Hauptmann Hans Standt reports again:
After my disgraceful performance on the road to Izdeshkovo, I am pleased to report success in my second mission, near Belyj.
I was given a special secret task [details of which I have censored as other people may wish to play Scenario 2B from Vyazma or Bust] which involved defending my location against the Russians. From the accompanying aerial reconnaissance photographs, you can see that the action centered around a road running up from a village to my position near a large farm:
Clever spotting on my part revealed a veritable horde of Russian infantry advancing up the road towards me . I also knew there was enemy armour in the area, as I could hear the sound of their tracks in the distance. Amusingly, one Russian squad appeared very reluctant to advance [rolling three `1' for their first two movements] and had to be encouraged by the Commissar!
I advanced 2nd Platoon and some odd bits of armour forward to defend what must have been the local communist party HQ building (why else would there have been a three storey building in the middle of the countryside?) and 1st Platoon to defend a hedge line, lining up my two Panzer IV's to take out anything trying to advance down the road. The enemy was very cunning, however, and laid down a very effective smoke screen, behind which they advanced forward their infantry and tanks.
[It also shows what the new smoke markers that I bought at Colours look like. Thanks for pointing them out, Rich, as I like to live up to my reputation as the man who has every gimic marker possible!]
As the smoke was about to clear, my men in the building prepared to shoot whatever it revealed. As they waited, however, a lone Russian officer [we're talking Russian Heroic Leader chip here] appeared waving a copy of one of Stalin's speeches which he hurled in through the window before diving in himself! Charging out of the smoke after the speech (and perhaps the officer) came a whole platoon of Russian infantry and, after a hard fought battle [involving 36 of their dice verses 49 of mine] we were unceremoniously evicted from the building into the open ground behind. Oberleutenant Sigi Schtardurst survived the melee, I am pleased to say, unlike the Russian officer!
Schtardurst's men evicted from the building were able to shoot up a second Russian platoon coming from the woods before being wiped out to a man…except, of course, for Schtardurst himself, who climbed into an SdKfz 222 to continue the battle.
A huge firefight developed between 1st Platoon and my armour and the Russian tanks and infantry in the party HQ building. Fortunately the weight of fire from the two squads and MMG of the Company HQ back at the farm just tipped the balance in my favour, and although 1st Platoon suffered large casualties, the Russians were effectively neutralised. An interesting incident was Schtardurst in his armoured car fighting a T-26 literally nose-to- nose, with neither vehicle able to deliver the coup de grace, until the second Panzer IV blew the Russian tank to bits from the flank. Another lucky escape was had by the Panzerjager: who suffered but survived two engine fires whilst duelling point blank range with another T-26 whilst enemy infantry dropped grenades from above!
In the end, I was able to complete my mission successfully, and so hope that I have redeemed my name with High Command.
This was my second battle with Neil Hopkins as we play through the Vyazma or Bust campaign. I must admit that I had a slight advantage here as I'd (a) written the scenario myself and (b) played it for real, i.e. not playtesting, once before...but I lost that time!
It was a hard fought, very close battle (points? who needs points to create a fair game!) that literally came down to who could survive the Tea Break under 9" automatic fire rule! Most of the combat took place at a range of under 4" throughout the battle! Interestingly, both Neil and I confessed afterwards that we had been about to order a general retreat when finally his tanks began to brew up. If they'd been heavier than T-26's, I would have been in big trouble.
On to scenario 3C, which takes place around the large mill on the Floznia river!