Lost Victories: The Battle of Stalingrad Dec II 1942 (Axis)
The weather grows colder, as frost and ice gives way to snow. The rivers have frozen, and forces have a more difficult time moving around. The minor rivers have frozen over and no longer present obstacles, and the major rivers (Don, Volga and Dniepr rivers) are reduced in effect to minor rivers.
Before I go any further with this, I want to clarify the supply situation for the Soviets. Right in the center of the front is a supply hole, an area where the supply line can’t reach. The screenshot to the right shows the supply hole, and how far the Soviets can advance into it before they are out of supply. The rail line running through Stalingrad is blocked by Axis forces, and the rail line running north to Voronezh is currently held by Axis forces. Until one or both of these lines is captured, Soviet advances are limited.
As I stated in my last post, I have fallen a bit behind on this. Right now I do not have time to catch the board up, so I am going to have to post using screenshots from JET.
From the south, the Wiking SS Panzer Division returns from the Axis misadventures in the Caucasus Mountains. Much of the Stalingrad salient, due to the presence of Soviet units on the banks of the Don River is out of supply, including the city itself. The Axis commit another Panzer Division (the 11th) to the cauldron.
The Axis reposition their troops, and cannot resist the bait sitting on the banks of the Don. The army pulls away from their defensive positions on the upper Don, and collapse upon the Soviet armor that is cutting off their supplies. The tanks are quickly surrounded.
It’s not like the Axis really have a lot of options. They have to force that supply line back open.
So they pull out of their defensive positions on the Don.
I’m ignoring the northern sector of the front because there is no fighting going on there. There will be a photo showing ending positions for the sector, but no battles occur this turn.
The Axis make three attacks in the south; two against Soviet armor, and one attack out of Stalingrad to the south, supported by armor.
The forces on the Don put up a fight, facing 3:1 odds in both battles, and the units anchoring the north end of the line (a 9-7-8 tank corps and a Guards 5-4-8 cavalry division) are destroyed in a Half Exchange, while the units on the south end of the line (same unit types) are forced to retreat. These units are reduced to cadre strength during the retreat.
The last attack, also at 3:1 odds, results in an Exchange. Although the Soviet corps is destroyed (21 combat factors), they wreak destruction on the 24th Panzer (12-10), and the 94th Infantry, a 7-6 division in Stalingrad proper.
Yes, the forces in Stalingrad are starting to be whittled down.
The Axis have succeeded in forcing the supply line open again, but not without cost. After exploitation is complete, there is now a gap forming between Stalingrad and the rest of the German forces. This is something that could be exploited, along with the frozen rivers and the withdrawal from the Don.
The Axis are growing weaker. It is time to take advantage of the weather and weaken them further still.