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  • 3 TBr's after-action reports (ending)

    Motor rifle battalion was, as a rule, employed in close cooperation with tanks. Employment of tank-borne infantry was only effective when hostile weapons strength was weak. Otherwise it suffered large losses and couldn’t attain its objectives. MRB was employed with tanks even when the brigade operated in support of a rifle division. In this case the battalion was employed at the point of main effort and secured assembly area after attack. MRB was of special importance for security of tanks when they stayed on the battlefield at night. In all cases the MRB played a positive role and its presence in brigade is effective and necessary. Infantry soldiers with usual training, when they are assigned to the tank brigade, quickly gain expertise in practical actions with tanks.

    Coordination of different arms, command and control.
    There was a marked improvement in coordination in recent operations. Lack of radios on tanks hinders command of tanks and their liaison with infantry and artillery. Foot signalers equipped with rockets and operating in lines of infantry elements were detached by tankers and designated targets to tanks and designates situation of forward elements and gave signals to tank and artillery commanders on their observation posts. Tank support guns, although demanded by our manuals, in most cases were not used. Infantry commanders don’t understand their value and tank commanders don’t insist strongly enough on their assignment. There is a need in aerial observation and adjustment of artillery fire which is currently absent. Artillery abstains from artillery preparation when reconnaissance data are lacking. As a result attack of infantry and tanks is met but unscathed hostile weapons. Therefore the attack should be preceded by artillery fire on probable and expected location of hostile batteries. If it cannot be done for a lack of ammunition than tanks should be accompanied by artillery observers.
    Tank brigade commander or a staff officer should be positioned with the commander of supported rifle division. When radio communications are absent orders to combat elements are transmitted via liaison officers at forward observation and liaison posts.

    Cooperation with air forces.
    Control of air forces is concentrated on the field army level. Coordination and liaison at lower echelons are mostly absent. There was only one case when a liaison from air forces visited the brigade. There is a need to have liaison officers from air units detached to command and observation posts of divisions who would call air support in the course of combat. When our airplanes appear over the battlefield the Germans virtually stop fire except anti-aircraft weapons. Coordination between air and ground units should be organized in such a way that this moment would be used for attack of tanks and infantry. Aerial attack should last 20-30 minutes just like Germans do. Also, a need for calling fighter support. An early receipt of aerial reconnaissance data by rifle divisions and tank brigades is highly desirable.

    Types of tanks suitable for winter operations
    The most effective tank type in winter conditions is T-34. KV have a tendency to suffer gearbox breakdown under conditions of deep (>40 cm) snow cover. T-60 due to high ground pressure cannot be used in winter except early period (frozen ground with little snow cover).

    Reconnaissance is the weakest element in our operations. Reconnaissance elements of the tank brigade are weak and cannot provide necessary information before combat. For a small tank strength tanks couldn’t be assigned to reconnaissance elements and they don’t have their own organic armor. Quality of reconnaissance of supported rifle divisions is usually poor. Deficient reconnaissance results in large tank losses and failures in combat.
    Usual ways of employment of the reconnaissance company:
    a) Scouting by small groups, usually on junctures between divisions
    b) Reconnaissance of approach routes to the frontline
    c) Observation on flanks and junctures
    d) Reconnaissance and observation on the battlefield
    e) Capture of prisoners

    General and miscellaneous conclusions
    Assembly area after attack can be designated in hostile rear. In this case it must be secured by own infantry, for example Orekhovatka raid in January 1942.
    In settlements tank with tank-borne infantry should be employed only by small groups (2-3 tanks). Tanks in settlements advance behind infantry by bounds and give support by fire from behind cover (houses).
    There were frequent cases when tanks were dispersed by small groups (2-3) as a result of vulnerability of own infantry to hostile tank attacks and desire to have tanks everywhere. That contradicted to a principle of tanks employment in mass.
    Frequently tanks stayed on the battlefield day and night around the clock. Normal maintenance and replenishment of ammunition and fuel was made impossible. That resulted in increase of technical losses rate. In future this practice must be discontinued and time should be provided for tank maintenance and rest.
    The practice of tanks staying motionless on the battlefield for long time or frontal attacks should be avoided for they lead to high losses.
    Necessity to avoid repeated attacks after the first attack failed should be instilled to commanders of all ranks.
    Hesitating actions of infantry frequently left tanks exposed on the battlefield. Hostile anti-tank weapons took advantage of this and inflicted heavy losses.
    Lack of regularity in receipt of equipment, lack of spare parts, repair means and evacuation vehicles (“Voroshilovets” tractors) – all that hindered evacuation and repair of damaged tanks.
    The practice of towing immobilized tanks from the battlefield by other tanks increased strain on engine and transmission and led to further technical losses.
    Replacements were sometimes sent to action on the next day after they arrived. Commanders and enlisted men didn’t know each other which led to excessive casualties.
    The quality of replacements training is still deficient and technical skills are inadequate. More emphasis should be placed in replacement units on technique of attack, entrenching and gunnery.

    Comment


    • And also a report of the 3rd Tank Brigade's commander colonel Novikov on a tactical conference in April 1942 (repeats some points quoted above)
      - breakthrough should be executed on a sufficiently broad front so that hostile forces are pinned down and flanking artillery and mortar fire is eliminated. Flanking fire slows down the tempo of attack and inflicts large losses so that attack bogs down before achieving breakthrough
      - Tanks are divided into echelons. Long-range (penetration) echelon, for example one or two tank battalions with infantry riders, attacks artillery, command posts, communication centers in hostile rear. It is supported by long-range artillery and ground-attack airplanes. Close support echelon (for instance, 2nd or 3rd battalion of the tank brigade) is assigned to support infantry at the point of the main effort. Light tanks are best initially kept in reserve and committed for pursuit of security of flanks of the breakthrough.
      - before attack infantry should occupy jump-off positions as close as possible to hostile lines. Only in this case a gap between attack of tanks and infantry could be eliminated, otherwise tanks will be isolated. It is profitable to use nighttime for approach to hostile positions.
      - arrangement of signals for call and transfer of artillery fire is essential. Experience demonstrated that signals by color rockets, provided there is a good observation of the battlefield and radio communications with artillery, are quite practical. These signals should be known to all artillery an infantry commanders and observers
      - Experience demonstrated that when tanks are positioned behind infantry they lose mobility and surprise of actions. In this case infantry sees tanks as “idlers” and doesn’t give them any assistance. Tanks should be situated behind infantry only when there are some obstacles impassible for tanks. After obstacles are surpassed tanks advance to the first line.
      - noise made by movement of tanks to jump-off positions should be masked by artillery fire at pre-arranged time
      - most suitable formations of tanks – wedge or line. Combat reconnaissance (2-3 tanks) probes hostile anti-tank weapons and minefields
      - batteries and anti-tank guns should be attacked frontally but only by pincer attack or from a flank. Ideally, they should be engaged by concentrated fire and attacked from a flank or rear. Dugouts and pillboxes should be destroyed by cannon fire or hand grenades. Ramming should be used against guns hidden in buildings.
      - Tank riding infantry is efficient in raids on in actions on open flank. Tank riders are best assigned from the motor rifle battalion and armed with submachine guns. No more than 10 men per tanks, otherwise the tank would suffer from increased load. Tank riders should be trained in mounting and dismounting tanks and combined actions with tanks.
      - Settlements are best attacked from several directions: by smaller force from the front and by bulk of forces from flank or rear to block retreat routes and approach of reserves

      Comment


      • Artyom, a "tactical conference" in April 1942 is interesting. Do you know who sponsored or conducted the conference? One of the new tank corps on the eve of Kharkov? Army or Front level? Or training conference held by General Staff reps?
        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

        Comment


        • Sure, see the translation below:
          16 March 1942
          To commanders of tank brigades

          1. In order to assimilate experience obtained by tank brigades during the great patriotic war with German invaders tactical conferences are to be held between 15 March and 15 April in all tank brigades
          2. The conferences are held during period of rest of tank brigades.
          3. The conferences should be attended by commanders of tanks, commanders of platoons, companies and battalions, battalion adjutants and staff officers of brigades.
          4. The conferences are to hear and discuss reports of brigade commanders on results of combat operation of respective brigades from the beginning of the war.
          5. Planned time of the conferences is to be reported to chiefs of armored forces of armies and myself.
          6. Deputy army commanders [commanders of armored forces] should provide for participation of their representatives and, whenever possible, commanders of other tank brigades.
          7. Proceedings of the conferences are to be processed and submitted to me for study and generalization on the front level.

          Deputy commander of the South Front (for armored forces)
          lieutenant general of tank troops Shtevnev

          Military commissar of the armored directorate of the South Front
          senior battalion commissar Valuyev
          https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=450265885

          I can't say was it a local imitative or followed some instructions from above. In any case I don't see any conference stuff other than from the South Front

          Comment


          • Thanks for the cover sheet. I noticed in the upper left hand corner of the report cover page the report was forwarded to the Armored Forces Directorate. The separate directorates for the various arms and services had already established their own channel for the collection and study of their war experience, before the War Experience department on the Red Army General Staff published their guidelines to subordinate commanders for the collection, study and reporting of war experiences in November of 1942.

            Interestingly, 3rd TB was a separate tank brigade within the Southern Front and was temporarily in the Stavka Reserve, and was called upon to shore up the disaster on the southern flank--specifically the 38th Army's left flank where a Group Sherstiuk was reinforced by a composite tank corps (3rd, 64th, and 114th TB's) in an attempt to link up with those units which were breaking out of the encirclement. According to the Soviet General Staff study on the Kharkov Operation, "However, the enemy's renewed offensive on a wide front on the morning of 24 May did not permit forces of Group 'South' to regroup in timely fashion and begin to execute their intended operation."
            Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 29 May 20, 02:51.
            Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

            Comment


            • Some more stuff relating to study of war experience:

              1. Instruction for study of and use of war experience in staffs of armored forces of fronts (armies) and staffs of armored formations (30 January 1943)
              https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=454967207

              2. Informational report No.1 of the staff of tank and mechanized forces of the Red Army (28.02.1943) - German tank tactics, German assault guns, data on new "Tiger" tank, new anti-tank weapons
              https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=454967157

              3. Questionnaire of the GABTU for armored sections of the fronts (not later than May 1942)
              https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=455120234
              Since the last doc is poorly readable I give a brief translation below

              1. Most vulnerable sites of KV and T-34 tanks and proposals on their improvement
              2. Which hostile guns penetrate KV and T-34 armor and from what distance.
              3. Is a fan needed in a tank turret?
              4. Effectiveness of fire extinguishers.
              5. [Unreadable]
              6. How armored cars are employed and under what conditions and season?
              7. Effectiveness of flame tanks and their desirable proportion.
              8. Most typical damage of malfunctions of flame-throwers.
              9. Do Germans employ new types of tanks other than Pz-II, III, IV?
              10. Is an anti-aircraft machine gun mount needed? Is the present mount satisfactory?

              Radios
              1. Is the present number of radios sufficient?
              2. How much the tank intercom is used? If an internal telephone is needed?
              3. How much tank radios are used?

              Electric equipment
              1. Is the starter reliable? Typical malfunctions of the starter.
              2. Problems with electric equipment of T-34, T-60, KV?
              3. How much the turret traverse motor is used? Its reliability. Is a traverse motor needed on a T-34?
              4....

              Recharging device
              1. If the 3-kW recharging station is sufficient for a tank brigade?
              2. If an accessories kit is sufficient?

              Armament
              1. Reliability of tank guns.
              2. Most typical malfunctions of various tank guns types.
              3. Most and least needed spare parts.
              4. Most frequent combat damage of tank guns.
              5. How much fire from a moving tank is employed and against what targets? Its effectiveness.
              6. If the present muzzle velocity is sufficient?
              7. Desired proportion of HE and armor-piercing ammunition.
              8. Effectiveness of various types of gun rounds.
              9. Is ammunition stowage is convenient?

              Tank machine guns
              1. Machine guns malfunctions.
              2. Least reliable details.

              Optical devices
              1. Typical problems and malfunctions of sights and observation devices.
              2. How many where there cases of night shooting and was a night illumination of sights used?
              3. Was the lateral deflection mechanism used?
              4. Convenience of use and reliability of mirror and prism observation devices.

              Supply of spare parts
              1. How shipment of aggregates and engines to repair bases is organized.
              2. How repaired aggregates are returned from repair bases and how they are used.
              3. Employment of company spare parts kits, accounting and expenditure of spare parts.
              4. Which parts can be excluded from the spare parts kit.
              5. Execution of the order on storage of spare parts kits at front and army depots.
              6. How requests of spare parts are calculated?

              Additional proposals

              Comment


              • Artyom good material. It will take a while to digest the documents. I'm going to compare the Armored forces instructions to the General Staff instruction on study and use of war experience published in November 1942.
                Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                Comment


                • From experience of combat operations of the 146 Tank Brigade, January-August 1942

                  Winter period.
                  Tanks in offensive
                  Two echelon formation (heavy tanks in the first, medium in the second echelon) proved to be the most efficient. Small tanks (T-60) were not used in attack due to deep snow, but were employed in defense of villages and ambushes.
                  Liaison with supporting arms by liaison officers detached from the brigade. For better coordination tank battalions’ staffs were placed near or together with staffs of rifle regiments.
                  Signaling by rockets, although stipulated in orders, was not practically used by infantry. Cooperation with artillery was wanting for a lack of radios and wire equipment. Foot and mounted messengers were not adequate in combat conditions. Organic sappers and attached sappers battalions cleared lanes in minefields and marked routs of tanks to the point of contact with hostile troops. Tanks were accompanied by sappers mounted on tanks. This method didn’t prove effective since tank-mounted sappers became casualties before reaching hostile positions.
                  Tank bogged down in snow were extricated by reserve groups of sappers specially designated for this tasks.
                  Communications in combat – by radio. T-60 proved effective as liaison vehicle.
                  Jump-off positions were chosen at 800-2000 meters from hostile lines. Tanks deployed at jump-off positions using lanes cleared of snow which greatly improved speed of movement. T-34 demonstrated best performance in snow. KV tanks are far slower in deep snow and tend to stuck in ravines. Cogwheels of first and reverse gear of KV frequently broke down under large strain when moving in deep snow.
                  Peasant sleds towed by tanks were occasionally employed for transporting infantry. They didn’t prove their worth, since tanks with sleds couldn’t move in reverse gear.
                  T-60 positioned in ambushed were used for consolidation. For example, a company of T-60 defended Popkovo and repulsed all attack on that village.
                  Supply was mostly performed by animal transport. In some cases ammunition and fuel was transported on men-towed sleds, since deep ravines were not passable even for animal transport. Hot meals were delivered in the same manner in thermos bottles. When not available they were substituted with cans made coldproof with fabric and hay or straw.
                  Ammunition and fuel was transported to battalion supply points or directly to tanks using animal transport battalions, impressed civil horses or unauthorized horse transport elements of the brigade. As a conclusion, horse transport elements attached to the tank brigade are essential for operations in winter under conditions of deep snow.
                  Evacuation of disabled tanks was mostly performed by other tanks. Available ST-2 type tractors are not capable of towing KV or T-34 tanks.
                  Repair and recovery was performed in the nearest villages. When a tank couldn’t be evacuated it was repaired on the spot.

                  Defense
                  In winter tanks were employed in ambushes, as a rule, near roads, at edges of villages or forests. Approach routes to tank positions were cleared by specially designated engineer elements. Tanks were camouflaged with white paint. In ambushes tanks were carefully camouflaged, crews kept sentry 24/7. A rifle section was attached for security of tanks. For heating tanks engines were run periodically (up to 10 times per day in cold weather). Supply of fuel, ammunition and food by animal transport. T-34 and Mk-III tanks were positioned where hostile tank attacks seem probable. Attack (reserve) groups were composed of T-34 and MK-III tanks, which possessed the best mobility in snow. Roads were cleared of snow along expected routes of counterattacks. Routes were laid in places protected from hostile ground observation.

                  Conclusion.
                  Experience demonstrated that in winter tanks can be employed both in attack and defense. T-34 proved to have the best technical performance. KV tanks can be employed in flat terrain without ravines and gullies. T-60 due to is limited mobility under snow thickness larger than 40 cm shouldn’t be employed in attack. It was possible to employ this tank for consolidation.
                  Development of roads from rear areas to forward lines is of decisive importance both in attack and defense. The following methods of improvement of winter mobility deserve attention: clearing roads along possible direction of counterattacks and later roads from one flank to another. Direction of attack are marked by marks unobserved by the enemy. Ravines with snow thicker than 1 meter are cleared of snow or bypassed.
                  In the period of snowdrifts and autumn and spring mud tank units should have animal transport and engineer elements attached.
                  It is necessary to chose places of bivouacs in settlements; vehicles should be sheltered in barns and other buildings.
                  Carrying tank-riding infantry under conditions of thick snow when jump-off positions are far away (1 km or further) from attack objective didn’t prove effective. Tank riders should be employed only when tanks can make a surprising penetration at high speed into hostile fortified positions.
                  https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=454916828
                  Last edited by Artyom_A; 01 Jun 20, 06:41.

                  Comment


                  • And the second part
                    Employment of tanks in summer period.
                    Combat missions were assigned to each individual tank crew at jump-off positions.
                    Four-echelon formation proved to be the most efficient. First echelon composed of heavy tanks, second and third – medium, fourth – light tanks. Also, combat reconnaissance composed of light tanks probed hostile weapons, minefields and avenues of approach.
                    Coordination with other arms via liaison officers, telephone and radio. For liaison with artillery an adjutant of a tank battalion with radio was detached to the CP of artillery unit.
                    Communications in combat – by radio or T-60 tanks
                    Attack from the march proved efficient. Tank reached the line of deployment, which was 300-400 meters from hostile positions, during artillery bombardment. Second and third echelons carried tank riders.
                    Supply of ammunition, fuel and rations – by motor transport.
                    Evacuation of disabled tanks – by other tanks. T-60 were occasionally employed for evacuation of wounded.
                    Brigade operations group was collocated with supported rifle unit for better coordination.

                    Conclusions
                    1. All types of tanks can be employed in the summer period. However, direction of attack should be chosen in the terrain devoid of brooks and deep ravines.
                    2. In summer tanks can be deployed for attack without halt on jump-off positions.
                    3. Sappers riding on tanks proved effective.
                    4. Reconnaissance of hostile weapons performed by T-60 tanks (groups of 2-3 tanks) didn’t prove its worth. A platoon of T-34 tanks placed 600-700 in front of the combat tank echelon is the most effective means of reconnaissance.
                    5. In defense tanks should be employed in ambushes, dug in and camouflaged. T-60 shouldn’t be employed where hostile tank attacks are expected. They are batter employed to repulse infantry attacks.
                    In defense of forests tanks should be positioned at forest glades.
                    At least one artillery battery directly attached to a tank unit is necessary for support of tanks.
                    Last edited by Artyom_A; 01 Jun 20, 06:49.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                      And the second part
                      Artyom, you have really elevated the discussion on Soviet tank tactics with your posts!!! I think the readers can see how valuable the Red Army archival material is in understanding the fight on the eastern front--an Archive that has been unaccessible to historians, especially western historians, for years.

                      The document has excellent tactical maps in the middle of the documents. For those not familiar with Red/Soviet graphics, red is for friendly forces & blue is the enemy (the opposite in the American army).

                      Artyom, do you think those are coffee mug stains on the report?
                      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                      Comment


                      • Soviets didn't drank coffee. Should be tea.
                        There are no Nazis in Ukraine. Idiots

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Emtos View Post
                          Soviets didn't drank coffee. Should be tea.
                          You're right, chai!
                          Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                          Comment


                          • I think, it is worth to give some context of the report quoted above and explain what the 146 Brigade was doing exactly in 1942, since those operations are mostly forgotten. Also, the account is illustrative of RA's combat techniques of that period

                            During early months of 1942 the 146 Tank Brigade was a part of the 16 Army near the city of Sukhinichi in Central Russia. Suckhinichi, while not a big city, was a rail and road hub of utmost importance. After retreating from Sukhinichi German still held a salient south of the city, in particular high ground at the tip of the salient which hindered transportation through the city (see the scheme). The most active period for the 146 TBr was March 1942. After receiving tank reinforcement the brigade had 5 KVs, 14 T-34, 2 Mk-III, 27 T-60, and 1 T-30 tanks. Its operations during March consisted of a series of successive assaults on fortified villages in the Sukhinichi salient. The brief timeline is as follows:
                            5 March – a group of tanks (10 tanks) detached to 19 Rifle Brigade attacked the villages of Skachek and Bryn’. Tanks entered Skachek, but abandoned the village since own infantry was stopped
                            7 March – the attack was repeated and Skackek was captured. Further attacks on Bryn’ were repulsed. On the same day the remaining heavy and medium tanks attacked the village of
                            Popkovo together with the 12 Guards Rifle Division. Popkova was mostly captured, yet fighting for the village church and the school continues until the next day.

                            9 March – attack on Yermolovo and Pechenkino together with 328 Rifle Division. Both villages were taken.
                            10 March – attack on Sosnovka with 328 RD. The village was taken
                            11 March – attack on Kazar’ together with 328 RD. A very bitter fighting continues until morning of 12 March
                            15 March – attack on Bortnoye with 328 RD, the village was taken
                            17 March – motor battalion attacked a school south of Bortnoye. Attack failed.
                            19 March – motor battalion with 3 tanks attacked Vyshilovo south of Bortnoye. Attack failed.
                            22 March – 4 tanks and the motor rifle battalion in cooperation with 328 RD attacked Seredeya. Tanks couldn’t reach the village due to deep snow. Finally, the village is captured by night infantry attack.
                            25 March – 6 tanks with infantry of the 328 Division attacked and captured Zhivodovka.
                            The end of active period, tanks withdrawn for rest and refit.

                            See the map with almost all those villages here
                            https://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/508229/map


                            As a result of these operations German troops were pushed from open ground to a wooded area south of Sukhinichi. Apparently unhappy with these positions they retreated to the base of the salient along the Zhizdra River by early April. Due to limited tank strength, deep snow hindering movements and numerous mines the brigade played only a minor role in pursuit.

                            Limited as these gains were, they were still more than achieved on other parts of the front and eliminated direct threat to the vital transportation hub of Sukhinichi. Noteworthy things:
                            - the operation was a series of set-piece limited attacks, one following another, and each limited to one or at most two closely situated villages. No exploitation or pursuit. Reasons: limited strength, limited mobility off roads, physical exhaustion and losses suffered in each assault. This operational technique was painfully slow and costly but arguably it was the only possible in this situation
                            - each attack included only a small number of heavy and medium tanks. As report quoted above explains light tanks were almost exclusively used to support infantry against possible hostile attacks.
                            - the brigade role was pivotal and out of any proportion to a limited number of tanks employed. Without any doubt these attacks would never made any progress without tank support.
                            - the brigade was a hard-hitting unit, probably one of the best in the Red Army on that moment.

                            Comment


                            • Related episode - Zhukov's address of 26 March 1942:
                              328 Rifle Division with support of the 146 Tank Brigade diligently carried out its tasks in the course of the operation beginning from 5 March and deserved respect and gratitude by its brilliant actions. I express my gratitude to the division command and commanders of units and ask to convey thanks to all soldiers, commanders and political workers.
                              I am sure that further action of the division would achieve as much success in defeat of the enemy and wish it to win a Guards title in short time*.

                              Zhukov [CG of the West Front]
                              Khokhlov [political officer of the West Front]
                              https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=260975955

                              This address was disseminated to all armies and units of the West Front as a sort of morale encouragement.
                              *328 Division became 31 Guards Division in May 1942.

                              Comment


                              • And a rather brief account from the memoir of Rokossovsky [commander of the 16 Army in March 1942]
                                ...Soon we received the directive of the front which prescribed to the 16 Army: "While firmly defending Sukhinichi, continue wearing down hostile forces denying to the enemy an opportunity to consolidate and build his strength,
                                This order of the front was unrealistic...How was it possible to "wear down and weaken" when ratio of forces was not in our favor all the more so in harsh winter conditions?
                                ...
                                We didn't have enough forces for wide-scale offensive operations. It was decided to confine ourselves to limited tasks. The most lucrative objectives were settlements occupied by the enemy. The loss of each locality was painful for the enemy since it opened a breach in his defense system.
                                German troops took into account the nature of terrain and winter conditions. All villages and hamlets on the forward line were converted into strongpoints...
                                This system of hostile defense suggested an idea to attack successively one locality after another, concentrating, as far as it was possible, requisite forces, while not stretching too thin other sectors.
                                ...
                                Troops of the army were gradually grinding hostile defense, shattering it in one sector after another. They were not capable of making a breakthrough of the front, but instead systematically pushed it to the south, capturing one locality after another and pressed the Germans to the Zhizdra River.
                                ...
                                There was a large village of Popkovo near Sukhinichi. It was situated on a high ground which dominated the area. That was the place from which the Germans shelled the city.
                                We needed to take Popkovo. According to our intelligence it was occupied by up to 2 thousand of Germans with tanks and assault guns.
                                ....
                                Planned attack on a large hostile resistance center Popkovo started in late February[*]. The main blow was delivered by the 146 Tank Brigade which had several dozens of T-34s and KVs.
                                ...
                                The attack was well prepared. All troop movements were executed in nighttime for purpose of concealment.
                                The battle started with artillery preparation. Tank carrying tank riders advanced along lanes cleared in deep snow at night, they were followed by infantry supported by artillery fire. Guns positioned for direct fire at night provided good assistance in destroying German weapons and tanks in the course of the combat.
                                The enemy offered stout resistance, but in the second half of the day Popkovo was taken. Fighting at the hill with a stone church and cemetery continued continued for some time, finally it was ended here as well.
                                More then seven hundred enemy soldiers were left on the battlefield, as well as many weapons and various materiel. Most important of all the enemy lost an key point of his defense.
                                *Obviously a mistake in the memoir. "Early March" would be more accurate.

                                Since Rokossovsky was wounded on 8 March, his account is interrupted somewhat abruptly.
                                It should be born in mind that this Rokossovsky's memoir doesn't tells a full story, possibly for a reason of censorship. In reality his objectives were far more ambitious than simple "wearing down" of opposing hostile forces. Neither his forces were as weak as he asserts. Still this account gives a vivid and mostly accurate description of the technique of successive set-piece attacks.
                                Last edited by Artyom_A; 03 Jun 20, 09:21.

                                Comment

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