Tuesday 30 April 2019

June 1941: battle for D├╝naburg Bridge

It has been a while since we visited our 1941 Barbarossa campaign. Essentially we are following Army Group North in its invasion of Latvia, Lithuania and into Russia. We’ll see how far we get towards the siege of Leningrad­čĄö

Previous battle https://wargamesinthedungeon.blogspot.com/2018/06/breakout-at-libau-barbarossa-june-1941.html  saw the Russians attempt to break out at Libau.

For this battle we have now reached Day 4 of the invasion 26th June, a key early objective overall for the invasion is to break across the Dvina-Dnepr River Line securing bridgeheads to enable the Blitzkrieg to force its way into Russia itself and the major cities of Leningrad and Moscow. Poor leadership by the Russians at this early opened gaps in their front and allowed General Von Manstein’s LVI Panzer Corps the opportunity of making a dash for the river Dvina crossings at D├╝naburg founded by Teutonic Knights in 1278.

In a daring Blitzkrieg move a motorised infantry task force rushed for the bridges. Headed by Lt. Hans Wolfram Knaak two small units of Brandenburg Commandos in stolen Russian trucks raced to capture the main bridge, these were closely followed by the 29th Panzer Grenadiers, German Pioneers and eventually followed by the tanks of the 8th Panzer Division. The Russians counter-attacked with the 21st Mechanized Corps under Kuznetsov but the German Bridgehead held. A second battle took place at the bridge a few days later as retreating Russian forces attempted to break through in the same direction but this is for another day. Baring in mind the limitations of scale, time and collections we managed to get the key elements of the initial assault into a scenario.

The Brandenburgers rush along the Lithuanian roads in early dawn light according to the books I have read the drivers wore Stolen Russian uniforms !
They tricked the guards and made it to the D├╝naburg Road bridge, the first vehicle getting right across before driving down and embankment, the second vehicle came under fire half way across but the troops managed to get out.
So this was our starting point, two Elite German unit on or just over the bridge, sleepy Soviet Guards no where to be seen, the follow up Germans will arrive in a phased sequence up the road. The defenders will subject to leadership roles enter from D├╝naburg itself, the Germans will win if they can create any kind of bridgehead over the river.
The sleepy outskirts of D├╝naburg
Brandenburgers rushing the bridge
Kuznetsov has ordered the 21st Mech Corps to close 
They have plenty of dismounted infantry
Backing up the German commandos is a unit of pioneers who are crossing the river by boat, they have a random arrival time and location diced for each turn
Wolfram Knaak leads the first unit forward to dig in
Turn two and the 29th Panzer Grenadiers arrived supported by Kradsch├╝tzen motorcycle machine gun crews one attempts to cross the bridge the other deploys to give covering fire
Russian infantry deploy in the blow building overlooking the river bank
Just as a bit of a bottleneck occurs on the bridge a T34 rolls forward temporarily immobilising the front Hanomag, a lucky shot has also knocked out a german antitank gun which had looked to provide covering fire across the river (nothing much is going the way of the Germans today)
Grenadiers bale out and run forward to support the Brandenburgers who are pinned down in the nearest buildings, in the distance the first Panzer arrive. In the river the pioneers are still paddling against the current and haven’t made the other shore !
Russian infantry pour an enormous amount of firepower into the Brandenburgers who are pinned in the buildings 
The leading Grenadiers dash forward and dismount, but the german attack is uncoordinated due to the blockages/ delays on the bridge and they are being mopped up piecemeal
A Panzer II drives over the bridge but it’s path is blocked by a BT7 tank, it fires with its autocannon but the rounds just bounce off the Russian tank
A view west across the river, the leading Grenadiers are now taking fire and need to move quickly
The BT7 immediately returns fire on the PzII and yes it blows up first shot !
The smouldering Panzer blocking the bridge which is going to give some further challenges later, beyond the bridge you can see the pioneers have finally made it across the river and are advancing towards the town
....but it may be too late the Panzer Grenadiers have been wiped out and the remaining German commandos are pinned down in the building
In a last ditch attempt to force the bridgehead the Panzer IV rumbles onto the bridge but is unable to get a shot on target agains the T34 and in true style when it does hit the round bounces off
And then the inevitable happens it takes a direct hit from a Soviet AT gun and it immediately explodes in flames.......time to pull back I think for the germans
The Germans called it a day here, although a tiny number of Brandenburgers remain over the bridge they would be easily mopped up and captured. Everything else the Germans had is in flames !

A very enjoyable if tough game, for the Germans getting across the bridge was always going to be a tall order, the soviet commander barely rolled anything less than a 5 or 6 in the first few rounds and the loss of the anti-tank gun felt decisive, the Germans then allowed the bridge to get blocked up rather than driving forward. The Russians just dug in a gave them everything they had.

We’ll see where this campaign takes us next.......­čśÇ

Monday 29 April 2019

Al Andalus and the real objective of the Germans in Operation Sealion ­čĄş

This weeks unit is another for my Al Andalus collection, to balance up the recent additions to the Arabs some Christian infantry.
These were picked up second hand with some others and I have sorted them to some extent into those with mail and those without. I have also mixed round and tear shaped shields to signify these are not just ‘Normans’. In terms of casts they are quite old and a bit ropy early Gripping Beast I think as they come with fixed shields. But they are acceptable. The flag was a bit tricky but works nicely from LBMS.

Now why did the Germans thing about invading Britain.....
Well this can play as either an objective or simply as pretty terrain. I have picked up a couple of similar vehicles of eBay recently.
Corgi die cast 1:50 scale so quite large but here is a comparison shot with the recently acquired Armadillo.....technically also a Bedford truck and a Warlord 1:56 , they work well enough. Sadly they don’t seem to make a Shepherd Neame truck which would be a bit more geographically correct. I have picked up another truck which if I don’t like the colour I might repaint ­čĄö the riddles truck is such a lovely colour I’m keeping it.

Tuesday 23 April 2019

More reinforcements for Homeland defence

These guys didn’t quite make it for the recent battle held up in transit to the front, but they will be ready for next time.
These are Crusader miniatures and to be honest they are now my favourite early War figures a joy to paint, the remaining units i have to paint are Foundry home guard and some Warlord sailors.

Sunday 21 April 2019

Battle for Etchinghill : Operation Sealion

We are now in the closing hours of S-day the majority of their initial objectives captured the Germans are pushing further inland. Pockets of resistance remain so we may see further small battles and skirmishes in and around Folkestone or Dover but as the light fades and fresh troops are landed they are sent north to probe any remaining British defence. The small village of Etchinghill whilst insignificant in the larger scale of the invasion is an important objective sitting on one of the key roads to Canterbury via the Elham Valley. It also lies close to the railway between Folkestone and Canterbury which would allow British reinforcements to be brought up overnight.
The battlefield before the advance of both forces, railway cutting in the foreground. Germans will be advancing from Folkestone as a simple scenario we have three objectives, the railway bridge, the cross roads and a telephone box providing the ability to communicate back to HQ, these are marked above as yellow dots.
The British advance from the north a Vickers armoured with a light autocannon, it may struggle if the Germans have managed to get any heavy armour up this far
Wouldn’t you just believe it the local Homeguard have a beaverette Armoured Car but it is immediately targeted by a german Panzer and blown to pieces !
To the west the British have managed to get a Matilda II up in support this will be a more formidable foe for any Panzer
Advancing from the south the Wehrmacht a 38t Panzer with infantry and Pak36 antitank gun head for the village
Further west a second Panzer this time a 35t heads for the phone box
Using the cutting as cover a unit of British Regulars are trying to get to the bridge 
The Matilda moves slowly towards the phone box objective scarring the german Panzer away
A unit of Fallschirmjager dash through the back gardens and with no targets available the gun crew begin to wheel their gun forward
A shot west along the road, a small Panzer I has advanced through the woods to try and capture the railway bridge, in the distance an armadillo truck which had advanced to the cross roads is in flames, with no real armour it was a second easy target for the 38t Panzer
A unit of RAF reserves who have arrived from Hawkinge have managed to catch a German unit our in the open (an incredibly lucky roll saw me wipe out an entire german unit in one turn) as they followed the Panzer to capture the bridge
Things are going better to the west of the village where a unit of Germans are pinned down behind the black shed reluctant to advance towards the British heavy tank.
“Vhere are zey”  shouts the german tank commander, this is no way to capture the objective but the British unit is at least safe for a while under the bridge
The Vickers light tank has been duelling with the Panzer I in the woods
....and eventually gets the better of the combat...but is then immobilised by the Panzer on the bridge !
Exchanging fire across the road..
The Matilda is now pushing through the hedges by the road, but can’t find a suitable target
Running past the burning Vickers another British unit attempting to capture the bridge is pinned down
Germans have now captured the cross roads, but are hit by mortar fire and then caught in the open by the last active infantry unit and wiped out
Close now to the end of the battle and the Panzer resolutely holds the bridge ( what you can’t see and I didn’t photograph is a british unit running no sneaking onto the bridge from behind to contest the bridge)
They take fire from the Fallschirmjager but just enough survive, the British commander urges the RAF lads forward but all they can do is take pot shots at the Germans from behind the hedge.
...as the sun sinks the phone box is safely in British hands the machine gun crew able to phone back to HQ on the position of the Germans advance
At the cross roads an unlikely finish the remaining two British infantry have run out of time to assault the german commander who seems oblivious to the danger, so this objective is also contested at the close.

So in the finally telling after the allotted six turns technically two objectives are contested with only the phonebox being held outright by the British so. A minor British victory ? .......well to be honest I think closer to a draw as the railway bridge is rightfully in the hands of the German Panzer.

A fun game, hard fought........and a welcome return to my Sealion Campaign­čÖé