HMGS-South Founded March 1996

2nd Battle of Kharkov 19 May 1942
Report by Marc Rebhun, pictures by Scott Woodman

In May of 1942 the Russians launched attacks to try and retake the city of Kharkov. The series of battles became know as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd battles for Kharkov and proved to be disastrous for the Russians. In April of 2011 at RECON, nearly 70 years later, one of the key engagements from the 2nd battle was fought out. The unique aspect to this game was the players all being on the German side with a preprogrammed Russian force handled by the game masters.

The Soviet 1942 offensive to encircle Kharkov was continuing its westward drive in an attempt to envelope Kharkov from the south. Field Marshall von Bock decided on a bold move to attack this southern pincer from further south cutting off the spearheads and destroying them. Key to "Operation Fridericus", as the overall offensive was known, was the capture of bridges near the city of Barvenkovo. Spearheading the assault was elements of the 14th Panzer Division, the unit the players would command.

The German commander elected to split his force sending approximately half the division down the main road to Barvenkovo with the idea part of the force would seize the railroad bridge, cross the river, and envelop the city. The remainder of this left wing would be infantry heavy and attempt to clear out Barvenkovo south of the river and hold Russian forces in place. The other half of the force would head down the secondary road to Modazhdovka with the goal of capturing the road bridge there.

Soon after advancing the Germans began to run into Russian delaying forces consisting of anti-tank guns, machine guns and infantry. As each position was identified the Germans would engage with overwhelming firepower to smother the positions.

Once the minefields were cleared German tanks provided covering fire as recce elements and infantry seized the rail bridge at Yazykove Station giving the German forces a bridgehead on the northern bank.

At Modazhdovka the main road bridge was found to be destroyed but German fire suppressed the Russians and engineers were able to establish a light infantry bridge over the river. This would be followed up with a more elaborate vehicle bridge.

As the game was ending a last desperate Russian armored counter attack was beaten off by German armor from both across the river and by the enveloping German tanks which crossed at Yazykove Station. A few die hard Russians were holding out in Barvenkovo but the 14th would leave mopping up of those units to the infantry coming up as the Panzer Division continued north to cut off the Russian southern pincer.