Wargaming in Hertfordshire

Monday, 31 May 2010

PMZ Campaign: Brest Litovsk 1

Report from General Balck,
commanding Fourth Panzer Army

The battle for Brest Litovsk, dated Sept 23rd 1944


Following the disaster at Minsk, I have replaced General Nehring. August was quiet on this front, the Soviets presumed to be reorganising after outrunning their supply in their advance to Bialystock. There has been a major uprising in Warsaw which resulted in all my replacements being diverted to crush this, however it is being successfully suppressed.

Expecting a massive Soviet attack, my forces were deployed between a lake on the left and open woods on the right. The critical forward wooded area was held by the 275th infantry division with attached Jagd Panthers. The 16th Panzer division was deployed on the high ground in the centre with some of its Panthers deployed with the 72nd infantry division in the woods on the right, this division also had a company of Jagd Panthers attached. Minefields protected the flanks although most of them were ineffective due to lack of material.

The Soviet attack began with a massive katyusha bombardment which disrupted two thirds of my units, however our morale held. The attack was concentrated in the centre. Six Soviet divisions attacked in line, their infantry and tanks quickly entering the important forward woods. The tanks in the centre advanced cautiously and were soon stopped by the Panthers of 16th Pz Division. A long range firefight then developed with the Panthers easily outgunning the T34s, only the JSIIs could engage them effectively. The small groups of ISU152s and SU85s proved to be ineffective in this situation.

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The view from behind the German positions. 275th Inf are dug in, in the woods on the left , with the infantry of 16th Panzer behind them. The Panthers are on the hills in the foreground firing on the mass of advancing Soviet tanks. The 72nd Inf are on the right laying down fire on the advancing Soviet infantry.
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The Soviet airforce attacked in strength but their Sturmoviks were held in check by the small number of Messerschmits we had available.

Soviet infantry on the right were stopped by the 72nd infantry and soon forced to withdraw under heavy fire. The Soviet armour on the right then attacked the 72nd who gave way under the pressure and retreated. This Soviet armour was then attacked in turn by the 16th Pz Division and itself forced to retreat. At this point the 275th infantry broke and retreated from the forward woods which were now held by only a single infantry unit of 16th Panzer, the only remaining German division. This unit hung on tenaciously despite repeated Soviet attacks.

The Panthers eventually won the firefight in the centre and the Soviet tank divisions retreated. With no Soviet units on the right and centre, the 16th Pz Division now counter-attacked into the forward woods, driving back the now exhausted Soviet units. At this point the Soviet command abandoned its attack and their remaining units precipitously retreated, leaving hundreds of T34s behind. I do not anticipate another Soviet attack for some time and so can concentrate on rebuilding my units.

Generalleutnant Dietrich von Müller, the commander of 16th Pz Division has been awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves for his outstanding performance in this battle.

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