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Mława 1939» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Battle of Mława - session report (ilustrated) rss

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So, the war came. On the northern lines of polish defense stood army „Modlin”. Gathered around city Mława, it’s goal was to keep the shortest road to the capital of Poland safe. In the 20’s and 30’s, Polish HQ planned to use those positions as the starting point of the anti-German offensive, that might end with taking whole East Prussia. But even when Hitler came to power, France was too afraid to perform any military operation against Germany. So, in July 1939 Polish units started to prepare fortified positions around Mława. It was too late to create a solid line of bunkers and shelters. Although Germans were surprised of the strength of Polish defense and used to call Mława fortifications as the “Polish Maginot’s Line”.
Polish forces had here one infantry division (20) and two cavalry brigades (Nowogródzka and Mazowiecka) in the first line and one more infantry division in the second line. Against them German gathered five infantry divisions (217, 61, 1, 12 and 11) and one armored division (“Kempf”), supported by the 120 bombers and 100 fighters. Army “Modlin” had 10 fighters only…
Starting placement:


1 September 1939
Germans are crossing Polish border at all its length, pushing Polish patrols back and destroying some weak, cover troops. Problems starts when they meet first line of Polish defense. 11th Infantry Division reaches Mława, but stops at the well prepared and fortified positions of the 80 Infantry Regiment in forest Mławski. Combined attack of 61th and 217th Infantry Divisions elements at Działdowo is halted by the two polish battalions of civil defense, but the tanks of Kempf Armored Divisions are surrounding the city.
Where they can, Polish units are counterattacking. In forest Mławski German 44 Infantry Regiment is surprised by Polish counterattack and withdraws with loses. Nowogórdzka Cavalry Brigade withdraws and shortens its line of defense, giving Germans some ground but taking better positions. 8th Infantry Division is divided, one regiment is sent to Mława as the reserve, while another one has to reach Sierpce and defend the city.
East of the Army “Modlin” stays Independent Operational Group “Narew”, defending the line of river Narew with the support of old, Russian forts from the I World War. Here Germans aren’t pushing that much. German 1st Cavalry Brigade tries to take Dylewo and cut Polish line of defense, but is forced to withdraw.
After first day of fights, Polish positions are solid, only west flank is pretty wide and poorly defended. Polish morale is very high, soldiers and officers are sure that very soon France and England will fulfill their ally duty and attack Germany from the west. Some are even expecting to see RAF bombers and fighters at the Polish sky.



2 September 1939
On the second day of fights, most of the German troops reaches main line of the Polish defense. Suffering heavy looses, German infantry attack Polish fortification, but without any successes. Hundreds of bodies in feldgrau uniform lays dead in front of Polish positions. All the attacks around Mława are repulsed. One and only success of German units is capturing surrounded Działdowo. Tanks of Kempf Armored Division are trying to overrun Polish positions but are halted south-west of Mława by Polish cavalry.
When the Germans are assaulting Polish positions near Mława, Independent Operational Group “Narew” lunches surprising counterattack near Nowogród. Two polish infantry divisions – 33 and 1 attack 206 division which was sure that there’s no chance that any Polish unit would attack there. In panic, German soldiers are escaping, and soon 206 Infantry Division is divided. Information about this success spreads around the Polish lines of defense, rising morale of the Polish soldiers.


3 September 1939
France and England officially declares war against Germany which is soon announced in Poland. Polish HQ is sure that now it’s the only matter of days till the huge French army with its 2000 tanks will attack weak German defense lines at the west, while British bombers will bombard Berlin, Nurnberg and other German cities.
Germans fruitlessly attacks Mława, losing only more soldiers and gaining nothing. Only a bit east, at Krzynowłoga Mała, 12th Infantry Division pushes Polish cavalry back, slowly driving into the Polish defense, but is stopped by the 21st Infantry Regiment. SS Deutschland regiment marches in Działdowo and massacres 200 of the Polish citizens in the revenge of the brave defense of the city. Armored Division Kempf attacks near Sierpc in hope to make it way on the back of the Polish lines of defense, but this try is stopped by Polish infantry.
206 Infantry division tries to collect itself after Polish counterattack, but regiments are divided and have problems, still being pushed back by Polish divisions.
41st Reserve Infantry Division finishes its mobilization and approaches the battlefield. Polish soldiers are fighting with courage, being sure that soon they’ll be supported by allies. Near Nowogród two polish infantry divisions are beating Germans well, forcing them to withdraw and causing them great looses. Problem is that there’s big, wide, open space between first line of Polish defense and the second possible line. If German would be able to break the first line, their fast units would surround withdrawing Polish divisions.


4 September 1939
Germans resign from frontal attacks on Mława, attacking Polish wings instead. On the west they are even successful, reaching Sierpc and pushing polish defense back, making way for armored units. On the east wing of Mława position, there are hard and bloody fights between both armies, Germans are moving to the Przasnysz, but city is still in Polish hands. German plans is now to close their claws around Mława.
Aware of that danger, Polish forces are moving all possible units there, to prevent breaking their lines. Situation is dramatic, but still not tragic, as far as Germans aren’t behind Polish lines, Mława position could stand. Near the Nowogrod Polish divisions destroys German infantry regiment.

5 September 1939
Germans are finally breaking through the Polish positions. At Dzieżgowo two divisions of the Corps “Wodrig” destroy 79 infantry regiment, moving onto the right flank of Mława. On the south east 7 Armored Regiment makes long raid, slowly overcoming Polish positions. In this situation Army “Mława” has no other choice but to withdraw. Still being far from complete encirclement, Polish units are withdrawing on Modlin and Płock in hope to create solid line of defense based on the river Wisła. Those that can’t move there, are withdrawing east, to join Independent Operational Group “Narew”. Everything depends on how fast German pursuit will be.

6 September 1939
Having hard time with breaking through the first line of Polish defense, Germans are on their guard with taking Mława. Only their fast units, like armored division Kempf, and some elements of the II Corps are running after withdrawing Polish foreces. Their goal is to cut main forces of Army “Modlin” from the Wisła river. Tasting the defeat near Nowogród, Germans aren’t trying to attack fortified positions of Independent Operational Group “Narew” now, waiting for Guderian units.
Most of the Polish infantry is able to withdraw without being overrun. Their current goals are Wyszogród and Modlin, where they’ll be able to stabilize line of defense. Here ends scenario.

Final thoughts
Batlle went quite similar to the history. Germans weren’t able to break Mława defense, but wings of Army “Modlin” were too weak, so after 3-4 days of fights, Germans managed to break them and force Polish units to withdraw. Here where was main difference between game and history – Polish forces were able to withdraw in order. In history, most of them were disordered and surrounded on their way to the Modlin.

Army “Modlin” couldn’t keep its positions because it was too weak. It needed at last two infantry divisions in first line and one or two in reserve. Instead it had only one division in first line and one in reserve. Cavalry was good in slowing German progress, but not to make solid defense.
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jumbit
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Quote:
In the 20’s and 30’s, Polish HQ planned to use those positions as the starting point of the anti-German offensive, that might end with taking whole East Prussia.
Do you have more information about this? What was this proposed operation called? I'd like to do more research on this topic, but can't find anything in English.
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Sadly, all books that I have, are in polish, so it's hard to give you any proper source. Also, since during the World War II many archives were burned (especialy in Poland), it's harder to find them.

Speaking shortly, after Hitler came to power, polish leader, Jozef Pilsudski offered France preventive war against him, because of the beaking versialles treaty. Poland had to attack east prussia and keep some of the German forces at it's east borders, while France had to attack from the west, breaking German defense and taking most of the strategic parts of the country, especially at the north.

This plan was barely based on the previous plans. In the 20's French offensive plans were based upon cooperation with Poland and Czechoslovakia. It was mistake, because those two countries had their own confilicts (Czechoslovakia occupied Polish Zaolzie).

But in 30's some things changed. Pilsudski was aware that France is turning into strictly defensive doctrine, based upon Maginot's line. His diplomats were trying to change France's mind, but it was fruitless and finally French goverment refued this offer. Pilsudski guessed that if the Germany would attack Poland, France will do nothing to help her ally. That's why in 1934 Poland and Germany signed non agression pact. Sadly, Pilsudski died soon after and his succesors weren't as intelligent as him. They simply belived England and France when they promised their help in the war with Germany.

What's interesting, Hitler offered Poland alliance at last two times. In his plans Poland has to just do nothing during his war with France and England and then help him with war with Soviet Union. He had polish army in big respect because of its victory in 1920 that saved Europe from soviet invasion. With help of the 1.5 million polish soldiers he'd be able to capture Moscow and defeat Stalin. But polish goeverment in late 30's was naive and belived in promises of France and Englad. How it ended, we all know...
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jacek kaufman
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lindenhurst
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I played this game a long time ago back in Poland. Great game I think I liked it the most out of all the new games that came out after. Although I could never retreat the Polish troops without them being massacred by German planes and armored troops. Great session. I miss these old good Dragon games.
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It is damn hard to retreat without beging massacred, I agree. To do it, you have to keep both flanks defended. I think that trick lies in keeping Przasnysz (at east) and Sierpc (at west) as long as possible.

This battle shows that one, even not very powerfull armored division is sometimes enough to force whole army to retreat from well prepared positions.
 
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