In the center the Rzhev pocket holds and the Soviets attempt to do everything in their power to harass out units by offering heavy resistance, thus complicating supply and movement. The 9th Army is ordered to crush the Soviet troops and expand the bridgehead over the Lama river. 6 of the defending Soviet divisions surrender, but not before putting up stiff resistance. 3 divisions still remain and Rzhev itself is still in enemy hands.
A notable mention of the tenacity of the Soviet defenders would be the 102nd Rifle Division which manages to hold back 6 attacks by our forces, constantly performing retreats in good order until it was finally destroyed east of the town of Lukonvikovo. At the beginning of the week the division had 9.300 men and 110 guns. At the time of its surrender it numbered 6.500 men and 52 guns. The lone division managed to tie up a considerable amount of forces that could have been used for the offensive over the Lama river and to relieve our panzers in the north, who will now have to hold the line for another week.
Rzhev pocket. In Yellow, retreat paths of the stubborn 102nd Rifle Division.
Our units enlargened the bridgehead over the Lama river and armored units drove east creating a penetration 50 miles deep, taking key bridgeheads over the MV Canal and routing or shattering various Soviet formations in the process. Crucial to the operation was the well rested and well supplied (HQ Build Up) LVII Panzer Corps who was committed at the right time. Next week, the 9th Army has been tasked with securing the corridor. This will be a vital staging point for the offensive on Moscow once the weather clears again.
Further south, the 4th Army is tasked with 2 objectives:
1) clear the pocket of Tula, to free up the LIII Corps for operations elsewhere,
2) Establish a bridgehead over the Oka, north of the smaller Moskva river.
4th Army sector at the start of the week:
For his consecutive failures to take Tula, General Karl Weisenberger is relieved of his command and Generalleutnant Walther Graessner takes command of the LIII Corps. Graessners Corps is reinforced with the 260th Infantry Division, with additional Howitzer, assault gun and pioneer battalions. Moreover, the II Fliegerkorps provides air support, taking heavy casualties while bombing the city due to intense AA fire concentration: 18 bombers are lost. The massive concentration of men and firepower breaks the Soviet defenders: 22.000 men are captured as well as around 385 guns.
Third Battle of Tula:
To complete its second objective, the 4th Army concentrates all of its forces at a single point and manages to eliminate the Soviet bridgehead over the south of the Oka. At this point the only place where an attack had even the slightest chance of success was the position defended by the lone 194th Mountain Division. After an intense bombardment by our bombers (which was quite effective, 7.000 men were disrupted) our 3 divisions, supported by artillery and pioneer battalions launched their attack across the river and to our surprise no Soviet reserves activated. At the end of the day, we had gained a bridgehead over the Oka. To secure it, the XXXIX Panzer Corps immediately ordered two of its fresh motorized divisions into the breach. Forward elements of the 18th Mot. Division even managed to catch a Soviet Tank Brigade off guard and in the ensuing attack, forced it to shatter.
The most important battle of the week:
The immediate orders of the 4th Army for next week are to secure and expand the bridgehead over the Oka. The hope of an offensive on Moscow succeeding now remains on the shoulders of the Panzergrenadiers of the 18th and 3rd Mot. Divisions defending the key bridgehead. Further south, the 2nd Army has received orders to shift its units north to cover the extended right flank of the 4th Army.
2nd Army shifting north to cover the right flank of 4th Army.
Moscow before and after German moves:
The feat that AGC has pulled this week has stunned the OKH as no one was expecting the capture of 1 bridgehead this week, let alone two. It is however a very welcomed news that has increased the overall morale and optimism. If those bridgeheads hold, Moscow will most likely be surrounded come November. But the Soviets still haven't had their say in the matter...
< Message edited by xhoel -- 11/13/2018 12:10:05 AM >