Report of Hauptmann Hans Standt:
I regret to inform you that I have been unable to clear the way through to Izdeshkovo.
As ordered, we advanced along the main road, our Panzer III's in front, followed by two platoons of infantry (one in Hanomags, one in trucks) and a support platoon. Somewhere near the town, we ran into a Russian position guarding the site where the road passes between two hills. On the left hand hill, the Russians had a squad of infantry, on the right hand hill two more squads of infantry and some anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns. It seemed probable that they also had armour in reserve.
Unfortunately, the Panzers got ahead of our infantry force (note to self, when the Blinds chip appears, don't send just the Panzers onto the table assuming it will appear again soon!) and came under heavy anti-tank fire. The lead Panzer III (an "H") was hit five times, but survived with only bad damage to its paint work! A lucky escape, and the Panzers formed a battle line and prepared to return fire.
Before too long, 2nd Platoon arrived on their left, debussed, and immediately came under fire from the squad of enemy infantry on the hill.
The weight of fire was extraordinary for such a small number of men, and one squad was practically wiped out. The other two, however, full of fire for the Fuhrer, charged up the hill without delay. Unfortunately, the hill was somewhat steeper than expected, and by the time we came into melee, the men were puffing and blowing. The Russians were savage in the hand-to-hand combat that followed, and we were bounced unceremoniously down the hill.
Meanwhile, we had called in air strikes against the enemy anti-tank position on the other hill, and were gladdened to see Stukas causing casualties all round.
Our Panzers had, however, mysteriously halted (note to self: don't forget to put your chips into the bag) and by the time they got going again, two of them had had their turrets jammed by anti-tank fire. To add insult to injury, an enemy artillery strike aimed at the survivors of 2nd Platoon missed its target utterly, but landed smack bang on the Panzers instead. The "H" was disabled as the 120mm mortars blew a track off it!
Things hotted up quickly after that as the 1st and Support Platoons arrived. The Company HQ was set up in a building near the right hand hill, and a devastating fire launched by mortars and MMG's on both Russian positions. The HQ Squad in particular did much damage under my personal supervision. At the same time, 1st Platoon rushed forward and prepared to debus its infantry to assault the right hand hill.
You may ask why we rushed in instead of waiting for our support weapons to soften up the enemy some more. Well, this huge Russian tank had appeared on the main road and blown a Panzer III to smithereens. It appeared immune to our return fire (note to self: KV- 1's are hard to kill!).
Then disaster struck again. As the hanomags moved forward, more Russian tanks appeared on our right flank. Hah, we thought, they are just tin cans! Tin cans, yes, but tin cans with a verdamt big gun on them! One hanomag went straight up in smoke, with only a few survivors from the squad it was carrying staggering out of the burning vehicle.
Quickly the rest of 1st Platoon debussed so that the remaining hanomags could retreat to safety. This, of course, left them vulnerable to enemy fire, and, at this point we had to order a general retreat.
Two Panzer III's were lost, along with most of 2nd Platoon and a good third of 1st Platoon. An enemy follow up to our retreat was, however, dealt with easily by the massed fire from our support platoon.
It is lucky I am on the Russian Front already, I know, or I would surely be sent there for this stunning display of incompetence! I dripped my forces into battle allowing the enemy to deal with them bit by bit. If I had properly deployed my support platoon at the beginning of the game, then I could have weakened the enemy properly before my assault went in.
I shall endeavour to do better next time.
This was a game using the first scenario from Vyazma or Bust. It was actually a great fun game with a chap who had never played IABSM before, but was obviously a veteran of other rules systems. As is also obvious, I played it very badly…something I naturally put down to the strain of having to teach the rule system at the same time as playing!!!!!
My opponent appears to have been converted to IABSM, and liked the scenario so much that he now wants us to work our way right the way through the Vyazma or Bust campaign! There'll be no mercy next time, let me assure you!
Oh, and this was the first time I had used poker chips instead of cards, and I'm afraid its chips with everything from now on. Hugely easier, no shuffling, and just as easy to forget to put your Panzers chip in!