1941 - A Counter-attack Near Brody

"For the Motherland!"

Peter Stone has been running a World War 2 campaign set on the Eastern Front during the latter half of 2006, recreating Operation Barbarossa. This particular scenario recreates the late Summer counter-attack of Soviet 9th and 19th Mechanised Corps at the town of Brody, where German Army Group South had been experiencing slower progress forward than Group Centre or Group North (Stone, P 2006). 


In particular, it was battles like these where the Soviet T 34/76 demonstrated to all its battlefield superiority. German General Blumentritt noted that its appearance started a period he dubbed "the tank terror" (Shirer, 1960).

061215brody11Round One

The German forces began the encounter by advancing East at full speed towards Brody, hoping to quickly overpower any resistance and then establish a strong position in the town centre.

The Panzer IIIs led this charge down the main road accompanied by some kubelwagons, while a scouting infantry company also riding in kubelwagons took the south flank and an infantry company on foot slowly moved along the north.

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The Soviet off-board artillery commenced a bombardment on the rear of the birch-lined hill, killing a hidden German FAO and flushing another out of cover:

Antitank 76mm L30s in the town centre tried to knock out the lead Panzer III, but in their eagerness and inexperience they did not aim carefully enough and the column continued forward.

061215brody14Round Two

As a result of their initial failure, the Soviet FAOs (Forward Artillery Observers) tried to adjust the bombardment onto the obvious advancing armed column but this shift in map fire was too sudden for any accuracy in its continuity.

The Panzer IIIs reached the town edge still moving at full speed, however one of the 76mm L30s in the town centre stopped the lead Panzer dead in its tracks (see picture below).

Before the gun crew could celebrate, German off-board artillery took revenge upon them (see picture below right), forever ending their defence of the Motherland.

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061215brody13Round Three

Hurriedly the Soviet offboard artillery tried to establish a new target. The defending infantry company, hidden in farming fields next to the town, fired their 50mm mortars at the kubelwagon column flanking the Panzer column.

Their accuracy resulted in the spectacular destruction of a whole platoon of kubelwagons.

German morale was sapped by all these losses, so the CO moved forward to rally the faltering main column.

Round Four

Lifted by the appearance of their CO, the Panzer IIIs spread out and opened up on Brody's defenders with their main guns:

The remaining 76mm L30 hit the third Panzer III obliquely and the shell ricocheted off harmlessly. The Panzers replied with HE shells and hull machineguns, letting loose a withering hail of lead.

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Round Five

Under this barrage of machinegun and cannon fire, the 76mm L30 team’s nerve broke and they ran. Adding to this, the Soviet off-board artillery still could not lock onto their target.

 

The scouting infantry company had progressed unmolested to the edge of the forest near the walls surrounding Brody. They dismounted and advanced for the walls, causing the nearby Soviet mortars to flee.

Round Six

It was at this point that a strong Soviet armoured group (including three T-34 tanks) arrived from the northwest, while an infantry company inGAZ-AA trucks moved along the North-South road, hoping to reach and reinforce the town centre. The Panzers outside Brody reacted to these new arrivals byswinging leftwards. There were exchanges of main gun fire to no effect. Meanwhile, merciless German fire into the town's buildings, intended to flush out resistance, saw hidden Soviet troops killed while others broke and ran.

061215brody21Round Seven

The Panzer IIIs whom had reached the town continued to roll forward to the its centre, continuing with probing fire, with a few Molotov cocktails being thrown at them by the remaining concealed Soviet infantry.

Northwest of Brody, the German infantry found Soviet T-26s hurriedly bearing down on them:

They used their AT rifle grenades, hitting and breaking the tracks of one T-26 (which caused some jitters for its crew).

The tanks replied at close range with hull machineguns.

In the fields to the North, a T-34completely wiped out a Panzer III with one shot. Both sides could now see the effectiveness ofthis new war machine.

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Round Eight

Inside Brody, the infantry continue to try to impede the Germans with Molotov cocktails but the Panzers rolled on relentlessly. As a result of the successful hit on the T-26, German offboard 105mm artillery was moved onboard; hurriedly setting up on the flank of the T-26s.

Infantry inside Brody began to surrender as the Panzer IIIs continued to advance. Outside the town, a Panzer was slowed by a T-34 shell.

Round Nine

The 105 mm's let fly a thunderous salvo, ripping into two T-26’s and destroying both. Soviet infantry and German armour continued their brutal tussle inside Brody. Outside, the T-34 platoon knocked out another Panzer III. At this point, German morale failed completely. The Soviet defense and counterattack was ultimately successful.

Conclusion

Historically, the First Panzer Group was ultimately victorious.

In this game, the early halting of the spearhead Panzer III column was an important success and combined with the destruction of the kubelwagons and later attritions meant the Soviets held and reinforced the town while their nearly invincible T-34s would have been able to almost singlehandedly mop up any German resistance.

References

Shirer, WL 1960, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Pan, London.

Stone, P 2006, Eastern Front campaign: Scenario three – Army Group South vs Baltic Military District, Panzerfaust: Armored Fist website, viewed 15 December 2006, http://members.optusnet.com.au/~stonefamily/1941sumscen3.htm

 

Written and photographed by Nick Pavlovski, January 2007 for Panzerfaust Armored Fist and for Nunawading Wargames Association Inc.