November 29th saw the start of the Winter offensive by the Soviets. The Germans had fought hard all summer to hold the breakthrus that had occurred. Operation Mars had begun a few days prior and the 22nd Army and 41st Army were to attack from the West to cut the Olenino-Bely-Smolensk road. The Luchessa River Valley was where the breakthrough was planned. The Grossdeutschland Division rushed to support the German infantry there. Here is what really happened:
The Ops Officer Major Cord von Hobe brought in the latest intel on Soviets actions West of Karskaya and Travino. It appeared that Soviet 1st Guard Tank Brigade, the 49th Tank Brigade, the 3rd Motorized and 452nd motorized were all on the move.
The question was where to? Intercepts indicated several targets, Vasilt’sova an obvious choice, Travino unlikely as the bridge was blown and their tanks would be limited for support. Obviously Karskaya and the curious one….Noviki.
Generals Horhein and Balck walked to the maps in the command center. After some discussion they agreed that Vasil’tsova and Karskaya where obviously primary targets. But they should be aware of a feint or a surprise maneuvering to Noviki. Horhein, headed out to make some adjustments on his positions and order the I Battalion to get on the road.
The Barrages of rockets and battalions of 105mm rained down on the German positions. Hobe, Balck and Hornlein were disconcerted. The fire was falling near Noviki! They were very light there.
The 110th reports troop s and tanks moving south East towards the woods and Noviki!
Not towards to primary line of defense that they had established around Vasil’tsova. Worse still the I Battalion was now on the road to Vasil’tsova.
Quick firing from the 110th Jagers had caught a recon platoon of T-60’s in the open. The smoking hulks making a a perfect target reference point for further fires on the Guard Motorized Brigade and the 253rds t-34s.
Many of which were suppressed in the open Sth of Staruhki.
by 7.20 4 platoons of the 9th Guard had made it to the woods just west of Noviki. the 48th was following behind.
Unbeknownst to the Germans the 452 motorized was waiting off board to arrive @ 0800.
Further South events unfolded as expected. Karaskaya was the target of rocket and HE fire also. The 453rd MB and 451st were attacking the town.
Accurate German continuous fire drive many of the 451st to ground, and inflicted heavy casualties upon #1 Company.
Their attempts to lay smoke had failed and left the entire Battalion exposed. The 451 diverted into Ladishino, to try and attack from that direction, whilst the 453rd used the town as cover to occupy the outskirts of Karaskaya, aided by the 3-16 Tank.
The Soviets bring smoke to bear and survive a vicious all out bombardment from the Germans.
The Germans wait for I Battalions move Op Sheet to kick in. We can imagine the field phones ringing off the wall. “Prepare a secondary defensive line behind Noviki. the thrust is at Noviki! Repeat Noviki!”
A hush falls over the battlefield, as the thick heavy flakes blanket the icy hard ground. The Soviet commander is bemused by the turn of events. With smoke and snow, no one will see a dam thing.
The Germans huddle into their great coats. With visibility dropping faster than the already cold temperature they grip the stocks of their guns tightly and brace for what is to come.
The 452 enters and begins to approach the Noviki area. Its job appears to be to cover the flanks and support the attack.
The Soviets begin to close, but still struggle with the order and flow of their attack. They are now well positioned near the minefields for breaching however.
Further north the Pioneers retreat before being overwhelmed. Once again the tempo is out of whack. The Soviets struggle with Move and Fire, Mortar cover. Plus the snow prevents the tanks attempting any overruns. Losses mount quickly.
“Rule 22 is one I seem to miss a lot. When you receive a Suppression in Close Assault you take either an extra step or SYR.”
No wonder my close assaults go some many rounds! YIKES! The soviet unit dies, despite having suppressed and taken a step from the German unit dug in on the hill South east of Karaskaya.
The minefields of the Karaskaya.
The Soviets of the 453rd Motorized had earned some respite after the harrowing artillery attacks they had suffered on their approach. Their Officers had other ideas. “Breach the mines ” Came the order. Grimly peasants, farmers, laborers, and veterans alike exchanged looks of resignation.
60 souls marched into the icy waters around the edge of the stream. Probing for mines, whilst a hail of Machine Gun fire tore thru their comrades. The artillery did not keep the Germans heads down, their own shooting had little effect on them either. The Germans appeared fearless. 10 men fled the stream for the safety of the town, heedless of the Political Officer. Who died on a mine.
The 1-453 take a pounding at the Northern ford minefield. Once again the Germans are un suppressed and cause havoc. The Soviets finally mass on the 186th and score a paralysis, which drives them into a desperate close assault action .
The Soviets grind forward, pushing the Germans to dig deeper and hunker down as losses mount slowly.
Karaskaya is controlled by the Soviets but the fords remain dangerous and mined.
- In the center losses grow and all tank formations break
The 49th and 16th all fail, and in fact should have failed a little earlier before they made their
push across the unguarded ford.
North of the Luchessa River the I Battalion is under way to its new location, although the snow hampers speed, they are under great cover.
The Factory is a key spot despite the high trees, it has good forward cover and will likely prove to be a area of intense conflict.
Soviets prepare new plans for the Tank Regiments. The Germans break several units off of Op sheets so they can be moved rapidly (Arty). The Germans toy with taking 7 and 8 Co. from II Bn and attacking the 452. But the Soviet tanks rallied close by are too big a threat once maneuver time, op sheets and weather are considered. They would have less than an hour at worst to execute the counter attack. Horhein and Balck argue aggressively about what their plan should be. Horhein wants to cast the entire II Bn against the rallying Tanks and 452.