This was the turn where everything really hit the fan, as Mark made huge gains on the Russian Front, while also advancing quickly to cut off the Tobruk defenders. I wouldn’t be surprised if he used a Ground Shock disband to really twist the bayonet into the gut of Mother Russia. My big chunk of reinforcements aren’t due for another 6 turns, meaning what I have now is all I get to defend against his very powerful attacks. It’s still early, but the level of anxiety is quickly rising.
After two assaults on the German bulge east of the city, I’ve successfully pushed back and captured a hex. Only one tank brigade was able to advance into the open space. I expect Mark to push me right back out. But German casualties were pretty high, all things considered. Ideally, I would have just shifted the 2nd Shock down to help out in other sectors, but opening up this access to Leningrad would be a very nice early victory for the Russian effort.
It seems Mark is going with the “all fronts” approach as well, as he’s launched an offensive from the top of the Rzhev salient with the XLVI. Panzer. It’s thrown a wrench into my plans to attack both sides of the salient, but I think I can manage this one. It seems like the German attack here is only to keep me from concentrating solely on his massive attacks to the south. The 20th Army has been moved from straddling the river, to now deploying completely north of the river to counter the German threat.
If I give up on my attacks here, Mark will have already won. So I’m going to continue putting pressure on either side of the Rzhev salient. Infantry divisions from the 1st Baltic Front have punctured the western wall of the salient, as I’ve flooded about 6 divisions into the gap. On the eastern side, the Western Front mechanized divisions are going back and forth with the IX. Korps. The pressure here must be doing something, because Mark’s moved the LVI. Panzer to support the front line against my attacks.
This is a new situation, one that didn’t pop up in the last game. Mark has sent the XLVIII. Panzer on an attack north toward Tula, using a Brandenburg airborne drop to assist the breakthrough. As the Russians crumbled, I was forced to strip the front line west of this area, moving extra divisions from the 16th and 50th Armies to help contain the Panzers’ advance. Originally destined for the Don Front, the 44th Army has been shipped up to a staging area southeast of Tula. Hopefully Mark doesn’t reach them before I can get them off the trains.
The 1st Shock Army and a few divisions from the 54th Army are staging for the defense of Yelets. This is a critical rail junction for both sides. The front line between Kursk and Orel is extremely thin and won’t hold for very long. The XXIV. Panzer and LV. Korps are leading the attack through this sector. Obviously, Yelets seems to be their likely objective.
Don Front - Rostov
Two Brandenburg airborne units have dropped behind the Don River line, but it might have been too soon. If I were Mark, I would have made a breakthrough, then drop the Brandenburgers as a real kill shot. But surprisingly, the entire Don Front region is in good shape for me. Much of my good spirits are due to the fact that the Axis forces haven’t really reached my main defensive line yet along the river. With so many places to ford the river, I don’t expect to hold this line as strongly as I would along the full Don River in the east.
There was a moment of sheer terror when I thought there was no Allied supply point at Tobruk, but it was for naught. The defense of Tobruk will be carried out by the main forces of the X and XIII Corps, fielding 3 infantry divisions, 1 armoured division, and assorted combat brigades. To the east, I’m beginning to plan my defensive line at El Alamein.