Monday, 31 January 2011

Odessa Files Part IV - Assault at Czerizy


The day before, a battalion of Bolsheviks threw the White Russians out of the town of Czerizy, north of Odessa but on the Allied side of the River Bog (the map above is French, hence the spellings) and thus now occupy a key bridge over the river, and reconnaisance shows that more Bolshevik forces are moving towards it to cross (see Part I for the overall tactical situation). The Greek 5/42nd Evzones are ordered to re-take Czerizy, and control the bridge. They are reinforced with a company of White Russian cavalry, and 2 French tank squadrons are also moving up to support and will reach the battlefield later in the day. Dawn breaks with a battalion of Bolsheviks trying to dig-in in the town while the rest of the 3rd Red Rifle Regiment plus an Artillery company is moving up to cross the bridge and are strung out on road through Czipili . Dawn also sees the Greeks marching rapidly along all the roads to the right of the map - a battalion on each of the two right hand roads and the bottom one, (three battalions in all), and the White Russian cavalry entering from the bottom. What the Greeks do not know is 2 Red Armoured Car squadrons have rushed to the village overnight. (The map is from TooFatLardies WW1 scenario book, the scenario design is our own.)


Bolsheviks - 3rd Red Rifle Regiment:

Regiment HQ + Commissar
- Artillery 3 x Batteries of 75mm inf guns

3 Battalions of infantry each:
- Bat'n HQ
- 3 Infantry Companies
- MMG Platoon

2 Troops of Armoured Cars (1 of Putilov, 1 of Rolls Royces)

Allies - Greek 5/42nd Evzone Regiment.

Regimental HQ plus attached forces
- Cavalry Scout Platoons
- Mortar Platoon
- Attached 75mm Mountain Gun battery

3 Battalions, each of:
- Bat'n HQ
- 3 Infantry Companies
- MMG Platoon


- French support - 2 x attached light tank Troops

- White Russian cavalry company

The Battle...

....opens at near dawn with the Greeks  marching along the roads, screened by Greek (top of map) and White Russian (Centre and bottom) cavalry scouts.

As the Greek forces get to the road junction in the mddle of the table, they are shocked to see 2 companies of Red armoured cars charging out from the village. The machine-gun fire shakes the White Russian cavalry, who flee, as do the advance companies of the central Greek battalion. TheGreek left hand battalion (bottom of table) is made of sterner stuff and assaults the one company of armoured cars with grenades, knocking them out. The other squadron then retires to the village post haste, especially as clanking up the road from the bottom it sees 2 squadrons of French light tanks which have started to take pot shots at them..

Shaky camera footage as Greek Evzones race past a burning Bolshevik Putilov armoured car

At this point the Red commander has a hard decision to make - the 2nd Battalion of the Rifle Regiment has just started crossing the bridge, an essential reinforcement as the Bolshevik troops are outnumbered over 2:1 as the crack Evzones approach, so more uinfantry is urgently required - but the Greeks also have tanks! So the Bolsheviks push their own infantry off the road (some are even driven over or have to dive off the bridge) as they drive the Artillery Company over into the town.

Bolshevik guns move across the Bridge, a race against time and tanks..... 

Bolshevik guns deploy in the nick of time, but block the bridge to others......

The Reds deploy the guns in the nick of time, and destroy the first tank squadron at close range as it tries to enter the town on the main road, but prioritising the guns means that the lack of Red infantry in the houses now starts to tell, the Greeks coming in fast with less losses than one would expect,  and at the top of the map one of the Evzone battalions enters the town, wiping out the Bolsheviks in the houses above the main road in fierce fighting. The Bolshevik CO, the Commissar and the HQ platoon then rush into the buildings throwing grenades at the Greeks, and their brave but suicidal delaying action (For the Motherland!) is just long enough to gain time for elements of the 2nd Russian Battalion to cross the bridge and start to fight for the buildings - otherwise the Evzones would have got perfect firing positions over the bridge and also swept down through the town behind the Red defenders.

Greek Evzones storm the top o' the town, the Bolshevik CO and his platoon prepare to sell themselves dearly

In the centre and bottom of the town, the Evzones are assaulting across the board, now taking heavier casualties but also starting to cause casualties on the Russian defenders as the Greek mountain gun battery, machine guns and mortar platoon have set up and are shooting and shelling the Bolsheviks in the buildings.  The White Russian cavalry, having recovered their nerves, try to come around in a wide circle into the bottom of the town, but meet Russian trroops dug in, and take fearful casualties in close fighting in the orchards there.

And then, night starts to fall and utimately the Reds have kept the Greeks from taking the town, thay have blocked the streets with their guns, artillery tractors and bodies so the Evzones and tanks can't get in and get to the bridge, and this allows the third Russian battalion to start coming over the bridge, so the Greeks (feeling their losses now) and French retire. Tomorrow is another day....


We used Rapid Fire rules to play a Regimental level game, albeit with 28mm figures. They very worked well - the lack of lots of armour, its relative fragility vs WW2 armour (even Machine Guns at close range can KO a light tank or armoured car) balanced by teh dearth of anti-tank weaponry. The race between early Greek numerical superiority vs Bolshevik problems with reinforcing over a narrow bridge bottleneck made for a very exciting game, with the advantage swinging both ways. 

The Greek approach was simple - get there firstest with the mostest before the Reds could reinforce their position, and to put as much weight of fire on them across the board- a classic use of Evzone assault troops. The downside of this was inability to deply heavy weaepons ear;y, so the tanks were used to spearhead the attack.

The Russians eventually won by agressive (and suicidal) delaying tactics , to slow the Greek advance down (especially the "charge of the light armoured car brigade" early in the battle - in Rapid Fire, troops attacked by AFV and unsupported by their own AFVs are very likely to retire - and the Allies did!) . The Reds then very nearly lost it after the tanks arrived, but managed to KO the first French squadron at close range as it approached the town by rushing their guns over the bridge (Comrade Napoleonski to the rescue!). But by doing that, they nearly lost it as the lack of infantry allowed the Greeks to clear the top half of the town, and only the suicide attack of the CO and Commissar platoon bought enough time for reinforcements to rush over the bridge and slow the Greeks down with house to house fighting, and more importantly allow the rest of the Red third battalions to cross the bridge. At this point the Greeks losses, now at about 33% overall, started to tell against them as fresh Bolshevik units started to move into the fighting.

The Greek field hospital is kept very busy...Rapid Fire rewards use of medics in the rules

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