1944 - Meting Out Punishment - Romania

On Friday 17 August, Nick Pavlovski had arranged with Peter Stone to have a game of Panzerfaust Iron Fist outside the period and sequence of the Eastern Front campaign they had been playing over the last 12 months. Nick had been playing Russians for the whole time so, for a bit of variety, opted to try the Germans for this game.

As it eventuated, that wasn't the only bit of variety they were to experience for the game.


Nick was meant to bring the Russian forces that he had been painting and basing over the last 9 months for Peter to use, but forgot to do. This left them with just the German forces that Peter had brought. There was enough materiel for good sized forces of Germans and Romanians, so Nick redeemed himself by proposing a game set in very late 1944, when the Romanians had switched sides and were opposed the Germans.

1944 - Eastern Front - Romania

Nick and Peter used the scenario generator from the rulebook to establish what sort of game it would be. The die roll determined that it would be an Attack / Defence game. They agreed that, because of the sorts of forces and the period, the German player would have about 3,000 points to make up his fighting force and the Romanian player only half that total.

The Romanians show themselves at last.As well as working on Russian forces, Nick had also been working on making and gathering appropriate terrain. Freshly completed farmhouses were placed on the middle of the table, next to a railway line diagonally bisecting the table. A few farming fields surrounded the village, and then further surrounding it were thick woods. An orchard lay close to the centre of the board. A hill covered with birch trees lay to the southwest. A road ran to and passed the village.

As the scenario was Attack / Defence, Peter was going to have the whole village and all its fields to deploy his forces, leaving Nick with just a narrow strip on the far side to enter from. Even so, that narrow strip gave Nick plenty of opportunities to advance fairly close to the centre of the village under cover of some sort. The objectives of the game were simple - for the Germans, reach and hold the centre of the village. For the Romanians - even simpler - stop the Germans any way they could.

The terrain and objectives demanded careful deployment of the German forces Nick had, which were

- a company HQ of two StuG III G's and a platoon of 4 more StuG's;

- a platoon of Panzergrenadiers, riding in SdKfz 251/1's with an AA vehicle in support;

- a reconnaissance platoon of 4 Panzer II Lynx's.

Nick had mobility and some punch. The Panzergrenadiers were to go northeast, over the birch-wooded hill and through the apple orchard, then to the village. The StuG's were all on the left flank, running alongside the road but trying to keep to the tree-line and reasonably close to the Panzergrenadiers.

The Lynx's were to move through the woods on the right flank about two kilometres away, pop out early along the railway line and see if there was any reaction from the village - with their speed and manoeuvrability, they should avoid much trouble and be able to quickly seek the safety of the woods if they did.

The Lynx's were to move through the woods on the right flank about two kilometres away, pop out early along the railway line and see if there was any reaction from the village - with their speed and manoeuvrability, they should avoid much trouble and be able to quickly seek the safety of the woods if they did.

Cautiously moving toward their objective, the Panzergrenadiers had seen nothing of the enemy but knew they must be there.The Romanians had some armour, but Nick had no idea of how much or what else their forces were composed of. They were in their homeland and would be prepared and most likely well dug in.

The game commenced and Nick's forces moved without harassment. After Turn 3 this became a little worrying - Nick was hoping to have had some impetuous salvo fired at his troops that might suggest where the Romanian armour or cannons were. When the column of Lynx's broke cover, a reaction was elicited, but from unexpected quarters! A platoon of Panzer IV's broke out from the tree-line almost directly opposite the Lynx's and immediately knocked out the second Lynx.

The remaining Lynx's immediately turned and headed back for the safety of the thick birch, ash and pine forest.

Contact! With hurriedly-transmitted co-ordinates only just transmitted across the German radio net, half the StuG's immediately broke off. They moved at full speed to intercept the Panzer IV's. To cover their retreat, the Lynx's fired smoke and made directly for the StuG's, who were cresting the hill. The other StuG's continued their cautious advance while the Panzergrenadiers moved off the hill and slowly into the large orchard.

The regrouped Lynx's move out toward the village.The Panzer IV's spread out and reached the railway, as the StuG's crested the hill and parked on the edge of the trees. A furious cannonade ensued over the next three rounds, the outcome being one StuG destroyed, one temporarily out of action and three Panzer IV's out of commission. The remaining Panzers fled.

The Panzergrenadiers waited at the edge of the orchard, while the surviving Lynx's skirted the orchard and moved to the larger building with the StuG's, fresh from their duel with the Romanian Panzers, trying to catch up. At the close side of medium range, dug-in AT guns opened up on the Lynx's from under the copse next to the biggest building. One was knocked out, but the commanding Lynx and one of the StuG's saturated the area with a bombardment and the guns were wiped out.

Now the Panzergrenadiers could move forward, while the Lynx's entered the town proper. Medium machineguns opened up on the SdKfz 251's as the reached the building, but then realising the Lynx's were already in the town and with the all StuG's visible and advancing, the Romanians were forced to surrender. The game ended with a victory for the Germans, but with some losses. Still, punishment was wrought upon the Romanians.

The game had lasted a dozen turns, with the first three mostly being movement by Nick's Germans. Contact had been deadly and decisive. It was a very enjoyable game.

 

References

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

 

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