Monday, June 18, 2012
5.panzerdivision truimphs at Bykhov again!
Once again, our brave panzertruppen of 5.panzerdivision defeated the enemy hordes at Bykhov. Having just been returned to the line to man the defences at Bykhov, 5PD was assailed by hordes of Soviet infantry, supported by rocket artillery, self-propelled guns, heavy tanks and Sturmoviks. To make matters worse, by sheer bad luck the Soviets had managed to cut off Bykhov in the previous week, and our troops were fighting with very low supplies. But instead of letting this bitter situation get the better of them, this only served to strengthen their resolve, each man prepared to fight to the bitter end if need be.
As is usual throughout this campaign, 5PD was badly outnumbered. Two huge battalions of Soviet infantry were deployed on the right flank, no doubt intent to swamp our lines. They were supported by two IS-2 heavy tanks, a mortar company, an HMG company and a huge battery of around 14 Katyushas. The left flank was covered by a company of SU-122.
Against this horde, the 5PD detachment mustered up 7 Pz IVH, 6 StuG IIIG, 3 Panther A, 3 Pz IIL, 2 platoons of panzer pionier and a battery of 2 Luftwaffe 88s.
The 5PD detachment was spread throughout the frontline. They had fought on this ground before and was able to use that experience to their advantage. The two objectives, one on each flank, were defended by the trusty panzer pionier. The Pz IV platoon, led by the company commander himself were deployed on the far left against the SU-122s. The Luftwaffe 88s deployed in the center to make full use of their superior range. Interspersed between the guns was the Panther platoon. The right flank was brought up by the 2iC in his Pz IV, 2 platoons of StuGs, with the Luchs recce platoon deployed forward.
The most daunting part of the enemy force was his huge artillery support, and that became a priority target. Also, the enemy's right flank was definitely his weak spot, with only 5 SU-122 covering it. This is something my Pz IV can take care of at range, especially with the help of the 88s. The Panthers were tasked to take out the enemy heavy tanks. The StuGs were to target the Katyushas while sweeping up the right flank with the Luchs platoon. At any rate, 5PD will have to close with the enemy fast or face incessant bombardment from both the Katyushas and Sturmoviks.
Seizing the initiative, 5PD moved into the attack. The right flank advanced aggressively, as the StuG platoons spread out while opening fire on the Katyusha battery, destroying only 4 launchers. The Luchs platoons scouted ahead on the extreme right and tested the Russian defences there, gunning down some enemy infantry in the process. The opening round of fire from the Pz IV platoon was not impressive, killing only one SU-122 and forcing another to bail out. The Panthers did not fare any better, and their shots did not find their marks.
The Russian hordes advanced on our right, with both infantry battalions marching headlong towards our lines. A horrible fiery Katyusha bombardement was unleashed on the 88s' and Panthers' position, but after the explosions, smoke and dust, only one 88 was destroyed. Mortar fire on the same area also failed to do any damage. Then on the right flank, the crazed Soviet hordes charged the Luchs platoon with SMGs and grenades! A hail of MG fire from the Luchs and nearby StuGs cut down scores of Soviet infantry, but they still kept coming, such is the unstoppable wave of the Soviet horde. But as man and steel contacted, the enemy infantry failed to do any harm to the light tanks, but were instead further decimated by the merciless point-blank MG and autocannon fire. Goaded by their commissars, the Russians threw themselves into the fray again and again until only a few remained, and even despite their fearless nature, such were the losses that they fled the battlefield.
Taking advantage of this fortunate turn of events, the Luchs swept up the right flank, with the StuGs in close support. The Panthers stood their ground to concentrate fire on the Russian heavy tanks, and this time the IS-2 company was quickly reduced to smoking ruin as shell after shell found their mark. Likewise, the Pz IV platoon and 88s focused their fire on the SU-122s, quickly destroying all but one. On the right flank, the Luchs platoon and one of the StuG platoons opened fire on the surviving SMG battalion, thinning their ranks, while the remaining StuG platoon opened fire on the Katyushas, destroying only one. Then the order came - "Panzer vorwart!" - and the entire German tank line advanced as one.
On the extreme right, the Luchs and the StuGs assaulted the enemy infantry. In a short but sharp fight, the Soviet SMG battalion was cut to ribbons and fled off the field. The Soviets were now in a hopeless situation. They had lost all their armor and most of their infantry, and the Germans on both flanks were barreling down on them. In true Soviet style, the Katyushas brought down a fearful barrage on the German forward right fank, with rockets falling on their own comrades still manning HMG positions! Fortunately for the Russains, the infantry were able to find whatever cover they could and came through the bombardment relatively unscathed. Unfortunately for the Russians, the German tanks survived largely unscathed too, with only two tanks forced to bail out. The Russian commander frantically called for air support, but mysteriously, the Sturmoviks did not turn up (really really bad roll).
Then it was time for the coup de grace, as 5PD tanks advanced into the kill. On the right flank, the StuGs and Luchs platoons assaulted the enemy HMG company defending the objective, easily cutting them down to the man and securing the objective for Germany. The remaining forces advanced and opened fire on the Katyushas, finally destroying all launchers. There was nothing more that the Soviets could do, and the handful of survivors of the onslaught retreated off the battlefield.
This had to be the shortest and sharpest FoW battle I had ever experienced. The battle was pretty much one-sided, with the Soviets really lacking in anti-tank assets. A battery or two of ATG would have changed the situation entirely. And this showed in the tally as well. The Soviet force lost 6 of its units in just a few turns, while the Germans only lost a single 88 gun and crew.
It turned out that this was to be the final battle for 5P in this Bagration campaign. Bykhov was held, ensuring that supply lines to Mogilev remained open. The battle also resulted in the retaking of Slavgorod, further securing the German position.
This campaign turn had been nothing short of monumental for the Germans. Although they gained strategic initiative only once, they had managed to win all but one of the battles fought during the campaign turn. The Germans lost Orsha, but also cut off the fallen city by taking Dobryna. The Russian Smolevichi salient was squeezed out and the southern flank was further secured by German victories in Berezina and Zhlobin.
The Bagration campaign is over. History has been rewritten. Victory to the German forces!