Posted 11 Apr 2011
A Crossfire scenario that starts when the Fieseler Storch carrying Obergruppenführer Theodor Eicke is shot down near the Russian lines outside Kharkov. SS Division Totenkopf mounted an assault to secure the crash site and recover their commander's body.
The scenario is really an excuse to use my crashed Fieseler Storch objective lovingly painted by Roland Davis. Everything else is flavour.
At the moment I've just filled in the Historical Situation. Needs quite a bit of work to finish.
Historical Situation or Mission
Setting: Near Kharkov; 26 February 1943
The SS Division Totenkopf was formed in October 1939 (Wikipedia: SS Division Totenkopf). The Totenkopf was initially formed from concentration camp guards of the 1st (Oberbayern), 2nd (Brandenburg) and 3rd (Thüringen) Standarten (regiments) of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, and soldiers from the SS-Heimwehr Danzig. The division had officers from the SS-Verfügungstruppe (SS-VT), of whom many had seen action in Poland. The division was commanded by SS-Obergruppenführer Theodor Eicke. Actually Eicke commanded the unit twice:
Gruppenführer Theodor Eicke, 1 Nov 1939 – 7 Jul 1941
Obergruppenführer Theodor Eicke, 19 Sep 1941 – 26 Feb 1943
Eicke was one of the key figures in the establishment of concentration camps in Nazi Germany (Wikipedia: Theodor Eicke).
During the course of the war, Eicke and his division became known for unmatched brutality and several war crimes, including the murder of British POWs in Le Paradis in 1940, the murder of captured Soviet soldiers and the plundering and pillaging of several Soviet villages (Wikipedia: Theodor Eicke).
In Early February 1943 Totenkopf was transferred back to the Eastern Front as part of Erich von Manstein's Army Group South (Wikipedia: SS Division Totenkopf). The division, as a part of SS-Obergruppenführer Paul Hausser's SS-Panzerkorps, took part in the Third Battle of Kharkov, blunting the Soviet General Konev's offensive. During this campaign, Theodor Eicke was killed when his Fieseler Storch spotter aircraft was shot down while on final approach to a front line unit. The division mounted an assault to secure the crash site and recover their commander's body, and thereafter Eicke's body was buried with full military honours. Hermann Priess succeeded Eicke as commander.
Eicke was a popular figure among his troops, gaining him the nickname "Papa Eicke" (Wikipedia: Theodor Eicke).
Eicke was killed on 26 February 1943, several months after being promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer (Wikipedia: Theodor Eicke). While performing a battlefield reconnaissance during the opening stages of the Third Battle of Kharkov, his Fieseler Fi 156 Storch was shot down by Soviet troops 1 kilometer southwest of Artelnoje (near Oryol). An assault group from the division recovered the bodies of Eicke, the pilot and SS-Hauptsturmführer Friedrich from enemy territory. Eicke was portrayed in the Axis press as a hero, and soon after his death one of the Totenkopf's infantry regiments received the honorific cuff-title Theodor Eicke.
The divisional headquarters had temporarily lost contact with its panzer regiment on 26 Feb (Ailsby, 2002). Apprehensive at not being able to contact the regiment by radio, Eicke decided to investigate the situation personally. A Fieseler Storch scout plane was made ready and went on a reconnaissance misson. After a period of scouting the terrain, Eicke spotted elements of the regiment holed up in a small village. He ordered the pilot to land, but the next village was still held by the Soviets, a fact Eicke had not observed. Landing between the two villages, the plane was caught in a hail of bullets, crashed, and was engulfed in an inferno of flames. The panzer regiment immediately attempted to rescue Eicke, but was beaten off. The following morning, the charred bodies of Eicke, his adjutant and pilot were eventually rescued with the loss of several lives by a specially formed assault group. His men were deeply saddened by the loss of their commander and he was given a Viking-style burial at a divisional cemetery near Oreika, Russia.
Crashed Storch Objective
Craig B says
Checked Syndor's Soldiers of Destruction, and Nipe's Last Victory in Russia. Commander of the SS-Totenkopf Division, Eicke, was flying over the front lines in a Storch on the afternoon of 26 February 1943. Soviet AA guns near the village of Artelnoye shot the plane down around 1600 ( or 1630 according to Syndor). Some halftracks from the Recon Battalion under the command is SS Hptschf (Captain) Masarie and a tank commanded by SS Uschf (Sgt) Schindler tried to get to the wreckage of the plane, which was burning. The tank was hit and damaged by AT guns, and the halftracks driven to cover by the fire of the AA guns. The tank tried to approach the wreck and got close enough for an officer on the rear deck of the tank to see that all of the occupants of the plane had been killed. The tank got hit again, and it, and the rest of the force pulled back.
Masarie led a second attempt to recover the bodies the next morning. Syndor says the force was 2 Stug IIIs, 3 tanks, and a motorcycle company. Nipe says it was 2 Stug IIIs, 3 SPWs (i.e. halftracks) and 2 motorcycle platoons. They attacked under cover of artillery fire which knocked out some of the AT guns in Artelnoye. The kampfgruppe reached the plane and occupied the village. The bodies had been stripped of boots, insignia and decorations, biut it seems most of the items taken from the wreck were found near the AA gun positions in Artelnoye, having been abandoned by the Russians when they retreated from the village.
Just a bit of extra historical detail. I checked Glantz's From the Don to the Dnepr. While it did not mention Eicke's death, the text indicates that around this time SS Totenkopf was mainly engaged against elements of 35th Guards Rifle Division (and possibly some elements of 267th Rifle Division).
Steve Phenow says:
When in 26 Feb 1943, the commandant of Totenkopf Division was shot down in
a company of volunteers advanced between three Pz-IV and two Stug IIIs to
recover his body behind Russian lines They fought through a battalion or a
regiment, recovered the bodies, and fought their way back.
I always thought that would make a great game.
I'd scale the armor down two 2 Pz-IV and 1 Stug-III, and add a new class to
the SS company "Fanatics" +1 to pin and suppress rolls, and allow the
Russians a new platoon to come in every time they lost 1. After nine platoons
were destroyed, or the Germans recovered the bodies and exited the board
I think Veteran would be sufficient. With good officers they already auto recover from Pin so the extra +1 isn't needed.
> Steve, where did you get the info on the Russian defenders?
Oh through "Die Geschichte vom 3 SS Panzerdivision Totenkopf." by Mann
> Was there real evidence of a vast array of defenders?
Hauptsturmfuher Masire sure thought so. His report claimed that the 3rd's artillery leveled Michailovka near Eicke's crash, because the Soviets were in battalion strength in that sector. Apparently a Battalion from the 25th Guards Rifles Div. was assigned to the area.
Most retreated from the artillery, but were returning as Masire’s volunteers got to the wreckage and the barrage was lifted. It sounds like the Commissars once they realized what the SS company was doing, tried to cut off the Kompanie's retreat with troops. Masire had to smash through them. The Soviets had no tanks otherwise as Masire admitted "Unsere Gans wäre gekocht worden."
> To be honest an attacking veteran company with AFVs is nicely balanced against
> a hidden regular company with AA guns in defence.
Eicke was shot down because he landed on a HMG platoon dug in on the village outskirts. There was a platoon/company of Pzkw IVs near the villiage. This was what Eicke saw and he assumed the area was clear. The Pzkws had halted because they were out of gas. Hence, they couldn't save him by surpressing the enemy. There is no mention of AA guns unless a DuShkva HMG is an AA gun. The Soviets seemed to have a lot of 14.5 mm AT rifles in the battle, perhaps more then the usual 6 that would be assigned. There was no mention of AT guns in his report.
The reason I wanted auto rally was the volunteers knew that Masire would leave them. This gave them extra incentive to keep up. This is also why I believe there has to be a strong requirement for the Russians to keep arriving. Otherwise the SS kompanie will wipe out any Russian defenders of a similar number since they have superior command and control in crossfire.
Those are my thoughts….
Map produced in href="../../cc2.htm">CC2
Click on the map to the full size version
Key features are:
Russian Player (Defending)
The Russians get a Leg Infantry Battalion.
Russian Leg Infantry Battalion 1943-45
- 1 x BC (+1)
- 1 x Battalion Heavy Weapons
- 3 x HMG
- 3 x FO for off-table 82 mm Mortar (12 FM)
- 1 x 45mm Antitank gun with optional tow
- 3 x Infantry Companies
- 1 x CC (+1)
- 1 x Company Heavy Weapons
- 1 x HMG
- 1 x on-table 50 mm Mortar (12 FM)
- 3 x Rifle Platoons: PC (+1/0) *; 3 x Rifle Squads
- Morale: Regular
- Command & Control: Dependent, i.e. Russian
- * Russian PCs get +1 for close combat but not for rallying.
- Three rifle squads per company can have Anti-Tank Rifles.
Deploys first, hidden.
German Player (Attacking)
Begins scenario with initiative.
The Germans have a Leg Infantry Battalion.
German Leg Infantry Battalion 1943
- 1 x BC (+2)
- 1 x SMG Squad
- 3 x Infantry Companies
- 1 x CC (+2)
- 1 x Company Heavy Weapons
- 2 x HMG
- 1 x FO for off-table 81 mm Mortar (12 FM)
- 1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+2); 3 x Rifle Squads
- 2 x Rifle Platoons: PC (+1); 3 x Rifle Squads
- Morale: Veteran
- Command & Control: Adventurous, i.e. German
- Three rifle squads per company can have Anti-Tank Rifles.
Scenario Special Rules
- HTD Special Rule 4: The Moving Clock is in use. The Scenario begins at 2400 hours and ends 0800 hours. The clock advances 30 minutes on 5+ at the end of each defender initiative.
- HTD Special Rule 1: Night fighting is in use during between 2400 and 0500 hours. Stands are limited to one move action per initiative. A stand that is in cover and has not yet fired during the scenario may not be fired at, except form within the same terrain feature. A stand in the open is fired at normally. All stands get the direct fire cover bonus, regardless of where they are located.
- HTD Special Rule 5: Bogging down is in use. Tanks bog down in woods, rough ground, rock fields, boulder fields, streams, and anti-tank obstacles (ditches, barricades) on 4- on 1d6. They unbog on 5+, becoming permanently mired on 1.
|45 mm ATG||-||+1||-1||-||1/1||1||-2|
|76 mm ATG||-||+1||0||-||4/2||1||-2|
|7.5 cm Pak40||-||+1||+1||-||4/2||1||-2|
|Pz IV G||4/2||0||+1||4||4/2||2||+3|
|251/9 half-track with 75mm IG||1/1||0||+1||4||4/2||3||+1|
Ailsby, C. (2002). SS: hell on the Eastern front: the Waffen-SS war in Russia, 1941-1945. Spellmount.
Mann, C. (2001). SS-Totenkopf: The History of the 'Death's Head' Division 1940-45. Motorbooks International.
Nipe, G. M. (2000). Last Victory in Russia: The SS-Panzerkorps and Manstein's Kharkov Counteroffensive - February-March 1943. Schiffer Publishing.
Syndor, C. W. (1990). Soldiers of Destruction: The SS Death's Head Division, 1933-1945. Princeton University Press.