Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Signing off for 2018 a bit early this year...

Just a quick post to let my readers know that there will not be any further "Our Saturday Game" AAR's for the remainder of the year. Dan Best and I were scheduled to play this coming Saturday, but due to tragic fire that destroyed my son's apartment, I will be in Tulsa this weekend to help him out with anything he needs.

My son was fortunate to escape from the fire, but one of his neighbors was killed escaping from his second story apartment. My son has found a place to stay as have 15 of his other neighbors who also lost their apartments. The Red Cross and Salvation Army have been assisting. And fortunately, I had purchased insurance for my son, so he will be receiving assistance from State Farm. (Renters Insurance is always a good investment if you have never considered it.)

Not much more to say. I am extremely grateful that my son is safe and that so many people have offered their assistance. Christmas will be especially happy for our family this year. We have much to be thankful for. Our prayers go out to the family who lost a loved one to this fire.

While, there will not be any more AAR's until January 5th, I will be posting the year end scenario collection for 2018...the "From Your Momma's Basement II" pack will be posted shortly.

Thanks everyone!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Grumble Jones December Scenario GJ065 - Friends or Enemies?

The December Grumble Jones scenario and the last one for 2018 takes us back to the Eastern Front and in the operational zone of the Panzergrenadier Division - Grossdeutschland. In the late summer of 1944, the Germans were falling back into Romania and towards the Carpathian Mountains. The Romanians, weary of war, found themselves in the unfortunate predicament of trying to ease themselves out of the war while fighting alongside their German Allies. The war in Russia had not brought any benefit to Romania and their losses in men and material had been grievous. Even as their German Allies turned to make a stand and halt the Soviet Juggernaut, the Romanians began negotiating with the Soviets to find a way out. It would of course mean turning on their one-time German Allies.
GJ065 takes place during the fighting around Targul-Frumos (Targu Frumos), Romania. The Grossdeutschland Division along with the 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf would inflict server losses on the Russians during the heavy fighting at Targul Frumos. It would also be one of the first occasions where the Soviets committed their heavy IS-II Tanks.

My inspiration for the scenario came from a picture that I has always intrigued me from the book, God, Honor, Fatherland by Thomas McGuirl and Remy Spezzano. Thee are host of books out there on the Grossdeutschland, but this is certainly one of my favorites.

The picture that intrigued me shows a scene with a Grossdeutschland and Totekopf officer in discussion. The contrast between the two men has always fascinated me.

The officer on the right is Oberleutnant Hans-Karl Richter of the Grossdeutchland. He is in discussion with an SS Hauptsturmfuehrer of the Panzer Regiment 6 "Theodor Eicke" of the 3rd SS Panzer Division, Totenkopf. 

A quick look at their boots and uniforms shows clearly the contrast between the two men. At this point in the battle, Richter had already been in heavy fighting at Targul Frumos and was briefing his opposite as the Totenkopf Division relieved Grossdeutschland in the line. 

One wonders immediately as the nature of the SS Hauptsturmfuehrer's combat role. My first impression would be that he is a staff officer and likely to have been attached to a divisional headquarters. Boots that highly polished would seem to have been a rarity in the muddy fields  that made up the Targul Frumos battlefield. 

Other images of this period showing Totenkopf personnel working with Wehrmacht units show a more battle ready attire. 

God, Honor, Fatherland does not provide any detail on the SS Hauptsturmfuehrer and further indicates that Richter himself would not see the officer again.

So his later fate is unknown to us.

But while reading about this encounter I came across the data, which would inspire this month's scenario. At one point in the battle, Richter's SPW platoons would strung out on the German flank. Their supporting Romanian Artillery had gone silent and a trench line of Romanian infantry had been abandoned, leaving a dangerous gap in the German position. As Soviet T-34/85'began assaulting, Richter was forced to find cover behind a railroad embankment. Disaster was averted only with the timely arrival of armor from the Totenkopf Division, which pushed the Soviets back and restored the line. 

As an elite division, the Grossdeutschland was heavily covered by the German Kriegsberichters (Photographers). Of particular note are the many pictures of Romanian and German troops working together. These of course had huge propaganda value and conveyed to Germans on the home front that the Wehrmacht was not going it alone on the Russian Front. 

But the truth of course would be very different and the Germans would see many of their Allies fade away as their fortunes declined...Italians, Romanians, Hungarians, and Finns would all seek a separate peace with the Soviet Union. 

The December scenario attempts to depict the actions of Richter's Half-Tracks and Panzergrenadiers as they try to hang on against Soviet Armor until relief arrives from the Totenkopf Division. Romanians are present at the beginning of the scenario and present a conundrum. On Turn 1 and only on Turn 1, the German Player can choose to send his Romanians for the exit. This is of course what occurred historically. But...the German Player can decide to keep them on the field. If so, he must roll a d6 each Rally Phase to see if the Romanians switch sides and join cause with the Russians. If by Turn 4, the Romanians have not joined the Russians, they automatically throw in their lot with the Germans and fight with them till the end of the scenario. So...the German Player can be cautious and ensure that the Romanians do not join with the Russians or he can roll the dice and see if he can keep them on the field and bring them into his active OOB. Will you take that risk?

This month's scenario is a bit larger than what I usually put out there and the SSR's are important to the game. Hopefully, its clear as the mud at Targul Frumos and folks will find the scenario enjoyable. 

The board setup.

As always these monthly "Basement Quality" Scenarios are offered for fun only and as a thank you to the readers of this blog. 

Remember to open pictures in a new window in order to maximize the size. 

And as always, the PDF's for this scenario can be downloaded from The ASL Scenario Archive (just search on Grumble Jones).

Thanks everyone for your support and readership this past year. I made a pledge to provide a scenario each month and expect to continue that in 2019...(some of you will cheer and others may cringe!!!) but I look forward to the challenge of creating something worthwhile each month.

Thanks again!