Friday, 18 April 2014

Battle Report : Dyhernfurth Raid (5 Feb 1945)

An interesting battle which saw a small German force sneak over the Oder to allow their scientists time to dispose of the secret chemical weapon Tabun.  The Central Russians at the time were over-extended and the brief lull convinced the German High Command that such a raid was possible.

The small hamlet of Dyhernfurth had little to attract Soviet attention - save a bridge over the Oder and a castle which yielded a major cache of wine (which the garrison allocated to the castle soon took advantage of).  But the main prize was a chemical plant at the end of a railway track.

The German commander (General Shakespeare) was charged with holding open the routes of escape (the bridge and / or the hamlet) while the scientists dumped the Tabun in a local stream.  The Germans had to give the scientists time to complete their task, then hightail it over the Oder.

The Russians (Ian and Russ) had no real idea about this - they just knew that the Germans had - for some reason - counter-attacked in their sector and they were charged with chucking the Germans back over (and finding out why the Germans had attacked here).

Mark laid out his forces first.  He had a hefty AA battery armed with (amongst others) an 88mm which would blat anything in range.  He could bring his armour (4 Panthers) on at one of 2 points (bridge or village).  The bridge was weakened though and there was a risk that any heavy vehicle could actually bring down the bridge as it crossed.  He actually decided not to cross at all - meaning that the bridge was essentially safe but his two infantry battalions would be on their own.

He also decided to move the force that had taken the hamlet overnight would abandon it and help the battalion holding the chemical works.  However, this meant that one objective would be unguarded.  This proved to be crucial at the close.

The Russians started in the castle (nursing hangovers), in the village of Kranz at the far east of the map, by the railway station at the north of the map and coming down the road from Selfersdorf.

Ian's forces were the main body coming down the road and the tanks coming down the railway tracks. Russ was the Kranz force and the castle garrison.  Ian immediately turned towards the chemical works as Russ' Kranz force (mainly JS 2's) also headed for the chemical works.

View from the east - railway bridge to the left

Mark had to start shooting at both forces and hid in the woods and chemical works - forcing Ian and Russ to close assault.  The JS2's were devastating against infantry but Mark did manage to get a couple of the beasts in the process - as well as the supporting units of tank riders.  But under the pressure of two Soviet tank battalions Mark was being pushed back.  His supporting force never really got close enough.

Ian and Russ' pincer movement on the chemical works
After wearing down the Chemical Works Germans for some time, Ian finally got into a position to close assault (although he and Russ lost a few units going in).  Indeed, Russ' JS2's were close to breaking.

Ian's tank riders get a nasty surprise
Mark's Relief Force found itself in no mans land as Ian's second force of T34's and tank riders came down the road and sandwiched them neatly into the woods between the road and railway track.  Unable to come out for fear of being caught in the open, they still managed to bump off a surprising number of tank riding infantry in the process.

Russ takes the woods 
The Kranz battalion finally cleared the Chemical Works woods and focused on the works themselves.  Mark proved a hard nut to crack and nearly managed to hold off both forces but in the end the Germans were liquidated.

Where did the Russian infantry go?
Mark did manage to polish off Ian's tank riders and were pretty safe for the time being (as all Ian's infantry were engaged in taking the chemical works).  But should Russ come out of the castle and attack the hamlet, the Russians could secure at least a minor victory.  But Russ needed a 5 or 6 to change orders.

Ian gets another nasty surpise
The Panthers then showed their teeth as Ian got close to the bridge.  He lost a T34 immediately and was forced to halt and hide to avoid losing the battalion completely).  The chemical works had now fallen so he swung his tanks around to threaten Mark's relief force (although I don't remember the order change...).

Adding to Mark's woes.
Mark then had a partial victory snatched away as Russ rolled a 6 and instigated an order change just in time.  His drunken troops rushed out of the castle to take the hamlet.  Mark could not get back in time - nor could he risk leaving the trees.  So Russ took the hamlet unopposed.

The bridge was kept safe, though no-one would be crossing it from either side.


If Mark had risked his Panthers (e.g. coming through the hamlet) he would have mauled Ian's second T34 force and also accounted for a number of his main force.  Similarly if he'd crossed the bridge he could have taken on the Kranz force of JS2's - a bloody encounter to be sure but it probably would have saved the chemical works.

Keeping his relief force in the hamlet would have denied it to the Russians (it is doubtful that an infantry charge alone would have been enough.

But there were many permutations and as Mark commented, what made the scenario so good was that neither side knew the strength or position of the other.  Rather than in the Spearhead scenario books (where you know exactly what to expect) ignorance of the plans and composition of the opposing force makes for a much more enjoyable experience.  Food for thought!


  1. This was a good little game and I did prefer it to some of the others we have played from the official scenario books.

  2. You are right I did not change my orders; but if the HQ is static and has reached its destination, elements within that command can move within 12" and pivot up to 45 degrees each turn prior to any movement.