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 Dünaburg 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 Dünaburg 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 Dünaburg itself, the Germans will win if they can create any kind of bridgehead over the river.
The sleepy outskirts of Dünaburg
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 Kradschützen 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.......😀