Part 11: Turn 8: August 8, 1941
New German offensives on every front and we get less troops than ever. Great start to a new month.
Pavel Ponedelin, leader of the 12th army and in charge of the defense of Kiev is promoted to General-Leytenant for holding the city while the Germans are unstoppable everywhere else. He is also one of two commanders in the entire Soviet army that has won more battles than he's lost.
The Orel Military Distrect gets upgraded to the Bryansk Front. This basically triples the amount of troops it can effectively command, increasing the strength of the southern flank of the Western Front.
New ToE for our infantry divisions. The division shrinks by about 3500 men with a lower allotment for nearly every weapon type. This is actually an increase in effectiveness, each rifle division will now have a better ratio of men:supporting weapons than before. This will allow us to field more small but tough divisions than was previously possible. The next upgrade for rifle divisions will be in December of this year.
New ToE for our motorized divisions. The eagle eyed amongst you may notice that the new ToE is for a rifle division, that's because the Soviet army is dispensing with it's motorized divisions and slowly reforming them into regular rifle divisions. We don't have the tanks or trucks to go around and we need boots on the ground so we're stripping the armor out of these divisions and giving them more guns.
And the new ToE for our cavalry divisions. This constitutes an enormous drop in the striking power of these divisions. They're now less than half the size they were previously (9232 men down to 4103 men.) They've also had almost all of their scouting armor stripped away, leaving them with just 10 armored cars to scout with. This new ToE is in preparation for a change in how we use our cavalry coming in October but the actual ToE for this division won't change again until July of 1942. For now this just means I'm going to try to keep these towards the rear of our lines as much as possible.
Some of our support squads also upgrade their ToE but I'm not going to be posting screenshots of those since they mostly work behind the scenes. The general theme for these first few waves of ToE's is the Soviets downsizing everything in an effort to get more small formations out there rather than fewer huge unwieldy ones. The most dramatic example of this is going to show up in September, just a few weeks away.
We're going to have to begin falling back in earnest for what feels like the first time in months up here, the Germans have finally recovered.
We fallback from the lake, we can't risk getting cut off from the rest of the Northern front.
We also drop a few new fortified regions in and around Leningrad. I'd like to shore up the forts on both sides of the river to slow down the Germans. I'm not sure I can hold the Germans away from the city until October so I'd like to have some huge forts in and around the city to slow the Germans down once they do cut the city off.
A bit of a sideshow, but the 7th independent army has finished garrisoning the Finish no-attack line. It's about 50/50 brigades and divisions right now, as we get some spare brigades I'm going to strip these divisions off the line and send them to the 23rd army to dig in to Leningrad. Soviet Rifle brigades are essentially miniatures of the full divisions, ~4500 men with supporting guns. Useful but not as strong as divisions and certainly not able to act independantly like a division can. If I wanted I could merge 2-3 of these brigades and form a new division but right now I value having more counters over being able to concentrate force.
Not good! We need to save as many units as we can and reform these armies.
Most of the 10th army was not pocketed and pulls off the line to refit.
The 13th, which is surprisingly good shape for a Western Front army pulls back as the last line of defense before the Reserve army is on the front.
Along the northern edge of the front the 31st army is assigned to the reserve front and digs in just short of Kalinin.
Only 2 divisions manage to sneak out of the pocket forming up here. Half the strength of the 4th army, a quarter of the 10th and an entire airborne corps are trapped in what will soon be behind enemy lines.
The 3rd army which was pulled off the lines last turn forms up at Tula to refit. This army was completely combat ineffective last turn, by next turn they'll be one of the best equipped armies in the Western front (that's not saying a whole lot.)
That's a huge salient forming around Cherkassy. We don't really have the troops to deal with it, partially because I've got so many troops tied up in Kiev.
Outside Kiev we beat up that SS brigade again. Free victories are always welcome.
Short on reserve troops we strip the line north of Kiev and rail the 26th army down to deal with the breakthrough. You can also wee that we were able to cut off the 3 divisions that crossed the river, this will hopefully give the 26th the time it needs to finish redeploying down here.
I also scrounge up all the loose divisions I can find and form them up into the 37th Army. I had been hoping to keep these units in reserve but right now we need to get everyone out on the line if we want to contain this breakthrough. When the Southern front abandons its river fortifications this line will shorten dramatically, allowing us to pull some armies off the front to act as reserves.
The Southern front holds in place, launching a single attack against a cavalry brigade. If the Romanians don't cross this turn I might have to start falling back to reduce the length of my line.
This gets really obvious if we zoom way out. This salient is being formed because the Germans can't push me off Kiev and they haven't attempted to cross the Yuzhny Bug river in the south. If I straightened out this line I could probably free up 3-4 entire armies to put in reserve. Also, as indicated by the arrows the entire Southwestern front is under threat. If I hadn't cut off those divisions this turn I would have to abandon Kiev. As it stands I'm abandoning Kiev next turn.
The Germans are 10 miles from Kremenchug so every factory in the city is evacuated.
Kaluga to the south of Moscow is a major armaments producer and is under threat, everything gets out.
Army Group North continues their slow grind towards Leningrad. The previously cutoff infantry division is attacked and routed rather than being re-encircled, convenient for me.
There appears to be several divisions taking land in the gap between the North and Western fronts, I'm sadly going to have to devote an army to stopping this.
Rather than completing the near-encirclement they started last turn, Army Group Center decideds to attack and rout the sad remains of the 4th and 10th armies. These divisions are going to be useless for a few turns while the armies regroup and reform.
Slightly further at Bryansk some infantry and the Das Reich SS motorized punch a hole in my line 50 miles from Orel.
North of Kiev the Germans take advantage of my stripping the line and punch through, encircling 3 airborne corps and an anti-tank brigade.
Lots of German troops are missing here, I wonder where they've run off to. A general offensive on the northern edge of the Southern front takes place but they don't gain much ground. The Romanians do not even attempt to cross the river, perhaps they know I'm going to have to fall back soon whether they attack or not.
It's a new month so we can take a look at how we're doing compared to the historical Soviets. In most places we've given up more land than was historically done, but in doing so we've lost a lot less men. The real test vs history will be if I can hold Moscow and Leningrad for the rest of the year.
Army group center is swinging far to the south, perhaps they're gunning for Orel and Tula. In the south I'm going to have to take drastic measures, we're going to have to give up Kiev. The city itself is useless to us but the fortifications have been invaluable in stalling the Germans.