Nicholai listened in as his northern and southern assault groups started to offload their infantry in preparation to clear the buildings one by one. As the minutes ticked by, the armoured vehicles worked in concert with the infantry to provide covering fire if, or when, the infantry was fired at by the enemy.
It was tense in the battalion command post as the infantry squads reported their progress. Then, at 09:28, more contacts. Foxtrot-One-Four, one of the northern infantry sections were coming under intense fire. Despite several armoured vehicles providing overwatch, and another infantry section within 60m, no-one could identify where the fire was coming from. Major Stepin ordered Foxtrot-Four, one of the BMPs and Lima-Seven, a T-80, to move closer to Foxtrot-One-Four to assist with identifying where the fire was coming from.
Foxtrot-One-Five, another infantry section was also ordered to move towards another building with the hope of spotting the fire coming down onto Foxtrot-One-Four. The BMP and T-80 soon began to take fire also, but it was not anti-tank rockets but appeared to be small arms fire – too small to harm the armoured vehicles. Then Foxtrot-One-Five also started to take fire. Major Stepin ordered a T-80, Lima-Three, to move around from the west to get a different angle of observation. Foxtrot-One-Five was now pinned down under accurate and intense fire, and still none of the assaulting troops could see the enemy. A contact report came suddenly from Lima-Three “Contact, enemy vehicle, sixty meters”, and then a boom as the 125mm gun sent a APFSDS round into the enemy. “Lima-Three, enemy Mike-One-One-Three destroyed.” Another armoured personnel carrier had been destroyed, but still the enemy infantry was unseen. Several minutes later and the fire coming down onto Foxtrot-One-Five was too much, and with multiple casualties they were no longer an effective fighting force. Foxtrot-One-Five was routed and out of the battle.
As the broken infantry hid among the buildings, Lima-Five reported another M113 spotted, and quickly destroyed. Nicholai reasoned that there was at least a platoon’s worth of infantry hidden amongst the large buildings, but so far as yet unseen. The enemy had accounted for one infantry section and Nicolai heard Major Stepin ordering one of his reserve sections forward.
After a relatively unopposed infantry deployment, the southern assault group had started to fan out and clear their allocated blocks. The plan for the south was to clear with one infantry section per block towards the church, provide support from the south for the assault onto objective one them pivot to the south and assault through objective two.
The first contact in quite some time for the southern group came from Kilo-Zero, when an unknown vehicle had been spotted and the T-64 had no problem dispatching it.
The infantry were now well into their allotted zones except for Golf-One-Two, who had the southernmost block to clear and the longest march to their start-point. However, just as they were jogging along the road, accurate fire against them made them drop to the road and seek cover. It sounded like an MG3, the West German squad machine gun, and the fire was coming from the south. At least six T-64s and BMPs were scanning the woods to the south, but none of them could spot from where the fire was coming. Gold-One-Two had taken multiple casualties by this point and were retreating into a nearby building. Major Raskolnikov had deployed several more assets to assist with identifying the point from where the fire was coming, but still to no avail. By this time, Golf-One-Two had been pinned down by the fire for several minutes.
At about the same time, a ferocious fire-fight had developed in the north. Nicholai listened in as two infantry squads, several T-80s and BMP’s all engaged enemy infantry who had finally been spotted – literally as one of the infantry sections had been about to enter the building they were in. Concentrated fire poured into the wooden building, and after several minutes, the enemy was neutralised by a HE-Frag round from Lima-One. At least two infantry sections remained.
Nicholai switched back to the south and was amazed to hear that Golf-One-Two was still under fire. Nine vehicles were facing to the south, yet none could identify the source of the fire. It may have even been coming from two places, but wherever it was from, Golf-One-Two was finally destroyed at 09:51.
Again, the battle swung back to the north as a second enemy infantry section was engaged. Infantry and armour combined to destroy the infantry, who had been hiding in a warehouse. This left another infantry section still to be found as the northern assault group closed in on the group of buildings in the very north-eastern corner of the warehouse complex. For the next ten minutes, both the infantry, tanks and BMPs searched for the last infantry section, until finally they were found, and right on 10:00 am, destroyed.
It had been a tough hour for Nicholai’s command, but with the elimination of an enemy platoon in the north, and the destruction of another tracked vehicle by Kilo-Eight in the south, Nicholai felt he was gaining momentum.
North and South situations at the 50 minute and 60 minute points