Inspired by issue 184 of After the Battle magazine, I decided to do a late war game based on actions in one of the Oder Bridgeheads in February 1945. It allowed me to try some loaded-for-bear SS foot units, and was a change of pace from the Normandy kick I was on.
The Soviet 49th Guards Tank Brigade (with T34/85s) drove the SS Fallschirmjaegers out of Grabow on Feb 5. But then the Kampfgruppe Schwedt defenders received reinforcements: two batteries of Sturmgeschutz-Brigade 210 and Fallschirm-PanzerJaeger-Bataillion 54. So, along with units already in the bridgehead (SS Jagdverband Mitte, SS Fallschirmjaeger Btn 600 and the snipers of SS Scharfschutzen-Zug) the Germans counterattacked on Feb 7
The Road to Grabow
The NE Outskirts of Grabow
The Russians could set up anywhere in the town or woods around the village. The T-34s of the 49th Guards were withdrawn (5 were lost in town so I left a couple on the table to hopefully confuse the attacking Germans), but the infantry from the 35th Mechanised Brigade were still there. M4A2s (75mm) from the 219th Tank Brigade were just off table.
The other road into Grabow
No snow on the ground but it was cold and overcast. The Germans could enter from either road or the NW edge. I decided that the SS Jagdverband Mitte elements would consists of 2- 3 section platoons and have two MMG teams in support. Three Big Men overall. They had plenty of automatic rifles and were rated as elite (5 firing dice max). They also had six Panzerfaust 60s. The SS Fallschirmjaeger PanzerJagd Btn 54 had two Kommandos, each of two 8-man squads, three Big Men, eight Panzerfaust 60s, and four Panzerschreks. They also had automatic rifles, so five firing dice to start. I also put three Sniper cards in the deck for this player.
StuG Brigade 210 was represented by two StuH 42s and three StuG IIIGs.
The Germans had loads of firepower for sure.
The German Players Prepare
Conveniently located next to the drinks cooler, John and Sheridan lay out their unit cards face down as Blinds. The Germans actually start on higher ground than the village. They know that there are Russian tanks in the area.
John had the Stugs and panzerjaeger unit, and Sheridan had the infantry of the SS Jagdverband Mitte.
And here come some Emchas
I played the Russkies - or rather I had the opportunity to die as the Russkies.
I had a company of the 35th Mech Brigade. Three 2-section platoons, two MMG teams, three tubes of 82mm mortars (off-table) and a pair of Panzerfausts and four Big Men. They started in town In buildings on the left, two MMGs in the center, a platoon in the trees on the right and a platoon center back.
The eight M4s of the 219 Tank Brigade would start to enter on the 'Turn' card after German armor was spotted. That took a minimum amount of time, so the first two M4s chugged on quickly and started to shell the infantry of Sheridan's SS Jagdverband Mitte coming down the main road in front of the tanks.
German left under fire
The lead M4 shells the men on the road and the MMGs fire at the men along the wire and post fence. They return fire with an MMG team and a platoon. The Maxims get three dice each facing the sixteen dice coming from the fence line.
StuHs spot the MG and drop a few 105s on it
John and the right hand unit had practically gotten into the town before the platoon I had over there could get in action. They were in the two houses along the road on the right.
One StuG III broke down on the first turn though due to a random effort so the Russians had a two-to-one superiority in armor now.
Maxims under fire
They at least had hard cover, but my gun on my left is getting pounded by the StuHs.
Left hand platoon finally active
But the Fallschirmjaegers and StuGs are on top of them before they can do much
Combat on the west road
John could send a lot of fire at the buildings and he also had three snipers to help pin my troops
The road is a bad place to be
Sheridan moved his men off to the left to put the woods between the M4s and his troops. This would put his SS Jagdverband Mitte men in front of my right hand platoon.
Panzerjaegers wearing down the Soviets
Stugs in the rear make running dangerous also, Snipers are helping to keep the Reds pinned too
Action on the north side
My right hand platoon opens up on Sheridans men as they come out of the trees.
I get a catastrophic hit on one of the StuGs causing shock on the nearby partner. My Emchas are dodging among the buildings and fences trying to line up shots.
The M4s are active and the T34s are not
Two of the 49th Guards T34/85s are knocked out on the roads. The one in the center took two more hits from a StuG - better than the M4s that are engaging the Germans as far as I'm concerned.
Lots of cover for the tricky M4s
The Russian left flank collapses as survivors run from the Kommandos.
Shooting and scooting
My Emchas move take a shot, and then try to pull back.
Another StuG gets hit...
…as it moves back to get around to the left. John still has two StuHs and I have eight M4s moving around. The Russian infantry is being eliminated though.
Germans still advancing
Sheridan has his men back across the road and into the village and the two remaining StuHs are going to start shelling the buildings that look dangerous.
M4s in the rear
The remaining Russian infantry platoon is in the red brick building and the white one to its left out of the picture.
Close assault beaten off
John loses five men in this combat and has to fall back. Time to stand back and blast me out.
Jagdverband moves up in the center
Sheridan chases out the remaining MMG team and prepares to advance further into the town. The combat in the woods finished with my men retreating in the face of overwhelming firepower.
Looks like everyone is leaving
All the Russian infantry sections are down to NO action dice And the Shermans are not going to do well against four Panzerschrecks and a dozen ‘fausts. One Emcha is already on fire from a Panzerfaust hit.
Final German casualties are two dead StuGs, and nine of the Fallschirmjaeger Panzerjagd down. Sheridan lost seven of his Jagdverband men and one MMG team.
I lost one M4 and forty-five men, two MMG teams, two platoon leaders and the Company CO. No point in the tanks hanging out here anymore. The war is going to be over soon.