Chapter seven: a desperate fight
To the west the Stalin line is taking shape and I can finally order the Western Front to withdraw from the punishing blows of the German army. At the place where the German and Hungarian borders meet no ground has been lost yet and only now the Germans start hitting my lines. Unknown to me at the moment I will have to fight for this place once more in less then a month. Not to defend it but to recapture it in a desperate attempt to save the better part of an army. I withdraw my flanks but the distance I have to cover to the Stalin line is further then the ground the Germans and Hungarians have to capture. Once my frontline is broken there is nothing to hold them back for as much as 100 kilometres. Within a week the situation will be considerable worsened by the advance of the supposedly weak Hungarian forces.
Further to the north the fighting is hard. Almost every battle is lost and my losses are always 1.5 to twice as high as those of the Germans. Even though my forces outnumber theirs most of the time. I am doing better then the Soviets did IRL however, holding back the onrushing German panzers for more then ten days and having only lost 30-50 km’s of ground.
As the 21st corps illustrates the losses for this ‘minor defensive success’ are huge. Within ten days 32% of their soldiers are casualties. Which amounts to 9,000 out of 39,000. An astonishing figure.
Before long the 4th corps, 3rd Armies second corps, will take over from them and cover the retreat of the nearly shattered forces. To make matters worse five Fliegerkorps’ start bombing and straffing the 21st, seriously hampering their withdrawal.
Here, in the area the 21st will retreat to, three corps’ of Stavka reserves have taken position. They are at only 1/3 strength and still mobilizing but I hope the terrain, the western reaches of the Pripjet marches, will grant them the time they need to build strength.
If we now take a look at the entire central front we can see a good defensive line shaping up. Western Front units will have to withdraw behind this protective screen as good as they can and proceed to take up positions within the line when they are fit enough to do so. Again the same problem plagues me however, the enemy advances quicker then my troops are able to withdraw.
Quite a difference from the HOI2 tactical and strategic depth, these battles, ain’t it?