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Call To Arms 2005: "Alsfeld" Mega-Game - The Fighting Intensifies PDF Print E-mail
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Games - Game Reports
Wednesday, 31 August 2005 00:01
Article Index
Call To Arms 2005: "Alsfeld" Mega-Game
The Fighting Intensifies
Darkness Draws Near
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AlsfeldIn the Northern Sector the 27th GMRD rapidly crossed the river in a steep valley and the first of the BTR MRRs (with BTR-80's & T-80's) advanced to the lip of the plateau beyond (albeit through some concealed NATO minefields); while the Division’s BMP MRR (BMP-2's & T-80's) conducted a separate crossing on the Southern Flank of the Division followed by the Tank Regiment (with T-80s), covering the open terrain between it and the 57th GMRD at Alsfeld. Upon cresting the Northern Plateau the leading BTR MRR however came under heavy fire from concealed Challengers of 7th British Armoured Brigade supported by occasional ATGM fire from the supporting Warrior mounted infantry.

A determined advance following traditional doctrine only resulted in heavy casualties to the 2 leading Motor Rifle Battalions (MRB) & the supporting companies of the MRR's Tank Battalion (T-80s), quickly rendering them hors d’ combat in less than an hour. Across the river a bit of a log-jam at the primary river crossing meanwhile restricted the crossing of parts of the second BTR MRR and many of the Divisional assets for a couple of hours until the tail of the leading regiments had passed.

Late in the game when 1st US Armoured Brigade arrivesRight: The mass in the middle late in the game when 1st US Armoured Brigade (from 3rd US Armoured Division) has rushed in to plug the gap!

Meanwhile in the centre the Soviet 57th GMRD (with T-72's, BTR-60's, & BMP-1s) accompanied by the Czechs crossed rapidly entering the outskirts of Alsfeld and the surrounding country either side. Mixed Soviet & Czech forces rapidly entered the town initiating some brutal street fighting with the 54th West German Heimatschütz Territorial Brigade – this later consisting of just 2 Battalions of non-motorised Infantry and a Panzer Battalion of older M48s and the whole formation being very weak in ATGWs, Heavy Support Weapons, and Communications Equipment. The German Territorial Commander however had endeavoured to increase his manpower by urgently calling for volunteers for a Volksgrenadier formation the day before, resulting in a weak battalion of additional troops of unknown value (and with small-arms only and no AT or Heavy Weapons). The Soviet plan expected that either NATO would avoid directly defending Alsfeld (to avoid costly urban fighting) and thereby indirectly allow a rapid breakthrough in the very centre of their position; or worst case that they would feel compelled to defend it and hopefully draw their central reserves into a bloody town fight leaving the flanks of the town exposed, "...in either case a penetration in the centre should be possible by going through or around the town..." stated the Soviet 8th Guards Army Orders of the Day.

Action in the middle of the gameLeft: Its all go in the middle of the game! Not sure what Keith's doing (third from left) down the opposite end of the table from his command poking around behind Soviet lines - considering he is commanding a British Armoured Brigade (that's in the foreground on the right)! Jake Collins (57th Guards MRD), is on left negotiating with the British Command opposite in the centre sector (Anthony - sitting, Mike, and Paul closest to camera on right). On the left between Jake & Keith talking to Keith is Rhys Batchelor, the Soviet C-in-C.

In the South the 39th MRD was facing a fairly rugged area, much of it was covered by a large dense wood and South of that an open valley leading away from the river, but covered by a significant dominating ridgeline to the West. While the bulk of the Division endeavoured to break out into that valley, the BMP MRR crossed directly opposite the wooded area and headed for the 35th West German Panzergrenadier Brigade which was ensconced in and beyond the woods & the flank of the 43rd Dutch Brigade.

Late in the game - aerial view of the tableRight: Later in the game - Soviet forces are pushing forward along most of the line and the infamous 27th GMRD Chemical Strike is visible on the right (yellow area).

In the Northern Sector the arrival of Lynx Helicopters further stiffened the anti-tank defence and the 27th GMRD began to take heavy casualties, losing large numbers of T-80’s and BTR-80s. As losses mounted and the second BTR MRR was thrown in, the Soviet Command authorised a limited tactical chemical weapon strike once communications with the forward units were successful (NATO had put the bulk of its jamming & ECM efforts into the Northern Sector and this was primarily affecting the 27th GMRD who had virtually no communications for the entire morning and early afternoon); The Chemical Attack primarily hit the forward positions of the British Royal Hussars (Challengers) and the supporting 3rd Queens Regiment (in Warriors). In a day of infamy, after suffering some casualties, the British battalions broke and abandoned their positions to flee the persistent chemical strike zone straggling back through the few remaining British positions in disorder. Unfortunately Alsfeld and surroundsSoviet casualties in the North were so high that insufficient forces were left to exploit this temporary breach and to their credit the British Battalions quickly reformed and were back in a new line within an hour of the initial strike – but without thorough decontamination it was likely the survivors would suffer ongoing effects over the coming days… The Soviet Command had gambled that a small enough strike would not prompt a similar NATO response or an escalation and it seemed to have paid off but had failed to capitalise on it.

Left: Alsfeld and surrounds - Soviet forces are in and through the town, and spreading out on either side as well as penetrating deep into the NATO positions!

Back in the Centre the Czechs (with T-55’s & OT-64’s) and some Soviet support had continued to grind their way through Alsfeld and now held about two-thirds of the town; while either side the bulk of the 57th GMRD (with T-72's, a few supporting T-64s, BTR-60's, & BMP-1s) advanced and drove back first the Heimatschütz Brigade’s supporting armour and then elements of the British central reserve from 12th Armoured Brigade.

Where do we start?Right: "Where do we start?" Some serious work ahead for Rhys (Soviet C-in-C) and Jake (57th Guards MRD). 68th Guards MRR from the 27th GMRD is just visible at bottom right of photo waiting to cross the river. The white markers on points along the river denote where bridging operations have been successful and one or more Soviet Pontoon Bridges are in existence. NATO did not conduct a forward defence so little interference with these operations occurred and only one half-hearted air strike was subsequently made against any of the pontoon bridges along the whole front.

By mid-afternoon the 22nd British Armoured Brigade (Chieftains with a Battalion of FV432 equipped Infantry) was dispatched from the central reserve to reinforce the Southern front. Here the 39th MRD had made good progress despite not committing it’s Tank Regiment, and the stout defence of the Dutch was gradually being pushed back with steady casualties while in the wood the West German Panzergrenadiers were also being slowly pushed back – if the 39th MRD had had more than T-62’s in it’s inventory the result might have been more climatic versus the Dutch in the open Southern flank. NATO frantically committed the bulk of its air support in this region, but the 39th MRD and supporting AA assets downed large numbers of NATO attack planes (approximately the equivalent of 2 squadrons of Phantoms and another of Alpha Jets – around 35 aircraft in total)!Aerial view of the Southern end of the battlefield The Regimental AA assets earned further glory in 39th MRD when the effectiveness of the ZSU-23/4 Shilka’s for close range ground fighting in the heavy woods was discovered – resulting in them being deployed with the forward elements of the BMP-1 equipped MRBs and used to literally blast the West Germans out of their positions (thankfully for the Germans the Soviet MRRs had only 1 company of these each). Meanwhile their T-64 Tank Regiment had moved off to support 57th GMRD's successful penetration in the centre. It is now highly likely the 39th MRD will be elevated to Guards status post campaign due to their heroic efforts at Alsfeld.

Above: Aerial view of the Northern end of the battlefield near the end - 68th Guards MRR is making it's river crossing in the centre of the picture in conjunction with most of the 28th Guards TR (these represent the cream of the 27th Guards MRD; the remainder of the Division having been committed with limited success across the river on the high ground to the right and decimated by the 7th British Armoured Brigade - although they did prevent them assisting the NATO centre resisting 57th GMRD).

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