As WR works on his long overdue Almonacid 1809 scenario AAR write-up, a growing backlog of subject material to type mounds up, noted by his lack of WR posts during the 1st quarter of 2019. WR should mention the lack of posts for the readership also is due to his “overdrive for painting” 1st quarter effort (really February into April) towards dozen+ platoons of Flames of War 20mm miniatures, including their basing. When the miniature painting bug bites…roll with the urge says WR since painting tends to come in waves of sustained effort. Lastly, the tabletop gaming in the Winnetka warren continues; several FOW games, two pick up napoleonic scenarios, one HMGS-PSW convention and preparation for same, and some enjoyable vacation trips about California, all since the Mexican Riviera cruise last January. So, to fill some of the WR posting backlog, here is the Festung Breslau April 1945 Flames of War scenario GM hosted at the recent HMGS-PSW “Victory Day” convention held March 23rd in Van Nuys CA National Guard armory. Full scenario design, sources for scenario, maps, and German / Soviet 1945 platoon forces covered at end of ARR. cc
As WR was GM and playing in the Festung Breslau April 1945 scenario, the play by-play action report is limited to the photos taken during live action. Hopefully the reader can follow the images for scenario timeline. To set the pregame stage….. The Soviets have broken though the German Eastern Front Vistula river defenses back in January and surrounded the city of Breslau by February. The ordeal of the fleeing German civilians from Breslau before the final Soviet encirclement close is just tales of winter horror, tens of thousands just died frozen. Fleeing German shattered formations retired from the city, leaving an “ordered few” regiments / battalions/ companies of German panzer grenadiers, Volksgrenadiers, SS formations, Luftwaffe, Hitlerjugend, and raised volkssturm to hold the Festung city and surrounding countryside, Successive Soviet divisional and corps level assaults during the February and March months have reduced the perimeter held by the German garrison to the city’s outlying built up area. The sole airport and aerial supply route was taken last month, leaving the German garrison with just their improvised and cleared “Kaiserstrasse” roadway for light planes to fly in. Even at this late date in the war, the Germans still tried to drop nighttime parachute supplies into Breslau, with the massed Soviet AA batteries shooting up the night sky. Still, being a depot supply hub during the late war period, the city was well stocked with food, some fuel, and small arms ammunition, except for the needed A/T rounds, larger artillery shells, and medical supplies.
Plans and set up: Soviet player team set up on a broad frontage to pin down the German front lines. As scenario progress made, the Soviets had two axis of advance. Down their left flank with HQ group, two Hero Stretkovy companies, a Hero SMG company, Hero Tankovy company (T-34/85), and Assault Tank mixed company. In the table center Soviets field a Hero Shturmovye Group (Shock) with 203mm howitzer attached, two Stretkovy companies, and Flame tank company. Their job is to destroy the 88mm position and support either flank advance with detached companies. The right flank advance as the second major push, with the other HQ group, two Hero Stretkovy companies, a Hero SMG company, the other Hero Shturmovye Group (Shock) with 203mm howitzer attached, a Hero Su-76M Assault gun company, and the final Hero Tankovy company. Attached to the two Shock groups are the Soviet FT teams (two each). On call, with their observer teams deployed, the two off-board artillery batteries prepare bombardments and the ever-present Soviet air force buzzing overhead. Overall, the Soviets has the edge in total points…. 5000 vs. 4200 for the Germans.
For the German facing the Soviet onslaught, the basic plan is to have a thin “trip wire” front line and then retire to force the Soviets to dig entire German platoons out of key buildings. Hopefully by around turn six onwards the Soviets are a bit spent in their forward platoons and careful management of one or two platoons for local counterattack would seal the German victory at the objective positions. As for reserves and aerial support… some may come, but only shot down pilots will make it to Breslau this day.
Initial starting location for all these German and Soviet companies / platoons is somewhat a dim memory for WR. Close examination of the deployment set up generally shows the massed Soviet teams as mentioned above. As for the Germans, they mostly lurk inside the HO scale buildings at scenario commencement, so WR must dive deep into brain memory to reconstruct the battlefield German deployment, even being a German player during the convention game. From memory, the German initial deployment is:
German left flank had Breslau HQ group, Luftwaffe Field platoon (+2x MG), HitlerJugend platoon, two Volksstrum platoons, Volksstrum Infantry gun platoon, Volksstrum MG platoon, and Assault gun StuG IV platoon.
German center table: 8.8cm Luftwaffe heavy Flak platoon, Fallschirmjager platoon (+2x MG). two Volksstrum platoons, Volksstrum Pioneer platoon, SS PzGrenadier platoon, Bedbug platoon, and the Heavy 12cm Mortar platoon.
German right flank: Breslau HQ group, HitlerJugend platoon, SS Pz Grenadier platoon, two Volksstrum platoons, Pak 40 7.5cm A/T platoon, and the Tiger I platoon, rebuilt from spare parts, at the local FAMO factory in Breslau.
Off-table was the German 10.5cm Field artillery battery and the reserve Fresh PzGrenadier platoon. The Luftwaffe Field MG platoon is attached out to the both the Luftwaffe Field platoon and Fallschirmjagers to booster their defense capability.
Turn One: Soviets have first movement. After placing their objectives near the German table edge (8″ on table), they stormed forward with all their companies deployed on the tabletop…. no reserve companies save two Hero Stretkovy are held back, except for the two Soviet artillery batteries remained off table and using the old “Across the Volga” rules for bombardment (old Stalingrad supplement). Highlights of the 1st Soviet turn….
For the most part the German platoons hide in their positions, avoiding Soviet firepower. Only their right flank Pak 40 7.5cm A/T platoon opened fire on the advancing ISU-152 assault guns parked on the open roadway. Steel AP shot vs. rolled steel plate for the bounce, advantage Soviet for this boxing round.
Turn Two: The sky is alive with the buzz of Soviet aircraft. German Tigers dart under their local AA protection so the brazen Soviet pilots dive on the fast firing 8.8cm Flak cannon. One plane blasted from the sky. another finds a large hole in its wing….. soon flying rearward for the plane mechanics to fix / patch up. The German crew paints up another plane symbol on the gun shield. Soviet infantry is filtering through the ruins, darting from one opening to another, in some cases daring the German Volkssturm infantry to open fire and uncover their positions. Soviet bombardment pounds the German far right flank large building, garrisoned by a Hitlerjugend platoon. The large Soviet 122mm HE shells tear large openings in the roof and walls, Several Hitlerjugend teams are removed from play but the Pak 40 7.5cm A/T cannon lives a charmed life during the shelling. Tiger platoon shifts position to reinforce the right flank, and counter the Soviet Hero Assault Gun mixed company and their supportive Hero T-34/85 Tankovy nearby.
Sniper duel. A German sniper team is deployed and fires upon the Soviet battery observer stationed high in the church tower. The bullet just misses. To counter the German sniper, a Soviet sniper team opens fire and kills their opposite number with a clean head shot.
Turn Three: The air is alive with Soviet airplanes and large shells. Welcome to Breslau. After the Soviet movement phase, moving Soviet infantry teams over or around the barb wire sections, closer to the building occupied German positions, the cloudburst of Soviet artillery bombardment lands on German 8.8cm position, along with the continuous bombardment of the far right HitlerJugend platoon and Pak 40 A/T battery. One 8.8cm cannon is wiped out, its twisted remains and crew removed from the tabletop. Nearby Volkssturm teams ponder their future fate. Soviet Tankovy T-34/85 seek to engage the hidden German infantry stationed in the German right flank buildings. Grinding down the German defense before their heros of Russia charge home over the city rubble of battle.
Turn Four: Out on the Soviet right flank their T-34/85 and SU-76M companies cross the wide open roadway to engage the German platoons with cannon and vehicle MG fire. Following close behind, the massed Soviet Hero Stretkovy companies ready themselves to cross the same bullet-swept open ground.
Battered, the Soviet bombardment has battered the HitlerJugend platoon to a small remaint holding the German far right flank large building. The supportive Pak 40 7.5cm A/T cannon long blasted to ruin. Even the Volkssturm platoon has taken bombardment losses while the supportive Tiger I tanks grind gears moving to dodge the Soviet overhead aircraft spotting them.
In the center, the battle has been mostly Soviet movement forward, using the park trees to avoid the eyes of the German defenders. The Soviet Shturmovye Group (Storm) company inches forward to assault the building along the rail line, looking forward to seeing their new shiny 203mm howitzer do a fine job on the German buildings (and their occupants). T-34 (OT-34) flame tanks drive slowly forward, avoiding the 8.8cm crews attention.
Suddenly, out of the ruins the German Bedbug platoon with their Kleinpanzer quick cross open ground and open fire on the unwary T-34 (OT-34) flame tanks. One T-34 is riddled by the rocket salvo. The darting crews driving their Bedbugs retire quickly to avoid the Soviet response.
Turn Five: Turn of Soviet assaults. Waves of Soviet Skretkovy infantry teams, skilled in the recent Eastern Front battles, exit nearby doorways, shattered windows, rise from behind rubble, from behind walls or building. They surge forward firing their rifles, SMG, and captured German panzerfausts. Crescendo of battle erupts across the tabletop, especially on the Soviet left and center table. Soviet left flank sees massed Stretkovy infantry company charge towards the barb wire positioned outside the HitlerJugend platoon building position or approaching the depleted Volkssturm platoon. Even being bombarded to a surviving few teams, the HitlerJugend platoon opens fire against the on-rushing Soviet infantry. Limp bodies fall on the rusting wire.
Note: Each building on the scenario tabletop has a “thick white card paper template” outlining the building interior and placed on a side table. The template shows the firing positions like wall, windows, doors, staircases etc. The thick paper card templates are numbered to match the building number, with one, two or three for each building floor level. For simplicity, WR uses one floor level for every double level building height. So a one or two story building normally has one floor template, three or four story has two floor templates, and so on. WR stores the templates with his buildings.
With the last Soviet assault concluded, time fo the German reply. Tigers move into position to draw aim on the street laden Hero T-34/84 company. Battered but full of fight the nearby Volkssturm platoon cheers as the 8.8cm shells go into Soviet armor hulls. One starts to burn.
Turn Six: Seeing many dead and wounded comrades lying in the blasted ruins, the SMG company, led by their company commander in person, charge into the deadly firepower coming from the SS platoon building. T-34/85 tankovy, sort of blocked in the rubble of Breslau, engage the Tigers behind the ruined trolley wrecks. Large 85mm vs. 8.8cm shells. Shells bounce from the thick Tiger armor plate, another T34-85 brews up with blowtorch flames. Little more is heard from the dead Hero SMG company, Their company commander last seen fighting inside the building, resisting with his few comrades the German control of the building till silence.
Center table action. Soviet Hero Stretkovy infantry company rushes the forward large factory building, supported by the nearby Hero T-34/85 company, held by the Luftwaffe Field platoon and nearby Volkssturm platoon. More bitter fighting with short range firing and grenades. Overpowered, the Germans retreat to the rear rooms. Finally the last rooms are cleared of Germans, leaving a bloody trail of removed infantry teams from the entrance points to the final fatal defense. Another Soviet victory…. brought with loss.
Pushing forward, the Soviet infantry continue their broad advance. Having taken the Boiler building, the victorious Soviet Hero Stretkovy infantry rush the next building held by Volkssturm. Token firing, the Soviets clear another building for the moment, deeper in the Breslau defensive perimeter. But quickly, another Volkssturm platoon counter-attacks their control of the building, and throws out the celebrating Soviet infantry.
Having their T-34 (OT-34) company left as burning wrecks, the center left Hero Stretkovy infantry think about assaulting the entrenched Volkssturm Pioneer platoon besides the occupied train station. Several exposed teams are cut down by old German rifles. The German BedBug crews reload their panzerschreck tubes, getting ready to sortie out again seeking Soviet tanks. Sort of a sector stalemate for the moment.
Turn Seven: Looking over the tabletop, the Soviet players see one chance to reach the objectives during the next two turns. The German defense is firmly holding the table center position, with intact battle seasoned platoons. Only the two flanks have weak defense from further Soviet assaults. On the German right flank, the German Tigers bar the Soviet armor, then followed by infantry, from rushing the remains of the Volkssturm platoon, leading directly to the nearby objective marker on the bridge behind them. The far right Hitlerjugend platoon desperately holds only one room in their artillery battered large building. Soviet infantry, in adjacent rooms, are preparing the final building clearing assault. Soviets would then have to cross the river, via a bridge, and seize the objective marker from the opposite river bank approach, with one reserve German platoon (still off table) their only threat. Long odds for success going that path. Having destroyed the central Hero SMG Stretkovy company, the SS platoon ready their weapons to defend the large building from further attack, thus holding that portion of the line. On the German far left flank, several battered platoons control several buildings, but these buildings are not adjacent to the objective marker. It is the German central left position where the Soviets need assaults for the win. Two Soviet Stretkovy companies prepare to take the objective, having to rush past the Volkssturm MG platoon position, overcome one small Volkssturm platoon clinging to building terrain, and avoid serious loss from German off-board artillery and 12cm mortar bombardment.
The final Soviet effort…. They blast apart the last of the heroic Volkssturm platoon besides the battle-tested SS platoon. This leaves the Tiger platoon holding the bridge objective. Quickly the last Hitlerjugend platoon teams on the German far right flank are removed from play, but the assaulting Soviet Stretkovy lose more teams from the die-hard Germans. The weakened Soviet Stretkovy company is reduced under half strength…. morale test, they bolt to the rear. No rear threat now to the bridge objective marker. Little happens on the Soviet far right advance which determines the victory. It all boils down to the center table battles. Two Soviet un-pinning morale tests…. one Hero Stretkovy company fails to unpin, leaving only one Hero SMG Stretkovy company to rush the forward Volkssturm building, press past the Volkssturm MG platoon nearby while dodging the German bombardments. Then stop the sole German reserve platoon, a Fresh Panzergrenadier (no transport) platoon, from contesting control of the objective. Scenario called by the Soviet players. Photos show the final scenario ending positions. Note: the German player team totally forgot about placing their booby trap markers (4x) during scenario play.
Great Breslau scenario game. Players seem to enjoy the variety of platoons and companies, with different morale or combative abilities. Scenario had: Soviet Hero Stretkovy of various types, LW Assault gun mixed companies, LW Shturmovye (Shock) Groups, Flame tanks, and large 203mm howitzers on call. For the Germans, a real kitchen of variety….Hitlerjugend, SS, Luftwaffe Field, Fallschirmjäger, Volkssturm platoons, basic Tigers, 12cm mortars, and the Bed Bug infestation to use on the tabletop.
Scenario Design: WR was reading his copy of the Battlefront FOW “Berlin” Ver3.0 supplement last year and planned for a Berlin tabletop battle for YR2019. Having his Warren tabletop covered with HO scale buildings, streets, trolly lines, trolly or tram wrecks, lots of rubble, ruins, and newly painted FOW based 20mm miniatures for the very late war period in Germany. This scenario over several months last year changed size, scope, and design many times, primarily over the last holiday season, till WR picked up a copy of “Hitler’s Final Fortress” authored by Richard Hargreaves (image below). This completely change the tabletop venue for the FOW (20mm) scenario, from Berlin to Breslau, but still during the final months of the european war. Other sources for the scenario came from the internet and several published papers covering the final demise of Hitler’s Germany.
From the Breslau (now Polish city of Wroclaw) historical site: Siege of Breslau – German Account
Weapons and Warfare site, the “Agony of Breslau” .pdf: The Agony of Breslau
Several historical maps for the scenario, including WR’s cut out of the western sector for scenario tabletop area. First is a large format file for Breslau: PLAN_GORODA_BRESLAU 1945.jpg (8694×7356)”
Battlefront FOW supplements used for the scenario are “Eastern Front” for the Luftwaffe Field platoons, “Desperate Measures” for some Soviet assault gun units, and “Berlin” for the remaining Soviet and German platoons or companies.
The scenario Forces: First are the Soviets pictured below in two slides. Their complete roster as spreadsheet (.xls): Breslau Soviet Roster Form.xls
Not listed is the two (2) Soviet Airplane Il-2 Shturmovik airstrikes every game turn since they have total air control over Breslau during the daylight hours. D6 roll for the number of planes arriving with each airstrike. Note: The two days before the scenario start date over 800 Soviets aircraft had bombed or strafed the city center continuously.
For the represented German forces besieged in Breslau, their spreadsheet (.xls) roster: Breslau German Roster Form
Special rules for Breslau 1945 scenario:
Soviet Airplanes: Every turn the sky overhead has two flights of Soviet Il-2 Shturmovik aircraft. No roll required for appearance, they come every turn. Roll only for the number of planes in each flight… 1-3 aircraft per normal aircraft rules.
Artillery Large caliber vs. buildings: Every successful artillery bombardment on a targeted standard size building, which an occupant team is killed, causes one damage point. After three successful bombardment, by batteries with 122mm or greater cannon (three or more required), or direct firing impact hits by 203mm howitzers, the building walls collapse and are replaced by four rubble markers outlining the four former wall position edges. With each successful impact hit or bombardment, place a rubble terrain marker against any exterior wall marker, till the third successful impact or hit. Then move the rubble three markers to replace the former building model space and add one marker. Small buildings require only two bombardment impact or direct hits to reduce to rubble. Large buildings, or building with two floors, require one additional impact or direct hit to collapse the building (four in total). When the building collapses, no teams are lost… it is a progressional event. Place the occupying teams on or behind the new rubble piles. All rubble pile markers create bullet proof cover for any team stand placed directly on or behind the rubble marker. Both the Soviet and German artillery can create destroyed building rubble / ruins.
German aerial resupply for large shells: The German A/T cannon, panzer cannons 75mm or larger, and German 10.5cm Field artillery requires successful resupply every turn. Roll d6, a 4+ roll means the night aerial resupply was recently successful, new ammo stock located and transported to front lines, or something upset the supply chain for that turn. If roll failed, reduce the rate of fire (ROF) by one for units firing large ammunition that turn or reroll every successful bombardment hit (just like a two-cannon battery firing bombardment). This rule just reflects the trouble and uncertainty the Germans had during the siege, especially in the last month of April for larger ammunition supply.
Refugee teams: These teams can be placed near every flattened building felled by Soviet shelling. They have no effect in the game play and run away 10″ every turn from their destroyed building towards the German table edge. They will not transit firefight zones between German and Soviet teams if possible, but try to work around the firefight zone blockage. Something for the game photos if used.
Set up at scenario start: Basically a “Hold the Line” mission scenario with the Soviet force frontline 12″ on table with their platoons / companies of choice. Up to three non-artillery Soviet platoons / companies can be held off table at start to arrive on any turn of Soviet player team choosing, arriving without any Reserves rule d6 roll, anywhere on their rear tableedge on any Soviet turn, including on turn one. Any Soviet artillery battery can start off table using the old “Across the Volga” rules (Stalingrad supplement), with only their attached observer teams starting on table in the Soviet deployment zone.
German forces start on table from the table midpoint line (or 36″ on table). Up to three German platoons can act as reserves, plus all their field artillery, can be placed off table. The chosen German platoon reserves follow the Reserves rule for arrival delay and can appear anywhere on their rear table edge, starting with turn three. German minefields, street barricades, and barb wire sections are deployed before Soviet set up. Their booby traps follow the Booby trap rules for placement at scenario start or during scenario play when German platoons exit terrain.
Victory condition: Take and control any one of two Russian placed objectives, placed 8″ from German rear or side table edge, by the Russian players. Otherwise German victory for defeating another major Soviet assault on the Breslau city center. Game scenario plays eight (8) turns of full play then with d6 roll on turn nine onwards for immediate scenario end. Roll one d6 at start of Soviet turn and each turn thereafter… if 5+ the scenario ends immediately before the Soviet turn is started. Soviets have first turn movement and are attacking.
Construction of the Festung Breslau terrain will be featured in future WR article. Cheers from the California National Guard armory.