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Posted on May 22, 2007 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

COMBAT! Frozen Encounter

By Alexander Wilson

YOU command a war-weary German Kampfgruppe as you battle the Russians in the forbidding terrain of East Prussia.

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The Russians are coming!  Will you survive?

DATE/TIME: January 13th, 1945; 8:00 a.m.

LOCATION: about 5 kilometers northeast of Memel, East Prussia.

MISSION: successfully defend the road leading into Memel; repel Russian offensive; ensure bridge remains intact.

UNIT: Kampgruppe Fullreide: 1 damaged Pzkpw. V Panther tank; 3 Pzkpw. IV Ausf. H tanks; platoon (20 men) of infantrymen, armed with Kar98k rifles, MP-40 SMGs, and 10 Panzerfaust anti-tank weapons.

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ENEMY: Russian tank company comprised of 8 T-34/85s and 2 IS-2 tanks; three platoons of Soviet grenadiers (60 men total); 1 battery of Katyusha rocket launchers.

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YOU are Oberleutnant (1st Lieutenant) Johannes Fullreide, an officer in the German 95th Infantry Division tasked with defending the region around Memel in East Prussia.  For days your cold, weary, and nervous troops have been watching and waiting for a Russian offensive which they predict will drive them and the rest of Third Panzer Army, commanded by General Erhard Raus, out of East Prussia.  Now that offensive is on its way at last  – towards you.  Forward observers and reconnaissance units have reported to division headquarters that the Russians are attacking in full force, preceded by a strong artillery barrage.  Your battle group has been ordered to guard one of the many roads which converge at the key East Prussian city of Memel.  In addition to repelling the Russians, your force must see that the bridge along this particular road remains intact.  You never can be sure when headquarters may need to use it, be it for a desperate counterattack or for demolition on a different occasion.  For now, however, the bridge must stay.

As your kampgruppe reaches the summit of Hill 605, 120-ft. rock-strewn rise which overlooks the Memel road, you pause to survey your surroundings.  At the base of Hill 605, off to the left, stands a gutted house, no doubt a victim of the recent Russian artillery bombardment.  Directly in front of you is a small group of pine and spruce trees, standing out against the white winter snow.  Only a few have been damaged by the Soviet shells.  To the left of the pine trees is located a row of sandbags, facing the road and situated about 40 feet from it.  The sandbags would provide an ideal place from which to fire anti-tank weapons at any advancing enemy tanks.

At a point about 200 feet north of the pine trees, the Memel road crosses over a small river.  Any enemy tanks will undoubtedly be compelled to use the aforementioned bridge there, as the recent thaw has swollen the river and turned its banks into mud.  If the Russians are foolish enough to ford the river, they will quickly become bogged down and prove easy targets.  A swamp far off to the right of the hill completes the Prussian panorama.  Though the countryside seems peaceful, you know that within minutes it will be torn by the sounds of war.  Time is running short; you must decide how to best position your force.

What is your decision, Oberleutnant Fullreide?

Go to the next page to listen as Fullreide briefs his soldiers on the right course of action.

[continued on next page]

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