*Author’s Note: I wasn’t intending for this entry to be short but work became an issue today. Unfortunately, this means Central Front D+12 will wrap up Sunday instead of Friday as I had planned. Sorry about that, guys.
The initial reports of American armor to his division’s front did not surprise the 56th Guards Motor Rifle Division commander. His reconnaissance troops had probably caught sight of what remained of the American regiment that his division had pushed off the western approaches to the Leine. A battalion-sized force did not seem realistic though. But as he was learning, reports given in the midst of combat situations were often exaggerated. Even trained recon soldiers could involuntarily mistake the number of enemy vehicles in front of them. The report of British tanks, and mechanized infantry on Highway One to the northwest of his perimeter is the one that caught his attention.
The Americans he could see, but the appearance of the British in this sector was curious, even alarming. Realistically speaking, a company-sized force was not worthy of great concern, but where there was one, there could very well be more. And given the close proximity to the 56th Guards perimeter, which was guarding the 58th Guards MRD as it crossed the river, the prospect of a spoiling attack did not sit well with him. He passed the reports on to 3rd Shock Army’s forward headquarters and then ordered two of his motor rifle battalions to move forward from the perimeter and engage the American and British forces.
At 3rd Shock Army Group’s forward command post its commanding general is not overly worried when the reports from the motor rifle division on the other side of the Leine reaches his desk. Spoiling attacks were expected and considering that his divisions had faced NATO units from multiple nations in the last forty-eight hours, the presence of both British, and American forces in close-proximity now was no surprise. The greater worry was the progression of the 58th Guards crossing. Too damn slow, in the general’s mind. Timetables were doubly important now. The push towards Hameln was to be underway by late afternoon. So far only one full regiment of the division was across the river. When the 58th was entirely across, it would move northwest clearing out any defending NATO units. Its sister division would advance on a parallel course, expanding the perimeter and covering the left flank of the 58th MRD and follow-on tank divisions.
Soviet and NATO units meet. It becomes clear to the Soviets immediately that the actual size of the enemy force is larger than initially thought. Elements of two British battalions are identified. Apparently, the initial report from 56th Guards reconnaissance companies were incorrect. The tanks at Esbeck were British. American armor was seen earlier moving near Salzhemmendorf but has since disappeared.
1215– 58th Guards MRD completes its river crossing.
1225– Radio intercepts indicate a sizeable NATO heavy maneuver formation, likely American, is approaching Escherhausen from the southwest.
The British force has withdrawn north of Highway One, but 3rd Shock’s commander remains uneasy. Analyzing the data, and filling in the holes with some educated guesses, he believes a British tank brigade is positioned north of the highway and has been probing since earlier in the day. He expects the British will launch a counterattack aimed at the Leine bridgehead soon and isolate the two motor rifle divisions on the western side. As for the reports of American forces approaching from the south, he knew those were inaccurate. The only American units remaining between Hameln and the Leine were the remanants of the cavalry regiment and they were in no condition to launch an attack on their own.
No. The main threat would come from the north.
10 Replies to “The Central Front D+12 (21 July, 1987) Part III”
“The main threat would come from the north…”
This is going to prove to be a mistake, ignoring his south and the intel guys info.
It would be proven four years later in DS that the 105’s on the M1s will pop a T55 from any direction, a T62 from any direction and T72 from side- Front was problematic to a degree on the T72 but they *could* stop them with the 105. The 120…. was bad news for the T72. Period. But if I recall correctly, the 120 only started getting fielded in 1986 but to stateside units first. (My Bn in 1990 didn’t get the M1A1’s with the 120 until AFTER the ground war of DS. I know this as we got ours from a Stateside Unit going home and our 105’s went to the Marines.)
Bradleys… were same-same on the 55 with their twenty-five’s which came as a surprise- especially to our Scouts when they engaged Iraqi armor. They also faced 62’s and 72’s; they found they could pop a T62 from the side reliably and scare ’em from the front. The T72 needed the TOW II from the front- the twenty-five was good for the side though.
Considering the US forces coming north might get sides and rear (!!!!!) shots in this mess…. this is not going to be a good day for the Soviets if I am extrapolating correctly whats coming. If the Sim programs have the proper performance data, this WILL be bloody.
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Assuming there is something coming from the south. I mean honestly, all the Soviet generals have to go on are radio intercepts which could easily be faked. And after heavy jamming was going on through the morning, suddenly there’s a break in it and this info appears out of thin air. I’ve been using this term a lot lately so I’ll use it here: The Soviets might end up being grin-fucked before the end of the day. 🙂
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It’s worth noting that T72s and T55s of Iraqi vintage are a poor example against which to compare the Soviets. The T-64 is the primary centerpiece of the Soviet Army until the introduction of the T-80, both of which were modernized and share the same 125mm gun, ERA system, and various optics. They’re the real meat of the Soviets, and it’s well documented that they downgraded or outright shitmodded export equipment.
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Can’t say I blame them. No point giving out the best equipment to some nations like Nicaragua, Syria and such. The difference with Iraq is that they had battle-hardened, experienced troops manning that equipment. So that made up the difference to a degree. That certainly didn’t help when the shooting started though. Training and equipment-wise they were outclassed
no no…. I get that its an assumption on our part. But such reports really should not be ignored and verification done.
I understand the mindset being exhibited… and Soviet thinking its nothing DOES make some sense.
But given American Chaos Theory of War, we do have the annoying habit of being places no one expects us to be. And I should think the Soviet Generals would know this.
That the Brits are there…. when they were not expected…. should be an indicator of something is amiss. Mind you, this is my way of thinking cause I am a firm believer if it don’t sound right or look right, it likely ISN’T right…. Fog of War is a right royal bitch; however, not investigating further because assumptions…. is dangerous and can be deadly. 🙂
Next two chapters will tell the tale, my brother- I know this… and I look forward to them immensely, as does everyone else, I’m sure..
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Glad to hear that you’re looking forward to it, John. Truth be told I’m looking forward to writing it up tomorrow. The outline and notes are all completed. Now comes the part I really love: bringing it to life. Just wish work wasn’t such a pain these last couple of days. With the pandemic and everything I still have to contribute now and then, my medical leave be damned 🙂
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Work is work. This is a labor of love and it pretty damn cool- as you get to it, you get to it.
*goes off to get a beer and some chips for next parts*
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Break out the popcorn and beer. Just posted one. The conclusion for the Central Front comes Monday. 🙂
Absolutely love the story you have crafted and I cannot get enough. I have always had a fascination around a potential NATO – WP conflict, especially in the 80s.
One question that I have always pondered would be how what role would the Inner German Border play? In many areas the border wall was significant, would need breaching and would act as a funnel that would be easy to detect and target via artillery/CAS. Other portions of the border were much more conducive to masses of Soviet armor advancing right through.
I have never been able to find any info on the time it would take Soviet forces to breach breach the IGB and how much that would tip their hand to NATO.
Would love to get your thoughts on that and please keep the posts coming!
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Andrew, Thanks for checking in. 🙂
The areas where the Soviet tanks were set to come through were pretty well situated and easy for them to get through. They knew where they were going to cross and laid their plans out with that in mind. For that matter, so did NATO. The big difference is that NATO knew it could never stop the Soviets right on the border. So, instead of loading the approaches to the IGB up with loads of armor, they instead put smaller, maneuverable units up close to the frontier. Armored cav for the US, and the British had units set up along similar lines. Their mission was to delay, not stop. I think as far as border crossings go, the most difficult would’ve been up north east of Hamburg. A lot of lakes and wetland in that area, leaving only a few places where the Soviets could really cross.
Hope this helps. If you have any other questions just pop them over 🙂