"Chernenko, Hero of the Border Guards"
Sinister Forces #2
|(Attacker) Romania||vs||Soviet Union (Defender)|
|Romania||67th Infantry Regiment|
|Soviet Union||24th NKVD Regiment|
|Overall Rating, 6 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 519 of 609|
|Parent Game||Sinister Forces|
|Maps||4: 10, 3, 7, 9|
|Layout Dimensions||86 x 56 cm
34 x 22 in
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Battle of the Bulge||maps + counters|
|Eastern Front||maps + counters|
Romania began its attempt to liberate Soviet-occupied Bessarabia with a fairly leisurely crossing of the Prut River by the 35th Reserve Division, while both King Mihai and the country's military dictator, Ion Antonescu, looked on. On the opposite bank, the NKVD's 24th Border Guard Regiment awaited them. Later Soviet propaganda would claim heroic actions in this skirmish by the unit's political officer, Konstantin Chernenko.
The defenders of Soviet soil stood at the river bank, and fought and died for their country, gladly sacrificing themselves to defend the ideals of Lenin. Inspired by the example of political officer V.U. Chernenko, the border guards rallied and threw the invaders back into the river. No unwounded man gave up his post, and hundreds of Hitler's Romanian lackeys died trying to make their way across the blood-red Prut.
Or so the story goes.
Little of the Soviet-era account appears to have been true, starting with Chernenko's heroism. A song with this scenario's title would be issued in the 1980's, along with press releases describing Chernenko's bravery, as Chernenko engaged in an ultimately successful struggle against Yuri Andropov to become General Secretary of the CPSU (de facto head of the Soviet government). His success was literally short-lived; he would soon "catch a cold" and expire, leaving KGB chief Andropov in charge.
The problems with this story begin with Chernenko himself - he apparently was in Krasnoyarsk in Siberia at the time, where he spent the entire war, and had been put on the 24th's rolls to accumulate some safe "combat experience" by his friend Leonid Brezhnev, Party Secretary of the new Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic (the government of occupied Bessarabia). And then there's the Romanian account, which says the border guards fled after only a short fight, with one Romanian soldier killed.
|1 Errata Item|
The setup instructions should read: the Russians can setup anywhere east of the river, and the Romanians setup anywhere west of the river outside of Russian direct fire range.
(Shad on 2010 Apr 29)
|From My 'Make Believe' Romanian Offical War Reporter Papers|
CHERNENKO, HERO OF THE BORDER GUARDS?
(Sinister Forces Scenario No.2)
Fine times had to end though. The first week of the advance of the Romanian Army had seen many good things come from the sacrifice made by our fallen heroes. Now I was to join a Reserve Division, the 35th, and in particular, the 67th Infantry Regiment. I boarded a rattling and very uncomfortable truck and now made my way to the area of Bessarabia, once again by the banks of The Prut. Having joined the 67th Infantry Regiment as their reporter, I was given some very exciting news by one of their officers!
It transpired that the very next morning, the 3rd of July, the Division would be launching an offensive over The Prut and into the homelands occupied by our enemy. The 67th Regiment, for their part, would be using engineers to ford the river and their two battalions would be facing the despised soldiers of the NKVD. But even more exciting than this, the whole operation would be watched and witnessed by none other than King Mihai himself accompanied by our glorious National leader, General Ion Antonescu! If there were ever a day to show ones merits then tomorrow would be that day.
Of course, I found sleep hard to come-by that evening, but awoke with the expectancy of a child on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, I soon learnt that the attack would not be going ahead until the afternoon. The engineers, so crucial to the whole operation, needed to prepare much equipment if they were to get our soldiers across the river. Boats, pontoons, rope, wood, pulleys and cables were all amongst the panoply of equipment I saw pass me that morning. I was also told that as two of Rumania’s most important men were to be viewing this attack, then, the attack would go in with relatively massive artillery support for Rumanian forces. Once again, time had to be allotted for guns to be positioned far to the rear and a more than large enough quantity of shells to be delivered to these batteries.
Just before 1400 hours, all was finally ready. With the signal given for the advance, the engineers advanced to the River Bank to pave the way for the 67th Infantry regiment. Across the river, a battalion of NKVD from the 24th NKVD Border Regiment was stationed in the town over-looking the Prut. Unbeknown to our men, two platoons of these had also been posted further north to guard the east-west road running through the forest. These two platoons were to come into direct contact with a secondary force flung over the Prut.
The crossing initially took sometime, more than an hour to get the men across in platoon strength or more. The NKVD were unable to interrupt proceedings too much as the Rumanian artillery regularly pounded any enemy that showed their face. Also, the regiment’s machine guns had been positioned on their left flank in order to guard against any Soviet attempts to molest the landing. Around 1500 hours, these artillery bombardments had already inflicted 25 casualties on Stalin’s lackeys. But when able, the NKVD did attack our brave sons, and as the reservists made their landings, the NKVD managed to knock out 50 or more of our troopers. In return, as more Rumanian officers made it safely to the other side of the river, it became easier to spot then enemy for bombardment purposes. Shells rained down on the NKVD, inflicting losses and forcing them from the area of the town and further eastwards to a larger town some 1.5km away.
Further north, the secondary landing had been engaging the two NKVD outpost platoons and was struggling. The Rumanians here needed reinforcements. Reservists, man for man v NKVD were a mismatch, and what did become apparent in the battle was the poor musketry displayed by our reserve regiments. All casualties inflicted came from the artillery or close quarter combat. From that fact, if their musketry was poor, their bravery in hand-to-hand combat could not be questioned.
Over the next couple of hours around 500 Rumanian soldiers were deployed to the other bank. These numbers began to tell against Stalin’s elite and by 17.15 hours, the NKVD casualties were now totaling more than the Rumanian.
Two key points swung this battle.
The fantastic artillery spotting skills of our armed forces was able to obliterate the key NKVD position holding the main line. Once this was eliminated, the Soviet battle position begun to collapse. Incidentally, they also kept the enemy pinned and their movements cautious throughout the engagement.
The other key incident occurred at the out-post engagement further north. A furious close quarters battle in the woods that was tipping the way of the Soviets was then irreversibly swung the Rumanians way once they had received enough men to overpower the enemy and again, call in that artillery support. With these two areas nullified, reinforcements streaming into the battle and both roads now open to each other, the NKVD situation became untenable. Casualties totaled 100 Rumanians and 217 Soviets. Today, we were able to witness a fine victory in what appeared as a superb demonstration of Rumanian battle worthiness. Hurrah for Rumania!
|Need more boats!|
In this scenario the Romanians are trying to cross a major river and then clear two roads each running across two boards. The Romanian force is decently sized and have good OBA, while the defenders are a smaller NKVD force with no support but better morale. The NKVD wins by controlling four town hexes amongst the three towns on the four maps.
The NKVD set up with the HMGs in the northern town, a pair of infantry in the southern town, another pair in the northern-most woods, and the other two pairs on either end of the central woods. That leaves only one narrow crossing point on the northern end, and half the Romanians line up there. The other half sets up opposite the south town. The first strike of OBA against the central woods inflicts a step loss on the NKVD, and the Romanians start trying to cross. With a crossing number of five, it won’t be quick.
The NKVD cannot challenge the crossing, so they stay hidden in the town and woods as much as possible (the northern-most units move to the north town). The crossing number is the Romanians’ biggest enemy as very few units are crossing. Those that do mostly wait out of range hoping for reinforcements. They do finally come on the north end, and the Romanians start to surround the town. All the NKVD in the middle woods begin to withdrawal to the south as the Romanians advance in the north. Eventually the Romanians head in, and a combo of direct fire and arty mess up the HMGs enough for some infantry to close to assault range. The assault goes in, and morale failures result in half the HMGs fleeing to eventually be caught and destroyed, while the others stay in place to be destroyed. The pair of NKVD infantry in the north town run for the northwest town, hoping to guard it for victory.
The OBA is effectively done in the scenario. Two good hits, the rest of the arty falling throughout the scenario to no effect. In fact, friendly fire incidents create more damage to the Romanians than the strikes cause to the NKVD. Given the strength of the OBA, that is amazing.
The southern force never really gets going. In fact, one third of the Romanian force never gets across the river, all but one of those units in the south. The pitiful southern push does force the NKVD to withdrawal from the town, but with six NKVD units guarding the southern road, they outnumber the hapless Romanians and despite some clever maneuvering the Romanians leave four NKVD units on or adjacent to the road. The lack of units crossing the river is decisive, and prevents any hope of Romanian victory.
To the north the Romanians advance on the northwest town to try and prevent an NKVD victory. The units run down the road and gain entrance to the town. Despite a valiant NKVD defense, the Romanians capture enough of the town to avoid an NKVD victory, but fail to get the two units away from the road.
Despite six NKVD step losses to one Romanian step loss, the Romanians still fail to achieve their victory conditions, as do the NKVD (only control one town hex). Result is a draw. The river crossing number slowed down the Romanian advance so much there was little chance of success. The failure of the OBA to have much effect only compounded the problem. I rated this a three. It’s a reasonable scenario that can be highly influenced by the crossing rolls. It plays quick, but the hold-up of forces at the river made some of the turns incredibly short. Decent scenario, just nothing spectacular.