Today was the Albanich Wargames Show 2018 in Dumfries. This is the third year we have put on a demonstration game. This year in keeping with the 20th Century theme and our current gaming interests we put on an Eastern Front game. Rather than give a long description I have included the info sheet which I had at the game. In brief the Battle in September 1942 sees the Germans counterattack against a Russian advance to bridge a gap to Leningrad. Whilst I suspect a relatively little know episode in the vast scale of WW2 it was particularly notable as the first time the Tiger Tank saw combat. Historically they had been rushed to the front too early in were exceptionally unreliable, we had some special rules to reflect this. Before my usual photo montage a big thanks to Martin and Steve who played the game (Steve also provided the lovely Russians) whilst I umpired, stopped them squabbling, and spoke to the public. We had a lot of interest which was great and many complementary comments 🙂.
The set up in place and ready to go, things were a little last minute due to some other pressures but happy overall
BT7’s and KV1 of the 4th tank Brigade supporting the advance of the 2nd Shock Army 327th Rifle Division
Some divisional artillery a Zis 3 being towed into place
A second KV1 on the Russian right flank, they have broken through the first german lines and are now pushing towards the Sinyavino Heights
On the Heights a single German pak36 dug in, visibility is poor due to the tree cover but reinforcements are being rushed forward
Having unloaded at Mga the first Tiger of the 502nd Heavy Tank Battalion has arrived, it is slightly unreliable though and suffers some minor mechanical issues early on....luckily the crew are able to fix them and it presses forward
Infantry of the 170th Infantry Division are rushed forward behind the Panzers of the 12th Panzer Division
Having cancelled their own planned offensive the Germans have diverted the 5th Mountain Division to help plug the Russian breakthrough
Russian tanks continue to advance with the central area heavily wooded both sides are looking to take the advantage
Following closely the infantry, plenty more where these guys came from
Whilst the german infantry await deployment orders the German armour assumes a very cinematic advance formation (bonus point for the German CO)
The Tigers unreliability means it is looking to stay on the dirt roads to avoid getting bogged down, the infantry can go no further in the truck so dismount
The Mountain troops have been ordered to seize the ‘Heights’
Overhead a Stuka is chased by a Russian Poloikarpov I-16
The German Stug is leading the advance down the road into the woods
The German armour appears to have stopped ?
But they were just lining up to drive into the woods, seeing the difficult conditions the Tiger remarkable still working fine decides to stay on the road
German Infantry start to infiltrate the woods
But they are faced by stiff opposition
Then suddenly a breakthrough for the Germans in a matter of minutes both BT7’s are knocked out, the Russian advance on the left stalls
Strong german armour pushed forward into the tree line
A change of plan the Russians advance on the right
An early casualty the wreckage of the burning Stug
The Tiger gets off its first shot but is only able immobilise the Lee which can still fire both guns
The Russians are now advancing through the woods towards the Heights
German Cavalry arrive (this was a non playing unit just for show🙂)
A furious tank battle ensues in the difficult wooded terrain, the Pz35(t) is knocked out but the Russians simply can’t hit anything else
The tiger is now in a strong position looking down the road and the Germans definately have the advantage no chance for the Russian breakthrough now.....
In a desperate all in advance the remaining Russian armour is thrown forward down the road towards the German lines
Arrrrrrrgh unbelievable, rolling a ridiculous number of consecutive 6’s the Lee manages to blow the Tiger Tank out of the battle
And then within minutes the Panzer III, slightly over eager, having advanced beyond the tree line is also knocked out by a lucky shot from the side
The PzIV redeploys to cover the road but its lighter Howitzer isn’t powerful enough to knock out the advancing T34
Panic is starting to set in and German Infantry is ordered forward
The veteran Gebirgsjager of the 5th Mountain are not so easily shaken though and having kept their heads down behind the Heights they surge forward to knock the advancing Russian infantry back, unfortunately their machine gun support and the anti-tank gun has already been wiped out, the Heights are a very hot place to be !
and then...........pushing its way through the trees the second Russian KV pushes onto the Heights, despite heroically assaulting this with grenades and everything they have the Gebirgsjager can’t knock it out
the final coup de grace the T34 nudges its way past the burning Tigar and Stug to deliver a point blank shot to the Panzer Jäger
A final shot of the Stuka streaming oil and heading back to base, at this point with the Russian army broken through and the Germans ability to effectively deal with this the Germans chose to pull back from the Heights and reform a new defensive line.
Historically the Russians got bogged down before they reached the Heights and although the pocket was held by significant troops from the 4th and 6th Guards Rifle Corps and the 2nd Shock Army it was eventually cut off and eliminated. As for the Tigers the 502nd put 4 into combat three breaking down, the fourth getting stuck, one of these was supposedly captured by the Russians who then used it to develop the additional fire power they would need later in the war.
So there it is ..... even though a lot of the stuff for the game was straight from the dungeon it did take a lot to put the game on, it was enjoyable and I plan to be back next year. The show did seem very quiet ? Not sure if this was due to weather last week, the reduced number of traders or what. I feel it important to showcase the hobby and support any local shows, I do make an effort to talk to people about the game etc. I purchased a couple of items to support the traders who attended but I fear a decline has set in and it will take some action to reverse the trend. Sadly I didn’t get a chance to see any of the other games I was just too busy with ours....🙂