Bagration – Week 1

Operation “Bagration” was a massive Eastern-Front Soviet attack during June 1944, also known as the “Destruction of Army group Centre”.

SAD Wargamers are running a three week mini-campaign based on Operation Bagration, Week 1 starting with the Trench Fight scenario, as the Soviets attacked the German front-lines.

Five battalions of Soviets attacked five companies of well dug in Germans to start the Bagration mini-campaign. The scenario was Trench Fight, with the following restrictions:

  • German Grenadier companies only. No SS. No Elephants, Tigers, King Tigers, Jagdpanthers or Panthers. 1,500 points.
  • Russians – any Tank or Mechanised list permitted. 1,500 points.
  • Germans cannot take air support.
  • Germans may take a Panzer Platoon or an Assault Gun Platoon – not both.
  • Any Soviet Battalion may take a single company of T34 tanks upgraded to PT-34 mine rolling tanks, which then count as being taken from Corps Support.

Whilst only being capable or really saying what happened in my fight against Derek, I’ve also done a bit of a report on the other fights, which might be wrong!

Fight 1 – Hauptmann Paul Nettle vs Major Derek Whittenbury

Derek had completely wrong-footed me – I had prepared for heavy Soviet tanks – or at least lots of Soviet tanks – but Derek didn’t have any tanks at all! He had three companies of infantry, one of which was pioneers, six heavy mortars, priority air support from Sturmoviks, three SU85, and a full armoured infantry platoon mounted in 9 ex-British Lend-Lease Universal Carriers.

Like most Germans, I started with four platoons of infantry, one of which were “White Pioneers” and one of which were “Black Pioneers”. These had lots of fortification, which stretched all across the table. These were supported from Reserve by an artillery battery, two Hornisse (mounting 88mm guns), two anti-aircraft halftracks with 37mm guns, and two Pak40 75mm anti-tank guns.

The preliminary bombardment therefore only caught my infantry, who got away lightly, loosing only two stands of infantry. Derek started a general advance, rushing his Universal Carriers with their massed machinegun fire up to hose down the trenches, whilst his air support and heavy mortars pounded the trenches too. However, Veteran infantry, Concealed and Gone TO Ground in Bullet Proof Cover are hard to shift, and by the time the footslogging infantry had arrived the Germans were able to mount a devastating fire. The German reserves had a stand-up fight with the SU85s, and although the Soviet infantry did get close enough to remove lots of barbed wire, they were shot to below half-strength by the German Grenadiers, and the attack petered out. Sadly, Derek’s Universal Carriers couldn’t get through the barbed-wire, otherwise I would have been in real trouble – Derek also had some horrible dice-rolling at critical times.

Fight 2 – Major James Funnell vs Major Kathy Carver.

Cathy had brought mine-rolling tanks, supported by more tanks with plenty of tank-riding infantry, and they soon got into the German fortifications. However, James’ reserves – including a solitary 88mm gun that was deadly accurate – and some accurate panzerfaust shooting – soon turned this into a massive swirling and crowded melee. This game ran out of time, but at the end both sides were contesting the objective and it was declared a draw.

Fight 3 – Hauptmann Stuart Greenhow vs Major Andy Cummings

Andy had also brought mine-rolling tanks, supported by massed Soviet armour. Andy’s armour was soon into the German fortifications, and his T70 light tanks cleared out the German defenders from their trenches. Stuart’s reserves, including 4 Stug G, countered the heavier Soviet tanks, but Stuart failed several attempts to counter attack the T70s with his Grenadiers, and although the T70s were eventually destroyed, Andy had supported his attack with masses of infantry, who soon had uncontested control of the objective. A Soviet breakthrough!

Fight 4 – Hauptmann Jonathan Beach vs Polkovnik Steve Bradley

I saw almost nothing of this fight, but I believe Steve brought lots of Soviet tanks, including five mine-rolling T34s and five KV-85s, and these got into the German fortifications and overwhelmed at the critical point with their mass – another Soviet win.

Fight 5 – Hauptmann Peter David vs Major Phil Wynne

Again I saw little of this fight, but Phil seemed to be using armoured infantry and mine-rolling tanks as his main assault force, which suffered when Phil’s mine-rolling tanks were destroyed. A German win.

Overall I was happy that this had provided a fairly balanced scenario, as two wins and a draw per side seemed to bear out. Polkovnik Steve Bradley had the option to try this scenario again, but he wisely decided to reinforce success, and decided to throw all his forces through the breaches. Next week’s fight will be a Fighting Withdrawal.


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