07 February 2013

Capturing Wilno, September 19th 1939 AAR

Second scenario in the "Belorussian Front" operation from my  "Poland in Flames" historical campaign book. This scenario is about the Soviet capture of Wilno (Vilnius), having crashed across the north-eastern Polish border the Soviet forces quickly directed their spearheads towards the towns of Wilno and Grodno. Wilno was captured by September 19th, the Polish defenders were made up of Border Protection Corps troops supported by some light artillery and AT guns. The defenders were simply too few and had too little heavy equipment to have any realistic chance against the Soviet tanks rolling into the city, despite some initial successes the city fell after a day long battle. Some defenders made it out and joined the garrison in Grodno.

The scenario has the Polish player fielding 1500 points, 1 platoon in ambush. The Soviet player  fields 1750 points but keeps 25% of his troops in reserve. The Poles are dug in along the outer edge of Wilno and are attempting to prevent the Soviets from breaching the line, symbolized by two objective markers. As soon as the Soviet player begins any of his turns in control of an objective the battle ends a Soviet victory. The only hope for the Poles is to try to break the enemy force morale.

To further press home the hopeless situation of the defenders and to allow the Soviet player to soften up his opponent there is no turn limit for this scenario.

Polish Border Protection Corps (KOP) [Confident/Trained]

KOP Battalion HQ
2x KOP Companies, each with two platoons
1x KOP HMG company with two platoons, both are attached out to KOP platoons.
1x Squadron of KOP cavalry made up of two platoons.
1x KOP Sapper platoon with 2 sapper sections and a supply cart.
1x Piechoty AT-gun platoon [Fearless/Trained] (HELD IN AMBUSH)
1x Piechoty Light artillery platoon [Fearless/Trained]

Soviet Fast tank company [Confident/Trained]
(Note: Since David didn't have enough points we agreed that he would throw in his OT-26 flamethrower tanks and a heavy mortar battery to fill out the points. Since those platoons are available in other units taking part in the attack on Wilno and available for the Soviet player to field it made sense).

Company HQ  1x BT-5
2x BT-5 platoons
1x OT-26 flamethrower tank platoon
1x Platoon of BA-10 armoured cars
1x 82mm mortar company
1x 120mm mortar battery
1x Motorized infantry battalion with 2x infantry platoons with light mortars
(1 Motorized infantry platoon also had 2 attached Maksim 1910 HMG's)
1x 45mm AT gun platoon


The battle started with Soviet mortars shelling the Polish defensive positions, hitting infantry platoons and the Light artillery positions. Fortunately for the defenders little damage was done, and the Poles fired an artillery barrage of their own trying to zero in on the enemy heavy mortar battery. That barrage failed to inflict any casualties. As the artillery duel was raging Soviet tanks and infantry began their march towards the outskirts of Wilno.

Entrenched defenders were deployed along the entire line, from the church in the west to the train station in the east. Polish cavalry, sappers and one infantry platoon were held as second line reserves deeper into the city. A minefield had been placed in front of the Polish artillery positions. Buildings along the edge of the city were all occupied by defenders, and Polish machinegun teams had good vantage points up in the attics.

Soon enough the Soviet mortars had zeroed in and kept repeating their unforgiving barrage fire to hammer the defenders to pieces. The Polish infantry was chipped away bit by bit on the left flank, worse still was the loss of 75mm artillery guns.

When the Soviet reached the outskirts on the left flank 3 remaining 75mm guns opened fire and destroyed 3 BT-5 tanks, right after that Soviet mortars hit the Polish positions reducing the artillery to 1 gun - which was killed by approaching Soviet infantry!

On the opposite flank Soviet BT-5 and OT-26 tanks approached the train station held by the sailor platoon, the Polish defenders were hit hard and decided to fall back. Unfortunately they panicked and were unable to rally, meaning that the fleeing troops were mowed down my machinegun fire the following turn.

The threat of Soviet tanks prompted the reveal of Polish AT guns on the left flank, which had only limited success due to obscuring terrain and broken line of sight to the majority of the enemy tanks. Polish reserves from the rear began moving up towards the left flank to stop the Soviet infantry advance.

The leftmost positions were quickly overrun by Soviet infantry but were pushed back by Polish sappers. The cavalry decided to take on the remaining Soviets and break through the left flank and hit the remaining Soviet infantry approaching the center but they ran into trouble and after a brief assault the Polish cavalry was forced to withdraw back into the city.

Soviet infantry now mustered another attempt to seize the church but were beaten back by the Sappers once more. On the opposite flank Soviet OT-26 tanks began spraying Polish foxholes with fire, uprooting the defenders. BA-10 and BT-5 tanks also successfully fired and killed Polish positions one by one. Aided by mortar fire and armoured vehicles the Soviets had towards the end of the battle wiped out all Polish heavy equipment and began mopping up the remaining infantry.

The defenders had lost 4 out of 8 platoons, and the remaining platoons were badly battered, the Soviets had lost 3 out of 9 platoons but the remaining were in a fairly good condition. The situation looked rather impossible for the Poles. They were on the verge of breaking and it would require a lot of luck to win. The Soviets were also sitting on top of one of the objectives by turn 8 and even though Polish infantry teams were tasked with the suicidal mission of contesting the objective it was only a matter of time until the defense was broken. Under this conditions I decided to surrender.

It was a great game, David could not believe he pulled off a victory as the look of my massed infantry force entrenched inside the city was looking very intimidating. However he played well and his mortars actually made a difference and accounted for a lot of kills.

Next scenario is the "defense of Grodno" which will conclude the "Belorussian front" operation. So far the operation score is 1-2 to the Soviet side.

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