Action south of Mtsensk , 6th October 1941

Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by Owen, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Just been reading this in When Titans Clashed by David M. Glantz pages 80 & 81. It aslo appears in his chapter notes in his Barbarossa book.
    I thought I'd share as it shows how the Soviets were learning how to stop the Germans.

    Even before the poor weather arrived , however a series of Soviet counter-blows along the entire front helped to stabilize the situation . Perhaps the most effective of these blows fell on Guderian’s 4th Panzer Division as it approached Mtsensk on 6 October .
    Here two Soviet officers who later gained fame as superb battlefield commanders cooperated to ambush the Germans. Major-General D.D. Leliushenko’s 1st Guards Rifle Corps had rushed to the scene to block the advance of Second Panzer Group.
    Leliushenko’s troops included two tank brigades , the 4th and 11th and two airborne brigades, the 10th and 201st of 5th Airborne Corps , flown in to a nearby airfield. Colonel M.E. Katukov’s 4th Tank Brigade , equipped with newly produced T34s, displayed a tactical ability that the invaders had not encountered before. Katukov concealed his armour in the woods whilst the German advance guard rolled by.
    Leliushenko’s patchwork collection of infantry and airborne troops blocked 4th Panzer from the front , after which Katukov ambushed the Germans from the flanks. The under-gunned, under armoured German Mark IV’s attempted to break out of the ambush by maneuvering around Katukov but were quickly halted by short counter-attacks. By the end of the day , most of the 4th Panzer Division’s armour had been reduced to smoking hulks. This shock to Second Panzer Group , which had just been re-designated Second Panzer Army , was so great that a special investigation was conducted. Even Guderian grudgingly acknowledged that his opponents were learning.

    The action is mentioned by Guderian in Panzer Leader page 233.

    On October 6th our headquarters was moved forward to Svesk . 4th Panzer Division was attacked by Russian tanks to the south of Mzensk and went through some bad hours. This was the first occasion on which the vast superiority of the Russian T34 to our tanks became plainly apparent . The division suffered grievous casualties . The rapid advance on Tula which we had planned therefore had to be abandoned for the moment.

    This map is from the same book page 231.


    I decided to look the location up on GoogleEarth.
    I'm assuming the woods mentioned are those to the north west of the main Orel to Mtsensk road.
    I've placemarked Voin , 'Moin' on Guderian's map & added a kmz file.


    just found this painting of same action.
    Red Steel at Kamenewo, Mtsensk, Central Front, Russia, 6th October 1941 by David Pentland. (PC)

    P1423. Red Steel at Kamenewo, Mtsensk, Central Front, Russia, 6th October 1941 by David Pentland. Following the capture of Orel, the German High Command ordered General Heinz Guderians panzers to push on towards Mtsensk, Tuila and Moscow. Alarmed at the situation Stalin deployed Major General Leyushenko to halt this advance. the battle was finally joined when when the 4th Panzer Division crossed the Lisiza stream at Kamenewo, pushing back the dug in defenders towards Mtsensk, but unaware they had entered a Soviet trap. at this point the T34s and KV1s of Colonel Katukovs 4th tank Brigade attacked from the woods on the Panzers left flank smashing the out gunned and weaker armoured PzIII tanks and half tracks. For the Germans the battle was a terrible shock, stalling their advance and an unexpected demonstration of Soviet armoured superiority. During the battle Lt Lavrinienko, with his platoon of four T34s supported by three KV1s under Sgt Antonov knocked out eleven enemy tanks, plus a pair of artillery guns (squashed under the tracks of the KVs) In his short two month career, Lt Lavinienko knocked out some fifty two enemy tanks!

    WW2 Tank Aces
    Dmitriy Lavrinenko [on left]
    with his crew and T-34/76

    Chap on the left is Lt Lavrinienko, says he died 18th December 1941.



    Attached Files:

    • Voin.kmz
      File size:
      695 bytes
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I see this action is a scenario on 'Combat Mission 2 : Barbarossa To Berlin'.
    Played it last night, all my panzers got wiped out but I then destroyed the T34s & KVs with my three 88s of which I had one left at game end.
    Wanted to play as the Soviets but the game says solo must be played as Germans.
  3. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    So you took your pains to investigate your scenario :)

    Here's another snippet from Dave Michulec's Concord Book on 4th PzDiv.

    During the battles for Orel and Mzensk. 4.Panzer-Division met large numbers of heavy KV-1 and T-34 tanks for the first time. In his report after the battles, the Divisional commander wrote that the absolute superiority of these Russian tanks had been fell for the first time and made several recommendations to improve the situation in the Germans favor. After the battle for Mzensk. the staff of 4.Panzer-Division counted its losses at 10 men killed and 33 wounded. The Division lost 6 tanks with 4 damaged, two 8.8cm FlaK, one 10cm and one 10.5cm gun. They counted 17 knocked out Russian tanks on the battlefield including 8 heavy tanks. 11 anti-tank guns and around 220 men killed or taken prisoner. The Soviets record this battle differently claiming a victory over the Germans with 50 tanks and 35 guns destroyed.
    And so. the first day of the battle for Mzensk was won by the Germans. The losses were not high but the battle had been long and hard. The exhausted men of 4 Panzerr-Division. blocked by a very strong defense, ceased full scale operations until October 9. The battle erupted again on that day and continued until October 11, when the Germans finally captured the city. However, the Soviets kept up the defense to the east of the city for the next 13 days until an attack by Pz.Rgt.35 into the flank of the Soviet position finally demolished resistance in this area. The final bailie for Mzensk look place on October 23 and 24 and cost the Division 27 dead and 135 wounded, The enemy suffered much greater losses. Among the dead, the Germans had identified the Russian commander of 4th Tank Brigade. Katukov. claiming he had committed suicide. However. Katukov survived the battle and went on to lead 1st Tank Brigade in the nexl battles with the German Panzerwaffe.
    Also on Erickson's Road to Stalingrad, P.215:
    At the same time as he ordered Yeremenko to halt Guderian, Stalin authorized a reinforcement for the Bryansk Front, subordinating the administration of 49th Army from his 'Western reserve', plus the 194th Rifle Division, to Bryansk: in addition, Stalin ordered the air-lifting to the Orel area of the 1st Guards Rifle Corps (5th and 6th Guards Rifle Divisions, 4th and 11th Independent Tank Brigades, 6th Reserve Aviation Group with two fighter regiments, one ground- attackregiment, a light bomber Pe-2 regiment and one Katyusha regiment), all under the command of Major-General D.D. Lelyushenko. This force was meant to secure an exit for the Bryansk Front and to hold the Germans at Orel, for which purpose it was further strengthened with the 5th Parachute Corps, the Tula Military School and the 36th Motor-cycle Regiment. Too late to save Orel, 1st Guards Corps nevertheless did a good job, and none better than Colonel Katukov's 4th Tank Brigade which by 4 October was in position at Mtsensk, with a goodly complement of T-34s, which Katukov knew how to use on the road to Tula.

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