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The Battle for Salmi

By / July 8, 2008

The scenario was unique for several reasons:

  1. neither side was aware of where the other was except for vague comments from the umpire such as "there’s heavy gunfire off the board in this direction"
  2. Gunboats
  3. NKVD forces
  4. Finns and SS Nord 
  5. we were using CD3 rules

Here are a couple of pictures showing the battlefield from the south. You may have to click on the image and view the larger pictures for them to make sense.




Lake Ladoga is to the east (left) the Finns are to the top of the photos (north) and the SS and more Finns are to the south (bottom). I had 5 gunboats, a brigade of naval infantry, two NKVD Bns, and a cavalry division available to me. These were *not* large forces as this is a bathtub campaign. (The cavalry division was 4 stands of infantry – a cmd HQ and three combat stands). Three of the gunboats did have T34 turrets mounted and all had one or two HMGs or MMGs.

We were executing orders from higher HQ that were in other parts of the world (Virginia, Europe – Germany and Greece, Washington State) and so constrained by what we could do. My orders were to defend the town of Salmi and attack north with the naval infantry in support of the attack that was coming in from the top left corner of the board. The Finns were in a town in the center of the top of the board and had been given orders to move south and seize Salmi as the Soviets there were sitting astride their line of supply. In the campaign game, the Finns and Germans to the south would have been out of ammo a couple of game hours after the game took place if the road running along the lake was not open.

You can see my dispositions in the pictures above. The SS Nord came up from the bottom center of the board through the swamp and at the end of the first turn had lost over half of their number from the deadly fire of the cavalry and a gunboat acting in support. The survivors fell back into the swamp where they destroyed at a distance by long range fires as they were pinned down. Only the Div Cdr escaped! I had waited until the SS got within two inches (close assault range) before opening fire.

The Soviets had air superiority over the battlefield (that in itself was a unique occurrence) and almost every turn saw bombers directed against the Finns moving south out of the town at the top of the picture. This slowed them down but did little damage.

My satisfaction over the cavalry’s performance was short-lived, however, as two Finnish divisions romped onto the board from the east (right) side of the board and attacked the cavalry division. In two turns, the cavalry division was down to less than half strength and fled off to the south and east of the board to regroup. Off the board to the south, one of the gunboats got into combat with the SS Nord’s artillery park and destroyed the largest caliber weapons, suffering only one hit in return.

The NKVD pulled back into Salmi and the naval infantry remained in the woods. The Finns from the north swept in and were enfiladed by the gunboats on the lake, taking heavy casualties. Over the next few turns, there was some sharp exchanges of gunfire, but the Finnish player was regrouping and removing the pinned status markers on his forces. On the turn he attacked, he launched smoke to protect him from the gunboats and moved forward. That same turn I withdrew from my positions and began embarking on the boats, calling for smoke the next turn to cover my withdrawal.

To the north, the Soviet army surged onto the board, forcing the Finnish HQ and supply elements in the town to flee off of the board. One Finnish division remained in Salmi to hold open the supply route, with the remainder moving north to attempt to hold off the Soviet advance. Now the LOS was cut in a new location and the Axis forces in the area are in bad shape logistically. The game lasted about 10 turns (0445 to around 0730 in 15 minute increments). At 0800, the players in the campaign will have to write new orders to react to the changed circumstances….

A full set of pictures of the battle are shown on my Picasa account.

The strategic situation at the end of the game is as shown below. Each hex is two feet across. German/Finnish positions are shown in green, Soviet dispositions are labeled.


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