It was 48 hours since the division crossed the border and, like some other divisions, Major General Yuri Snesarev‘s 94th Guards Motor Rifle Division had encountered strong opposition. However, a gap in the enemy frontline had been located. Indeed, if the reports from the Divisional Reconnaissance Battalion were to be believed the battles of the previous day had been so successful that a rupture of the BAOR line had been secured. Now ahead of the 94th Guards was a British infantry formation and likely poorly supported by tanks.
Snesarev let his deputy divisional commander Tikhon Sergeev complete his briefing, pondering the situation in his mind. The enemy positions have been detected in the centre around the town of Lutterhausen and stretched north. The advanced elements of the division would advance from the south of Lutterhausen swinging elements from two regiments in a generally northwesterly direction, behind the town, to secure the long ridge that stretched several kilometres from the northwest of Lutterhausen. The primary formations were two tank battalions from the 74th Tank Regiment. These were to be supported by two BTR Battalions from the 288th Motor Rifle Regiment. One BTR Battalion, the 1/288th, would secure a holding position in the south west on the left of the 74th Tank Regiment. The second, the 2/288th, would be held in reserve directly east of Lutterhausen for flank protection. Yes, it made sense.
Above, the town of Lutterhausen, before the Soviet advance. The town itself was of no military significance, unlike the ridge to the rear.
But was the position a trap, or had the British commander by positioning forward really left his position vulnerable to a flanking attack? How would he reinforce his flank? Surely the British ability to move reserves forward would surely be restricted by such a forward defence?
His thoughts however were interrupted by the movement of the divisional political officer. Damn him, Snesarev thought, his anger rising. If it wasn’t for weasels like Boris Pudkin he could take more time for further reconnaissance. Pudkin was relishing his role and today it was Pudkin, and the unstated threat that his presence provided, that was driving the new push despite Snesarev‘s misgivings. Regaining his composure Snesarev focussed on the briefing. Sergeev was now all but completed and within minutes the orders group had broken up, commanders returning to their respective units.
It was late in the afternoon when the T-64Bs, BMPs and BTRs crossed the start line there advance made good time, despite the terrain that now funnelled the advancing units into narrow defiles. This was most noticeable on the left where the BTRs and T-64s of the 1/288th we’re particular restricted by woods and rising ground. It was of course not long before reports were filtering in to Divisional Headquarters.
Above, the 1/288th Motor Rifle Battalion are visible on the left and 1/74th Tank Battalion on the right.
Below, 2/74th Battalion advances. The battalion comprised some 30 T-64B tanks and was supported by a BMP company as well as Regimental AA assets.
The first enemy report was from the centre, near Lutterhausen, two platoons of Chieftain heavy tanks were detected advancing, some eight in number. One was advancing from the northwest and the other platoon on the potentially exposed right flank of the 74th Tank Regiment.
Above, a British Chieftain platoon advances from concealed positions on the Soviet right flank. Deployed in penny packets the Soviet commanders did not fully appreciate the threat, at least at first.
Yet, the 2/74th commander was quick to react. The British tanks, increasing in number and now supported by Milan teams deployed in a wood to the battalion front, plied their deadly trade with skill.
The enemy tanks were particularly effective, while the Soviets reply was not. Fortunately the enemy ATGW teams were less effective. Despite this several T-64s were soon destroyed. It was not long before several BMPs were hit by advanced artillery rounds fired from off table FH-70 towed guns. The situation was quickly deteriorating.
About 8pm, in an effort to stabilise the Soviet right flank, the reserve battalion, the 2/288th was committed. The BTRs pushed directly west towards Lutterhausen, their attached T-64B company adding significantly to their offensive capability. This attack focused on a British localised counterattack on the 2/74th Tank Battalion’s right flank. The British here were quickly overcome.
Above, the general situation in the centre. The two tank battalions of the 74th Tank Regiment are in the centre and left. The BTR reserve can be seen advancing in the right foreground.
On the Soviet left the advancing BTRs of the 1/288th Battalion were, as noted previously, delayed. When finally released from the confines of the advance they spilled out on to a plain dominated by rising forested ground to the southwest and the village of Stendorf to the north. As the battalion deployed more T-64s erupted in fireballs, curtesy of yet more Chieftains moving east towards Stendorf. The battalion deployed as best it could, yet again the enemy had gained the initiative.
Below, the village of Stendorf in the centre foreground. The 1/288th Battalion comprising BTR-60PBs and T-64Bs are on the left, while on the right elements of the 74th Tank Regiment are visible. In the distance an understrength British battalion prepares to engage the 1/288th Battalion.
Meanwhile to the right the 1/74th Battalion was heavily engaged. The advancing battalion, squarely in the centre and the Soviet main effort, had been restricted by the a large wood and the small village of Stendorf. As the battalion emerged on to the British right flank of the defenders around Lutterhausen the battalion was engaged by a further Chieftain platoon held in ambush on a spot height some 1500 metres distant. Unable to locate the enemy and partly obscured by a hasty British smoke screen Soviet casualties quickly increased. The battalion commander was clearly panicked, Snesarev made a mental note. The commander would clearly need to be replaced.
To add to the debacle around 8pm British Lynx helicopters added their weight to the battalion’s discomfort. Their TOW anti-tank missiles being deadly in their execution.
Above, the situation in the centre where the 74th Tank Regiment is heavily engaged.
Soviet ZSUs were moved forward, having been delayed by the chaos of the constrained advance. However, the situation continuing to worsen. Finally around 9pm two massive Soviet smoke screens engulfed the area. The aim being to prevent further Soviet casualties.
No fewer than two Soviet 152mm artillery battalions smothered the area in smoke. Yet if this wasn’t sufficient this was supplemented by direct fire by the 122mm guns of the 2S1 battalion attached to the 1/74th Battalion.
Above, the Soviet advance by the 74th Tank Regiment stalls. Both smoke screens are visible.
As darknesses’ veil enveloped the battlefield Snesarev’s attack had clearly failed. However, Snesarev concerns were not simply the burning vehicles and stalled advance. Clearly the fault rested with the divisions political Officer, Comrade Pudkin. His interference was intolerable and the result would be his legacy. How could Snesarev free himself from the interference of this amateur, without himself ending up in Siberia?
The scenario was of course developed with the Scenario Generation System, with the Soviets conducting a Hasty Attack. Unfortunately the game was not complete when time was called. However the outcome was clearly a bloody Soviet defeat with Soviet forces falling in to a well considered trap. Miniatures were from my own and my opponent’s collection with all miniatures from Heroics & Ros.