Monday, May 19, 2014

A Return to Poland

Inspired by Chris, I decided to pick back up my Decisive Campaigns: Warsaw to Poland game I've let lay for, oh, about a year and a half...

The situation on 5 September when I resumed the campaign. In the north, 3rd Army has made significant inroads toward Warsaw. This is a feint, however; 3rd Army doesn't have the necessary troops to carry through the attack. I want them there to pin down Polish forces and keep them away from my real main effort in the north: Guderian's Panzers of XIX Corps

In the west, 8th and 10th Armies are trying to force crossings of the Warta. Once across, they will move to take Lodz and Piotrkow, clearing the way for a drive on Warsaw via Radom

And in the south, XVIII and XXII Corps move to take Krakau. The city appears to be well defended and any attacks will be across the Vistula. I would rather clear the way via maneuver than costly attacks.

By the end of 5 September, the map clearly shows the beginnings of my encirclements of the Polish forces.

On 7 September Krakau falls. The defending Poles, threatened by a flanking maneuver by 2nd Panzer Division farther east abandon the city to avoid being cut off. There was actually very little fighting necessary to the city once the 3rd Regiment of the Polish 21st Division had been forced back from the crossing. Kielce falls on the same day to the 25th Panzer Regiment making a swift attack after crossing the Warta.

By 9 September Guderian's armor has broken out and taken Thorn. This movement nearly closes the encirclement of the remaining Polish troops in the north.
Polish resistance in the north is crumbling. There are mostly shattered, scattered regiments and isolated divisions holding on. There is still a large force north of Warsaw facing 3rd Army, which is right where I want them to be. Third Army is keeping them from interfering with Guderian, who will turn south now and drive along the south bank of the Vistula. The river should protect his flank as he advances, and if the forces facing 3rd Army turn to attack him. they will have to deal with attacks from their rear by Wodrig Corps.

In the West XVI Corps is well across the Warta, headed by 1st Panzer Division. They will soon isolate Piotrkow and take the city when the defenders are weak if the Poles don't run away like they did at Krakau. North of here 8th Army is facing a much tougher nut to crack at Lodz, with far less armor. I plan to use them to fix the forces in Lodz while 10th Army advances northeast behind Lodz and isolates the city.

This was a fun few hours playing Sunday. Despite the reputation for a walkover, the Polish campaign and the French campaign a few months later I find very interesting. In Poland, most of the German tanks were PzKpfw I's and II's, and not the III's and IV's that would be more prevalent in France and Africa. Blitzkrieg was still mostly an idea of Guderian's and a few others, and not at all completely endorsed as the primary German means of armored warfare. The Luftwaffe had more modern aircraft, but there is plenty of evidence that the Polish pilots were better trained. In fact, the German army was far from the imposing, veteran force that would overrun most of European Russian in just over two years, being composed of large numbers of perhaps eager, but not completely trained recruits. It could have gone differently in both Poland and France. Poland may still have fallen, but the cost in German troops and equipment could well have been prohibitive. 

Hopefully it won't be a year and half before I pick this back up! The Decisive Campaigns game system is really a lot of fun to play, and once in awhile it's nice to engage in Operational warfare after being down in the tactical trenches for awhile.


  1. Great post. I had no idea about the state of the German war machine in Poland. I've always assumed they were top notch when they attacked Poland but without anything to back that assumption up!

    Very interesting. So are you going to give the French campaign a go too? I think that would be fun to fight with British and French troops.

  2. Yes, I'm definitely going to give the French campaign a whirl. That's actually a lot more interesting and challenging than Poland. Without Allied intervention, Poland falls even if they bleed the Germans. They're just too outmatched in terms of mechanization. A strategy where they defended behind the rivers rather than at the frontiers probably slows the Germans down some, but I don't think they can win, unless the German player has no idea how to handle his troops.

    The French, however, can win. It was French doctrine that sucked, not their troops or equipment. Both the British and the French were prepared to re-fight 1918. The Germans, having been beaten in 1918, wisely chose not to do that.

    French tanks are better than the German tanks, even the III's and IV's. The French just deployed them ineffectively, in penny-packets as mobile infantry support guns rather than in concentrated formations. The BEF were also good troops, but still fighting the last war. Sadly, a British military officer and theorist described almost exactly the approach that would later be called Blitzkrieg, but he was mostly ignored at the time.

    There are some Lock N' Load scenarios/mods out that recreate the fighting in France at a tactical level. I may give those a try as well. I'm really liking that game system.

  3. Great write-up as usual. It is an interesting premise that had Poland and/or France been a Pyrrhic victory for the Germans if they would have ever actually launched Barbarossa against the Soviets.