Saturday, 25 October 2014

October 2014 - Strike of the Eagle

Strike of the Eagle

by Academy Games 2011

Excerpt from 'Miracle of the Vistula"

Major B Hof, Sydney University Press.2007"

‘Over our Corpses’ June to August 1920.

The Defense of the Polish advances in Belorussia and the Ukraine now began. The Soviets hoped to defeat the over extended positions the Poles now had by co coordinated attacks both north and south. The Poles looked at it as it was better to fight in someone else’s back yard than your own.
Lithuania decided now was the time to strike to get back territory seizes by the Poles. They struck at Nemehoyne in the north inflicting a stinging defeat on Sikorski's forces. In the South Polish light armour aided in the defeat of a Soviet attack at Offetz. Stalin in a report to the Central Committee said "Using infantry against armour is like using flies against elephants”. On the Northern Front Tukhachevesky's forces took Vilna, after a bitter fight. On the Southern Front General Budenny marshalled his forces, while "Comrade Stalin smoked his pipe and contemplated the wall map for half an hour at the time, before issuing brief precise orders”.
Bad weather with unseasonal rain paralysed the Southern front. General Heller the Polish commander on the Southern Front now made a daring raid with his armoured cars breaking through the scattered Soviet detachments to the Gates of Kiev! Kiev held but a complete reorientation of the Soviet effort was necessary. In the North a concentrated attack on Vilnius was repulsed with heavy Polish losses. This attack was not expected and Soviet forces in the North went on the defensive. Polish sabotage at Potolsk marshalling yards also slowed Soviet efforts. Another Polish attack was successful at Vilnius. At Kiev a Polish armoured Train aided the attack, and the Polish flag was raised over the Fortress. Soviet forces panicked and fled the city and the flag of the independent Ukraine was raised. At Borkov in the North another Soviet attack was beaten back. The Lithuanians now held all the territory they wanted made a truce with the Poles.

Kiev was now besieged from the soviet forces, but held out. Soviet deception operations successfully masked an attack on Vilnius when Polish re enforcements were sent elsewhere. Before Soviet forces could follow up this promising development, forces had to be diverted to the Archangel Front, where a major British offensive was unleashed. Tuchachchevesky railed against "Those fools on the Central Committee! If it was not for soldiers like me, there would be no Revolution!” He would live to regret those words.
The Poles took the advantage in the North to retire. Meanwhile in Kiev Soviet artillery was instrumental in defeating the Polish armour. Kiev fell with heavy casualties on both sides. Stalin reported to the Central committee that "I would rather loose an army than a city.” In reply to enquiry from Trotsky he replied crisply “that transport and rations for enemy prisoners were not needed.” The Soviets had in fact lost a division, but more importantly time. A raid on Headquarters in the Soviet Northern front stopped all movement, but an attack at Vilna was once again repulsed.
On the Southern front the Seventh Escadrille of Spad fighters flown by Americans helped defeat the Soviets on the Southern Front at Derazvinia. By the 15th of August Soviet attacks in the North were finally being coordinated successfully, and Borisov fell after a bitter fought battle. Sikorski bluffed with the diminished forces he had holding the Soviets back.

In the south, Soviet armour was successful at Humien. But at Potolsk the Soviets were fooled: the Polish Commander got some of his men to dress in French colonial uniforms, of the soldiers from Senegal. Seeing these Troops the Soviets feared they were the dreaded French "Turkos", the colonial troops from Senegal who were reputed cannibals! A Polish sortie by these troops was decisive. By the 25th the Soviets called Sikorski’s bluff, and took Grodno. Sikorski died leading a bayonet charge. Soviet casualties were heavy, but at last it seemed the road to Warsaw was open, at least from the north. Or so it seemed."

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