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CMRT Campaign - Kampfgruppe "von Schroif"


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On ‎8‎/‎01‎/‎2018 at 6:47 PM, George MC said:

Aye that was a HUGE amount of work - I'm indebted Herr Oberleutnant! ;) And to your good wife. If you both every find your ways to Scotland the drinks are on me!

Check your PMs to repay the favour mate ... it won't cost you a penny which will warm your Scottish heart.

Edited by Combatintman
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  • 2 months later...

Gotta be one of the best Campaigns I've played ever in all of Battlefronts Titles. The attention to detail, the map work and playability are simply brilliant. Could have done with some more Grenadiers to make it easier for me but that could have diminished the sense of achievement. Great job, thank you.

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16 hours ago, theforger said:

Gotta be one of the best Campaigns I've played ever in all of Battlefronts Titles. The attention to detail, the map work and playability are simply brilliant. Could have done with some more Grenadiers to make it easier for me but that could have diminished the sense of achievement. Great job, thank you.

Cheers @theforger

Thanks very much for the positive feedback. Glad you enjoyed it and appreciated the Wee added extras. It was very much a team effort as I’d a lot of help and support from others to play test and polish the final release. 

It is tough but having your sole company of grenadiers was intentional to encourage the player to not waste their digital lives needlessly! It also goes some way to illustrating how these sort of armoured units could be frantically reduced in numbers when engaged on operations. 

Thanks again for the positive feedback. 

Cheery!

 

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  • 2 months later...
3 hours ago, MANoWAR.U51 said:

George are you still active on this?

It's on the back burner for now as busy with some other 'modern era' projects. It's not forgotten though just on hold for short while. I've got most of the missions done for the campaign though and I've been slowly working up the briefings.

Wee baby and RK stuff mean I've way less time than I used to have! It'll be released just can't give an ETA at the moment.

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27 minutes ago, George MC said:

It's on the back burner for now as busy with some other 'modern era' projects. It's not forgotten though just on hold for short while. I've got most of the missions done for the campaign though and I've been slowly working up the briefings.

Wee baby and RK stuff mean I've way less time than I used to have! It'll be released just can't give an ETA at the moment.

Alright, thanks for the update!

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15 hours ago, George MC said:

It's on the back burner for now as busy with some other 'modern era' projects. It's not forgotten though just on hold for short while. I've got most of the missions done for the campaign though and I've been slowly working up the briefings.

Wee baby and RK stuff mean I've way less time than I used to have! It'll be released just can't give an ETA at the moment.

George, this campaign is about the Wiking division. So we won't be able to play it until the next CMRT module (which includes the Waffen SS), won't we? Why not include it in the coming module? Or is that the plan already? ;)

Edited by Aragorn2002
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  • 5 months later...

Hi George et al,

  All these years I've been mucking about with various versions of CM and I've never done a campaign before.
Shame on me! However, having said that, I have begun "Kampfgruppe von Schroif" and have just completed
the first mission ("veteran" level difficulty) and had a grand time with it, eeking out a "tactical victory" in
the doing.
  I am astounded at the level of work that went into this campaign. The accompanying PDF, all 133 pages of it
was what convinced me to do this, my first ever campaign. My hat is off to you and I thank you for your time
and efforts as well as for all the fun I had with the first mission!
  I am VERY much looking forward to the next one.

  A fellow CM player, my friend George, aka "Grunt" gave me a great pointer with regards to halftracks.
I had several which did not have gunners (gunners killed in first mission), but which did have men/sections riding in the back, none
of which were manning the machine guns. To get one of those guys to actually man the machine gun,
selecting the halftrack and then selecting "open up" has one of the passengers step up and take the
gunner position.

  Anyway, George, I just wanted to say "Thank you" for putting Kampfgruppe von Schroif together!

Best regards, Odd

  

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On 10/27/2018 at 10:49 AM, Ithikial_AU said:

Late to the party but just finished my run through of this one. What a fight at the end. Tactical defeat and not much left of the KG. :P But there was one heroic StuG that took down 8 T34's. Thanks George.

A shame that you couldn't have video'd it. But, I know that R/L for you doesn't allow you to continue your youtube activity.

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On 10/27/2018 at 10:49 AM, Ithikial_AU said:

Late to the party but just finished my run through of this one. What a fight at the end. Tactical defeat and not much left of the KG. :P But there was one heroic StuG that took down 8 T34's. Thanks George.

Excellent! Nice work :) That's a good effort keeping your unit combat effective till the final mission. I've been doing some research on combat casualty rates for German armoured panzer grenadier units. Hard finding actual casualty rates but from what I can gather, anecdotally, is these mobile armed units were very much used and abused, very quickly suffering 50% casualties after four to five days of ops, and more often than not to the point of near destruction.

 

Re the von Shroif campaign, I think there may be an element of the Kobayashi Maru about this - so good effort in getting to the end. A fine test of one's mettle! :)

If you happen to still have the final game file I'd be interested in seeing it please? I've dropbox so if poss you could PM me with the link please?

Thanks for taking the time and effort to play this through and for your comments - much appreciated ta!

Cheery!

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8 hours ago, Oddball-47 said:

Hi George et al,

  All these years I've been mucking about with various versions of CM and I've never done a campaign before.
Shame on me! However, having said that, I have begun "Kampfgruppe von Schroif" and have just completed
the first mission ("veteran" level difficulty) and had a grand time with it, eeking out a "tactical victory" in
the doing.
  I am astounded at the level of work that went into this campaign. The accompanying PDF, all 133 pages of it
was what convinced me to do this, my first ever campaign. My hat is off to you and I thank you for your time
and efforts as well as for all the fun I had with the first mission!
  I am VERY much looking forward to the next one.

  A fellow CM player, my friend George, aka "Grunt" gave me a great pointer with regards to halftracks.
I had several which did not have gunners (gunners killed in first mission), but which did have men/sections riding in the back, none
of which were manning the machine guns. To get one of those guys to actually man the machine gun,
selecting the halftrack and then selecting "open up" has one of the passengers step up and take the
gunner position.

  Anyway, George, I just wanted to say "Thank you" for putting Kampfgruppe von Schroif together!

Best regards, Odd

  

Thank you @Oddball-47 :)

I can't accept your thanks without first acknowledging the massive amount of work by @combatintman put into supporting this project.

@Combatintman painstakingly proof read and checked all the briefings for every scenario and their associated tactical and operation maps. I think the words Oberleutant and Oberstleutnant will be forever etched in his brain! He also provided the “Force Tracker” graphics. Huge shout out to @SeinfeldRules for the kind permission to use his “Assault Position” scenario in this campaign.  

Re using SPW - another wee top tip is setting short covered arcs on your SPW if moving danger close to enemy - keeps the gunners from jumping up and getting slotted, only to be replaced by another and so on till the crew and passengers are near wiped out. My pet peeve about how SPW and crews are modeled in game...

Thanks for taking the time to give this a go and for posting your comments. Good luck with your playthrough and be keen to hear how it all goes.

Cheery!

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3 hours ago, Warts 'n' all said:

A shame that you couldn't have video'd it. But, I know that R/L for you doesn't allow you to continue your youtube activity.

If you are overly bored or need a cure for insomnia take a look at this link. One of the RL work reasons I started losing free time. Well at least around the time I made to call to end the channel. One powerball. :(https://www.stb.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/stb-2018-2021-background-paper.pdf

1 hour ago, George MC said:

If you happen to still have the final game file I'd be interested in seeing it please? I've dropbox so if poss you could PM me with the link please?

PM sent. :)

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  • 2 years later...

@George MC

   So, with that sneaky addition of the * mark next to names of the troops under your...er, I mean, Hauptmann von Schroif's command, the entire complexion of the campaign takes on a whole new dimension.  As I play further and further into the battles, I find myself more and more reluctant to commit those * named troops into dangerous situations, and yet, the battles don't let you play favorites and hold troops behind for safety.  You have to keep sending them into harm's way, because you have fewer and fewer troops as the battles progress.  I can easily say that I have spent way more time planning out moves and deciding on who gets to "rush that farmhouse" than I have before, simply because I am stressing over who gets the honor of catching the first round.  

   George, you did ask me to keep you informed on how the campaign was going.  In my best storytelling ability, I present to you the AAR for the first battle of the campaign.  No pictures this time, but I have some pictures for the second battle.  This campaign is really special and your hard work on it is really appreciated.

 

SPOILERS     SPOILERS     SPOILERS     SPOILERS

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

 

Hauptmann von Schroif knew that there was no way he could move out on the first leg of the mission and keep the element of surprise.  Still, for the benefit of morale, and to instill a degree of caution in his men, he stressed the need for stealthy approaches of the flanking objective AZ006.  He had directed Oberfeldwebel Rannenberg and his Zug to the right flank and AZ006, while Oberleutnant Altschüler directed his Zug towards AZ001, the small hamlet of Rogachyevka, as well as the bridge at AZ003.  The Hauptmann wanted both groups to make simultaneous approaches, so Rannenberg held up his approach to allow Altschüler to form up, as he had further to move. 

 

All thoughts of stealth were shattered when, despite the best stealthy efforts of both groups, Russian submachine gun fire erupted, cutting into both groups.  In quick succession, one of von Schroif’s veterans, Feldwebel Altner*, was cut down, along with several SPW 251 MG gunners, and one of Hpt von Schroif’s trusted scouts, Schneider, a highly experienced senior corporal.

 

Ivan was not surprised in the least.  At least the darkness helped a little, as OFw Rannenberg’s men were able to approach and finally overwhelm enemy resistance at AZ006, but not without the loss of yet another experienced squad leader, Unteroffizier Vogt*.

 

As OFw Rannenberg pushed through AZ006 and moved along the flank, troubling sound intelligence showed that Ivan was flanking them, staying close to the right flank, but not showing enough to identify. 

 

Several more men were lost in the push into Rogachyevka, and two of the tank commanders managed to mire their tanks in the soft ground, one directly in the middle of the road on the approach to the bridge at AZ003 and the other in the village itself.  Resistance was lighter than expected, and many of the brown uniformed troops quickly melted invisibly into the woods.  This additional headache forced Hpt von Schroif to detail at least one squad and their SPW as overwatch for the two exposed and immobilized Panzer IVs.

 

The only bright spot in all this, was that the immobilized Panzer IV near the bridge and AZ003, had scared off several Russian scout cars that had been approaching the bridge from a narrow forest path.  There were also troubling sound contacts of trucks, that seemed to be shadowing the right flank, but they stayed hidden.  This allowed a squad to fully scout the objective and then move back into covering positions for the tank.

 

Trouble was not far away, as von Schroif pushed a Panzer forward from the village, crossing the small bridge beyond Rogachyevka, the objective AZ002.  Scout Gerla, partner to the wounded Schneider and now operating solo, flanked the panzer through the woods to the right of the bridge, with neither detecting any Soviet presence.  Gerla then pushed up the hill a bit to gain some elevation for further observation.

 

Hpt von Schroif ordered several SPW to move forwards across the bridge, but suddenly they came under small arms fire.  “Bastards!” he swore.  Ivan had let his panzer and the scout move through the area to lull his men into an ambush.  There was a mad scramble as SPW drivers reversed frantically and gunners sprayed the wood line.  The Panzer IVs that were still mobile pushed forwards over the small rise and began to blast the woods as well.

 

As soon as the squad leaders could get the SPW drivers under control, the squads disembarked fast and formed skirmish lines.  More time was used up as Hpt von Schroif was forced to have his troops clear the woods and the ravine where many of the Soviet troops were now hiding.  There were some further losses of men in the operation.  The Mark 17 version of the SPWs were particularly effective in reducing Soviet resistance, as their 2 cm. cannons tore up the underbrush and anyone hiding in the underbrush.

 

The delays were putting the mission timetable in jeopardy.  The Hauptmann forced himself not to look at his watch too often.

 

Once the woods were cleared, the men re-embarked into their respective SPWs.  During this time, scout Obersoldat Gerla had taken it onto himself to keep moving forwards and slightly upwards through the somewhat exposed cabbage fields, towards the next village of Bondariski and Objective Prignitz. 

 

Gerla’s tutelage under master scout Schneider had been extremely successful, as Gerla now spotted a Soviet T-34 tucked into the woods near Bondariski.  He signaled his discovery to the lead Panzer, who immediately radioed this troubling information through the net.  All the panzers now knew that enemy armor was waiting in ambush for them.  What else could go wrong? wondered Hpt von Schroif.

 

The other two mobile panzers moved out of the village to flank the lead panzer.  Gerla held his position to keep eyes on the enemy tank.  All tank commanders were opened up to get better views of the terrain.  From information from Gerla, the enemy tank commander was also opened up. 

 

A cat and mouse game now took place.  Unteroffizier Jansen, on his own as Oberleutnant Traugott and Unteroffizer Sorge were rushing their tanks forward to assist, eased forward and got eyes on the T-34.  It took two shots, and the startled Soviet tank crew perished in flames.

 

Gerla moved slowly ahead, keeping an eye out for more tanks.  He knew that where there was one, there were usually two more.  The Russians had certainly loaded up this approach.

 

Uffz Jansen now got eyes on a second T-34, placed further up in Bondariski, but his gunner could not get a line on the tank.  Jansen decided to wait for the other two tanks, but kept a wary eye.  Apparently, the T-34 had no sight line on him either. 

 

OLt Traugott and Uffz Sorge arrived and fanned their tanks out to either side of Jansen.  Traugott decided to back his tank up the hillside and cabbage fields that Gerla had earlier traversed, in an attempt to gain some height from the road where Jansen was, and in a series of backwards and forwards movements, always keep his bow towards the enemy tank’s area, he was able to finally get a decent target line through the trees.  Two rounds screamed towards the T-34, before flames erupted and another black column of smoke marked the grave of yet another enemy tank.

 

During all this, Gerla had been creeping stealthily forward, and now he spotted a third T-34, tucked into a tricky little hidden alcove, towards the left flank.  Gerla signaled this to the tank commanders and they now had to try and figure out how to approach the third.  None of the tanks could get a line of sight on this tank. 

 

Hpt von Schroif sent an SPW forward on fast, and the troops disembarked against a hedge line that was near the enemy tank.  They had a single panzerfaust, and they started to maneuver around in the wooded area, but they couldn’t get close enough to spot the tank.  It was perfectly placed.

 

OLt Traugott kept working his tank backwards and forwards to gain more height, and Sorge and Jansen aligned their turrets to face the T-34’s position, while also moving slowly forward, trying to get eyes on the tank.  During this time, they kept eyes on Gerla too, in case the enemy tank started to move.

 

Uffz Sorge thought he had the right area, but just couldn’t get a proper spot.  OLt Traugott ordered him to try and flush out the prey, by putting rounds in the area as close to where he thought the enemy tank was.  Sorge opened up, blasting the wooded area.

 

At the same time, Jansen moved slowly forward with his tank turret covering the enemy tank’s area, and OLt Traugott kept his tank focused on the area as well, from his higher position.  The enemy tank started to back out of his position, and Scout Gerla waved frantically to alert the Panzers.  The T-34 now spotted OLt Traugott’s tank and turned its turret towards the German tank.  Traugott’s gunner was quicker on the draw, and the German round slammed into the side of the T-34.  There was no reaction at first, and Traugott’s loader was smooth on the reload.  Seconds later, before the T-34 crew could get their wits about them, a second shell slammed into the flank of the tank.  Gerla signaled that the enemy crew was bailing out.  A third tank was destroyed. 

 

Hpt von Schroif ordered the advance to continue carefully.  The SPW crew found the tank crew and dispatched them in a quick but sharp firefight.  The Soviet crew did not go quietly.

 

The advance into Bondariski and Objective Prignitz was textbook, with bounding overwatch and fast building entries.  There was very light resistance, and the enemy troops still in the village were flanked and destroyed with no losses. 

 

Forward Observer OLt Wolter radioed Hpt von Schroif and suggested that he be allowed to scout up the hillside rise behind Bondariski and check out AZ004 at the same time, while looking for observation points for the final objective of the mission, that being OBJ Oberhavel and the bridge at AZ005.  Hpt von Schroif gave permission, but only if Traugott remained nearby on the hillside with his Panzer.  With that, OLt Wolter’s SPW raced up the hillside, scattering cabbage heads and cutting tracks in the planted furrows.

 

As he crested the hillside above Bondariski, and moved out of sight, Hpt von Schroif kept things moving through Bondariski and began moving units on the left flank to get eyes on their final objective.  He had a SPW rush around the lower hillside area, and suddenly there were enemy trucks in the field beyond.  Hpt von Schroif heard the MG 34 opening up and immediately had troops start to move forward to get eyes over the lip of the ravine to see where the enemy grouping was.

 

At the same time, a frantic call on the radio from Wolter’s radioman announced that a Russian scout car had appeared in the wood line above Bondariski.  OLt Wolter ordered his driver to race past the enemy scout car before it could rip them open, and seek shelter in the woods around the bend.  Wolter hoped that OLt Traugott also heard the cry for help and was rushing to assist with his Panzer. 

 

The Soviet scout car was apparently just as surprised at coming face-to-face with the German SPW, and it backed into the safety of the woods instead of engaging or chasing the German SPW.  Wolter’s driver had the gears screaming as he made the bend in the woods, and then plowed the SPW into the back side of the woods, hoping the Russian was not behind them, or that more Russians were near the bridge at AZ004.

 

OLt Traugott’s Mark IV came screaming over the ridge to rescue Wolter, and then immediately went into hunt mode to find the Soviet scout car.  It didn’t take long, and Traugott’s gunner got eyes on the Soviet scout car, hiding further back in the woods.  A single shot cut through the enemy and exploded beyond the vehicle, as it caught on fire and the two-man crew were killed.

 

Wolter and his crew managed to catch their breath and calm down, all the while watching the bridge at AZ004 for any enemy activity.  There was none, so they cautiously exited the woods and then scouted the bridge, under the watchful eye of OLt Traugott’s panzer.

 

Then Wolter and Traugott returned to Bondariski to cover the flank, and Wolter disembarked and worked his way up through a wheatfield to get eyes on the final Objective.  He then called in a fire mission along the wooded line that was overlooking the objective, while Hpt von Schroif carefully moved troops up to also look down onto the objective. 

 

Due to the quick work his men had made of the taking of Bondariski, Hpt von Schroif had the luxury of waiting for the artillery mission to rough up any enemy troops that might be hiding in overwatch of OBJ Oberhavel.  After the artillery had arrived, he had the men move carefully forwards.  There were still some enemy troops waiting on the downslope, and painfully, there were more casualties inflicted on his troops, but OBJ Oberhavel was cleared and the bridge at AZ005 was scouted properly. 

 

This was not the easy ride that his mission briefing had suggested.  Hpt von Schroif had lost quite a few men as casualties, but only two of the old veterans, Altner and Vogt.  He hoped that the two immobilized tanks could be fixed and returned to action soon. 

 

Suddenly, Hpt von Schroif was aware that he was being shaken.  He had no recollection of having fallen asleep.  It was his radioman, informing him that “the Old Man” wanted him on the radio.  No rest for the weary, he thought ruefully to himself.  

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@Heinrich505

Well thank you! 😃this is an excellent read. You’ve got a gift for story telling.
 

It’s fascinating I see these missions come to life. I truly appreciate this and it makes the work putting this campaign together all the worthwhile. 
 

Im also pleased to hear the device of gaming each unit with the * works. I was hoping it would lead to some investment in what happens to your guys. As an aside I’m reading Realm of a Dying Sun by Douglas Nash and part 1 highlights how heavy casualties were in SPW units as they were used as fire brigade units. Plus they’d smaller squads. Wikings III Battalion “Germania” we’re reduced to a handful of SPW and men in a few weeks. 
 

It’s tough one keeping your guys intact in this campaign. I ended up leaning heavily on my armour to try to avoid panzer grenadier casualties but that often did not go well. The campaign highlights how such units can be quickly attrited. I’m looking forward to the next instalment of your novel AAR. 
 

Thanks again for taking the time to write this up. 
 

Cheery!

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@George MC

Right now I'm reading Vol. 2 of Realm of a Dying Sun.  Go figure.  I got it as a Christmas gift from my son (I guess he didn't realize he'd jumped out of sequence, haha), and now I'll have to go scrounge up Vol. 1, as I understand that one is also a barn burner.  Nash is one excellent author and really brings things to life in his books.

A very well designed scenario can have a life all of its own.  Yours have that special extra, and the following game action takes on its own reality.  

I've finished the 2nd battle at Osinnik.  It was a beast!  I was worried from the very start, and as things moved into action, it got even more frightening.  I was exhausted, mentally, when that battle was over.  I kept thinking of all the letters I was going to have to write to loved ones after this was all over.

I took a peek at the third battle.  Geez!  I think Der "Alte Mann" has me mistaken for Krüger.  I don't have the scratchy throat, for crying out loud.  But, there I am, at the head of the column.  

I'll get to writing up the AAR for the 2nd battle.  You will like it.  I'm always amazed at how real your scenarios feel.  Great Job!

Regards.

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@George MC

F1byup5e o

Hauptmann von Schroif huddled with his squad leaders on the edge of the woods, looking at the terrain as it spread out before them.  The Hauptmann had a map spread out on the grass, and he pointed to the markings on the map, and then visibly pointed to the various terrain features.  In the back of his mind, he hoped there weren’t any Soviet snipers lining up on them.

“Männer, the village is on our left flank.  Terrain dips and rises as you head towards it.  I’ve assigned that task to 2 Zug.  Oberfeldwebel Lärmann gets the honors.”  There was no good-natured kidding among the squad leaders, unlike in the past.  Von Schroif knew they were tired and worried.  He was too.

In quick succession, and as businesslike as possible, he assigned 3 Zug, commanded by Oberfeldwebel Rannenberg for the push in the center, towards the long tree line, and 1 Zug, commanded by Oberleutnant Altschüller, would handle right flank security and a push past the east end of the long tree line. 

The Hauptmann explained that the village of Osinnik would be softened up first, with both machine gun teams and mortar fire.  Yes, they would lose the element of surprise, but that was going to be gone the minute any of his SPW pushed from the concealment of the woods.  Better to get in the first shots.

The other two machine gun teams would be set up on the right flank, to assist both 2 Zug and 3 Zug when their push came.  Altschüller would have one of the SPW Stummels to assist on the right flank, and the other would be for support of Lärmann’s advance on the village and then Rannenberg’s push in the center.

Hauptmann von Schroif pointed out the small farm in the center, at a crossroad.  It was labeled AZOtto, and just to the left of it was AZDieter, a small, tree-covered rise.  These were positions of caution, and he stressed to his squad leaders that they needed to be mindful of enemy presence at those locations.

Von Schroif eased back from the map, and studied the faces of his men.  Each face echoed his own concern, and his 2IC, Feldwebel Erlichmann was running his finger on the map, between the farm at AZOtto and the far tree line, where the main road disappeared into a thick wooded area.  While normally displaying a cheerful attitude, even in the most desperate of situations, his concerned face now meant he was about to point something out.

“What is it, Erlichmann?  Speak plainly,” he said softly.  His 2IC pointed out that both locations were probable locations for Soviet PAK, as they offered long covering fire.  He also noted that any Ivan with an anti-tank rifle would make easy pickings of their SPW.  The Hauptmann thanked him for his candor and said he was thinking the same thing, but their speed would negate Ivan’s PAK response.

“So, this is how I hope this assault to work.  Lärmann, in the best approximation of a bold old school cavalry charge, will press home his SPWs across the field and in the lower elevations, to gain a foothold in Osinnik, and then overwhelm the village quickly.  As he doesn’t have 600 men and we aren’t facing the Turks, he should not have any trouble,” said von Schroif, making gallows humor in his reference to the “Charge of the Light Brigade.”  This actually garnered some slight chuckles around the group.

“This won’t happen until after the village has been softened up by our eagle-eyed machine gun teams and a number of mortar rounds dropped on Ivan’s head,” he continued. 

“Once the village was secured, pushes would be made across the center with Zug 3 and finally the end-run by Zug 1 on the right flank.  Of course, this will all depend on how Ivan reacts to our attack, so things might have to be adjusted,” he added with a wan smile.  The men nodded and murmured in agreement.

Von Schroif added that once their approaches were secure, then the large wood was to be tackled.  He suggested that there would be very little left of Ivan by that time, and working through the woods would be mopping up stragglers and panicked survivors from their previous assaults. 

He closed the briefing by asking for any questions, but there were none.  He told the squad leaders to stay close to their radios and he would give them the signals to move when the time came.  They moved out quietly and professionally.

His 2IC lingered behind, still smiling good-naturedly, but there was concern in his eyes.  Von Schroif waited until they were alone at the woods edge.  He knew what Erlichmann’s concern was, so he spoke first.

“Hans, you are worried about the large woods.  I am too.  Will we have enough men to tackle it after taking all these other objectives?  Will it be as bloody as we both expect it to be?  I don’t know.  I know that one Ivan with a damned PPsH can do a lot of damage in the filthy woods.  We’ve both seen that before and got the scars to prove it.  I saw no point in being overly pessimistic and dwelling on the woods, when the men will need all their fortitude for the initial pushes.”

Erlichmann nodded.  As usual, his commander had read his mind and was completely aware of the risks of this mission.  He gave a smart salute, and then, as the two had traditionally done in the past before every mission, he extended his hand and shook hands with von Schroif, quietly saying “Viel Glück.”

Von Schroif was left alone with his worries.  How many times had he heard in Officer’s Training that the SPW was a battlefield taxi, and not a horse for cavalry charges?  And yet, here he was, ordering his SPW across open ground, possibly in line of sight of enemy PAK and anti-tank rifles.  All he had was speed to counter those enemy advantages. 

His thoughts wandered back to an instructor at his Officer’s School, who was always quoting Latin phrases and had taken a liking to von Schroif.  During the hasty preparations for training exercises, where the officer trainees had only 5 minutes to plan out a solution to a difficult tactical problem, the instructor would ease by von Schroif and whisper Audaces fortuna iuvat, Fortune favors the bold.   

Von Schroif mused to himself that he would need every bit of that fortune for this attack.

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Erwin,

   I forgot to mark the lead up for the 2nd battle for spoilers.  I hope I haven't messed that up for you.  The 2nd mission is a real beast.  Glad you are getting back into it.  George's battles and campaigns are such fun and a wicked challenge to play.  

Heinrich505

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7 hours ago, Heinrich505 said:

 

@George MC

F1byup5e o

Hauptmann von Schroif huddled with his squad leaders on the edge of the woods, looking at the terrain as it spread out before them.  The Hauptmann had a map spread out on the grass, and he pointed to the markings on the map, and then visibly pointed to the various terrain features.  In the back of his mind, he hoped there weren’t any Soviet snipers lining up on them.

“Männer, the village is on our left flank.  Terrain dips and rises as you head towards it.  I’ve assigned that task to 2 Zug.  Oberfeldwebel Lärmann gets the honors.”  There was no good-natured kidding among the squad leaders, unlike in the past.  Von Schroif knew they were tired and worried.  He was too.

In quick succession, and as businesslike as possible, he assigned 3 Zug, commanded by Oberfeldwebel Rannenberg for the push in the center, towards the long tree line, and 1 Zug, commanded by Oberleutnant Altschüller, would handle right flank security and a push past the east end of the long tree line. 

The Hauptmann explained that the village of Osinnik would be softened up first, with both machine gun teams and mortar fire.  Yes, they would lose the element of surprise, but that was going to be gone the minute any of his SPW pushed from the concealment of the woods.  Better to get in the first shots.

The other two machine gun teams would be set up on the right flank, to assist both 2 Zug and 3 Zug when their push came.  Altschüller would have one of the SPW Stummels to assist on the right flank, and the other would be for support of Lärmann’s advance on the village and then Rannenberg’s push in the center.

Hauptmann von Schroif pointed out the small farm in the center, at a crossroad.  It was labeled AZOtto, and just to the left of it was AZDieter, a small, tree-covered rise.  These were positions of caution, and he stressed to his squad leaders that they needed to be mindful of enemy presence at those locations.

Von Schroif eased back from the map, and studied the faces of his men.  Each face echoed his own concern, and his 2IC, Feldwebel Erlichmann was running his finger on the map, between the farm at AZOtto and the far tree line, where the main road disappeared into a thick wooded area.  While normally displaying a cheerful attitude, even in the most desperate of situations, his concerned face now meant he was about to point something out.

“What is it, Erlichmann?  Speak plainly,” he said softly.  His 2IC pointed out that both locations were probable locations for Soviet PAK, as they offered long covering fire.  He also noted that any Ivan with an anti-tank rifle would make easy pickings of their SPW.  The Hauptmann thanked him for his candor and said he was thinking the same thing, but their speed would negate Ivan’s PAK response.

“So, this is how I hope this assault to work.  Lärmann, in the best approximation of a bold old school cavalry charge, will press home his SPWs across the field and in the lower elevations, to gain a foothold in Osinnik, and then overwhelm the village quickly.  As he doesn’t have 600 men and we aren’t facing the Turks, he should not have any trouble,” said von Schroif, making gallows humor in his reference to the “Charge of the Light Brigade.”  This actually garnered some slight chuckles around the group.

“This won’t happen until after the village has been softened up by our eagle-eyed machine gun teams and a number of mortar rounds dropped on Ivan’s head,” he continued. 

“Once the village was secured, pushes would be made across the center with Zug 3 and finally the end-run by Zug 1 on the right flank.  Of course, this will all depend on how Ivan reacts to our attack, so things might have to be adjusted,” he added with a wan smile.  The men nodded and murmured in agreement.

Von Schroif added that once their approaches were secure, then the large wood was to be tackled.  He suggested that there would be very little left of Ivan by that time, and working through the woods would be mopping up stragglers and panicked survivors from their previous assaults. 

He closed the briefing by asking for any questions, but there were none.  He told the squad leaders to stay close to their radios and he would give them the signals to move when the time came.  They moved out quietly and professionally.

His 2IC lingered behind, still smiling good-naturedly, but there was concern in his eyes.  Von Schroif waited until they were alone at the woods edge.  He knew what Erlichmann’s concern was, so he spoke first.

“Hans, you are worried about the large woods.  I am too.  Will we have enough men to tackle it after taking all these other objectives?  Will it be as bloody as we both expect it to be?  I don’t know.  I know that one Ivan with a damned PPsH can do a lot of damage in the filthy woods.  We’ve both seen that before and got the scars to prove it.  I saw no point in being overly pessimistic and dwelling on the woods, when the men will need all their fortitude for the initial pushes.”

Erlichmann nodded.  As usual, his commander had read his mind and was completely aware of the risks of this mission.  He gave a smart salute, and then, as the two had traditionally done in the past before every mission, he extended his hand and shook hands with von Schroif, quietly saying “Viel Glück.”

Von Schroif was left alone with his worries.  How many times had he heard in Officer’s Training that the SPW was a battlefield taxi, and not a horse for cavalry charges?  And yet, here he was, ordering his SPW across open ground, possibly in line of sight of enemy PAK and anti-tank rifles.  All he had was speed to counter those enemy advantages. 

His thoughts wandered back to an instructor at his Officer’s School, who was always quoting Latin phrases and had taken a liking to von Schroif.  During the hasty preparations for training exercises, where the officer trainees had only 5 minutes to plan out a solution to a difficult tactical problem, the instructor would ease by von Schroif and whisper Audaces fortuna iuvat, Fortune favors the bold.   

Von Schroif mused to himself that he would need every bit of that fortune for this attack.

@Heinrich505

An excellent bit of scene setting. I’m a bit on tenterhooks now, knowing what von Schroif and his unit face. I’m looking forward to seeing the attack being pressed home. 
 

Keep up the great work :)

Cheery!

George

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6 hours ago, Heinrich505 said:

George's battles and campaigns are such fun and a wicked challenge to play. 

Yes, one of my favorite conventional war designers.  All designs are extremely well done and interesting.  And he's one of the few who creates large maps so one can get 2Km+ LOS situations and finally use some of the equipment in the way they were designed.

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Spoilers     Spoilers     Spoilers

Part 1

And so it began.  No fanfare, no grandiose gunfire or blaring of horns.  The first few minutes were taken getting the MG units into place and with good sight lines on suspected enemy positions.  Mortars were rushed up from their SPWs and they set up on a road path, out of sight.  The mortar HQ, Feldwebel Schenck, rushed up to the tree line and eased into a position where he could see the terrain spread out before him.  Forward Observer Oberleutnant Wolter slid through the underbrush and began to study the battlefield in front of him, watching for enemy movement.

Further down the tree line, Soldat Wörner and his partner eased out from the tree line and began to work their way towards the enemy lines, blending into the terrain and becoming as one with it.  A nearby machine gun team saw them step forwards from the tree line, and suddenly they disappeared.  It was as if they never saw the sniper team at all.  One of the team members involuntarily shivered.  There was just something so sinister about the snipers, true hunters of the most dangerous game…Man.

Hauptmann von Schroif peered from the open top of his SPW, using his binoculars to constantly scan the tree lines, mostly focusing on the village.  That is where the enemy will definitely be, he knew.  He let the men do their jobs with quiet efficiency.  He wanted as many eyes on the objectives as possible.  There was to be a delay before the first shots were fired, as he wanted to see if Ivan would give up any secrets. 

After about ten minutes had passed, there were still no sightings.  Ivan was keeping his head down for sure, waiting for von Schroif to make the first move.  So be it.

Word was passed to the MG teams to open fire on the village.  They were to focus on the buildings that would present the biggest threat to a rush against the south side of Osinnik.  FO Wolter was also given the word to start dropping mortar shells on the village.  The tree line came alive with the familiar rip of MG 42s firing, and after a few minutes, mortars started to walk into the village.

The Hauptmann now started to receive reports of sightings.  Foxhole positions were seen in the long tree line to the center, and on their own initiative, the MG teams on the right flank began lathering those sighted positions with MG fire.  More troubling though, were reports of engines on the right flank.  There was no identification of the mechanized threat as yet, but enemy vehicles on the flank were a threat that was going to affect the timetable of the attack.  Any threat from that long ridge on the right flank would have a good line of sight over the rush for the village. 

Minutes ticked by, and Hpt von Schroif could feel the tension ratcheting up.  He was going to have to drop the hammer on Osinnik soon, despite the possible threat on the right flank.  More sightings were coming in now.  AT rifles were spotted in the long tree line in the center.  MG teams were working them over with streams of deadly lead.  As usual, the Soviets seemed to have more AT rifles than men.  Those things were deadly against his SPWs.  He felt his hands tighten on his binoculars.

Then, a flash of metal, some movement in the woods.  Were they…?

“Herr Hauptmann, movement in the village.  Ivan is displacing and appears to be running,” reported one of the MG team squad leaders. 

Finally, a good sign, von Schroif thought.  This was what he had been hoping for, and he quickly alerted OFw Lärmann to move his Zug up and prepare for the assault.  Things were going to happen fast now.  He had the MG teams continue to hose several of the houses in Osinnik with their deadly fire, and he gave FO Wolter the word to stop the mortar fire.  All around him, the squeal of tracks and the roar of transmissions echoed in the woods, as the SPW drivers struggled to maneuver their steel beasts through the underbrush and close to the woods edge. 

OFw Lärmann reported that his Zug was ready.  Von Schroif could hear the drivers with clutches in, revving their engines in anticipation of the order to move out.  He could feel the rush of adrenaline and knew the same was happening to all the men in 2 Zug.

His next decision would inevitably lead to the deaths of many of his men, men he really thought of as his sons, his family.  Many times, Alte Mann Voss had reminded him that his men belonged to Germany, but that just wasn’t true.  They belonged to him, and he was responsible for them living or dying.

The Hauptmann forced such thoughts from his head and gave the order.  He unleashed Lärmann’s Zug and whispered a quick prayer So Gott will

The scream of transmissions engaged and engines roaring overtook the woods.  Drivers let out clutches and the SPWs lurched forwards, slowly at first, and then they started gathering speed.  Hpt von Schroif did not realize that he was holding his breath, as he watched in grim fascination as the SPW charge started to form up.  He noted with satisfaction that MG fire was still lashing at the village, and he could now see brown uniforms running from the village and out of sight in the trees on the back side.

As noted earlier, the terrain was not flat and level.  There were rises and falls in the high wheatfield, and to the right of the field the land sloped down a bit.  It appeared to von Schroif that the SPWs were partially screened on the right by a field that rose in the center of the battlefield.  Lärmann had apparently instructed his crews to stay buttoned up, as no SPW gunners were exposing themselves in the charge.  Zug 2 was now rushing forward, engines wide open, in a ragged line of four SPWs abreast, with MG fire ripping over their heads and into the village. 

It was a gallant charge, glorious and breathtaking to watch, and tactically all wrong, of course.  SPWs were not supposed to charge into enemy positions, as they were so vulnerable to enemy AT rifles.  And yet, this was the only option open to von Schroif.  To work men on foot across the field would take way too much time and leave them exposed to enemy fire for a very long time.  He had to take the chance on this wild course of action.  He could hear his old instructor whispering into his ear… Audaces fortuna iuvat.

As far as he could tell, only a few sparks flew from ricochets off the SPWs.  They lurched and bounded across the field, as if rising and falling on waves of an ocean.  The charge was estimated to be about 430 meters.  Not long, but an eternity when exposed to enemy fire and being bounced around inside a steel coffin while waiting for large caliber Soviet steel to rip through the thin sides and tear into flesh.

“They’ve made it!” called Erlichmann, over the radio.  The Hauptmann could see that all four of the SPWs were indeed finally in the apparent lee of the village and possibly shielded from AT fire from any PAK that might be off to the right at the small farm at AZOtto or further up where the road was swallowed up by the heavy forest near OBJ Koblenz and OBJ Munchen.  Men began spilling out of the SPW and starting to advance on the village.

Hpt von Schroif was about to let out a sigh of relief, when suddenly a small caliber HE shell exploded amongst the men of Flw Pöppel’s squad.  He watched through his binoculars as blood was splashed on the side of the SPW and in the grass.  That one shell took down probably half of the squad.  He suppressed a cry of anguish.

The other squads all appeared to have made it intact, and they immediately began moving forward with grim efficiency, putting down fire on the buildings where Ivan might be hiding, and cutting down some of the sad survivors who decided to flee just a little too late, having not expected the speed and ferocity of the SPW charge.

The SPW that had dropped off Pöppel’s men took several more hits in the side while the driver frantically maneuvered to find cover, and it somehow survived.  The wounded men were left in place to bleed for the time being, as the assault could not stop for anyone.

Most of the Russian defenders had melted into the brush and tree lines behind the village, so there were few left hiding in the town itself.  Hpt von Schroif suspected that they didn’t flee in panic, but were told to hold the village until assaulted and then pull back to harass any further advances.  Their rapid exit from the village could also mean they were baiting his men into rushing to follow and being drawn into ambushes.  He hoped that Lärmann would keep his men under control and prevent them from chasing after the enemy before they had secured Osinnik. 

As the men of Zug 2 worked their way through Osinnik, clearing all the buildings, they came under harassing fire from the survivors who had pulled back to the slightly higher ground behind the town.  They traded shots with the enemy, while locking down Osinnik. 

Von Schroif and others were all straining their eyes, trying to get sight of the enemy AT gun that had wiped out half of Pöppel’s squad.  Finally, the enemy AT gun was spotted, in the woods edge between OBJs Koblenz and Munchen, just to the right of the road as it entered the woods, and, right where 2IC Erlichmann had suspected it would be located.

FO Wolter immediately called for spotting rounds for that area, intending to drop mortar rounds onto the gun position.

Hpt von Schroif could now count his brash and unorthodox cavalry charge as a success.  Casualties had been incredibly light, all things considered.  If the SPW driver had not stopped where he was still exposed to the unknown position of the enemy PAK, the charge would have been perfect.  Leave it to Ivan to always have some deadly surprise.

With that, the next move on Ivan’s part came down, as artillery rounds started crashing all around von Schroif’s SPW, as well as that of his 2IC and Wolter’s SPW.  The Stummel was also in harms way, and all drivers started frantically backing up to try and get out from under the deadly Russian artillery.  As von Schroif had suspected, the enemy had positions preregistered – he just didn’t expect them to be as quick on the draw as they were. 

Shells landed all around, scattering shrapnel and deadly wood splinters against the sides of the SPWs, but there were no casualties.  More luck, thought von Schroif to himself. 

If Ivan was shelling his position, then the area where Zug 3 and the mortars were would be next.  He ordered Zug 3 commander Rannenberg to push forward, out of the wood line and towards the long, thin tree line in the center.  The MG teams on that flank had been working over the long tree line for a while now, and the enemy should be keeping their heads down.

As the Hauptmann’s SPW had backed through and away from the Russian artillery, he didn’t see Rannenberg’s SPWs push forward and out into the open.  As soon as the shells had stopped, he ordered his track forward so he could again get eyes on the battlefield.

 

Ylpcbyet o

Three SPWs from Rannenberg's Zug can be seen just to the right of the tree, below the ridge line in the center wheat field.  Rannenberg's SPW is directly above the MG observer's head, in hull down, engaging targets in the tree line.

 

Over the shoulders of an MG team, now tasked to long range suppression of the enemy PAK position, he saw that Rannenberg’s SPWs, visible just to the right of the tree, had formed up behind a rise in the wheat field, unable to proceed further as they were coming under fire from the long tree line.  Also, they didn’t want to get to far to the left, as they would then be exposed to the enemy AT gun.

With Rannenberg’s SPWs caught out in the middle of the battlefield, urgent reports came in from the right flank.  The sound contacts were now moving in on the right flank.  Oberleutnant Gührs reported that he thought they might be Russian scout cars, and he was pulling out of the tree line to get a better look.  The same report came in from Feldwebel Boedecker in the right flank Stummel. 

While his left flank appeared to be secure, Hpt von Schroif’s center push was bogging down with resistance from the tree line and boxed in from an enemy AT gun.  At the same time, enemy scout cars were likely the ones moving in on his right flank, and they were every bit as deadly for his SPWs as the enemy AT rifles and AT guns.  

All he could do now, was hope that the men commanding his right flank were every bit as good as he believed them to be.

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