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"Delaying Actions" Topic

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444 hits since 22 May 2023
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Comments or corrections?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 6:31 a.m. PST

It's 1940 (or 1944) and you're headed down a western European road with a tank company, a motor (or mechanized) rifle companies and maybe a few strays like a platoon of engineers. Ahead of you is a bunch of hard cases who can't be bypassed, with too much firepower to just ignore and drive through.
1. How long to deploy from road column and engage them? And how much longer if instead of companies you have battalions?

Having beaten them--it wasn't much of a fight--you have wounded and prisoners, damaged vehicles, bogged down vehicles, several people out of ammo and lots of people out of position.
2. How long to get everyone back on the road and moving again? And again, how much worse is this for the mixed force of regimental/combat command size than it is for the mixed force of battalion strength?

My impression, based mostly on a few examples from December 1944, is that deployment might be relatively brief--in the 15 to 30 minute range, depending to terrain, training and the size of the force--but that getting everyone sorted out afterward could run from half an hour or so for a two company team up to a couple of hours for multiple battalions. I'd like to hear some other opinions.


Eumelus Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 7:04 a.m. PST

I think you're correct, that a company-sized blocking force in a well-selected position can impose a half-day delay on any advancing force. However, there are downsides for the retreating force:

(a) Casualties among the blocking force will probably be at, or nearly, 100% (KIA and POW), and in order to be effective they will have needed to be composed of fairly high-quality troops, so this operation will cost the retreating army some hard-to-replace combat power;

(b) Some of the delay imposed on the strategic attacker is actually _positive_, in that there are probably troops and logistics assets far to the rear that can use this delay profitably to catch up; plus aerial and ground recce can use this delay to get a better picture of the next fight to come.

Martin Rapier22 May 2023 7:35 a.m. PST

The Germans expected to mount a battalion sized attack off the line of march in 45 minutes. Prepared attacks take longer, possibly a lot longer if there is lots of fire support. Reorg for a battalion sized force afterwards, about an hour. Fighting through a position a thousand metres deep is going to take a few hours.

There are plenty of indicative timings for operations in the 1956 British Army Tactical Wargame, which was based on operational experience in WW2 and Korea. The original was declassw a few years ago, but it has been republished properly by the History of Wargaming Project.

troopwo Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 8:07 a.m. PST

In 1940-41 you are moving from an advance to contact without warning into a enemy contact. Less the number of radios and experience, anywhere from a forty-five minutes to three hours to plan, mount , conduct and reorganize yourself to back on the road. The drills were practised, but more of as a unit drill by experienced commanders. The time factor was really a factor of if your unit ever practised these things or not.

By 1944, this was a forty-five minute operation from make contact to reorganize and continue.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian22 May 2023 9:38 a.m. PST

there are some accounts from 9th Armored on the approach to Remagen that jibe with the above. Noting that the advance was making an average of 5-10 miles per hour.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 11:18 a.m. PST

Thank you all! Point about losing good troops well taken Eumelus. But right now I'm trying to get a feel for the times involved to get a mini-campaign or high-level miniatures game right. As for giving the advancing logistics people time to catch up, some of the joy goes out of that if it gives the defenders time to reinforce, fortify or evacuate.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 11:47 a.m. PST

Here's the 1956 British Army Tactical Wargame that Martin mentioned: link


Murvihill22 May 2023 1:03 p.m. PST

But if you have your units stacked up on the road you could swap the lead unit and get back on the road more quickly?

Heedless Horseman Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 1:38 p.m. PST

Leading unit probably well knackered… follow ups to push on. It will take a while to remove and replace cas, re-ammo, refuel, have a brew… and maybe re-net into radio. May need rebriefing as situation and unit structure, now different.
Basically, lead element Out of it for gaming.
Guess at at least an hour… probably more.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 3:33 p.m. PST

Murvihill, depends on the size of the unit which has to deploy and whether you've got another one handy. Sending your truck-mounted infantry in the lead because it will take a while for your recon battalion to sort itself out might lead to other problems.

I'll tell you what got me to thinking about the question: CCR 9th US Armored Division early in the Bulge. At one point, they're deployed (mostly) in successive task forces and teams just down the road from one another, in the path of 2nd Panzer Division, so you keep winding up with about two US companies standing in the way of a panzer division. It's contrary to everything ever written on concentration of effort, but you wind up with the Germans needing so much time for a fairly short road march that the 101st Airborne and CCA 10th Armored have a day and a night to deploy and dig in. CCR was pretty well destroyed in the process, but everyone on both sides seems to have agreed it was the right move.

It only makes sense to me if the Germans are losing substantial time forming up for the attack and regrouping afterward--so much so that winning two battles with the odds overwhelmingly in the German favor costs them more time than a single battle against twice as many Americans.

And at that point, I started trying to put number to the problem. I very much appreciate the help.

troopwo Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 4:37 p.m. PST

I wonder if anyone has ever looked at this for the Japanese advance in Malaya of early 1942?

The time from contact to continuation of advance that is?

Given the lack of communications and motorised equipment, was it a case of expecting the British to be road bound or was it up to company and battalion drills?

troopwo Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 4:39 p.m. PST

Strangely enough, the British invasion of Iraq in 1942, the advance was pretty adept at keeping the mobility going after a contact and short fight. Maybe the leadership of the Indian Army units were a bit more adept at having constantly practised their mobility and follow up???

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2023 6:37 p.m. PST

Depends on a number of factors – how well prepared the defenders are, how much surprise they can achieve, how well trained the advancing troopers are and how much the terrain helps/hurts you – I think if you have three companies plus to get deployed, half an hour could be with well trained and well motivated troops (as long as they have radios) in reasonable terrain, but there are lots of thing that could slow that down

UshCha23 May 2023 1:02 a.m. PST

So you are a battalion with mixed tank and trucks. So proably company of tanks say 10 vehicles and 2 companies of infantry in trucks say 8 trucks, a bit less than a platoon a truck. A few, say 8 trucks, stores, medical, engineer, adminastative staff etc.
So about 26 trucks. Now road spacing is typically 40yds to about 170 yds. so if Germans in daylight they liked to keep to 10 vehicles a mile to minimise air attack, in war maybe 40 yds at a minimum. So first are you going to bunch up? Sanity would say no. So as a minimum the furthest troops may be a bit over 0.6 miles away to 2.4 miles away. You need say 5 min to get the troops out, packs on and move out. Sanity says no running so 2 mph walking so back man, anyting from about 15 min to 1 hr 15min to get to the Front. That maybee gives time to brief the guys on what they are going to do. Depending on the size of the opposition, how wides is the block? Say the block is small, it may not take long to flank it say 500m each side ( moving outside rifle rang) and then attack from the flanks. Just walking the 500m out at 2mph and attacking back at 1mph attacking back would be another 30 min.
So if at bunched up (40 yd spacing), to the front would be 20 min plust 30 min for attack and no briefing time. Personally this is proably an bit of an under estimate given the situation described. So 50 min.
At the big road spacing (170 yds), time to the front 1 hr 20 min so overall 1 hr 50min. Proably something like plausible as there is tine for Briefings espsacially if it's a two lane road foe command can drive up an down giving orders.
Clearly vehicle spacing is a key driver. Are you suicidal enough to buch up, save time but at huge risk?
Now its obvious that a key is the number of vehicels in the coloumn. Note there would normally be a big gap on a road march between battlions and the number of troops required for the task.
A moderen motor rifle battalion will have aay two APC's up front as a vanguard maybe 2 or 3 minutes ahaead. Then a reduced comapany of tanks and infantry.
A similar approach could be made in WW2 particularly later with the rise of the APC. However where do you time the delay? From the Vanguard stopping and re starting, if they take the position they may be able to speed up beyond convoy speed which is typically noy that fast maybe 20 mph avarage plus halts say every hr to allow fpr problems.
So excent convoy disapline could reduce delays againt VERY limited opposition but how extensive the delay depends on how much opposition and the terrain. Armoured vehicles would be a problem if the block was in a area of soft ground and big ditches as they would have truble manoveing for the attack so could be a slow as the infantry due to picking the spot to cross.
I would guess as a minimum reforming could be as a minimum at least twice the time to the end of the action.
I hope this is usefull, it should make it possible to define what your typical delay is based on a particular scenario or senarios. I guess this is for a campaign where you may not want to play every little defended choke point.

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