The Central Front D+15 (24 July, 1987) Part V

1705– 6th Guards Tank Division is entirely on the eastern bank of the Leine at Freden. The tail-end elements are moving into the area south of the crossroads of B64 and B3 roadways which has been designated as the division’s rear area.

1730– Crossing operations get underway at the now-operational Greene bridgehead. Lead elements of 8th Guards Tank Division are the first units to move across the river with the division’s heavier tank and motor rifle regiments anxiously awaiting their turns.

1750– 3rd Shock Army’s commander monitored progress at the bridgeheads and anxiously glanced at the clock every few minutes. Time was becoming a critical factor once again with dusk now just under three hours away. As reluctant as he, and his superiors were to admit openly, NATO’s control of the skies over the battlefield after dark was almost complete. The extent of the Freden and Greene bridgeheads would be realized by NATO and it would only be a matter of time before their airpower made a concerted effort to destroy the southern Leine bridgeheads. It was crucially important for most of 8th Guards TD to be across the river and moving by midnight, otherwise the entire battleplan would unravel.

1755– In the Group Soviet Forces Germany (GSFG) wartime command bunker deep in the German Democratic Republic, General Boris Snetkov reached the same conclusion. Earlier in the afternoon, through intimidation and outright threats, Snetkov gained a solemn vow from his air commanders that the southern bridgeheads would be protected by at least one regiment of Su-27 Flankers through the night. Snetkov was uncertain how well the agile fighter aircraft could fight in the dark, or how proficient the pilots were in night air combat. Frankly, he didn’t care if the regiment was completely destroyed by first light, so long as the bridgeheads remained intact and operational through the evening.

1835– A second attack by the 47th Guards Tank Division in the late afternoon had pushed the West Germans from Halle. Given the proximity of the village to the Weser, the West German 20th Panzer Brigade counterattacks at once and checks the continued Soviet advance north in their sector for the time being.

2000– With pressure mounting on the approaches to Hameln, the West German 7th Panzer Division is planning a brigade-sized strike on the right flank of the 47th Guards TD to drive a wedge between the tank division and the motor-rifle division to its east. If successful, the attack should relieve pressure on the West German and British defenders in front of Hameln.

2024- NATO airstrikes against the Leine bridges commence. The heavy presence of Soviet fighters over the southern bridgeheads sparks curiosity, and then concern at NORTHAG and then in Brussels as the news travels up the line.

2040– A Belgian Alouette II light helicopter reports the presence of Soviet bridges at Greene.

2100– A Belgian Mirage flies a recon mission in that area and confirms the earlier report

2150– The first air attacks are made against the Greene bridgehead, with moderate damage being inflicted. Going from the reports of the Belgian F-16 pilots who flew the mission, NATO intelligence officers estimate a Soviet tank division is in the process of crossing the Leine, with another division preparing to cross at Freden.

2300– News of two or more Soviet divisions moving towards, or crossing the Leine in front of the Belgians sends multiple NATO command posts into near panic.

2322– Two-thirds of the 8th Guards TD is now on the western side of the Leine. The division commander estimates the entire division will be across by 0030 and moving west.

2345-General Snetkov is updated on the situation near the Weser by his intelligence chief, who is quite concerned that NATO is becoming aware of the Soviet grand plan. Snetkov waves the apprehension away. NATO could never be kept in the dark indefinitely, he knew. Yet in this case, they’d been blinded just long enough for 3rd Shock to skillfully, and expeditiously maneuver the bulk of the follow-on tank army within striking distance of the river. All that now stood between the Soviet divisions and the Weser was a thin line of Belgian troops.

2352– That was the same conclusion SACEUR was coming to in Brussels. There was no mistaking it now. The main Soviet attack was not aimed at Hameln. It was about to fall to the south with the probable objective of reaching the Weser at Höxter and establishing a crossing in force. If that took place, the Ruhr Valley and Low Countries would be directly threatened.  NATO would have little choice but to disengage along the length of NORTHAG’s area of responsibility and establish a new defensive line far to the west. To put it bluntly, NORTHAG had been caught with its pants down.

2359– General Galvin, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, officially relieves General Martin Farndale of his duties as NORTHAG commander-in-chief and personally orders the 1st Cavalry Division to pack up and head south to Höxter immediately.

23 Replies to “The Central Front D+15 (24 July, 1987) Part V”

  1. *If* they can get there quick enough and *if* they go entirely loaded-for-bear, 1/227 *might* buy the Belgians some time before they get rolled over. Big “if” tho.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. These divisions now coming on line are part of the follow-on tank army but under 3rd Shock’s command until they force the Weser. Right now, 3 divisions in the southern part of the battlespace. 6th Guards TD is deployed, 8th Guards TD is crossing and behind it is another division is approaching the crossing points. So, 2 deployed Soviet divisions (one Cat B, one Cat A) vs a Belgian division and one US heavy brigade in the short term (next 24 hours.) Unless the remainder of the 1st Cav can get south and deploy in a hurry.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Farndale blew it. And the Cav is about to actually justify that River and open field on its damn patches.

    “Horses they never rode, the river never crossed and the ground never took…”

    I had a Cav Trooper tell me that.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Farndale was looking the wrong way and stuck to his guns. It didn’t work out.

      As for the Cav…..its patch will be justified in West Germany instead of the Wild West. Ironic and fitting at the same time.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. It brings Tolkien to mind…

      “Where now are the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
      Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
      Where is the harp on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
      Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
      They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
      The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
      Who shall gather the smoke of the deadwood burning,
      Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?”

      I don’t say that idly; he was a man who saw his friends die at the Somme.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Tolkien was there and did that. His words and observations stem from experience, true.
        In this particular case, the smoke of the deadwood burning is more likely from the hulks of burning tanks and armored vehicles.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Hey, the worst thing that’s going to happen to Farndale is he goes home, joins the Labour party and picks up a cabinet position, writes a scathing and increasingly looked-at-with-arched-eyebrow account of the conduct of the war…if he was on the other team he’d suffer a “brain hemorrhage” on his way to the rear for this level of screw-up. Probably more than a couple of generals and admirals on the Red side are going to suddenly have that same condition.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, Farndale’s military career might be coming to an end, but there are political prospects in his future. LOL And yeah, if he were on the other side, he’d never make it back home.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. If you ask me the Cavalry is going to arrive late, they are just getting their orders and they need to saddle up, recon the roads and go. The Soviets are already there, have their orders and are moving. If they stick to their procedures, combat patrols are already proving the Weser (composed of a handful of BMPs and BRDMs) looking for weak spots.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s going to be tight, Jose. A lot has to do with the Belgians. They may have to sacrifice themselves to buy enough time for the Cav to get there. Remember too, one US brigade is already in reserve just outside Hoxter. They’re going to play a role in buying time for the rest of the Cav to get there in time.


    1. Hmmmm….nah. Even the bad guys need to have some fans 🙂 Heck, I still root for the Empire when I watch Star Wars


  5. Things to ponder, courtesy of Murphy’s Laws of Combat Operations:

    The enemy diversion you’re ignoring is their main attack.
    The enemy invariably attacks on two occasions: (1) when they’re ready, (2) when you’re not.
    No OPLAN ever survives initial contact.
    There is no such thing as a perfect plan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And don’t forget (although this is a bit more tactical than operational level): If you’ve built a perfect defensive position the enemy can’t get into, you’ve built a perfect siege enclosure you can’t get out of.

      Liked by 1 person

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