Axis Kriegs Tagesbuck - Op Barbarossa

Operation Barbarossa – June to September 1942 (Posted Mar 2012)


The battle for MOSCOW continued through the summer with slow gains being made at great cost. Initial attacks by By 18GR failed to prevent a slow grinding attack by 102, 258 and 268 infantry divisions pushing 40 and 41 rifle divisions eastwards As the season wore on, the Soviets were pushed back beyond artillery range of MOSCOW towards GORKY, and in October, Army Group Centre began to prepare for winter, constructing elaborate defensive lines.

ARMY GROUP SOUTH – Fall Blau (Blue)

Phase 1

Army Group Centre attacked on the boundaries of Moscow and W fronts,taking TULA, STALINGORSK and the line of the railway from MOSCOW to RYASAN.

Phase 2

Army Group South  attacked on the axis of KURSK to VORONESH on the southern boundary of W front with SW front, opening a gap in the front that isolated W front from both its flanks.

Phase 3 – The battle for GIROVKA bend

 Attacks by XLIV and XXIX Korps were intended to secure the bridges around KHARKOV prior to a sweeping advance by 1Pz Korps to STALINGRAD, isolating S front entirely.

This phase failed, necessitating the use of 1Pz Korps and 14Pz to clear the area. The opportunity for a strategic sweep south to isolate S front was lost when 1 Rom Mtn corps collapsed in the area of TAGENROG.

The Rasputitsa brought an end to operations as it swept south from the end of September and phase 4 was cancelled finally in September. On September 24 1942  Franz Halder, Chief of the OKW was dismissed* by MiniHitler, who ordered all forces to take the defensive and stand fast except for some small sectors in the gap between Army Groups Centre and South. Major reorganisation of the front began as armoured forces were pulled back for rest and refit, and infantry formations replenished their strength after the summer fighting.

Operation Barbarossa – April to June 1942 (Posted Dec 2011)


The battle for MOSCOW ground to a halt as the Rasputitsa made logistic supply and movement difficult in the extreme. Army Group Centre had weathered the winter crisis and felt confident that the summer offensive would see the drive to GORKY continue. Army Group Centre reserves consist of 3 Pz Gp (V, VI Inf Corps and XXXIX, LVIIMot Corps), with 9th Army (VIII, XX Corps) in the lineto the North and 4th Army (VII, XIII, LVIII Corps) to the South of MOSCOW. Holding the city was VII Corps comprising 258 and 268 Inf Divs. The initial phase of Kloster was conducted byVII Corps attacking the Northeastern quarter of the city whilst XXXIX Mot Corps attacked the Southeastern quarter with 14 and 20 Inf Divs whilst 7 Pz and 20 PzGren divisions attacked in a tight sweep around the South of the City to compensate for their poor supply situation.

7 Pz and 20 PzGren Divisions attack in a tight sweep around the South of MOSCOW

Soviet resistance was fragmented at first to the East of MOSCOW, as it seemed that Soviet forces had been caught forming up for a major attack. Resistance inside the City was fierce however and necessitated the armoured hook turning back into the Eastern suburbs to assist in mopping up operations and to prevent breakouts to the East.
To the North of the City LVII Korps made little headway, but broke up a major attack with Soviet tanks and motorised troops. Elements of 1st Shock Army were identified amongst the dead.

What the Regrouping Means

Until this part of the campaign, I had been inspired by Frank Chadwick’s Bathtub Barbarossa campaign, and indeed his approach had been instrumental in producing a maneagable campaign, particularly his Europa series of hex-grid maps.
Frank’s campaign scaled everything down 25 times and instead of 3 German Army Groups invading Russia, he had 3 Corps and the whimsically named Klein Deutschland regiment. Initially, I followed that approach. The time had come though to introduce a more satisfactory (for me that is, nothing wrong with the way Frank did it) scaling system. I kept the original orders of battle but downsized each unit by 3 levels of command, representing an Infantry division with an NQM-sized infantry battalion.
NQM German infantry battalion from the Author’s collection
It worked for me, but from this point on, the war diaries will have a fracture in them The 3 German Corps will disappear to be replaced by their historical Army Groups (Armeekorps) and subunits. This last statement is only true to a point, because the NQM Barbarossa campaign has departed somewhat from history already. Proir to this post, all of the battles had been fought using my 20mm collection. In fine Soviet style, all previous  shots of my 15mm collection have been assembled after the event for illustrative propaganda purposes!
NQM German Panzer Battalion from the author’s collection. Each model represents approximately 30 tanks
Operation Barbarossa – March 1942


Soviet forces continue to assault into the suburbs of MOSCOW without a pause in the battle. 3 FE Corps swings SOUTH into the the Battle, with Army engineers forcing a river crossing to the SOUTH of MOSCOW. Rivers are still frozen, but engineers are beginning to be concerned about the ability of the ice to take the weight of vehicles. 1 Cav Corps exploits the gap and outflanks the SOUTH of the city until stopped by pickets from Recce Bn / 1 Pz Div.

Soviet cavalry from Phil Steele’s collection sweep all before them

In the city centre, battle outposts of 4 and 5 Inf Regts are driven in until the main defended line to the EAST of the river is engaged. The PAULUS line is manned by  Grossdeutchland division. Repeated attacks are driven off, but the division is gradually forced back to the KREMLIN. By the end of the month, the spring thaw is beginning to set in.

Operation Barbarossa – February 1942


Engr Bn / 2 Inf Div defending the outskirts of the airfield to the SOUTH of MOSCOW comes under attack from advance elements of 4 GD Mech Bde. the perimeter is buckling, when it is reinforced by elements of Recce Bn / 3 Inf Div and 8 Regt / 3 Inf Div sent NORTH to MOSCOW from PODOLSK.
February sees plummeting temperatures and heavy snowfalls affect the ability of both sides to conduct operations, but in the teeth of a snowstorm, 3GD  Inf regiment launches a counterattack against the penetration of 3 Rifle division / 1 FE Corps. The attack, made with Sturmgeshutz support, drives  3 Rifle division back to their start lines outside MOSCOW and effectively destroys it as a fighting force. Losses to 3 Regt / Grossdeutchland are light and it withdraws after being relieved in the line by  3 Inf battalion / 6 Regt  / 2 Inf Div.

Through gaps in the weather, reconnaissance flights noted groups of Soviet infantry marching to the NORTH of MOSCOW to outflank the defences.

To the SOUTH of MOSCOW 7 Tk Div and  4  GD Mech Bde attack the airfield, . The attack is driven off with much difficulty. Further SOUTH 3 FE Army launches 36 Div and 37 Div with artillery support against TULA, which is held by  2Bn / 9 Regt / 3 Inf Div and STALNOGORSK respectively. General FRITZ-HUBERT GRAESER, commander of  3 Div orders that TULA , PODOLSK and SERNUKOV are to be held at all costs. The bridges at SERNUKOV and JN 3916 are to be denied to the enemy, although the value of this is limited given the depth of ice on the frozen rivers.
TULA holds through to the middle of the month as successive waves of troops attack it. As the weather improves, the Luftwaffe is able to attack the forming up areas of the enemy with Heinkel He 111 heavy bombers making a rare tactical appearance over the front lines. Even this effort is unable to prevent TULA falling to the enemy.
Tb – 3 (not one of mine, alas)
Operation Barbarossa – January 1942


Heavy attacks along the line announce the start of the Soviet winter offensive on MOSCOW. The rearguard of  1 Pz Div holding the outskirts of MOSCOW is forced back by a series of set-piece attacks delivered with great determination and no small loss of life to the Soviet infantry. Radio traffic intercepts identify three full Soviet armies supported by armour and artillery.
On the SOUTHERN  flank 5 GD Motor Rifle Div captures the main defensive positions in front of MOSCOW. 4 Rifle Div / 2 FE Corps is identified taking the positions spanning the two main roads entering MOSCOW  to the EAST and SOUTHEAST. In the centre,  5 Rifle Div / 2 FE Corps attacks a strong position astride the VLADIMIR-MOSCOW road held by 1Bn / 4 Regt / 2 Inf Div. This position holds firm throughout January and February against repeated attacks.
Further NORTH, the defenders (1Bn / 4 Regt / 2 Inf Div) have less success against 1 FE Corps. The division is slowly forced back into the suburbs of MOSCOW resisting stubbornly , but succumbing to three successive waves of attacking infantry. The division is split in two as the attackers force their way to Red Square and the Kremlin.
Soviet Tank Corps on parade before the war
Operation Barbarossa – December 1941


MOSCOW is declared a fortress city by order of Hitler. The defences put in place by the Soviets, which were mostly to the WEST of MOSCOW are supplemented be extensive works to the EAST. Extensive minefields and battle outposts are built by corps troops and 1 Pz Div to the WEST of VLADIMIR. KOLOMNA is fortified and held as a battle outpost.
Soviet attacks begin along the whole front and VLADIMIR is retaken. Soviet air forces discover the position of 1 Bn / 1 Pz Regt and bomb it heavily, which forces it to move back to the WEST of MOSCOW. 1 Pz Bn’s locations continue to be bombed long after the positions have been vacated. MOSCOW airfield is also bombed. This seriously compromises the Luftwaffe’s ability to support the ground troops, as all air support is being flown from secure bases in MINSK.
By the end of December, the Soviets have recaptured VLADIMIR and pushed forward to the Axis battle outposts. 5 Atk Bn is instrumental in stopping 7 Tk Div in its tracks. The Soviets appear to be making preparations for a formal attack on MOSCOW as the thermometer plummets and the ground begins to freeze hard.

ARMY GROUP SOUTH – Fall Taifun - (Typhoon)

The Italians in KHARKOV attempt to close a pincer movement in concert with the Romanians in ROSTOV, meeting at the GROVKA RIDGE to seal off KHARKOV. This is defeated by troops in the KHARKOV pocket who are hastily formed into an ad-hoc division centred on a spare headquarters refitting to the East of GROVKA. Partisans assisted in driving the Romanian Garrison out of GROVKA itself.
5th Antitank Battalion
Operation Barbarossa – October 1941

ARMY GROUP CENTRE – Fall Verwuestung – (Havoc)

Battle for Moscow

The month begins with heavy Soviet counterattacks from the East, in deteriorating weather that severely reduced the mobility of Axis armour and air support. Inside the city GD Inf Div took advantage of firm going and cautiously pressed home attacks that allowed 2 Inf Corps attacks to make good progress from the West. For a while the whole battle hung in the balance. 16 Pz Rifle Div  managed to break through to the Airfield, and fight off counterattacks from the East. Casualties were heavy on all sides as the Luftwaffe was operating at the limit of it’s ability, and intermittent weather favoured the Soviets, whose airfields were much closer to the front. Deteriorating weather brought much of the fighting to an end by the end of the month

Battle for Orel and Tula – Fall Klemheist – (a climbing knot)

3 Inf Div attacks OREL then TULA in  a two stage operation. 7 Inf Regt takes moderate casualties (equivalent to 1 Bn of troops) but completely destroys 20 Rifle Div. 8 Inf Regt was delayed in phase II of the operation by a light recce and anti-tank screen WEST of the TULA/OREL road. It goes on to take TULA causing 60% casualties on 30 Reserve Rifle Div. Motorcycle Bn / 3Div  pushes EAST to attack a Soviet gun line to the EAST of OREL, which had contributed to most of 7 Inf Regt’s casualties. Motorcycle Bn / 3Div  is repulsed and suffers moderate losses. In a second wave attack 7 Inf Regt overruns the gun line. Due to poor local weather, neither side is able to deploy air assets in the battle.

1/144 Stuka from the Author’s collection

Operation Barbarossa – September 1941

ARMY GROUP CENTRE - Fall Verwuestung – (Havoc)

Battle for Moscow

13 Inf Div  begins the battle by assaulting the Western approaches ofMOSCOW, preceded by heavy air and artillery bombardment. It is repelled by a firm defence. The freshly arrived Gross Deutschland (GD) Inf Div encircles MOSCOW to the North, and 1 Pz Div does likewise to the South. Divisional Engineers throw hasty bridges and ferries over the R. MOSKVA. Recce Aircraft observe large columns of vehicles and refugees streaming East out of MOSCOW. GD Inf Div eventually breaks through to Red Square from the North to find bridges over the R. MOSKVA intact. The month ends with the North and East of MOSCOW in Axis hands. Soviet defence centred around Industrial areas to the South and the Airport, where fighters continued to fly until the very last moment.

ARMY GROUP SOUTH – Fall Taifun – (Typhoon)

On to Stalino

4 Army breaches the line of Soviet defences on the DNEPROPETROVSK – KHARKOV railway and pushes on to STALINO. Heavy Soviet counterattacks prevent progress, but a Corps recce unit sweeping East finds a minor road between  DNEPROPETROVSK and KHARKOV to be open. Kampfgruppe Paulus is created from mobile engineer, anti-tank and recce troops. It races east and takes STALINO unopposed by the end of the month. Meanwhile, the Hungarians encircle KHARKOV.

The Romanian Southern Pincer

“Certain phrases stick in the throat, even if they offer nothing that is analytically improbable. ‘A dashing Swiss Officer’ is one such” 
John Russell ‘PARIS – 1860′

The leisurely advance of Romanian Field Army halts outside DNEPROPETROVSK to invest it, but 3 Rom division finds an unguarded bridge over the R. DNIEPR, exploits it, and captures ZAPOROZHA. 2 Rom division passes through and heads East to link up eventually Kampfgruppe PAULUS in STALINO.
Romanian infantry Regiment
Kg PAULUS and 2 Rom division advance to ROSTOV and capture it. Attached Rom Arty engages the Black Sea Fleet, which retires to blockade the STRAITS of KERCH.
A  Soviet breakout is made from the DNEPROPETROVSK pocket to hold a new position forward of GROVKA. This position holds off an inept attack by Slovak Inf Bn, but is forced to withdraw by 3 successive waves of attacks by Rom 1 Inf battalion supported by Rom Airforce and survivors of Slovak Inf battalion.

The Battle for Kharkhov

The Hungarian Field Army Bn attacks KHARKHOV, fairing badly, despite support from 302(Hvy) artillery battalion. a southern outflanking movement by Italian Field Army division was equally unsuccessful as it became congested in a narrow land bridge between the KHARKOV pocket and a large pocket of Soviet infantry between KHARKOV and DNEPROPETROVSK and the survivors withdrew behind the PULITOV LINE to regroup.

Operation Barbarossa – July 1941


The Destruction of 11 Brigade

1 Inf division attacks along the KAUNAS-SIAULIAI Northern axis, sending 3 Inf regiment, which is in reserve, to DAUGAVPILS. 11 brigade is shattered and pursued North to RIGA through SAULIAI. 1Tk division counterattacks but meets 14 Inf regiment. The Soviet tanks manage to break through, but not the accompanying infantry and the attack falters.
1 Inf regiment pursues the remnants of 11 brigade and breaks through a hasty defence at SIAULIAI based around 10 Coy NKVD. The pursuit reaches RIGA, but fails to take the bridges as defence coalesces around HQ 3 Bn NKVD.
The attack proceeds along two axes. 1and 2 Inf regiments attack along the RIGA-TARTU-NARVA axis. 3 and 14 Inf regiments attack along the PSKAV-LUGA axis with two batteries of attached divisional artillery and a company of engineers. The soviets reinforce RIGA with 1 Marine Rifle battalion, but withdraw it as RIGA is bypassed. No real resistance is offered until the outskirts of LENINGRAD are reached at the end of July, by which time 2 Inf regiment has reduced RIGA and opened the road for communication. Meanwhile 3 Inf regiment has secured LUGA and the route to LENINGRAD.

ARMY GROUP CENTRE – Fall Triebwerk - (Engine)

Battle of Smolensk

Northern encirclement of SMOLENSK by I Pz Korps comprising 1 Pz division, 16 Inf division, with corps recce and artillery. The attack begins well and excellent progress is made. VYASMA, some distance beyond SMOLENSK is attacked and encircled in the mistaken belief that it is SMOLENSK.Confusion is caused by the strongest Soviet tank attacks to date in the war, but these are beaten off, and supply units manage to disentangle themselves from the battle raging around VITEBSK to resupply the forward troops at VYASMA. The month ends with SMOLENSK still in Soviet hands.
July 1941 – ARMY GROUP SOUTH – Fall Taifun – (Typhoon)

The Battle for Kiev

4th Army reaches KIEV and invests it by the middle of July. A pause ensues in front of the defences as artillery is brought up. Bridges are built to the North of KIEV to allow 12 Inf division to cross the river and encircle Kiev. However the attack is repulsed by Soviet engineers. The main assault on KIEV has more success, and the centre of the city is reached with only light casualties. Soviet counterattacks seem unusually fierce after this, but they slacken off, and Soviet forces withdraw in good order. The final stages of the battle are notable for the use of 302 Hvy artillery regiment, which bombards the centre of the city.
12 Inf Div Engineers begin operations to cross the river North of KIEV
 June 1941 – ARMY GROUP CENTRE – Fall Lorelei

Northern encirclement of MINSK. II Inf Korps attacks through to GRODNO. I Pz Korps is passed through the infantry and advances to MINSK, attacking it from the north with Corps Recce elements. 13 Inf division attacks from the east. Elements of 1 Pz division and 16 Inf division swing North and push east to ORSHA to set up blocking positions.
At MINSK, the Soviet Western Military District HQ is captured intact with large quantities of fuel and artillery ammunition by 1 Pz Korps. Infantry losses are moderate.


1st Baranowicze

Central drive to MINSK on axis BIALOSTOK- BARANOWICZE with 2 Inf Korps The Western MD is split into 2 loosely invested pockets. The attack stalls momentarily to allow logistic support to catch up with the advancing infantry of 4 and 5 Inf divisions.
2nd Baranowicze
Breakout battle by 2nd Infantry Corps to link up with 1 Pz Korps at  MINSK. Fierce fighting sees the outskirts of BARANOWICZE change hands several times before the town is outflanked and bypassed. Large numbers of Soviet troops and artillery are captured, with infantry from 5 Inf division crossing the Polish border into the USSR, and on to MINSK in late June.
ARMY GROUP CENTRE - Fall Thor II / Tannenbaum - (Fir Tree)
Southern encirclement of MINSK. 3rd Inf Korps attacks through to PINSK with excellent close air support. The projected OP TANNENBAUM is cancelled when recce forces discover that the PRYAPET MARSHES are not passable to vehicles and heavy armour.

ARMY GROUP SOUTH – Fall Taifun - (Typhoon)

The March on Kiev

4th Army drives East to KIEV. En Route, they encounter Soviet forces at ZHITOMIR, BUNDICHEV, and VINNISTA; each town being held in divisional strength. Soviet forces fight hard and pull back in good order despite taking heavy casualties. 10 Inf division attacks VINNISTA in the South, being forced back with 33% casualties. 11 Inf division attacks BUNDICHEV, bypassing the defences to the South and North, and linking with Hungarian Mobile division, which attacks and takes ZHITOMIR against minimal opposition.
German infantry advance through a Soviet border village with self propelled artillery
“Not Quite Mechanised” is a set of Operational level tabletop Wargames rules for the period between 1914 and 1950, when most continental European armies had yet to fully adopt motorised transport to wage war. These rules have been around since the mid 1980s. They are available to download for free private use only from : or see the Umpire guideline pages on this blog

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