Ok, back to Russia! Turn 18, October 16th 1941
One word: mud
Forget about fighting a war during the dreaded Rasputitsa
, the "time without roads". While the supply echelons of my divisions desperately try to move ammo, fuel and supplies to the fighting regiments, the front lines become virtually static. Divisions are reduced to the fighting strength of small Kampfgruppen
, attacks become a pointless waste of effort.
I use this turn mainly to reorganize my units and start building a line of defensive positions behind my main line.
In Army Group North's sector the Finnish formations continue to replace the German units east of Leningrad, freeing up reserves and making the northernmost front blizzard-proof.
Around Leningrad I've formed a reserve of three Infantry divisions which will be transported to the Rzhev-Moscow area.
South of Lake Ilmen I have my armoured reserve of 3 Panzer and 2 Motorized Infantry divisions. This strong force with 468 tanks will form the northern pincer of my attack to cut off that soviet front bulge towards Velikie Luki.
In the Moscow area I've pulled back the four weakest Panzerdivisions back to the railhead at Smolensk to use the mud period for refitting. The weakest one, 12th Panzerdivision was down to 46 tanks. These four Divisions will form the southern thrust of Operation Westerwald
, which will start once the mud period ends. The success of this operation should result in a shorter frontline, netting me 5-6 divisions to strengthen my lines around Moscow. And destroy some 20 Soviet divisions, among them quite a few of the cavalry formations that could really pose a nuisance in case of enemy breakthroughs.
From Moscow all the way down to Voroshilovgrad the situatuion is the same: The Red Army withdraws east, my forces follow. The Soviets seem to make a stand at Voronezh
though, which means I'll try another Panzer thrust to encircle the defending units, once my Panzers stop sinking into the mud...
In the south the situation is still a bit chaotic. My rapid advance has lead to an over-extended line here, with the bulk of my infantry formations still trying to catch up to the mobile divisions. I had to order both 16th Panzerdivision
and SS Wiking
to withraw in order to avoid encirclement while 16th MotInf division had to abandon Voroshilovgrad to stop a Soviet advance into XXIV PzKps flank. Rumours say the Führer threw a tantrum when hearing the news...
Another problem is the huge "pocket" west of Rostov. Due to a number of ports all those Red Army units aren't really cut off from their supply, which means that sooner or later I'll have to deal with them.
Still, I am confident to get that situation sorted out in due time.
In the far south the 73th Infantry division
has destroyed the trapped Soviet 339th, 290th and 30th rifle divisions, killing almost 2000 men and capturing a further 16,000.
Other than that no offensive operations were initiated. I doubt I can take Sevastopol this year. It already sports strong garrisons in heavy fortifications, so anything besides a well-prepared full army attack supported by all the heavy artillery I can get would only end in a bloodbath for attacker. If I can isolate it and form a front line at the isthmus of Kerch I'll be already more than happy.
All in all I'm still confident, but the expanse of the front line already gives me a small headache.