The Central Front D+10 (19 July, 1987) Part IV


56th Guards Motor Rifle Division commenced its attack at 1430 hours. Even before the designated time, NATO aircraft and artillery were in action against the advancing tanks, BTRs, and BMPs. Allied air superiority over the battlefield was significant for the defensive efforts of the covering forces in front of the Leine. Conversely, NATO air power was sapping the combat strength out of the advancing Soviet formations before they even came in contact with the enemy.

The US cavalry squadron covering the Germans was initially engaged by a motor rifle regiment. 2/3rd ACR held firm through the afternoon, defeating two attacks. By early evening, the crossing at Brüggen was 50% complete and the Cav began pulling back towards the Leine. The German brigade, and US squadron were both fully withdrawn from the east side of the river by 2000. To the south, the British covering force absorbed a powerful regiment-sized attack, enabling the Belgian brigade’s elements to start their crossings at Alfeld, and Freden in good order. The Brits endured heavy casualties. To compensate for the loss of combat strength, the majority of NATO airpower over the area was designated to support them.

It did not take long for the British/Belgian sector to be identified as the weak point. 56th Guards MRD’s second attack was directed there and centered around the division’s tank regiment. Despite having heavy losses inflicted on it by NATO ground attack aircraft, artillery, and MLRS batteries, elements of the regiment penetrated the British lines. A race to the river developed and as dusk started to fall over the battlefield, the Soviet tanks won, reaching Felden and cutting off one of the escape routes for the British. By this time the Belgians had crossed the river here and the bridges were unceremoniously dropped by NATO combat engineers. The Soviet tanks that entered the town were immediately engaged by US tanks and attack helicopters on the left bank of the river.

At Alfeld, the Belgians were entirely across by late afternoon. Next to go was the northern remnant of the British covering force. They entered the town, closely pursued by a battalion of T-64s. US forces on the left bank provided covering fire, and NATO air support contributed significantly to slowing the Soviets down. The British crossed the river hastily, with the last Scimitar barely getting off the span before combat engineers dropped the bridges in the face of the Soviet tankers and infantrymen.

For NORTHAG the day had progressed as expected. The Soviets had reached the Leine, but not yet in force. The next move for the enemy would be to cross the river in force. The US 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment would exact a price for this, then pull back to join the other NATO units moving to challenge and halt 3rd Shock Army and its follow-on divisions in front of the Weser.

For the Soviets, the Leine had been reached. Now came the hard part: crossing the river in force. It would be an opposed crossing though this was not the overriding concern. The lack of bridging equipment in close proximity to the river was more consequential. In a matter of hours every bridging unit, combat engineer, SPAAG, and mobile SAM unit in 3rd Shock’s sector would be converging on the river. 56th Guards had chased NATO forces across it. Its next step was to secure it, push the US cavalry units off the left bank and pave the way for the 58th Guards MRD and OMG divisions to get across and begin the final phase of the advance on the Weser.

7 Replies to “The Central Front D+10 (19 July, 1987) Part IV”

  1. D+11 will see the Russians leaning about how US forces can be Alabama Ticks…

    Any delay in their crossing is going to see more fire directed at them than one would think was humanly possible.

    Knowing what I know about our firepower even back then… The 56th and the 58th are going to be bled out. They might get across… but what makes it won’t amount to much. Especially when NATO has control of the air.

    D+11 entries will be an interesting read, no doubt.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The attack helos converging on the T62s whose crews decided to become Heroes of the Soviet Union, would’ve been TOW firing Cobras, yes? Or are the Apaches finally in play, in strength?

    Liked by 1 person

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