Baltic Approaches D+14 (23 July, 1987) Part III

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The Polish amphibious vessels, and their surviving escorts entered Gdansk Bay shortly after twelve noon. Within ninety minutes the ships were tying up to the docks and not long afterward men and equipment began to disembark. The ships were met by a cadre of senior military officers who briefed them on the situation in Poland. The naval infantrymen were ordered to establish a perimeter around the city by late afternoon and dig in. They would become the defenders of Gdansk.

At Skrydstrup Air Base, the 108th Guards Airborne Regiment was holding its own perimeter with little trouble. The NATO forces opposing them mainly consisted of Danish Home Guard units made up of mainly overweight, out-of-practice reservists. At least that was the Soviet perception of them. Firefights broke out more often as the Danes reconnoitered the perimeter, and every so often the two sides would trade mortar and artillery fire briefly. NATO has not made a serious effort yet to retake the base but the commander of the 108th Guards knows it is just a matter of time before it happens. He estimated that his force could hold out against serious enemy pressure for thirty-six hours.  His greatest concern was ammunition, specifically the number of hand-held SAMs, and anti-aircraft shells remaining. NATO ground attack aircraft and attack helicopters had made their presence felt on the previous day. Soviet airborne troops had fired off a large number of SAMs and AA rounds. When the enemy moved to retake the base A-10s and Cobras would again be in action.

The colonel in charge of the regiment expected reinforcements to arrive before that time came. He didn’t know how long it was going to be until the tanks and BMPs from the Northern Group of Forces arrived. Before taking off Poland his unit was ordered to hold for 24 hours. That deadline had passed and there was no word coming from above about when relief could be expected. 

The remnants of the Soviet amphibious group anchored off of Bornholm receive new orders from the Baltic Fleet headquarters. The ships are to depart at 2300 and sail east towards the Polish ports on the Baltic and make preparations for a possible opposed landing at Gdynia or Gdansk the next day.

In western Jutland the ceasefire between Polish forces and NATO was holding firm. A buffer zone of six kilometers between forward Polish and Danish units was in place and being respected by both sides. The Polish divisions were immobile, and it was not clear to NATO whether or not they were in communication with the government in Warsaw. There was much activity taking place in the Polish formations though. Pro-Soviet officers and NCOs were being rounded up and placed in protective custody where they would not have the opportunity to cause harm. Polish headquarters moved their locations regularly to prevent the Soviets from being able to pin them down. The Poles were under no illusions about their erstwhile Soviet allies. Eventually, the Northern Group of Forces would attack. To help  and minimize the prospects of Soviet air attacks, the senior Pole commander was requesting NATO air cover over his forces as soon as possible.

Northern Group of Forces was already targeting the Poles with strong and heavy jamming of their communications lines, and other electronics. The objective was to isolate the renegade Polish divisions electronically as much as possible, though it wasn’t clear how effective the Soviet efforts were. NGF’s commanding general Colonel General Ivan Korbutov had also ordered a regiment from the 20th Tank Division to position itself between the Polish formations in Western Jutland and the 6th Guards Motor Rifle Division which had been advancing up the eastern half of the peninsula. Later in the day Korbutov was informed by Western TVD that he could expect the arrival of an East German motor rifle regiment later in the evening.

The afternoon went on and preparations for the airmobile attack against the Polish headquarters continued. But then at 1645 another staff officer arrived at NGF’s forward headquarters with revised orders for Korbutov. The airmobile attack was being cancelled, as per Marshal Ogarkov’s order. Instead, NGF’s combat divisions and support elements were to start planning and preparations for an advance against the Polish divisions in Jutland. East German forces would be taking over the advance to relief the paratroopers at Skrydstrup.

The operation against the Poles would commence at 0200 hours on D+15.

15 Replies to “Baltic Approaches D+14 (23 July, 1987) Part III”

  1. Mike, of all the simply amazing things you have written over the past couple of years (!!!) nothing, but nothing hit home like this one simple line:

    “They would become the defenders of Gdansk.”

    Damn, dude. That got me right in the feels.

    History excoriates Jaruzelski, but you’ve crafted this scenario where he’s now faced with defending his homeland, really actually defending it, not “combating the western fascists”, not turning his troops on their own families, and he’s caught between the axe and the millstone, and it is so, so good.

    When later tonight is the next chapter going up? 😉

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Tonight’s chapter was the end of Baltic Approaches. Put it up after I replied earlier 🙂 The Poland conclusion will go up Wednesday night

      Thanks, Bill. Glad my words had an effect.

      Jaruzelski was a realist. Even in the real world when it became apparent the winds were blowing in favor of Solidarity he tried to get out in front of it and hold onto power. Now in this timeline he’s in a similar spot. Going to be interesting!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Same playbook. The Poles got nothing to lose and there will be neutral to friendly (to the Polish) skies.

    Polish Mechanized and and ABN troops are expecting the Russians…. and they are out for blood.

    This won’t end anywhere near as well as they want it to.

    AS for Poland- I noted in an earlier entry that NATO wanted to hunt those amphibs… AS they move out, I expect a NATO sub that got missed to get some shots in. Or some air…

    Opposed landing against equal equipment/trained troops… but one with a reason to want you dead… it too won’t go well for the Russians here. Though how bad is an unknown.

    So much is falling apart….

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Don’t even need a day.

        Its Logistics. Without supplies and reinforcements, you got issues.

        Everything going to Germany has to go through it…. or Over it. And with the strong prospect of partisans being in the mix (Jaruzelski is likely gonna bring up the fight for the Homeland and hint at Guerilla Warfare), it will absolutely chew up manpower AND resources needed for the front. How much, dunno… but I do know alot of those Grade B and C units that *were* moving west are going to be busy fighting in Poland…. or trying to pacify the place.

        “Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics”… and I’ve brought up logistics before. I think….

        The Soviet push cannot afford to take a further hit to supplies. Not when before this, they were taking it in the shorts (to some degree) with deep anti-logistics air strikes. It was brought up in an earlier entry about that.

        On top of all that…. it *might* give the Osties ideas, as alluded to.

        btw- “Defenders of Gdansk…”. Ouch.

        I’m with Bill on that one…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m no military strategist, so what’s the downside to the Soviets ignoring the Polish divisions for the moment, and pressing onwards? Are they an actual threat? Seems like this is a distraction the Soviets can ill-afford at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well without the Polish forces moving north alongside, the Russians left flank is open and vulnerable. Western TVD is coming around to the idea that Denmark is lost more or less. Now it has to keep the virus (Poland resistance) from infecting East Germany. The war will still be won or lost in West Germany

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I think it might be a huge mistake for the Soviets to use the East Germans to attack the Poles. If I were an East German commander I’d be wondering who they’d send against me….and if the Soviets would leave the Germans hung out to dry like they did the Poles. Should be interesting 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If fighting breaks out, the Soviet supply line will be damned and so will the war effort. The alternative of sailing a convoy from Klapeida or Kaliningrad is not attractive, with having the Swedes and Finnish on your flanks and NATO head on. Will the Kremlin get desperate? And by the way, how much of the Soviet Amphib group will survive the trip from Bornholm, there might even be some Swdish forces trying to get a shot. Karlskrona is not too far away….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Those are all good questions. There’s a lot still to be decided in the Baltic and every decision the Soviets make will have ramifications elsewhere

      Liked by 1 person

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