The Thousand Year Reich : Chapter 8, Case Blue

Author: Mattekillert
Published: 2017-02-01

Part of the campaign:

The Thousand Year Reich

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Game: Hearts of Iron III

The Thousand Year Reich : Chapter 7, Red Snow

Images: 56, author: Mattekillert, published: 2017-02-01

Welcome back to another chapter of The Thousand Year Reich : Chapter 8, Case Blue.

Many of the Hilfswilliger, the various volunteers against communism. Are being sent to Arabia to guard the various oil fields from partisans, a nice vacation for those who expected to fight in the brutal war in the east.
All along the Don River the German line is collapsing. Vast Soviet tank armies are flooding across the Don and the outnumbered Infantry it being overwhelmed. Hitler calls for Case Blue, the spring offensive for 1942 to start right away but the Advisor holds off the attack. Under the advice of Manstein he holds the panzer formations back. Manstein envisions a great “Backhand Blow” that will destroy the Soviet armies.
Case Blue is the operation that all German hopes are pinned on. The plan calls for rapid encirclement across the Don and then rushing on wards to Stalingrad. The red circles are each a Soviet Tank Army consisting of somewhere between 10-30 divisions each.

The securing of a line along the Volga is important to defend out northern flank before heading into the Caucasus I mean who would rush into mountains without defending their flank? (http://goo . gl/E7TTia)
The northern front is terrifying but our reserves have been gathered here and in the forefront the SS stand ready to make the crossing over the Oka. Their fanatical fighting spirit has proven valuable before and it is hoped they can achieve the hard task at hand.
In the center a very large assault is being launched on Voronezh and this is the primary part of the front falling apart but the Freiwilligen Korps Europa is being rushed to close the gap.
In the south a similar situation is going on to the center but the reinforcements of Romanian units are currently helping hold the gap. Their braveness is holding back the Soviet T-34’s without anti-tank guns earn the respect of the German soldier and general alike.
Another assault is being launched into Persia to secure the oilfields and then push on wards towards Baki. The Persian army is a joke and the operation is expected to be swift and low in loss of life.

Pictured is a Panzer III of one of the few panzer divisions down in the desert.
Voronezh is now also threatened from the north and it is doubtful that we can counterattack them back across the river. Yet supply issues is holding back the start of Case Blue, Manstein however is confident in the operation.
The new advancement in armor means that large amounts of PZ IV F2’s are being pushed out to the various armored units in the east. They are replacing the Panzer III's who proved inadequate against Soviet armor. This is consuming the production of Germany, all the remaining industry is focused on rare extraction plants and infrastructure in the east. The German Heer can expect 0 new units except for volunteers equipped with captured equipment. Case blue is vital for the survival of the Heer during 1942. We must ease the pressure while the infrastructure catches up with our lines.
The Soviet commanders are responding to Stalin’s call for a front wide offensive. Tens of Thousands conscripts rush again the SS and are being massacred. Equipment is lacking in these Proletariat divisions and the SS although lacking in ammunition are easily holding them back.

The lines in Rjazan are disorganized to say the least. Lacking in ammunition SS units use all matter of tools at their disposal. Rocks, bricks and whatever else can be found are thrown from roof tops. Outside the city mechanized SS units fight a ferocious battle. Covered by smoke units run into each other at close range and brutal hand to hand combat is common. A perfect environment for the SS.
Between the Don and Donets River our panzer formations are rushing forward. The Soviet Tank Armies are large and unwieldy and often lacking in supporting equipment like artillery. Our panzer formations meanwhile have motorized 88 flak guns and strong artillery support.
The foolish attack on Rjazan is repelled.
In Noginsk the Soviets continue their attempts to liberate Moscow but Hauser reinforced by the 1. Schwere Panzer Division is holding strong.
Dangerously large formations are massed north of Moscow.
The heroic 286. Infantry Division is finally forced to withdraw from Voronezh after facing 10-1 odds for weeks. The Soviets are rushing forward into the gap. Yet on their flanks the panzer divisions are rushing forward. The Soviets overconfidence will be their doom.

Pictured is men of the 286 pulling out a light support gun out of the ruins of Voronezh.
In the south the destruction if some 10 divisions have opened a large gap in the front and out panzer divisions are quick to exploit the gap. The plains of southern Russia are open to us yet again!
Operation Iranisch Freiheit beings.
The German Heer is crushing the Soviets in battles all across the southern front. Supported by the Luftwaffe entire formations are being destroyed. Many of the soldiers who had fought during the harsh winter of 1941 declare the war won in their letters home.

“We kicked in the door last year now we are smashing the walls. The rotten structure will come crashing down, I swear!” – Hitler 10 May, 1942.
Our panzers have crossed the Don to the south and are now rushing down to close the eastern exit. They will then swing around and head towards the Black Sea.
The SS cross the Oka a hard fought battle but losses were lower than expected. It would seem the Soviets overextended in their offensive.
The infantry desperately trying to defend the panzers flank run into a guard’s tank army which proceeds to smash them. 88 flak guns are still lacking in many of the infantry divisions and as such they have problems repelling the KV-1’s that the Guards are equipped with.
Werner von Braun who had for a long time received funding finally launched one of his rockets and actually hit something. Hitler is quick to dub them vengeance weapons to throw at the British for refusing to surrender.
The poor Persian garrison not even fully equipped with bolt action rifles ran into a full panzer formation and was predictably smashed. Most of the German losses came from large stones thrown from the roof tops. Needless to say the civilians will learn what it means to attack German soldiers.
Freiwilligekorps Europa moves in from the west of Voronezh a large pocket is being created around the city.

Pictured are men of the 250 Infantry Division 'Blau' or Azul in Spanish. Volunteers from Spain ready to aid our crusade in the east.
The sheer amount of Soviets gathered on the north side of the Don is astonishing. In a panicked retreat nearly a quarter million men try to cross the Don. The Luftwaffe is quick to start destroying bridges and strafing whatever boats are available. Many men simply drown as they don’t know how to swim.
Even worse for the trapped Soviets they are greeted by German troops when they finally do cross.
The Soviets are heavily disorganized. Some units attack, some retreat and some simply stand still. It would seem we have severed much of the chain of the command with our rapid advance.
A Soviet counterattack is repelled and now the jaws are closing around The Voronezh pocket.
The Guards Tank Army is trapped inside German lines and desperately attacks in all directions to get out. Bombs and artillery shells rain down on them constantly.
The never ending assault on Noginsk has made some serious breaks in the line and reinforcements are desperately being thrown in to hold the line.
As another 3 panzer divisions arrive the Soviets finally give up on breaking through to Moscow. Even though our losses were low the line very nearly collapsed under the sheer weight of numbers. Soviet casualties however are reported to be horrendous.

The heavy forest fighting involved many captured weapons as shown in the picture. Although the Soviet weaponry is inferior in every way to ours (don't mention the T-34 / Kv-1 / Il-2 Sturmovik to the Führer...) it needs to be used non the less. Troops have come to call the forest, "Autumn Hell" as the destroyed trees left leaves all over the ground and the constant explosions is a true hell.
The poor men trapped in Belaya Kalitva finally surrender. Bodies are floating down the Don as reported by our Romanian allies in Rostov. In total some 20.000 men seem to have drowned in their escape attempts.
Voronezh which was awarded the title “Hero city” after the Soviet recapture is now surrounded by German troops and the Freiwilligen Korps Europa is advancing into the city.
The battle was brutal and many men were lost in the heavy urban fighting. We must avoid urban combat to preserve our men!
The fresh reserves sent into Noginsk quickly counterattack and push the Soviets out of Kirzhach. The small corridor of Noginsk is finally safe.
The Guards Army is broken and retreats west.
Looking out over the front it is clear that Case Blue is a resounding success. 4 Soviet Tank Armies have been smashed and the amount of captured Soviet armor is in the thousands. Hitler is overjoyed over the news of captured armor and demands they be put into use in the SS divisions. The Advisor however crushes all his dreams with the normal "game mechanics" and to wait for events.
The news of the smashing victory along the Don River is enough to sway many more volunteers for the German Heer. Many hope that through service they will be granted independence by the Germans.
The great success of the SS in the east prompt Himmler to demand they be turned into full panzer divisions and both Hitler and The Advisor agrees.
The Japanese are making a steady advance across the pacific.
The panic that sets in among the trapped Soviets is remarkable. They retreat past each other thinking the other formation is heading towards the Germans to save them! A truly disorganized mess.
In Persia our troops finally cross the Aras. It seems the Soviets did not expect an invasion of Persia as their forces here are low in number and quality.
Case Blue proved such a success that the German high command has approved another stage to the operation. Stage 2 of Case Blue will involve an advance down into the Caucasus, trapping any remaining Soviet forces between Heersgruppe Afrika and Heersgruppe Süd.

Losses have been high on both sides during the operation. We have lost over 200.000 troops in just combat losses during this last month while the Soviets have lost 300.000+ killed and over a million captured! The toll for victory is growing higher and higher but surely the Soviets must collapse under such losses!

Next chapter:

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The Thousand Year Reich : Chapter 9, Operation Edelweis

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