Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by Dpalme01, Jul 20, 2004.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Some Moscow recollections from 'War Diary'.

    Kutukov’s brigade was equipped with new T-34 tanks and some of the older KV and BT type armour. Katukov and his brigade were confident of hampering the Germans second attempt to capture Moscow on November 16.

    The enemy was tearing towards Yazvishche village in order to cut off the Volokolamsk highway. The defence their consisted of a battalion of frontier guards, commanded by Samoilenko, two tanks in ambush, Afonin’s and Leshchishin’s and two batteries of the anti-aircraft division, commanded by Afanesenko.

    Samoilenko reported that German tanks were approaching, and the reply came, ‘Use the ambush and smash them’.

    The Hitlerites tried to surround Samoilenko’s battalion. Four of their tanks crawled along the highway, but were set on fire by Afonin and Leshchishin. But behind them came six more tanks and a line of Hitlerite infantry amounting to a battalion.

    The frontier guards could not withstand this enemy pressure and made a fighting retreat to the village of Gryadi. Afonin and Leshchishin knocked out two more tanks and, striking the Hitlerite flank, began to crush the infantry. Some Hitlerite’s succeeded in climbing on to Afonin’s tank from the rear and shouted, ‘Russians, surrender!’

    Having seen this, Leshchishin used his machine-gun to clean the enemy off his friends’ tank. At the same time, Afonin saw that the Hitlerites were similarly crawling on top of Leshchishin’s tank and knocked them off with his machine-gun.

    Our brigade was given two armoured trains, which bombarded enemy concentrations near Lystsovo. At this same time, about 30 enemy bombers attacked the station at Chismen and damaged the track.

    Although no bombs hit the armoured trains, their gun platforms were put at a slant, so that the muzzles pointed into the ground. We allocated repair squads to help, but then the enemy intensified his attack. The battalion of frontier guards again went into action and our two ant-aircraft batteries fired at the enemy tanks and infantry, succeeding in beating off the attack. Soon the railway track was repaired and the armoured trains were once more fit for battle.
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Iliev describes a successful attack by the Red Cavalry of the Germans as they approach Moscow.
    At 3 o’clock all the detachments were to concentrate in a wood south of Lake Velisto, and all the commanders were to report their decisions (Possibly positions) within an hour. My voice was drowned by the roar of enemy aircraft, flying low over the wood. ‘They’re looking for us’, observed Revin.

    ‘We’ve really got them worried if they’ve put so many aircraft up’, I heard Dovator say from behind me, as he jumped off his horse, adjusted his sword and pistol and came up to us.

    The intelligence officer reported that an enemy motorised column of infantry and artillery was moving along the road from Nikulin and would cross our path. ‘What does this mean? Is it a planned regrouping or is it . . . ? No, if they are coming after us, they would be in battle deployment by now.’ We instantly decided to destroy them.

    I give the order to move off. Liaison officers hurry off to their units. Our movements slows down, the units tense.

    We stop, with the road in front of us. We can hear the sound of motors, and the German commands. I look at my watch, whose luminous hands show that it is twenty minutes to midnight. The attack signal.

    Grenades explode. The babel of mixed rifle and machine-gun fire. The roar of motors. Like a thousand black ghosts tearing out of the night, we rush out sowing terror and death.

    It’s soon over. The cavalry dissolve once more in the thick mist of the wood. All that can be heard is the dull clink of harnesses, the excited breathing of horses and the occasional Cossack voice.
  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Zashibalov recalls the role his troops played in the defence of Moscow after his unit was formed and speedily trained as a unit of ‘Peoples reinforcement’ – a form of citizens army recruited in Moscow and rushed into the front.
    The enemy, having broken through the front at Kaluga area, began to mount an offensive against Tarusa and Serpukhov. The 49th Army HQ did not have enough reserves to defend these towns and an operational ‘gateway’ 30-40 km wide began to form, undefended either by troops or defence obstacles.

    Luckily for us, the German-fascist command was so drunk with success that it did not always carry out a proper tactical or operational reconnaissance, and therefore it had no idea of the favourable situation which was developing in this sector.

    The Military Council of the Western Army Group decided that the 60th Division should be immediately transferred to the 49th Army, and by forced marches, the division moved to the Tarusa area, where its units occupied the 30-40 km sector of the defence line and busied themselves with filling the breach that was forming, so as to bar the enemy’s route to Sepukhov.

    With such a length to be defended, our density on the ground was not, of course, very great. We had one soldier for every 100-150 metres of front, and one heavy machine-gun for every three kilometres.
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Sticht, an Observer in Heinkel He III’s was involved in the first bombing attack on Moscow and remembers the raid.
    It is a Sunday afternoon – the crews are in their tents and the sun is blazing down on the Russian soil. We will be going in from the airfield at Minsk-Dubinskaya. Nobody moves from his tent – heat, dust and mosquitoes are our constant companions.

    Our truck driver, Feldwebel Panizzi and Unteroffizier Methner have been standing at the same water pump for three hours, waiting in vain for a few precious drops. We have no choice but to wait.

    In spite of everything, there is a solemn quiet in our ‘tent city’. The Group Commander, Oberst Leutnant Kaufmann, comes to see the flying crews in the afternoon and tells us that we will most likely be starting another raid today. My crew is sitting pensively in their tent; perhaps one or two of them are thinking of their loved ones and home. There is a request show on the radio, the one link with the front and home.

    Our youngest crew member, Martin Lehner, Unteroffizier and gunner, is writing to his mother in Vienna, telling her he’ll soon be home of leave as the Unteroffizier vom Dienst announces standby III. Now there’s a real commotion in the tents. The crews are getting all their equipment together. Parachutes can be seen, flying suites, helmets, maps, navigation equipment, fur boots, high-altitude breathing apparatus, and pistols strapped to belt buckles for any emergency, particularly in case you get shot down and have to make your way through enemy territory in the dead of night. There’s a more serious look on the men’s faces. I look at the map and plot the flight path.

    Ten minutes later, the UvD announces standby II. We’re off in about half an hour.

    Once our princely meal is over, the Staffelkapitan, Hauptmann Allemdinger returns from the combat position and calls in the crews for a meeting. We get orders – night attack with strong forces on Moscow.

    Heavily loaded, our Heinkel III A1 + AB tears over the runway into the twilight. We fly over the radio beacon on the airfield and head off on a course east. We leave Smolensk behind us. We are flying along the taxiway leading to Moscow. We pass Vyasma. Our target is the large airfield of Moscow and the nearby aircraft factory.

    Our crew is one of the longest standing of the squadron 53 – we’ve done about 200 raids together. Our experience at the front has given us a certain sense of security. Nevertheless, it’s a mixture of extreme alertness; conscientiousness and a large amount of soldierly luck that lets you carry out your mission.

    The sun is setting. We’ve crossed the front – below us enemy territory. Our cannons and machine-gun positions are manned; weapons are primed and ready to fire.

    We’ve passed Gschazk. Before us, shrouded in darkness, Moscow. The glare of searchlights pieces our eyes.

    The altimeter reads 1,200 metres. There is little in the way of flak. The first flashes of searchlights on the run-in to Moscow – their startled fingers grope the night sky.

    The searchlights have yet to pick us out. More and more flash out, the closer we get to Moscow. I can see the runway below, threading through the landscape of Moscow. I can count 50 to 100 searchlights. Pray that all goes well. Still no sound from the flak. We were told at the stand-by meeting to expect little in the way of flak. Nevertheless, the massive amount of searchlights is beginning to disturb me. We are climbing cautiously at 2 metres a second. Look! What’s that ahead? Another machine is caught in the brilliant glare of the searchlight. In a flash, several other searchlights pounce on the aircraft. I can see through the telescope it’s a Heinkel III – it’s one of ours. He’s making frantic attempts to escape the clutches of the searchlight – in vain.

    Our strategy is to pull the stick in and climb as fast as possible. Five more machines are caught in the innumerable swarm of searchlights. Meanwhile we have climbed to 1,700 metres and have reached the outskirts of Moscow.

    A searchlight grazes us, then loses us, but it’s soon back again – and this time it catches us. We quickly put on our safety goggles and start to turn. Ordinary manoeuvres cannot shake it off. The glare of more than 30 searchlights fix on us. The flak fires from every barrel. Shells go off all around us.

    There’s a huge bang, then a flash of fire. Our machine is shaking – we’ve been hit. I prime the bombs and pull the emergency cord. There’s a giant column of fire below us. We turn off towards the south west. The altitude gauge shows that we’re descending at 10 metres per second. The flight meter climbs to 500kph. The engines are screaming. ‘Is anyone wounded?’ Everybody report’s their OK.

    Meanwhile we’ve dived down to 300 metres and we’re roaring through the Metropolis of the east. The searchlights have lost us; we’ve lost the environs of Moscow behind and heading on a southerly course. Five minutes later we turn off and head course west. Sluggishly, our valiant wounded bird makes its way. There’s hardly a word spoken and everyone is thinking the same – will the engines hold out?

    They’re still turning flat out and are not dropping many revs. The pilot checks the control panel every second. We breathe a sigh of relief when we reach the front. After five hours in the air, we land, battle-worn but intact, in Minsk-Dubinskaya.
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Windisch watched the battle unfold from around Moscow from the cover of a Schutzstellung (Protected position).
    It was afternoon and we were standing beside the Magistrale, protected by the woods, observing the enemy, who were circling around in tanks on the other side. A battery of 8.8cm Flak had been put in position and was firing on the Russian tanks. Our grenadiers from the regiment ‘Deutschland’ had broken through into the enemy’s network of positions north of the Magistrale and were pushing on further, in a bitter battle with huge losses.

    Meanwhile the ‘firework display’ began. I had never seen anything quite like it. We were standing on the hill, with three generals beside us, watching anxiously the movements of our own troops and those of the enemy.

    Suddenly I heard the unmistakable noise of Russian rocket shells, the so called ‘Stalin’s Organs’. They were definitely meant for us, for everybody disappeared suddenly into cover holes. Since I hadn’t dug one myself, I couldn’t disappear without leaving a trace. So I quickly threw myself behind a tree and watched the terrifying beautiful display of rocket shells crashing down. I will never forget the sinister black, red and violet flare from the shells.

    The whole area, the air all around was full of the explosions of shells crashing down. Suddenly behind us all hell broke loose. I hadn’t a clue what was going on there, and ran to my friend Mix, the Ic (third General Staff Officer) of the Division, who lay under cover, not far from me. He laughed and answered, ‘That’s our multiple rocket launchers’.

    You should have heard this terrible ear-shattering scream. It mixed in with the bangs of the Russian shells hitting, there was a whistling, a drone, a hissing and roaring from the firing and hits of the artillery, from machine-guns, mortars, and multiple rocket launchers. The effect of the latter on the enemy must have been devastating. The battles lasted all through the night. The effects of our launchers had been a decisive influence on the battle.
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Streng was with a SS unit when they attacked Moscow on 2nd December 1941.
    We could only advance step by step towards our final destination – Moscow. Fierce cold all around us – and all this with poor accommodation and insufficient food for fighting troops. The supply problems were getting worse all the time. These are the main causes for our crisis – without these problems, we would have been nearer our destination.

    Nevertheless, the troops forced through, advance after advance, with superhuman effort, and fought themselves through all kinds of adversity with incredible patience.

    Many of the soldiers had managed to steal Russian overcoats and fur hats and were hardly recognisable as German soldiers anymore. All our winter clothing had been infested with lice and was impossible to wear. To keep the engines running, we had to light fires underneath the stumps. Some of the fuel was frozen, the engine oil had thickened and we had no glysanthine to prevent the drinking water from freezing.

    The already dwindling fighting strength of the units was depleted further as more and more men were picked off by the cold. The troops could not take on much more. The innumerable losses would completely destroy the fighting strength of the company.

    Half-frozen German troops were fighting on in the merciless cold, which sometimes sank to 45 degrees below freezing, in their normal uniforms, their normal leather boots, no gloves, no overshoes, no scarves, facing the merciless winter.

    With the Russian prisoners, things couldn’t be more different. They wore the best winter clothing you could imagine. Their winter uniforms were thickly lined with padding. They had felt boots, fur gloves and fur hats. To stop themselves from freezing the German soldiers took the precious clothing from the dead Russians.

    Over the precincts of Moscow hung giant flash rockets like the stars of Venus, and tight packs of searchlight beams hurtled around the sky, went out again, then appeared, ghost-like, clawing the air again at other places, criss-crossing in giant packs of beams. Between them, the flashing pearl garlands of heavy Russian Flak. The light trails from shells sent long threads of dark red and orange into the night sky.

    Moscow roared, the loud thunder piercing the December night. Heavy German bomber squadrons attacked Moscow through the night from the air, bringing death and confusion to the centre of the enemy’s power base. Along the contours of the distant hills, you could see the flash from the exploding rows of bombs, until half an hour later, the night became silent.

    Moscow had opened the prisons and had armed the released prisoners. In the factories, workers’ brigades had been assembled. Women and children were put in to dig trenches. Fresh Siberian troops were on their way. The streets of Moscow were filled with the Red Army, marching to the front.
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Some 'Moskau' shots.

    At the Soviet front: Verschlammte road in the area of Moscow.

    German field position in the winterwith Korjakowa, 66 km south west of Moscow.

    Soviet Union, just before Moscow, first aid of a wounded casualty in the background burning houses of a Moscow suburb.

    Russia - with Targowi Sawod, advance of our troops by the winter landscape before Moscow.

    German tank attack on of the Soviets' who are defending the village.
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Armed with heavy shovels, a hastily assembled work force of Moscow women and elderly men gouge a huge tank trap out of the earth to halt German Panzers advancing on the Russian capital. In the feverish effort to save the city, more than 100,000 citizens labored from mid-October until late November digging ditches and building other obstructions. When completed, the ditches extended more than 100 miles.

  9. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    A Map of the Offensive.
  10. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    The plight of the German infantry says it all , the women digging the tank trap are better prepared for the cold than the average German Landser.

    The Germans said "we were stopped by the mud" , the problems evisted before Barbarossa and became active from 22nd June 41 - it only took the circumstances to be brought about .
    Typhoon never really stood a major chance of success it was alamein in Russia - that last gamble in the hope of success .
    Taking Moscow would not have won the war in the east - it might at best have made Stalin press harder behind the scenes for a settlement with Germany - but Hitler was not a pragmatic individual , asking exhausted and ill equipted men to do the impossible.

    On the other hand lets not take credit from the common Russian soldier who when the Germans were on the ropes they threw them back. and did so with authority.
  11. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    The Germans said "we were stopped by the mud"...
    ... while at the same time it was bright sunshine for the Soviets, right?
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    It is quite interesing reading the recollections I typed up. Obviously they were from interviews after the war and it's interesting how they still refer to each other and how they still put spin on their failings and make the must of their success's.

  13. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Za Rodinu
    ... while at the same time it was bright sunshine for the Soviets, right?
    That is certainly true , the Soviets knew and were prepared for what was coming and Zhukov could see the state of the attackers , when the troops arrived from the east he knew Moscow was not going to fall.
  14. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    From what I have read, one of the key elements for the invasion of Russia was to gain control of the oilfields.

    Before the invasion most of the German oil was imported from Russia. Why buy it when you can take it for free.

    The problem was the Russians denied most facilities to the germans by their scorched earth policy of taking east what could be moved or destroying what could not.

    The oil filed at baku were the only one taken and it was rendered almost unuseable.

    It took so long to repair that the Germans never really obtained any oil before having to retreat.

    Russian Tactics and having a vast land to retreat East within, in order to build up resources and manpower, was a clever ploy.

    The T34 when engaged for the first time with Short barrelled 75mm MkIV could only be defeated at short ranges of 400-600 metres whereas the T34 could stand off at 1200 metres and destroy a Mk IV.

    The Germans, I feel, were just not equipped for the longer term fight and demanded new tanks with better armour and 75mm Long barreled or 88mm Cannons.

    I know a man whose father was a Major in the 14th Panzer Division who's Division was decimated and failed to exist after November 1942 after the Russian T34's surrounded them North West of Stalingrad.

    He was taken prisoner and for three days and nights was transported east by train and during the journey said that he saw nothing but trains loaded with T34's travelling West. He knew then that the war was lost.

  15. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    From what I have read, one of the key elements for the invasion of Russia was to gain control of the oilfields.

    Then you must know something better than Adolf did. Here is his Directive 21. no reference to oil, Baku nor Timbuktu.

    I. General Intention
    The bulk of the Russian Army stationed in western Russia will be destroyed by daring operations led by deeply penetrating armored spearheads. Russian forces still capable of giving battle will be prevented from withdrawing into the depths of Russia.
    The enemy will then be energetically pursued and a line will be reached from which the Russian Air Force can no longer attack German territory. The final objective of the operation is to erect a barrier against Asiatic Russia on the general line Volga-Archangel.
    The last surviving industrial area of Russia in the Urals can then, if necessary, be eliminated by the Luftwaffe.
    In the course of these operations the Russian Baltic Fleet will quickly lose its bases and will then no longer be capable of action.
    The effective operation of the Russian Air Force is to be prevented from the beginning of the attack by powerful blows.


    III. Conduct of Operations

    The Army Group operating South of the Pripet Marshes will also seek, in a concentric operation with strong forces on either flank, to destroy all Russian forces west of the Dnieper in the Ukraine. The main attack will be carried out from the Lublin area in the general direction of Kiev, while forces in Romania will carry out a wide enclosing movement across the lower Pruth. It will be the task of the Romanian Army to hold down Russian forces in the intervening area.
    When the battles north and south of the Pripet Marshes are ended the pursuit of the enemy will have the following aims:
    In the South the early capture of the Donets Basin, important for war industry.

    See? The objective was much more limited, nobody talked of any oil at all.

    The oil filed at baku were the only one taken and it was rendered almost unuseable.

    It took so long to repair that the Germans never really obtained any oil before having to retreat.

    And no, the Germans didn't get anywhere near to Baku.
  16. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Then I must have dreamed it.:)

  17. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    But see Directive no. 45. By this time He was already directing individual divisions!

    2. After the destruction of enemy forces south of the Don, the most important task of Army Group A will be to occupy the ; entire eastern coastline of the Black Sea, thereby eliminating the Black Sea ports and the enemy Black Sea fleet.

    For this purpose the formations of 11th Army already designated (Romanian Mountain Corps) will be brought across the Kerch Straits as soon as the advance of the main body of Army Group A becomes effective, and will then push southeast along the Black Sea coastal road.

    A further force composed of all remaining mountain and light infantry divisions will force a passage of the Kuban, and occupy the high ground around Maykop and Armavir.

    In the further advance of this force, reinforced at a suitable time by mountain units, towards and across the western part of the Caucasus, all practical passes are to be used, so that the Black Sea coast may be occupied in conjunction with 11th Army.

    3. At the same time a force composed chiefly of fast-moving formations will give flank cover in the east and capture the Grozny area. Detachments will block the military road between Osetia and Grozny, if possible at the top of the passes.

    Thereafter the Baku area will be occupied by a thrust along the Caspian coast.

    The Army Group may expect the subsequent arrival of the Italian Alpine Corps.

    These operations by Army Group A will be known by the cover name "Edelweiss".
    Didn't really go that way but...
  18. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Fall Blue in 1942 was to cut Volga traffic and secure the oil fields - beyond the resources which the Germans could muster and supply.

    With the "defeat" of Russia in 1941 Hitler probably assumed that he would be able to draw on Russian oil as part of the surrender terms , he would not have been leaving oil out of any surrender terms / demands that he would have been making.

    The late start in 42 , the problems of supply , the horse drawn element and infantry mostly on foot should again have made alarm bells ring.

    Much of the problems in 41 and certainly in 42 arose because Hitler could not be controlled - his "multiple identity syndrome" of 42 would confirm this.
  19. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    German Reliance on Capture of Russian Oil Fields

    So, despite their best efforts,Germany faced severe fuel shortages in World War 2 and it is believed by the experts that the presence of the huge oil fields in Russia is one of the reasons, Hitler chose to attack Russia. (Note: there were other reasons, and, eventually, Germany would no doubt have attacked Russia anyway).

    To Germany's dismay, only a small amount of oil was ever obtained from the occupied Russian oil fields since the Russians used a scorched earth policy as they retreated. As noted earlier, prior to outbreak of World War 2, Russia was supplying Germany with about 4 million barrels of oil per year. As the war proceeded, and Germany sought to recover oil from the occupied Russian oil fields, the amount of oil recovered was about the same - 4 million barrels per year - as the Russians had supplied to Germany prior to the war. As far as the Germans solving their fuel shortage problem, the invasion of Russia came to naught.

    The above is a quote from the following site.

    German Fuel Shortage in World War 2

    Going only from a failing memory I mentioned the wrong oil field being captured.

    It was of course Maikop Oil field on the Black sea that was captured on Sunday 9th August 1942.

    Operation Blue - the Race for Oil

  20. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    The oil fields captured were not held for long and as far as I am aware produced nothing for the Germans.
    In terms of options , Blue was a failure .

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