This was my first battle using the Polish motorized brigade force and the first time my friend Thomas used his Leichte Panzerkompanie so it was really exciting.
The models I had (regular army uniform) pretty much dictated that I would run my motorized force as the Warsaw armoured motorized brigade. The Warsaw motorized brigade only had access to tankettes and a few Vickers model E type A/B tanks. So they were very poorly equipped in terms of actual armored vehicles. And unlike the 10th motorized cavalry brigade, the Warsaw brigade was pretty much an improvised unit. Historically it was used on the offensive, it took heavy casualties and towards the end of the September campaign it absorbed the remnants of the 1st tank battalion which included a few 7TP tanks. The brigade lost all of its vehicles by September 18th in the heavy fighting near Tomaszow Lubelski which was the second largest battle of the campaign and the largest tank battle. I have to stress however that the 7TP tank was never a part of the Warsaw AMB force organization if you want to use that as an argument to have the 7TP permanently available to the "motorized force" in the Blitzkrieg book. I do however intend to represent the remnants of the 1st tank battalion in my updated September Campaign book (which will try to cover the dozen or so important battles still not included) and additional operations from various army POV.
The 10th motorized on the other hand enjoyed defensive battles to delay the German attack in the southern mountainous regions which were suited very well for that type of warfare. As such the 10th motorized managed to evade annihilation and by the end of the campaign escape with what it had left to Hungary.
The scenario was "No Retreat", the Polish force was defending.
The armies looked like this:
Warsaw Armoured Motorized Brigade
HQ (2 rifle command teams)
2x platoons or motorized infantry (each with 2 sections: 8 Rifle MG teams, 2MG's and 2 AT rifles)
1x Motorcycle reconnaissance platoon (5 teams)
2x 36mm AT gun platoons
1x Platoon of motorized light artillery (2x 75mm guns)
2x Tankette platoons (3 MG and 2 20mm guns in each platoon)
HQ (1 Pz.Befehlswagen, 2x PzII C (early)
2x Leichte panzer platoon (1 PzII C early, 4x Pz I)
1x Panzer II Platoon (5x Pz II)
1x Leichte Pionier platoon (10 rifle teams, pioneer supply truck)
1x Schützen platoon (6 MG teams, 1 Rifle MG command, 1 light mortar, 1 AT rifle).
1x Heavy Panzerspäh platoon (4 Sdkfz 231 6-rad)
Limited Air support Ju87B STuka
The Polish force started with both infantry platoons and both 36mm AT platoons on the table. One of the AT platoons was held in ambush. The motorcycles, tankettes and light artillery was held in reserve. The Germans had a ridiculous amount of armored vehicles, and despite their weak armor and mixed combat capabilities they were still going to prove a challenge for the defenders, especially with that German infantry to back them up.
The Poles dug in along the treeline with one of their platoons, placed one of their AT gun platoons on the small hill hidden away under some trees, the second platoon was kept further back to overlook both objectives. The idea was to delay the German advance without taking too many casualties with the first platoon, then fall back towards the objectives and catch the attackers in a crossfire - at which point hopefully the defenders would be backed up by the reserves to support the last stand.
The German force split into two parts, one massed Panzer force aimed at the Polish right flank, the tanks would follow the road and most likely try to outflank the Poles once the difficult terrain making up the frontline had been cleared. On the left flank the Germans deployed a smaller force with the Pz II 2iC and his companion PzII, 2 6-rad and the Schützen platoon. I predicted that they would try to storm the hill and take out those AT guns overlooking the bearby fields and objective.
As the battle started the German air force made an appearance and boldly targeted the AT guns on the hill, the Stuka planes dropped their bombs with precision but only managed to knock out one of the AT guns. The Panzers started rolling down the road on the right flank, and towards the center hill in the middle. Panzer II's and 6-rads made it to the nearby field on the right flank but could not see the dug in infantry which were ducked away in their foxholes.
Once the tanks were close enough the Poles revealed their AT guns on the right flank and opened a salvo which destroyed 2 Panzer II tanks and bailed out one 6-rad. The infantry along the tree line also opened up a withering salvo of small arms fire at the light armor approaching their positions. Anti tank rifles managed to destroy one of the 6-rads on the left flanks. Caught in a disadvantageous position the German armor tried to disperse to take advantage of cover and get better line of sight to the enemy in the treeline. Another Stuka swooped down and bombed the dug in Polish troops at the rear killing a few teams. German tanks massed their firepower against the infantry and AT guns holding the center and right flank - but the bullets whistled past the defenders, gun shields proved their worth and foxholes saved the lives of all defenders!
German infantry was moving behind the tanks waiting for the friendly armor to punch a hole in the defensive line. Another salvo from the Polish AT guns knocked out more tanks, a Pz II and a Pz I were left smoldering, crews bailing out of the burning vehicles. The Polish received reinforcements, in the shape of the light artillery platoon which was quickly deployed around the tree line to overlook both objectives as a preventive measure should the line be broken too early. The fighting along the center tree line was ferocious and more German tanks rolled up to support the onslaught. The 6-rads managed to knock out 1 AT gun on the right flank, and some Polish infantry were killed as the Germans prepared to launch a tank assault.
Getting a bit worried the Polish commander ordered the second platoon of infantry to abandon their foxholes and move forwards toward the AT guns on the hill with the objective to support the center defenders and to try to outflank the Germans. Just as the soldiers left their safety of their foxholes the German air force hit them with bombs, killing several teams including one of the precious HMG's.
At the center the Germans attacked with their Pz I platoon, 1 tank bogged down in the trees but the remaining 3 members of the platoon crashed into the Polish defenders. The efficiency of the assault was poor - the defenders lost but 1 team, but it had them panic and fall back! German armor moved through the thick forest and pursued the fleeing platoon which dispersed to all sides on the fields near the village and rear objective.
The Polish AT guns on the right were soon after wiped out as well, leaving the Germans free to maneuver in relative safety on that flank. Still rattled by the tank assault the Polish platoon refused to rally. The second infantry platoon shook off the Stuka bombardment and pressed on to plug the hole in the front line - managing to bail out the remaining 6-rad with a well placed AT rifle shot. German infantry were now moving up to exploit the breach and things started to look bad at the center.
The Poles received more reinforcements, motorcycle infantry and a platoon of tankettes. These new assets were kept out of enemy LoS and range of enemy guns. No idea to rush these weak troops unsupported head on into a wall of tanks. The tankettes were parked under the cover of nearby trees.
German tanks and 6-rads now assaulted the platoon pinned down near the village, miraculously the Poles managed to bail out both 6-rads with their small arms, and stood their ground when the Panzers came crashing once again. Taking casualties but not falling back any further the Poles counter assaulted and bailed out 2 enemy Pz I tanks and captured the Pz II as it tried to flee. The remaining bogged down Pz I left in the tree line also fled. Suddenly the Poles were back in a favorable position and quickly rushed back towards the tree line and towards the 6-rads.
This caught the approaching Pionier platoon off guard and they took several casualties from Polish small arms fire. As the situation stabilized the last Tankette platoon arrived from the reserves, this platoon was brought in on the left flank - and soon lost one vehicle to Stuka bombs. On the right flank the Panzer I platoon tried to maneuver around the Polish positions and faced off against the tankettes parked along the trees - firing upon them 1 tankette was lost, but the Poles returned fire and destroyed 1 Pz I tank.
On the left flank the Schützen platoon came under devastating fire from both Polish infantry platoons and was reduced down to 2 teams which left the battle in panic - not wanting to wait around any longer the German 2iC and his companion Pz II moved forward and into the small forest from where they tried to take out the Polish AT guns. The attack failed and the Poles fired back with their AT guns but too failed to destroy the enemy tanks. A single Pz II was bailed out - and it was up to the infantry (second infantry platoon) to finish off the threat. The Polish infantry moved forwards and assaulted the 2iC and managed to destroy him and capture the bailed out Pz II and 6-rad, securing the left flank.
First Polish infantry platoon was in deep trouble at this point, having lost almost all of its members but a couple of teams were still fighting. This pushed the Germans to one last effort to push through the defensive lines, so they launched their remaining Pz I platoon past the Polish tankettes and onto the fields where they mowed down the already badly battered members of first platoon leaving 2 teams which refused to surrender or flee.
Not allowing the Germans to snatch victory the Motorcycle infantry dismounted and dug in on the field near the village objective, and both tankette platoons swarmed the Germans firing at tanks and approaching infantry alike. The light artillery battery which had been positioned earlier during the battle to overlook the village objective also opened fire. The result was a disappointment, not a single German Pz I was knocked out as most projectiles either missed or bounced off!
The Pz I's took aim and fired at the dug in Motorcycle infantry but failed to kill anyone. The Poles tried once again with their remaining AT power to wipe out the Pz I platoon - managing to bail a single tank only... then the most freakishly impressive thing occurred. The Polish motorcycle infantry bailed out 2 tanks with their small arms and charged the remaining tank still operating - destroyed it and captured the 3 abandoned vehicles securing Polish victory at the end of turn 8! The Germans had suffered heavy casualties and had but a few infantry teams remaining, their company commander and 1 Pz II tank.
The Poles had lost only a single platoon of 36mm AT guns. The casualties inflicted on the first infantry platoon were severe, the second infantry platoon was also battered. The tankette platoons only lost a total of 2 vehicles, but then they were kept far back and out of the fight for most of their time on the battlefield.
My thoughts about the battle and both armies.
The battle was extremely even up until the last turn. The Poles had a favorable position which gave the approaching tanks a difficult time. The Germans on the other hand had so many tanks they were bound to overwhelm the forward position sooner or later. I was just hoping that they wouldn't be able to attack with everything at once. The weakest spot in my line was imo the hill on my left flank. If those AT guns were wiped out, then the Germans could direct all their tanks into the easy terrain and circumvent the tree line and ambushing AT guns. Fortunately the AT guns on the hill survived the German bombers and proved to be a discouraging presence.
I was also astonished at the weak will of my first infantry platoon during the first enemy tank assault - I thought the assault was dead certain to fail and be repelled. Now it scared away my infantry and opened up my center. The following assaults were also crazy, the Polish managing to bail out and stop both 6-rads bought me a lot of time. The Germans also failed to remount pretty much anything during the battle, it was ridiculous - but allowed the Poles to capture a bunch of isolated vehicles.
Both sides had disastrous shooting phases, the Germans opened up with everything they had but failed to knock out a single AT gun on my right flank - and I thought I was going to destroy a heap of tanks but only managed to bail out a single one in turn! The final assault with the Pz I platoon and Polish motorcycle infantry was also a freakish turn of events - I could not believe how I missed and failed to kill those damn tanks with 3 20mm AT gun tankettes, 2 75mm artillery guns, 1 36mm AT guns TWO turns in a row! And then see how the tiny motorcycle infantry went "Rambo" bailed 2 tanks and destroyed the remaining tank capturing the whole platoon and ending the battle.
I think this was one of the most fun battles I've played in Early War. The Leichte Panzerkompanie was great fun to meet and their light tanks are so iconic for the invasion of Poland. It was awesome to see lots of Befehlspanzer I and regular Pz I's roaming the battlefield. They may seem weak, but are in fact as durable as Pz II's when it comes to withstanding enemy fire - so in fact as much of a threat as better armor. I think they have the ability to overwhelm if allowed to mass their firepower and assaults.
The Polish motorized list was also great fun to play. Fearless/Veteran is badass but the main difference between this force and the Polish infantry battalion are the infantry platoons.
You buy them in 1-3 sections per platoon, each section is 4 Rifle/MG teams and 1 AT rifle. The platoon can also be upgraded with 2 HMG teams - this makes it extremely versatile and able to handle infantry and pose a threat to tanks. I found that the platoons are "big enough" when running 2 sections. I think adding the 3rd section would make things too crowded and you will have a hard time using the entire platoon efficiently (problem of the Rifle platoons of the Infantry battalion).
You can field up to 3 platoons of AT guns which is wicked but a bit cheesy, so I will keep myself with 2. The motorcycle reconnaissance isn't really worth it if you are defending as it is pretty expensive in points. But motorcycles are a cool unit and they are able to move around swiftly so I might just keep them as an "emergency platoon". The tankettes area great fun, and it was really nice to field 2 platoons (you can field up to 3!). They are not the most efficient unit, but they are dirt cheap, mobile and can strike at infantry in the open with efficiency. I would not rely on them handling enemy tank platoons, sniping enemy armored recce vehicles and lone tanks may be the only valid targets I can think of.
Of course you COULD upgrade one of the 20mm AT gun tankettes with Roman Orlik - but that would be ahistorical since he was fighting with the cavalry and wasn't part of a motorized (or regular army) force. It's really peculiar that BF did not specify any kind of restrictions on this character - especially when Rommel, Montgomery and de Gaulle are ALL have their "home force" specified...
Anyway, really look forward to playing the motorized and meeting the Leichte Panzerkompanie soon again.
Make sure to check out Anatoli's excellent blog at http://anatolisgameroom.blogspot.com/
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