Der Adler, der Wolf, und die Sonne: Die Geschichte des Stahlpakts

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
VIII: OPERATION WHITE EAGLE, POLAND, FEB 1942

Wraith11B

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8jgpRFD.png

Despite nearly four years’ worth of what could essentially be described as warning, the attack of the Wehrmacht gained operational and tactical surprise on their Polish adversaries. The Heer’s plan was simple: the infantry would conduct fixing attacks while the Panzer-divisionen would break through into the rear to and cut Warsaw off from the rest of the country.

A comparison of the orders of battle for both nations.
iQgtsPQ.jpg


The Poles had split their army roughly evenly between their two enemies: eighteen infantry and two cavalry divisions guarded both borders with Germany and the Soviet Union, but two mountain infantry divisions were also on the frontier with the Soviet Union. The Polish Air Force was formed from two wings each of interceptors and tactical bombers, based in airfields around Danzig. The small Polish navy consisted of five destroyer divisions and one submarine group.

The Heer would send the majority of their regular ground forces. The Reserve-Divisionen and Feldgendarmerie-Divisionen--holding the West Wall against the French and the North Sea against the possibility of invasion from the British--would be held back from the operation, and two infantry and two motorized corps would not participate. It was the exact opposite in the Kriegsmarine: the advanced battlecruisers, light cruisers and submarines would be held in port while the ancient pre-dreadnaught battleships Schleswig-Holstein and Schlesien, supported by the light cruiser Emden, the destroyer squadrons and the coastal submarine squadrons of Kommando u-Boot Ausbildung (KuBA) and U-boat-Geschwaders (UbG) I, II and III. The Luftwaffe dedicated the majority of their bomber (both close-air support and tactical), fighter, and transport squadrons to support operations in Poland, Goering retained all interceptor squadrons in the west of the country to protect against the expected British bomber attacks.

On the first day of combat, the Heer engaged the massively out-numbered Poles on every part of the border. In overall command was Oberkommando Ost (OKO), which held the army group commands Heeresgruppen A, holding Armee Oberkommando (AOK) 1, 2, 3 and 4. The Wehrmachtamt retained command of XI AK, which was the command group for all three Gebirgsjager-divisionen (GbJD) and XII AK which held the Fallschirmjager-divisionen (FsJD).



Maps of the overall strategic picture and detailed pictures of the various regions.

iTwuLB7.jpg


9CHL995.jpg


prgXr4O.jpg


EXu9tA6.jpg


bpul4hN.jpg


From the East Prussian enclave, the three corps of AOK 1--holding I, III and V Armeekorps, or AK--launched several corps-sized attacks. The attack of V AK launched from the Johannisburg-Lotzen-Gumbinnen line against the Lomza-Augustow-Suwalki area, a front of nearly 69 kilometers. This was held by only two Polish infantry divisions, and resistance was overcome within three days. From Osterode and Ortelsburg, III AK launched a two-pronged attack into the Brodnica and Ostroleka areas, as the Mlawa area was a 43 km gap between the two infantry divisions. Both of those divisions turned and fled after barely a day of fighting.

I AK (holding the Elbing-Marienwerder area) and VII AK (holding the Lauenburg-Butow front) had been tasked with reducing the Polish Corridor. I AK would attack across the Vistula, with the hope that VII AK could then approach unhindered from the rear. I AK’s 31 and 41 Infantrie-Divisonen (ID) and the headquarters division attacked south into Grudziadz while 21 ID attacked into Tczew alone. 1 and 11 ID conducted the river crossing into Danzig while 37, 47 IDs and the VII AK headquarters attacked from the rear. Despite being in AOK 3, VII AK supported the two divisions of I AK superbly, and 7, 17, and 27 IDs attacked into Koscierzyna to protect the flank and seal off the Corridor. The two battles into Tczew and Danzig would take nearly a week to prosecute, and face some of the hardest fighting and heaviest losses for the Heer during the campaign, mostly due to air attacks conducted by the Polish Air Force which--despite the propaganda--was not destroyed on the ground in the opening days of the war. AOK 3 held four corps (VII, IX, XIII (mot), and XIV (mot)), but only two--VII AK and IX AK--were at the front. IX AK was holding the Neustettin to Scheidemuhl line, and their attack focused on a 43 km front from Wiecbork to Rogozno.

AOK 2 (entirely infantry) and AOK 4 (three Panzerkorps (PzK) and two motorised infantry corps which were not deployed for the campaign), covered the southern half of the operation. Despite the presence of six Armeekorps (II, IV, VI, VIII, X and XI (MTN)) and their 33 divisions, only sparse attacks were made, as there were significant gaps in the Polish front for the Heer to exploit. On the Kreuz - Zullicuiav line, II AK attacked with the 12, 22 and 42 ID and Headquarters division into Opalenica. IV AK sent three divisions (24, 34, 44 IDs) into Rawicz. One of the toughest battles in the south was in the VI AK area of operations, where three infantry and the headquarters divisions attacked into the fortified region of Katowice, this fight would take nearly three days before the Polish 9th Division retreated. The other was spearheaded by VIII AK, launching a four division attack against Cesky Tesin, held by the Polish 7th Division. This battle would last for four days and cause over 1400 casualties.

Py2yvvo.jpg

Fallschirmjagers fighting around Warsaw. Three combat jumps, one for
each of the three divisions, were executed during the campaign; and the
experience informed how they would be employed in the future.

It is worth noting that none of the Panzer-divisionen were engaged on the first day, nor even the second. Theirs was a true exploitation role throughout. In the AOK 3 area of operations, I PzK’s forces were not committed until after the infantry had pushed the opposing forces off away from the border, and would not become seriously engaged until supporting the assault on Warsaw on 12 September. In the south, II PzK had only open country between them and their objective: Krakow, which was the same for III PzK and their objective of Lodz. Both of those cities were occupied only by headquarters units, and were not ready for the airborne operations of the Fallschirmjagers. The first engagement for any of the Panzer-divisionen was when the five divisions of III PzK were engaged in Koscian by retreating elements of the Polish 15th Division, who rapidly withdrew from the onslaught.

TPXoyEH.jpg

A collection of pictures from the campaign. Top: a platoon of Pzkpfw.IVBs
gets ready for their advance towards Warsaw. Left: infantry under fire
during the battle of Tszew, one of the bloodiest battles of the campaign.
Right: a wounded dispatch rider.

Once Krakow was secured, the II PzK turned north to cut off Warsaw from the south, and sent 2, 4, and 6 PzD to support the 3FsJD’s assault on Warsaw. The I PzK was advancing slowly from the west, but consistently was diverted because of retreating Polish forces along the Vistula river and could not detach from these engagements which slowed their advance down. In the end, it mattered little, the Polish army was not equipped to deal with the Panzers and their doctrinal approach was based on what had worked against the Soviets in the 1920 war: infantry holding key terrain while cavalry could use the wide plains to sweep behind their opponents and into their supply lines. The other failure for the Poles was their failure to concentrate their forces against the Germans: none of their divisions holding against the possibility of the Soviets invading were ever engaged and with the collapse of effective resistance in the west, those divisions disappeared, with their forces fleeing to Romania and Lithuania for escape to Britain. Nor did the navy fare much better: in a series of four engagements during their attempt to execute Operation Peking, all Polish destroyers were sunk, though the submarines made it to Britain.

HLbegtd.jpg

The two pre-dreadnaught battleships in port in Danzig. These vessels were
far past their prime, yet continued to be pressed into active war service.

The consternation felt by the Poles against the British for their failure to properly support the resistance was acute. The British failed to mount a serious operation to deploy ground forces, of course, as they would have had to negotiate the Kattegat and Denmark was still solidly pro-German, despite their claim of neutrality. The Royal Navy was ordered to undertake a relief effort against the Kriegsmarine, and dispatched a task force centered on the light aircraft carrier Hermes and supported by two heavy and three light cruisers. It should have been more than sufficient to deal with Raeder’s SAG Baltisch--centered on the two old pre-dreadnaught battleships--but the sudden appearance of a Royal Navy task force in the Oresund caused something of a panic in the halls of Shell-Haus in Berlin, leading to the sortie of the battlecruiser groups, and indirectly to the series of engagements around Denmark.


*****​
Author's Note: I'm back! Whew, this update took awhile... more from my desire to make those maps and the OOBs than anything, really. I am frustrated with myself because I don't have a good grasp on the real "flow" of the action here; I don't know when particular areas were occupied nor a more refined view of the timing of battles because I only have by day versus by hour. This is also before I was taking screenshots of everything, so I can't even go off of that... ugh. Anyways, hope you all enjoy it!
 
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stnylan

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The Polish strategic situation is just really crap.

The maps are great :)
 

nuclearslurpee

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Really nice maps, and some good detail without getting bogged down in individual battles (which for a major power can really slow down any AAR which is not solidly prepared to exist in slower-than-real-time!).

I've seen this before, but never asked: what do you do to get the maps without any unit counters on which you draw all those regional deployments? I hope you've found a better way to do that than reloading a save and deleting all the units! :eek:
 

Wraith11B

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The Polish strategic situation is just really crap.

The maps are great :)

It really is, and thank you! I feel like the Poles get screwed in almost every WW2 game...

Really nice maps, and some good detail without getting bogged down in individual battles (which for a major power can really slow down any AAR which is not solidly prepared to exist in slower-than-real-time!).

I think I've crossed over into slow-time this year, but we'll see. I also need to make a better way to track battles that is more intuitive and shows a bit of "unit cohesion" but given the size of the conflict for me, I think I'll have to just deal with it.

I've seen this before, but never asked: what do you do to get the maps without any unit counters on which you draw all those regional deployments? I hope you've found a better way to do that than reloading a save and deleting all the units! :eek:

Yes. I totally have found a better way to do it...
j4yDwZk.gif
 

Finshades

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Lovely! Great update, all in all, and the pictures do a great job showing what's going on. The OOB images leave a bit to be desired, though, the quality is so low that the red texts especially are pretty much illegible (though that may just be me). I suspect that has to do with compression of images on this forum and not something you can help, unfortunately. The era pictures in particular are a massive plus.

Upcoming naval battles, woooo!
 

nuclearslurpee

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I think I've crossed over into slow-time this year, but we'll see. I also need to make a better way to track battles that is more intuitive and shows a bit of "unit cohesion" but given the size of the conflict for me, I think I'll have to just deal with it.

If you haven't already, you might look into the old Great Patriotic War AAR by loki100. He had a masterful manner of grouping battles around key strategic maneuvers and objectives, while still including most of the significant single battles to whatever degree was most useful to the AAR, and so might serve as inspiration for your own efforts.

Yes. I totally have found a better way to do it...
j4yDwZk.gif

Aw damn.
 

guillec87

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yeeeeees! finally!!
 

Wraith11B

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Lovely! Great update, all in all, and the pictures do a great job showing what's going on. The OOB images leave a bit to be desired, though, the quality is so low that the red texts especially are pretty much illegible (though that may just be me). I suspect that has to do with compression of images on this forum and not something you can help, unfortunately. The era pictures in particular are a massive plus.

Upcoming naval battles, woooo!

Yes, and for that I apologise. If you'd like a full sized one for reference, I'll gladly provide a link to one that won't hurt your eyes! I also will try and sort out a better color to use... I only have limited options from Piktochart.

If you haven't already, you might look into the old Great Patriotic War AAR by loki100. He had a masterful manner of grouping battles around key strategic maneuvers and objectives, while still including most of the significant single battles to whatever degree was most useful to the AAR, and so might serve as inspiration for your own efforts.

Aw damn.

Funny you should mention that particular AAR, that's the AAR that convinced me to write this story, in the original form (see the first post for the links to those two attempts!), and his format for recording events and everything has been modified for my use.

yeeeeees! finally!!

:D
 

Bullfilter

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Second the motion on the maps! If I want a blank map like that, I load as another country far away that has no knowledge of any of the unit locations of the participants. Fog of war might make it a little dark, but you can use a basic pic editor to brighten it up if necessary. ;) Not sure if it would be pretty enough to use with your other slick graphics though. :)

I feel the agony of Poland every time this happens, especially when the Soviets then stab the back. I haven’t yet (tried a couple of times) been able to hold Poland in a traditional 1936 Pro-Allies standard game. Even harder than holding onto France, which I finally did after about 4 attempts.

Another of the many HOI3 projects I have in mind for an AAR :rolleyes:. I’m up to about 4-5 of those racked up in the ready round bin! :D
 

El Pip

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Poland falls as usual, though they do have some right to complain about the cheesiness of the tactics used against them - dropping a parachute division into a dense urban area (like say Krakow) should be a good way to get said division killed. But as we all know HOI3 don't work that way. ;) Excellent coverage of the war, I wouldn't worry too much about the lack of detail this time around, it's Germany invading Poland so the outcome was never in doubt and extra detail about exactly when each city fell is arguably superfluous.

The war in the West however should be much closer, by '42 the French will have completed the modernisation of the AdA and have got all their decent artillery and tanks built. Plus those extra years mean some of the worst of the French generals should have got too old and retired (Gamelin will be 70 in '42, surely he has been pushed out). Alas I fear France is as doomed as Poland, not least because Paradox has deliberately crippled the French AI to make it easier for German players, but one can hope they make it at least a bit of a fight.
 

nuclearslurpee

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Second the motion on the maps! If I want a blank map like that, I load as another country far away that has no knowledge of any of the unit locations of the participants. Fog of war might make it a little dark, but you can use a basic pic editor to brighten it up if necessary. ;) Not sure if it would be pretty enough to use with your other slick graphics though. :)

I feel the agony of Poland every time this happens, especially when the Soviets then stab the back. I haven’t yet (tried a couple of times) been able to hold Poland in a traditional 1936 Pro-Allies standard game. Even harder than holding onto France, which I finally did after about 4 attempts.

Another of the many HOI3 projects I have in mind for an AAR :rolleyes:. I’m up to about 4-5 of those racked up in the ready round bin! :D

I seem to recall having once, long ago, come across an AAR that I seem to recall was a successful defense of Poland, and the strategy used was to build hordes of Militia just to fill the front lines and retreat to a ring around Warsaw. I remember another AAR where the authAAR either lost or gave up after several years of feirce resistance...don't remember if they're the same AAR.

At any rate, if you can do it without unduly throwing the game out of whack, that will surely be an exciting ride. Perhaps a "true AAR" in the quick-and-dirty style? :D

dropping a parachute division into a dense urban area (like say Krakow) should be a good way to get said division killed. But as we all know HOI3 don't work that way.

I would assume that the drop "in actuality" would be in the surrounding terrain, after which the paratroop division(s) would regroup and press into the city proper. The real problem is that HoI3 does a poor job of modeling the urban defenses that would be found in any city - if nothing else, a pretty standard garrison battalion with AA would do a serviceable job of holding down the fort, although perhaps Poland would be lacking in proximity fuses for use as ad-hoc HE rounds against light paratroopers.

Before we're too quick to excuse Paradox here, since after all it's a reasonable design decision to limit unit sizes to brigade/regiment at the smallest, let us remember that similar "undefended city" problems have been solved in other games. Civ 5, for all its flaws, had the clever bit of allowing cities to fire on attackers with an intrinsic defensive garrison, so certainly Paradox could have come up with _some_ similarly clever solution.
 

Bullfilter

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I seem to recall having once, long ago, come across an AAR that I seem to recall was a successful defense of Poland, and the strategy used was to build hordes of Militia just to fill the front lines and retreat to a ring around Warsaw. I remember another AAR where the authAAR either lost or gave up after several years of feirce resistance...don't remember if they're the same AAR.

At any rate, if you can do it without unduly throwing the game out of whack, that will surely be an exciting ride. Perhaps a "true AAR" in the quick-and-dirty style? :D
I certainly remember the more recent of those (the second one you mentioned) and followed it through until its very-nearly-the-end. May have seen the earlier one, but I'd largely tackle the challenge in a 'home grown' way and, like with France, try a few ways of doing it. And yes, a 'quick and dirty' style would be suitable. Though if it was an attempt that failed, the AAR wouldn't be very long anyway. ;)
 

nuclearslurpee

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Though if it was an attempt that failed, the AAR wouldn't be very long anyway. ;)

I've seen your Turkey AAR, I would not put it past you to somehow take a two-month failed defense and use it to weave 100 pages of spy thrillers and Shakespearean tragedies. :p
 

Bullfilter

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I've seen your Turkey AAR, I would not put it past you to somehow take a two-month failed defense and use it to weave 100 pages of spy thrillers and Shakespearean tragedies. :p
:p:D I can hear Paderewski playing in my mind’s ear already! ;) And as for Smigly-Ridz ... :cool:
 

Wraith11B

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Second the motion on the maps! If I want a blank map like that, I load as another country far away that has no knowledge of any of the unit locations of the participants. Fog of war might make it a little dark, but you can use a basic pic editor to brighten it up if necessary. ;) Not sure if it would be pretty enough to use with your other slick graphics though. :)

It might actually work better that way, because the contrast would be such that the graphics color would stand out stronger... Remind me next time I'm into building a map and I'll see what it looks like.

I feel the agony of Poland every time this happens, especially when the Soviets then stab the back. I haven’t yet (tried a couple of times) been able to hold Poland in a traditional 1936 Pro-Allies standard game. Even harder than holding onto France, which I finally did after about 4 attempts.

Another of the many HOI3 projects I have in mind for an AAR :rolleyes:. I’m up to about 4-5 of those racked up in the ready round bin! :D

Yeah, Poland didn't help itself out, and, to be quite honest, the game's mechanics don't help either. Poland had plans for 39 infantry divisions, 11 cavalry brigades, 2 motorized brigades and 3 mountain brigades... which I think they had far more Mountain and an equal amount of cavalry in my engagement, but they split their forces to widely. According to the 1939 start, Poland also had a pile more air forces than they did TTL... which would have put far more of a dampener on my air force employment (what little I did).

Poland falls as usual, though they do have some right to complain about the cheesiness of the tactics used against them - dropping a parachute division into a dense urban area (like say Krakow) should be a good way to get said division killed. But as we all know HOI3 don't work that way. ;) Excellent coverage of the war, I wouldn't worry too much about the lack of detail this time around, it's Germany invading Poland so the outcome was never in doubt and extra detail about exactly when each city fell is arguably superfluous.

I do wish that the sizes of the provinces were smaller so that they would more realistically represent combat movement. Given that it's, on average, 40-50km sized 'chunks', the paras aren't just jumping into the Main Square of Krakow... it's super unrealistic to have a division holding that large a front (seriously, I think the average at the time was 10kms or so? Holding more should really penalize the attacker and defender). Gaps of several hundreds of kilometers is just... babytown frolics.

The war in the West however should be much closer, by '42 the French will have completed the modernisation of the AdA and have got all their decent artillery and tanks built. Plus those extra years mean some of the worst of the French generals should have got too old and retired (Gamelin will be 70 in '42, surely he has been pushed out). Alas I fear France is as doomed as Poland, not least because Paradox has deliberately crippled the French AI to make it easier for German players, but one can hope they make it at least a bit of a fight.

I wish that the retirement system had been ported into HoI3 from 2.... I finished reading Case Red by Robert Forczyk (all of his books come highly recommended... you want to talk about the Allies eating lead chips... I'm sometimes amazed that the war didn't last longer because of all the errors made on all sides!) and Gamelin and Weygand were just absolute garbage.

I seem to recall having once, long ago, come across an AAR that I seem to recall was a successful defense of Poland, and the strategy used was to build hordes of Militia just to fill the front lines and retreat to a ring around Warsaw. I remember another AAR where the authAAR either lost or gave up after several years of feirce resistance...don't remember if they're the same AAR.

I remember the most recent effort as Bullfilter says in one of these responses. Had I done this right, I would have been on Hard or VH from the beginning (I still might up the difficulty again regardless). And tracked things better... heh.

I would assume that the drop "in actuality" would be in the surrounding terrain, after which the paratroop division(s) would regroup and press into the city proper. The real problem is that HoI3 does a poor job of modeling the urban defenses that would be found in any city - if nothing else, a pretty standard garrison battalion with AA would do a serviceable job of holding down the fort, although perhaps Poland would be lacking in proximity fuses for use as ad-hoc HE rounds against light paratroopers.

Before we're too quick to excuse Paradox here, since after all it's a reasonable design decision to limit unit sizes to brigade/regiment at the smallest, let us remember that similar "undefended city" problems have been solved in other games. Civ 5, for all its flaws, had the clever bit of allowing cities to fire on attackers with an intrinsic defensive garrison, so certainly Paradox could have come up with _some_ similarly clever solution.

Seconded. Especially given how (and this is any nation) should be able to "cash in" manpower for immediate militia if home cores are threatened... ah, wish that Paradox would let me at HoI3's code!

I certainly remember the more recent of those (the second one you mentioned) and followed it through until its very-nearly-the-end. May have seen the earlier one, but I'd largely tackle the challenge in a 'home grown' way and, like with France, try a few ways of doing it. And yes, a 'quick and dirty' style would be suitable. Though if it was an attempt that failed, the AAR wouldn't be very long anyway. ;)

I've seen your Turkey AAR, I would not put it past you to somehow take a two-month failed defense and use it to weave 100 pages of spy thrillers and Shakespearean tragedies. :p

:p:D I can hear Paderewski playing in my mind’s ear already! ;) And as for Smigly-Ridz ... :cool:

Shut up and take my attention already! #doooo_it
 

roverS3

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I really like the maps, though I did have to scroll up and down a few times to correlate the text with the starting positions on said maps... I really like the idea of the 2 OOBs, even showing Divisions. Right in time to inspire my own rendition of the GPW.

I agree with @El Pip that the airborne operations were a bit cheeky, but otherwise it's a well-executed campaign to take out Poland. French is up next. And then? Barbarossa on the 22nd of June 1942? Or maybe that would be too predictable... I guess we'll see.
 
Last edited:

diskoerekto

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thanks for this much awaited update! great maps and a cool illustration. looking forward to more to come :)
 

Wraith11B

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I really like the maps, though I did have to scroll up and down a few times to correlate the text with the starting positions on said maps... I really like the idea of the 2 OOBs, even showing Divisions. Right in time to inspire my own rendition of the GPW..

Thank you, so much! I'm going to play around with taking the screen captures while keeping the FOW, and better tie them in with what I'm writing. I had already finished writing before I started creating the maps, which, obviously, leads to confusion. I would break the OOBs into more manageable chunks. As noted, no one can read them and although I was working on trying to ensure that it looked like a force against force display, I'll probably switch to a frontage-based version.

I agree with @El Pip that the airborne operations were a bit cheeky, but otherwise it's a well-executed campaign to take out Poland. French is up next. And then? Barbarossa on the 22nd of June 1942? Or maybe that would be too predictable... I guess we'll see.

I'm going to borrow @TheButterflyComposer 's Kelebek for a minute and use my devil horns to say: who said anything about France?
0cb76d27bb5e37eff6bfce379aca1325.gif


That said, I did update the Index post with the path that the war takes... perhaps you should take a gander?

thanks for this much awaited update! great maps and a cool illustration. looking forward to more to come :)

I'm thinking I might try and put some tactical ones together for the naval updates to come... we'll see how I'm doing on space. Is the resolution okay for everyone? I shrunk lots of these down, and I'm wondering if I should bother or if I should let them grow to their full 1600 x whatever beauty...?
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Wraith11B

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