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The Order of the Great Patroitic War Minsk Offensive Part One:
Operation Bagration, June-July 1944.

6000 points per side Total War Battle
by G. Jökull Gíslason & Brjánn Jónasson

Last year we did The Crumbling (The Crumbling: A Total War Battle & Birthday Celebration...) for my 40th birthday in a borrowed hall from Árbæjarsafn – the historical museum of Reykjavík with the World War II occupation on display. This year I wanted to do something even bigger and contacted MÍR – Menningartengsl Íslands og Rússlands (Icelandic Russian Cultural Exchange for any non-Icelandic speakers). They received us very well and we ran a large event over the weekend. On Friday I did a three hour lecture on the Great Patriotic War with the battlefield on display. We got fantastic media coverage, both of Iceland’s main television stations did a piece on the evening news and one major newspaper gave us the back page.

Read part two here and part three here...
The cooperation with MÍR was successful, they have a large hall and in cooperation with our FLAGS (Friendly Local Game Store) they invested in new boards, giving us a table the size of 180x360cm (6'x12'). MÍR even took it a step further and set up gallery of photos and posters from the great Patriotic War on display around the playing table.

For this battle I wanted to do the Eastern Front, partly because there are 70 years since the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (as the Russians call the war on the Eastern Front) and a lot to do with getting to field every Red Army model I have managed to get my hands on, no less than 6000 points. It also serves as an incentive to get everything painted but I had about 2000 points of Udarny Strelkovy to do in the two months leading to the event.

I also sat down to find a battle. As the year 1941 was out of the question, and seeing how most of the playtest group Einherjar has plenty of Late War models, Operatsiya Bagration (Operation Bagration) became a clear choice. But where to find an battle on equal terms? North-west of Minsk Kampfgruppe Dietrich von Saucken met up with Rotmistrov's 5th Guards Tank Army and they fought each other to a standstill. Our battle had been found.

Operation Bagration Situation Map: 22 June - 26 June, 1944.
Marshal Bronetankovyh Voisk Pavel Rotmistrov
Commander of the 5th Guards Tank Army
Operation Bagration   

Rotmistrov joined the Red Army in 1919 and served during the Russian Civil war. In 1928 he entered Frunze Military Academy and from 1937 to 1940 was an instructor at the Moscow Higher Military Academy. At the start of the war he was chief of staff to the 3rd Mechanized Corps but moved on to command the 7th Tank Corps and was involved in the fighting at Rostov and Stalingrad. A very able commander Rotmistrov had the appearance of a quite school teacher but the mind and determination of a military tactician. It was around this time that he formed his tactical ideas of a complete armour only formations and this tactic was adopted and Rotmistrov was put in command of the 5th Guards Tank Army.

Marshal Bronetankovyh Voisk Pavel Rotmistrov
The 5th Guards Tank Army was instrumental at the Battle of Prokorovka and then fought with success in the Fourth Battle of Kharkov and in February 1944 Rotmistrov became the first Marshal of Armoured Troops. During Operation Bagration the 5th Guards Tank Army clashed with the 5th Panzerdivision and 505th Heavy Tank Battalion under Von Saucken and suffered heavy losses. Rotmistrov was blamed and removed from command and did not command battle formations again in World War II. Yet the 5th Guards Army inflicted severe damage to the 5th Panzerdivision and the 505th Heavy Tank Battalion and they would not be able to stop or slow down the Red Army again during Bagration. This limited German success had little effect on the Campaign as a whole and other spearheads made their way to Minsk which the Red Army captured along with several German Divisions.

After the war Rotmistrov was promoted several times and ended his career as the first Chief Marshal of Armoured Troops in 1968.

Marshal Bronetankovyh Voisk Pavel Rotmistrov is a Warrior and a Higher Command Transport team rated as Fearless Veteran.

Rotmistrov is mounted in a Lend-Lease Willy's MB Jeep and can join any Late War Soviet Tankovy Batalon for +50 points.

Special Rules
Armour Only Formations
Rotmistrov has formed a tactical docrine focusing on Armour Only Fromations.

At the start of the game any Tankovy Company or Guards Heavy Tank Company with in 6"/15cm of Rotmistrov may make a normal move within its deployment area after both sides have deployed but before any Reconnaissance Deployment moves.

Marshal Bronetankovyh Voisk Pavel Rotmistrov Iron Willed Determination
Rotmistrov has the appearance of a quite school teacher but and iron will and complete determination to achieve his mission no matter the cost.

Each turn one Tankovy or Heavy Tank Company that did not move at the double and is within 6"/15cm of Rotmistrov may attempt to move again after all other movement. The Company must pass a motivation test in order to move a further 4"/10cm. All normal rules apply for this movement. The platoon may still shoot and assault after making this move.

The model is a simple conversion of an Artillery Officer (I had an extra left over from the Reserve Artillery) and a US Willys Jeep – a fitting vehicle for a Soviet Officer in 1944.

Left: Rotmistrov in his Lend-Lease jeep.
Below: Rotmistrov leads from the front.
Marshal Bronetankovyh Voisk Pavel Rotmistrov
So having set the stage now it was to choose the forces. Both the terrain and forces are more or less correct for the period:
The Forces
Soviet Forces
Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy Polk
HQ: IS-2
5x IS-2 Rota/Company
5x IS-2 Rota/Company
Priority IL-2 Air Support
Gvardeyskiy Tankovy Batalon
HQ: T-34/85
10x T-34 Tankovy Rota/Company
10x T-34 Tankovy Rota/Company
4x BA-64 Scout Platoon
Full Razvediki Armoured Transport Platoon
Full Katyusha Battery with Extra Crew
Udarny Strelkovy Batalon
HQ with Anti-tank Rifles and Sapper Platoon
Full Udarny Rota with 2 HMG
Full Udarny Rota with 2 HMG
Scout Platoon
Flame-thrower Rota with 2 sections
4x 76M Assault Guns
Full God of War Artillery Battalion:
8x 76.2mm guns, 4x 122mm howitzers

Full Reserve Artillery Battalion:
8x 152mm howitzers

German Forces
Panzerkompanie: 5th Panzerdivision
Von Saucken
HQ: 2x Panzer IV H + Bergepanther
5x Panzer IV H Platoon
4x Panzer IV H Platoon
4x Panther G Platoon
Full Gepanzerte Panzergrenadier Platoon
3x Panzer II Luch Recon platoon
2x Sd Kfz 10/5 (2cm) AA Platoon
3x Panzerwerfer 42 with Extra Crew
Schwere Panzerkompanie: s.Pz.Abt.505
HQ: 2x Tiger I E
3x Tiger I E Schwere Panzer Platoon
2x Tiger I E Schwere Panzer Platoon
4x Hummel Armoured Artillery Battery
2x Sd Kfz 10/5 (2cm) AA Platoon
Grenadierkompanie: Infantry Company
Full Grenadier Zug/Platoon
Full Grenadier Zug/Platoon
2x Machine-guns Attached
2x 15cm SiG33 Regimental Guns
6x NW41 Rocket launcher Battery with 7.5cm PaK40
3x 10.5cm Howitzer Battery
Limited Air Support HS-129B
2x Luftwaffe 8.8cm Heavy AA Battery
2x Hornisse
Force Ratios
Unit Type
Tanks / Assault Guns
1.3 : 1
1.3 : 1
Infanty (Teams)
2.2 : 1
As you can see the Soviets do not enjoy a great advantage in numbers, and also it should be noted that the Germans have four smaller artillery batteries vs. Three larger on the Soviet side.

Both sides now had to commit 2000 points (in a single Company/Battalion) to reserves. Since the Grenadiers only reach 1500 points and the Panzerkompanie 2500 points they were allowed if they wished to move 500 points from the Panzerkompanie to the Grenadiers. But as it turned out the Germans selected the .000 points Tiger Company for their reserves.

Table Map & Force Deployment
Table Map & Force Deployment
Operational Goals
The initial plan was to use the Soviet advantage in infantry an go through the village (деревня). We also had the advantage of our CINC: Marshal Sovietskovo Soyuza A M Vasilevsky and his two special rules.

Allowed us to place two objectives rather than one. And we set up one in line with the village and the other on the far flank. The Germans surprised us by placing an objective almost in the same place and we started rethinking our plan.

Deep Operations:
Vasilevsky means you get two Victory Points each turn for holding an objective in you opponents deployment area.

With these two in mind we decided to move our attention to the right side and remove the left objective, meaning that four objectives were now in our main line of attack but only two on the other side. There it would be up to an Udarny Rota/Company to secure and hold the objective in the town while we won the game on the other side.

There we placed our Breakthrough IS-2 Tanks and held the T-34 Battalion in reserve, thinking that that Battalion had the most speed to catch up. This meant however that the Katys had to start in reserve and they might be missed.

So the plan was to attack with overwhelming force on the right flank.

The Soviet Komrades
From the left: Sindri, Jökull (CINC), Stefán, Breki, Óli og Jói.
The Soviet Komrades
When setting up the troops for battle the German side had a few things to consider. Due to the Soviet special rule we were unsure where the main attack would come, as the enemy set up one extra objective before the battle, and could remove one objective after deployment. We decided to hold the Schwere Panzer Company in reserve. Having seven Tigers in reserve would allow us to position them to avoid the IS-2s, as the Stalin tanks, artillery and aircraft were pretty much the only threats to a company of seven Tigers on the Soviet side.
We guessed that the main Soviet attack would come around the small village. The houses would give the enemy infantry cover, and the area around the village was pretty open territory for all the Russian tanks. With this in mind we set up our Panzer IV tanks facing the village for some early machine gun action on advancing infantry, and deployed our two grenadier platoons out on the other flank. One grenadier platoon was deployed covering the objective in our deployment zone, and the other ready to march into the woods to claim one objective in no mans land in turn one. We deployed the Panthers and Panzergrenadiers centrally to respond to any threats, in case we were wrong about the Soviet attack.

Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model special rules would help, especially Just Enough Reserves which would allow us to move three times the normal distance when we came from reserve and von Saucken allows a re-roll to reserves so they work well in combination.

The German Commanders
From the left: Andri, Kristján, Brjánn (CINC), Rúnar and Gunnar.

The German Commanders
Let The Battle Begin!
Below: The Soviet and German forces face each other across the tabletop.
The German Commanders
Join us next time for part two of the Minsk Offensive as we provide a blow-by-blow account of the ensuing action.

~ Jökull & Brjánn.

Last Updated On Thursday, February 2, 2012 by Blake at Battlefront