Old Boardgame Grognard
- Aug 31, 2008
Chapter 20 – October 1945
AuthAAR’s Notes: Given we’re now past the end date of WW2 in OTL and this still has some way to go, I’m going to keep trimming and streamlining the presentation to keep things moving along more quickly. In game terms, I’m giving myself until no later than the day of Stalin’s OTL death to either get my win (12 objectives), or it stops then and we see how we have done. Which gives plenty of time yet, of course. I hope I don’t need it all!
Basically, the combat descriptions will be trimmed down further, as I now think the summary maps give most of the information needed to get the sweep, sequence and size of engagements by sector and across the front. I’ll just briefly note the biggest battles each month by sector. The focus of the rest remains on the ‘sinews of war’ and strategic aspects that I control as the player.
1. Introduction and Command Arrangements
As September ended, the only continuing battle was a Soviet attack on Telemba (Central Sector in this update) [69% progress].
In overall terms, at midnight on 1 November the orders to all four of the Eastern armies were to adopt an attacking ground stance and go on the air offensive, countermanding the mistakenly defensive orders that had prevailed the previous month.
2. Northern Sector
This was the busiest sector for the month, with a major Soviet advance along the Pacific Coast and its hinterland. After the battle for Bomnaksk was fought and won on 1 October, the advance continued with determination, pushing through to Fevral’sk, Gulian and Tugur by the end of the month. Air support had been active but generally not heavy during this time. Skovorodino was taken late in the month after one failed attempt earlier in the month, but the Japanese were still counter-attacking as the month ended.
Interestingly, in this sector Japan won three of the four largest battles, but the Soviets managed to win most of the rest, sometimes taking a few attempts to prevail. The first Soviet attack on Skovorodino (8-13 October) cost 1,454 Soviet attackers and 1,452 Japanese defenders. The first battle for Torom (11-15 October) saw 1,461 Soviet and 1,114 Japanese soldiers killed, but a later attack was successful against the weakened defenders.
The Soviets won at the first attempt in Fevral’sk (22-26 October), losing only 763 men to 1,692 of the enemy, even if it took a subsequent attack to dislodge a fresh Japanese lodgement from 26-27 October. Finally, the biggest battle of the month was for Zeya, between 24-28 October, where 1,809 Soviet soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice, taking 1,569 of the enemy with them. But a renewed attack was in progress as the month ended.
By 23 October, the forward air base at Tyndinskiy housed 11 Soviet air wings (4 x CAS, 4 x INT, 1 x MR, 2 x TAC), even though (after an upgrade during the month) it only had the facilities to repair 2.43 wings at a time, but at least it meant the men in this sector were getting regular air support again.
Up in the Far North, as the month was drawing to a close there was only one Japanese division left in the pocket. Noticing that no-one was attacking it, 6th Army had its objectives updated, deleting the now liberated Okhotsk and substituting Magadan.
General Shestapalov responded quickly to his orders: an attack began just two hours later, with the enemy driven off later that day after a short skirmish.
Operational summary, Far East – Northern Sector (not including the Magadan Pocket), October 1945.
3. Central Sector
This sector saw less fighting than in the North, but some large actions were fought and an initial salient into the Japanese lines had been significantly expanded as October drew to a close.
First, the orders of 1st Army were amended, as Bukacaca had finally been secured in September. It was replaced with a depth objective well beyond the now intermediate objective of Mildigun. If 1st Army continued to show initiative, it may get a corps reassigned from 7th or 15th Army (which it shared the sector with) in November to give it the strength to achieve larger gains.
And indeed, by 28 October, 1st Army units had advanced to the border of Mildigun, brushed away its defenders and were advancing on it as the month ended. In this sector, the only battles lost were a couple of skirmishes. The main focus of fighting had been over Telemba, which took two successful attacks to secure, followed by a defence against a sustained Japanese counter-attack. That ended up being the heaviest battle of the month in the Centre, lasting from 13-17 October, with only 187 Soviet defenders lost against 1,096 Japanese attackers, while the VVS struck the attackers in Olovyarmaya with four days of raids killing 2,021 enemy troops.
As the month ended, the Japanese won a battle to retake Ust’ Karsk, but had not yet reoccupied it.
Operational summary, Far East – Central Sector, October 1945.
4. Southern Sector
Results in the South were more mixed than the month before, but still positive on balance. Although sometimes limited by supply issues in Irkutsk, the VVS wings based there delivered some heavy air support at times, even it failed to prevent two major Japanese victories in Selenga Burin and Serguleng.
The two most significant battles in the sector during the month were both defensive defeats for the Soviets. In Selenga Burin (1-5 October), the Soviets lost 920 men to ground combat, while the Japanese lost 829, though air strikes took a heavy toll on attacking enemy troops in both Altan Bulak (2,883) and Petrovsk Zabaykal'skiy (2,341). But the Soviet defenders were outnumbered throughout and were out of supply until 2 October, which had hampered their defence (see more on supply in Section 7 below).
After the battle for Selenga Burin was lost on 5 October, it was added to 7th Army’s objective list but no Soviet counter-attack materialised after it was occupied by the enemy on 14 October.
Serguleng had been taken from the Japanese on 16 October after a victory there in September. A first Japanese counter-attack from Selenga Burin and Ulaanbataar was beaten off from 16-18 October. But a second attack (21-25 October), despite even heavier defensive air support, forced the Soviets out. There were ground combat losses of 1,066 Soviet and 1,157 Japanese troops, plus another enemy 2,780 killed in air raids on troops attacking from Selenga Burin and 745 in Ulaanbataar.
Serguleng remained in Japanese hands by the end of the month though the Japanese forces reoccupying it were defeated as they arrived on 29 October, so the province may change hands yet again in early November. Gains were made by Soviet and Comintern forces to the south, in Muren and Santu.
Operational summary, Far East – Southern Sector, October 1945.
On 21 October, another widespread revolt broke out in Finland, affected eight provinces initially and spreading rapidly in the next few days, until responding Soviet units started to roll back these early gains.
Based on previous expert advice, a theatre boundary change made since the last revolt meant only Archangelsk Theatre troops would be affected, rather than the unnecessary mass depopulation of the German-Polish sector that had occurred the last time.
By 1000hr on 21 October, the Theatre Commander Marshal Karmanov had been ordered to adopt an attacking stance (perhaps imitating the action of a tiger? ) to crush the rebellion. After two days of the rebels rapidly fanning out into the central Finnish countryside, the entire northern garrison along the Swedish and Norwegian borders was in trucks heading south as fast as they could make it, while two nearby divisions in the south marched to action.
The cancer of counter-revolution had spread widely by 26 October, when Soviet forces first engaged the Finns in the south at Juva, then on 28 October in Lahti and by 31 October at Kuopio, with the first of the northern forces arriving and attacking. All these ‘battles’ were little more than skirmishes against guerrilla brigades, typically costing a dozen of fewer Soviet casualties for around 130 Finns.
Operational summary, Finland, 21-31 October 1945.
The spy war hotted up considerably in October. In Spain, the Republic’s counter-espionage forces remained strong and active, but the Soviets decided to ‘test the waters’ on 4 October by devoting a quarter of their effort to supporting the local Communist Party.
But with one of the Soviet teams being neutralised on 6 October and Spanish domestic spy strength still at seven teams, this brief experiment was discontinued for the time being.
In Turkey though, local counter-espionage was minimal (one team) and on 12 October all Soviet efforts were directed into supporting the local Communists, who started from a low base of only 7% popularity. But with heavier losses elsewhere, especially in Japan, and reserve teams down to just two to cover four active missions, spy training was increased from 1.2 to 1.5 leadership, with a small amount shaved from diplomacy and the rest from officer training (officers currently at reasonably healthy 117%).
But the losses mounted: by 16 October the reserve was down to one team and the spy effort was doubled to 3.0 LS, with 1 LS coming from the deferral of one research project (now only 21 out of 22 supported), the rest taken from officer training.
On 17 October, a team was lost in Turkey, so the effort there was dialled back to 50% each on counter-espionage and Communist Party support. Another research project was put on hold on 18 October as losses mounted and the reserve hovered on just one team, boosting spy training to 4.0 LS.
Then on 22 October the Manchurians captured a Soviet team, so the effort there was also adjusted from 100% on disrupting national unity to a 50/50 mix with counter-espionage. But despite these losses, the new training focus had taken effect, with the reserve up to three teams.
The reserve was up to five and another Japanese team had been captured by 29 October (leaving them with two after a brutal month of tit-for-tat killings), so a 50/50 split between counter-espionage and national unity disruption was resumed.
The Japanese Kempeitai started the month with three teams and finished with two, adding three but losing four to Soviet action, but the Soviets lost three teams of their own achieving this. Japanese national unity remained steady at 64.5%, as Soviet disruption only resumed as the month was ending.
Manchukuo started the month with no teams at home and finished with two, adding two and losing none, while eliminating two Soviet teams. Manchurian national unity had however decreased by 0.8% from 65.8% to 65.0%.
Turkey started and finished with one team, adding and losing one during the month, while neutralising two Soviet agents. But the Communist Party in Turkey had been boosted from 7% to 10% popularity by the end of the month.
In Spain, the locals started with seven teams, losing two and adding one to finish with six, eliminating three Soviet teams along the way. Local Communist Party popularity had not yet budged, remaining at 12%.
At home and abroad, 33 enemy agents were neutralised in October, compared to 35 in September. As mentioned above the Japanese had lost four (though these were all presumed to have been in Japan), with the British and Germans losing three each, Spain two (in Spain), the rest one each.
The Soviets had lost ten agents and but produced thirteen five new teams in September, leaving them with a reserve of seven by 31 October. With a more comfortable buffer re-established, one of the deferred research projects would likely be restarted, in part of full.
7. Production and Supply
The air base in Jakutsk received its final upgrade on 4 October: the front was moving further forward, so the saved IC was rolled into ‘consolidated revenue’ for now.
As noted earlier, supply was still problematic on parts of the front, with the defence of Selenga Burin still being affected by 4 October, though marginal supply had been restored. Part of the problem there was caused by low infrastructure. Also, the routing of supplies was a bit confusing: logisticians declared their supply route back to Moscow was 135 nodes away, while Ulan Ude (directly north of it, albeit on the Trans-Siberian Railway, so with much better infrastructure) was supposedly only 126 distant. Supply in the Vershino Darasunsky salient was still also difficult, though fuel was plentiful. This would improve during the month. [NB: I'm not sure what the difference, if any, is between a 'node' and a 'province' in this context.]
On 10 October, US Lend-Lease was reduced to 93 IC (down almost 30 from its earlier peak), a rate that would continue for the rest of the month, keeping the introduction of new production projects suppressed.
The air base at Tyndinsky – the new front-line centre for the VVS in the Northern Sector – got its level three expansion on 15 October, with improvements continued at the crowded facility.
All the massive new infrastructure projects for the TSR and the Far East Front were completed on 20-21 October. It would take a while for them to reach full efficiency. With high supply demand (around 135 IC average), Lend-Lease reduced and the upgrade bill climbing (back up to 37.47 IC), only two new infrastructure projects were started, to start improving the TSR beyond Irkutsk as land was securely liberated.
Some of the freed IC was put into raising a second full marine division.
And a few days later, another wing of strategic bombers was ordered.
Though more research gains meant the upgrade bill climbed even higher by 27 October (to 50.66 IC), though supply production had been reduced to around 110 IC, meaning the bomber production would not always been at 100% capacity as variable demands fluctuated.
8. Research and Leadership
With another improvement being implanted for the artillery brigades, focus was put into bringing heavy tank engine technology closer to world standards – the French in particular were known to have focussed on their heavy armour, while of course the Germans were famous for it.
On 14 October, the strategic bomber arm got improved bombs, with the effort there switching to introducing the first large air search radar for the VVS.
The next day, land doctrine for the special forces was improved and research in that priority ‘niche’ area was continued.
Medium tank reliability was researched on 18 October and while it was planned to continue, as noted above spy losses abroad were impacting heavily at that point, so it and special forces research were put on temporary hold, with large air search radar elevated above them in priority.
The next breakthrough was on 26 October, with small navigation radar researched and also elevated to continue above the two suspended projects.
9. Theatre Summaries
The Far Eastern Theatre saw major Soviet gains on the Pacific side of the front, fair gains in the centre and modest net gains in the south.
The Soviet army remained close to encroaching on northern Manchuria, but had not crossed into it yet. The Japanese still maintained a continuous front line, even if the coastal sector was back-pedalling significantly. A small encirclement might be possible east of Lake Baikal.
Total confirmed Soviet losses in land combat were very similar (down just slightly) compared to September at 10,686, with none lost to Japanese aircraft.
The Japanese and their puppets lost 17,921 men (a couple of hundred more fewer than in September) in ground combat. But losses from Soviet air strikes were up significantly to 18,747 (8,187 more than in September). Total Axis casualties (including a few hundred in Finland again) were therefore 36,668, or 10,757 more than in September (though with no repeat of the massive POW haul in Ayan last month).
The Finnish revolt had seized a large swathe of the hinterland, but the containment operation had now begun a week or so after the initial rising. Next would come its destruction. And maybe a few MP units might be needed to keep a lid on things in the future.
In South East Asia, the Allied conquest of the Philippines had been completed, but Singapore had been lost again. Nothing much had changed elsewhere.
The Allies were currently relying on the Thais in Malaya, but their criminally negligent failure to garrison Singapore had led to its loss.
The considerable French-commanded forces now in the southern Philippines were in the process of relocating, but time would tell how many were left as a garrison and where the others would end up. Perhaps some back to Malaya, others to new adventures.
The Japanese defences had collapsed in Australia by mid-month. Some remnants were now pocketed, the rest heading towards Adelaide [which, in-game, inexplicably does not include a port – though that is good for the Allies now]. Canberra had been retaken in the first half of the month and re-established as the capital.
Midway Island now seemed at last to be properly defended, with three garrison divisions, fighters and bombers.