Leytenant Khabibulin looked on as the patrol under Morduchivitch hastily withdrew through his defenses. If these men got the worst of it, he knew that they were up against some serious opposition. "Armor, they have an captured T-26! It´s painted with an Italian flag. It´s Italians!" Morduchivitch told him as he passed by. Now the men under Khabibulin's command were the first line of defense against the invaders. Italians. What on earth did they do here? Probably strutting after Hitler's Nazis in their common struggle against Communism.
Cowards and vultures! He would accomplish what his comrades in Italy had failed to do in the 20´s - to crush Mussolini's men. Now they had the Rad Cavalry in front of them, not unarmed workers fighting against Great War veterans paid by the capital. This fight should end with revolution in Italy, it was just hard to believe it in this moment!
Half a platoon of Italians deploy, on overwatch. Have we seen this before? The machine guns to the left and rifle team to the right. This riflemen failed to get into firing position later in the game and therefore enabled the cavalry to concentrate their firepower against the machine gunners. Could possibly cause some bad tensions in the italian ranks after the action!
Khabibulin positioned Melesjko's squad and the two Maxims commanded by Utkin and Pupkin from the machine gun squadron in the yards in front of him. He realized too late that the big isolated house on their left was already in the hands of the Italians. He had one of the regiment's best sharpshooters, "Lyonya" Petrovich (the volonteers first name was Leonid), who had volunteered to join them, to take it under his watchful eye now when the Maxims and Melesjenko apparently had failed to stop the Italians from reaching it. Not a shot had been fired to keep the enemy from this valuable position on their immediate flank. Melesjenko and he should have an very serious talk about this if they both survived the day. Lyonya disappeared soon enough and Khabibulin had no idea of where he had positioned himself. They waited.
A shot rang out from his right. Lyonya was in action, and that meant the Italians were up to something. He ordered his second squad, commanded by Sezhant Klenovkin, to move into the house to their left to put the Italian-occupied house under fire and prevent further flanking manouvers from their part. Klenovkin's DP machine gun opened covering fire against some enemies Khabibulin could not see what was going on. The squad moved forward but got the worse of it, immediately being pinned by unexpected volumes of fire from the enemy.
Damned! Who knew what the Italians were up to on the other side of the building? Then he herd two Maxim guns opening fire from the orchard in front of them. The Leytenat peeked over his cover. Utkin and Pupkin were shooting in the direction of their own frontline. What was this? Were they already circumvented?
The Italian rifle team from the Italian flanking position are trying to reach the house at the soviets base-line (with a double-phase) but are interrupted by machine gun fire from the orchard occupied by Meleskjo and the Maxims. They are painfully slowed down by shock, soon to be gunned down by the arriving armor.
Suddenly mortar shells started to land on their position. Everyone hit the ground and the machine guns stopped firing. He could only hope that Melesjko's squad was not hit by the barrage and still held off any enemies attacking frontally. Klenovkin's men did not go anywhere, now hit by the mortar shells as well as the machine gun fire. Their situation deteriorated very quickly. But this was no patrol, this was the battle line, and the enemy would only pass over the dead bodies of his cavalrymen. The red line was drawn here.
Now he heard engine sounds and machine guns firing from his left. He had no idea if it was the enemy or his fellow comrades. Some armor had been sent to support their regiment, but he did not know if they were pushed into battle by Colonel Tsvetkovich yet. But the screams from the other side were not in Russian, they were in an foreign language. The Italians trying to flank them had run into some armor, at last some good news. The mortar shells continued to fall on their positions. The machine gun burst and screams kept on coming as well. It truly sounded like a massacre. The exploding mortar shells, machine gun fire and screams continued. Would this battle let anyone on either side out alive?
He could see the strain on the men of Klenovkin's squad. They should not endure much longer, and Khabibulin needed to take that house to secure the position of the rest of the platoon. He had no other choice than to get into the barrage to rally the men. Several of them had already fallen and in the midst of them were Orlova, the squadron's nurse, taking care of what could be taken care of. She had already patched up Klenovkin himself, who had received a shrapnel wound in one of his forearms. Khabibulin's anger was doubled when he saw Orlova risk her life in the barrage as he crawled over there, and he started to talk calmly to the men when he reached them.
Pjotr and Stepan were already laying lifeless in pools of their own blood. On the other side of the house the firing still raged, what a massacre it must be. How much ammunition did the armor carry with it? The mortar shells kept coming. Khabibulin and Klenovkin shouted to each other, trying to drown the noise of battle and make up a plan for what to to when they got out of this hellish spot. They needed to show the men that a they were still in the fight.
In the midst of their noisy conversation, Klenovkin's skull was suddenly crushed by a shell fragment. Khabibulin wept away the gore that splashed over his face. He probably looked grim with the Serzhant's blood smeared all over his face. At least the men looked terrified, only Orlova kept on doing her work.
The shells kept coming. Now he heard engines on his right. He had hoped that it was their own armor, but no, it was the enemy, in the form of a strange-looking armored car. In a mortar concentration, under fire from machine guns and with enemy armor on their back, the situation was starting to get quite precarious. Their own armor suddenly went silent - he could only hope it was because all enemies were dead. And as suddenly as they started falling down on them, the mortar shells stopped coming. He had showed the men his courage under fire, and they rewarded him with with an immediate dash for the house. He also herd Utkin and Pupkin's Maxims going into action in the orchard. They had endured and held their position. And there was certinly still fight left in his men!
Khabibulin leaped into the house and rushed to a window from where he could overview the situation on his left flank for the first time. There stood a BA-10 armored car with dead Italians strewn around it. The vehicle continued to fire its two machine guns into the backs of a squad of Italians, who were readying themselves to assault Melesjko's and the machine gun's position. But the men in the orchard pushed their machine guns forward aggressively and started to fire at the enemy from point blank range. Stuck between the hammer and the anvil, this was too much for the invaders who broke and fled back. Soon enough the Italians withdrew along the whole line. The Red Cavalry was victorious. They had paid with their own blood, but the enemy had been sent reeling back and their dead lay all over the place. Behind their backs, men and beasts readied themselves for a relentless pursuit! Urahhh!!!
WW2 Campaign Blog
This blog follows the second Chain of Command club campaign, set in the intense fighting over Stalino in October 1941.