On the eve of Operation Barbarossa, SS-Kampfgruppe Nord was upgraded to a full SS Motorized Division. Not only the outfit’s designation was new to the men, but also their weapons and in many respects the whole concept of warfare. The attack route lay through rough and unknown terrain shrouded in a haze from the preparatory barrage and resulting fires. Under the worst possible conditions would the Nord troops receive their baptism.
On 1 July, Nord was to make a frontal attack on the Soviet positions in front of Salla while the 169 Infanterie Division attacked their northern flank. An opening barrage had some effect on the defenders, but more importantly set much of the forest on fire, which severely degraded visibility for the Stukas and artillery observers. The fire also prevented heavy weapons from supporting the infantry with direct fire on Soviet positions. The German infantry was unable to advance far and was stopped in its tracks by the Soviet border fortifications.
Check out these photos from the area during the battles:
ASL AAR: Adolf’s Amateurs (BoF5)
Module: Best of Friends Pack
Scenario Publisher: MMP
Scenario Designer: Mattias Rönnblom
Date: July 1, 1941
Location: Salla, Finland
Download the VASL .vsav setup file.
Download the VASL .vlog playthrough.
Attacker: German (SS) (Bataillon I, SS-Infanterie-Regiment 7, SS-Division “Nord” , XXXVI Armee-Korps and Gruppe Tölke, Panzer-Abteilung 40 zBV)
Why did I pick the Germans? Why do I do this to myself?
Here’s the problem everyone needs to know about. These are SS units, but they are considered Green units (thus the name of the scenario). If they are not stacked with a leader they have 3 MF (5 MF if they double time). Look at that terrain. To enter a stream hex is 3 MF, to exit a stream hex into a woods hex will cost 4 MF. These units will barely be able to move unless they’re constantly stacked with a mediocre leader, or use the road exposing them to defensive fire.
This is going to be a slow slog, but my plan is to split forces. The northern units will secure the top bridge, using it to cross the stream, then grab the northern building. After that they’ll sweep down the path into the village. The southern units I set up on the east side of the stream, avoiding it altogether. They will attempt to avoid the road (which might be mined) and move through the forest as quickly as possible. I want to avoid stream hexes if possible because they’ll slow me down … a lot!
My two AFVs (Pz IIID & Pz IIA) I plan on keeping out of the action unless absolutely necessary. They’re worth 1 VP each, and again Neal might have converted his AP mines into AT mines and placed them on the road.
This looks like a really interesting scenario, with a mix of strange strong/weak German SS and some rugged terrain. Let’s see how it plays out.
Defender: Russians (122nd Rifle Division and 2nd Tank Battalion, 1st Tank Regiment, 1st Tank Division)
I had to read the setup rules about three times because I was kind of surprised that the Russian player could set up his blaze counters after the German setup AND choose the wind direction.
After seeing Scott’s setup the wheels in my rusty brain began to turn. I applied some lube and came up with a plan that might significantly hamstring about 50% of his German forces. I don’t have a lot of units to cover the Russian advance, so I have to delay as much as possible while losing as few units as possible. To do this I placed the 3 Blaze counters right in front of his southern units. The scenario starts with a Mild Breeze, so I picked the wind to blow to the northwest. The Blaze cuts off his movement (units can’t enter terrain Blaze locations) and shrouds much of that area in dispersed smoke. This forces his units around that area, and into the stream. Entering each stream hex would cost 4 MF with the smoke, so any unit not stacked with a leader would have to double-time … to move 1 hex! To get out of the stream into a woods hex would cost 5 MF!
That should slow down those units a lot. The only problem is on a wind change DR of 10+ Gusty winds can kick up and blow all the smoke away. Let’s just hope I get lucky in the first couple turns, at least.
Once play starts the Russians need to play a very careful, cat-and-mouse fallback game. I need to fall back just fast enough so the Germans can’t get a lot of firepower on my Russian units, but not too fast so they are able to advance quickly. Once near the village I’ll jump into the buildings and foxhole and wait for the inevitable rush to capture VPs … if I survive that long.
To keep Scott honest with his AFVs, I converted the 6 AP mine factors into 2 AT mine factors and placed them in the hex just over the southern bridge. If he decides to bring his tanks to bear he could easily lose one or both of them, but I guess he just keeps them in the back to protect the 2 VPs they’re worth.
Let the action begin!
The Video AAR (48:39):
.END OF BRIEFING.
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Great replay. I really liked the format. I knew things were going to go against Scott when he said it was snowing.
Maybe the snow could have help dampen the fires. 😁