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Sep 7, 2003
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Operation Titan: The Race to Berlin

The date was June 20, 1944. For over half a decade German aggression had plagued the continent of Europe, first with the bullying of lesser neighbors, and then with outright invasion. While many have cited revenge and spite towards France and Britain for the unfair hand they dealt the Germans after the first world war as the reason for Hitler's aggression, Austria and all of Eastern Europe were the areas he targeted his aggression towards. Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, all of these were the first to feel the direct sting of the German menace. While some may view revenge towards the west for Hitler's rise to power, his consequent aggression into the east can be seen as little more than empire building.

The last great European expansion, Germany spread its war eastward, and only because the allies forced its hand, did it turn west and overrun France and the great force the Allies were assembling there. Once Britain was driven back to her island, Germany's "revenge" towards the west did not force an all out invasion of Great Britain. Rather it held her at bay on her island. With his main threat separated by the channel, Hitler then went back to his empire building in the east, forcibly puppetting or invading the rest of the Slavic countries.

In Moscow a very calculating man watched all these developments with great interest. He was smart enough to agree to a partition of Poland with this new aggressor: it would accommodate Russia in several ways. He watched with a bit of delight as the democracies of the west were humbled. But as the German war machine worked into the Balkans and into Greece, he knew this thirst for conquest had not and could not be quenched. The man in Berlin very simply could not rest his tanks on the eastern reaches of Romania, or in Warsaw. Seeing the same gold at the end of the rainbow that Napoleon had seen a century ago, he believed himself invincible and took on the most daunting country in the world. Like Napoleon's soldiers, the German troops soon realized not only were they fighting against an endless sea of enemy troops, but they were fighting its harsh winters as well.

In the invasion of Russia, soldiers from both sides as well as countless civilians felt the horror and devastation of this massive war. A thousand times more potent than anything Napoleon could bring to the battlefield, with the advance of weaponry this invasion and defense of Russia was horrific in every respect. Casualties on both sides continued to mount as the enormous jaws of modern military invention feasted on unlimited warfare. Millions upon millions face to face in battle, destroying everything in their path with awesome and dreadful weaponry. As the Red Army was beaten back, town after town and city after city was destroyed: shelled beyond recognition, burnt to the ground. The wounds of war were severe upon the land of Russia in the early years of the war.

It was with great spite and hate that soldiers of the Red Army fought against this invader. They were determined to drive this monster out of their land, and in the back of their minds was the wish to seek revenge for these horrors by visiting the same style of warfare upon German cities and German soil. Stalin himself had these very same sentiments. As the German war machine stalled outside Stalingrad, and short of Moscow, and the tide began to turn, these thoughts of revenge moved to the top of his thoughts. Bury them. Drive them forth. Make Hitler pay. As the Red Army gathered strength and drove the Germans back, by the middle of 1944, they were close to pushing the last invader off Russian soil.

For several years it seemed to Stalin that he had been fighting this war alone against the Axis. For the last three years, the only ground battles on European soil happened in Russia. In an uneasy partnership with the democratic west, Stalin held great contempt for the west, not only ideologically, but also for their seemingly non-committal way of fighting this war. The best the Allies could muster was an invasion of Africa and Egypt. Not a single foot on European soil, while Russian men alone held the tide against the Axis advance.

Finally, on June 6, 1944 America and Britain finally landed in force upon the European continent in Normandy opening up that second front Stalin had so long demanded. Finally.... finally Hitler would have to fight a two front war, taking the pressure off the defenders in Russia.

After three costly years of war, Russia had finally gotten the upper hand on the situation, stopping the Germans on all fronts, and as their war machine was built up, eventually driving the invaders back. Offensive after offensive saw more land recaptured, and with each new battle more troops were thrown into the line. By the middle of 1944 Russia not only boasted the world's largest army, its ground forces had twice as many divisions as any other country. With the German war machine finally feeling the bite after 5 years of continual war, they were ill equipped to take on the massive size of the Red Army and fend off the Allied invasion from the west.

By June 1944, with 300 divisions poised to strike in a line from Leningrad to the Black Sea, Stalin and his Generals could sense that this summer would be theirs. They looked forward to a summer offensive that would completely break the back of the enemy.

After an extended and unintended layoff from my precious, I've gotten the itch to wage war again. This is the 1944 scenario, playing as Russia. Almost impossible to lose playing Russia in this scenario, I wanted to have a short game to brush off the rust and remember all the intricacies of the game. I've also never done a 1944 scenario before so I was curious to see how it went. Its nice to start off a game with such an enormous army rather than spending 10 years building it myself.

This is using 1.06c (or maybe "b", been so long I forget!). Dealing with the push towards Berlin from mid 1944, it will be a fairly breif game. Once I'm done here I'll blow the dust off my American Perspective Aar, and try to right that errant ship. :)
The Summer Offensive: Operation Titan

By June, the Axis had been pushed out of the Ukraine, and back from Moscow. The geography of the front lines showed only a remaining bulge in the German line that encompassed the marshes of Pinsk, and pressed eastward into Minsk, Mogilev and Bobrejsk. With this bulge heavily defended by upwards of 50 divisions, rather than smash their way through it, Zhukov saw an alternative. Using the enormity of the Red Army to its full advantages, he could keep enough troops in front of this bulge, while still having enough to make an enormous double encirclement of the entire area, in effect trapping a good portion of the German divisions. This was the main goal of Titan.

A secondary operation would see the forces in the Crimean theatre with support from southern Ukraine move into Romania with the goal of seizing the oilfields, with the hope of the German Panzers fuel supply being decimated. It was no secret the Axis were short on supplies and fuel, and taking one of their last remaining fuel sources would cripple their war effort even further.

All along the lines of this complex dual offensive were numerous large scale feints, some army group in size, both to keep the Germans in the Minsk area looking east, and to assist in the triple headed thrust into enemy lands, by keeping possible reinforcements from neighboring areas at bay.

Aside from the encirclement and the seizure of the oil fields, there was a third objective. In fact it was the main objective of the overall war. The landing of the American and British forces in Normandy finally relieved the pressure off the war weary Russian troops, and promised to make the Soviet drive west easier. But it also brought with it political ramifications: a contest between ideologies. While working together against a common enemy, the Allies and the Comintern were very wary of the other. Berlin was the ultimate prize in this war, both for bragging rights and for post war power over the European theatre. With the Americans having landed it France, the capture of Berlin now seemed inevitable, it was merely a matter of which side reached there first. Stalin made it known to all his theatre commanders that the Soviets must make it to Berlin first.

The Four Thrusts of Titan

First Stage Plans of Operation Titan (the Summer Offensive)

Romania: "Group Blue"
The area around Chisinau was the first objective in the southern offensive to capture the Romanian oil fields. Field Marshal Koshevoi based in Odessa was in overall command of the operation, and would lead the 37th Army across the Dniester on the first of July with Primakov's 46th Army in tow. Out of Kotovsk, Krylov's 57th Army would likewise cross the Dniester to attack from the north with Romanvoskij's 5th Shock Army.

In support of this operation, a considerable force from Beltsy to the north was added to the assault. Feild Marshal Tiulenev would lead the 52nd Army from the north to hit the Axis flank, with Kurkin's 3rd Tank Army thrown in to add armored support to the operation. It was hoped this additional firepower would help to break down the door to Romania quicker before the Axis could respond to the hole in their lines. In all the offensive involved 20 divisions from Odessa, 12 from Kotovsk, and 13 divisions from Beltsy.

In support of this operation, four divisions from Shtemenko's 53rd Army would lead a feint against the 12 divisions in Iasi as a diversion. Estimates showed Axis troop strength in Chisinau at 22 divisions, 16 German ones under List, and 6 Romanian ones under Dumitrescu.

Southern Pincer(Ukraine)
The offensive out of the Ukraine was the most complex of the three operations, and in fact involved two different supporting operations. The main thrust "Red" was attack Pinsk and then continue north into Bialystok where it would eventually rendezvous with the Baltic thrust from the north. A secondary thrust "Green" was however required to cover the first thrust's left flank from German reinforcements moving in from Poland, and would sweep up into Rowne and points north of there to set up a defensive perimeter on the east bank of the Bug. However, before Rowne could be taken, it was necessary to seize Lwow to its south, to afford a flanking thrust into Rowne from the south to easier facilitate the assault out of Zjitomir.

Outer Arm "Group Green"

To accomplish the capture of Lwow, a two pronged attack was devised by Field Marshal Blucher. Blucher would lead the main assault, a massive collection of armies out of Vinnysta, which included Blucher's 40th Army, Kariofili's 18th Army, Kirponos' 7th Army, Khetagurov's 2d Ukrainian Front, and Bagramian's 5th Corps. This force included 32 divisions in all.
Barinov's 15th corps, two divisions strong would strike the enemy's southern flanks from Beltsy, while Baranov's 1st Armored Corps would attack from the north out of Zjitomir to add much needed armor support.
Lwow was defended by nine German divisions under Blaskowitz and six Hungarian divisions under Csatai. Once Lwow was taken, the majority of this host would then assail Rowne from the south while the remaining forces in Zjitomir not taking place in the Pinsk thrust would attack from the west.

Main Assault Force - Pinsk "Group Red"
With the outer arm of the Ukraine thrust working to seize their left flank, the main thrust out of the Ukraine would head directly into Pinsk in large numbers. The assault on Pinsk was perhaps the toughest assignment of all the offensive's opening assaults. It was a difficult march through soggy marshes and swamps. There would be little if any armor support, and the Germans because of the long transit time (est. arrival mid July) would have ample time to reinforce Pinsk before the attack came. It was the Russian's main hope that all the other offensives going on at the same time, as well as the multiple diversions along the entire front, would keep the German war machine's gaze turned elsewhere.

Feild Marshal Egorev was in overall command of Group Red. The majority of the thrust would come from Zjitomir. With Egorev in command of 1st Army, the Zjitomir force also included Masslenikov's 3rd Army, Golikov's 38th, Tolbukhin's 47th ad Chuikov's 69th Army. From the eastern flank, Meretskov would lead the 61st Army out of Mozyr. A dauntingly large force to be sure, it amounted to 60 divisions in full, the sheer size of the force coupled with the logistical nightmare of supplying such a large host was only made worse by the poor terrain. There was considerable chance of error and mis-coordination, although Egorev was confident the size of his force could overcome any obstacle. With the considerable size of the force and the transit time required to pull off such attack, it was expected the Germans would heavily reinforce the Pinsk defenses by the time the fighting began. It was estimated that Rundstedt's army in Pinsk would swell to about 25 divisions before the assault began.

The Romanian and Upward Thrusts

Northern Pincer
"Group White"
The northern half of the encircling force would be a multiple stage operation as well, with the initial objective of securing Pskov on the 25th for a sweep south from there. It was a dual pronged attack with forces coming out of both Novgorod and Velikije Luki. Zhukov was in overall command of the operation, with personal control of 10th Army. The force also included Pliev's 1st Shock Army, Novikov's 3rd Shock Army, Biriuzov's 22nd, the 30th Guard Corps, Katukov's 42nd Army, and Voronov's 54th Army. In total 47 divisions would take place in the initial stage of "White". Reconnaissance had the German forces in Pskov at 14 infantry divisions under Kesselring.

The Advance From the North

In all the opening salvo of Operation Titan would include the combined assaults on four different fronts of over 175 divisions. In addition large scale feints were carried out in Romania, Mogiljov, Bobrujsk and Talinn. It was clearly the largest offensive in the history of humankind. The incredible wealth of Russian manpower alone made such an enormous operation possible.
The Fight Begins

Group White

Group "White", the drive south from the Baltic, was the first of the operations to begin, with clear terrain for quick deployment. A sufficient ariel bombardment was begin on the 23rd with follow up sorties on the 24th and the morning of battle. As the opening movement in a very broad offensive, this first battle was anti-climatic. Having been continually pushed back from outside Moscow and Stalingrad, the German war machine was beginning to show the strain of many years of war. The Russian host, outnumbering the defenders 4:1 were simply unstoppable in this first bout of the campaign. The German divisions were overcome on every front by a limitless sea of red manpower, and before Kesselring could get a firm fix on the situation, Zhukov's forces nearly eliminated every division, with the few German survivors running full speed back to Rezekne with all haste and little order.

The initial followup operation to White, was for the majority of the host to then cross the Daugava River and assault Wilno, with support from more troops out of Vitebsk. However with the incredible success the battle for Pskov had turned out to be, Zhukov began to expand the mission for this theatre of operations. While the drive into Wilno would proceed as planned, he realized he wouldn't need this full host for the attack. Thus he decided to afford additional troops to begin moving west into the lightly defended Baltic states to seize Riga and Memel.

The attack on the Baltic states would first have to go through Rezenke, which was guarded by Mackensen's 4 divisions. From the troops in Pskov, the Baltic thrust would include Katukov's 42nd Army, the 30th Guards Corps (Armor), and Voronov's 54th Army, in total 19 divisions. The attack on Rezenke would come on the morning of the 30th, with air support hitting the defenders the day before.

Despite the loss of these divisions for the Baltic thrust, there was still more than sufficient manpower for the attack on Wilno. In addition to Zhukov's 28 combined divisions from Pskov, Timoshenko's 12 division 6th Army and Vatutin's 6 division 4th Shock Army would hit the Wilno flank from Vitebsk. Wilno was defended by 14 infantry and 2 armored divisions under List. The attack on Wilno would take place on the morning of July 15th. The terrain was not conducive to quick travel.

The defenders in Rezenke put up a token resistance to Voronov's invasion. Hounded by air for days before, and aware of the mighty onslaught of the Red Army coming their way, they quickly fled the battlefield, ceding it to the Russians. From here Voronov split up his forces as expected. He sent the armor to seize the southern banks of the Daugava, with his 54th Army in tow, while Katukov's 42nd Army marched on Riga, effectively cutting off 10 German divisions to the north in Talinn.

Group Blue

The battle of Chisinau began, as expected on July 1st, with an overwhelming force from three different fronts descending upon the Romanians from all sides. Days of air bombardment were ordered to soften up the defense, which was rumored at one point to be reinforced to 20 divisions. As the fighting began, it was clear only 13 divisions remained. The feint on Iasi to the north did its job, as intelligence had discovered several enemy divisions redeploying there from Chisinau.. The rain fell heavy as the fighting began, and air support was grounded, but to the Russian's aid the big guns of the Cernoje fleet in the Black Sea opened up and shells began falling behind the defender's lines, adding to the weariness of a force that had been hounded from the air the prior five days. Like Pskov to the north, the defenders were no match for the overwhelming numbers of the Red Army, and they quickly fled under cover of darkness.

Group Green

On July 2nd, the attack on Lwow began, the first step in creating an outside thrust to protect Group Red's drive to Plinsk. Again under stormy skies, 37 divisions descended upon the area around the city, defended by merely 10 Axix divisions, which included several German Tiger armored divisions. The German supply train to the eastern front had been severely hindered, both by the Polish Underground, rising up to action now that their "liberation" seemed near, as well as the continual carpet bombing of all German cities by the Allied forces. While the Germans could cheer that they had repelled an American attack on Paris, the news from Lwow was quite the opposite. Short on supplies and rations, and outnumbered 4:1, the defense completely vaporized before the attack, with nary a division retreating intact. The sheer bulk of the initial Russian attacks coupled with the logistics problems of the Germans made the opening days of the offensive a very costly one for the Germans on all fronts.

Even as victory was being declared in Lwow, to the north, Katukov's 42nd Army was moving into the outskirts of Riga. Here they were met by the 4 remaining divisions of Mackensen's army that had been decimated at Pskov. Needless to say in the poor condition they were in after such a defeat, they put up very little resistance. The order was then given to take out the cut off German troops to the north, securing the Northern Baltic. 8th Army was dispatched from Novgorod for this operation, along with a corps from Riga. The rest of the forces in the Baltic would then begin their march southwest towards Poland.

Group White's Advance into the Baltic
Well done. :) It is a very bold thing - audacious, perhaps - to start an AAR in a thoroughly dead part of the forum such as this. The best of luck, and may the force be with you.
I say when you're done with Germany, you go after Japan, and then the allies. World Conquest may even be possible, the only restraint is time.
Black Rattler:
*sigh* I guess it tooks like a soviet victory.
It had better be, I've got 4:1 superiority in troops :D

El Basto:
How did you give that "old map" look to the screenies?
Paint Shop Pro, using a lot of texturing and recoloring.

It is a very bold thing - audacious, perhaps - to start an AAR in a thoroughly dead part of the forum such as this.
Fortunately there's enough of us stalwarts still left. Besides, if I were to post this in the HOI2 forum it would inevitably grow a "Moved" in front of the title. :)

Bacon King:
World Conquest may even be possible, the only restraint is time.
I'm sorry to inform you that Estonia Estonia is now part of the Soviet Union. And despite the ridiculous amount of divisions I have to work with, I sure would like to borrow your 12 super ones!
The War in Earnest

In a bit of irony, on July 4th the city of Paris finally fell to the United States VI Corps under Gen. Marshall. Since their landings in Normandy nearly a month ago, the Allies were finding a very difficult time of, as the Germans were reluctant to give up any ground. They were however able to continue their gains up the Italian peninsula, working up past Rome.

Group Green
After completing the conquest of Lwow, Blucher's Army Group turned north to assault Rowne, the next target in the outer thrust from the south. Like the previous battles, it was very one sided. Rowne fell before an absolutely massive force coming from Zjitomir and Lwow, 16 German divisions were put to flight with hardly a fight. The main thrust of what was the outer of the two thrusts from the south, it was well head of its inner counterpart who was still slogging it through the swamps before it met its first battle in Pinsk. To the north, Katukov's 42d Army continued its march down the Baltic coast, capturing Liepaja and working its way towards an undefended Memel, with the 30th Guards Armored Corps protecting its eastern flank.

By the evening of July 14th, it was becoming apparent to the staff that the main objective of Operation Titan was beginning to take a back seat to its periphery operations. While the main north and south pincer thrusts to encircle the Germans in Minsk was being bogged down by slow and difficult terrain, the outer forces were having a much quicker and successful go of it, and even threatened to complete a much larger encirclement than the main thrusts into Pinsk and Wilno.

While there was debate on whether to complete the encirclement with the outside forces, and then move in for the kill on the much larger entrapped contingent, there had been too much put in motion to stop the inner thrusts. Nearly a hundred divisions were days from attacking Pinsk and Wilno, with hundreds of planes in support in the midst of several days of continued bombing. It was ordered thus to have a double encirclement, with the outer ring free to seize what ground it may from the little defended Polish interior.

Group Blue
In Romania, Field Marshal Tiulenev felt the need to protect the flank of the Chisinau force as it assaulted the heavily defended coast at Constanta. To do so it meant attacking and driving out the defenders in Iasi. After continued aerial bombardment, 31 divisions under Tiulenev from Beltsy and Lwow as well as the 3rd Tank Army from Chisinau entered Iasi. The size of the defense continued to grow before the battle, and by the mid month when the hostilities broke out, 22 combined divisions of Germans and Romanians guarded the area, with Antonescu in command. Despite one of the more numerically equal battles of the offensive, hounded by the air, the defenders of Iasi were having a very rough go of it.

The Day the Earth Shook
July 15th was a very important day for Operation Titan. State Radio in Moscow proudly announced this day as the "biggest day of the war against the German menace." And so it was. While a million man battle raged on in Romania between Tiulenev and Atonescu over the city of Iasi, major fighting erupted along the entire front. Long awaited engagements began in Pinsk, Wilno, and Talinn. Russia's first invasion of Finland since the Winter War also began, as Ryhlov's 7th Army moved into Sortavala north of Leningrad. As one English historian wrote in later years, it was "The day the earth shook. All the battles in Normandy and Italy were mere skirmishes compared to the enormity of the July 15th clashes on the Eastern front." In mere ground divisions alone, an estimated 180 Axis and Russian divisions were engaged in the fighting over six different battlefields, as well as an enormous array of fighters and bombers over each war zone. The amount of bullets, bombs and artillery shells spent in one day will probably never be equaled, nor perhaps the cost of life from conventional warfare.

While the other battles were just beginning, the fight against the Romanians in Iasi was wrapping up. By noon of the 15th, Antonescu called the general retreat back across the Siret. It was a surprise to the Russians that the enemy had fled the battlefield so quickly, as it left the Russians in considerably better position to support the Chisinau front and descend towards Bucharest. The forces were ordered to halt in Iasi to resupply, as new recruits were brought in to fill out the ranks. Quite a few divisions had felt the sting of battle, and needed to be brought back up to proper fighting strength before moving on to the next objective.

With troops in command of Iasi and the Chisinau force firmly on the Romanain's front step poised for drives towards Bucharest, Tiulenev felt confident he had more than enough manpower for the job of knocking Romania out of the war. Consequently, Shtern's 32nd Army in Beltsy was transferred to middle theatre command and Group Green. One of Stalin's main wishes, aside from destruction of the German army, was to beat his western "allies" to Berlin. He knew Berlin and the German heartland was a great bargaining chip for post war spheres of influence. While small armored groups were moving up towards Poland, there was very light Soviet strength in this area, and with the arrival of Dietrich's 11 divisions in southern Poland, the 32nd Army was immediately sent out to secure the flank of the forces heading towards Warsaw.

In Finland, the two divisions of defenders proved no match for the 7 divisions of Ryhlov's 7th Army, retreating inland after a token fight. Encouraged, he ordered 11th Corps inland to Mikkili, while the 32nd Army was ordered to attack Joensuu to the north.

Talinn had been cut off when Voronov's forces broke off from the main assault to capture the Baltic ports. A submarine net had been sent out to cut off supplies via sea, as well as the naval fleet stationed in Leningrad. The able minded Tukhachevsky led the assault based primarily out of Novgorod, which consisted of the 8th, 22nd, 67th and 2nd Shock Armies. Kesselring commanded the sixteen entrapped divisions, many of which had retreated there after being decimated or cut off in the previous battles for Pskov, Rezekne and Riga. Consequently half of his divisions were either unfit for battle, or barely existed except in name. Surrounded by water on two sides, with Russians approaching from three more, his chances were grim before the battle even started.

After a quick and decisive battle at Pskov in late June, the encirclement thrust out of the north know as White hit a roadblock. Wilno being the next target on their agenda, it required a coordinated attack from the considerable forces in Pskov under Zhukov, as well as a large contingent from Timoshenko's army in Vitebsk. The fog of war happens not only to platoons and regiments, but at the theatre level as well. Because of various factors, including supply difficulties, blown bridges, and mis-communication on a grand scale, Zhukov's force was delayed by nearly a week, while Timoshenko's forces hit Wilno on the 15th on schedule. The result is that less than half of the planned force arrived on the battlefield. Complicating the matter , the Germans had heavily reinforced Wilno in recent weeks, relocating many divisions from the "pocket" in Minsk and Mogiljov. Perhaps sensing the coming encirclement and wishing to escape, or deeming Wilno as a "last line", Witzelben had over 30 divisions stationed in Wilno as the battle began. Timoshenko found himself outnumbered, his 6th and 4th Shock Armies comprised of merely 22 divisions. Realizing the critical error in their planning, theatre commander Zhukov ordered around the clock bombing with every bomber in the area to help weaken the enemy.

In the battle of Pinsk, the much awaited southern thrust to encircle the Germans in Minsk, two full Army groups were sent into the battle, as Egorev led an enormous force consisting of the 1st, 3rd, 38th, 47th, 61st and 69th Armies. A much larger German force had originally been stationed there, but as the bodies were needed elsewhere they had been removed. By time the Russians arrived, Rundstedt had merely 13 divisions defending the area. The troops, like many on the eastern front had begun to feel the pinch of continued shortages from the continued bombing of production centers, and a vastly overextended army.

Nearly missed on this day of large scale clashes was the fact that Memel fell to Katukov's 42nd Army after a brief fight with a single weakened German division. With the Axis tied up in such large battles elsewhere, he was given immediate permission to continue south and capture Konigsberg: the first Russian army to enter pre war German holdings!

Despite all the major battles going on all over the front, the one at Wilno was the one most focused on by Army staff. A major screw up in communication, logistics and mobility had resulted in Zhukov's forces in Pskov from missing the battle entirely. Outnumbered, Timoshenko's Army Group had the toughest go of any of the campaigns that week. Despite this fact, and the fact that the Axis defenders in Wilno were the best equipped and supplied in any of the battles, on July 16th the Army staff could not believe their ears when Timoshenko relayed that Witzelben's entire defense was falling back towards Minsk, still in good condition. What was considered an extremely illogical retreat, it paved the way for Timoshenko to move his entire Army group towards their main objective: Grodno.

The size of the Russian force was overwhelming on all fronts. As calamitous a day as July 15th was for so many men engaging in battle up and down the front, the next day proved even more important. Mere hours after Wilno fell to Timoshenko's undersized force, what was thought to be the toughest nut to crack, the Pripet Marshes around Pinsk, fell to Egorev's forces with very light casualties to the Russians. Rundstedt's men were too ill supplied to fight a battle, and most were out of ammunition just a few hours into the battle. With in minutes of Egorev's proud dispatch to Moscow, Tukhachevsky radioed announcing the surrender and capture of Kessilring's forces in Talinn. 13 German divisions with their backs against the Gulf of Finland laid down their arms and became prisoners of war of the Soviet Union.

It was a grand 48 hours for Stalin's Red Army, with 5 major battles won, each very convincingly. It was an equally disastrous day for the Germans on the eastern front. They had lost 17 divisions in Talinn, and had been beaten back into the "pocket" from the north/south thrusts of the inner encirclement of Timoshenko and Egorev. As the jaws of these thrusts headed off to meet at the Niemen River, whatever German troops that lay to their east, including those retreating from Wilno and Pinsk, would be completely encircled by an unrelenting sea of red, left to starve in the marshes, to be finished off and destroyed at Stalin's whim when the time was right.
Allenby said:
Well done. Even more impressive than Bagration. I'd be disappointed if you didn't wrap this up within two months. :)

Yep, if you don't fulfill Komrade Stalins request, he will throw salmons in your face.

And besides, it isn't like the Krauts will stop you either as it seems.
El Basto
that is some encirclment you are pushing up over there.
Its nice to see a grand scale plan turning out close to the way it was drawn up!
There really hasn't been any alterations to it aside from expanding the scope of the offensive. 4:1 superiority in numbers has a hand in this methinks

I'd be disappointed if you didn't wrap this up within two months.
Berlin in two months? You're on. Time for Konev and Rokossovsky to see what those T-34's can do.


And besides, it isn't like the Krauts will stop you either as it seems.
Seems that way, its hard to win a war when 3/4 of your army gets surrounded.
Despite Paris falling on July 4th, the Normandy landing was bogged down on all fronts, and the American and British Armies were only able to achieve small gains. They finally took Brest on the 14th and Lille on the 15th, but while Russia had captured the Baltic states, entered Romania, run rampant over Poland, was knocking on Prussia's front door, and nearly trapped 70 German divisions in the Pripet Marshes, the Allies were still trying to secure the northern half of France.

The recent victories for the Red Army, specifically in the Baltic, had freed up a good amount of troops for other operations. Such was the luxury of Red Army commanders in 1944. This allowed for several armies to shift their focus for a western advance to Berlin, leaving the Minsk encirclement to others.

Tukhachevsky's 8th Army was to return to Leningrad, to began plans for an assault across the border into the fortresses of Finland's Viipuri. The 2nd Shock Army was sent to reinforce Ryhlov's 7th Army in Sortavala to the north. There was some unfinished business with the Finns that Stalin needed to take care of. The rest of the force from Talinn, namely Popov's 67th Army and Biriuzov's 2nd Army, would head down the Baltic coast to meet with Katukov's 42nd Army in Konisberg, and prepare to overrun the rest of northern Poland, Prussia, and head west towards Germany.

On July 19th, Barinov's 15th Corps entered the city of Munchaks, the eastern tip of Czechoslovakia, adding yet another country where Soviet soldiers now stood. Bulgaria likewise felt the Red wrath, as bombers from the 3rd Squadron left Sofia in flames, wreaking great devastation. Two days later Rokossovsky's 1st Tank Army proudly marched its T-34 tanks down the streets of Warsaw. The citizens were cheering to see their German occupiers thrown out of their city, yet looked on in equally uneasiness at the approach once again of a Russian neighbor who was no stranger to having troops in Warsaw. Konev's 2nd Tank Army headed west with all haste with direct instructions from Moscow: take the most direct line to Berlin. There was little risk in having his supply lines cut, so much of the German Army was tied up with the hundreds of Russian Infantry trying to encircle them.

In Romania, Tiulenev's Army Group Crimea invaded the coastal regions of Constanta, sending the defenders fleeing to Bucharest after the briefest of fights. His advance into Romania had been remarkably slow, due to the tough terrain. To protect his flank, Kurkin's 3rd Tank Army was to seize the oil fields in Ploiesti. Instead of having the majority of the force from Iasi move into this critical area, Tiulenev decided instead to send only Kurkin's 5 divisions of armor. The Germans and Romanians seeing this coming, moved the bulk of their forces from Bucharest into Ploesti, and the Armor found themselves outnumbered 10:1. Despite heavy air support from every plane within range, it was too much to overcome, and Kurkin had to retreat to Iasi leaving half his tanks behind. It was the first true defeat of the summer offensive, and a crushing one at that. It was simply put a military blunder to send so light a force after such a strategic target, given the large defense force the Axis had put together on that front.

With news of this defeat Nikolaj Bulganin, Chief of Staff in Moscow was furious. While all other fronts had achieved their directive, against the main German troops, consolidating the Baltic, most of Poland, and within range of Berlin itself, Tiulenev's Crimean theatre had barely moved in comparison, and had suffered the most casualties. This latest blunder sent him over the top, he had had enough. Bulganin relieved him of duty, and replaced him with Shapashnikov, who was in charge of the defenses to the east of the Minsk pocket.

But this was but a minor setback to the overall effort of the battle. The main purpose of capturing Romania was to rob the Germans of the oil fields. With Konev's Tank Armies running rampant over Poland and heading swiftly towards Berlin, oil was the least of Germany's concerns. More pressing to the Germans still, was that on the 25th, Ostroleka fell to Badanov's 7th Corps, who swiftly drove to the south bank of the upper Bug and looked across at Lt. Gen Apanasenko's 30th Guard Corps on the northern shore: The encirclement of the Germans in the Pripet Marshes was now complete! True, while the initial inner thrust had not yet achieved the task, the periphery forces covering their flanks had pulled it off. An estimated 72 German divisions were now encircled by the Red Army and cut off, nearly half of their entire force.

With the vast majority of the German forces on the Russian front encircled, it promised the rest of the forces racing east token resistance at best. By the 26th, Katukov's 42nd Army broke through the fortresses in Konisberg, and on the same day, Rokossovski led elements of his 1st Tank Army into Elbing to complete the capture of Prussia. To complete the dismay for the German Army, the 3rd and 16th Tank Divisions of Konev's 2nd Tank army siezed Landsberg and parked on the east shore of the Oder, looking across the river at Berlin. Konev gave the immediate go ahead for Lt.Gen Katkov's 3rd Tank Division to cross the bridges and attack the nearly undefended city. On the following day Berlin came under attack for the first time by Russian bombers, as two divisions of DB-3 out of Memel let loose a hail of bombs. The bombing was more for effect then anything, the Allied Strategic Bomber Command in England had sent several recent missions that had absolutely leveled the city.

The Germans were not so foolish as to leave their interior completely undefended. Even as the Russian tanks looked across the Oder, reports came in from aerial recon that a large force was coming out of Denmark towards Berlin. In the next few days 16 German divisions moved into defensive positions on the west bank of the Oder from Berlin up to Dresden. Konev's armor once past the German lines in the Ukraine had made a mad and reckless dash as fast as they could towards Berlin. The army was strung out in precarious positions. With a strong defense now showing itself on the far side of the river, Konev recalled Katkov's tanks from pursuing Berlin and instead take up defensive positions. While the advance was for the time put on hold, it allowed Konev the opportunity to consolidate the Red Army's hold on the area in the rest of Poland, with various search and destroy missions of varying levels. He would wait for the rest of the armor and infantry to catch up before pursuing a crossing.
Two months might be a conservative estimate at this rate.

How can one account for the AI's staggering ability to leave 72 divisions trapped in a pocket? Has Hitler stubbornly told them to stand and die for the fatherland?
You will be delighted to know that even if you reach Berlin first, the game creates East Germany in a defeat event. Perhaps it is assumed that in 1944 the USSR had agreed with Britain and the USA that it would receive an occupation zone in Germany, regardless of how much or little it occupied of Germany when the war ended.

Except this is HOI1 - thought this was HOI2, sorry.
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Allenby, the only explanation that could be given is infact Hitler's refusal to his general's retreats for retreat, which he had so famously done in real life. However the fact that they made no attempt to manuever or counterattack or anything was most disappointing.

Ptan, you scared me for a minute there. I wanted all of Germany for myself and was not wishing to share any of it with the Allies. :D



The encircled troops in the Minsk area made their move towards the end of July, attempting a 16 division breakout in Suwalki. Anticipating this, Zhukov ordered Voronov's 54th and Popov's 67th Armies to defend this critical area. A lengthy battle ensued, with the Germans fighting a pitched battle like they had not yet done during the entire summer campaign. There was an urgency to their attack, for they knew it was break out now or head off as prisoners into the depths of Russia. Despite continued air support from all sides, the defense had much trouble warding off the frenzied German attack. It was clearly the best of the German forces left in the encirclement.

While the battle raged on into the first day of August, Egorov's Army Group in Pinsk finally descended on Bialystok to link up with Timoshenko to the North, the original encirclement thrust. Here they ran into more of the German forces trying to escape from Minsk. Egorov's forces came upon 24 divisions under Witzelben, but unlike the German force attacking Bialystok, this group was in woeful condition to fight, most without supplies and short on ammo. The battle lasted but a few hours before the remaining forces retreated to where they might.

The first day of August also saw a double attack into Finland. Tukhachevsky led the 8th and 23rd Armies into Viipuri, while the 32nd Army successfully attacked Joensuu.

With the Germans surrounded in the pocket with no way to escape, assaulting and finishing them off would be at the Red Army's leisure. In the original plans drawn it detailed that once the force was surrounded to let them lie there unsupplied or reinforced, and attack them only when they are most weakened. The situation in Germany with sixteen divisions defending the west bank of the Oder suddenly changed that mode of thinking. Stalin wholly bent on the capture of Berlin, rubble though it be, was enraged that Katkov's 3rd Armored Division was halted on the banks of the Oder rather than taking the German capital. With up to 20 German divisions appearing to defend the capital and surrounding areas, Konev had no military choice but to halt his tanks. In their mad dash across Europe, his Army group was spread all over Poland, and only two divisions were within striking distance of Berlin. The two tank armies had been wholly responsible for the quick advance into Warsaw, Krakow, and to the steps of Berlin, but with a large force of defenders across the river, he had no choice but to wait for the various infantry armies to come up to the front lines.

Stalin with greater wishes than to peer across the river, ordered his theatre commanders to get as many men into the west as possible. He decided now was the time to destroy the German armies in Minsk. Even though it may cost considerably more Russian casualties, it would free up a large host of troops to clean up the Slavic defenses in the south and to grab most of Germany before the Allies could. Thus the plan for encirclement and destruction of the Minsk pocket was put into motion. It was a multi part plan, with troops from all the surrounding regions moving in like a vise. Mogilov would be see the first action of the operation on the 4th, as Federenko attacked from Smolensk and Pavel from Gomel. The next day the city of Minsk itself would come under attack, with Zhukov attacking from Wilno, and Budennij from Vitebsk. On the 10th Voroshilov, Eremenko and Kulik would finish off the easternmost resistance in Bobrujsk.

The first half of the pocket offensive went flawlessly. The Germans were all but resigned to surrender before the Red Army moved in. Hundreds of miles from friendly lines, and well exhausted both in spirit and supplies, Mogilov surrendered on the 4th, and Zhukov was offered Rundstedt's surrender in Minsk the next day. Despite Stalin's haste to close out the pocket, it did not cost more in casualties: The German soldiers and officers were clearly tired of the war, aware of their fate, and realized they were fighting for a leader they had no true love for. Both Minsk and Mogilev were very anti-climatic battles, especially considering the immensity of the forces involved on both sides. As the noose tightened around Bobrujsk and Brescz, the German Army's doom was at hand.

The deadlocked region of the Romanian front still remained static, although on the 7th, Tiulenev finally crossed into Piatra Neamt and was able to secure a flank for Shaposhnikov's forces eventual attack on Ploiesti. He immediately ordered 52nd Army to seize Brasov in the south, while he sent 4th Army to explore the western reaches of the land, and secure a line of defense against possible Hungarian offensives.

As hundreds of thousands of troops from the Minsk/Mogilev theatre were freed up after the collapse of the pocket, they were sent through conquered Poland to help secure the front lines along the Czech Border, and to assemble for a strong push across the Oder that would open the interior of Germany wide open. To solidify the east bank, elements of the 2nd Tank Army descended upon Stettin while on their flank Rokossovski's 1st Tank Army seized Danzig. As soon as Stettin fell, 9th and 14th Tank Corps were ordered swiftly over the river to seize Rostock to Berlin's north. To counter the northern defense of Germany, Gen. Aselchev led a daring raid with the 17th Cavalry Corps moving south from Ciesyn without support to seize Bratislava. To secure his flank, Baranov led 4 armored divisions into Troppau, seeking a flanking move to get around the Oder defenses. Troppau seized, he had the decision to try to outflank the fortress in Breslau, or thrust quickly east to seize the Czech capital. Seeking Konev's order, he received the order to move at once into Prague. One great benefit of this thrust into Czechoslovakia, is that it drew much of the defense away from Berlin, and Katukov's 42nd Army was given the privilege to attack Berlin.

The most hard fought battle however was up in Finland. After seizing Viipuri a week earlier, Tukhachevsky's 8th and 23rd Armies attacked the capital at Helsinki. It was reported to be guarded by only three divisions. But alerted to the coming invasion, Finnish reinforcements were called in and Mannerheim had 11 divisions in place by time the battle begin. Because of the swift advances on all fronts the tactical and dive bomber wings in the region were fully exhausted and remained on the ground for the most part, when the Russian could have most used them. It was a very heated battle, and Mannerheim was able to hold off the Russians for 5 days before finally having to leave the city. Tukhachevsky and Mannerheim met again a few days later in Turku, and after another very spirited battle from the Finns, they once again retreated north. While they battled over Turku, 23rd Army was sent north to attack Tampere.