Thursday, 28 May 2015

The Battle for Novo Archangel'sk : August 1941

The fourth battle in our Uman Kessel Campaign. By now the Russians are well and truly surrounded in the pocket. With a view to forcing a way through to the Dnepr River the 4th Mechanised Corps fought to break though the 9th Panzer Division. Fuel and armour were now running low so despite fierce fighting and with only limited support the ultimate end was probably not in doubt.

For our battle the  4th Mechanised Corps under Gen AA Vlasov consisting of remnants of the 81st Mechanised Division and the final tanks of the 8th and 32nd Tank Divisions are up against Alfred Ritter von Hubicki commanding the 11th Panzer Granadiers, 102nd Panzer Artillery Regiment, the 50th Panzerjager Battalion and the 33rd Panzer Regiment.

Overview of the Battlefield
As a breakthrough mission the Russians have a much larger force but only 12 turns to break through the German lines to safety. As always a lot happens in the battle so I will let the pictures tell most of the story.

Germans dug in in the town itself. 33rd Panzers on the right flank

Panzer Grenadiers in the Town supported by Artillery and
Panzerjager Battalion
The Russians in a desperate position in the kessel chose to throw all their armour into a full on left flank attack attempting to swing round the town to safety.

Russian Motorized Division enter on the left flank

Remnants of the 8th and 32nd Tank divisions
Historically the Russian were down to their last few tanks by this stage but to make it a more fun battle we allow the Russians to pull together quite a few tanks, perhaps they were able to salvage a few from within the pocket. Importantly they have managed to find the last 2 KV1's.

Germans reorganise their left flank
With the thrust of the Russian advance on the far right, the German had to quickly reorganise, sending the Panzerjagers through the town hopefully to buy some time whilst the 33rd Panzers swing round capturing the Russian exposed flank.

Dug in Artillery claims the first Russian tanks

Panzers on the flank
By now the Germans have pushed out the 33rd Panzers and are starting to have an impact. The Russians are starting to turn to protect their flank whilst pushing forward direct for the town.

Hot work as the Germans bring increasing firepower into the battle

Germans starting to take casualties and they are outnumbered !

Russians deploy their last few T34's and use them to bolster their right flank

At this stage the whole battle started to drift to the North, the Russian Motorized infantry in trucks, they didn't have a enough for all of them, have reached the small woods in the distance. Whilst the battle continues in the centre, the Russian armour is tied down but as they bring greater numbers into the combat the German Panzers begin to become isolated and are picked off one at a time.

Russians in the woods
The German commander desperately tries to bring more troops across to the right flank but no armour can be spared at this stage.

Critical stage of the battle, Russian T34's push the 33rd Panzer back !
Russian T34's are concentrating fire on the panzers and pushing them back
At this point the Russian Motorised infantry had made it into the woods and were able to unlimber their remaining artillery, they made a heroic dash forward taking out some of the Panzerjagers and pushing back the Panzer Grenadiers in hand to hand fighting. With the Panzers being pushed back and a definite breakthrough on the right we decided to call it a day here, a minor Russian Victory.
End game......
Historically the battle took several days of hard fighting and I guess our battle might represent the Russian high point, eventually though the Germans were able to bring more reserves into play and the Russian were running out of fuel, armour and hope.....

ED: another good battle and a deserved win to the Russians. Luckily they have run out of KV1's now all that remains now is to close the pocket our final battle for the bridge at Pervomaysk.

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