Crossing the Dnieper 1943

Chris at the Sharp End Gaming has put together a set of small unit tactical scenarios called “Command Ops Platoon Scenarios” which presently consist of three missions: Charge of the Pioneers 1942, Crossing the Dnieper 1943 and Kekava Firefight 1944. This after-action report will focus on the Dnieper scenario, a bridge defense type effort that pits the German 108th Infantry Regiment 38th Infantry Division against the Soviet 177th Rifle Regiment.

This semi-historical scenario begins at 04:00 on September 24, 1943 with the German forces comprised of the 38th Infantry Division that was depleted to at or below regiment strength. Hitler had allowed elements of Army Group South to fall back across the Dnieper, and faced Soviet forces that consisted of a refreshed and refitted rifle regiment whose goal was to establish a bridgehead and prepare for any possible counterattack.

The scenario can be downloaded from the following location.

Scenario Selection


New Scenario Options


The settings I am using for this effort are realistic orders delay, historical weather and standard reinforcements and normal supply schedules for both sides.

Terrain Considerations


All four crossing points on the map are of the Ferry type, which restricts movement to 5% for foot soldiers and 1% for motorized units. This is problematic for the Red Army AI commander as he needs to cross the Dnieper to reach the Soviet objectives, whereas I can position my units to delay the assault for as long as possible. Once across the river, the enemy must contend with the buildup town, industrial and factory areas to reach my objectives.

Objectives


There are three objectives for the German player: 38th Division HQ (33 Victory Points, all available on completion), Fortified Point Fritz (22 VP) and Fortified Point Helga (22). The Axis forces start in control of all of the objectives and have the default Destroy the Enemy objective configured to award 22 VP for achieving 59% kills of enemy units.

Initial Orders


Primary Combat Forces

1st Company, 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment (150 personnel) are already prepositioned around the Fortified Point Fritz Objective and are within 1km of the western most ferry crossing point (which already has Red Army forces attempting a crossing from the small island in the river). 1st Coy is ordered to defend on their end of the ferry with all settings maximized.

2nd Company, 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment (168 personnel) are already prepositioned in a factory area north of the Fortified Point Helga Objective and are within 2km of the two center crossing points.  2nd Coy is ordered to defend at the east center crossing point with all settings maximized.

Heavy Weapons Company (78 personnel) are situated near the railhead along the river and is ordered to defend at the west center crossing point with all settings maximized.

3rd Company, 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment (113 personnel) are presently located 1km east of the 38th Division HQ Objective and is ordered to race to the final unguarded crossing point on the eastern side of the map to defend at that location with settings maximized.

Secondary Combat Forces

I Battalion 108th Infantry Regiment (76 personnel) is ordered to defend at the Fortified Point Fritz Objective.

108th Infantry Regiment HQ (three remaining units at this point for a total of 329 personnel) is ordered to defend at the 38th Division HQ Objective.

Notable Detachments

1st Panzerfaust Team 1 is detached from 1/1/108 and is ordered to defend at the Fortified Point Fritz Objective.

4th and 5th Platoons are detached from 2/1/108 and are ordered to defend in-situ at the bridgeheads they currently are situated at (the two center crossing points).

1st Panzerfaust Team 2 is detached from 2/1/108 and is ordered to defend at the Fortified Point Helga Objective.

Flak Platoon 138th Artillery Regiment is detached from the 108th Infantry Regiment HQ unit and is ordered to defend at the edge of the industrial area near the Sand Pits broken terrain next to the eastern most ferry.

Reinforcements

There are six units scheduled to arrive at various times during the first day of operations, and they will be used to plug holes as they develop or are perceived to threaten the scenario objectives (with the exception of basing/depot units which will be reattached to their organic superior unit).

The Battle


D01 06:08 A sniper team arrives and is ordered to take up a position overlooking the two center ferry crossing points that offers excellent line-of-sight on the river and both banks to allow for maximum engagement potential.


D01 10:30 A Red Army reinforcement unit of approximately 230 troops arrives to the northwest on the other side of the river and begins moving southeast. This temporarily freezes the Heavy Weapons Company I currently have deployed at the west center crossing point (I had intended to drop the down to the southeast to support 3/1/108 who is presently being overwhelmed by the Soviet forces that have crossed Dnieper.


D01 12:00 In perhaps a dangerous move, I order the Heavy Weapons Company to move southeast to perform a delaying action back to the Fortified Point Helga Objective.


D01 16:30 Sensing the collapse of the remaining troops of the 3/1/108, I order the 2/1/108 to abandon their defense of the east center crossing point and to take up a defensive position at a factory area near the Fortified Point Helga Objective.


D02 00:00 The attempts to block the Soviets in the southeast is completely shattered as all I have out there on the perimeter are a routed StuG III G and a mortar platoon.


D02 06:00 I order my last remaining “reserve”, the 1/1/108 that was defending at the western most ferry crossing point and order them to race to the east to stem the Red Tide.


D02 12:00 With only four hours remaining in the scenario my fate is sealed with the movements I have orchestrated: only time will tell if the Germans can hold off the Soviet onslaught to pull out a “win”.

After-action Report


A Decisive Victory outcome is achieved with a final score of 84-5 Victory Points. The Axis maintained control of all objectives at the end of the scenario and managed to inflict a total of 308 personnel casualties while suffering 179.

Review Final Situation


With my forces positioned the way they were near to the end, it really influenced the movement of the Red Army units to the bottom of the map in a west-to-east sweep. Had the scenario gone on another two or three hours these troops most likely would have denied if not outright taken the 38th Division HQ Objective and its 33 Victory Points.

Post Mortem

I loved the implementation of a sniper team at this level (which is why I highlighted their deployment earlier). It would be great if the game engine could handle reporting kills by specific units such as these marksmen so as to truly evaluate their effectiveness on the battlefield.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Tim. Thanks for this post! I am glad you liked the sniper team and I agree it would be nice to see specific kills per unit!

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  2. Great Air Tim! The scenarios really work at this scale.

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