All Noisy on the Eastern Front (Trenchfoot, GDW)

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There Will Be Games
Scenario 9: Gorlice-Tarnow, May, 1915:

In the spring of 1915 the German command decided to withdraw strong forces from the west and launch a knock-out blow against Russia. The Eleventh Army along with the Austrian Fourth Army struck the Russian Third Army on May 3, following the most intense artillery preparation on the Eastern Front to date. The Russian soon caved in and the breakthrough was accomplished.

Let’s see if we can repeat that…

Russia:


Officer: Anatolii.
Armed with sabre and Mauser C96 pistol (drawn)


Riflemen: Boris, Dimitri, Gregori, Ivan, Mikhail and Nicolai.
Armed with Winchester M95 lever-action rifles (& bayonet)


Grenadier: Pyotr.
Armed with grenades and entrenching tool

Germany:


Officer: Anton.
Armed with Luger P08 pistol and sabre (drawn)


Riflemen: Bruno, Conrad, Dieter, Emil, Fritz, Günther, Heinrich and Norbert.
Armed with Mauser M98 bolt-action rifles (& bayonet)


Grenadier: Oskar.
Armed with grenades and entrenching tool

Austria:


Riflemen: Hans, Ignaz, Josef, Kurt, Leopold and Matthias.
Armed with Mauser M98 bolt-action rifles (& bayonet)


The Austrian-German soldier advanced behind a massive creeping barrage, and as soon as the guns silenced a charge towards the trench line was initiated. A high speed of the attack was a crucial, because the Russian forces were armed with fast firing Winchester rifles. The German attack plan was as follows: Emil and Fritz were going to hide in a crater and provide covering fire, while the other Germans would split and try to flank the Russian defenders. Oskar wanted to reach a crater near the trench and lob grenades from that position. Anton, Bruno, Conrad and Dieter were to quickly infiltrate a protruding weapon pit in the south, while Günther, Heinrich and Norbert tried the same with a firing step at the other side of the trench line in the north. Meanwhile Hans, Ignaz, Josef, Kurt, Leopold, Matthias were meant to take the defenders head-on, moving in a line formation to keep the already despairing Austrian privates in order. But it did not help, because only few seconds after the charge was started, four of six soldiers were already lying in the mud. Anton had to stop to rally them, and except for the young Norbert tripping in the dirt the German assault went smoothly.

In the meantime the Russians also quickly left their dug-outs which sheltered them against the barrage and ran towards the firing steps. Anatolii reached the weapon pit in one fast dash, Boris, Dimitri and Pyotr occupied the southern firing step, and Gregori and Ivan the one in the north. Mikhail and Nicolai had a harder time reaching their firing step in the second trench line, because due to the massive barrage the whole trench was soaked up in water.


The "southern" firing steps


The weapon pit


Water damage in the second trench line

(Images by courtesy of tac_ope_tokyo)

After the Austrians were standing again, Anton ordered them to advance slowly and aim at any Russians who would peek out of the trench. Out of the Germans charging the weapon pit, only Bruno succeeds landing inside on his feet, Conrad jumps too short and Dieter gets caught in concertina wire and stumbles. Günther, Heinrich and Norbert are still moving towards the northern firing step, with Norbert although in panic still crawling forward.

Boris, Dimitri, Gregori and Ivan all fire their Winchesters. Ivan’s shot pierces through Günther’s chest, who drops down dying. Boris and Dimitri also hit their targets which results in Anton being hit in the arm, but Conrad only suffers a graze wound. However the Austrians only waited for this moment and return with accurate fire from their Mauser rifles. Hans hits Boris in the head, and Ignaz hits Dimitri’s neck respectively. Both Russians are instantly dead. Further Leopold damages Ivan’s shoulder and Kurt inflicts a severe wound upon Gregori which causes him to fall from the firing step. Pyotr is able to spot Emil’s and Fritz’ Pickelhauben and lobs a grenade directly into the crater where both are hiding.

The grenade goes off, but doesn’t meet Pyotr’s expectations while only wounding Fritz. Even though the German is badly injured, he still manages to hit Nicolai’s collarbone with a lucky shot. Seeing that Bruno jumped into his weapon pit, Anatolii points his Mauser pistol towards the Hun and squeezes off a bullet, which goes right through the stomach. Heinrich tries to enter the northern firing step but is too enthusiastic jumping over the trench. All other soldiers handle the repetition mechanisms of their rifles with the Russians having a crucial advantage.

Oskar prepared a Stielhandgranate and accurately throws it into the northern firing step. Pyotr also quickly pulled the pin on another grenade and manages to place it right in front of three Austrian soldiers. Ivan, who was injured before but still standing, turns around and kills Heinrich with a point blank shot through the back. Meanwhile Dieter, Conrad and Bruno all bolt at Anatolii to beat him down in close combat. However the clever Russians had set up trip wires which are invisible to the eye in the thick of combat and cause Dieter and Conrad, who are still outside of the pit, to stumble. Inside Anatolii beats down Bruno with a quick shot and in the ensuing hand-to-hand combat also knocks him unconscious with a strike to the head from the heavy Mauser pistol.

The blast and pellets from Pyotr’s grenade tear apart Leopold and Matthias, with Kurt being severely wounded. More blood is spilled by accurate fire from the Russian Winchesters and German Mausers, as Nikolai and Mikhail finally arrive at their firing step. Anatolii, Conrad and Dieter trade shots in grueling close-quarters fighting, which ends with all but Dieter being dead. Conrad first graze wounds Anatolii with a shot, but Nicolai is trying to assist his sergeant by chasing a bullet right through Conrad’s skull. It didn’t help though, since the Russian NCO is killed by Dieter, but only after he first got hit by Anatolii’s pistol. After that Mikhail’s rifle fire hits Oskar, who then drops a grenade which was just about to explode. The mishap completely tears the grenadier to pieces. Norbert’s inexperience marks his fate as he tries to engage the soldiers occupying the northern firing step in melee combat, but Gregori who has recovered from the shock of his injury first knocks him down with a well-placed bullet and then stabs him with his bayonet, leaving the young German dying in the mud. Ignaz and Kurt, fire their weapons at Nikolai, who is pushed back from the firing step by the impact and badly hurt.

As the soldiers charging the trench are all dead, and all others are rechambering bullets into their rifles a small lull breaks the action. The first soldier to engage in combat again is Mikhail, who is able to kill the unlucky Josef with an accurate shot. But as all other Austrians and Germans have already worked their rifle mechanisms again also, the brave soldier is hit in the chest by three bullets from Emil, Fritz and Kurt. A grenade which Pyotr just launched near Anton explodes in the air and plasters the German Unteroffizier’s back with pellets causing him to die an slow and painful death. Dieter finally makes it into the trench and assaults Pyotr, but stumbles due to the injuries he suffered from the concertina wire and Anatolii’s pistol. This makes it easy for Pyotr to advance the helpless Dieter and end the German’s life with a spade.

Nikolai didn’t learn from his friend Mikhail, because as he stands up to take aim, he is also killed by Emil’s accurate marksmanship. Ivan has more luck this time as he manages to shoot dead Hans who was going to hide in a crater. But fortune is fickle and as he wants to aim his next shot, a bullet from Fritz’ rifle slides open Ivan’s neck.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Emil and Fritz having each only one bullet left in their Mausers leave their shelter and charge forward to kill the last remaining Russians in close combat. Ignaz joins them in their charge, while Gregori gets to know the disadvantage of his Winchester: he has to reload one bullet at a time. Ignaz first makes it into the weapon pit, but falls down and is bludgeoned by Pyotr whose spade only waited to be put into use again. Emil and Fritz stumble in the mud, which gives Gregori the time to reload three bullets. He reappears from the trench to first snipe down the charging Fritz and after that place another point blank shot on Kurt, who was reloading his rifle while hiding in a crater and was just ready to fire again.

Pyotr tries to throw another grenade but in the process is spotted by the assaulting Emil, who advances towards the edge of the trench and executes the Russian grenadier from short range.

Gregori used his last bullet in a similar manner to kill Emil with another accurate shot just a split second after Pyotr died.

There was no breakthrough.


Disclaimer:

All forms of injuries are interpretations of the amount of damage. Most actions are paraphrased. Actions of soldiers who misfired or advanced only slowly are not mentioned.
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