Baltic Approaches D+4 (13 July, 1987) Part II

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The Polish advance against the Jutland Division was on the verge of faltering completely by the late morning. The 12th Mechanized Division’s move to the front had been significantly delayed by a NATO air attack near Winnert. Combat elements of the 12th finally began to arrive and by mid-afternoon and the advance had picked up  once more. Danish resistance did not increase as Polish forces approached the area around B201, where the main NATO defenses were expected to be. Instead, they encountered smaller company-sized rear guard units. It was assumed that these were light reconnaissance units deployed forward of the main Danish line. The advance north continued cautiously, based on this premise. When the first Polish units approached the B201 roadway after dusk it was discovered that the Jutland Division had pulled out of their positions.

Continuing pressure against the West German 6th Panzergrenadier Division led COMLANDJUT to wonder just how tenable the defensive positions in central Schleswig-Holstein were. The West Germans had been hit hard. Their division commander was dead, losses in men and material had been heavy, and the division’s brigades were all experiencing fuel, and ammo shortages. In short, the 6th PgD was approaching combat ineffectiveness. The next Warsaw Pact attack was liable to destroy the division, and breach NATO lines irreparably.

COMLANDJUT saw the writing on the wall. He informed COMBALTAP, and AFNORTH of his intentions to withdraw his combat divisions from their current positions to a new defensive line just south of the Danish border.

The Danes moved first. The Jutland Division’s 3rd Brigade, which had been held in reserve, was alerted to move forward and cover the rest of its parent divisions pullout. Bundestrasse 5 was designated as the main route north. The Danes packed up expeditiously, and discreetly. Its officers and soldiers were well aware that the battle would likely soon reach the soil of their homeland.

For the West Germans, discreetly breaking contact and withdrawing to the north was somewhat more difficult. The Soviet motor rifle division facing them (ironically enough, the 6th MRD!) launched two attacks that turned out to be more bark than bite. An orderly, and stealthy disengagement proved to be a daunting task however, with battalions in and out of contact with their Russian counterparts through the afternoon hours. The British 1st Brigade had moved south to and established blocking positions to cover the West Germans, and the bulk of allied air support went towards assisting the 6th PgD.

Colonel-General Korbutov realized too late what was happening. After receiving reports from the Poles, he ordered the 6th MRD to push forward, suspecting that the West Germans were pulling back as well. Sure enough, when Soviet units reached Schuby, and Schleswig, they were engaged by rear guard forces, not the main elements of the West German division. Enraged, Korbutov considered  pushing the OMG forward to either smash through the retreating NATO units, or cut them off.

As D+4 turned into D+5, Korbutov issued the necessary orders to the 20th Tank Division, his OMG.

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