Elbe River Battle at Bartow Fl. March 23 & 23

Overall situation:

Overall situation: The lay out at bartow is a bare ridge with a road atop it which rises about 100 feet above a woodline. A trail runs allong the edge of the woods and is blocked at intervalls by marshy ground making vehicle traffic difficult. This is especially true at the west end of the trail. The slope is grassy and easy to drive up and down at most points. To the left of the second trail (away from the ridge) the ground drops about 15-20 feet into an old strip mine. The mine is mostly swamp now and overgrown with trees and vegitation. At the time of the battle we had had some heavy rains and the mine was very wet. Most of the fighting took place on the lower trail and in the light cover to each side. This made the situation rather linier, and troops easier to control. It did limit the room to maneuver.


The Allies had the upper hand in the morning. Third I.D. under Lt. Kepner had almost a full platoon of GI's. There was also a small but very active group of Soviet Infanry on hand. The total strength for the allies was around 30 in the morning.

The Axis had the usual mix of Heer and SS troops. When the battle started the Germans had about 20. The Allied advantage in numbers changed in the afternoon. The Allies lost from 5 to 7 men around the noon meal break and the Germans pick up that number. This shifted the advantage to the Axis. In addition to the men the Germans also had the welcomed arrival of Pete Winston of 11th Pz and his Spw-251.

The morning scenario started with the Allies marching off to the south and turning around to attack the German position. With the numerical advantage and the fact that the Germans had no automatic weapons the Allies pushed us back until the Germans were occupying a field crossed by a ditch. This gave good protection and open field of fire. Since it was about noon a short break was called for a meal and to refill everyones canteens. This is when the general change in numbers took place as some of the Allies departed for a Real Meal(?) never to returnand the Tampa 1st SS LAH arrived with an MP-40 and a 5cm mortar. The Allies were too weak at this point to make any headway against the good position the Germans occupied. The Soviets were a little demoralized by their lack of helmets as the mortar opened up and a flank attack by the 3rd ID was stoped by the 43rd Pioniers who were waiting in ambush . For the lose of one the43rd killed about 6 of the enemy. Many with gernades which worked very well in the tall grass. The afternoon was generally a reveral of the morning. With numbers of their side the Germans pushed the Allies back.


1) In general the Germans suffered from a lack of automatic weapons. This is especially true since the Spw-251's gas gun was notfunctional at the battle. Pete has put a lot of work into it and is probably going to convert it to a Spw-251/9 (with the 75mm L24gun), that should give the allies something to think about. But for now the GI's have a big advantage with several BARs and 1-2submachineguns around.

2) Some of the safety rules regarding the 251 were not adhered to. Most of the time the vehicle did not have a ground guide. This was not too dangerous as the vehicle was driven on the trail most of the time and the vehicle commander was exposed. But it only takes one mistake to kill someone with a vehicle like that.

3) Uniforms authentisity was not as strictly enforced as at some events I have been at. I am personally guilty here as well since it was hot I put on my Italian converted paints. This however is rather minior compaired to some of the other problems. One individual of the hosting unit was dressed in a postwar uniform. This really needs to be taken care of by the unit commander,since he belongs to the hosting unit (Grossdeuchland) and they are the ones that enforce standards this may set the tone for years to come. Since at this time this is the only large battle going on in florida I would like to see it do well. However the standards are rather low and may lead to out of state units skipping the event. This would be a shame, hopefully GD will raise their standards. I also recall a few of the unconverted Austrian Y-straps at the battle. While these so not stand out too much it certainly is not dificult to remove the extrapadding. This imporoves the look a lot.

Overall comments

In general it was a very good battle, both sides need to work on training. In both cases the side with the numerical advantage was able to push the other back but once a good position was found the defenders won out each time. This makes perfect sense because it is easy to controll troops that are not moving.

Overall I enjoyed myself a lot and am looking forward to the battle to be held there in the Oct-Nov time frame.