Part 8: Turn 1 - Soviet Detraining Phase: The Battle of Zhytomyr. The Minsk Pocket Surrenders
The STAVKA has regained its composure after the first days of the brutal German onslaught. Or, rather, it has regained enough composure to realize it has to act, but all along the chain of command there are still major disruptions. The orders from up top are clear, however: the South and Central Fronts are to leave their defensive positions around Kiev and move to engage the Axis 1st Panzer army, which seems to have outrun its support elements in the frantic bid for the capital of the Ukraine. STAVKA sense the blood in the water and moves in for the kill, but will its forces prove adequate?
The Soviets play No Mercy! to put some extra hurt on both sides in the battle, while the Axis play Inexperienced Soviet Officers to cancel the Soviet card. They announced it in the doc, which I've decided to allow as an exception because the Soviets couldn't play anything else in that card's place, but in general I'd implore both sides to post their cards in-thread.
Red Army commanders receive clear instructions: this attack is supposed to bleed out the enemy. No quarter is to be given and none asked for. NKVD blocking regiments are dispatched to ensure that the Soviet assault holds for as long as is necessary, while scaremongering and defeatism are now to be immediate grounds for termination of command and a court-martial. However, the low-level Soviet officers lack experience and thus resolve to carry their orders to the full. Coordination is weak and some Army commanders actively sabotage the work of the blocking regiments.
Central, South vs 1st Panzer
Combat odds: 8/7 = 1:1, no shifts
Roll: 5 - EX (Exchange)
South Front takes a step loss and is eliminated. It goes to the Destroyed Units Box.
1st Panzer takes a step loss.
(timged due to a dead body in the photo)
The battle is long and bloody and in the end both sides return to their starting positions. The South Front has taken the brunt of the casualties and a lot of what's left of it is integrated into the Central Front as replacements. The Germans, however, have also taken heavy losses in men and materiel. In the decisive clash in the Zhytomyr area, the Axis have lost nearly 200 Panzers. Such casualties are unexpected and hardly replaceable at this point in the campaign.
Soviet Removals Phase
The Disorganized marker is removed from the Southwest Front.
The top brass of the Soviet forces in the pocket west of Minsk adamantly refuse to surrender for over a week despite being cut off from supply and bombarded daily by German artillery and air force. The Germans bide their time rather than press on into the Soviet defensive positions, knowing full well that the Red Army food stocks are insufficient to withstand a prolonged siege. However, it's the news of the Southwest Front appearing at Minsk and then turning south at the last minute rather than pressing to aid them that causes a revolt amongst the Soviet rank-and-file, who lynch most of their commanders and political officers and quickly organize brief surrender negotiations.
Some of the loot the Germans have acquired as a result of the West Front's surrender
The West Front goes to the Surrendered Units Box. Axis VPs are now at 14.
Soviet Detraining Phase
I need to know if the STAVKA commander wants to detrain the Reserve Front. If so, then that unit must be placed either in a supplied Soviet-controlled city OR any supplied hex within 3 hexes of a friendly city or map edge that is not an Axis-controlled city or adjacent to one.
Deadline for this is 6 PM GMT tomorrow. If I do not get a response until noon, any other Soviet officer can place that unit. If I do not get a response (in doc or thread) at all, that unit will stay in the Railroad Movement Box.