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Small unit actions during the late war?


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Any good sources of information regarding small unit actions during the latter stages of the war? Summer -44 and onwards? I have read the "Small Unit Actions During The German Campaign in Russia" publication several times, and it is a very good source of info on tactics and handling of company sized units during the early part of the war, but I haven't really seen much of the same regarding the latter parts of the war in Russia. Any ideas?

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Daft, hi,

Panzer Operations by Erhard Raus, Complied and Translated by Steven H Newton.

Covers a lot of the same ground. The US Army pamphlets that were produced in the ‘50s were often based on interviews with Ruas.

Very important to get the version translated by Newton. As he points out the pamphlets were very poor translations. Often did not pick up the true meaning of the German records of the interviews.

All the best,

Kip.

PS. In my view the above is one of, for tactics in fact “the...” best German officers memoir of the Eastern Front.

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Daft, hi,

Panzer Operations by Erhard Raus, Complied and Translated by Steven H Newton.

Covers a lot of the same ground. The US Army pamphlets that were produced in the ‘50s were often based on interviews with Ruas.

Very important to get the version translated by Newton. As he points out the pamphlets were very poor translations. Often did not pick up the true meaning of the German records of the interviews.

All the best,

Kip.

PS. In my view the above is one of, for tactics in fact “the...” best German officers memoir of the Eastern Front.

I think I might have that one lying around in the basement. That or I'm confusing it with something else. In any case, thanks for the suggestion!

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kip - Raus is a bit of a fish story teller, though, so read with caution. He retells stories he didn't see personally but heard in contemporary German propaganda, as fact. There is a lot of "embellishment" in the German general debrief material, and the slant in them produced a lot of the bad history in the period 1945 to the early 1980s in the west...

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If there is a shortage of first hand accounts, what would be some "typical" actions you could expect to see at the company and below level, outside of the larger setpiece battles? Day to day stuff you would see as a grunt in combat that isn't normally mentioned or is taken for granted. The US Army has some fantastic resources on the fight in Europe, that with careful reading can uncover some small unit actions that are summed up in a sentence or two but form exciting 30 minute battles in CM. People are asking for this smaller company level stuff for CMRT, but it's hard to find any material (online) that doesn't focus on the massive setpiece fights of Bagration.

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JasonC,

There is a lot of "embellishment" in the German general debrief material, and the slant in them produced a lot of the bad history in the period 1945 to the early 1980s in the west.

I agree 100% with that... I have been reading Raus and the Soviet General Staff on Lvov and there is not much matchup. The guys who wrote the German and the Second World War series regard all the memoirs from the German generals after the war as “fiction...”

But...given what we have to work with... the Newton translation of Raus is as good as it gets...

Given what we now understand about people German general’s memoirs were, in retrospect.., never going to anything but very heavily spun.

For some smaller unit anecdotes, accounts, there is Panzer Warfare on the Eastern Front by Hans Schaufler. But not the more formal After Action type reports that would be perfect.

All the best,

Kip.

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Some typical late-war tactical situations to simulate, small scale...

(1) Russian recon infantry inflilration. Night action, pure infantry or only a few vehicles on the German side, at most 1-2 of them light armor. Russians have a high quality infantry force but practically no non-infantry support; they are on the "attack". Probe odds or less. An exit mission off the German side of the board is a reasonable twist. Germans are regular infantry, scattered set up locations, a few extras (a light flak gun, one SPW perhaps, maybe a pair of 81mm mortars). Limited "security" for the German forces. Terrain should include plenty of woods, some buildings and the Germans should pretty much all start in or very near the buildings; they can of course go patrol outside.

(2) Russian exploitation vs alarm units. The small Russian force should be based around a single platoon of T-34s with SMG riders. They may also have a couple of BA-64 armored cars, recon infantry split into 1/2 squads in jeeps (simulates motorcycle infantry), maybe 1 US halftrack carrying heavy weapons. The Russians are in road column - there should be more than one road route across the map and the Russians should have a choice of routes available. The Germans should get a grab bag - a reduced pioneer platoon e.g., Flak guns (potentially both heavy and light, but only 1 88 if they have heavy), a few tank hunter teams with panzerfausts. Give the Germans a "reaction" force based around 1 StuG and 1 infantry platoon that arrives from side or rear in the middle of the fight. Russians are trying to shoot up the Germans and punch across the map, Germans to stop them.

(3) Marsh infiltration mission. Russians get cavalry type infantry units, a few light tanks (T-70 or lend lease Valentines e.g.), mortars and MG heavy weapons support, no off map artillery. Wide map with lousy terrain, lots of ponds, marsh areas, limited higher ground "bridges" between them (not literal bridges, just non-waterlogged terrain a tank can move along). Mixed forest and brush ground cover, little actual open ground, no buildings or only a few small wooden type in one small area. Germans have an infantry force of squads, HMG teams, 81mm mortar teams on map (just 2), schrecks, and 105mm artillery support off map. Germans also get a few mines and wire obstacles in a few of the "land bridge" areas, but no elaborate field fortifications or TRPs. Germans should have no AT weapons outside of infantry AT (that stuff can't get here). Put small objective flags along the land bridges from the middle to the German side, so the Russians get VPs for clearing routes through the area, deep or wide, but don't have to exit.

(4) Russian night attack on an infantry defensive zone. The Russians get a larger rifle infantry force - one company plus a pioneer platoon e.g. - with a few support weapons (Maxims, 82mm) and limited off board artillery support. No vehicles. The Germans get a smaller, skeleton infantry force (2 platoons max) with a few HMGs and FOs, plus extensive mines, wire, and TRPs. The Germans might get 1 direct fire gun, leIG 75mm or light Flak, no vehicles either. The German artillery support should be impressive, enough to really hurt the Russians if it catches them bunched (like 1x105mm with sufficient ammo, plus a 4 or 6 tube 81mm module not just a 2 tube or on map stuff). German infantry, MGs, and gun if present should be well dug in. German defense can be based around a hill, a village, or a woodline - but should not cover the whole frontage, only a third of it or so, with obstacles and fire trying to cover the rest. Russians are trying to take out the German defense, capture its occupied locations and kill the defenders, not just bypass. And of course it is night.

(5) Panzer force delaying action. Russians get a mech force type with T-34s and tank riders, some additional (rifle type) motorized infantry (or jeep borne "motorcycle" infantry), some SU assault guns, more motorized infantry, heavy weapons in trucks --- in a stretched out road column with gradual arrival. It keeps coming, the column is deeper than the scenario even depicts --- every 3-4 minutes another small group arrives in the Russian entry road area. The map should be deep but relatively thin. The Germans get a panzer force type with some good tanks but not many of them (like 2 Panthers and 2 Panzer IVs, say), plus a platoon of veteran SPW mounted infantry, 2 heavy PAK with SPW prime movers, a couple of gun armed SPWs e.g. SPW 251/9s. The Germans might get 1 FO as a reinforcement in the second half of the action (105mm), and the Russians a few on-map 82mm when their heavy weapons show up, but there is little artillery for either side. The Germans set up on 2/3rds of the map, and there are small victory flags along its whole length from their starting positions to the back of the map, on at least 2 "tracks" side to side. The Germans are heavily outnumbered by the full Russian force, but match its first element in size and exceed it in quality. Terrain should be farmland, with sizable fields, small numbers of buildings in separated small clumps, dirt roads, no significant water obstacles, some gullies and scattered small woods separating the fields but taking up only 20% or so of the total area.

(6) Russian rifle probe, the poor man's war. A pure infantry Russian force of about 2 platoons with limited heavy weapons (e.g. 2 Maxim, 1 82mm, 1 sniper) tries to probe a shoestring German infantry defense. The Germans should have only 1 platoon plus 1 HMG, one extensive minefield area, 1 81mm FO with a single TRP --- and way too much ground to cover with them, like 1.2 to 1.5 kilometers of ground. Part of the frontage should be "wet forest" (meaning forest cover mixed with marsh, stream water obstacles, low soggy ground), part of it farmland mixed with woods. Put out more small flags than the Germans can defend, but victory by location requires the Russians to take a majority of them. Spread them from the middle of the map to the German side, not all in the German backfield. Also, it is raining.

(A *lot* of the war looked like that, both sides couldn't keep up infantry replacement with high losses, and the front was *long*).

I hope that helps...

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Good stuff. I had an rough scenario idea similar to 1 and 6. Clear cut marshy woods with strung out outpost line. And ofc it was suppose to be raining :) The raw first version of the scenario had a good atmosphere and the terrain was good but I gave up on the project mainly because I though that player could not be asked to sneak infantry over 300-1000m distances. Not in H2H game at least but maybe if I would make it into a single player scenario. Such sneaky action could work best if done with real time.

Edit. I dont know how well the AI could handle the sneaky recon but it would also be very tense experience to play as germans being forced to use foot partols to cover areas between outpost etc.

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Good sources for late war minor battles:

Panzer Truppen Jentz 2nd volume

Panzer Tactics

Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 20-233, German Defence Tactics Against Wishing Break Throughs, October 1951. http://www.kingtigerebooks.co.uk/department-of-the-army-pamphlets.htm

Items in the Foreign Military Studies (particularly the P series) http://www.fold3.com/browse.php#1|hQ7exmc5xgjfjnchf

particularly

P-143C Examples from Divisions -

Chapter 13 Defence of an Extended Frontage - 15th Infantry Division on the Mius Front August 1943

Chapter 14 A Sustained Defensive Battle - 78th Infantry (Sturm) Division at Orscha November 1943 (I typed up this account in the Axis History Forum http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=166048&start=15

Various US manuals can be got from CARL see list here: http://www.cgsc.edu/carl/docrepository/

In Russian (but Google Chrome will translate):

Breakthrough of prepared defences http://militera.lib.ru/science/sb_proryv_oborony/index.html

Fighting INfantry Division http://militera.lib.ru/science/boy_strelkovoy_divizii/index.html

Middledorf Russian campaign, tactics and weapons (Originally in German) http://militera.lib.ru/h/middeldorf/index.html

Artillery Combat and Operations http://militera.lib.ru/science/peredelsky_ge/index.html

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Some typical late-war tactical situations to simulate, small scale...

(6) Russian rifle probe, the poor man's war. A pure infantry Russian force of about 2 platoons with limited heavy weapons (e.g. 2 Maxim, 1 82mm, 1 sniper) tries to probe a shoestring German infantry defense. The Germans should have only 1 platoon plus 1 HMG, one extensive minefield area, 1 81mm FO with a single TRP --- and way too much ground to cover with them, like 1.2 to 1.5 kilometers of ground. Part of the frontage should be "wet forest" (meaning forest cover mixed with marsh, stream water obstacles, low soggy ground), part of it farmland mixed with woods. Put out more small flags than the Germans can defend, but victory by location requires the Russians to take a majority of them. Spread them from the middle of the map to the German side, not all in the German backfield. Also, it is raining.

Actually I am almost finished with a scenario that sort of resembles this.

About 1 km of front line, held by German platoon sized force. This is not the Haupktkampflinie (MLR), but rather the Gefechtsvorposten (outposts) some distance in front of the MLR. Soviets attack with a Cavalry company, so they outnumber the Germans something like 3 to 1. But the outposts are protected by some mines and barbed wire at certain points and a few TRP's. Mission time 1h30m.

It is not raining however and it is a daytime attack. Also the map is quite rural and not much marshes and forest (only quite a lot of tree lines).

Working title: CMRT Vorpost! It will be ready for playtesting this week. I have asked the Beta testers up on the beta forum if they are willing to playtest it (they kindly did so for CMRT Trainspotting and CMRT Firebrigade von Saucken).

This scenario will hopefully appeal to the players that favor smaller battles.

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Thomm, why? I am not a native German speaker obviously. But Vorpost (short for Gefechtsvorpost) simply means: Outpost. Multiple Outposts would make Vorposten. If I were a Russian scout and I would detect a German Outpost, I would say: Look, a German Vorpost! (Provided the Russian scout speaks German...).

Correct me if I am wrong.

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Thomm, why? I am not a native German speaker obviously. But Vorpost (short for Gefechtsvorpost) simply means: Outpost. Multiple Outposts would make Vorposten. If I were a Russian scout and I would detect a German Outpost, I would say: Look, a German Vorpost! (Provided the Russian scout speaks German...).

The singular and the plural of "Posten" are the same. I think this is what confuses you. Here is the relevant line from www.leo.org (online dictionary):

outpost: der Vorposten Pl.: die Vorposten

A Google search also supports my claim that "Vorpost" does not and did not exist:

"Gefechtsvorpost" produces 2 Google hits.

"Gefechtsvorposten" produces 3.610 Google hits.

Best regards,

Thomm

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or just ask some the Gerries around here for correct terms. :D

Usually germans that late in the war seldomly had enough troops to place outposts before the MLR and russians tended to establish themselves very close to it, unless the terrain is quite unfavorable. Beside the "Hauptkampflinie" (main line of resistance), the other main deployment measures in defence with inadequate forces, would be "Sicherung" (security detachment) and "Stuetzpunkt" (strongpoint).

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btw. yet another source for NARA files and Foreign Military Studies, though incomplete. At least there´s no registering at the site necessary, the files are free and one piece downloads:

http://www.sturmpanzer.com/sturmpanzer.com/Default.aspx?tabindex=5&tabid=613&item=1&sec=3

Wow! Looks very impressive. Will give this a look through. Thanks!

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