Thursday, January 1, 2015


The Scenario:

Situation Report

North of the town of Mlawa, north Poland, September 1, 1939: The Treaty of Versailles left the area of Prussia under Germany as the province of East Prussia.  This demarcation placed the Polish capital of Warsaw only 120 km south of the East Prussian border; a location considered vulnerable to the Poles.  The Polish Modlin Army was tasked with guarding the northern border with East Prussia.  Shortly before the war, the decision was made to strengthen the northern defenses by constructing a line of field fortifications and concrete bunkers north of the town of Mlawa in the center of the Modlin Army’s positions.  The 20th Infantry Division was attached to the army with the assignment of protecting the flanks of the fortified line.  The fortifications consisted of heavy concrete bunkers with gun turrets shielded by a line of anti-tank trenches and barbed wire along a low glacial hill that overlooked the valley of the Mlawa River north of town.  World War II began in this sector around noon when the Third Army under German General Walter Petzel attacked this formidable defensive line.

GAME LENGTH:  11 turns 

VICTORY CONDITIONS:  The Germans must capture or destroy all 3 bunkers and capture the 2 level 3 hill tops by the end of the game (no opposing stands on the hill tops or in the bunkers).

The Poles start the game with a full line of barbed wire, anti-tank ditches & minefields that run the entire width of the table.  They must be deployed on or behind the road.  There are also 3 roadblocks (treat as anti-tank obstacles) that can be placed anywhere on the table. (The Polish will be defending the left side of the table).
The Poles have 3 pillboxes that must be deployed on the high ground.  I already have them placed in this aerial photo (used so the German player could assemble his battle plan and issue Orders).
SPECIAL RULES:  The Germans have 1 Ju-87 Stuka attack that will take place randomly on turn d6.  Follow the standard rules for Air Support once the arrival has been determined.
Anti-Tank Ditch:  An anti-tank ditch is a large trench with a steep-sided embankment.  It is designed to slow the progress of tanks and, when they go over the top, expose the under-belly to potential shooters.  Infantry move across the anti-tank ditch without penalty.  It is Difficult Going for tanks, Very Difficult Going for halftracks and impossible for wheeled or towed vehicles.  A breach can be blasted in the ditch by the Demolition Charges.  Infantry treat the anti-tank ditch as normal entrenchments, however they do not get bullet-proof cover from air strikes or indirect fire because the ditch is so wide.
If the minefield is deployed on the road it is not hidden.

Pillboxes:  The 3 Pillboxes have a 37mm anti-tank gun mounted in a turret on top with 360’ line of sight.  Each has a Ckm 30 HMG mounted on each side (left & right).  These have 180’ fields of fire along each side (left & right) of the pillbox.  They are connected by tunnels and there are 3 points of access (hatches) into the tunnels.  Any time a German infantry stand moves behind the line of the pillboxes, roll a d6.  On a 6+ the stand discovers a hatch (mark the location).  German units can enter the hatch and use the tunnel to reach the inside of a pillbox.  Any assaults would be fought as a normal assault inside a building.  A tunnel connects all 3 pillboxes. 

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  This game was played twice using FOW and Spearhead rules and the German attack failed both times.  It is originally a Squad Leader scenario and I would suggest changing the platoon/company morale rules for the company to fall back if they fail company morale, rather than getting pulled from the game entirely.  This kind of persistence may help the German cause.

1 BHQ Command Stand
1 Medic

Infantry Support
1 Command Stand
6 Rifle Stands with Anti-Tank Rifles
4 Rifle Stands

3 Pillboxes, each with
1 Command Stand
1 37mm ATG (turret mount)
2 HMG (side mounted)

1 BHQ Command Stand
1 Second-in-Command Stand

Engineer Company
1 Command Stand
6 Engineer Stands
3 Flamethrowers
3 Demolition Charges

1st Machinegun Company
1 Command Stand
3 HMG’s

2nd Machinegun Company
1 Command Stand
3 HMG’s

Infantry Gun Platoon
1 Command Stand
1 Forward Observer Stand
1 150mm Infantry Gun’
1 Artillery Tractor

A Company, 1st Infantry
1 Command Stand
1 50mm Mortar
10 Rifle Stands

B Company, 1st Infantry
1 Command Stand
1 50mm Mortar
10 Rifle Stands

C Company, 1st Infantry
1 Command Stand
1 50mm Mortar
10 Rifle Stands

Transport Units
6 Halftracks (unarmored, no MG mount)
3 light trucks (1 stand each)
3 heavy trucks (2 stands each)
*Assign to units of your choice

1st Recon Company
1 SdKfz 221 Command Armored Car
1 SdKfz 221 Armored Car
2 SdKfz 222 Armored Cars

Elements 1st Panzer Corps
1 Command Panzer I
1 Recon Panzer I
2 Panzer II
4 Panzer 38t
2 Panzer IV C
1 Armored Recovery Vehicle

Service Elements
1 Fuel Truck
2 Supply Trucks
1 Medic

1 Sortie of Stuka Diver Bombers.

The Polish Right Flank

Each pillbox was designated as a separate combat group with a command stand accompanying the ATG & HMGs inside the pillbox.  Out in front each had 2 stands with anti-tank rifles positioned in the trench.

The Polish Left Flank

The trench jogs backward and up the first grade on the Polish left.  With limited fields of fire and no pillbox on this flank, the rifle squads and command stand were deployed.  The Commander-in-Chief deployed in the woods behind the center pillbox (pillbox #2).

The German attack would come in the form of 2 pincers.  To the German left would come the armor and engineers in their halftracks.  In the center would come the armored car company supported by the HMG’s and Infantry gun.  The infantry would follow on foot and cross the wire in the middle.  The plan was to eliminate the pillboxes one-by-one from left to right and capture the hills behind once they have been neutralized.
Turns 1 & 2
Turn 1 passed without event as the Germans advanced onto the table and the Poles waited patiently for a target.  On Turn 2 Air Support arrived in the form of a lone Stuka. The plane attempted to make a run at pillbox #3 but could not range in on the target.  It departed without having participated in the battle.
Stuka attempting to range in on one of the Pillboxes.  Too difficult to spot from the air, the dive bomber moved on to other parts unknown.
The Panzer IV’s pulled up at a rallying point midway up the table where they lobbed a couple of shells into the Polish trenches harmlessly while they waited for a refuel.  Although they had ample fuel for another 5 turns, they opted to top-off now while the German traffic jam was slowing progress.  Fuel is always more valuable later in the battle.
 The massed German force advancing up the table:  Tanks & engineers to the left, armored cars and infantry up the middle.
Turn 3
The halftracks reached the minefield in front of Pillbox #1.  2 stands of Engineers had been broken off into a Kampfgruppe with the 2nd-in-Command assigned the mission of attacking Pillbox #2 while the others went for Pillbox #1.  The Kampfgruppe hesitated in front of the minefield just long enough to give the defenders the opportunity to open up. A barrage of fire came from the 2 pillboxes, knocking out 4 of the 6 halftracks and 3 Engineer squads; including the entire Kampfgruppe. Never the less, the Engineers held their ground and stayed focused on their mission.
Polish Defenders look on as the pillboxes tear through the halftracks transporting the engineers.  To the left, the armored cars have also caught the attention of the Polish gunners.

At the Center of the line, the squads in the trench were unable to stop the 150mm Infantry Gun from unlimbering by the house, but Pillbox #3 was able to destroy one of the armored cars in the recon unit coming up behind.  One was all it took as the rest of the unit recognized its limitations in the face of the fortifications and a live Pillbox.  Following the Kampfgruppe, the recon unit was the second German company to go out of action.
Turn 4
The German armor began reaching the defensive line on the left.  The first Pz 35(t) struck a mine and foundered while the crew tried to replace the damaged road wheel.  The rest opened up on Pillbox #1 and were able to destroy the anti-tank turret.  The machineguns mounted in the sides of the pillbox, however, were more difficult for the tank gunners to target.
German armor tentatively crosses the minefield while knocking out the first ATG turret.

In the center, the 150mm Infantry Gun was one of the best suited weapons to deal with the pillboxes; capable of knocking out the anti-tank turret and the flanking machineguns with its large shells.  The first round was fired and came up short!  The discouraged crew took cover as the pillbox machineguns were capable of reaching them even though their gun was ineffective from so far back.
Just out of range!  The 15cm Infantry Gun comes up short firing on Pillbox #2.
Turn 5
In the center the advancing infantry were running into trouble navigating the gap in the woods.  Both companies spread out more so that some of the squads were in the woods, but the Company Commanders began to recognize they wouldn’t make it to the pillboxes in time to neutralize them all.  The Heavy Machinegun Companies began deploying in the woods to the German right to face off against the Polish infantry in the trenches that would block the route to Pillbox #3.
The artillery tractor moved forward and hitched up the Infantry Gun in anticipation of moving it forward with the infantry squads (despite the name, the 150mm was too heavy to be moved by infantry).
German troops bottle-neck in front of the Polish defenses.
On the German left, the tanks made their first attempted assault on the 2 anti-tank rifle squads occupying the trench.  The Command Panzer I blew up in the minefield and a Pz 38(t) took a hit from an anti-tank rifle; foiling the attempted assault.  On either side of the defending squads, however, Panzer 35(t)’s and Panzer II’s began crossing the obstacles and ascending the high ground; putting a lot of firepower on the two pillboxes to little avail.
Panzer II's attempt to suppress Pillbox #1 while the rest of the armor flounders in the Polish earthworks,
Turn 6
With time running short, the Panzer II’s leading the breakthrough climbed the high ground and began skirting the woods to come up on pillbox #3 from behind.  Several of the Pz 38(t)’s engaged pillbox #2 and knocked out the anti-tank turret there; removing the last serious threat to the armor on this flank.  More tanks began ignoring the anti-tank rifles in the trenches and dashed for the high ground beyond pillbox #1 as the machinegun bullets bounced uselessly off their armor. 
A Change Orders was issued for Infantry Company A (loaded in the trucks) to make for the German right and attempt to assault pillbox #3 directly.  In the center of the battlefield, the advancing infantry began coming under fire from the machineguns of pillbox #2 and the infantry squads in the trenches.  On the right, the heavy machinegun companies began to take hits from the infantry in the trenches screening pillbox #3.
The Polish company holding the left side of the line faces off against the German Heavy Machinegun Companies deploying in the woods.

Turn 7
With both Machinegun Companies positioned in the woods, the Germans opened up on the Polish infantry in the trenches; wiping out all 5 stands sent to protect the Polish left flank.  The German Commander considered another Orders Change to send the Machinegun teams over the wire to assault Pillbox #3, but then things went badly:
The Polish anti-tank rifles around pillbox #1 were able to suppress one of the Panzer 35(t)’s and a Panzer 38(t) that was attempting to by-pass their position.  Morale checks followed and both platoons withdrew from the field.
In the center, 3 Heavy Machineguns from the pillboxes opened up on Company B of the German Infantry approaching the minefield to the front.  The combined firepower completely wiped out the entire company.  These losses were too much for the German field commander to accept and the Order was issued to withdraw (a failed force morale check due to 50% of the companies being eliminated).  The Poles won the day!
After being repelled by the Polish defenders, the Germans withdrew to their lines by night fall. The next day began with a 2 hour heavy bombardment on the Polish right flank, followed by a German Assault.  The Poles counter-attacked with the 79th Infantry Regiment and 20th Division, but logistical issues and the overwhelming strength of the Germans foiled any attempt to push the Germans back.  Never the less, despite the pending encirclement, the Poles held until September 3rd when German engineers advanced forward with human shields and were finally able to breach the line.  At this time, the Poles abandoned the line and withdrew towards Modlin and Warsaw.
Battle reenacted September 28 - October 9, 2014

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