The Central Front D+22 (31 July 1987) Part III (Bravo)

Dusk fell upon the Central Front, bringing with it the first notes of a precarious pause on the North German Plain. Artillery rumbled sporadically in the distance, but nowhere near as concentrated as it had been earlier in the afternoon. The crack of tank cannons firing and small arms fire popped up periodically as well, but also lacked intensity. The relative quiet was welcomed, though soldiers and officers on both sides of the battleline acknowledged to themselves that it was not going to be permanent. The more insightful and observant ones also regarded it as the calm preceding the next storm.

South of Hamburg, I NL Corps was closing on Uelzen. Units of the Dutch 5th Division were just under 12 kilometers southwest of the town and other Dutch units were approaching from the west. The corps commander, after consultations with NORTHAG had ordered his forces to halt for the night to replenish, make repairs and evacuate casualties. The Dutch would resume their attack early the next morning in concert with larger attack expected to come from US III Corps and attached British and West German brigades at dawn.  Uelzen was the initial objective. Once secure, the 5th Division would sprint for the Inner German Border (IGB) while the 1st Division pushed north to Luneburg with corps support. This move was hoped to convince the Soviets that the Dutch were heading for either Hamburg or Schleswig Holstein and force them to react accordingly.

Wolfsburg was the focal point of activity and attention in the NORTHAG area, however. North of the small city, the US 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and 2nd Brigade/2nd Armored Division reached Phase Line DODGER at the villages of Tappenbeck and Jembeck. Behind them, West German and British armored brigades were moving forward. These allied units were scheduled to pass through US lines around 0200 and spearhead a to the IGB.

South of Wolfsburg, where fighting had been intense through most of the day, the 1st Cavalry Division remainder of 2nd Armored Division were making plans and preparing for the coming twenty-four hours of war. The Cav was back in control of Objective LASORDA following a series of heavy clashes that saw the destruction of at least one Soviet regiment, as well as higher than expected friendly equipment losses and casualties. The Soviets simply did not want to give up the highway interchange, withdrawing only when it was necessary and then counterattacking in greater force a short time later. The fight for Objective LASORDA hung in the balance until heavy US and British air support began concentrating on the assembly areas for Soviet regiments expected to join the battle east of Königslutter am Elm. The air attacks appeared to have finally convinced the Soviet commanders on the ground to abandon the attack. Reconnaissance now showed indications of Soviet forces deploying defensively from around the southern edge of PL DODGER all the way to the border.

At NORTHAG’s forward command post, the army group intelligence chief informed General Crosbie Saint that commitment of the 7th Guards Tank Army did not look to be probable until late the next day. By then, Saint expected to have three divisions worth of combat power within spitting distance of Helmstedt and the border. It was hoped the commitment would come sooner, but  heavy NATO air attacks, and perhaps the fighting at Objective LASORDA, had combined to either change the Soviet plans for 7th GTA. Speculation in Belgium was that the Soviets might deploy the army group in East Germany, expecting NATO forces to cross the border and continue the counteroffensive east into Warsaw Pact territory. Saint had no orders to do this and was confident SACEUR had no intentions of crossing the border. President Reagan had made it clear that the United States and NATO would not go beyond the IGB. Yet it was beginning to appear that the Soviets did not believe this. And if Moscow even suspected NATO forces intended to cross the border, the chances of the Soviets defending Pact territory with nuclear weapons were too high to ignore.

2 Replies to “The Central Front D+22 (31 July 1987) Part III (Bravo)”

  1. Hi Mike. I thought it was about time I said a simple thank you. I came across your blog a few months ago and have been rattling through your years worth of output voraciously. Wow. I have lapped up alt history since Wargames, The Day After, Threads and Tom Clancy and his peers back in the 80s and what you have done sits alongside it all so I doff my hat, Sir, and say a simple thank you. Such a great read.
    I don’t know how you do it all; there must be 32 hours in the day in your alt universe 🙂
    I tell my kids that history is the most important subject at school lest we repeat the mistakes of the past and also to help us prepare for the future and here we are with the waves of war breaking on the shore yet again. Slava Ukraini, I guess, would be some hopeful words to finish my ramblings with.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Mike if only there were 32 hours in the day. 🙂
      I’m very happy to hear you’re enjoying the blog. Thanks for putting in the time and energy to get caught up. If you have any questions or think you missed anything, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

      You are right to emphasize history with your children. I think as a society, we need to show them how and why history is so important. Especially with what’s been happening in Ukraine and other parts of the world lately.
      Slava Ukraini, indeed!

      Like

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