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For the third in our series of outstanding armored battalion/kampfgruppe level commanders on the Ostfront, we will recreate some key battles from the career of the legendary Major General Dr. Franz Bake. He is described by some as “The best kampfgruppe leader of the panzer force”. Although he served in the West in 1940 and for a time in 1944, we will focus on his career in the East.

Bäke was known simply as “Der Mensch” to his troops. It is hard to translate this term, which includes the qualities of courage, compassion, and loyalty. Unassuming, friendly and optimistic in outlook, he was deadly serious when it came to conducting panzer operations in a way meant to produce victory at the lowest cost to his men. Prevented by circumstance from panzer command during Barbarossa and Case Blue, Bäke was the quintessential kampfgruppe commander of the second half of the war. He was a man whose personal qualities enabled him to take command of disparate units stitched together into kampfgruppes that were given extremely difficult fire-brigade missions during the long German retreat.

He returned to his civilian life as a dentist after the war and died in an automobile accident in 1978. Thousands attended his funeral, in tribute to “der Mensch”.

You can check out the series HERE

Charlie Meconis and George McEwan

Bäke Prelude at Pokhlebin 42


3 December 1942. The trapped German 6th Army lies in Stalingrad, forbidden by Hitler to break out. But Hitler has belatedly agreed to a rescue attempt-Operation Winter Storm, directed by General von Manstein. Armeegruppe Hoth's XLVIIth Panzer Corps is to spearhead the attack from Kotelnikovo, 80 kilometers southwest of the Stalingrad pocket in the bleak Kalmyk Steppe. Rushing all the way from France aboard 75 trains, General Erhard Raus's completely re-fitted and superbly trained 6th Panzer Division is arriving. His panzer grenadiers have already occupied a series of strongpoints north of Kotelnikovo, supported by artillery in place there. But his full strength 11th Panzer Regiment is only now assembling in random order, and already there are reports of Soviet cavalry probes around the village of Pokhlebin. The Reds have reacted quickly to the relief force's arrival.

On the 3rd December 1942 the combined arms spearhead of Lt. General Meshkin's IV Cavalry Corps makes violent contact with advance elements from Raus's 6th Panzer Division at the small village of Pokhlebin. Latter that day the newly arrived 11th Panzer Regiment hastily assembles at Kotelnikovo for a counter attack. Among the first panzer commanders ready for action is a middle-aged dentist, Major Dr. Frank Bäke. Old enough to be a father to his men, he is already loved and respected by the panzertruppen of the II. Battalion. Bäke and his battalion are the spearhead of that counter attack. The opening round of Winter Storm is about to begin. A Panzer legend is about to be born…

This scenario is available for playtesting at The Proving Grounds.

Bäke's Winter Storm I


No 2 in the CMBB Combat History series Bäke Battles: “Der Mensch” In The East”, this scenario follows on from the earlier CMBB scenario "Bäke's Prelude at Pokhlebin".

After the victory at Pokhlebin, General Raus is supremely confident in the superiority of his tank forces. In the steady rain of a brief thaw, 6th Panzer sent most of its mobile forces in a Kampfgruppe commanded by Panzer Regiment 11's Colonel Hünersdorff across the Aksay on the road toward Verkne Kumsky early on 14 December.

Encountering only light opposition at first, most of the Kampfgruppe had just arrived in Verkne Kumsky around 9am when the first Soviet combined tank and infantry attack struck the village from the north. As this attack was being repulsed, reports from both captured Soviets and the II Panzer battalion's light recon platoon of Pz IIs indicated that a large Soviet tank force was on the move southeast of Verkne Kumsky.

In order to "fully use his mobility and his full firepower to seek out the enemy in the open terrain", Col. Hünersdorff immediately ordered Major Dr. Bäke to take his reinforced II Battalion out of the village to find and destroy the reported Soviet tank force. Bäke used terrain cover to move his force some 4km south of Verkne Kumsky just to the west of the road and then turned them to the east. One of the most critical and intense tank battles in the history of the Eastern front is about to begin, and Major Bäke will be in the thick of it...

You can playtest it at The Proving Grounds

Bäke's Winter Storm II


No 3 in the CMBB Combat History series Bäke Battles: “Der Mensch” In The East”, this scenario follows on from the earlier CMBB scenario "Bäke's Winter Storm I".

15 December 1942

The bulk of Panzer Regiment 11, under the leadership of Colonel von Hünersdorff, is assigned to the forward mobile defense of Verkhne Kumksy, a critical jumping off point for the next thrust toward Stalingrad. Major Dr. Bake is deputy commander of this force. A holding force under Hauptmann Löwe is set-up in the village of Verkhne Kumsky itself.

But the tankists and motorized infantry of Colonel-General V.T. Volksii's Soviet 4th Mechanized Corps are full of confidence and grim determination too. They spearheaded the southern pincer that surrounded the 6th Army in Stalingrad and they will die before allowing the German rescue attempt to succeed. Despite the blue skies above the Kalmuk steppe another winter storm is about to break...

You can download them from The Proving Grounds where they are available for playtesting.

If you want to play against the AI then download Bäke's Winter Storm II AI

Play with AI sticking to 'computer player uses scenario default'. If playing against the AI you can give it a combat experience bonus of at least +2 to up the level of challenge!

If you want to play H2H then download Bäke's Winter Storm II H2H

Each player, in their side specific brief has important information contained therein referring to each subsequent battle. It covers intel and other important information to assist you in planning for the next action.

[ May 10, 2008, 06:39 AM: Message edited by: George Mc ]

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