Friday, 21 May 2010

August 1914 - The Battle of Gumbinnen

This was another Great War 'Ostfront' game fought with Richard Brooks' OP14 rules.  Historically the battle at Gumbinnen followed 3 days after the messy scrap at Stalluponen (see earlier posts).  The payer briefings were as follows:

Russian briefing

Our invasion of East Prussia is under way. The Germans have launched fierce attacks on our French allies (by way of Belguim). War Plan 19 is two two-pronged. Rennenkampf's First Army, of 200,000 men, entered East Prussia from the north while General Samsonov's Second Army invaded from the south.

III Corps has already fought and driven back the Germans. XX Corps marches to it’s north and IV Corps to the south. Before you lies a flat plain punctuated by Gumbinnen (some 20 Versts to the west of the frontier).
German forces are reported as second line, reserve troops and are of course, hugely outnumbered by the Russian steamroller.

Clear the area of German troops.
Secure the towns of Gumbinnen and Goldap.
Control the railway lines.

All forces begin on table and may be in deployed mode.

XX Corps
Begin up to 4 hexes from the eastern edge, no further south than Gumbinnen.
2 Divisions, each 2 brigades
1 artillery brigade (4)
1 howitzer brigade (2) – only if a red card is drawn
III Corps
Begin up to 3 hexes in from the east, south of the Gumbinnen to Stalluponen (due east) railway.
Orbat as above but no Howitzer Brigade.
IV Corps
One division begins within 2 hexes of Goldap, the other within 2 hexes of the appropriately-named Klauten (the village to the north of Goldap).
Orbat as per XX Corps.
Cavalry regiment (1 stand)
Begins the anywhere on the northern edge of the table. Comes under the orders of XX Corps.

German briefing

Russia's planned invasion of East Prussia - which comprised a major component of their pre-war strategy, Plan 19 - is two-pronged. Rennenkampf's First Army, of 200,000 men, has entered East Prussia from the north while General Samsonov's Second Army invaded from the south. The town on Gumbinnen is 30km west of the frontier. Your three corps are in and to the south of Gumbinnen.

You have been ordered to attack the advancing Russians in order to defeat Rennenkampf before the arrival of Samsonov from the south. The enemy is (inevitably) thought to vastly outnumber the Fatherland’s available forces but a determined and swift attack will achieve local superiority.

Destroy or force the withdrawal of at least 2 enemy Corps.
Secure and hold Gumbinnen and it’s railway to the west.

Elements, 8th Armee (all begin in march column)
I Corps
Start in or north of (within 2 hexes) Gumbinnen.
2 Divisions each of 2 brigades
2 artillery brigades (2)
1 howitzer brigade (3)
XVII Corps
Enter on turn 4 at point A.
Orbat as I Corps
I (Reserve) Corps
Enter turn 7 at point B.
Orbat as I Corps but no Howitzer Brigade.
Cavalry Division
Enter turn 2 on northern edge of table, D6 hexes from western corner.
3rd (Reserve) Division
Roll D6 needing a 6 for arrival on turn 6. Roll until arrival – score required decreases by 1 each turn. Enters anywhere on the western edge (decide before start of game).

It may be possible to call upon aviators to assist in locating the enemy.

On wednesday night Martin Rapier chose to drive the Russian steamroller while I commanded the Germans.

In the 'photo Gumbinnen can be seen centre left.  Goldap is just off-camera to the right.

Von Francois surges forward before dawn - only to meet hordes of Russians coming the other way!

The German position begins to deteriorate as the second Russian Corps closes for action.  All photos were taken from the German side of the table - I couldn't be bothered getting up.

The Germans are reduced to a single brigade west of Gumbinnen while only the artillery occupies the town.  Meanwhile the second division sent on a cunning flank march (left) dithers.  The dashing Von F has retired to have his shrapnel wounds dressed...

Below:  The Russian noose tightens around Gumbinnem

Von F's Corps finally succumbs to exhaustion while in the distance the inconclusive scrap between the German cavalry and a Russian division continues.  Meanwhile elements of the German XVII Corps begin to arrive (bottom right).

XVII Corps get stuck into the Russians.  For those with decent eyesight, the rears German stands are edged in grey, the Russians in green.

The Gumbinnen defences continue to crumble.

The Russian III Corps begins to crumble (note the exhaustion card under the Corps HQ).

Ther German reserves push on as air support (spotting for the guns) finally shows up.

The aforementioned contribution from the German Air Service.
What, you may ask of the action furthet to the south (near Goldap)?  We dicided that as time was pressing by the time the third German corps appeared that they and the Russians in Goldap would occupy each other.

In Conclusion, we dicided that the game was an honourable draw.  The Russians had captured Gumbinnen and Goldap and seen off Von F, but the Germans had worn out 2 Russian corps.  Historically, it was tnews of the German reverse at Gumbinnen which finally broke the nerve of 8th Armee command and led to the appointment of Hindenburg and Ludendorff.  The rest, as they say, is history...


Paul said...


Nice bird of prey, by the way.

Tim Gow said...

Post now completed Paul - now read on! The Tauben was a must-have; it's such an iconic (and unusual) shape.