Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Soviet 65th Army at Parichi, 1944

I've been reading about the massive, multi-front Soviet offensive on Belorussia during the summer of 1944. Mainly from these two books:

HPS Simulations offers Minsk 44, an equally massive PC war game that allows you to command either the German or Soviet armies during those trying weeks. The amount of historical detail in this (and any other of the Panzer Campaign series) war game is simply astounding.

Minsk 44 has a particular scenario that features the opening moves of the Soviet 65th Army at Parichi.

The Parichi scenario in Minsk 44. The entire Soviet 65th Army is shown as brown and redish icons. The grey icons are the German units. I'm playing this with fog of war enabled, so only the German units that are seen by the Russians are represented. Click the image for an expanded view.

I've played this scenario a couple several times as the Soviets. I would ussually put the main effort on the northern half of the 65th Army's sector, right on the road that goes to Parichi. If you see the game screen shot above, the southern half of the sector features more restrictive terrain.

The surprising thing is that in real life the Soviet 65th Army used that very restrictive terrain in the southern part of its assigned sector. Take a look at the map below.

This map is from Glant's Belorussia 1944, ebook version. Note the 65th Army's sector denoted as "65A" and how it advanced into German-held territory very much ignoring Parichi. Click the image for an expanded view.

Indeed, Parichi was taken by the Russians way long into the offensive. I've been puzzled about this for a while: why the 65th Army wouldn't advance straight into Parichi and rather use the poor terrain south of this city to advance? Maybe the maps in the Minsk 44 war game are miss-representing the terrain?

I don't know the definitive answer to that. But something is certain: the 65th and the 28th Soviet Armies (see 28A in the map above) leaned on each other for the offensive. In that way the main effort of the whole front was actually near the sector limits between both Armies.


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