Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Battle for Piotrkow


Piotrkow, Poland, Southeast of Lodz, September 6, 1939:  Following the route of the Polish Army at Borowa Gora, the Germans pursued the withdrawing Polish army only to run into the 146th Infantry Regiment forming up in the town of Piotrkow (pronounced “Pee-otro-kov”) supported by artillery and the 1st Tank Battalion.  Not content to sit idle in the town and risk being surrounded, the armor went on the offensive to halt the German forces and buy more time for the withdrawing forces to regroup.

GAME LENGTH:  8 turns 

VICTORY CONDITIONS:  Pitched Battle: Each side scores Victory Points equal to the value of the unit he eliminates.  In addition, each side gets 200 points per table quarter if they are the sole occupants of the table quarter.

Table view is looking north into the town (East is to the right).  There are hedgerows along part of the north/south road and on the right border of the wheatfield.  The square to the left of the road is a cemetery with low stone wall around it.

Opponents roll off to determine deployment:  If the Polish player wins, the Polish player may deploy in the town (North side of the table) up to 24” in.  If the German player wins the die roll, the Polish player only deploys 12” in from the north table edge.

The Germans get initiative on the first turn and enter the bottom (South) table edge.

As both sides have off-board artillery, they may be eliminated by sending a unit off the opposing table edge to deal with them.  Treat the opposing artillery as being positioned 8” beyond the table edge.  When the unit that leaves the table edge would reach the artillery, fight an assault or conduct fire as normal.  The victorious unit may re-enter the table edge on the turn that they would normally come back and must re-enter within 12” of the location where they left the table.

Fearless                                  Trained
Elements 146th Infantry Regiment
Battalion Piechoty
Battalion HQ                                        50 pts
2 Command Rifle Teams
1 81mm Mortar

A Company                                        290 pts
2 Command Rifle Teams
1 Anti-Tank Rifle Team
12 Rifle Teams

B Company                                        205 pts
2 Command Rifle Teams
1 Anti-Tank Rifle Team
12 Rifle Teams

Light Tank Platoon                              145 pts
3 7TPdw Tanks

Light Howitzer Battery                         225 pts
4 100mm wz 14/19 Howitzers

1 Command Stand acting as FO for the artillery may be deployed independently.  He is worth 15 points if eliminated.

Confident                               Veteran
Elements 44th Panzer Battalion
Leichte Panzerkompanie
Company HQ                                      80 pts
1 Panzerbefehlswagen (Pz I Command)
1 Panzer II C (early)
1 SdKfz 9 Recovery Vehicle

1st Panzer Platoon                                215 pts
2 Panzer I B
3 Panzer II C (early)

2nd Panzer Platoon                               130 pts
1 Panzer I B
2 Panzer II C (early)

Medium Panzer Platoon                       450 pts
3 Panzer IV D

Heavy Artillery Battery                        460 pts
4 150mm sFH18 Howitzers

1 FO on Motorcycle may be attached to one of the above platoons.  Worth 20 pts.

Confident                               Veteran
Elements 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Reg’t
Infantry Company
Company HQ                                      45 pts
2 Command SMG Teams
2 Motorcycles

1st Platoon                                            165 pts
1 Command Rifle Team
1 Light  Mortar Team
1 Anti-Tank Rifle Team
6 Rifle Teams
3 Trucks

2nd Platoon                                         165 pts
1 Command Rifle Team
1 Light  Mortar Team
1 Anti-Tank Rifle Team
6 Rifle Teams
3 Trucks

Machinegun Platoon                            140 pts
1 Command SMG Team
4 Heavy Machineguns
2 Trucks

Mortar Platoon                                     130 pts
1 Command SMG Team
4 81mm Mortars
2 Trucks
1 Forward Observer
1 Motorcycle

Anti-Tank Gun Platoon                        115 pts
1 Command SMG Team
1 Motorcycle
3 37mm Pak 36 ATG’s
3 Trucks

Infantry Scout Platoon                         160 pts
1 Command Motorcycle Rifle/MG Team
4 Motorcycle Rifle/MG teams

Note that German trucks have capacity to carry 3 stands (typically 2 rifle & 1 command/support stand).

Polish Deployment

The Poles won the opening die roll and were able to deploy 24" in, which essentially gave them the entire town in which to deploy.  The Poles broke the town up into 2 parallel sectors:  Company A deploying 2 stands to a house in the front section of the town all the way to the house between the cemetery and the woods.  All 3 HMG’s were spread out and placed in the houses firing on the open ground that the Germans would cover.  Company B spread out in the houses along the back row.  The Battalion HQ deployed in the 2 buildings next to the woods with the mortar setting up behind the fence in the yard. 

The Polish tanks positioned themselves on each side of the long, brown building with the third further forward using a building and fence for cover (as seen in the photo above). The Polish plan was a static defense and to keep the tanks away from the Panzer IV’s.  Evading the Panzer IV's, bu Turn 5 the tanks were tasked to get out into the open ground and deny the Germans sole possession of the 2 table quarters on that side of the table.
Turn 1
Score (400 - 400)  Each side has sole possession of their table half.

The bulk of the German force entered along the table edge to the left of the road where they headed for the woods.  From there, the units would start working their way down the length of the town.  The 2nd Light Panzer Platoon led the way, followed by both Infantry platoons in trucks.  The Panzer IV’s hung back for one turn to fuel up as they did not have adequate fuel for the mission.
The 1st Light Panzer platoon heads down the road and straight toward the village with the Panzer Company HQ behind while 2nd Platoon assumes combat formation and begins crossing the Western field.
Recon Motorcycle Platoon leads the way East of town with the objective of neutralizing the opposing artillery.  The Anti-Tank guns being towed behind will set up firing into the town to trap the Polish tanks between the guns and the Panzers.  In the distance, the FO and HQ cycles park in the stand of trees.

With the Panzers coming from their right, the 2 7TP's redeployed along the road further to the right in order to engage the oncoming panzers before they got into the village.

All along the front the Polish small arms opened up on the Germans, taking down one of the motorcycles.  The anti-tank rifle suppressed the foremost Panzer I before a pre-planned barrage of smoke fell on their position.  However, the lone Polish tank that had remained stationary followed up and caused the crew to abandon the tank on the road as it caught fire.

Turn 2
Score (400 - 400)  Each side still has sole possession of his table half.

With the motorcycles speeding on by, the small arms fire coming from that end of the town cut down another.  On the opposite end (the German left) the trucks carrying the 1st Infantry Platoon were coming under small arms fire from the houses, so they chose to stop and unload the infantry to move the rest of the way on foot along with the 2nd Panzer Platoon.  By now, the Panzer IV’s had entered the table and the rest of the German force was advancing.
By now the Panzer IV's were advancing across the western field with 2nd platoon trailing behind. (Panzer IV's and Opel Blitz trucks from Plastic Soldier Company).

All along the line the Polish HMGs were jamming and the Polish tanks were missing their mark.  

With the smoke clearing the Polish Forward Observer failed to range in on the German Panzers, however, the Germans were able to target the housing compound successfully bringing down a full 150mm barrage on the ATR and Forward Observer.
Panzer Headquarters tanks following the truck-borne Heavy Machineguns and 1st Panzer Platoon into the town as the German 150's clear any exposed Polish units from behind the fence.
Turn 3
Score: (Germans 400 - 200)  The Motorcycle Platoon is now contesting one Polish Table Quarter.

The German cycles were able to leave the opposite table edge and began firing on the Polish guns.  The HMG’s reached the cemetery and began unloading and the ATG’s found their position on the right side of the town. The panzers and Polish tanks began exchanging fire, with the combined fire from the Panzer II’s destroying the first Polish tank.
Pak 36 Platoon moving into position East of town.
Turn 4
Score: (Germans 400 - 0)  The Germans are now contesting both Polish table quarters.

German 1st Platoon heads into the forest as the Panzer IV’s bring their guns to bear on the nearest house.  In the distance the last remaining 7TP on this flank is in the road exchanging shots with the Panzer II.
With the Panzer IV’s being spotted on this flank, the remaining 7TP started to withdraw (as per Orders) but Opportunity Fire from the oncoming Panzers blew it up right next to the first burning tank.  With 2/3 of the Tank Platoon gone, the remaining Polish tank passed his platoon morale check, but would fail the “sole remaining unit” test at the start of turn 5 and it would leave the table.
With the road getting congested, several of the Panzers move off to the right and cross the hedgerow in anticipation of engaging the last remaining 7TP (upper right), which will withdraw in the next turn. The HMGs are moving to their positions in the cemetery while the lead Panzer I is about to assault the first house.
Off table, the remaining cyclists dismounted and prepared to assault the Polish heavy artillery.  They fired on the guns, killing one crew, but then lost 2 of their remaining 3 stands to defensive fire when they assaulted.  The remaining Command Stand didn’t kill any crew men, but was able to get them to fall back away from the artillery.
Leading the way, a Panzer I crashes through the first house and assaults the HMG and A Company Command inside.
Similar to the results of the artillery assault, the Panzer I was unable to cause any casualties, but the Poles fell back into the long barn & farm house behind.  The Panzer I continued through the wreckage of the house in pursuit.
On the Polish left, the HMG was keeping the 3 ATTurn 5
Score: (Germans 545 - 80)  The Germans get the credit for the Polish tank platoon while the Poles get half the points for the German motorcycles.G’s pinned and out of the action until the German FO finally called a successful barrage in on the HMG; taking the 2nd-in-command for A Company with them.  All through the town on the German left, Panzers were following the lead of the Panzer I and assaulting the Polish defenders by breaking through the cottages.  In most cases the casualties were minimal, but the Polish defenders were being forced to fall back into the defenses of B Company in the back row.

The town being laid to waste by the panzers.  The ruined shells of several homes are in the background as the Poles fall back and the Panzers stop to fire on the second line of Polish defenders.
A pause in momentum:  4 Panzers riddle the building with bullet and shell but they are unable to suppress the 3 stands defending inside.
Despite falling back into B Company, the Poles were determined to continue the fight and peppered the panzers with small arms fire.  They just didn’t have the firepower to stop the panzers without the guns being back online.  Speaking of the guns, the 3 gun crews and the lone German command stand exchanged fire to no avail, then the Polish crews assaulted the German command group and eliminated them.  One gun down, they could go back to manning their guns.
Turn 6
Score: (Germans 545 - 160)  The Poles got full points for the eliminated Motorcycle Platoon.
With most of the Polish defenders pulling back, the Germans in the forest began their advance out of the woods into the town, led by the Panzer II’s of 1st Platoon.
The first building in their path housed the Battalion 2nd-in-Command with the Commander-in-Chief nearby.  The HQ mortar team had been successfully bombarding the German infantry as they moved into the woods (accounting for 3 stands).  However, their luck ran out when they drew the attention of the Panzer IV’s who were coming their way.  The Polish Commander attempted to call in the (now available) artillery, but was unsuccessful.  Before they could hang up the radio, a Panzer II came bursting through the wall.
With the mortar gone, the Commander-in-Chief failed his platoon morale roll.  In addition, the loss of the HQ Company brought the Poles up to 50% losses in their force (which calls for a force morale check).  With the HQ gone, they automatically failed the Force morale check, so the battle was over and the remaining Poles withdrew.
This is how it ended:  A Panzer II crashing through the wall and successfully assaulting the 2nd-in-Command.

In the real battle, the Polish artillery were able to stem the flow of panzers streaming into the town and the Polish armor moved against the German infantry who were advancing behind the armor.  It was a well-executed combined arms maneuver conducted by the Poles, but they remained out-gunned by the Germans and had to withdraw from the town overnight.
Re-enacted:  January 12-15, 2015

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