23 September 2000
With a near-certainty that the Baron’s men would return to Góra Kalwaria in two days, and knowing their route would bring them across the bridge, Maks had a rare ambush opportunity.
Father Andre and his parishioners of this deeply religious community were never going to surrender the women of Góra Kalwaria without a fight, but they had few weapons and no training. They viewed the arrival of Maksymilian (“Maks”) Zając and crew as a miracle.
Before the day closed, the party was setting up hidden positions. Maks contemplated ambushing – or at least having scouts – on the far side of the bridge, but feared they could become trapped there. He’d already ruled out having the tug in the fight, as the flat terrain offered little opportunity to conceal the tug close to the bridge.
Instead he directed positions to be made on the town’s side, and use the bridge as a free-fire zone. Father Andre gave Maks rotating teams of 3 groups of 3 villagers to assist. While the marauders promised to return in two days, really they could show up at any time.
The partisans are the white tokens on the map. We gave them to my son to place. He got a bit creative with the partisan names.
The bridge rises up from the woods a distance back from the river’s edge, so the units had to be placed accordingly, as the bridge itself offered no concealment. They could add obstacles, but the marauders would surely be suspicious of new objects on the bridge. Grant Derek William, the group’s sniper, was told to climb a tree nearby, giving him a better vantage and concealment.
Then they waited.
The Korsarz are found in Pirates of the Vistula. They work for the Baron Czarny, whose land forces are detailed in Ruins of Warsaw.
24 September 2000
Nothing was supposed to happen today, but the partisans and the group members waited in their positions. It was both tedious and stressful.
Mid-morning, a civilian runner told Maks they’d heard boat motors coming upriver. More than one. Maks grabbed Wojciech and GDW, ran up the bridge until they were just over the water’s edge and fell prone, scanning the water’s surface downriver. Then they saw them. Three pre-war civilian fishing boats, upgunned with more powerful motors. Each had a crew of two or three, and they were armed with AKs.
The party members watched as the boats approached the bridge. Maks figured this was their first encounter with the Korsarz – the river pirates they’d heard so much about. Still, it was possible these were refugees. He cursed under his breath.
The ambush they’d placed wasn’t for river traffic. Their tug, the Wisla Krolowa, was upriver and would be quickly discovered.
…and most of the tug’s fighting crew were on shore, manning the ambush. The Krolowa was largely defenseless at the moment.
The boats were cutting large circles near the bridge. Seemed like they were investigating the area without diminishing their speed. [Boats are slow to get up to max speed, and a still boat makes an easy target for potshots from the shoreline.] These weren’t refugees, Maks decided.
Then the boats seemed to lose interest and began motoring upriver again. They would see the tug shortly.
From their position on the bridge, Maks ordered GDW to shoot at the closest boat. They needed to draw the boaters’ attention. It was a tough shot at a moving vehicle at distance. William squeezed off two rounds from his SVD, wounding two of the crew. Wojciech aimed his grenade launcher, and fired. “Click!” [Rolled a 20; I ruled the 40mm grenade was a dud.]
Maks, increasingly concerned, decided to mag-dump his AK at the lead boat.
Five bursts of 5, far over his recoil limit. Miraculously, one round actually hit. And the miracles kept on coming. Hit location: Hull > Major Hull > Ammo. There were rocket-propelled grenades on board that the party hadn’t seen yet. I told my brother the boat exploded, as if it’d been hit with a mortar round.
The other two boats, on seeing the lead boat detonate, immediately turned and fled back downriver. The party kept the fire on them, but to little effect. And then they were gone. Probably they were scouts from the Korsarz, who would now know there was resistance at Góra Kalwaria.
25 September 2000
The defenders continued waiting. Today was supposed to be the day the Baron’s men would return.
And return they did. Early afternoon, a lone open-topped UAZ-469 with some type of mounted MG made its way cautiously across the bridge. The marauders had to suspect the town wouldn’t meekly give in.
The Soviet jeep stopped in the middle of the bridge, and the commander scanned the far side with binoculars. Then it continued across the span. Three more UAZs were visible now, and one was a UAZ-452 hitched to some kind of towed weapon. With the distance and forest on the far side, it disappeared out of sight when it pulled off the highway.
As the lead UAZ passed over the shoreline on the town’s side of the river, his brothers in the other jeeps crossed the bridge and paused about halfway.
From his vantage point in the tree, William fired on the lead UAZ, killing the driver and wounding the gunner. The jeep hit a guardrail and ground to a stop. The other defenders held their fire for now.
The UAZ’s commander – unwounded, crouched down – opened the driver’s side door and pushed out his dead comrade, the former driver. He wanted to take the wheel. William scored a lucky head shot [I let the players roll hit location, and my son rolled a “1”.] The gunner was not visible.
The situation continued as a standoff. The Baron’s men seemed to be waiting for something, probably the gun on the far shore to be ready. Minutes passed.
Then the gun on the far shore barked. “BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG!” Shells arced overhead, exploding on the town’s side of the river. Maks knew it was a Soviet Vasilek clip-fed mortar. Ugh.
Grant Derek William’s tree seemed to be ground zero. How could they know his location?
Shells deviated all around GDW’s tree, one close enough to slam the sniper with concussion, and a fragment pierced his left leg. The tree swayed from the blasts.
The two UAZs on the bridge shot forward, intending to capitalize on the fire support.
The party realized the former gunner in the shot-up lead UAZ must be calling in fire over a radio.
Wojciech pointed his RPG-16 at the UAZ. The rocket lanced out, direct hit, demolishing the jeep and erstwhile forward observer.
At that, the Baron’s men beat a hasty retreat. The Vasilek fired two more barrages to cover them.
It was one thing to run down villagers with small arms. But the residents of Góra Kalwaria had apparently acquired an RPG, and a shooter who knew how to connect. Charging down the bridge into that… The unseen enemy commander decided not to throw good money after bad.
Lucky hits can happen. So can unlucky misses.
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