The Battle for Berlin 1945

A report by Neil Worthington

What follows is a brief account of a Chain of Command game played at my house on Sunday 3 July 2016. The game was an attack/defend scenario with Russian troops advancing into east Berlin and meeting resistance from desperate German defenders. The Soviet forces, commanded by Nick and Neil, consisted of two platoons of regular infantry supported by two T34/85 tanks, a heavy machine gun team and a flamethrower team.

The Germans, commanded by Bryan and Graham, comprised two platoons of infantry accompanied by a Jagdpanther. Graham’s infantry were classed as “green”, making them more likely to suffer casualties than regulars. The photograph below shows the battlefield, the Russians moving in from the right hand side.

View of the battlefield

The patrol phase worked to the advantage of the Russians as a lucky roll of six gave them that number of unopposed patrol marker moves. The Soviet forces were able, therefore, to establish jump-off points running parallel to the road running across the battlefield. The German patrol markers were established a little nearer to their table edge but still close enough to get their men into hard cover swiftly after deployment.

In the first few phases Nick, operating on the Russian left deployed an infantry squad and his T34 on the road and another squad in the largest of the ruined buildings. Neil also brought on two infantry squads and his tank down the central road but the T34 had a lucky escape when the Jagdpanther appeared and narrowly missed with its first shot. The T34 prudently moved to the nearest available cover in the next phase.

On the German side, Bryan began feeding his units into the large, intact factory building to the rear while Graham began deploying two of his squads into the central ruin and the ruined factory on his left. However, his troops began to suffer quite heavy casualties as they came under fire from both Russian platoons. The Germans threw as many smoke grenades as they could to make targeting as difficult as possible.

Nick’s intrepid squad moves forward despite the knocked-out support

The next few phases saw the Germans achieving a significant success as Nick’s T34 was destroyed by a Panzerschreck located in the factory. Undaunted, the Soviet infantry squad on the left continued its advance towards Bryan’s forces . Despite Graham’s best efforts with the use of smoke and cover his green units in the centre were coming under increasing pressure from withering small arms fire (he wasn’t having much luck with the dice either). With the enemy wobbling, the Soviets deployed their remaining infantry squads onto the table. Nick used one of his Chain of Command dice to end the turn, thus removing all smoke from the field and both Russian commanders ordered their teams to pour fire into Graham’s two squads, which were now close to routing. Graham then deployed his Panzerschreck team in an attempt to engage the remaining T34 but the shot missed. The tank replied in the next phase and wiped out the brave attackers. The force morale position for Graham was now becoming serious and he had yet to get his final squad onto the battlefield.

Ultimately, the heavy attrition took its toll on Graham’s central squad and it eventually broke, leaving him with only three force morale pips. Neil’s squads started to advance into the open road, firing on the troops in the ruined factory on his right. Bryan reversed the Jagdpanther behind the factory to deal with the threat on the German right, where Nick’s advancing squad was getting into position to engage all of Bryan’s units which were now firmly established in the factory.

The Soviet squad in position to attack the factory

With further reverses reducing Graham’s force morale position to a precarious two pips, Nick now played a tactical masterstroke, i.e. he rolled three sixes in his phase, ended the turn and Graham’s routing unit was forced to exit the table. This meant that his force morale dropped to zero and effectively he and his troops were out of the game. The Soviets now began a cautious tactical advance with two of Nick’s squads providing a firm base of fire in the tallest ruined building and his squad on the right now in place to attack the factory. The Germans were by no means finished, however, the Jagdpanther now in position to support the platoon in the factory from the right and Nick’s force morale situation steadily worsening.

An extended fire fight now developed between the Russian infantry and the German regulars holding the factory. Bryan was extremely unlucky with officer casualties that were slowly eroding his force morale level and reducing the number of leader activations at his disposal. However, he did have success in breaking Nick’s most advanced squad and he was still tenaciously holding on to the factory. At this point we brought the game to an end as three of the participants had received orders from their commanding officers to return to base. The final position was that the Soviets had twelve force morale points remaining to the German’s five so the Soviets were declared the winners. A thoroughly enjoyable game and many thanks to Nick, Graham and Bryan for taking part.