The Meat Grinder, Part 4 – Roll Call

1941 Soviet Rifle Platoon with Attached Assets

The wind played cheerfully with wisps of white hair atop heads with solemn faces. A small group of elderly men and women wearing medals sat apart from the crowds listening as politicians droned. Roza Yedilova grumbled to herself about the weather, she was cold even though the younger folk were wearing t-shirts and shorts. Her granddaughter would tell her she felt cold because of her age, but it was this place that was so cold to her and her comrades.

The politicians prattled on about this place being an important victory in the Great Patriotic War while saying nothing of the fifteen months of failure preceding the so-called victory. “Bahh!” she thought, “What victory? We woke up one morning and the fascists had left; they had had enough of the insanity.”

They were here because a new memorial had been built. Every few years there was a new memorial erected or new cemetery dedication and for the occasion they would assemble as many surviving veterans as they could find. Roza had been the last surviving member of her unit for many years now. This year she noticed they had added Natalya Popova’s name to the role of identified dead. There were still thousands of bodies unidentified and thousands more among the missing. “Natalya was in second squad, no – third squad, she was in Topolsky’s squad,” she said to herself, “I wasn’t in any squad, but I knew everyone. I had bragged about how fast I was too often and Senior Sergeant Voliaskaya picked me to be the platoon messenger.”

“Too many of us died in these god forsaken bogs,” she thought, “but those of us who survived didn’t fare much better. Many of us died right after the war – we smoked too much and we drank too much. We smoked to endure the stress of battle and we drank afterwards to forget what we had seen and done.” She looked down at the medals on her coat and then shook her head. “Memorials, who wants to remember Hell?”

3rd Platoon

One of the interesting things about any study of history is the difference of what is on paper and what really happened. Trying to pin down the structure of a Soviet Rifle platoon on January 7, 1942 has been an exercise. On paper, there were several orders changing the composition of units throughout 1941 – you find squad sizes of 10, 11 and 12. The number of squads in a platoon varied between 3 and 4. In some configurations there are 2 light machine guns in a squad, in others only 1. Mostly, units in the field organized around what they had. For my fictional unit, I had purchased the Urrah! Bundle and the Platoon Bundle from Bad Squiddo games. The Urrah! Bundle contains one pack of every code in the WWII Soviet range and the Platoon Bundle contains the command pack and figures to create 3 squads of 10 infantry women each. Combining these two bundles together I was able staff my platoon with a Headquarters Section, 4 Rifle Squads, a Mortar Section, a Machine Gun Section and a Combat Engineer Section. I’ve decided to start the campaign at full strength. (I’ve even created a roster and given each figure a name.)

Headquarters Section

The Headquarters Section consists of an officer (my character), a senior NCO and a messenger. On Patrol missions, I can choose to have my officer and the messenger accompany the squad which is selected for the patrol. There are three assets which I can attach to the Headquarters Section in certain circumstances.

For any mission that has more than 2 squads, I will attach a medic to my Headquarters Section. Medics were Company assets and assigned as needed. On paper, a Rifle Company had 5 medics to disperse as needed.

Next is a figure I’d rather not see in my platoon, the political officer. If I lose a defend mission and get pushed back to the previous campaign node – the political officer will join my Headquarters Section until I start winning again. The political officers were a Regimental asset and deployed throughout the regiment as Regimental Headquarters saw fit.

Radio Operators were a Battalion and higher asset. The Radio Operator will join my Headquarters Section only on special missions – one to deliver a radio to a Partisan unit and during the breakout missions of Operation Seydliz.

1st Rifle Squad

The Rifle Squads each have 12 members, but are configured differently. The First Squad will shoulder the bulk of the patrol missions. It depends on stealth to get close to the enemy where its additional Submachine Guns can be more effective.

  • NCO Squad Leader with SMG
  • Light Machine Gunner
  • Assistant Machine Gunner with SMG
  • Sniper with Rifle & Scope
  • Observer with Rifle
  • 3 Submachine Gunners
  • 4 Riflemen

2nd Squad

The Second Squad has the most common organization for the end of 1941.

  • NCO Squad Leader with SMG
  • Light Machine Gunner
  • Assistant Machine Gunner with SMG
  • Sniper with Rifle and Scope
  • Observer with Rifle
  • Submachine Gunner
  • 6 Riflemen

3rd Squad

For a few months, the Rifle Squad had 2 Light Machine Guns, 3rd Squad reflects that organization.

  • NCO Squad Leader with SMG
  • 2 Light Machine Gunners
  • 2 Assistant Machine Gunners with SMG
  • Sniper with Rifle and Scope
  • Observer with Rifle
  • Submachine Gunner
  • 4 Riflemen

4th Squad

The Fourth Squad is a mirror image of Third Squad with one minor difference, the Observer is armed with a SMG.

Machine Gun Section

The Machine Gun Section is a Company level asset and will be available for Attack and Defend Missions.

  • NCO Section Leader with SMG
  • Medium Machine Gunner
  • 3 Assistant Machine Gunners with Rifle

Mortar Section

The 82mm Mortar Section was a Battalion level asset. The 50mm mortar appears as a Platoon or Company level asset on organization charts. This section can start on the table in Defend Missions, but can only appear as reinforcements in the Attack Missions.

  • NCO Section Leader with SMG
  • Mortarman with Pistol
  • 3 Assistant Mortarmen with Rifle

Combat Engineer Section

From what I can find, the Combat Engineers were a Regimental asset and deployed where needed. The Combat Engineer Section will be available as reinforcements in Attack Missions.

  • NCO Section Leader with SMG
  • Engineer with Flame Thrower
  • 3 Engineers with Rifle


The prep work is complete, I’m now ready to start playing the campaign. There are still some things to complete as I go along – terrain pieces and maybe a vehicle or two, but these can all be added later without interrupting the campaign.

If you like these posts, please let me know. Tell me what you think. ‘Till next time ….

4 thoughts on “The Meat Grinder, Part 4 – Roll Call

  1. Those make for a great collection. I look forward to following their exploits in the future.

    Hsve yoou got the Zaloga Handbook on the Soviets? It bis good for tracking the changes and the official organnisation. Although, like in all wars, these things are so fluid.



  2. Looking great, and as always love the back story. You must have your messenger miniature with a bit of luck as a characteristic, after all she survived. Keen to see the enemy too and the whole lot on the table.

  3. Very interesting. I’m hoping to run a solo campaign later this fall, so am interested in how you do it. Your approach to the squads seems acceptable. What with details for one thing or the other, sick, and wounded, unit strengths varied. I’ve also got a WWII army whose unit strengths and T, O, & E varied according to different sources. One first hand account I read involved a company on the front lines that was more nearly platoon strength after several months on the front line


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