Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Soviet Naval Infantry

Nothing lights a fire under my brushes like a tournament.  I'm in a Bolt Action event this weekend with a historically-themed list. My theme is the 83rd Naval Rifle Brigade in the Crimea, 1942. I’ve always been fascinated by the 350,000 Soviet sailors repurposed to fight on land. Naval Infantry were the best troops in the Crimea and their stubbornness earned them the nickname “Black Death.”

The 83rd  Naval participated in the Red Army’s first major amphibious landing.  With only two weeks planning, they were loaded onto a makeshift flotilla including fishing vessels to cross the Kerch Straights. Whaleboats dumped them on a frozen, remote beach with the goal of linking up with 4 other landings on the Kerch Peninsula.  As they waded ashore, some men drowned in the surf or fell to hypothermia. Despite the abysmal start, the 83rd spotted Germans gathering near the beachhead and launched a vicious spoiling attack. The amateur amphibious landings succeeded in deposited the 51st Army on the Kerch Peninsula where they took up a defensive position.  This second front took some pressure off the besieged city of Sevastopol.  Due to bickering and a series of incompetent actions between Kozlov and the Front commissar, the 83rd was nearly destroyed with the rest of the Soviet forces during Manstein’s Operation Bustard Hunt. Three armies, 21 divisions, 176,000 men, 347 tanks, and nearly 3,500 guns were lost to the German offensive. The remains of the 83rd were evacuated.  The reconstituted 83rd played a crucial role in the Caucasus by stopping the Germans at the Proletary Cement Factory in Novorossiysk, 8/9 September, 1942.  

Figures all Black Tree Design (helmets) and Warlord Games (Naval caps).  I also finished two units of Naval Tank Hunters and a Maxim MG unit  that I left them out of the photo.

Now that I can field 2 platoons of Naval Infantry plus supporting options, my ever-growing Soviet force will take a rest. Then its back to my Spanish for Saga!