Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bridge Over the Bzura - September 15, 1939


Sochaczew, Poland, September 15, 1939:  The Poznan Army had been falling back without engaging the Germans since the invasion began because of the lines collapsing on both sides of them.  On September 9, General Kutrzeba crossing the Bzura River and launched an offensive; breaking through the flanks of the German 30th Division that was by-passing their position to the north.  As the offensive gained momentum, more and more German resources were committed to counter the offensive and push the Poles back across the Bzura.  The Polish 25th Infantry Division failed in an attempt to break out of the encirclement at Sochaczew, the German 1st Panzer Division took advantage of the bridge being intact and went after the Polish position.  
GAME LENGTH:  8 turns 

VICTORY CONDITIONS:  At the end of the game the Germans must have one platoon on the south side of the Bzura River.
This view is looking North.  The Bzura cannot be forded and the embankments are steep.  The bridge can support tanks and is 2 lanes wide.  The center pier of the bridge is in the center of the table.  There is a low footbridge to the left (24” in from the left table edge) that may be crossed by infantry only.  The fields are cosmetic only and do  not have any effect on movement or line of sight.

The Polish player deploys anywhere on the southern river bank (lower edge).  The German player may deploy up to 12” in from the Northern (upper) table edge.  The German player has initiative on the first turn.  German artillery may deploy off-board.

SPECIAL RULES:  Ammo checks on Turn 5.
The footbridge is of weak construction; thrown together by troops from a prior offensive.  Roll a Firepower test when a stand on the foot bridge is hit.  If it is successful the bridge is damaged. (Mark which section).  Any stand may make a skill test to repair the bridge during a turn in which they do not move or shoot.  If the same section takes 3 points of damage remove that section.  The bridge is out of commission for the remainder of the battle.
Any stand that is Pinned on the foot bridge is placed in the water adjacent to the bridge.  Once they rally, they must make a skill test to get back on the bridge.  A ‘1’ during any skill test results in the stand drowning or getting washed downstream and they are removed from play.  A stand may remain in the water alongside the bridge (using it for cover and moving hand-over-hand along the braces).  It can move 2” per turn (roll a d6) and is considered to be in bullet-proof cover.  They may not fire while in the water.

 The high bridge is 2 lanes wide.  Therefore, a vehicle must be knocked out passing a wreck in order to completely block the bridge.  The Polish player may call Opportunity Fire to hit a vehicle as it is passing another on the bridge (in an attempt to block it), but the Rate of Fire is reduced as if the shooter had moved; representing the limited time the firer has to hit the vehicle at that specific spot.  He may resolve the rest of his fire normally, but if the vehicle is bailed out or knocked out it takes place normally at the end of its move.
Because of the difficulty in targeting the deck of the bridge and limited surface, Smoke Bombardments may not be placed on the bridge itself.  However, direct fire smoke can be fired at targets on the bridge.

Fearless                                  Trained
Elements 25th Infantry Division
Battalion Piechoty
Battalion HQ                                        50 pts
2 Command Rifle Teams                    
1 81mm Mortar
Medic [Independent Unit]

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

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

Piechoty ATG Platoon                        90 pts
1 Command Rifle Team                     
3 37mm wz.36 Anti-Tank Guns

Mounted Kawalerii Company             180 pts
1 Command Cavalry Rifle Team                    
1 Cavalry Anti-Tank Rifle Team
5 Cavalry Rifle Teams
Fearless                                  Veterans

Total Points:  815

The Poles are Underdogs in this scenario.  If the players wish for an even battle, the Polish force should be brought up to 1,200 points against 1,500 points for the Germans.

Confident                               Veteran
Elements 24th Panzer Battalion
Leiche Panzerkompanie
Company HQ                                      80 pts
1 Panzerbefehlswagen (Command Pz I)
1 Panzer II (early)
1 SdKfz 9 Recovery Vehicle

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

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

Medium Panzer Platoon                       450 pts
3 Panzer IV D

Light Armored Car Platoon                  100 pts
3 SdKfz 221 Armored Cars                

Light Pioneer Platoon                           155 pts
1 Command Pioneer Rifle team          
6 Pioneer Rifle teams
3 Kubelwagens
2 Heavy Trucks (2 stands each)

Light Artillery Battery                          360 pts
1 Command SMG team                      
1 Staff team
1 Forward Observer / Motorcycle
4 105mm leFH18 Howitzers

Supply Truck
Total Points: 1,490


Polish Deployment
A Company deployed into the woods to the left of the bridge with 2 HMG’s and the HQ Mortar overlooking the footbridge while the remaining HMG faced the near side of the bridge.  HQ deployed in with A Company.  B Company deployed along the road and to the right in anticipation of the Germans coming across the bridge.
Two ATG’s were positioned at the end of the bridge with the third along the left riverbank to triangulate their fire on the Germans as they crossed the bridge.  The unmounted cavalry company deployed in the field behind (as a reserve) and chose to dig in once the battle was underway. 
On the opposite shore the Germans lined up in the order that they would be taking the bridge.  The Armored Cars & 2nd Light Panzer platoon in the road to lead the way (with the armored recovery vehicle close behind to ensure no wrecks block the bridge).  The Engineers started dismounted across the road and would feint toward the footbridge before moving on the main bridge behind the armored columns.
The Panzer IV’s & Artillery Forward Observer would take up positions on their side of the bridge to pour some fire on the defensive positions while the rest advanced.  Finally, 1st Light Panzer Platoon would move into the woods on the left, offer fire support, then follow 1st platoon out onto the bridge.
Turn 1
The Poles held their positions and began firing on the approaching Germans.  The Germans closed then distance from their deployment zone to the river’s edge.  In the initial barrage from the Anti-tank guns, a Panzer IV & Panzer II were taken out while the second Panzer II in 1st Platoon & an armored car were pinned.  1st Platoon passed their platoon morale check, but it could have been significant had the first panzer platoon broken off.
“Did you see that? 3 shots, 2 kills!  The heck with those guys on the bridge, WE did that!”  ATG on the river bank takes down a Panzer II and Panzer IV while pinning the other Panzer II from 1st Platoon.
Turn 2
The German Pioneers reached the riverbank and began exchanging fire with the Poles on the other side.  The first air strike came in and the Stukas took out one of the ATG’s at the end of the bridge along with 2 stands from B Company and pinning the rest.  Never the less, the German tanks held back on the river’s edge waiting for some of the fire to soften up the Polish positions.
The anti-tank gun in the woods that had a flank view of the bridge took out a second Panzer IV and the remaining tank failed a platoon morale check.  With the heaviest tanks quickly disposed of, morale was high on the Polish side.
The ace ATG came under fire from the Panzer II’s and was taken out along with one of the anti-tank rifles.  Never the less, the remaining ATG at the end of the bridge held fast.
Turn 3
 With the FO in position, the Germans were ready to pick up the intensity on the Polish positions.  Another air strike came in again, taking out 2 more stands at the end of the bridge and pinning most of the rest.  The Panzer II’s collected along the river bank turned their attention to the last remaining ATG; taking it out along with the command stand.  The way was clear.
Armored Cars lead the advance across the bridge while Panzer II’s on the far shore keep the pressure on the Polish defenders.
Before the way had been cleared, the armored cars and 1st Platoon jumped off and started their trek across the long span.  

Armored Cars lead the remaining 2 Panzers from 1st platoon across in the face of the Polish defenders.  They won’t be there by the time they arrive.
Although the German 105’s posed a significant threat to the Poles on the opposite shore, the opening salvo simply suppressed the HMG’s and Mortar.  In the meantime, the German Engineers pulled away from the river’s edge and headed for the roadway to be the next across.

Turn 4
With the way open and the Germans showing no intention of coming across on the foot bridge, Company A began shifting toward the main bridge and the oncoming armor.
Nothing like wheels on the road! Moving 18” at a time, the German armored cars whiz past the bewildered defenders.  Now the Poles will have to contend with them in the rear.
The Armored Cars by-passed the Polish defensive positions and pulled up by the Chair Factory while the slower tanks assaulted the Polish infantry along the fence line by the bridge.
1st Platoon goes to work clearing opposition away from the Polish side of the bridge.
The two panzers eliminated one stand and forced the rest of the Poles to fall back toward the trees where the rest of A Company was gathering to launch a counter-attack.
The German engineers started across the bridge, but found not enough of the Poles had been pinned by the artillery.  The HMG opened up along with several rifle stands and cut down 2 of the Engineers on the bridge.
Turn 5
Polish B Company failed their ammunition check, but there weren’t many of them left and the panzers were within assault range anyway.
With a tentative foothold on the opposite side, the rest of the German force started across the bridge.
The Stukas were unable to range in on the Poles in the trees, but the artillery was effective in pinning down the most dangerous weapons (the mortar and HMG’s).  Therefore there were no casualties on the bridge this turn.  Never the less, the small arms fire continued to erupt as the Poles pelted the German armor with bullets in an attempt to get in a lucky shot.
The dug in dismounted cavalry look on as Company A (on the left) assaults the panzers while remnants of Company B (right) assault the armored cars.
With the significant anti-tank weapons gone, the Poles understood they’d have to assault the German armor if they were to win back the bridgehead.  They converged on them from both sides of the road.
Although there were no casualties, the Panzers of 1st Platoon won the assault and forced the Poles to fall back into the treeline again; further widening the bridgehead.  The armored cars killed 2 stands, but the infantry of B Company were able to destroy one armored car and suppressed the second.  The armored cars failed their platoon morale test and fled the scene.  It was too close for comfort for lightly armored recon vehicles.
Turn 6
The Panzers of 2nd platoon pour across the bridge & head for the dug in cavalry unit while an armored car burns to the right.  On the left, the 2 tanks of 1st platoon continue to push A Company back into the treeline.
The Polish HMG’s had the opportunity to open up on the bridge once again; taking down 2 more engineer stands and causing the remainder of the platoon to bug out.  This was half the force! The Germans found themselves having to pass a Force Morale Test with victory in their clutches!  It was time to be more careful before the tenacious Poles pull a victory out of the clutches of defeat.
Panzers assault the Polish positions again.
Both Panzer platoons assaulted the Polish positions.  They took out 6 stands including the Commander-in-Chief.  1st Platoon reached the edge of the treeline and held fast while 2nd platoon was repelled by the dismounted cavalry (despite inflicting 3 of the casualties on the cavalrymen).
Turn 7
 The Germans had a wide enough swath cleared for their bridgehead and chose to hold their positions; let the Polish Defenders come to them.  Inevitably, this is what happened.  Any Polish troops within range assaulted the German tanks in a final, fruitless attempt.
The cavalry unit took another casualty and broke from the battlefield.  A Company & B Company each lost 2 stands.  Time was running out and the Poles had nothing left to push the Germans back to the bridge.  The game was called at the end of Turn 7.
How it ended:  German Panzers loitering around on the Polish side of the river.  “Send word back to Herr General, the bridge is secure!”
Historically, the Polish were able to hold the Germans off long enough so that the Poles could ford the Bzura River further north and escape to Warsaw.  However, they had to abandon all of their heavy weapons in order to make the river crossing.  

1 comment:

  1. Excellent report, great detail, backboard and set. Well done lads and historical even better