Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Conquest of the Aegean AAR: Bridges over the Sperkhios River

(a "what if" scenario)

April 10th - 11th, 1941. Greece. (2 days)

Axis = Grey or Light Blue (Luftwaffe)
Australian/New Zealand = Green
Greek Units = White

A reinforced Australian Infantry Brigade attacks a German Infantry Battalion. The German attack in Greece has suffered a setback. A revolution in Bulgaria has threatened to cut German supply lines. As a result, the bulk of the German forces in Greece have been pulled back to protect the supply lines. Now holding the limit of the German advance are some weak German screening units. Allied command sees this as the perfect chance to strike back and recapture 3 key bridgeheads over the Sperkhios River.


Allied Command has passed the order down to Major General George Alan Vasey, head of the Australian 19th Infantry Brigade, to press the attack toward the Yef Alamanas bridge, the Komma bridge, and as a bonus the Sperkhios River ferry crossing. To do this he has at his disposal, along with his Aussie troops, the 2nd New Zealand Division Calvary Regiment and a partial Greek battalion (The Greek 82nd Infantry Regiment).

The battle plan is laid out and the troops are set. The Australians will launch a two pronged attack NE toward Yef Alamanas hoping to get to the bridge before the Germans blow it. One the left flank, the 2nd New Zealand Division will move north toward Komma with support from the Greeks.

All told Vasey has in his command some 4000 men and 102 armored fighting vehicles.


The 2nd New Zealand Cav advances north along the road, and spots enemy units 1km away in the town of Komma. The 2nd Division moves off the road into a nearby wooded area and calls on Artillery support from the 2/3rd Field Regiment and its 24 field guns far south of the action. The bombardment commences and the German units in the town are hammered.

On the right flank, the two Australian battalions (the 2/4th and the 2/8th) advance toward the town of Koutseki, which lies just south of the Yef Alamanas bridge crossing. This town will provide the jumping off point to assault the bridgehead.

As the Australian 2/8th Battalion approaches the town, 3 German units are spotted, the exact makeup is unknown, but they are determined to be a anti tank unit, a armored unit and some field artillery battery. The German armored unit is under strength and refitting according to intelligence reports.

With the initial pounding from the artillery done, the Greek 82nd and the NZ Cav make a dash for the still intact Komma Bridge.

The bridgehead is undefended, and the allies race across, securing it intact and in the town of Komma intel reports German activity. Spotted is a German gun company of about 103 men strong, while further north up the road contact is made with a German infantry unit, size and composition unknown. The New Zealand Cav spreads out and prepares for a possible counter attack. The Greek units come up behind and deploy to provide cover fire across the river bank.

Meanwhile on the right flank, the Australian 2/4 and 2/8 Battalions fan out along the river bank to fire upon German units that may or may not be in Yef Alamanas. So far however the coast is clear, and its eerily quiet. Mortar and other support units are brought up to aid later in the initial attack on the town. So far no resistance has been met.

Sure enough toward the end of the first day of the operation, the Germans launch a major counter attack from NE of Komma and lay it hard on the NZ 2nd Cav. The New Zealanders are forced to abandon any thought of assaulting Komma and have to pull back to the bridgehead and dig in during the night. The Germans pepper the defense all during the night sporadically using the 433 Infantry battalion. The New Zealanders hold the line however (backed up by Greek heavy weapons) and the bridge remains allied.

It appears as though the bulk of the German defense was pulled out of the Yef Alamanas bridgehead and shifted west to counter attack the New Zealand effort at Komma. This allows the Australians to pour across the Yef Alamanas bridge and take the town, and split off east to also seize the River Ferry 3rd Objective. Any German resistance here is light and easily beaten back, and it is estimated that most of the Germans have retreated to the northern town of Anthili. The allied drive is not scheduled to head that far north during day one or at night so the Aussies hold tight and bunker down. The Germans get one more night to live. Since the attack is going faster than the Allies could have imagined, a short rest is in store for the Aussies before moving north.


As day breaks, the Australians begin their push north toward Anthili, the offensive has gone so well that at this point the Germans are routed and the allies are scrambling for as much territory as they can get. Anthili is overrun in the early morning and the Germans scattered and pushed out. The German 54th  is caught behind Aussie lines and later surrenders south of Anthili. The battered remains of the German 433rd are pushed NW toward the New Zealanders and the Greeks which still hold the Komma Bridgehead to the left of the screenshot below.

The German 433rd, the bulk of the defenders of the town of Komma, are forced North to help the retreating elements of the Anthili defenders escape annihilation. This leaves Komma open for the NZ Cav to roar in and take the town near the end of the great Allied offensive. In the span of two days the Allies drove more than 5 Kilometers into the German lines, captured 3 towns and secured all bridgeheads over the river.

During the offensive the Germans lost 572 men and 25 field guns. The allied losses were light with 72 men killed, but the New Zealanders lost 7 armored fighting vehicles which will be hard to replace later. All in all a crushing loss for the Germans. Rumor has it however that the Bulgarian crisis has been handled and the German army is coming back to halt this offensive. More to come!