Friday, January 9, 2015

Sacrifice of Polish Armor, September 1, 1939

Situation Report
Novy Targ Resgion, Southern Poland, September 1, 1939: Despite the known German troop concentrations at the border, the Polish army was taken by complete tactical surprise.  Many Polish units were in the process of moving to their defensive positions or areas of concentration when the attack commenced.  Even so, some German units ran into heavy resistance during the initial phase of the campaign.  Such was the case when the 2nd Panzer Division ran into considerable trouble with Poland’s only fully operational mechanized unit, the 10th Cavalry Brigade.

GAME LENGTH:  9 turns 

VICTORY CONDITIONS:  The Germans must “control” 4 of the 7 buildings on the table at the end of the game.  To control a building, it does not have to be occupied:  The last unit to pass through an unoccupied building takes control of the building.  Contested buildings do not belong to either side at the end of the game.  The game starts with all 7 under Polish Control.

The Germans enter the Southern (right) table edge on Turn 1.  The Poles can set up anywhere on the table at least 24” in from the right table edge.  Polish reinforcements arrive on the East table edge (top).  The Level 2 hill sections (on the left) and the L-shaped hill by the left-hand road (between the two village sections) are Difficult ground.

As this scenario originates from a Squad Leader game, which has no structured Org Chart, we opted to take the units that were available to each commander and assemble them into our own command groups (or Kampfgruppe's in German terms).  Players may adjust the make-up of their fighting groups as they see fit, however, the Polish reinforcements must remain as they are shown here per the original scenario.

Elements of the 10th Cavalry Brigade
Pulk Kawalerii Zmotoryzowanej
Fearless                              Veterans
Grupa Walki (gw) Zachod
1 Command Rifle Stand
3 Rifle Stands
1 Anti-Tank Rifle
2 37mm Anti-Tank Guns

Grupa Walki (gw) Wschod
1 Command Rifle Stand
1 Heavy Machinegun
1 Light Mortar
5 Rifle Stands

Reinforcements "Hearts"
1 Command Rifle Stand
4 Rifle Stands
1 Heavy Machinegun
1 Anti-Tank Rifle Stand
1 Light Mortar
2 TKS Tankettes (MG only)
8 Trucks

Reinforcements "Diamonds"
1 Command Rifle Stand
2 Rifle Stands
2 7TPjw Tanks

Starting on Turn 3, the Polish player draws a random playing card from a deck.  If a black card comes up, no reinforcements arrive.  Otherwise, whichever card is drawn, those reinforcements arrive on that turn.  After 1 reinforcements unit arrives, the next will enter when any red card is drawn; they do not need to wait until their specific suit comes up.  Stop drawing cards once both Polish reinforcements are on the table.

Elements of  2nd Panzer Brigade & 2nd Infantry Regiment
Panzer Troops
Confident                         Veterans

Kampfgruppe Motorrad
1 Command Rifle Stand
1 Heavy Machinegun
7 Rifle Stands
All Motorcycle Mounted

Kampfgruppe Handy
1 Command Rifle Stand
4 Rifle Stands
1 Heavy Machinegun
All truck-borne

Kampfgruppe Fuss Osten
1 Command Rifle Stand
2 Rifle Stands

Panzergruppe Westen
1 Command Rifle Stand on motorcycle
1 Panzer I B
1 Panzer II D
1 Panzer IV D

Panzergruppe Osten
1 Command Rifle Stand on motorcycle
1 Panzer I B
1 Panzer II D
1 Panzer III E
1 SdKfz 9 Armored Recovery Vehicle

gw Zachod deployed in the cluster of 4 houses on the lower left as it was understood that the Germans would have to take, at least, one of them to secure a victory.  Although the Polish commander considered putting all of his forces here, he couldn't leave the other 3 houses empty so that the Germans could just walk right in.  Due to limited fields of fire, the rifle stands deployed behind the fences in the yard except for the one that deployed across the street.  The ATG's were positioned:  One behind the fallen tree in the road and the other in the woods facing the road that runs East.
gw Wschod was responsible for the other cluster of houses.  The HMG was deployed in the house far forward to be the welcoming party for the Germans, the others deployed in the yard and rear houses with 3 stands taking skirmish positions in the woods an on the lower arm of the hill.  The stand on the hill had visibility across the center of the table to the other Grupa Walki so they could respond if things went badly.

Although the German plan was to take the cluster of 4 houses, the German command split the force none-the-less.  KG Motorrad & PG Westen entered the table from the lower right corner looking to use the tree line for cover until they broke through and advanced up the road.

kg Handy led the way up the Eastern Road with PG Osten following and KG Fuss Osten on foot trailing behind.  The plan was to take the first house, then move on to the next two while KG Fuss Osten occupied the first house.  As the line advanced up the road, many of the troops riding along were heard to question the General's judgement:"Who's idea was it to put the trucks IN FRONT OF the tanks?"  From this infamous moment onward, he became known as "General Bastard."

Turns 1 & 2
Turn 1 passed without incident as the Germans began their advance up the table.  With the rumble of the on-coming assault, Polish commanders reassured their men, “Hold your fire until given the Order.”

On Turn 2, the East convoy rounded the hill and came into the sights of the Polish HMG in the fist house.  The machinegun opened up, riddling the trucks with bullets.  Miraculously, the truck survived the pelting, but one rifle stand and the medic riding along with them were cut down.

German transport leaves the road as it comes under fire from the house.

Turn 3
The infantry of KG Handy promptly bailed out of their trucks and took cover in the trees; sending the trucks to the rear.  The armor came up and engaged the house as the infantry spread out in a line away from the road.

"Hearts" Reinforcement group enters the battlefield from the East and by-passes gw Wschad despite the Panzers visible just down the road to the South.  Their Orders are to help secure the 4 houses held by gw Zachod.

Turn 4
 The Panzers on the East Road continued to close on the house while the infantry prepared for a possible assault.  Despite the pressure from the tanks, the Polish HMG continued to fire on the infantry.  “I will not charge that machinegun while 3 panzers stand around and watch!” declared the commander of KG Handy.

To the West, the motorcycles broke through the tree line and advanced on the village.  The defenders opened up with their rifles and managed to take down one rifle squad as they approached.
German motorcycles come under small arms fire as they approach the village.

Promptly after Reinforcements Group "Hearts" entered the battlefield, Reimforcements Group "Diamonds" quickly followed.  Their Orders were to engage the approaching Germans on the East Road.

Turn 5
 Under pressure from the infantry to take out the HMG, the panzers held their position and pulverized the defending Polish machinegun; opening the way for the infantry to advance and gaining the first house for the Germans.

On the west side of the table, KG Motorrad dismounted their cycles and assaulted the first house as the Panzer IV moved up and exchanged fire with the anti-tank gun. The Panzer IV was temporarily pinned in the exchange, but the 2 German stands successfully assaulted the lone Polish rifle squad defending it and occupied the property.  That’s 2 houses to the Germans.
Panzer IV exchanging fire with the ATG hidden behind the fallen tree in the road as the Motorcycle troops begin to dismount and assault the house.  In the distance Polish reinforcements come under fire from the German motorcycles as they begin to de-truck.

Turn 6
A Polish 7TPjw loses the duel with the Panzer III coming up the East Road.  Having captured the first house, the German infantry begins advancing across open ground while the panzers put pressure on the defenders.

Combined arms effort as PG Westen brings firepower to bear on the defending Poles and KG Motorrad crosses the road and assaults gw Zachod defending the fence line.  It was a bloody affair with the Germans losing 2 stands and the Poles losing 3, but the Germans won the assault and occupied the next house.  What's worse, gw Zachod failed it's Company Morale check and routed from the battlefield; abandoning the 2 anti-tank guns and the village to the Germans.

Turn 7
In the West, the Polish reinforcements attempted to advance on the Germans who were moving into the (now) vacated houses, but they were coming under heavy fire from the panzers.  Both the HMG and light mortar team fell under the withering fire, but the group passed their Company Morale.

On the East Road, the panzers were able to pin the other 7TPjw and assaulted the defenders in the court yard of the next group of buildings. Although the Poles lost their anti-tank rifle team in the assault, they were able to repel the German tanks who regrouped in anticipation of laying down some suppressive fire for the advancing infantry.  The Poles, however, failed their Company morale check and the defenders holding the position withdrew.  With both original defending companies gone, the entire force had to make a Route Check and failed. The Poles withdrew from the field to fight another day and the Germans were victorious.
Historically, the Polish 10th were able to repel the German attackers as the Panzer I’s & II’s were no match for the anti-tank guns in a frontal assault.  This defeat may have gone down because of the Polish Commander splitting his force rather than concentrating them all in the village (since one of those houses had to be captured regardless).

Regardless of the outcome, the sheer numbers of Germans attacking caused the 10th Brigade to withdraw the following day as more of the 2nd Panzer Division was brought up.

For our game, because the Germans won when they weren't expected to, they received an "advantage" in the form of Air Support in the next scenario:  The Myth of Krojanty.

1 comment:

  1. One of the best Batreps I've read! Very enjoyable. I'll be looking to see if you've done the battle of Krojanty now.