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Salaspils : Freikorps Brief


The battle of Cesis was a huge victory for the Estonians, but that was over a week ago and the Iron Division (Freikorps) and Baltic Landeswehr (local German militia) under von der Goltz have retreated precipitously and are now lined up outside Riga. The Estonians are itching to finish the Germans off and capture Riga.

The position is very strong, with almost all of it behind large water features – except for along the Daugava River (Duna, Dvina) near Salaspils, which is where this scenario occurs.
 

Iron Division briefing

You are Major von Lossow, commander of the 1st Regiment of the Iron Division, and you have been in this sector for several days now. It was intended to attack here yesterday, and troops were massed behind you to do this, but the collapse of other sectors prevented it. As it stands the attack has been postponed, not canceled. Your mission is to hold the line along the Kirchholm to Zekul road, ideally so that it is open to traffic. The 2nd Regiment holds the sector north of where the Zekul stream crosses the road. Your bosses will support you if you make a counter-attack at obvious weakness, so there is no need to feel constrained to an entirely defensive strategy.

The forest between the Riga–Zekul road and Riga–Salaspils rail line is pretty rough, and your reserves are down the Riga–Zekul road, so if you are defeated in holding the line you should retire your men southwards to keep possession of the river road and rail-line around Salaspils and Kirchholm: the neighbouring 2nd Regiment can be left to hold the Riga–Zekul road.

There are telephone lines running Riga–Ukskula, Riga–Zekul–Kirchholm, with receivers at Kirchholm, Salaspils station, Salaspils estate, Amalienhof estate and Zekul. You also have a receiver you can attach at any point and some wire. You have a couple of light signaling devices, but finding open sight lines is a problem with all the trees. You also have a handful of flares.
 

The terrain

You know the area pretty well, having been here a while now. Your map is generally accurate. You can question the local (Baltic German) landowners about details of interest.

The area is extremely flat, with the highest hills (orange circles) only 20 metres above river level. The two highest points are the church steeple at Kirchholm and the Selekas hill but even these rarely see over the forest trees.

The Dvina and Maza Jugla rivers are not fordable and neither side has had time to accumulate any boats. The local streams are slow and are not greatly cut into the ground: they are only difficult to cross when boggy. They have a little bit of scrub along them sometimes.

The area is scattered with small farms, mostly only a few buildings sometimes surrounded by fences, hedges or trees, but these make crossing the open areas rather easier than if they were entirely bare. They also provide night-time quarters for your men, so there is no need to place them in the main villages (although they will greatly prefer that!).

Houses are standard log cabin types except for major stone buildings at Kirchholm and Zekul (churches) and Amalienhof and Salaspils (manors). The railway station at Salaspils is pretty perfunctory, just a small low station building and platform. Many of the smaller “villages” are really just a loose collection of farm buildings.

The rye crops also provide some cover if infantry take care to move through them slowly, but the hay has been gathered so the grass itself is short. There are no hedges or fences, and rare ditches along the roads or near boggy areas. The farmers usually do not farm boggy areas (except sometimes to make hay) so most open space is good going.

The forests are not particularly dense with little undergrowth but most are quite boggy – your map shows the worst bits, but there is no guarantee it is 100% accurate. Infantry and cavalry can move through the dry forests without a huge deal of difficulty, although keeping oriented is difficult in such flat land. There are lots of small unmarked paths used for gathering firewood and berries which are passable to artillery with difficulty.

The weather has been warm and dry for a while. Sunrise is at  2:30 and sunset is 20:20 (St Petersburg time).

The enemy

You know absolutely nothing about the enemy other than that the Estonian 3rd Regiment (about 1,500 bayonets) and 2nd Cavalry Regiment (unknown size) were heading towards you the last you knew. They do not seem to have much artillery. Their morale is good, following their victory at Cesis.

The railway line to Ukskula and Ogre does not connect with any lines in enemy held territory. Therefore it cannot be used by their armoured trains. Likewise they are extremely unlikely to have any armour.
 

Your men

You command the 1st Regiment of the glorious Iron Division, with some attached cavalry and artillery under your command.

1st Infantry Regiment
1st Battalion:
1st Company – 3 bases
2nd Company – 3 bases
1st MG Company – 3 bases
2nd Battalion
5th Company – 3 bases
6th Company – 3 bases
7th Company – 3 bases
2nd MG Company – 3 bases
3rd Battalion
9th Company – 3 bases
10th Company – 3 bases
3rd MG Company – 2 bases
Mortar Company – 2 light mortar bases
Engineer (10 men) and Signals Platoon (12 men)

Attached
1st Uhlan Squadron – 2 bases
1st Artillery Battalion – HQ base (this provides any required observers) + 1 MG base
1st Battery – 2 x 77mm gun base, 1 MG base
2nd Battery – 1 x 105mm howitzer base
3rd Battery – 1 x 105mm howitzer base

Your artillery carry 40 minutes worth of ammunition each, with a resupply convoy with a further 40 minutes worth. (The artillery MG platoon is not to be used as a general infantry platoon, it is for guarding the guns.) The mortars are very short on ammunition and can only fire for 15 minutes each.

There is a Reconnaissance Flight (Flieger Abt. 427) allotted to the Iron Division. This may supply, from time to time, planes as reconnaissance (or even messengers). They may also sometimes attack enemy ground targets, if they can be entirely certain of their identification. You may attempt to call their base for support, but you have no authority to demand any particular action.

On the Riga to Zekul road lies the division’s reserve (a force based around a Jäger battalion), which will probably come to your assistance if things get sticky. However, you need to justify their intervention, so merely spotting a few enemy is not sufficient cause to call them up – and anyway, other sectors might have greater need. You should only call them if the need is urgent.

(In this scenario a base represents approximately 30 fighting men, 4 MGs or 2 guns.)
 

Deployment

You should deploy your men to hold the Kirchholm to Zekul road, using the telephones as a means of communication between HQs. Your main units should be in areas marked as villages or towns, in order to provide suitable quarters overnight. Pickets and small units may be as far advanced as you wish.
 
 
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