By 1945 German forces were being pushed relentlessly back by the advancing Soviets. However, despite the deteriorating situations limited counter-attacks were still possible. German forces, drawn from elements of the 1st SS Panzer Division, were thrown in to counter a recent breakthrough by elements of the 1st Czechoslovak Corps.
Kampfgruppe Siebken comprised three fighting battalions. Specifically 1st and 2nd SS Panzer Grenadier Battalions and a composite Panzer Battalion under Staude drawn from the divisions Panzer elements. The Kampfgruppe was further supported by three weak companies of assault guns and two artillery battalions. SS Lieutenant Colonel Siebken’s plan was simple. He would attempt to hold the centre with the reinforced 1st Panzer Grenadier Battalion while his remaining battalions would swing in a wide arc on what he hoped would be an exposed Czech right flank. The Panzers were refuelled and the Panzer Grenadiers issued ammunition. The Czech advance must be halted and then rolled up.
Spearheading the advance was 1st SS Panzer Grenadier battalion, commanded by SS Major Mollhof, which had taken up its allocated blocking position by early afternoon in its central location. This battalion was supported by a weak company of Jagdpanzer IVs and another understrength company of Jagdpanthers drwn from 560th Heavy Panzerjager Battalion. Mollhof deployed the battalion in four blocks to generally provide inter-supporting positions, especially on the right where the main Czech attack was expected. In the centre a small hamlet formed the central point. To the left Jagdpanthers and infantry held a small hillock covering open ground. To the right of the hamlet a wood and wooded hill completed the battalion position. This position would be further reinforced by off-table 105mm guns.
The Czechs advanced rapidly in four large battalions sized formations. These battalions were supported by heavy concentrations of mortars and towed guns which would deploy forward in support of the advancing battalions. Their tanks were massed on their right and led the advance and one battalion was supported by at least two companies of tank riders. Czech infantry advanced in the centre and left centre.
Above, the general situation with the Czechs advancing from the bottom and the Germans from the top. The 1st SS Panzer Grenadier Battalion defensive position is in the left centre and is centred on a small town some distance from a larger town.
Simultaneously to the Czech entry to the area of operations SS Major Max Junge’s 2nd SS Panzer Grenadier Battalion moved into the area, advancing to the left of 1st Battalion. 2nd Battalion was to form part of a two battalion attack on what was expected to be the exposed Czech right flank. Staude’s Panzers were to be further to the left and were tasked with a deep envelopment designed to arrive behind the advancing Czechs. Circling overhead however was a flight of Soviet Sturmovik who now descended on Junge’s battalion. Unfortunately the German battalion’s flak elements were still to the rear covering a supporting company of Stugs. The result was a series of decimating attacks on one of the Panzer Grenadier companies. However, once the air attacks ceased the battalion advance continued resulting in it seizing a small town and the a larger wooded hill which formed its initial objectives. In time the supporting Stugs deployed between this hill and town with the battalions AA deployed nearby. The battalion was now to await the arrival of Staude’s composite Panzer battalion. From Schnelle’s position on the hill the advancing Czech armour was clearly visible.
Indeed, the Czech armour was advancing rapidly. The Czechs deployed two battalions of T34/85s with at least two companies of SMG armed tank riders in the ground below. Astride the Czech armoured advance, in the centre, was the Jagdpanther company with their velocity 88s deployed on a small hillock with a weak company of Panzer Grenadiers from 1st Battalion in support. To the Czech right was the higher ground now controlled by the 2nd SS Panzer Grenadier battalion. However, the Czechs were massed and their weight of numbers indicated a massive breakthrough was imminent. All was dependent on the Jagdpanthers, and their associated panzer grenadiers, halting the advance.
Above, the Czech advance has cleared the high ground and advances on the German centre. 2nd SS Panzer Grenadier Battalion has secured the high ground, top right.
As the first of the T34s crested a higher hill some distance from the Germans positions the Jagdpanthers fired from their concealed positions. Alas with little impact. Now aware of the German position Czech infantry dismounted while their tanks pressed forward to reduce the range. The Jagdpanthers continued to fire with minimal impact. In contrast the Czech T34s wrecked havoc on the Jagdpanthers. In less than less than 30 minutes the Jagdpanther company was non-operational. Now the the German Panzer Grenadiers would need to repelling Czech infantry who closed on the hillock…
Above, the weak Panzer Grenadier company, now without Jagdpanthers, prepares to halt an attack by Czech infantry while Czech armour move to the right.
On the other flank of the same 1st SS Panzer Grenadier Battalion a Czech infantry battalion had run in to another company strong point deployed in a wood. Some Czech attempts to close assault the position were driven back by the staunch defenders of the fatherland. While this Panzer Grenadier company, supported by a series of artillery fires, held the attack, a second company supported by a company of Jagdpanzer IVs counter-attacked. The Czech advance here was halted. Alas, future German attacks here would be limited as massed Czech counter-battery fires had by now silenced the German 105mm guns which were needed to support any further offensive operations.
Meanwhile, the battle on the opposite flank continued. Here the 2nd SS Panzer Grenadier Battalion, having gained the high ground, faced unsupported T34s. These T34s were driven back by Mollhof’s Panzer Grenadiers who had been assembled into tank hunting teams. Indeed, these attacks taking place over an hour, resulted in half of the Czech T34s being destroyed. The site of T34s reversing from advancing Panzer Grenadiers reminded many veterans of the heady days of 1941 and their success was soon broadcast on Berlin radio!
Above, two companies of 2nd SS Panzer Grenadier Battalion force unsupported T34s to retire.
Some two hours after the battle began Staude’s Panzers finally entered the area of battle. Advancing rapidly Staude’s battalion sized group comprised Panzer IV’s, SPW mounted Panzer Grenadiers and flak, visible below on the right, moved rapidly against a portion of the Czech artillery park which had been deployed forward.
While the Czechs tried rapidly to redeploy a number of 76mm guns night was fast approaching. With it was any hope that Kampfgruppe Siebken could counter the massive breakthrough in the centre of his area of operation. However, 1st SS Panzer Division, and in particular Kampfgruppe Siebken remained a force in being and the war was not lost just yet…
The above scenario was developed using the Spearhead Scenario Generation System which can be found at this site. The scenario was an “Advance to Contact” scenario where both German and Czech players used their attack lists. Given the game was set in 1945 opportunities for anything other than an Allied attack were limited. However, the Germans managed to gain a degree of local initiative and a fluid situation developed, likely due to a breakthrough by the Czechs.
The German player started with one battalion on-table and the remaining battalions entering during the game. The Czech player, Luke Ueda- Sarson, received a free Option A due to the tactical situation. Concerned by the threat of the enemy T34/85s, and the inability of the Stugs and Panzer IVs to counter these vehicles, the German commander requested additional support from Divisional HQ for the engagement. This came in the form of a company of Jagdpanthers and additional flak. In game terms these reinforcements were available by the German player selecting an Option B. This however came with a heavy victory point penalty, modelling the greater expectation that higher commanders now placed on the local commander to achieve results. In game terms this meant the German player needed to inflict heavy casualties on the Czechs and carry the battle to the enemy. Alas for the German player he failed to secure this convincing game victory, and indeed victory was achieved by the Czech commander.