for the Mobile German troops was when to dismount, they are much easier to kill in vehicles so for safety better to dismount but far slower to advance.
|Russian Mechanised Corps starting to pull back but caught by Artillery barrage|
The Germans as the attacker have 3 scheduled artillery Barrages aimed in and around the road junction these were particularly effective in disrupting the 240th Mechanized Division who were pulling back along the road.
|16th Panzers enter from the NE but have restricted deployment due to ground conditions|
The Panzers form the 16th Division arrived on the flank on turn three, although very deep on the flank they are restricted by the poor ground conditions on either side of the road. Although they push on fast they have limited impact on the battle overall.
|Losses are mounting up by valuable Russian Armour is pulling back further each turn|
|View from German baseline as the Russian armour disappears towards Bratslav|
The town in the far left corner represents Bratslav and represents the next point on the Russian retreat to Uman.
|Russians now pulled back beyond the road is it retreat or rout ?|
|German Infantry are now on foot and having to slog it forward to push Russians out of the woods|
By this stage in the battle the Germans have started to pick off any remaining Russian armour but the majority has, as required by the scenario pulled back from the front looking to regroup on the other side of Bratslav.
|More pressure from the Germans pushing forward with anti tank guns|
The Germans are now struggling to get forward quickly enough without adequate armour support the infantry is just too slow to capitalise on their advantage. Too little to late the 44th Antitank Battalion pushes forward to press the retreat eventually taking up a forward position in the nearby field.
|German infantry in the mid ground advancing towards woods|
|Almost all remaining mobile Russian armour has made it off the battlefield|
|98th Mountain Infantry now clearing out the woods|
At this final stage of the battle the Russians had achieved their minor objective and gained 2 victory points for the campaign. We judged the remaining Russian infantry in the woods would be captured and sent to work in factories back in Germany. The Germans have however, destroyed more than twice the casualties inflicted on them so they too gain 2 VP's. The outcome then for the campaign a tactical draw.
|Final Russian infantry make it off the field, but some are left behind in the woods to be captured|
Final thoughts, a really great battle, what looked easy on both sides was actually really hard to achieve.