Wargaming in Hertfordshire

Monday, 29 March 2010

PMZ Campaign: Le Mans 2

Report from General Eberbach,
commanding Fifth Panzer Army
The battle for Le Mans, dated August 12th 1944

While waiting in Berlin, I received this report on the anticipated American attack near Le Mans.

My subordinate deployed on a group of hills overlooking bocage. The Panzer IVs of Panzer Lehr division occupied this ground in protected positions together with the 709th Infantry Division. The 352nd Infantry division was in reserve and guarded the command centre and supply dumps in the rear area. Minefields were placed on the flanks. The Americans attacked with two armoured and two infantry divisions on the left. The 1st Infantry division, weakened from the battle a week earlier, advanced slowly in the centre.

The units on the extreme left were halted by the minefields, those closer to the centre advanced rapidly and soon engaged Panzer Lehr. Meanwhile the American airforce pounded our positions and inflicted significant damage. After a prolonged firefight, the green American 4th Armoured division withdrew but not before forcing most of Panzer Lehr from its position on the hill. This allowed the American 2nd Infantry division to take the hill and attack the remaining units of Panzer Lehr in the flank.

Meanwhile the other American divisions (the green American 3rd Armoured division and the 90th Infantry division) had moved round the minefield, swung to their left and attacked the 352nd Infantry division. Facing them was only one battalion with attached Pak40 ATGs which was guarding the supply dumps. The ATGs forced the armour to retreat after knocking out many Shermans while the infantry battalion held off repeated attacks by the American infantry.
With our central position crumbling, the American 1st Infantry division made a cautious advance. Seeing this, the commander of the 709th Infantry Division, forming a kampfgruppe from the remaing tanks of Panzer Lehr and his own infantry, attacked the 1st division, driving a wedge between it and the 2nd division. This caused great confusion in the American forces and halted their attack.

Nevertheless the Americans have punched a hole through our line on the left, so the Corps has withdrawn to Orleans.

Bottom right are elements of US 4th Armored.
Top right are elements of US 90th Infantry.
Top centre is the battalion of 352nd and the supply dump with remnants of Pz Lehr in the background.
The US 2nd Infantry are on the hill with US 1st infantry bottom left.
The 709th kampfgruppe is centre left under attack by the US airforce.

Monday, 15 March 2010

PMZ Campaign: Minsk

Report from General Nehring,
commanding Fourth Panzer Army

The battle for Minsk, dated July 28th 1944

I had been summoned to Army Group headquarters regarding a plot against the Fuhrer when I received the reports about the Soviet Lvov–Sandomierz offensive. This was launched by First Ukranian Front against Army Group North Ukraine and drew off most of my armour, leaving only a single Panzer division near Minsk.

My subordinate deployed in a defensive posture with his remaining infantry divisions between open woods on the left and a village on the right, the Panzer division being placed in reserve. Reports of the action are confused but apparently the Soviets made a surprise attack without their normal artillery bombardment. The attack in the centre consisted of twelve battalions of tanks including JSIIs, ISU152s and SU85s plus their supporting infantry, while additional infantry divisions advanced on the flanks. The front line buckled under this onslaught but just managed to hold its position. The counterattack of the Panzer division broke one of the Soviet tank formations, but weight of numbers meant that this was only a temporary respite.

Soon the Soviet armour broke through, surrounding many of the surviving German units and causing the retreat of those units which could do so. The koenig tigers of Panzer-Abteilung 503 are reported as being destroyed by the Red airforce. The entire Korps was effectively out of action and Soviet forces poured through the gap in Fourth Panzer Army's line.

I have been recalled to the front to stabilise the situation. Fourth Panzer Army is now in headlong retreat, two of my divisions have been completely destroyed and another will require rebuilding. The Soviets have bypassed the defence lines around Baranovichi and Bialystok, so I am planning to stop them at Brest-Litovsk, all units have been ordered to stop at that position.

The defence of the village, right flank of the panzer division can be seen on the left.
Massed Soviet armour advancing in the background.