The second invastion in Serbia starting on 06.09.1914 - PBEM as AustriaHungary under his majesty Kaiser Franz Joseph I. von Österreich-Ungarn
1914_0906_01: Fighting Fire With Fire (2nd Invasion)
Macva Peninsula and surrounding areas, Serbia, 6th September 1914:
Following the stunning defeat of the Austro-Hungarian first invasion of Serbia in August, Austro-Hungarian forces withdrew west of the Drina to lick their wounds and reform.
A dispute then formed in Austro-Hungarian high command where Conrad insisted that the remainder of the 2.Armee be sent to Galicia, while Potiorek insisted that it remain for another invasion. Strategically the greater threat was the Russian Army in Galicia, however politically the defiant Serbians were more important. The political argument won out, primarily due to the fact that the entire cause of the conflict was to bring about a lasting solution to the "Serbia problem", and because Austro-Hungarian failure discouraged Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire from entering the war. To that end, a compromise was made where two divisions of the 2.Armee remained in place for another campaign while the rest was removed for Galicia.
Potiorek prepared for another invasion to be commenced on September 7th, but the Serbians happened to strike first with an offensive of their own. The French and Russians had been pressuring Serbia to go on the offensive and, not wanting to be suicidal, Serbia initially refused but eventually came to the realization that an offensive would be necessary to encourage both France and Russia to supply them with vital shipments of arms and ammunition. To fulfill this request, on September 6th the Serbian Army launched a limited offensive into the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in the fertile region of Syrmia north of the Sava River. In addition, the Serbians also planned something they had themselves wanted to do: a secondary, albeit delayed, offensive into Bosnia which would have the goal of "liberating" Sarajevo and causing havoc on Austro-Hungarian supply lines.
Like fighting fire with fire, the end result was a double offensive as both sides attacked; the Serbians in reaction to somewhat unrealistic allied demands, and Austro-Hungarians as both a spoiling attack and a desperate second attempt to conquer Serbia.
This scenario uses the limited objectives feature. The objectives north of the Sava (in the region known historically as Syrmia). The objectives there will expire after so many turns and will be removed from the map. When this happens their ownership and points will be applied permanently in the state when they expired (in other words, whoever owns the objective at the time of expiration will permanently be awarded the Victory Points). This means that the Serbians must act in a timely manner to take these objectives, and the Austro-Hungarians must do their best to delay and deny their capture. Once the objectives are removed, neither side has any reason to fight over the area and this is represented by the historical fact that strategic emphasis changed as the campaign progressed. Historically, when the objectives expire the Serbians began immediate withdrawal of Syrmia, to hastily move those units to reinforce the battle that was now raging in the Macva Peninsula.
The successful capture of many of the Syrmian objectives (those north of the Sava) by Serbian forces would have represented a successful fulfillment of their obligation to Russia to apply offensive pressure on Austro-Hungary. The possible points gained from this offensive helps negate any Austro-Hungarian gains at the end of the scenario, thereby requiring the Austro-Hungarians to take more objectives for a victory. In essence, it is a high stakes game where the Serbians must take some risks (the exact risk level is up to the Serbian commander) in order to put more pressure on the Austro-Hungarians to have to accomplish more at the end of the campaign. As mentioned, the number of Syrmian objectives the Serbian commander wishes to push for is up to him, but bear in mind that historically the Serbians recognized that they had to quickly move to reinforce the 3rd Army, so it is a careful economy of force type dilemma. That said, it is imperative that the Serbians try to take as many objectives in Syrmia as possible, given that the scenario begins in a draw situation. If the Serbians ignore Syrmia, then the best result they can realistically hope to obtain at the end of the campaign is a draw (which is unlikely given that they would be expected to hold all their starting objectives east of the Drina by the end of the Austro-Hungarian offensive!).
The Serbian Timok I Division's starting disposition must be explained. Basically, the division was assigned to cross the Sava on the left front of the attack into Syrmia after a long approach march to the river from the Bogaric area. Unfortunately the already fatigued division's crossing was opposed by one of the better Austro-Hungarian divisions in the area: the 29.InfanterieDiv who stayed behind when the k.u.k. 2.Armee left for Galicia. Half of the Timok I Division crossed the Sava by small rafts during the evening and night of September 5th on a one way trip, expecting a pontoon bridge to be built behind them during the day. During the day the Timok bridging engineers continued building their bridge only to discover that they did not have enough bridging materials available to finish it properly it (the bridge extended to about 50 meters short of the far bank when it was "completed"). The Serbian 13. and 15. Infantry Regiments attacked as they were told, running into the entire Austro-Hungarian Infanterieregiment Nr.74 who was, in its entirety, attending Sunday church services in Sascini (hence their strange starting deployment). IR.74 sprang into action and checked the Serbian advance, while the rest of the 29.InfanterieDiv converged. For the rest of September 6th and part of the 7th a battle was fought as the 29.InfanterieDiv strangled the Serbian 13. and 15. Infantry Regiments out of existence, with their backs to the Sava and very limited supplies able to reach them from the partially complete pontoon bridge. In the end Serbian soldiers either surrendered or tried to swim across the Sava, drowning as they attempted to reach the unfinished bridge that was now under fire from Austro-Hungarian forces. The commander of the Timok I Division was relieved of duties in disgrace (and even imprisoned) following the action, due to it being determined that his failure in command effectively caused half of the division to be destroyed. For the Serbian Army who did not have the resources of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the loss of two full regiments of I Ban infantry was a catastrophe of epic proportions. The Austro-Hungarian Army celebrated the event as "the destruction of the Timok Division at Sasinci".
As the Serbian commander, it is possible to save the cut off 13. and 15. Infantry Regiments (henceforth referred to as the Jarak crossing). You can either proceed with a ferry and boat crossing of the rest of the division at Mitrowitz with the goal of supporting the units at the Jarak crossing. However this is an "all-in" choice that may risk the destruction of the whole division, or it may allow the division to solidify for a better chance of extracting it via boats, ferry, and completed pontoon bridge. Another alternative is to not risk the Mitrowitz crossing at all and cut your losses, but to hold at the Jarak crossing until the pontoon bridge is fully completed (which is rationalized to represent the bridging unit acquiring more materials from the nearby forest). And finally, you could choose to continue the attack at both crossings with the goal of linking up with the rest of the Serbian 2. Army attacking in Syrmia to the east.
The Danube II Div arrived late for the attack on Symia (8 September). By this time the Austro-Hungarians had started their own second offensive across the Drina and historically the Danube II Div was diverted immediately south towards Pecka and transferred to 3. Army to help hold back the advance of the k.u.k. 6.Armee. The Danube II Div arrives in the location when it was diverted south so that the Serbian commander can either choose to do this historical move, or add it to the Syrmian offensive for greater momentum.
The k.u.k. 21.Landwehr InfanterieDiv was in a special situation following the 1st Invasion of Serbia. This is the same division that in August was routed off of Mount Cer and nearly destroyed. In the period between the 1st and 2nd invasions, this division was prioritized for replacements and swelled in strength from an estimated 40% to 80% strength and recovered much of its losses. However one thing that could not be easily replaced was professional leadership which was instead replaced with reservists and landsturm cadre at this time. To represent this, during the 2nd invasion the division's brigade HQs are -1 level in quality.
The Austro-Hungarian k.u. 109.LstIBrig. (6.Armee) is withdrawn on September 16th (random probability, so the withdrawal may get delayed). This withdrawal represents the historical pressure being placed upon the Austro-Hungarians in Bosnia. By that time the Serbians had invaded Bosnia and were advancing on Srebrenica, so the Austro-Hungarians pulled this brigade back to protect the right rear flank of 6.Armee. This is also why the k.u. 109.LstIBrig's starting area is closed off with impassible hexes - in order to prevent the Serbian commander from doing something gamey and advancing into the rear of 6.Armee after this brigade withdraws (historically the brigade would have been able to react to any Serbian advance in the area).
Note that historically the Austro-Hungarian second invasion was planned to begin with an advance by the 5.Armee on September 7th, but for technical and logistical reasons Potiorek delayed this until September 8th (which is when 6.Armee was scheduled to advance), so in this scenario both armies are fixed until September 8th. The Serbians are advised to use this delay to their advantage by taking what they can in Syrmia before considering a redeployment of their 1. Army to counter the Austro-Hungarian offensive.
As the Serbians, take precaution to protect your pontoon bridges from Austro-Hungarian river monitors. The way you protect the bridges is by leaving your field artillery in key positions along the Sava River, so that the monitors will have to run the gauntlet to get to the bridges, either severely damaging or destroying the ships as they pass, which will be very expensive in Victory Points for the Austro-Hungarians (one of the heavier monitors can be worth from 30 to 40 Victory Points each). Note that the monitors can crash through and destroy pontoon bridges, but they have to be adjacent and have to have full movement allowance available. One effective way that bridges can be protected is by placing field artillery in the hex adjacent to the pontoon bridge so that it is able to mass fire on the monitors as they stop to prepare for ramming the pontoon bridge. If your pontoon bridges are destroyed, then you can either choose to bring up other bridge units to build more, or strictly use full hex ferry crossings, or engineers with boats (although your supply situation north of the Sava River will suffer significantly if no pontoon bridges are available). Also, although the Serbians may not be able to sink any or all of the Austro-Hungarian monitors, the monitors are valuable and damaging them can still yield a high level of Victory Points.
The Austro-Hungarian 5.Armee (Macva Peninsula sector) should be completely methodical in their Drina crossings - this is an attritional fight! Their first goal is very limited: to gain a foothold across the Drina, and then solidify it, constantly looking to expand out slowly, where they can, but never pushing so hard that they exhaust themselves, or else they risk a collapse of the bridgehead. Primarily their objective should be to survive. Even if the 5.Armee doesn't advance far, its bridgehead and presence will force the Serbians to tie down equal amounts of forces against them, which means those forces cannot be sent to fight the 6.Armee to the south.
The Austro-Hungarian 42.Honvéd InfanterieDiv moved south immediately and crossed the Drina near Batar. Consider this option as it will spread out the Serbians, but it will also spread out Austro-Hungarian forces as well. Another advantage of this move is that the Serbs do not expect it, and the Serbian division opposite of this area (Drina II Div) is not released until the 11th, allowing the Austro-Hungarian forces to establish a safe and secure bridgehead before making contact with this division at the time of their choosing. If you decide to cross the Drina near Batar, the Austro-Hungarians are advised not to move forward towards the Sor-Kozjak until the 42.HID is completely established, because line of sight will cause the Drina II Div to release immediately!
The Austro-Hungarian 36.InfanterieDiv at first moved to cross the Drina opposite of Badovinci and Klenje. It suffered losses, and then withdrew, then moved south and crossed again in front of Prujavor, which again met heavy resistance again and stalled. If the XIII.Korps moves south, then the Austro-Hungarian commander can decide from several options. Additionally, attacking across the Drina and withdrawing, to rest and attack somewhere else later does have a benefit of keeping the Serbians guessing. An unaccounted division is a threat to them. Attacking in several places along the Drina prevents the Serbs from being able to concentrate, and spreads their attention to several bridgeheads rather than just one or two. There is also a benefit of delaying the XIII.Korps crossings for some days (historically this corps was slow in its crossings), as this also keeps the Serbians guessing, and may tempt the Serbians to weaken the potential crossing areas as they move to reinforce other places.
T000 of 131 - 1200 am 06.09.1914 - Visibilty 4km:
(CONTRARY TO STANDARDS: Own/AustriaHungary=red | Enemy/Serbia=blue | VP=yellow- VALID FOR ALL PICTURES)
# Own forces:
+ k.u.k. 5.Armee - General der Infanterie Liborius Ritter von Frank - attacks from 08.09.1914 an
++ VIII.Korps (Prag)
+++ k.u.k. 9.ID (ca. 12800 Mann, Truppenqualität E bis B [k.u.k IR 73 „Albrecht von Württemberg“] )
+++ k.k. 21.LID (ca. 11400 Mann, Truppenqualität E bis C)
++ XIII.Korps (Angram)
+++ k.u.k. 36.ID (ca. 14300 Mann, Truppenqualität D)
+++ k.u. 42.HID (ca. 12300 Mann, Truppenqualität D)
++ k.u.k. 29.ID (ca. 13400 Mann, Truppenqualität D bis C)
++ k.u. 104.LandsturmInfanterieBrigade ab ca. 07.09.1914 verfügbar (ca. 12900 Mann, Truppenqualität D)
++ 2.LandsturmEtappenBrigade (ca. 2153 Mann, Truppenqualität D)
++ 4.LandsturmEtappenBrigade (ca. 3800 Mann, Truppenqualität D)
+ k.u.k. 6.Armee - Feldzeugmeister Oskar Potiorek - attacks from 08.09.1914 an
++ XV.Korps (Sarajevo)
+++ k.u. 40.HID (ca. 13600 Mann, Truppenqualität D bis C)
+++ k.u.k. 48.ID (ca. 19000 Mann, Truppenqualität E bis C)
+++ k.u.k 13.IBrig (ca. 7600 Mann, Truppenqualität D)
+++ MarschFormationen 40.HID (ca. 6400 Mann, Truppenqualität E bis C)
++ XVI.Korps (Ragusa)
+++ k.u.k. 1.ID (ca. 12100 Mann, Truppenqualität D bis C)
+++ k.u.k. 18.ID (ca. 10000 Mann, Truppenqualität D bis C)
+++ 1.GbBrig (ca. 5500 Mann, Truppenqualität E bis C)
+++ 2.GbBrig( ca. 5500 Mann, Truppenqualität E bis C)
++ Gruppe Gabriel
+++ 4.GbBrig (ca. 5500 Mann, Truppenqualität D bis C)
+++ 5.GbBrig (ca. 5500 Mann, Truppenqualität D)
++ k.u. LandsturmIBrig 109 (ca. 6409 Mann, Truppenqualität D) - also responsible for defense of Bosnia
+ Gruppe Lütgendorf - Feldmarschallleutnant Kasimir Dominik von Lütgendorf - available from 09.09.1914
++ k.u.k. 7.ID - available from 06.09.1914 an (ca. 9400 Mann, Truppenqualität C bis B [Niederösterreichisches k.u.k. Feldjägerbataillon Nr. 21])
++ Garnison Peterwardein - not planned for offensive
++ k.u. LstIR 12 (ca. 3200 Mann, Truppenqualität D)
++ k.u. LstIR 32 (ca. 3200 Mann, Truppenqualität D)
++ k.u.k. Luftfahrtruppe (16 Flugzeuge zur Aufklärung)
+ Donau-Flotille (11 Schiffe)
Defending against the Serbian forces that attacked across the Sava, finally destroying them.
General offensive across the Drina to take the East and especially the Northeast of Serbia. Fighting in the mountains in the South of the HKL should be kept to a minimum to draw enemy forces here.
+ k.u.k. 29.ID, 4.LandsturmEtappenBrigade, 2.LandsturmEtappenBrigade, k.u. 104.LandsturmInfanterieBrigade, k.u. LstIR 12, und k.u. LstIR 32 prevent breakthrough of Serbian forces North of the Sava; At the start only 29.ID and 4.LEB are available. Depending on the evolving situation, the HKL will have to be taken back temporarly. Counter attacks should be aimed at the bridging sites to trap the enemy North of the Sava.
+ k.k. 21.LID crosses Sava and follows k.u.k. 9.ID across Drina
+ k.u.k. 9.ID crosses Drina via fords and advances Southeastwards through Bogatic to Sabac
+ k.u.k. 36.ID crosses Drina to take Badovinci and then advances towards Sabac
+ k.u. 42.HID crosses Drina south of Badovinci and supports advance towards Sabac; Another small crossing will be attempted further to the South to bind enemy forces there
Attention, where exactly the main crossing of the Drina will happen is not yet decided but depending on enemy dispositions.
+ k.u. 40.HID builds bridge across Drina at Kozluk and takes Loznica, advances further towards Lesnica and/or CER
+ k.u.k. 48.ID moves North and supports 40.HID, mountain troops earmarked for attack on CER
+ k.u.k 13.IBrig crossed Drina via fords and is advancing South of GUCEVO to keep enemy occupied, more a feint than anything else
+ Gruppe Gabriel moves North and croses Drina at 40.HID, advances further towards CER and Sabac
+ k.u.k. 1.ID is gathering at Sopotnik and general reserve
+ 1.GbBrig builds bridge across Drina and advances into the mountains of JAGODJNA; should draw enemy forces South
+ k.u.k. 18.ID crosses Drina via fords and advances into the mountains of JAGODJNA; should draw enemy forces South
+ 2.GbBrig crosses Drina via fords and advances into the mountains of JAGODJNA; should draw enemy forces South
+ k.u. LandsturmIBrig 109 threatens Ljubovija and recons Serbian positions south of JAGODJNA; might have to move to Bosnia
# Enemy forces:
Pretty much the complete Serbian with all 3 mobilization waves/"Ban". Expected are several armies with many divisions and independent detachments supported by numerous Chetnik partisan units. High combat value and morale is expected, troop quality probably mostly B and some elite with A.
# Estimated intention:
Fast and strong Serbian advance North of the Sava. With the developing offensive across the Drina the Serbs will have to withdraw again. On the Drina the Serbian forces are expected to be much stronger than in the 1st invasion and therfor hold their ground much more often.
The first day of combat saw 2 Serbian bridgeheads North of the Sava. The one near Mitrowitz could be contained by the k.u.k. 29.ID and k.u. 104.LandsturmInfanterieBrigade but was steadily reinforeced via pontoon bridge. The other bridgehead further downstream was checked for the moment by k.u. LstIR 12 and 32 but these regiments were far too weak to hold the line. The bulk of k.u.k. 7.ID was marching from Belgrad to contain this bridgehead.
The AustriaHungarian offensive across the Drina had not yet started.
Another day saw both Serbian bridgeheads expanding but they were still contained. The k.u.k. 7.ID had arrived in the nick of time to delay the Serbian divisions "Sumadija I" and "Danube I" but they had to slowly retreat towards the North.
The offensive across the Drina had started but strong Serbian positions at Badovinci and North of it made advances were difficult and costly. The k.u. 42.HID had found a gap in the Serbian line South of Badovinci and advanced through it. This was hoped to be a good place for the point of main effort (Schwerpunkt).
Further South at Loznica and GUCEVO very strong Serbian positions were encountered and progress was very limited.
In the JAGODJNA there was surprisingly little Serbian resistance and the progress was only slowed down by the very difficult mountain terrain.
The k.u. LandsturmIBrig 109 found Ljubovija only held by weak local forces and crossed the Drina to take it.
The third day of combat resulted in further expanding Serbian bridgeheads North of the Sava. The k.u.k. 7.ID was pretty much spent and would not be able to contain the Serbian troops much longer. Near Mitrowitz the situation was better but the enemy slowly advanced towards the city.
At the lower Drina parts of Badovinci were taken and the k.u. 42.HID made a risky advance to encircle the Serbian troops North of it. Only weak forces continued to attack at the Sava mouth and all other troops concentrated Badovinci. All the while keeping some troops further South to feint an attack there.
Even further South Locznia was enveloped to the North by k.u. 40.HID and small gains could be made against the strong Serbian positions.
In the JAGODJNA the peaks of the important MACKOV KAMEN were taken and the advance continued towards KOSUTNJA STOPA. There were still only weak Serbian forces active and they were annihilated after encircling them.
Ljubovijawas taken by k.u. LandsturmIBrig 109 and prepared for defense. More Serbian forces were spotted by these were just local detachments.
A few hours later the Serbian government sued for peace (Early Termination Victory) although their army was far from beaten.
The Serbian bridgeheads north of the Sava were still contained but ever more ground had to be given up. With the AustriaHungarian forces there already spent, a breakthrough would have ensured sometime the next day.
The battle of Badovinci had seen even more encircled Serbian troops but the fresh division "Timok II" was approaching and could have been a big problem.
At Loznica slow progress was achieved but at a terrible cost. Overall the intended breakthrough to CER and Sabac would have been very difficult to impossible to achieve.
The JAGODJNA won the war for AustriaHungary. The surprisingly weak Serbian resistance there allowed the taking of the critical mountain ranges of MACKOV KAMEN and KOSUTNJA STOPA. This threatened the Serbian rear and gave us victory.
At turn 27 of 131 the game ended with an Early Termination Victory for AustriaHungary.
Some GIF files to show the evolving situation: