From: Utlima Thule
Turn 136: 20 – 26 January 1944
Several key armies were rewarded for their contribution. 2 Baltic Front's 22 Army became 6 Guards Army and Western Front's 3 Army was designated 7 Guards Army.
On the Riga sector, Volkhov Front exploited a gap in the German defences to commits its mechanised formations. The spearheads almost reached the Lithuanian border but were left badly exposed when 28 Army failed to broaden the breach.
Despite this setback, 1 Shock Army at Jekapils managed to extend the Soviet bridgehead, threatening the collapse of the entire German line on the lower Dauga.
At Minsk, the three Soviet Fronts continued their offensive. On the northern flank 2 Baltic took advantage of the weakening of the German lines as they had pulled off their reserves to contain the Volkhov Front. I Baltic had redeployed in the previous week and an offensive led by 20 Army, in turn, enabled 5 Guards Army to almost isolate the German armour east of the city.
The problems for the Germans increased when Western Front launched an offensive along a 40 mile front. This culminated in the cavalry-mechanised elements of 4 Army breaking through and almost reaching the 1939 Bielorussian border.
(Evacuating Soviet wounded after the offensives east of Minsk)
In the Ukraine the Germans made some limited counter-attacks on 3 Ukrainian and North Caucasus Fronts. More importantly they abandoned Kiev and on the 21st elements of the 26 Army entered the capital of the Ukraine.
In order to secure the Soviet lines of communication, 61 Army launched a massive attack on the isolated 293 Infantry division.
For the first time the Germans had actually abandoned a unit cut off by a Soviet offensive and this was the first time a German unit had surrendered.
After several weeks of reorganising, the Soviet Fronts west of the Dneipr were finally in a position to renew their offensives. North Caucasus struck at the German formations on the southern flank of the Cherkassy bulge. At the same 1 Ukrainian shifted direction and attacked westwards trying to cut off the German attempt to retreat from Kiev. By 25 January, advanced elements had broken clear through the German lines and overran a number of Luftwaffe bases.
As a measure of the growing chaos behind the German front, 40 Army struck at Zhitomir. Not only was it only defended by several security regiments, as Soviet cavalry fought their way into the city they over-ran the headquarters of Army Group South.
3 and 5 Tank Armies then exploited this victory by swinging west before attacking to the south. At Popelnya, the advanced guards of 1 and 3 Ukrainian met, cutting off all the German formations retreating from Kiev.
(Soviet tanks near Popelnya)
Still a huge German army with almost .9-1 AFV ratio, but at least one unit is now going to be sat in Germany eating up reinforcements and arms points for a few turns. However, Finland is effectively out of the war and around 12 German divisions are helping them guard their fortress. I am screening this with 3 weak armies (almost no support units and the ToEs at 80%) so around 250,000 men (and am bombing them using the U2s).
Losses were heavy on both sides. The Germans lost 53,000 men (18,000 kia and 15,000 prisoners), 80 AFVs and 330 planes (many destroyed on their airfields). Soviet losses were 60,000 men (31,000 kia), 650 AFVs and 300 planes.
 Ironically 3 Army has no combat formations under its command. It is in charge of the Front's artillery assets. Also the rifle corps in 1 Ukrainian and North Caucasus Fronts are slowly reaching Guards status which helps increase the threat on that sector
 The more astute of you will spot I perhaps got the sequence of movement and attack rather wrong in this instance.
 This shows the positions before I started moving 3 Ukrainian to the north. Note all those nice undefended air bases (and all their planes have been heavily committed to the earlier fighting).
 I used an entire army as I didn't trust my recon. Taking Zhitomir would significantly undermine any German attempt to shore up their front on this sector (regardless of how much escaped from Kiev), it also cleared the way for the rest of the armour to swing west behind the Germans. That I displaced AGS was an unexpected bonus.
 I think for once showing the actual map makes things more clear than a simplified version. There is no way will that pocket hold but the Germans now have the problem of both defending their rear and protecting the infantry falling back from Kiev.
This sets up the (ongoing) sequence of chaotic battles that will sprawl across the northern Ukraine for the rest of the winter. It also fits into my basic plan that if I can make the Pzrs move/attack in their turn I face few reserve reactions in my turn.