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Partisan Operations

The partisans operating behind German lines on the Russian front gave the Germans problems. Yet when you look at a more detailed analysis, the partisans didn’t cause as many problems as they ought to have done, but this was perhaps due to two factors. Firstly in Soviet eyes one of the main purposes of the partisans was to dominate ground and ensure that the Communist Party was still in effective control of much of the population. The second factor was that whilst the Soviet government did give the partisans considerable aid with personnel for training, as well as arms, the Germans still managed to take steps to disperse major concentrations. The shortage of decent roads meant that the few railways were even more important. So the occupying Germans had a considerable number of men tied up in static security. These served to keep sabotage down to an acceptable level except during major operations. If possible, OKH would release front line units to mount major anti-partisan operations. The German plan was often based on the idea that you would crush the partisans clustering on your lines of communications and get the troops you had committed back to the front before the next Soviet offensive.

This scenario is based on some of the operations that took place in early 1944. By this stage of the war, the Soviet government had managed to train at least some partisan units to a level where the Germans considered them to be about 40% as effective as a German front line unit.

The scenario is simple. But it’s as much a guide to how Hell in Microcosm plays as a straight scenario.

The German force.

There are the troops committed to the operation. Drawn from various sources some may have worked together before. You are now their commander.

A front line infantry regiment of two battalions.

These have come with the Regimental Infantry gun company and the Regimental Anti-tank company. They have also brought with them two 105mm artillery batteries from the division.

Because these battalions have the 1944 organisation I’m going to count them as already stiffened by a heavy weapons company, so allow for the greater proportion of heavy weapons that they had.

To discover the strength of each battalion roll d6+8

Two Battalions drawn from a Security division.

The men, Landesschutzen (often translated as militia), were drawn from older age groups and were not as fit as front line troops, had fewer heavy weapons and were less well trained.

They have fetched from their division a heavy weapons company and a 75mm artillery battery.

To discover the strength of each battalion roll d6+6

Three SS Battalions.

These are recruited from non-Germans living in the East and are largely restricted to anti-partisan operations. They have got one 75mm artillery battery in support. They also have a company of tanks. Admittedly they’re French, but they’re still the only tanks on the board. They also have one heavy weapons company between them.

To discover the strength of each battalion roll d6+6

The Partisans.

There are 6+d6 bands, each has d12 strength points per band. At the start of the game the player can amalgamate bands provided this does not take their combined strength over 15. It is assumed that this process has been carried out by senior officers brought in from the Red Army to take charge.

The three largest bands (after amalgamation) will be treated as Green Regulars. The others are Irregulars (downgraded from Green Regular Infantry).

There are heavy weapons available, the partisan force has

  • One battery of 120mm mortars to give indirect artillery support. It can fire using maps or can be called in to support a regular battalion.
  • Two companies of heavy weapons
  • One infantry gun company.
  • One engineer company, (admittedly they’re mainly there to train people how to blow up trains, but they have also been building fixed defensive positions.)

The terrain

When you look at the map, you’ll see that it’s all woodland except for a few open areas. Troops can move through the woodland without penalty, there are enough paths, rides, unmarked roads and similar. The open areas still have trees in them, just not as many. The villages are a tactical irrelevance. Similarly the road has no tactical significance (it’s almost certainly mined so movement is slower than ‘across country’.)
The railway has great strategic significance, it is guarded along its length by at least a battalion’s worth of line of communication troops, but both the railway and the guards are busy. They have their own jobs to do and will not get involved in this battle.

You’ll notice that I’ve gridded the map but this is largely because it makes it easier for me to describe the game to you. If you fancy playing this out, the squares are about five kilometres across. So and infantry unit will take three moves to cross one.

Deploying the forces.

Note that in the rules there is a bonus for troops who try to infiltrate along the boundary between two units. It adds 15% to the chance of successfully infiltrating. So in this particular game I would deduct 10% if the two battalions are from the same regiment, or 5% if they just happen to speak the same language. So regimental integrity does matter. Also you can swap stiffening units every move without penalty if you want, but not if the units they’re moving between are some distance apart.

Germans

For the German I’ve setting this up for ‘Hammer and Anvil.’

1st Regular Battalion 10 strength points, Normal

2nd Regular Battalion 11sp, Normal

1st Militia Battalion (1M)   11sp, Green

2nd Militia Battalion (2M)    9sp, Green

1st SS Battalion (1SS)       8sp, Normal

2nd SS Battalion (2SS)      10sp, Normal

3rd SS Battalion (3SS)        7sp, Normal

You can see where I’ve put them on the map. I felt that 3rd SS would be safer extending the line with the two regular battalions covering its flanks and attacking strongly.

Partisans.

A dice throw gives us 11 bands.

  1. 8sp
  2. 3sp
  3. 1sp
  4. 5sp
  5. 3sp
  6. 9sp
  7. 8sp
  8. 4sp
  9. 10sp
  10.  5sp
  11.  7sp


So a simple process of amalgamation, 1,2, and 3 become A with 12sp. 4 and 6 become B, with 14sp. 5, 7 and 8 become C with 15sp, 9 becomes D with 10sp and 10 and 11 become E with 12. So we have

  1. 12sp   Green Irregulars
  2. 14sp   Green Regulars
  3. 15sp   Green Regulars
  4. 10sp   Green Irregulars
  5. 12sp   Green Regulars.

The partisans are set up in Rows 2 and 3 on the map (if there are too many for 2 rows, then they go into row 1). Just roll at random. I’ve set them up on the map as well. Partisans can be in Prepared Defence at the start of the game if they want.

Aims and objectives.

  • Germans. To smash as many partisan bands as possible.
  • Partisans. To get as many bands as possible of the top edge of the map, through the blocking force.
Move 1

I played this solo, so I wore two hats, and both sides have assessed their intelligence reports and came up with their plans.

The partisans have decided that they will keep E and B in place, dug in. A, C and D will move north with alacrity.

The German plan demands that the anvil in the north moves east to block the assumed flight of A, C and D.

Of the attackers, 1st Regulars, stiffened with the Infantry gun company will attack Partisan battalion E, 2nd Regulars, stiffened with the Anti-tank company will attack Partisan Battalion B. At the same time 3rd SS will move north east with 2nd Regulars.

At the end of the first move 1st Regulars and 2nd Regulars are close enough to halt and make a prepared attack. It is decided that they will call down their regiment’s artillery to do unobserved fire on partisan battalion B.

In simple terms, somebody’s just looking at the map and working on the principle there’ll be partisans there.

So the artillery is d8 per battery, because they’re artillery and mortars up to 105 mm. Each battery gets +1 because they’re the same calibre and firing at the same target. Then because it is unobserved fire, this gives two shifts up the table, so d8 becomes d4. So we have 2d4+2 which gives a total of 8

The target gets d12 for prepared defence. This drops to d10 because they’re green, back to d12 because it’s close country. They roll a 12 so the artillery had no effect.

In the north the blocking force moves South East to try and cut the partisans off. 2nd SS is stiffened by the tank company and the heavy weapons company as it has inadvertently found itself the point of the spear. This means that 1st SS isn’t stiffened at all.

Of the Militia, 2nd M has got the heavy weapons company.

For the Partisans the mortars with their 6,000m range are stationed well behind Partisan battalion B where they hope to be able to give support to B or C. (Battalion D cannot contact them because they’re irregulars without the training or communications.)

Partisan battalion B gets a heavy weapons company because the command want it to hold out as long as possible. Partisan Battalion C gets the gun company and the engineer company. Partisan battalion E gets the other heavy weapons company.

Move 2.
Germans.

1st Regulars and 2nd Regulars both prepare to attack. The northern force continue to move south east. They’re advancing in hasty attack in case they run into anybody.

It is decided that 2nd Regulars need to win swiftly so the Germans concentrate their artillery on battalion B. They’re now in contact with B so their artillery observers can see real Partisans. Thus the artillery get 2d8+2 scoring 13.

The defenders are still on d12 and get 5.

A difference of 8, B take a pasting and lose 4sp. They’re now 10sp strong.

Partisans. In the north they continue to advance (in hasty attack) and it is decided to bring the mortars down on 2nd Regulars, to try and break up the coming attack.

Here the mortars roll a d10. They roll a 9, the high reputation of the Russian artillerist lives on.

The target get d8 because they’re moving into prepared attack. They are in close country but they don’t get the one dice shift in their favour because they’re moving about (preparing to attack). They roll a 4

A difference of 5, the Germans lose 2sp bringing them down to 9sp

Move 3

Both German battalions launch their attacks.

1st Regulars are 10sp strong, but stiffened by two companies their strength is brought up to 14 (so roll a d12 as normal infantry) and they are stiffened by an infantry gun company (+3) and a heavy weapons company (+3). They get +2 for prepared attack. So they score 11

If a battalion is stiffened by a company it gets extra manpower, but also it gets a bonus to the die roll depending on who is stiffening what. So, for example, an infantry heavy weapons company gives a bigger plus to the dice if it’s stiffening infantry or cavalry than if it’s being used to stiffen heavy armour.

Partisan battalion E is 12sp strong, (so roll a d8 as green infantry) and isn’t stiffened at all. But it gets +2 for prepared defence and another +2 defending in close country. It scores 13.

A difference of 2 means the fighting continues in the same place, the Germans lose 1 point and the partisans lose one if they roll an odd number. They do so they lose 1 point each.

Across where 2nd Regulars are attacking Partisan battalion B, 2nd Regulars are 10sp strong but also get 4sp from the two stiffening companies, and roll a d12. The battalion is stiffened by a heavy weapons company (+3) and an anti-tank company (+3). It gets +2 for prepared attack, and -1 for being under artillery fire. It too scores 11.

The partisans are 10sp, increased to 12sp by the stiffening company. As Green regulars they roll a d8. They are stiffened by a heavy weapons company (+3), are in prepared defence (+2) and under artillery fire, -1

They score 5.

With a difference of 6 they lose 3sp (and in this case the Germans lose another 1) but also the partisans are driven back out of their defences.

In the north, the blocking force all stop at the end of the move aiming to go into prepared defence by move 5

Partisan turn

1st Regulars are now 9sp (+4sp) strong, so they still roll a d10 and have the same bonuses. They score 14.

Partisan Battalion E is now 11sp strong. It still rolls a d8 as green infantry and gets the same bonuses. They too score 14.

A draw so no casualties and the fighting continues.

2nd Regulars are 9sp (+4sp) strong and still roll a d12. They get the same bonuses and deductions as before and they score 11.

The partisan Battalion B are now 7sp (+2sp), Green regulars. They roll a d6. They get the same bonuses for being stiffened but they have lost their prepared defence. They are still under artillery fire. They score 5.

Again a difference of 6 so they lose another 3sp and this time the Germans lose nothing. The partisans are again driven back and the battalion itself is below half strength so it has to take a morale test. In the current circumstances they have to roll a d10 and get below their current strength of 4. They roll a 6. They fall back in a state of hasty defence for 4 kilometres. The stiffening heavy weapons company falls back with them, and the mortar company also decamps abruptly.

Conclusions

I’m going to leave things just as they get interesting. Die roll by die roll accounts of games can grow boring. But I hope you’ve got some idea as to how the game can work and develop.

As it is, the German hammer is working reasonably well. Partisan battalion E is holding out better than anybody might have hoped, but next move the Germans should destroy what is left of Partisan battalion B. Then they have one comparatively strong regular battalion and a weak SS battalion ready to strike into the rear of the northern Partisan forces. Mind you, it will probably take them a couple more moves to move into position. Especially if they want to mount a prepared attack. So the Partisans have time to try and break out before they have to watch their backs. Perhaps one of the partisan units will try and be subtle and infiltrate their men through the lines?

♥♥♥♥

If you’ve not come across Hell in Microcosm yet, they’re available from Wargame Vault in pdf for £4

https://www.wargamevault.com/product/382341/Hell-in-Microcosm

And also from Amazon, as a paperback for £9.50 or on Kindle for £4

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