Saturday 27 April 2019

Turning the Flank at Reval: Turn 1, Part 2

Following the battle at Prnovo, the Estonian forces retreat northwards, having given the Freikorps a bloody nose. Meanwhile Estonian Force A rapidly marches eastwards towards the advancing Freikorps troops.

Saturday 20 April 2019

Turning the Flank at Reval: The Picture Says It All Really

One more defeat like that, and we have won the war!
What did we lose? A few good men. Nations are saved by a few good men.
But what did we gain? We have gained glory, and honour as men who have prepared to shed blood for their country! And we have gained enemy dead, crosses on a forgotten hill, to rot and be forgotten, God knows when, but we know how and why.
We know that when we stood at Prnovo, we raised a flag that by the grace of God shall never be taken down! This is the flag of freedom, of the right to sit at home under your own government and your own house; to sit among your own kin, and to live on the land of your ancestors. We fought for that- we fought it well.
Well done, my soldiers! Tomorrow we shall fight again! We shall fight again!

Saturday 13 April 2019

Turning the Flank at Reval: The Battle of Prnovo

The Freikorps drove up the eastern flank of the operations area in force, trying to break through at Prnovo and use the railway to advance further into Estonia. The Estonians, expecting this had destroyed the railway at Old and New Crossing and garrisoned Prnovo strongly. They hoped that an initial defeat could stymie the Freikorps advance before it had really got going.

The Freikorps deploy at the bottom of the map, or enter from off-board on later turns. The defending Estonians deploy in the top half of the map. The Estonians retreating from Old and New Crossing deploy on the western side of the map. Yes, this does mean that they could set up next to the Freikorps. That would almost certainly be a bad thing for them though.

Identified Freikorps forces (count exhausted):
6 Infantry companies
2 Mortars
4 Machine-gun detachments
1 AA Machine-gun

Identified Estonian Forces:
2 Infantry companies (1 clearly understrength)
1 Cavalry company (clearly understrength)
1 Machine-gun detachment
1 Mortar
1 Mark V Tank
2 105mm Howitzers
1 Sopwith Camel

The Battle

The battle progressed slowly as the Freikorps sought to advance on both flanks. On their right flank (bottom of photographs) they came under fire from two 105mm guns that drove one company of Freikorps back into the woods. Meanwhile the advance up the left flank encountered a tank but took no serious damage is it moved through. Casualties on both sides were light but morale seemed brittle. Although the Estonians had taken first and second blood, the Freikorps were able to rout a machinegun that was located in one of the central buildings thus restoring some semblance of honour. However the battle was not yet over.

The development of the battle in pictures (Click the pics for larger images):

The end of the first part with the main movements marked on:

The Freikorps advance continued despite the heavy fire, pausing only to reorder their ranks. Meanwhile the Estonians redeployed one of the 105mm Howitzers to their left flank to shore up the infantry that were now in full rout.

The tank sought to enfilade the Freikorps infantry near it but the troops raced into the shelter of the woods, suffering only disorganisation from its shots.

The Freikorps advance looked unstoppable as the troops advanced through the woods and the corn. Suddenly two previously unseen companies of Estonian infantry jumped up from concealment to ambush the Freikorps troops. This was too much for a Landswehr company and they routed, taking the company behind them along for the ride. The Freikorps on the other flank were made of sterner stuff though. They held on and set up for a firefight.

With the Landswehr companies in full flight, their officers sought to restore order. The first company to rout had had enough. It dispersed with its members heading for Germany. The other was soon back under control though and ready to resume the advance. The other ambush fared less well. The Freikorps companies returned fire with smooth precision while a machinegun enfilade the ambushers' position. This was too much for the Estonians who dispersed homewards, refusing to rally.

The Estonian artillery on the hill now decided to limber up. Their enemies were too close. Will they get away or will they be caught with their limbers down?

Reports from the front were not good, so the Estonian general ordered his men to withdraw. The greatest threat to his forces now was the Freikorps company that was racing after the artillery on the hill. They came close to capturing it:

The artillery was able to maintain its distance but came under heavy close-range fire and eventually that told. They galloped off in full rout with the gun bouncing madly behind the limber. Meanwhile, the tank cleared its own path and routed a Freikorps machine-gun before clanking back to join its compatriots. There was little the Freikorps could do to stop it, so their infantry remained hidden in the woods as much as possible.

On the other flank, the other gun covered the retreat of the Estonian infantry, managing to break the Freikorps company that was eagerly pursuing the retreating Estonians before it too limbered and withdrew in good order. All in all, the Estonian colonel conducted the withdrawal perfectly and with a minimum of losses. Unfortunately, Prnovo was now in Freikorps hands.

Saturday 6 April 2019

Turning the Flank at Reval: A Letter to Colonel Bilezikjian

Commander Bilezikjian,

The strategic situation is reasonably clear. The enemy wishes to penetrate our rear within the next 6 turns. He must be delayed. I plan to delay him at PRNOVO.

By delay, I mean defeat.

I have entrusted you with the command at this front. There are no reserves. If your force is smashed, we may still win the campaign, but I don’t know how. On the other hand, this is the enemy’s main army. He has more troops, but this is the mainstay of his invasion. Defeat this, and his plans are seriously set back. I put it simply- either side can win the campaign regardless of the result tonight. However, the winner here is likely the winner elsewhere.

I have chosen to fight at PRNOVO because of the many advantages of ground which are not quite so bountiful in other parts of the country. I counsel you to make full advantage of these terrain features.

Estonia can rely on you to the hilt,
General Joshua