As we speak battles are, or have, raged back and forth across the landscape with almost eerily similar results to what happened in July, 1943.
The German D One objectives proved way too difficult to seize due to Soviet resistance belts and constant counter attacks. The Germans, not aware historically anyways, of the gathering strength of the Soviet 3rd Tank Army, continued their contingency planning to seize Ponyri based on encountered resistance.
We are about to reach the dramatic apex and fury of the German assaults before the Soviet counterattacks really begin in earnest. Can the Germans break the stubborn Soviet defenses? The campaign is following the progress of the 292 ID, 6th and 18th Panzer Divisions, and to a lesser extent 86th and 78th ID's.
What follows is an excerpt from the WARNING ORDER sent from XXXXI Panzer Corps on the evening of July 6th to commands of the 292nd, 86th, and 78th Infantry Divisions after the evening orders group....(not real - this is actually from my email to Jack and the Duc de Gobin)
|The Germans are struggling to maintain a safe foothold with which to attack Ponyri itself|
XXXXI Corps is on the move. 292nd Infanterie, supported by 86th and 78th infanterie divisions, will continue the attack.
292nd will have the honor of assaulting Ponyri itself however the corps commander with some urging from FM Model has devised an ambitious plan for July 7th.
We must seize Shirokoye Bulotev at all costs.
Aerial reconaissance has detected large columns of soviet armor moving north. This can only be the counterattacks mentioned by the abwehr that could be expected no later than july 8th. Intelligence anticipates soviet attacks will only grow stronger after today so we must seize Shirokoye Bulotev and with it the ability to strike all of our objectives from the north simultaneously along 3 x axes.
Additionally capturing Shirokoye will cut off an additional soviet battalion from supply. The Shirokoye assault will be supported by corps rocket artillery and assault pioneers.
Additionally, the Corps Commander wishes to bypass Butyrki and seize Karpunevka, a Soviet supply source on July 7th. The luftwaffe will support the karpunevka operation with stukas and corps is providing dedicated heavy guns in support.
As you can see, this turn will be pivotal, almost exactly as July 6th-7th were for the "real" troops of the XXXXI Corps during Kursk.
On our map, the Germans must capture Shirokoye in order to be able to attack the other objectives on the same turn (1 May and Hill 253). Additionally, the 292nd is advancing into Ponyri just as they did on 6-7 July, also from the west. Ken committed almost similar resources to what were historically there during the real battle, as did Alex.
Jack is fighting the Karpunevka battle, and while that is for a "supply source" in OUR game, in the real war, the fighting around Snova was to try and outflank what the Germans referred to as "Ponyri 2" in an effort to outflank the Ponyri positions. What they found, in real life, were dug in T-34s and Guards infantry waiting for them along pre-planned and canalized attack routes that were strewn with mines and pre sighted with heavy artillery. The Germans committed their panzer reserves here and shot their bolt. The Soviet generals sensing this, launched savage and bitter counterattacks on subsequent days.
Our campaign is also taking a dramatic turn because the Soviet capabilities for offense will only increase after turn 3 in terms of equipment and attack "arrows" they can place. Additionally, German initiative is no longer guarunteed after turn 3 which will make winning for the Germans that much more difficult. My hopes are that the commanders feel the acute pressure their historical counterparts felt to take and hold objectives. The Germans to advance and win, and the Soviets to hold on long enough for more troops to be thrown into the fight.
Nothing on the timetables can be left to chance!
My other hope is that the readers and participants have enjoyed following the campaign and playing in the campaign as much as I have enjoyed overseeing it.
Let's see what happens in Karpunevka and Shirkoye this weekend. The assault on Ponyri from the west may be the subject of a special game next weekend!