Part 90: Turn 90: March 4, 1943
The blizzard ending has done incredible things for my supply across the whole front. Now it's just a matter of getting rails out there to reduce the strain on my trucks.
And to help with that the second RR repair corps shows up on map. With 2 of these running around I might actually be able to keep large sections of the front in decent supply, we shall see.
Big change this month is our on-map artillery. Starting now all our artillery divisions are going to start converting the breakthrough ToE which includes 2 dozen siege-breaking 203mm cannons. At the moment all of my on map artillery is concentrated in the south but I'm going to start making a handful every turn to attach to northern armies. Without on-map artillery there is absolutely no way I'm going to be able to dislodge the Germans this summer after they've spent 2 months entrenching a line that's been dramatically reduced in length from 3 months ago.
This shot is pre-recon but I've got a hunch there's no Germans in Riga so I'm gonna take a shot at it this turn.
2 divisions down with 2 to go. I'm using broken down corps to corral these Germans so I can concentrate on pacifying the rest of this region.
Further south the 12th Guards rifles makes a pair of hasty attacks and manages to drive back a German infantry division. This is why you can't trust the numbers on the counter, a 10=10 rifle corps shouldn't be able to force a 6=6 division to retreat with hasty attacks. However the first combat was much much closer than I thought it would be so I launched a second and it worked!
This is extremely important because moving that division allows me to do this:
With a cavalry corps defending the port the fate of the Das Reich is basically sealed. I don't think they'll be able to retake the port and next turn they'll be forced to surrender. There's at least 200 tanks in this pocket and I'm sure they're some of the best Germany has to offer.
The Northwest front captures Riga and with it another infantry division. Goal here is to get across the Daugava before it starts to thaw so I can keep walking west.
And the first look at the quality of the German line. Strong but not unbreakable, looks like it has decent depth too.
No yellow highlights! I love the snow.
The Kalinin front is basically done converting and I'm now able to squeeze basically the entire front into a 40 mile long line. Now they're just waiting for some artillery formations and they'll be good to go.
The rest of the fronts in this area need some work though, especially the central front. Contact is made with the German line and 2 Luftwaffe divisions are trapped 50 miles behind enemy lines.
Large numbers of Hungarians here, I'll have to find some way to exploit that when I take Budapest.
The Volkhov front makes contact with the new German line, it looks much flimsier down here than it does further north.
Out of curiosity I turned up the reporting level on combats to see what kind of useful information it could tell me about this surrender battle. The answer is none really, too much detail for any of it to be useful. I should also note that this is the third highest reporting level, I initially turned it all the way up and went to go make a cup of tea and by the time I came back the artillery was still firing at 10,000+ yards and the infantry wasn't even in firing range yet so I stopped it.
Anyways the rest of the front just moves up in an attempt to find the Germans. I've got way too many divisions down here and I really need to convert a most of these to corps.
I'd love to capture Budapest this turn but I'm not sure I've got the MP to take the city and occupy it. I also imagine there's at least 2 well equipped divisions occupying the city, if not more.
The pockets all refuse to reduce so I'll have to hang onto them for another week. The southern pocket is secure even though it's held by a pair of ragged armies, it's far enough behind the lines that the Germans will never reach it. The northern pocket however could be broken if the Germans are willing to commit to it, we shall see.
An attempted pocket using the Volga cavalry and my airborne troops fails when the Wiking SS Panzergrenadier has a reserve activation with 2 heavy panzer battalions and brutalizes one of my cavalry corps. Oh well, 46 tanks is a small price to pay to learn that there's an elite division out there and what support units it has got attached. The Wiking's current ToE doesn't call for many (if any) tanks right now so nearly all of those tanks are coming from the 2 Heavy Panzer battalions which means there's about 90 Tigers in that division supported by a few light tanks and some self-propelled AT guns. Scary.
Soviet guns are now in range of Budapest but I'm hoping the Germans will abandon the city to me rather than try to hold it with their flanks falling apart. If they do try hold onto it I'm going to take the rest of the Danube up to the bend and then shell the city until the forces holding it are forced out.
2 infantry divisions materialize to force my cavalry corps out of Parnu, allowing the Das Reich to enter the city. I really want this division but I'm not sure how I'm going to get it now. I don't know if I can shift the Das Reich out of the hex so I'm instead thinking of level bombing the shit out of Parnu in the hopes of rendering the port unusable.
At Riga a panzer corps spearheaded by the horrifyingly well equipped 24th Panzers rips into my forward formations and decisively retakes the city. Losses are relatively mild for losing so much territory, the largest loss was the number of tanks with over 100 being destroyed by the 24th Panzers alone. After destroying most of the Northwestern fronts tanks the panzers pulled back across the river, content with the damage they had done.
Good job partisans, your efforts are a huge contribution to the war effort. When I remodel my airforce in a few turns the first thing I'm doing is turning off all partisan flights, there's no point in wasting supplies on these guys any longer.
Another panzer force attempts to rescue these two Luftwaffe divisions but falls short, looks like they underestimated just how many troops I have stuck behind the lines here. Tank numbers are hard to count here but I'd peg them at somewhere between 300-500.
500 more panzers show up on the North Caucasus front and rescue that trapped motorized division. There's no way I can punish this and all these counters should be able to safely escape next turn if they want to.
Another smaller panzer force appears in Hungary to break the light pocket I had formed down here. Most of these divisions will likely escape into Slovakia now, I'm simply not in a position to form a pocket that could hold these panzers.
So about that backhand blow only a few weeks late and 600+ miles west. The Germans have got 3 snow turns left if they want to make something of this but I don't think that's the intent. I would be very surprised if I knew where most of these panzer divisions are by the 18th.