The Battle of Stalingrad

 

759,560 Soviet Heroes were awarded this medal for the defence of Stalingrad from 22 December 1942.

 

 

J. V. Stalin

 

To the representative of the H.Q. of the Supreme Command, Marshal of Artillery Voronov, to the Commander of the troops of the Don Front, Col.-Gen. Rokossovsky.

I congratulate you and the troops of the Don Front on the successful completion of the annihilation of the enemy forces surrounded at Stalingrad. I thank all the Red Army men, commanders and political workers of the Don Front for their excellent fighting operations.

J. Stalin
Supreme Commander-in-Chief
Moscow
February 2, 1943

 

J. V. Stalin

Order of the Day, No. 95

February 23, 1943

COMRADES, Red Army men and Red Navy men, commanders and political workers, men and women guerillas!

To-day we are celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the formation of the Red Army.

A quarter of a century has passed since the Red Army was created. It was created for struggle against foreign invaders who endeavoured to enslave our country. February 23, 1918, the day when detachments of the Red Army utterly routed the troops of the German invaders near Pskov and Narva, was proclaimed the birthday of the Red Army.

In 1918-21, in stubborn struggle against foreign invaders, the Red Army defended the honour, freedom and independence of our Soviet Motherland, defended the right of the peoples of our country to build their life in the way the great Lenin had taught.

During two decades the Red Army protected the peaceful constructive labour of the Soviet people. The peoples of our country never forgot the encroachments of foreign invaders on our land, and spared no effort to strengthen the might of the Red Army, supplied it with first-class war equipment, and lovingly reared cadres of Soviet warriors.

The Red Army is an army of defence of peace and friendship among the peoples of all countries. It was created not for the conquest of foreign countries, but for the defence of the frontiers of the Soviet country. The Red Army has always respected the rights and independence of all peoples.

But in June, 1941, Hitlerite Germany treacherously attacked our country, in ruthless and base violation of the Treaty of Non-Aggression, and the Red Army found itself compelled to march to defend its Motherland against the German invaders and to oust them from our country. Since that time the Red Army has become an army of life-and-death struggle against the Hitlerite troops, an army of avengers of the outrages and humiliation inflicted by the German-fascist blackguards on our brothers and sisters in the occupied districts of our country.

The Red Army meets the twenty-fifth anniversary of its existence at a decisive moment in the patriotic war against Hitlerite Germany and her vassals—the Italians, Hungarians, Rumanians, Finns.

For twenty months the Red Army has been waging an heroic struggle, without parallel in history, against the invasion of the German-fascist hordes. In view of the absence of a second front in Europe, the Red Army alone bears the whole burden of the war. Nevertheless, the Red Army has not only held its own against the onslaught of the German-fascist hordes, but has become in the course of the war the terror of the fascist armies.

In the hard battles of the summer and autumn of 1942, the Red Army barred the way to the fascist beasts. Our people will remember for all time the heroic defence of Sevastopol and Odessa, the stubborn battles before Moscow and in the foothills of the Caucasus, in the Rzhev area and before Leningrad, the battle at the walls of Stalingrad, the greatest in the history of war. In these great battles our gallant Red Army men, commanders and political workers covered the standards of the Red Army with undying glory and laid the firm foundation for victory over the German-fascist armies.

Three months ago the troops of the Red Army began their offensive at the approaches to Stalingrad. Since then the initiative in military operations has remained in our hands and the pace and striking power of the offensive operations of the Red Army have not weakened. To-day, in hard winter conditions, the Red Army is advancing over a front of 1,500 kilometres (950 miles) and is achieving successes practically everywhere. In the north, near Leningrad, on the central front, at the approaches to Kharkov, in the Donets Basin, at Rostov, on the shores of the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, the Red Army is striking blow after blow at the Hitlerite troops. In three months the Red Army has liberated from the enemy the territory of the Voronezh and Stalingrad regions, the Checheno-Ingush, North Ossetian, Kabardino-Balkarian and Kalmyk Autonomous Republics, the Stavropol and Krasnodar Territories, the Cherkess (Circassian), Karachaisu and Adygeisu Autonomous Regions and almost the whole of the Rostov, Kharkov and Kursk Regions.

The mass expulsion of the enemy from the Soviet country has begun.

What changes have taken place during these three months? Whence these serious reverses of the Germans? What are the causes of these reverses?

The balance of forces on the Soviet-German front has changed. The fact is that fascist Germany is becoming more and more exhausted and weaker while the Soviet Union is deploying its reserves more and more and becoming ever stronger. Time is working against fascist Germany.

Hitlerite Germany, which forces the war industry of Europe to work for her, until recently enjoyed superiority in equipment over the Soviet Union, above all in tanks and aircraft. It was here that she had the advantage. But in twenty months of war the situation has changed. Thanks to the self-sacrificing labour of working men and women, engineers and technicians of the war industry of the U.S.S.R., the production of tanks, planes and guns has increased in the course of the war. During this period on the Soviet-German front the enemy has suffered enormous losses in war material, particularly in tanks, planes and guns. In three months of the Red Army’s offensive in the winter of 1942-43 alone, the Germans lost over 7,000 tanks, 4,000 planes, 17,000 guns and large quantities of other arms.

Of course, the Germans will try to make good these losses, but this will not be so easy to do, as the enemy will require no little time to make up for these enormous losses in war material. And time does not wait.

When Hitlerite Germany began the war against the U.S.S.R. she enjoyed numerical superiority in troops already mobilized and ready for battle as compared with the Red Army. It was here that she had the advantage. In twenty months, however, the situation has changed in this sphere also. In defensive and offensive battles, the Red Army, since the beginning of the war, has put out of action about 9,000,000 German-fascist officers and men, of whom no less than 4,000,000 were killed on the battlefield. The Rumanian, Italian and Hungarian armies hurled by Hitler on to the Soviet-German front have been completely routed. In the last three months alone the Red Army has routed 112 enemy divisions, killing more than 700,000 men and taking over 300,000 prisoners.

The German Command will certainly make every effort to make good these tremendous losses. But, first, the weakness of the German army is the shortage of man-power reserves, and consequently it is not known from what sources these losses will be replaced. Secondly, even supposing that, by hook or by crook, the Germans are able to scrape together the necessary number of men, it will require no little time to assemble and train them. And time does not wait.

The Hitlerite army entered the war against the Soviet Union with almost two years’ experience of conducting large-scale military operations in Europe, applying the most modern means of warfare. The Red Army, in the initial stages of the war, naturally had not yet had, and could not have had, such military experience. It was here that the German-fascist army had the advantage. In twenty months, however, the situation has changed in this sphere. In the course of the war the Red Army has become a seasoned army. It has learned to smite the enemy for certain, taking into account both his weak and strong points, as is demanded by modern military science. Hundreds of thousands, millions of Red Army men have become masters of their weapons—rifles, sabres, machine-guns, artillery, mortars, tanks, aircraft, and sappers’ equipment. Tens of thousands of Red Army commanders have mastered the art of commanding troops. They have learned to combine personal daring and courage with skill in directing their troops on the battlefield, having discarded foolish and harmful linear tactics and having firmly adopted the tactics of manœuvre.

It cannot be considered an accident that the Red Army Command not only liberates Soviet soil from the enemy but does not let the enemy leave our soil alive, carrying out such important operations as the encirclement and annihilation of enemy armies which can well serve as examples of military art. This is undoubtedly a sign of the maturity of our commanders.

There can be no doubt that only the correct strategy of the Red Army Command, and the flexible tactics of our commanders who execute it, could have resulted in such an outstanding fact as the encirclement and annihilation at Stalingrad of an enormous picked army of Germans, numbering 330,000 men.

In this respect, things are far from well with the Germans. Their strategy is defective because, as a general rule, it under-estimates the strength and possibilities of the enemy and over-estimates its own forces. Their tactics are hackneyed, for they try to make events at the front fit in with this or that article of the regulations. The Germans are accurate and precise in their operations when the situation permits them to act as required by the regulations. That is where their strength lies. They become helpless when the situation becomes complicated and ceases to “correspond” to this or that article of the regulations, but calls for the adoption of an independent decision not provided for in the regulations. It is here that their main weakness lies.

Such are the causes which determined the defeat of the German troops and the successes of the Red Army during the past three months. It does not follow from this, however, that the Hitlerite army is done for and that it now only remains for the Red Army to pursue it to the western. frontiers of our country. To think so would be to indulge in unwise and harmful self-delusion. To think so would be to over-estimate our own strength, to under-estimate the strength of the enemy and to adopt an adventurist course. The enemy has suffered defeat, but he is not yet vanquished. The German-fascist army is now going through a crisis as a result of the blows received from the Red Army, but this does not mean that it cannot recover. The struggle against the German invaders is not yet ended—it is as yet only developing and flaring up. It would be stupid to suppose that the Germans will give up even a kilometre of our soil without fighting.

The Red Army has before it a grim struggle against a perfidious, cruel and still strong enemy. This struggle will require time, sacrifices, exertion of our forces and the mobilization of all our potentialities. We have begun the liberation of the Soviet Ukraine from German oppression, but millions of Ukrainians still languish under the yoke of the German enslavers. The German invaders and their vassals still lord it in Byelorussia, Lithuania, Latvia, Esthonia, in Moldavia, in the Crimea, in Karelia. The enemy armies have been dealt powerful blows, but the enemy has not yet been vanquished. The German invaders are resisting furiously, are launching counter-attacks, are striving to cling to their defence lines, and may embark on fresh adventures. That is why there can be no place for complacency, carelessness or conceit in our ranks.

The whole Soviet people rejoices in the Red Army’s victories. But the Red Army men, commanders and political workers should firmly remember the precepts of our teacher Lenin. “The first thing is not to be carried away by victory and not to get conceited; the second thing is to consolidate one’s victory; the third thing is to finish off the enemy.”

In the name of the liberation of our country from the hated enemy, in the name of final victory over the German-fascist invaders—I order:

(1) Indefatigably to perfect military training and to strengthen discipline, order and organization throughout the Red Army and Navy.

(2) To deal stronger blows against the enemy troops, to pursue the enemy indefatigably and persistently, without allowing him to consolidate himself on defence lines. To give him no respite by day or night, to cut his communications, to surround his troops and annihilate them if they refuse to lay down their arms.

(3) To fan brighter the flames of guerilla warfare in the rear of the enemy, to destroy the enemy’s communications, to blow up railway bridges, to frustrate the transport of enemy troops and the supply of arms and ammunition, to blow up and set fire to army stores, to attack enemy garrisons, to prevent the retreating enemy from burning down our villages and towns, to help the advancing Red Army heart and soul and by all possible means.

In this lies the guarantee of our victory.

Comrades, Red Army men and Red Navy men, commanders and political workers, men and women guerillas!

On behalf of the Soviet Government and our Bolshevik Party, I greet you and congratulate you on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Red Army.

Long live our great Motherland!

Long live our glorious Red Army, our valiant Navy, our brave men and women guerillas!

Long live the Party of Bolsheviks, the inspirer and organizer of the Red Army’s victories!

Death to the German invaders!

J. STALIN
Supreme Commander-in-Chief
Moscow

Order of the Day, No. 195

May 1, 1943

COMRADES, Red Army and Red Navy men, commanders and political workers, men and women guerillas, working men and women, men and women peasants, people engaged in intellectual work! Brothers and sisters who have temporarily fallen under the yoke of the German oppressors!

In the name of the Soviet Government and of our Bolshevik Party I greet and congratulate you on the occasion of the First of May.

The peoples of our country meet May the First in the stem days of the Patriotic War. They have entrusted their destiny to the Red Army, and their hopes have not been misplaced. The Soviet warriors have stood up self-sacrificingly in defence of their Motherland, and for nearly two years already have been defending the honour and independence of the peoples of the Soviet Union.

During the winter campaign of 1942-43 the Red Army inflicted grave defeats on the Hitlerite troops, annihilated an enormous amount of the enemy’s man-power and equipment, surrounded and annihilated two enemy armies at Stalingrad, took prisoner over 300,000 enemy men and officers and liberated hundreds of Soviet towns and thousands of villages from the German yoke.

The winter campaign demonstrated that the offensive power of the Red Army has grown. Our troops not only hurled the Germans out of territory which the enemy had seized in the summer of 1942, but occupied a number of towns and districts which had been in the enemy’s hands for about a year and a half. It proved beyond German strength to avert the Red Army’s offensive.

Even for its counter-offensive in a narrow sector of the front in the Kharkov area, the Hitlerite command found itself compelled to transfer more than thirty fresh divisions from Western Europe. The Germans calculated on surrounding the Soviet troops in the Kharkov area and on arranging a “German Stalingrad” for our troops. However, the attempt of the Hitlerite command to take revenge for Stalingrad has collapsed.

Simultaneously, the victorious troops of our Allies routed the Italo-German troops in the area of Libya and Tripolitania, cleared these areas of the enemy, and now continue to batter them in the area of Tunisia, while the valiant Anglo-American air forces strike shattering blows at the military and industrial centres of Germany and Italy, foreshadowing the formation of the second front in Europe against the Italo-German fascists.

Thus, for the first time since the beginning of the war, the blow at the enemy from the East, dealt by the Red Army, merged with a blow from the West, dealt by the troops of our Allies, into one joint blow.

All these circumstances taken together have shaken the Hitlerite war machine to its foundations, have changed the course of the world war and created the necessary prerequisites for victory over Hitlerite Germany.

As a result, the enemy was forced to admit a serious aggravation of his position, and raised a hue and cry about a military crisis. True, the enemy tries to disguise his critical situation by clamour about “total” mobilization, but no amount of clamour can do away with the fact that the fascist camp is really going through a grave crisis.

The crisis in the fascist camp finds expression, in the first place, in the fact that the enemy has had openly to renounce his original plan for a “lightning war.” Talk about a lightning war is no longer in vogue in the enemy camp—the vociferous babble about lightning war has given place to sad lamentations about the inevitability of a protracted war. While previously the German-fascist command boasted of the tactics of a lightning offensive, now these tactics have been discarded, and the German-fascists boast no more of how they have conducted or are intending to conduct a lightning offensive, but of how they managed skilfully to slip away from under the flanking blow of the British troops in North Africa, or from encirclement by Soviet troops in the area of Demyansk. The fascist Press is full of boastful reports to the effect that the German troops succeeded in making good their escape from the front and avoiding another Stalingrad in one or another sector of the Eastern front or the Tunisian front. Evidently the Hitlerite strategists have nothing else to boast about.

Secondly, the crisis in the fascist camp finds expression in that the fascists begin to speak more frequently about peace. To judge by reports in the foreign Press, one can conclude that the Germans would like to obtain peace with Britain and the U.S.A. on condition that they draw away from the Soviet Union, or, on the contrary, that they would like to obtain peace with the Soviet Union on condition that it draws away from Britain and the U.S.A. Themselves treacherous to the marrow, the German imperialists have the nerve to apply their own yardstick to the Allies, expecting some one of the Allies to swallow the bait. Obviously, it is not on account of good living that the Germans babble about peace. The babble about peace in the fascist camp only indicates that they are going through a grave crisis. But of what kind of peace can one talk with imperialist bandits from the German-fascist camp, who have flooded Europe with blood and covered it with gallows? Is it not clear that only the Litter routing of the Hitlerite armies and the unconditional surrender of Hitlerite Germany can bring peace to Europe? Is it not because the German-fascists sense the coming catastrophe that they babble about peace?

The German and Italian fascist camp is experiencing a grave crisis and faces catastrophe.

This, of course, does not mean that catastrophe has already come for Hitlerite Germany, No, it does not mean that. Hitlerite Germany and her army have been shaken and are experiencing a crisis, but they have not yet been smashed. It would be naïve to think that the catastrophe will come of itself, will drift in with the tide. Another two or three powerful blows from west and east are needed, such as that dealt to the Hitlerite army in the past five or six months, for the catastrophe to become an accomplished fact for Hitlerite Germany.

For this reason the peoples of the Soviet Union and their Red Army, as well as our Allies and their armies, still face a stern and hard struggle for complete victory over the Hitlerite fiends. This struggle will demand of them great sacrifices, enormous staying power, iron staunchness. They must mobilize all their forces and potentialities to smash the enemy and thus blaze the road to peace.

Comrades! The Soviet people displays the greatest solicitude for its Red Army. It is ready to give all its forces for the further strengthening of the military might of the Soviet country. In less than four months the peoples of the Soviet Union have donated more than seven milliard roubles to the Red Army Fund. This demonstrates once more that the war against the Germans is a truly national war of all the peoples inhabiting the Soviet Union. Without folding their hands, staunchly and courageously facing the hardships caused by the war, workers, collective farmers and intellectuals are working in factories and institutions, on transport, in collective farms and State farms. But the war against the German-fascist invaders demands that the Red Army receives still more guns, tanks, aircraft, machineguns, automatic rifles, mortars, ammunition, equipment, provisions. Hence it is necessary that workers, collective farmers and all Soviet intellectuals work with redoubled energy for the front.

It is necessary that all our people and all institutions in the rear work with the efficiency and precision of clockwork. Let us remember the behest of our great Lenin: “Once war has proved inevitable—everything for the war, and the least slackness and lack of energy must be punished by war-time laws.”

In return for the confidence and solicitude of its people, the Red Army must strike at the enemy still more strongly, exterminate the German invaders without mercy, uninterruptedly drive them out of our Soviet land. In the course of the war the Red Army has acquired rich military experience. Hundreds of thousands of Red Army men have learned to wield their arms to perfection. Many commanders have learned skilfully to direct troops on the field of action. But it would be unwise to rest at that. Red Army men must learn to wield their arms well, commanders must acquire mastery in the conduct of battles. But even this is not enough. In military matters, and especially in modern warfare, one cannot stand still. To stand still in military matters means to lag behind, and, as is known, those who lag behind are beaten. Therefore, the main point now is that the entire Red Army must day in, day out, perfect its combat training, that all commanders and men of the Red Army must study the experience of the war, must learn to fight in such a manner as is needed for the cause of victory.

Comrades, Red Army and Red Navy men, commanders and political workers, men and women guerillas! While greeting and congratulating you on the occasion of the First of May,

I order:—

(1) that all Red Army men—infantrymen, mortar gunners, artillerymen, tankmen, airmen, sappers, signallers, cavalrymen—indefatigably continue to perfect their fighting mastery, to execute precisely the orders of commanders, the requirements of Army regulations and instructions, sacredly to observe discipline, and to maintain organization and order;

(2) that commanders of all units and branches of the service become expert in leading troops, skilfully organize the co-ordination of all arms and direct them in battle; that they study the enemy, improve reconnaissance—the eyes and ears of the army—and remember that without this one cannot beat the enemy for certain; that they raise the efficiency of the work of military headquarters and see that headquarters of Red Army units and formations become exemplary organs for the direction of troops; that they raise the work of the army rear establishments to the level of the requirements of modern warfare, and bear firmly in mind that on the full and timely supply of troops with ammunition, equipment and provisions depends the outcome of combat operations;

(3) that the whole Red Army consolidates and develops the successes of the winter battles, that it does not surrender to the enemy a single inch of our soil, that it be prepared for decisive battles with the German-fascist invaders, displaying in defence the stubbornness and staunchness inherent in soldiers of our army, and in attack, resolution, correct co-ordination of troops and bold manœuvre on the field of action, crowned by the encirclement and annihilation of the enemy;

(4) that men and women guerillas strike powerful blows at enemy rear establishments, communications, military stores, headquarters and factories, destroy the enemy’s lines of communication; that they draw wide strata of the Soviet population in the areas occupied by the enemy into active struggle for liberation, and thus save Soviet citizens from being driven away to German slavery and from extermination by the Hitlerite beasts; that they take merciless revenge on the German invaders for the blood and tears of our wives and children, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters; that they assist the Red Army heart and soul in its struggle with the base Hitlerite enslavers.

Comrades!

The enemy has already felt the weight of the shattering blows of our troops. The time is approaching when the Red Army, together with the armies of our Allies, will break the backbone of the fascist beast.

Long live our glorious Motherland!

Long live our valiant Red Army!

Long live our valiant Navy!

Long live our gallant men and women guerillas!

Death to the German invaders!

(Signed) J. Stalin
Supreme Commander-in-Chief
Marshal of the Soviet Union
Moscow

 

 

STALINGRAD BATTLE 1942-43

(excerpt of the "Great Soviet Encyclopedia")

Battle on the Volga - defense. and nastupat. operation of the South-West., Stalingrad (28 Sept. Don), South-East. (From 28 September. Stalingrad) and Voronezh fronts during the Gr.Homelands. War of 1941-45. Is divided into two periods: the defensive (17 July - 18 Nov. 1942) and offensive (19 Nov. 1942 - 2 February. 1943).

Advantage of the absence of a second front in Europe, the German fascist. command concentrated in summer 1942 on the Soviet-Germ. front of a large force, and decided during the summer offensive to achieve the outcome of the war in their favor. Hitler's directive No 41 on April 5. 1942 called for "completely destroy the remaining are in the Council forces and deny them to the extent possible major military and economical. Centers." Chap. strike was scheduled to put on southern. wing of the Soviet-Germ. Front forces of Army Group "A" and "B" (of approx. 900 thousand., sv. 17 thousand guns and mortars, 1,260 tanks and 1,640 aircraft) in order to capture the oil districts of the Caucasus and the rich p.'s . districts of the Don and Kuban, and communications with Wed East. With the mastery of the Caucasus enemy envisages the involvement in the war against the Soviet Union and Turkey. Achieving these goals German fascist. Command planned to be implemented through successive destruction of the South-West. and South. fronts in the great bend of the Don, the Volga output, master p-tion of Stalingrad and the development of the offensive in the south to capture the Caucasus.

Supreme Command, based on the strategic. of Moscow and the presence of the spring of 1942 a large enemy forces in the center of the Soviet-Germ. front, it is assumed that ch. hit the enemy will cause the direction of Moscow, and in accordance with the allocated power. At the same rate, counting on a second front, planned wide nastupat. operations in a number of ways, including in the south enemy succeeded in May - June 1942 defeat owls. forces in the district of Kharkiv and Crimea and capture strategic. initiative. June 28 German fascist.troops launched an offensive against the weakened after the failure of the Bryansk near Kharkov, South-West. and South. fronts (total 655 including, 740 tanks, 14,200 guns and mortars, St. 1,000 aircraft). The enemy broke through the front and in the middle. July to go to the Don at sites from Voronezh to Kletskaya and from Suvorov to Rostov, threatening Stalingrad and North. Caucasus. Army Group "A", the to-Rui was included 4th tank. Army of Army Group "B", German fascist. command sent to the Caucasus. direction, and the 6th Army - Stalingrad for the lion. flank attack force, the enemy was sure to quickly and easily capture this important strategic. item, as in the way it happened, there were only a small force owls. troops.

In this challenging environment bet to take urgent measures for the defense in the Stalingrad area. From a reserve to the line p. Don and the District of Stalingrad began nomination compound 63 th, 62 th and 64 th Army, united on July 12 in the Stalingrad Front (commanded by Marshal Timoshenko, July 27 Lieutenant-General. In . N. proud). In the Front also included 21 Army and 8th temperature. former army. South-West. Front. Bids Directive of July 12, the problem: a strong defense line along the river. Don from Pavlovsk Kletskaya continue through Kletskaya, Surovikino, academy, Top. Kurmoyarskaya stop the advance of the enemy, and to prevent its release to the Volga and the time to prepare strategic.reserves. Work began on the construction of four defense. boundaries between the Volga and the Don (begun in October. 1941) to build them at the call party. and owls. org-tions daily leave St. Including 180 in Stalingrad was established drug. Militia (over 50 t h), part-cerned later joined the army. Engineering Industry Stalingrad continued to produce military. products.The call of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) the need to increase military. pro-wah said workers Stalingrad labor feats.

July 17-22, advance units of the 62nd and 64th armies were heavy fighting with the enemy on the river. Cheer, and then retreated to the core. line of defense. The enemy's plan was to be to the forces of the two groups to attack the flanks of the owls. forces defending the approaches to the Don, and grab crossed the river, and then quickly break through to Stalingrad. On July 22, the enemy was at Stalingrad 18 divisions (including 250, 7,500 guns and mortars, 740 tanks supported by 1,200 aircraft) to 16 owls. divisions (including 187, 7,900 guns and mortars, 360 tanks supported by 337 aircraft). July 23-25, German fascist. troops launched an offensive against the 62 th and 64 th Army. They managed to break through the defenses of the 62nd Army and deep coverage of its right wing, as well as to press the troops of the 64th Army. Taken by owls. command counterattacks 1st and 4th Tank. armies of the enemy had been detained, but did not reject it. Increased resistance owls. troops fighting to eliminate. heroism, forced the German fascist. command of the narrow strip of the onset of the 6th Army, pulling it to the left of the Don 8th Italian. the army, and on July 30 to remove from Caucasus. direction of the 4th tank. the army, in order to blow from the southwest help of the 6th Army take Stalingrad.

In this situation, August 1. on the south. FAS external defense. bypass to the left of the 64th Army was released from the reserve 57th Army. 31 July 4th it. tank. Army went on the offensive and drove the weakened 51th Army (July 30 in the Stalingrad front), who departed for heaven p. Sal, and then (to August 17.) On the line of lakes south of Stalingrad. Chap.forces of the 4th tank. Army on August 5. reached the district Abganerovo, fertility, which were stopped by the troops of the 64th Army, leads with Don. August 5. of Stalingrad front was isolated Southeast Asian. Front, from August 9. both fronts commander Lieutenant General Regiment. A. Yeremenko. 6th it. Army resumed its offensive in the district of Kalacha and 7-10 August. pushed the troops of the 62nd Army at Dawn. The fighting, which lasted nearly a month, the enemy's plan to capture Stalingrad on the move was thwarted stubborn defense owls. troops.

German fascist. Command decided to take Stalingrad by applying simultaneous attacks 6th and 4th tank. armies on a converging path. Surpassing owls. troops in guns and mortars more than 2 times, 4 times in the tanks and planes in 2 times, the opponent 15-17 August. resumed the offensive along the whole front of the external defense. Bypass, the to-ing moved owls. troops. From 17 to 20 August. the enemy was able to cross the Don area Trehostrovskaya, Vertyachiy, Peskovatka and August 23. on a narrow section to break through to the Volga River in the district of the market, Erzovka. At the same time the enemy planes flew a massive temperature. attack on Stalingrad. To defend the city from the north and northwesttroops were hastily pushed the workers militia and Dep. Troops to-rye supported Volga military. Heroic flotilla. efforts to stop the enemy. Troops of the 63rd and 21st armies inflicted a counterattack in the district of Serafimovich, and the troops of the 1st Guards. the army - in the district of the south Kremenskoy than diverted part of the forces of the 6th it. Army and weakened its impact on Stalingrad. On the south. outskirts of the city troops of the South-East. Front hard off the attack of the 4th it. tank. Army. Only 29 August. the enemy managed to break through the front and out in the borough Gavrilovka, which forced to withdraw 62 th and 64 th Army to 2 September. at ext. Defense. bypass, fierce fighting continued until September 13. The troops of the Stalingrad Front (1st Guard., 24 th and 66 th Army) in September twice assuming the offensive, although to-Roe and had success, but distracted the enemy and eased the situation defenders. Thus., During heavy fighting from 18 August to 12 September, the Soviet forces, and this time thwarted the plan of the enemy and stop him before city fortification ring.

Sept. 12. German fascist. top. Command for again as soon as possible take Stalingrad. To release the forces of the 6th Army at Dawn were nominated room. connection. Owls.Command placed the defense of Stalingrad on the 62nd Army under command. Lieutenant-General. B. Chuikov and the 64th Army under command. Lieutenant-General. Shumilov.September 13. opponent by entering into battle nine divisions, began to assault the city. Turned unparalleled in its persistence and intensity of struggle in the streets, do not interrupt until 2 February. 1943. To 26 September. battles were fought mainly for the center. and south. part of town. DOS. objects for to-rye were hardened. fights were Mamaev Kurgan and Railway Station (the last 13 times from hand to hand). Sept. 27. began fighting for factory towns "Red October" and "Barricade" from October 4. fights turned directly over the z-dy. In the days of the heroic. Stalingrad defense commanders and political workers, city and region. desks. org-tion and Gore. Hands-defense, led by the secretary of AS Chuyanovym his great work advocates mobilized to solve. repel the enemy. In the battles particularly distinguished by the connection command. NF Batiouk (284 I-shooters. Division), C. VF Gorokhov (124th arrow. Brigade), LN Gurteva (308th arrow. Division) V. Zheludev (37th Guards. Arrow. Division), II Ludnikov (138 - I arrow. Division), AI Rodimtseva (13th Guards. arrow. Division), etc. At the same time fighting in Stalingrad owls. troops in October. - Nov. were active steps to the north and south of the city, diverting means. enemy forces. Despite the extremely difficult conditions, the defenders of Stalingrad stood and held positions in the city before moving on to the offensive. Within 4 months of fighting owls. troops exhausted and bled the choicest German fascist. troops, to-rye lost up to 700 thousand soldiers and officers, St. 1,000 tanks, St. 2,000 guns and mortars, and St. 1,400 aircraft. 22 enemy divisions were involved in the grueling long fights in the district of Stalingrad, and 31 divisions and one brigade were forced to cover the flanks of the group. Operational position German fascist. troops in Stalingrad was extremely unfortunate, since both flanks of the advancing group deeply covered owls. troops, to-rye held a bridgehead on the right bank of the Don in the p-tries Kletskaya, Novogrigorevskoy and Serafimovich. Troops of the South-East. fixed on the front of the output mezhduozernyh defile south of Stalingrad. All this created a favorable concentration striking forces for a counteroffensive. In commemoration of the heroic. exploit the defenders of Stalingrad December 22. 1942 established the medal "For the defense of Stalingrad" (it was awarded St. 707 thousand participants C. b.), And later the city was awarded the title Hero City.

Owls. command correctly assess the situation and already in September. 1942 began preparations for a counter-offensive on the southern. wing of the Soviet-Germ. Front. In the district of Stalingrad were sent representatives Bet: Deputy. Top. Chief of the gene. Army Georgy Zhukov, early. General Staff Lieutenant General Regiment. Vasilevsky and artillery commander of the Red Army General-regiment. Artillery HH Ravens (later they participated in the manual preparation and conduct counter-offensive). On the basis of their contributions and other data at headquarters was identified as a strategic counter-offensive plan. nastupat. operations of the three fronts. In October. Rate together with the commanders of the fronts and armies had been developed, and in November. approved plan of operation "Uranus" to encircle and destroy the enemy attack force in the district of Stalingrad. At the same time the bet in a range of activities to prepare a counter-offensive: the creation and promotion of large reserves, replenishment forces personnel and military equipment, the construction of railroad. and cars. roads, etc. In total, district coming offensive to October 1. on 20 November. was sent from the reserve: 1 tank. Army, 3 tank., 1 mechanized. and 2 cavalry. Corps, the Air 4, 10 shooters. divisions, six shooters. brigades, four tank. Brigade, 1 tank. Regiment and approx. 20 no. regiments.

Strategic plan. operation is as follows: South-West. Front was the problem cause Ch. hit with a base southwest Serafimovicha defeated the third room. Army and, developing the offensive on Kalach on third day to connect with the troops of the Stalingrad Front, sediment countered from district Sarpinsky lakes in northwestern in the direction of the Soviet. At the same time South-West. Front was part of the forces to attack the south and southwest, and the Stalingrad front - in the southwest to create ext. encirclement. Don Front was given the task to surround and destroy the enemy in a small bend of the Don, thus promoting South-West. edge in meeting core. problem, and then work with the other fronts to begin destroying the enemy, surrounded at Stalingrad.

Owls. troops go on the offensive with a substantially equal to those of the enemy force (owls. Troops 1000 including, 13,541 guns and mortars, 894 tanks, 1,115 aircraft, the troops of the enemy: 1011 including, 10,290 guns and mortars, 675 tanks, 1,216 aircraft). However, the Owls. Through skillful command of core concentration. power (especially tanks and artillery) has managed to create a means. (Even overwhelming) superiority in areas Ch. shock fronts and armies (for example, in breakthrough areas 5th tank. and 21 armies of the South-West. edge in people - in 2.7-3 times, artillery - 3-5 times in the tanks - the absolute ).

The onset of the South-West. (Commanded by Lieutenant General Regiment. N. P. Vatutin) and rights. Don Wing (Commander Lieutenant-General. Rokossovsky) fronts began the morning of 19 November. after a powerful artillery barrage (about 3500 guns on three plots with a total length of 28 km). Already in the 1st day, the troops of the 5th tank. and 21st armies crushed the enemy broke through the tactical. defense zone third room. Army, and advanced connection tank. corps came to the operational depth, moving at 20-35 km. Enemy attempts to strike counterattacks failed. Owls. troops, developing the offensive, 23 November. mastered the roll. In the district of Raspopinskoy was surrounded by two room. housing, to-rye surrendered Nov. 23. The troops of the 65th Army of the Don front, overcoming stubborn resistance, to 23 November. cut off the enemy escape route to the west of a small bend of the Don. 20 November. the offensive forces of the Stalingrad front, and in the day broke through the enemy's defenses. Nov. 23. troops of the 4th tank. Case South-West. united front with the troops of the 4th mechanized. Case of the Stalingrad front in the district of the Soviet, completing the encirclement of DOS. forces of the 6th and 4th tank. it. armies. In the encirclement were 22 divisions and 160 fin. a total of 330 units, including about the same time the South-West. and Stalingrad fronts created ext. encirclement, to-ing in heavy fighting to December 1. 1942 has been extended until the turn pp. Curve and Chir, Verhnerubezhny, north Kotel'nikovskii, abundant. Removing ext. encirclement of the internal ranged from 40 to 100 km.

Nov. 24-30. the Don and Stalingrad fronts, leading hardened. battles with the enemy surrounded, cut up all the space in half, holding the enemy territory. 70-80 km from west to east, and 30-40 km from north to south and 12.2 in December. owls. troops continued their offensive to destroy the encircled, but have not achieved significant results. This is due to the fact that the enemy condensed their battle lines, and organized a strong defense on profitable lines, equipped summer 1942 owls. troops, owls. troops suffered so. losses, a large force was allocated to external. encirclement; owls. command at this time miscalculated encircled enemy forces, downplaying its size.

German fascist. command, recovering from a loss caused by the surprise success of such a large owls. forces begin to take steps to release the encircled. Nov. 24. Hitler ordered to hold Stalingrad. Enemy troops operating against ext. encirclement, were at the end of November. merged into the new army group "Don" (commander Field Marshal E. Manstein, to December 12. to 30 divisions), to the paradise was reinforced compounds transferred from France and other parts of the Soviet-Germ. front, including with North. Caucasus. On Kotelnikovo direction was established strike force (army group "Goth" in the 4-th it. Tank. And 4th room. Armies), to the paradise December 12. went on the offensive with the task of breaking through to Stalingrad, not waiting for others concentrated strike force in the district of Tormosin.

At this time the rate was preparing an operation, "Saturn" for the purpose by the South-West. and lion. Wing Voronezh fronts smash DOS. force of the 8th Italian. Army on Wed Don and lion. wing of the army group "Don" on the river. Cheer and in the district of Tormosin what was to create conditions for the development of the offensive to Rostov and facilitate elimination surrounded in the district of Stalingrad group. In the beginning of the offensive of the enemy in the district of Kotelnikovsky rate changed concept of operations, narrowing its scope (so-called. "Little Saturn"), and decided to defer the operation to destroy the Stalingrad group. Troops of the Stalingrad Front was strengthened 2nd Guard. army against the advancing enemy group (more on December 10. put forward here is the 5th Shock Army).

December 16. the South-West. and Voronezh Fronts launched an attack from the area of ​​the top. Mamon on Morozovsk and Kantemirovka. After three days of Harden. fighting the enemy defense was broken in five areas. The enemy was forced to give up power here, intended to attack on Stalingrad, from district Tormosin. By December 31. the South-West. and Voronezh fronts smashed DOS. force of the 8th Italian. Army and German. Task Force "Hollidt" and completed the rout of the third room. Army. This finally deprived German fascist.Command the opportunity to be surrounded by troops in Stalingrad help from the west and eased the pressure of Kotelnikovo groups. End by clicking on Dec. 12. and possessing an offensive superiority in forces pushed troops 51th Army for r. Aksay, where on December 15. enemy advance was halted. December 19. opponent, setting up a narrow front strong tank.group (300 tanks), resumed the offensive, but was soon stopped by p. Myshkova troops 51th and 2nd Guards. armies. Up to December 23. enemy tried unsuccessfully to break the resistance of owls. forces and break through to the surrounded group, to a swarm had approx. 40 km. As a result of stubborn defense owls. troops in Stalingrad and successful assault on Wed Don German fascist plan. Command deblokady 6th Army was broken. December 24. 2nd Guard. and 51th Army launched an offensive to December 31., finally defeating the 4th room. army and inflicting a heavy defeat of the 4th it. tank. army, drove the enemy back to the district Zimovniki 200 km from Stalingrad. From January 1. 1943 Stalingrad Front was renamed the South and was given the task to develop an attack on Rostov, passing the 62-th, 64-th and 57-th army Don front, to-rum was tasked with the elimination of troops surrounded at Stalingrad.

In the beginning. January. 1943 position surrounded 6th him. Army (to January. approx. 250 t h) deteriorated. Ext. encirclement passed away at a distance of 170-250 km. The entire territory. Occupied surrounded troops, shooting owls. artillery. Stocks of ammunition, fuel and food were running out. Enemy attempts to organize supply 6th Army were thwarted by air temperature solid. blockade imposed by owls. Air Force and Air Defense, on 23 November. 1942 to 2 February. 1943 owls. pilots and gunners shot down in the air and on the ground destroyed 120 enemy fighters and 685 bombers and transport aircraft.

January 8. 1943 owls. Command Command filed 6th him. Army ultimatum to surrender, but it is on the order of Hitler rejected it. January 10. owls. troops launched an offensive (Operation "Ring") and by the end of the day broke through the defenses at several sites to a depth of 6-8 km. Overcoming stubborn enemy resistance, owls. troops continued to advance, squeezing the encirclement, and January 26. dismembered the encircled in 2 parts: the south - to the center. and the northern part of the city - in the district of the tractor and the s-s-so "Barricades". Combat capability it. troops fell sharply, there was a mass surrender. January 31. South was eliminated. group and surrendered commander of the 6th Army feldm. F. Paulus and his staff. 2 February. folded her arms and sat down. group. Were captured, including 91, 5762 seized guns, 1,312 mortars, 1,666 tanks (including padded with August. 1942) and many of the military. property. During C. b. Than 2 killed him. armies were defeated two room. and 1 Italian. Army. Total enemy lost fully 32 divisions and 3 brigades and 16 divisions lost their fighting capacity. Total losses of German fascist. troops and their allies from 19 November. 1942 to 2 February. 1943 amounted St. 800, including, St. 10 thousand guns and mortars, ca. Two thousand tanks and assault guns, and up to 3 thousand aircraft.

C. b. outstanding victory over the Soviet. Armament. Forces. History did not know until this battle of Stalingrad, when encircled and was completely destroyed by such a large group of troops. The defeat at Stalingrad was for the greatest defeat of Nazi Germany, has created a fundamental change in the course of the Great Patriotic. War and the 2nd World War in general, in favor of the anti-Hitler coalition. As a result, C. b. Owls. Army recaptured the strategic. initiative and take her to the complete defeat of the enemy. The victory at Stalingrad allowed Owls. Army to a general attack on the huge front from Leningrad to the Caucasus and the mass expulsion of enemy territory. USSR. Strikes by the Owls. Army, have sharply worsened voen.-political. and economy. Germany's position and shocked fascist. block. Rout room. and Italy. Army initiated vnutripolitich. crisis in these countries. Victory in S. b.raised high int. Soviet authority. Union and had a huge impact on the deployment of national liberation. Occupy movement. countries. Exodus C. b. predetermined and the Anglo-American success. Troops in the North. Africa. The defeat at Stalingrad and the ensuing general offensive owls. Troops brought a deep sense of respect for the owls. among the working people of the UK and the U.S..

C. b. was a triumph owls. mil. art and its complete failure. mil. doctrine. In the fire of C. b. showed a high military. skill owls. military leaders: representatives Bets - Zhukov, Vasilevsky, front commanders Yeremenko, Rokossovsky, Vatutin, army commanders Chuikov, MS Shumilov , Tolbukhin, Malinovsky, Moskalenko, IM Chistyakov, PI Baht IV Galanin, Zhadov, Lelyushenko, C . Krasovskii, Rudenko, TT Khriukin etc. Owls. operational art was enriched by the classical experiments of complete encirclement and destruction of large enemy forces.Were resolved problems break heavily fortified. Front and the continuous development of the offensive in great depth. In C. b. showed a great role owls. artillery as Ch. fire strike force. In honor of her work is celebrated annually in the USSR began a counteroffensive at Stalingrad - 19 November. - As the Day of the Missile Forces and Artillery. Important was the massive use bronetank. and mechanized. troops, so nastupat. operation to take more decisive and agile character. Exceptionally great help ground troops had owls. aviation, to the paradise of the advance made 110 sorties and dropped 75 tons of bombs. Active participation in C. b. took Volga military. Flotilla to-heaven with its fire support troops and heavy duty transport reinforcements carried out, injured and various loads.

In C. b. Hundreds of thousands of owls. soldiers showed unprecedented courage, heroism and high military. skills. A great contribution to the victory made Komsomol and youth of the city. Komsomol organization for the heroism of Stalingrad was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. To commemorate the deeds of heroes of Stalingrad on Mamaev Hill in 1963-67 was built memorial (sculptor EV Vuchetich, architect. Belopol'skii JB).

The victory at Stalingrad was achieved thanks to the superiority of owls. societies. and State. system, a strong friendship between the peoples of the USSR, powerful economical. Soviet base. Army cohesion owls. people around the Communist. party, to the paradise directed all efforts of the people and the army to victory over the enemy, inspired by the heroic warriors.feats. Stalingrad became a symbol of strength, courage and heroism of owls. people in the struggle for honor, freedom and independence of the socialist. Homeland.

Value C. b. was during the war appreciated leaders of the Allied powers and the Anglo-American. historians, however, in the post-war. time in the app. Burj. memoirs and historical.literature of developed a desire to belittle the role of C. b. In certain memoirs of her or did not say or said in passing (A. Bradley, William B. Smith, F. Morgan, etc.), other historians (D. Fuller, A. Bryant, etc.) is considered with . b. as one of the "local" fighting on the Soviet-Germ. front, putting it on par with a much less so. the events of the 2nd World War (as El Alamein, Midway, Ardennes and the like). Former. German fascist. Generals and officers (Manstein Tippelskirch, Buttlar, Melentin, Derr and others) while recognizing Stalingrad turning point in the war, but by analyzing the causes of the accident German fascist. Army does not see them in the military. skill owls. Command and courage owls. troops, and in the secondary private factors (Hitler's mistakes and weakness of the allied forces, climatic. conditions, etc.), to-rye though took place, but did not play a decisive role. Owls. Military-historical. lit-ra provides detailed and objective picture of C. b., showing its true value in the war and revealing the true cause of this is remarkable. Owls win. Army.

Lit.: History of the Gr. Homelands. Soviet war. Union. 1941-1945, v. 2-3, Moscow, 1961 Gr. victory on the Volga, Moscow, 1965, AM Vasilevsky, unforgettable days, "Voen.-ist. g." 1965, No 8, 10, 1966, No 1, 3, KK Rokossovsky, Soldier's Duty , Moscow, 1968 GK Zhukov, Reminiscences and Reflections, M., 1969 N. Voronov, in military service, Moscow, 1963 AI Eremenko, Stalingrad, Moscow, 1961 Chuikov VI, 180 days in the fire fighting, Moscow, 1962 G. Derr, is like Stalingrad, trans. with him., Moscow, 1957 J. Wieder, the Holocaust on the Volga River, trans. with him., Moscow, 1965; Werth A., Russia at War, 1941-1945, trans. from English., M., 1967.

The Battle of Stalingrad. The heroic defense of the Soviet troops July 17 - November 18, 1942

 

 

 Operation Uranus.

The encirclement of the German 6th Army.

Operation Uranus was the codename of the Soviet strategic operation in World War II which led to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army, the Third and Fourth Romanian armies, and portions of the German Fourth Panzer Army. The operation formed part of the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad, and was aimed at destroying German forces in and around Stalingrad. Planning for Operation Uranus had commenced as early as September 1942, and was developed simultaneously with plans to envelop and destroy German Army Group Center and German forces in the Caucasus. The Red Army took advantage of the German army's poor preparation for winter, and its forces in the southern Soviet Union were overstretched, using weaker Romanian, Hungarian, and Italian armies to guard their flanks; the offensives' starting points were established along the section of the front directly opposite Romanian forces. These Axis armies lacked heavy equipment to deal with Soviet armor.

Given the length of the front created by the German summer offensive, aimed at taking the Caucasus oil fields and the city of Stalingrad, German and other Axis forces were forced to guard sectors beyond the length they were meant to occupy. The situation was not improved by the decision to relocate several mechanized divisions from the Soviet Union to Western Europe. Furthermore, units in the area were depleted after months of fighting, especially those which took part in the fighting in Stalingrad. The Germans could only count on the 48th Panzer Corps, which had the strength of a single panzer division, and the 29th Panzergrenadier Division as reserves to bolster their Romanian supporters on the German Sixth Army's flanks. In comparison, the Red Army deployed over one million personnel for the purpose of beginning the offensive in and around Stalingrad. Soviet troop movements were not without problems; to avoid tipping off the Germans, the Soviets tried to conceal their build-up, which was difficult. Commonly, Soviet units arrived late because of logistical frustrations. Operation Uranus was originally postponed from 8 to 17 November, and later moved back to 19 November.

At 07:20 (Moscow time) on 19 November Soviet forces on the northern flank of the Axis forces at Stalingrad began their offensive; forces in the south began on 20 November. Although Romanian units were able to repel the first attacks, by the end of 20 November the Third and Fourth Romanian armies were in headlong retreat, as the Red Army bypassed several German infantry divisions. German mobile reserves were not strong enough to parry the Soviet mechanized spearheads, while the Sixth Army did not react quickly enough to disengage German armored forces in Stalingrad and reorient them to defeat the impending threat. By late 22 November Soviet forces linked up at the town of Kalach, encircling some 290,000 men east of the Don River. Instead of attempting a breakout operation, German dictator Adolf Hitler decided to keep Axis forces in Stalingrad and resupply them by air. In the meantime, Soviet and German commanders began to plan their next movements.

South-west front and Donfront Against the Corps would be launched
towards Sovetsky and on to Kalach, thus to forge the ring of encirclement around
the bulk of the German Army Group B.

 

 

 

 

Red Army engineers at Stalingrad.


The Battle for Stalingrad : The 1943 Soviet General Staff Study : Edited by Louis Rotundo.

 The mission of the main forces of the front was to break through the enemy defense line and,
 jointly with the units of the Southwestern and Don Fronts, to encircle and destroy the German
 6th Army at Stalingrad. In accordance with this, the engineer troops of the Stalingrad Front
 had to solve a number of missions involving a great deal of responsibility.
 (The engineer troops of the Stalingrad Front were commanded by Major General of Engineer
 Troops I. A. Petrov.)

 In the preparatory period (from November 1-19, 1942) their missions were :

 - to make possible an uninterrupted crossing of the troops over the Volga river and of all the
 necessary materials and technical equipment to be used in the offensive operations.

 - to carry out a careful engineering reconnaissance of the forward edge and depths of the
 defenses of the enemy in the area of breakthrough
to organize the areas of the concentration of troops before the crossing, to restore, reinforce, or construct bridges to assist the troops in occupying the areas of concentration after the crossing to prepare the jump-off position for the attack of the rifle troops and artillery; to clear of mines the area before the main line of defense to provide a supply of water for the troops operating in the desert steppes on the right
 bank of the lower Volga.

 In the period of operations (November 20-December 5, 1942) their mission was to make an engineering breach: to determine and prepare passageways for the movement of the combat formations of rifle troops, tanks, and artillery through the main line of defense of the enemy in the period of the attack.

 to accompany the troops into the depths during the attack and to protect reserves crossing the Volga and make possible an uninterrupted flow of supplies for the field forces.

 Ten days preceding the beginning of the offensive the engineers worked out a plan for the necessary work for each army and presented it to the responsible authorities eight days before the beginning of the offensive. The engineer plans for the crossing were worked out much earlier and were turned over to the responsible authorities 20 days before the beginning of the operation.

 The plan for the engineering works of the Front called for the execution of the following basic measures. For crossings the plan fixed the order of movement of the troops armament, ammunition, and food and gave the following for the crossing from the east bank of the Volga River to the west bank.

In accordance with the established order for the movement of troops and their operational assigment, nine crossing sectors were fixed, three of which were basic sectors: for the 64th Army, Lesobaza, Shchuche, for the 57th Army, Tatianka, Svetly and for the 51st Army, Kenennyi Iar, Solodniki.

In view of the broad scope of the approaching crossing work and the difficulties due to the drifting ice and the stoppage of ice floes, the staff of the engineer troops of the Front worked out beforehand a plan for providing all the crossings with floating equipment, and outlined a number of measures for assuring normal conditions of operation.

For this purpose and in accordance with the orders of the Military Soviet of the Front, there were detailed from the system of departmental river organizations of the Volga basin 59 power-driven and nonpower-driven vessels : two icebreakers with a total of 1,600 horsepower; 25 tugboats with a total of 7,130 indicated horsepower; three passenger boats (560 indicated horsepower), one ferryboat (240 indicated horsepower), and 28 nonself propelled vessels with a load capacity of 5,100 tons.

The Department of River Steam Navigation was obliged to provide all the vessels with full crews, supply rigging, tackle, and spare screw propellers and organize repair shops.
The administration of the rear of the Front was to provide these workshops with motor vehicle transport. From the military flotilla we planned to assign a diver station. The supplying of the crews of the vessels and repair shops with all kinds of supplies was to be a function of the military units maintaining the crossings.

In the working out of the plan of organizational measures for the crossings, the most critical problem was supplying the vessels with fuel. The total requirements in fuel for the vessels to be used were estimated at 118 tons per day, or 3,550 tons (178  2-axle tanker cars) per month. The supplying of such a large quantity of fuel with the shortage of motor vehicles transport was very difficult; hence, the staff of the engineertroops of the Front took steps to find fuel in the immediate area. Over a period of several days a careful investigation was made of all sunken tanker vessels and vessels that had run aground. As a result, we discovered four half-submerged barges with supplies of fuel amounting to 6,000 tons.
The vessels were assigned to these improvised "bases" for supplies.

When the ice began to drift, the supplying of the vessels with fuel became very complicated, because some of them failed to accomplish the trip against the current in order to get the fuel.
On some occasions the vessels spent two days on such a trip, through stretches with big ice floes. In view of this, it was necessary to plan to transport the fuel by tank trucks.
We organized several of such columns, but even these could not supply all the fuel needed.

In the way of engineer reconnaissance, the plan called for the following :

To carry out an engineer reconnaissance in the main directions of 62 kilometers of the main line of resistance to an average of 10 kilometers into the depth of the enemy defenses and to organize an this stretch 53 observation points and posts.

To organize 25 engineer-reconnaissance groups and to plan joinly with the cavalry, tanks, and motorized units up to 25 deep raids into the rear of the enemy for the purpose of reconnoitering their rear lines and system of defenses.

For the covering of the areas of concentration of our troops plans were made to provide maine reinforcements for the nine antitank centers, to lay 15 flank and switch mine fields, and to reinforce all of the existing mine fields along the main line of resistance on the sectors where the enemy was most likely to strike.

In mine clearing, the plan provided for the making of 70 passageways in our own mine fields by taking up 12,500 mines of various systems and making 38 passageways through the main line of resistance of the enemy over a total of 22 kilometers of front. For passage of tanks, artillery, aid other heavy loads on the sector of the 57th Army, the plan provided for the construction of five bridges and 12 grade crossings over railway lines.

On the waterless steppes where the troops of the Stalingrad Front operated, the water supply was a very important factor in determining the combat ability of the troops. The left wing and the 28th Army, in particular, were in a serious situation. The minimum water requiremeits of this Army on November 1, 1942, were estimated at about 2,000 cubic meters per day. The amount supplied by all the sources on this same date amounted to about 600 cubic meters. To compensate for this water shortage, the plan provided for
digging 45 new wells in the zone of the 28th and 51st Armies and the restoration of six old sources of water. In addition to this, plans were made for the restoration of wells in the towns and villages captured from the enemy.

On the whole, the plan was drawn up and presented to the troops in due time. It took into account all of the basic problems of providing adequate engineering means both in the preparatory period of the Front operations and in the period of their execution.
The plan gave most consideration to problems of river crossings, since they were he most important in the operations and the most difficult to solve. The preparation of the areas of the crossings and distribution of the crossng equipment at them was carried out in accordance with the missions of the troops.

The Distribution of Forces and Means

For accomplishing this engineering plan in time, we made the proper disposition of the engineer forces of the Front. From the available forces, the following were assigned 38 battalions and three independent companies. For operating the crossings over the Volga, nine battalions (one motorized engineer and eight pontoon), for the work connected with mining/engineering entanglements, eight battalions, for the work in preparation for ice crossing, three engineer battalions, and for defensive work, 14 engineer battalions.

In reserve and for preparation of the personnel for participation in the breakthrough of enemy defenses there were left four battalions and three companies. Of the total number of engineer units of the Front, 15 battalions were assigned directly to the armies for preparatory work.
(The total forces of the front included 30 engineer battalions as well as the divisional engineer battalions. Other sources lists 29 battalions and three brigades.)

At the beginning of the work of the preparatory period, the engineer units, especially the pontoon units, were far from being at full strength, having only 55 percent of the authorized personnel and only 26 percent of their motor vehicle strength. The combat engineer battalions of the divisions were in the same situation, if not worse, as to personnel strength and equipment.

The pontoon bridge units of the Front did not have any of such important engineering equipment as electric welding sets, compressors, wood saws, and diving gear. Without these, the work of lifting, repairing and setting in place the crossing material for the construction of bridges was much slower.

Due to the losses in equipment in the preceding period, the pontoon units did not have sufficient equipment during preparation for the operation. The vessels detailed from the Department of River Transport  Systems arrived very slowly. Before the beginning of the preparatory work for the crossings we received four self-propelled vessels out of the 31 called for in the plan and three nonself-propelled vessels out of the 28 which we were to have in accordance with the plan. It was only after insistent demands of the staff of the engineer troops that we suceeded in obtaining ten self-propelled vessels and one nonself-propelled, after a delay of 12 days. The motor cutters (VMK-70) made available by the Main Administration for Military
Engineers did not arrive until after the crossing had been made.

To speed up the work, the staff of the engineer troops mobilized all crossing cutters, lighters, platforms, rafts, fishing boats, and pleasure boats to be found in the area of the crossing.
Extensive use had to made of all these means for the arrangement of ferry crossings.
In addition to this, we used armored cutlers of the Volga Flotilla for the crossing of people, ammunition, and food.

The conditions under which the engineer units operated, especially at the crossings of the Volga, were exceptionally difficult. In view of the great amount of engineer work, it was not possible to place engineer units in reserve for replacements and training. All the engineer units of the Front had to be furnished replacements in the course of operations, while fighting was in progress, and these consisted of unprepared or poorly prepared personnel, the employment of which sometimes led to serious consequences. Thus, during the period of the operations, in one of the armies, 21.6 percent of the total losses of the engineer units were due to being blown up by their own mines in the demining of a jump-off line for ihe attack.

Work of the Engineer Units in the Preparatory Period of the Operation

Crossings

The crossings of the Volga River of troops, equipment, and ammunition, and food, as well as the evacuation of wounded and equipment to the rear, was done by ferrying on barges, pontoons, cutters, and rowboats. (The places of the crossings are given in the map.) The crossings in the area of Stalingrad for the 62nd Army were under direct enemy bombardment by artillery, mortars, and small arms.

It was impossible to prepare bases and loading points on the left bank opposite the destination points of the vessels. The loading of the vessels was done upstream or downstream, lengthening in this way the trips of the vessels, lessening the turnover, and creating special difficulties at the beginning of the ice floes. Thus, with the approach of the enemy to the banks in the area of the "Krasnyi Oktiabr" and "Barrikadi," the use of moorings opposite the plants became difficult. By day the enemy subjected these moorings to intensive bombardment and to bombing from the air, and at night he kept them under artillery and mortar fire.
The majority of the boats destroyed were knocked out at the wharves while loading and unloading and while moored in the daytime. Hence, from November I the main loading and unloading points and bases for the crossing equipment were moved to Verkhne Akhtuba, making the trip from 1.3 to 25 kilometers longer. Beginning on November 11, the ice floes obstructed the movement of vessels from Akhtuba and the base was transferred to Tumak.

 

From November 11 the crossings of the 62nd Army operated along the Tumak-Krasnyi Oktiabr march route for a distance of 22 kilometers and Tumak-Spartakovka fur a distance of 32 kilometers. Throughout the month the vessels operating in the crossing of this Army were under flank artillery-mortar and machine gun fire of the enemy. Crossing was possible only at night. The supplying of replacements, ammunition, rations, and forage to one of the rifle divisions cut off from the 62nd Army was carried out along the Denezhnoi Voizhka, and in order to reach it, the armored cutters first had to neutralize the enemy fire positions on the banks. Oftentimes the enemy released floating mines from airplanes. These between Kamennyi lar and Solovniki the steamer "Altai" was also sunk by a mine. At the end of November, German aviation units
mined the main stream of the Volga at Glukoi Farmstead, and this prevented the powerful ice breaker tug of the type "Dzerzhinskii" from reaching the Svetlyi lar crossing.

The greatest hindrances to crossing were the hydrometeorological conditions; the most intense period of work coincided with the most unfavorable season of the year. At the beginning of November the level of water on the Volga rose sharply; thus, from November 1-6, the water rose to 50 centimeters and the total rise in the level of the water from the middle of October to November 13 was 196 to 220 centimeters.

Due to the rise in the level of the water, the trestles of the bridges and the moorings were flooded with water. Some of the landing places had to be raised as many as six times (the crossing at Tatianka). Since in the construction of the landing places we had not planned to raise them, this work required a great deal of time and labor. The heavy winds which we had in November made the mooring of vessels difficult and made impossible the trips of the small vessels and boats. The crossing work involved great difficulties and, at places, had to be interrupted.

On November 6-7 in the area of the Front, we had a rainy spell accompanied by winds.
The waves in the river rose to 1.2 meters. On November 7, a big wave overflowed 60 pontoons of a bridge over the Sarpinskii River. The bridge was torn away from its anchorings and was carried by the current to a distance of 500 to 700 meters. This forced us to weaken the crossings of the 64th Army, by taking from them the steamer "Mikhail Vlasov."

The fall ice floes started November 10. The water continued to rise. The strong winds forced the ice first to the left side of the river and then to the right side. Near the banks there were formed unbroken belts of ice having a width of 100-600 meters and moving along slowly with the current. Under these conditions the crossing work was very complicated, because the small vessels were squeezed by the blocks of ice and had to select places that were free of ice. Crossings of small vessels were possible only in the daytime. The steering of the vessels, steamers, and boats required able and well-organized crews.

The solid belts of ice forming near the banks made it difficult for the vessels to approach the landing places. It took some of the vessels whole hours to make their way to the landing places, at times with the help of engineers who arranged passageways by blasting the ice.
For these reasons the time required for a trip was greatly increased; for example, the barge
"Zarnitsa," lowed by the icebreaker "Dzerzhinskii" of 800 horsepower, made the trip in one day with great difficulty. Oftentimes a trip required 30 to 35 hours. There were numerous cases in which small vessels were squeezedbetween the blocks of ice. Such vessels were released by stronger ones, or placed by them in a channel, the ice broken around them by hand and, farther away from the vessels, by means of explosive charges or hand grenades.
The number of damaged vessels increased with the drifting of ice and this required additional work in repairing them.

Despite the unfavorable conditions (the drifting of ice, an insufficient number of crossing vessels of the ice-cutting type, a lack of pontoon units, and shelling by artillery, mortars, and light machine guns on the front of the 62nd Army), the engineer units coped with the task of preparing crossings during the preparatory period. All the units and freight arriving in November were crossed in time. During the period from November 1-20, 1942, the following were crossed :

160,000 men; 430 tanks; 600 guns; 14,000 trucks; and 7,000 tons of ammunition.

By practical work done during this period, we learned that even when there are difficult freezing
conditions the use of standard and small crossing equipment, both towed and that operated by oars, is readily possible. The use of pontoons N2P or small metallic barges towed by motor launches proved to be very effective under these conditions.

Crossing in rowboats played a great part in supplying the 62nd Army and the groups cut off from it. Under the aimed fire of the enemy we crossed reinforcements, ammunition, and food.
Large numbers of boats were used for the evacuation of the wounded. For example, on the night of November 28-29, 360 wounded soldiers were crossed to the left side in boats.

After we determined the direction of the main blows of our units, we organized in these areas
observation posts and obeservation points. We arranged a total of 75 points. On an average on the shock sectors depending upon the importance of the sector and the character of the locality, we had from one to three observation posts on each kilometer of the defense strip of the enemy. During the period when we carried on reconnaissance in force, the network of observation points on these sectors was increased two- or threefold.

The greater part of the observation points were located on the forward edge of our defenses.
Each of them consisted of a heated blindage-dugout and a rifle pit with a cover for observation.
Twenty-three observation points were equipped with optical devices, field glasses, and telescopes borrowed from the artillery men and the mortar crews. To each of these observation points, we assigned a group of three to four engineers under a junior officer or an educated private, whose duty it was to direct the group and keep a record of the observations.
Observation was conducted on a 24-hour basis. The observation data were plotted on a map and presented each day to the unit engineer who summarized the data, put it on a general map, and in his turn gave the information each day to the higher engineer chief.  On the basis of the reconnaissance of the defense depths of the enemy from October l-November 18, we organized and carried out in the main directions 27 engineer reconnaissance raids in the rear of the enemy for the purpose of determining their system, of antilank and antipersonnel obstacles and for finding the nature of the rear lines.On the sector of the 51st Army, this deep reconnaissance was carried out jointly with the cavalrymen and tankmen. In the area north of Stalingrad, we organized seven engineer reconnaissance groups, which went out under cover of night to a distance of five kilometers into the depths of the enemy defenses; camouflaged themselves there in haystacks, straw, or deep shell holes; and during the daylime carried on observation of the engineers and other activities of the enemy. One group consisting of three men, under the command of Sergeant Nikolenko, was within the defenses of the enemy for three days, moved over a front of 11 kilometers, and made a detailed field sketching of all the defense systems on this sector.

 

After the breakthrough of the enemy defenses by our troops and the capture of enemy defense lines, it was possible to study in more detail on the spot the system of engineer obstacles and the placing of the defensive installations and to compare them with the data of the engineer reconnaissance. For example, in the zone of the 57th Army, on the sector intended for the breakthrough, the engineer scouts of one Guards Division ascertained correctly the location of all the minefields of the enemy. With a fair degree of precision, the engineers on another sector ascertained the outline of the minefields over a stretch of 11 kilometers and the defensive installations consisting of barbed-wire entanglements over a stretch of 3 kilometers.

In the area of Khalkhuia, engineer reconnaissance of the 28th Army discovered a total of 37 trenches, 32 fire positions, and 10 mortar positions. In this area, we discovered a total of 45 defense positions out of a total of 102, which we found later in the system of enemy defenses. On this sector, we also discovered the location of three minefields however, after the capture of the area, we found four additional fields not noticed by the scouts.

In the direction of the main blow of the 57th Army, in the area of Tundulovo and Balka- Tarnovaia, engineer reconnaissance obtained precise information as to the location of 35 fire positions for submachine guns, five earth-and-timber pillboxes, 12 mortar positions, and 28 artillery positions (of these five were concealed). We discovered 70 defense installations out of a total of 95 that we found to exist after thecapture of the line. In these directions, at a depth of up to 3 kilometers, engineer reconnaissance correctly pointed out the defenses of the second echelon of the enemy.

Hence, in the main, engineer reconnaissance discovered the system of German-Rumanian defenses in the directions of the main attack, thus facilitating to a considerable extent the success of the breakthrough of the enemy defenses.

Among the weaknesses in the planning of engineer reconnaissance, we should mention the following, the absence of systematic duplication and checking of the reconnaissance data of the groups concerning the location of the minefields in the defense system of the enemy, and the failure to make use of such methods of reconnaissance as photography, and in certain cases, the interrogation of the prisoners.

Covering of the Areas of Concentration

From November 1-15, 1942, the Stalingrad Front carried out a regrouping and concentration of troops. The following arrived for reinforcement of the front: 15 rifle divisions, 11 tank brigades, five motorized rifle and mechanized brigades, and six cavalry regiments.

For concentrating these forces, we assigned 18 areas. In these areas, the engineer units of the front prepared large antitank obstacles. For example, in the zone of the 64th Army, on the sector of the Krasnoarmeisk-Beketovka railroad, we provided over a stretch of 8 kilometers a special fortification consisting of railway cars fastened together one after the other to form a powerful antitank barricade. In combination with minefields and natural obstacles, this barricade provided a reliable cover for the zone between the railroad and the Volga.

In the area of Kuporosnoe we constructed five antitank mine centers and three antitank switch
minefields. In the zone of the 51st Army, in the area of Khargate and Zurgan, we constructed five antitank centers and laid eight switch minefields. On the sector of Malye Derbetyi, Zakharovo, and Khuslin-Ziur, we constructed three antitank centers and nine minefields in combination with barely perceptible obstacles.

In the zone of the front, we prepared minefield coverings for a total of 19 areas of troop concentration. We prepared 13 antitank centers and laid 23 minefields. We laid up to 10,000 mines of various kinds and put out more then 100 packages of barely perceptible obstacles, reinforced by landmines and booby traps. These measures enabled us to carry on concentration work without being disturbed.

For the passage of the troops from the areas of concentration to the jump-off lines, the engineer
units of the Front carried out a great deal of work in the making of passageways through the
engineers' mine obstacles. On the front, in the main directions, we made a total of 73 passageways having a width of 35 to 400 meters; we removed 12,405 mines of various kinds and more than 1,500 bottles with "KS" liquid fuel.

The making of passageways in minefields involved great difficulties. The work was carried out
exclusively at night, oftentimes under the mortar and machine gun fire of the enemy. After rains came freezes. The upper, covering layer of earth was converted into a solid crust which froze to the mine covers. Due to the moisture the body of the "lam-5" swelled and the cotter of the fuse froze to the side walls of the body of the mine, as a result of which the modern simplified fuses oftentimes could not be drawn out. The majority of mines had to be removed with the help of grappling-hooks or crowbars. The destruction of the mines by explosives was possible only during the time of artillery and mortar fire.

 

The passage of the troops to the jump-off lines, through the passageways made, was organized in the following manner. The commanders of the combat zones and the unit engineers received
beforehand sketches of the minefield with the passageways indicated and got acquainted with them on the spot. For this purpose, we detailed as guides members of the engineer units who had a good knowledge of the location of the minefields and the passageways through them.
From the concentration areas of the units to the minefields, we made some cross-country routes of march with signs every 50-100 meters. On these cross-country marches, we placed traffic regulation posts. The passageways themselves were marked out accurately and guarded by sentries.

The extraordinarily difficult conditions of work in the removal of mines required miners with great knowledge, skill, caution, and determination qualities that many of them lacked because of their poor training. The unit engineers in particular were poorly trained. Despite these weak nesses, however, the engineer units of the front were still able, before the beginning of the offensive, to provide the troops the necessary safety measures.

Water Supply for the Troops

The left-flank armies operating in the Kalmuk Steppes encountered serious difficulties securing supplies of water.
(It was due to this fact that German forces did not expect an offensive from this area.)
Some of the units were at a distance of 20 to 25 kilometers from sources of water.
The water in the "ponds" and lakes was salty or brackish and was unfit for drinking, preparing food, or for other purposes. The wells dug by the troops in several places, even to a depth of 8 meters, gave bitter, salt water. Deepbored wells could not be sunk because of the lack of the necessary engineering equipment. Hence, for the units far from a source of water, it was necessary to transport water in barrels and drums carried by horses or camels.

In order to provide a supply of water for the troops, we adopted the following measures :

an inventory and investigation of all the sources of water in the armies was made the army and Front engineer water supply companies began to dig wells in order to increase their supply of water the 28th and 51st Armies, which were in the most unfavorable situation, were reinforced with Front specialists for the equipping of the water supply stations on the routes followed by the units  in order to supply water for the military hospitals, the evacuation points, and the reserve regiments in the service area of the Front, we detailed one engineer water supply company, which, from November 1-20, repaired nine wells and dug 50 new ones. The aforementioned measures, which were carried out by the engineer units of the Front, made it possible to supply the troops with water. The difficulty in carrying out this task was due not so much to the dryness of the region as it was to the fact that the Front was poorly supplied with the means of water supply. The Front and the army engineer water supply companies did not have their full strength of personnel and equipment. Experience has shown that in regard to the field conditions it is extremely important to have special units with equipment for boring deep wells and pumps and filters. It is also necessary to supply the front with standard
reservoirs.

 

Work of the Engineer Troops in the Period of the Operation

Supplying Engineer Installations for the Breakthrough

In order to improve engineer preparation for breaking through the defenses of the enemy, we selected ahead of time some small engineering units to participate in the operation and assigned these to the attacking units. A total of 45 engineer companies were selected.

From the units selected, we organized 85 groups, each consisting of 10 to 25 men, depending upon the character of the mission assigned. The basic missions of these groups were surmounting the engineer-mine entanglements of the main line of enemy defenses and accompanying the attacking units through these entanglements. Each commander heading a group of engineers, jointly with the commander of the small unit attacking, studied beforehand the engineer reconnaissance data of all their combat sector, planned the route of movement, and specified in a concrete manner the missions of the engineer groups as to time and lines.

Early in the morning of November 20, 1942, several hours before our troops started their attack
against the main line of enemy resistance, the engineers, under a reinforcing cover of submachine guns, light machine guns, and heavy machine guns of the rifle units, started clearing the minefields and scattered barbed-wire entanglements of the enemy. In three and one-half hours the engineers had made 64 passageways and drawn out and disarmed more than 5,000 enemy mines. Where they were not able to construct passageways, they planned 37 of the most convenient routes for bypassing the minefields.

The minefields of the enemy consisted of metallic German and Rumanian mines. The basic and most effective means for discovering them was the mine detector. However, mine detectors were used only to a limited extent because of the absence of BAS-60 batteries.
The operation of searching for the mines and rendering them harmless was carried out by probes or grapplers, a method that slowed up the rate of work considerably. The engineer -mine entanglements of the enemy were overcome under exceptionally difficult circumstances and oftentimes under heavy fire.

 

At dawn on November 20, 1942, the troops on the front on the main sectors assumed the offensive. There was a thick fog. Before the beginning of the attack, all the passageways in the minefield and the detours of minefields were designated by markers with inscriptions on them. In the center of each passageway, in narrow trenches having a depth of 1 to 1,5 meters, there were engineer controllers, provided with signal searchlights, stakes with flags, or bunches of straw, by means of which they gave signals upon the approach of the small units.

Despite the excellent manner in which this work was planned, precise coordination between passage of the combat machines through the minefields and the discipline of movement over them was still absent on several sectors. As a result of this, we suffered unnecessary losses in equipment.

Accompanying the attacking troops

After the breakthrough of the enemy defenses, the accompanying of the tanks was entrusted to the army and front engineer units, the rifle troops and artillery, however, were accompanied by regimental and divisional engineers.
(Engineer units were employed to screen the flanks, and later to cover the front of the 51st Army during the defensive phase of the Kotelnikovo operation. Their tasks included building emplacement and the laying of antitank minefields.)
The mission of the accompanying forces consisted of providing a passageway through the minefields of the enemy. For accompanying the tanks, two or three engineers mounted a tank, by external signs, the engineers detected by visual examination the minefields of the enemy.
When they detected a minefield, they signaled the tank to stop by a blow with the butt of their guns upon the armor. They would then demine a passageway, after which the movement continued.

In the planning for accompanying the motor-mechanized troops, the failure to provide the engineer units with transport proved to be a weakness. After passing through the minefields of the enemy, the engineers, in the course of the advance, became separated from the tanks.

The engineers accompanying the artillery and rifle troops moved with their units all the time, carrying out their missions of reconnoitering and removing entanglements, conducting reconnaissance of the rear defense lines, and participating in the blocking of the earth-and-timber pillboxes of the enemy. It was ascertained that the enemy had no defensive installations and entanglements in the rear. We discovered only separate minefields or groups of mines on the approaches to inhabited localities and near bridges.

Securing Crossings

Starting on November 18, crossing operations became more complicated, due to the sudden worsening of the ice situation and accompanied by a drop in the level of the water. The rate of drop of the level of the water on December 20 reached 17.5 centimeters per day, and by the end of December it was 26 centimeters. The ice floes in this ten-day period increased in diameter up to 40 centimeters and in thickness up to 30 to 40 centimeters. By the end of the month, the shoals on the Volga began to affect navigation.

The fall ice floes lasted longer than was predicted. In November and up to the middle of December, the hydrometeorological conditions on the Volga in the area of the front made the construction of even foot crossings impossible and created great difficulties in the operation of ferry crossings. The only foot crossing on the ice was at Astrakhan. This crossing, which had a length of 1,600 meters, started operations beginning on the morning of November 30.

Starting November 18, the drop in the level of the water of the Volga caused shoals at the landing places, a condition that was felt acutely toward the end of the month. In approaching the landing places, the vessels and barges were disabled temporarily by running on shoals and it required a great deal of work to get them off the shoals. The movement on the Volga of vessels with a large draft was limited. The abrupt drop in the level of the water required at first a lowering of the landing places, and after this due to the formation of shoals it was necessary to lengthen them or construct new replacements for those destroyed by the ice floes. Thus, at the Kamennyi lar crossing, the ice destroyed 12 landing places. At this place, it was necessary to construct four new landing places for loads of 60 tons to replace those that had been torn up or rendered unfit for use by shoals. The average length of the trestles of the landing places was 350 meters.

 

To prevent losses of navigation material and to keep the crossings in operation, we put into effect the following measures :

The brigades organized from the workers of the vessel repair plants, which repaired the damaged boats at the crossings themselves, made repairs up to and including the replacement of rudders and the welding of boilers.

When it was impossible to bring the vessels up to the landing places, the loading and unloading was done on the ice itself (the Tatianka crossing had two ice-landing stages for the loading of men and freight on N2P pontoons).

For a better utilization of the cutters and the tugs, we increased the number of pontoons so that in addition to the pontoons en route there might be pontoons loading and unloading at the same time. Such a continuous method of work made it possible for the VMK cutters at the crossing of Tatianka lo make 12 lo 19 trips during the daytime.

Under serious ice conditions, the crossing was made on the decks of self-propelled vessels without low barges or ferries, and the loading area was increased by removing a number of deck superstructures. On November 28, due to the rapid formation of shoals, the crossing of wheel and caterpillar loads on barges was temporarily suspended on all sectors of the Volga, except at Kammenyi lar. There, the shallowness was not so serious, and the ice floes were not as large as a result of theformation of obstructions upstream.

As a result of a number of organizational measures for adapting the vessels for crossing in the
presence of ice, we soon put the other crossings in operation. For example, the crossing at Svetlyi lar continued its work with the paddle-wheel tug "Krasnoflotets" and other vessels right up to the freezing of the river. Then the thickness of the ice reached 12 centimeters, and the temperature of the air went down to minus 16 degrees. Work under such conditions was carried out in the following manner: a steam icebreaker of the "Samara" type went ahead breaking a channel, and behind it came the powerful tug, "Krasnoflotets," followed by all the other small vessels. In this way, we had a caravan of vessels that moved in the ice without any special difficulty. While providing crossing facilities in the presence of ice floes, we carried out the preparatory work for the construction of ice roads for motor vehicle transport and medium loads. For solving this problem, the engineer units at the Front did the following work:

a reconnaissance was made of the points of crossing over the ice in the areas of Shchuche, Tatianka, Svetlyi lar, and Krasnyi Oktiabr in the area of the prospective crossing, more than 10,000 cubic meters of materials were collected for reinforcement.

in order to provide for pedestrian traffic and the crossing of loads at the beginning period of the freezing, we started the construction of sledrope paths for loads up to 100 kilograms.
By November 30, we had prepared the sleds, set up and tried out the drive wire on both banks, prepared cable, and so on
carried out reconnaissance and selected a place for the construction of a low-water bridge across the Volga in the area ofTalianka for loads of 30 tons and prepared timber for this purpose in the amount of 6,000 cubic meters.

On the basis of the crossing experience in the period of the offensive, we may draw the following conclusions :

1. Despite the extremely difficult conditions of work in the course of the operation, the Volga crossings supplied the front with everything necessary without interruptions, and in the main, they did the work within the time set by the command. However, there were gaps in their operation, as a result of which, in particular at the crossing Svetlyi lar, the 300th Rifle Division was held up for several days.

2. Contrary to assumptions, experience showed that it was entirely possible to use paddle-wheel tug steamers in the ice floes (because broken blades could be quickly repaired on the spot) and during the loading-unloading operations. When there were rather thick ice floes traffic was possible even when the majority of the blades were broken. These paddle-wheel tugs were shown to be superior to the screw tugs in the case of which the repair, and all the more so the replacement, of the screw caused long interruptions in the work.

3. For urgent crossings, it was necessary to have at each place one vessel to serve as a leader, from 150 to 800 horsepower, depending upon the conditions, preferably shallow draft, and some large barges. At places where the crossings were made with large barges and tugs, the urgent crossings could be carried out satisfactorily, and where these means were not available, such crossings were hampered.

4. In crossings over wide streams in the fall and winter, it was necessary to use icebreakers (preferably with small draft).

5. The moorings and trestles of the bridges should be constructed so that they can be quickly raised and lowered, depending upon the level of the water (like the supports of the bridge RMM-2).

6. In the employment of large vessels for the crossings of loads in bulk, it was necessary to organize permanent loading-unloading crews.

7. In crossing broad streams, it is necessary to have a group of captain-instructors, familiar with the channel of the river and the area of the crossings. Jointly with them we should select the place of the crossing, the distribution of the vessels at the crossings, and the selection of routes of march to the crossing.

Command of the Engineer Troops

The staff of the engineer troops of the Front organized close and permanent signal communications with the operations and reconnaissance sections and commands of the staff of the Front and with all of the Volga crossings. For this purpose, the staff of the engineer troops created an operational group of three men. For these we provided (at the post of the operations section of the staff of the front) a shelter equipped with telephone and radio connections with all the crossings. Among the duties of the aforementioned commanders were regular information briefings to the chief of the engineer troops and the chief of staff of the engineer troops concerning all of the changes in the operational situation and the daily work of all the crossings. In certain cases, they were given the right to make independent decisions in questions pertaining to crossings.

For carrying out operational direction of a large number of crossings over the Volga, we assigned to the staff of the engineer troops a cable-pole company of signal communications with four radio stations, by means of which the staff had constant wire and radio connections with the crossings. In the decisive directions, for rendering assistance and checking the adequacy of engineer work on the spot, we detailed responsible staff commanders. At the most important crossings, there was at all times a chief of the operations section. The chief of the engineer troops and the chief of staff of the Front also went to these places repeatedly.
The command of the engineer troops was carried out chiefly through liaison officers, radio, and telephone.

 

Owing to close coordination of the work with the main section of the staff of the Front and commands in the presence of the operations group having technical signal communications, we assured the planning and direction of the most important sector of the work, namely, the crossings. The absence of signal communications and coordination, with the Hydrometeorological Service, was a great handicap in getting timely predictions as to the variations in the water level. It was necessary to lose a great deal of time and labor for reequipping the moorings and even in changing, at times, the line of the crossings.

The Staffs of the Engineer Troops of the Armies

The plans for providing adequate engineer works for the operation were worked out in detail and, in the main, correctly by all the staffs of the engineer troops of the army, with the exception of the 64th Army. However, in some ofthe armies, the putting ofthe plans into the hands of the executors look place with great delay. Thus, the battalion engineers of two divisions of the 28th Army did not receive the plans from the staff of the engineer troops until November 16, and the battalion engineers of the 57th Army did not receive them until November 13-14. Before this time, the work carried out by the engineer troops in preparation for the operation was on the basis of partial instructions from the staffs.

By the beginning of the operation, the staff of the engineer troops of the 64th Army had neither an engineer plan nor a plan for material-technical supplies and limited itself to general instructions and orders. As a result of this, in the preparatory period, out of eight army and assigned front battalions, only four carried out the missions connected directly with the operations, and the rest of the battalions occupied themselves with subordinate works.
The most important forms of engineer materials, such as mines, barbed wire, mine detectors, and so on, were at the beginning of the operations at the army base on the other side of the Volga. All these deficiencies had to be corrected quickly in the course of the operations.

In the control of the staffs of the engineer troops of the army, the weakest link was signal communications with the army engineer units. In view of the absence of means for technical communications and movement, signal communications with the battalions, some of which were far away, were maintained exclusively by foot messenger communications.

In view of the absence of signal communications, the staff of the engineers of the 51st Army did not know for several days the location of the two front battalions assigned to it for the time of the operation.

A weak place in the work of certain army staffs of the engineer troops was their lack of contact with the other sections of the staff of the army, in particular the operations and reconnaissance sections and rear command. As a result, they were poorly informed about the strategic situation and could not react quickly in carrying out a redistribution or regrouping of the engineer personnel or equipment.

On the whole, despite a number of weaknesses, the staffs of the engineer troops of the army, as organs of control of the chiefs of the engineers, coped in a successful manner with the work of providing adequate engineer installations for the operation. The experience gained in the operation emphasized once again the important role of the staffs of the engineer troops and, at the same time, showed the absolute necessity of improving their training and cohesion.

It is extremely necessary to provide the staffs of the engineer troops with organic means of transport, to have with the staff of the engineer troops of the army a motor vehicle platoon for the creation of mobile reserves and for the maneuverability of engineer-entanglement works, and to make adequate provision for the machines of the commanders of the armies and front engineer battalions. In order to provide for the operational direction of the army and front engineer units, it is absolutely necessary that each battalion and the staffs of the engineer troops have their own radio signal communications.

BATTALION AND BRIGADE ENGINEERS

With rare exceptions, battalion and brigade engineers directed in a concrete manner the work of the small engineer units on the battlefield itself and were always informed of the situation.
However, there were cases of incorrect employment of the brigade engineers by the commanders of units of combined arms. For example, a brigade engineer of the 38th Motorized Rifle Brigade, in the period of the preparation for the offensive, was sent to the rear by the commander of the brigade for some white cloaks and, in reality, carried out the function of a quartermaster sergeant; whereas the demining work in the zone of advance of the Brigade had to be assigned to the assistant of the chief of staff of the engineer troops of the army.

A serious weakness in the work of many troop engineers was the absence of skill in planning work and the correct employment of the assigned army engineer units. In practice it turned out that the army engineer battalions assigned to the division carried out work in demining and in the main line of resistance, whereas the battalion engineers wereoccupied in the construction of command posts and in the repair of roads in the division and regiment service areas.

The experience of the Stalingrad operation points to the following, the necessity of teaching unit engineers the planning and organization of engineer work, the proper echeloning of engineer units, the ability to organize engineer reconnaissance, and of instilling in them the ability to work out and analyze the engineer needs pertaining to the enemy, to make engineer decisions to meet the given situation, and to utilize correctly and as effectively as possible both their own engineer equipment and that assigned to them.

 

General Conclusions

The combat engineer units carried out a great deal of intensive work in the offensive operations of the Stalingrad Front, especially in providing crossings over the Volga under serious natural and tactical conditions. We may judge the scope of the crossing work by the amount of freight crossed. During November, 489 echelons of military supplies were crossed, making 16 echelons a day, or 40 carloads an hour. Despite the enormous task that this represented and the difficulties of carrying it out, due to the fact that units and equipment were not up to strength and the engineer troops were not properly prepared, the missions of the command both in the crossings operations and in all other forms of necessary engineer preparations were carried out fully and on time.

The experience in the work of the engineer troops in the offensive operations of the Stalingrad Front enables us to draw a number of practical conclusions.

1. Crossings require centralized direction and the presence in the reserves of the chief of the engineer troops of the front of a powerful group of crossing equipment, which must be employed in a concentrated manner and not piecemeal.

2. Under the conditions prevailing in the crossings of a rather large river, it is absolutely necessary to have the following: repair parties supplied with the necessary tools, materials and spare parts located at the crossings; diving parties for the repair and raising work; and a detachment of mine sweepers for demining the areas of the crossing and the channel of the river.

3. In crossing wide rivers in the fall and winter, special attention should be given to the proper organization and placing of fire guards.

4. In the areas of the crossings, it is necessary to have a supply of building materials, barges, flat boats, and rafts for the preparation of landing stages.

5. The pontoon units should be provided with transportable pile drivers, compressors, woodsaws, and so on.

6. A basic and general weakness of all of our bridge parks is the small span between the supports and the thickness of the pontoons in the line of the bridge made necessary by this.
The presence of a large number of pontoons makes it easier for the enemy to knock them out with artillery, mortar, and machinegun fire.

In the presence of the thick fall ice floes, placing of the pontoon holes near the ice moving along the river is important since ice causes blocking and the consequent breaking of the bridge.
It is necessary to provide long-span standard bridges on floating supports, at least for motor-and animal drawn transport (less than 8 to 10 tons). The span structure of such a bridge could be executed in the form of a series of light metallic girders or Spengel girders.
It is also possible to provide standard suspension bridges for light loads using floating supports.

7. Under all circumstances, the chief of the engineer troops should have some mobile and general reserves, capable of extensive maneuverability in carrying out demining operations on the flanks and able to render timely and effective assistance to troops in fortifying themselves on the lines reached. The mistake of such reserves again emphasizes the necessity of maximum motorization of engineer units. The Front engineer units, especially the pontoon brigades, were in a serious situation with regard to motor vehicle transport.

8. As experience in the operation has shown, the rear establishments of the army, division and brigade, whose duty it is to provide for the bringing up of all kinds of supplies as a rule, plan last of all for the transport of engineer equipment and most often fail to transport it. In the interests of the work, it is necessary to organize independent army engineer dumps and have manual of transport at the entire disposal of the chief of the engineer troops of the army.

 


The Battle for Stalingrad : The 1943 Soviet General Staff Study : Edited by Louis Rotundo.

 

 

 

The Russian Ultimatum to the encircled German 6th Army.

On January 7, 1943 the Russian High Command informed the Commander in Chief of
6th Army by wireless that they were sending three officers across the lines under a
flag of truce. Sixth Army expressed its readiness to receive them. The time fixed was
ten o'clock, on the morning of January 8.

On the appointed day, acting on behalf of the Commander in Chief of the Russians troops
on the Don Front, Lieutenant General Rokossovski sent his emissaries through the northern 
sector of the German lines with the following ultimatum, addressed to the 6th Army :

To the Commander in Chief of the German Sixth Army, 
 Colonel General Paulus, or his representative
 and to all the officers and men of the German
 units now besieged in Stalingrad.

The Sixth Army, formations of the Fourth Panzer Army, and those units sent to reinforce them
have been completely encircled since the 23rd of November, 1942.

The soldiers of the Red Army have sealed this German Army Group within an unbreakable
ring. All hopes of the rescue of your troops by a German offensive from the south or
south-west have proved vain. The German units hastening to your assistance were defeated
by the Red Army, and the remnants are now redrawing to Rostow.

The German air transport fleet, which brought you a starvation ration of food, munitions and
fuel has been compolled by the Red Army's succesful and rapid advance repeatedly to 
withdraw to airfields more distant from the encircled troops. It should be added that the 
German air transport fleet is suffering enormous losses in machines and crews at the hands
of the Russian Airforce. The help they can bring to the besieged forces is rapidly becoming
illusory.

The situation of your troops is desperate. They are suffering from hunger, sickness and cold.
The cruel Russian winter has scarcely yet begun. Hard frosts, cold winds and blizzards still
lie ahead. Your soldiers are unprovided with winter clothing and are living in appalling
sanitary conditions.

You, as Commander in Chief, and all the officers of the encircled forces know well that there
is for you no real possibility of breaking out. Your situation is hopeless, and any further 
resisitance senseless.

In view of the desperate situation in which you are placed, and in order to save unnecessary
bloodshed, we propose that you except the following terms of surrender :  

1) All the encircled German troops, headed by yourself and your staff, shall cease to resist.  

2) You will hand over to such persons as shall be authorised by us, all members of your
armed forces, all war materials and all army equipment in an undamaged condition.  

3) We guarantee the safety of all officers and men who cease to resist, and their return after
the end of the war to Germany or to any other country to which these prisoners of war
may wish to go.  

4) All personell of units which surrender may retain their military uniforms, badges of rank,
decorations, personal belongings and valuables and, in case of high ranking officers their
swords.  

5) All officers, non-commissioned officers and men who surrender will immediately receive 
normal rations.  

6)All those are wounded, sick of frost-bitten will be given medical treatment.

Your reply is to be given in writing by ten o'clock, Moscow time the 9th of January 1943.
It must be delivered by your personal representative, who is to travel in a car bearing a white
flag along the road that leads tothe Konny siding at Kotlubanj station. Your representative
will be met by fully authorised Russian officers in District B, 500 metres south-east of siding
564 at 10.00hrs. on the 9th of January, 1943.
Should you refuse our offer that you lay down in your arms, we hereby give you notice
that the forces of the Red Army and the Red Airforce will be compelled to proceed with
the distruction of the encircled German tropps. The responsibility for this will lie with you.

 
  Representing Headquarters Red Army Supreme Command,
 Colonel General of the Artillery Voronov.
 The Commander in Chief of the Forces of the Don front,
 Lieutenant General Rokossovski.

 

Soviet soldier waving the Red Banner over the central plaza of Stalingrad in 1943.

Pavlov's House.

Pavlov's House became the name of a fortified apartment building during the Battle of Stalingrad from 27 September, 1942 to February 2, 1943. It gained its popular name from Sergeant Yakov Pavlov, who commanded the platoon that seized the building and defended it during the long battle.

The house was a four-story building in the center of Stalingrad, built parallel to the embankment of the river Volga and overseeing the "9th January Square", a large square named for Bloody Sunday. In September 1942, the house was attacked by German soldiers, and a platoon of the Soviet 13th Guards Rifle Division was ordered to seize and defend it. The platoon was led by Junior Sgt. Yakov Pavlov, a low-level noncommissioned officer serving as acting platoon commander since the unit's lieutenant and senior sergeants had all been wounded or killed. The attack on the building was successful, although the fighting was brutal, with only four men in the 30-man platoon surviving the assault.
The strategic benefit of the house was its position on a cross-street giving the defenders a 1 km line of sight to the north, south and west. After several days, reinforcements and resupply arrived for Pavlov's men, bringing the unit up to a 25-man understrength platoon and equipping the defenders with machine guns, anti-tank rifles, and mortars. In keeping with Stalin's Order No. 227 - "not one step back", Sgt. Pavlov was ordered to fortify the building and defend it to the last bullet and the last man. Taking this advice to heart, Pavlov ordered the building to be surrounded with four layers of barbed wire and minefields, and set up machine-gun posts in every available window facing the square. In the early stages of the defense, Pavlov discovered that a PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle he had mounted on the roof was particularly effective when used to ambush unsuspecting German tanks; once the tanks had approached to within 25 meters of the building, their thin turret-roof armor became exposed to AT rifle fire from above, but they were unable to elevate their weapons enough to retaliate. Pavlov had reportedly destroyed nearly a dozen tanks personally using this tactic.
For better internal communication, they breached the walls in the basement and upper floors, and dug a communications trench to Soviet positions outside. Supplies were brought in via the trench or by boats crossing the river, defying German air raids and shelling. Nevertheless, food and especially water was in short supply. Lacking beds, the soldiers tried to sleep on insulation wool torn off pipes, yet usually the Germans kept shooting at the house with deafening machine-gun fire day and night.
The Germans attacked the building at regular times. Each time German infantry or tanks tried to cross the square and to close in on the house, Pavlov's men laid down a withering barrage of machine gun and AT rifle fire from the basement, the windows and from the roof top, devastating the German attackers and forcing them to retreat. By mid-November, Pavlov's men reportedly had to use lulls in the fighting to run out and kick over the heaped piles of German corpses so they could not be used as cover for the next round of attackers.
Eventually the defenders, as well as the Soviet civilians who kept living in the basement all that time, held out during intensive fighting from 23 September until 25 November 1942, when they were relieved by the counter-attacking Soviet forces.

Pavlov's House became a symbol of the stubborn resistance of the Soviet Union in the Battle of Stalingrad, and in the Great Patriotic War in general. It stands out prominently because the German armies had previously conquered cities and entire countries within weeks; yet they were unable to capture a single half-ruined house, defended most of the time by just over a dozen soldiers, in spite of trying for two months. It is reported that the building at the "9th January Square" was marked as a fortress in German maps.
Vasily Chuikov, commanding general of the Soviet forces in Stalingrad, later bragged that the Germans lost more men trying to take Pavlov's house than they did taking Paris.
Pavlov's "House" was rebuilt after the battle and is still used as an apartment building today. There is an attached memorial constructed from bricks picked up after the battle on the East side facing the Volga.



Pavlov was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union for his actions.

Pavlov was born 1917, drafted into Red Army 1938. He was part of Rodimtsev's 13th. Guards in Stalingrad. Badly wounded in the defence of "his" house he was hospitalised for a time. Made lieutenant in 1944, re-joined 13th. Guards. Made senior lieutenant & participated in taking of Berlin. Komsomol member, KPSS member in 194 4, Hero of Soviet Union in 1945.

 

 

Erich Weinert

Diary of Stalingrad

 

 

"We shall restore the name Stalingrad for our homeland"!

I am the daughter of a Soviet soldier, Ivan M. N. Bulgakov who was killed in Stalingrad, and I come very close to all those who demand the return to Volgograd its rightful name of the Great Stalin, and to erect a monument on the Mamaev Hill to the great Generalismus.

On May 9th of this year, I and my girlfriend Lily Mazurkevich travelled through this anti-Russian, pro NATO Ukraine with a great portrait of Stalin to Stalingrad, to the top of the sacred Mamaev Hill, in order to bow our heads to the heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad and to remember my father – to give thanks to these heroes, those liberators of out great Motherland.

As soon as we stepped unto the central square of the city, we were approached by two secret service agents, demanding that we get rid of the picture of Stalin, with which photo we traveled through half of Soviet Union, being in Moscow and Minsk. This photo is well known all over the world. You will not ever take this portrait from us!

As our fathers did, we stood on this Heroic Mamaev Hill in Stalingrad, where hundreds of young couples and their children stood with bowed heads and flowers in their hands and, all wanted to photograph themselves together with our large photograph of Stalin, in order to remember. We were very happy that these young people from Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and even Bangladesh. We did not have the opportunity to ask them as to where they read and remembered the great world leader Stalin.

Children and parents crowded around us and exclaimed: "This is Grandfather Stalin, Grandfather Stalin!" Young girls in their pioneer uniforms and school uniforms that were worn during the Battle of Stalingrad, came to us and gave us many bouquet of flowers, thanking us for bringing the portrait of Stalin to this Mamaev Hill Complex.

In the museum "Battle of Stalingrad", everyone was crying as we watched a documentary film about this heroic battle, and this brought to mind the famous battle cry of the legendary Civil War hero Chapayev, when he said: "If you are to be killed, fall with your head forward!" This is the way the Soviet Red Army men went into battle in this death struggle, and for most, it was their very last battle–falling head forward for the Soviet Motherland and for Stalin!

At the present time we have the right to ask about our present dismal life and remember our fathers and mothers, who in their young years, died for us who are still living, and, ask the present president of Russia, why is Russia now in this dark haze?

All that we have seen from "Moscow to Volgograd" shook us terribly: terrible ruins of homes and cottages, dirty and filthy toilet facilities, overgrown with weeds streets and land – impossible to describe the present economic devastation. Garbage, railway rusted train boxcars, metal scraps all over the roads and countryside. The train stations did not see any repairs or cleaning for many years or any aspect of tidying up or repainting the buildings that were built during Soviet times.

Is this our glorious Victorious Country! And is this the road – towards Moscow!

After reaching Moscow, we went to the Red Square and saw big billboard with a nearly naked picture of a girl advertising a soft-drink, here on this sacred Red Square!! The other commercial buildings try to completely obliterate the sacred Mausoleum, the monument to Marshal Zhukov – this is beyond description at the absolute audacity of the present policy of the regime, trying by all means possible to obliterate the history of the Soviet Union and Socialism.

Until the Red Flag with the Hammer and Sickle will be flying over the country, the present enemies and traitors will be laughing openly at the gains of the Soviet people, its socialist history and its accomplishments, and, our children will be servants and cleaning toilets and not be flying to the Cosmos!

Therefore, today’s enemy, for now without the Auschwitz ovens and cannonades, still stands at the gates of Russia. Stalingrad for us – this is not only history, this is a school, of how to fight and defeat the enemy!

Galina Sawchenko

 

 

The epic story of Stalingrad

 

 

Siege of Stalingrad

1943

 

2012 - republished by the Comintern (SH)

in memory of the 70th year of the battle of Stalingrad 1942/43

Vassili Grossman

 

STALINGRAD

 

 

 

"We think of the great battle on the Volga without
hatred or malice. However, we consider Stalingrad to
be a lesson from the past which, unfortunately, must be
remembered.
Should that war be recalled? Some think not, but I
don't agree. That war must be recalled until the time
when mankind will say: "we don't want war and will do
everything possible to prevent it so that never again
will there be war on this earth".
There will be a day when we shall stop recalling the
war and say: it was the last - not because we should
like to believe it is so, but because we shall know it
is so.


 

Pablo Neruda's

"New Song to Stalingrad"

 

Save me a fragment of violent foam

save me a rifle, save a plow for me

and let them place it at my grave

with a red ear of grain from your soil,

that it be known, if there be any doubt,

that I died loving you and you loved me,

and if I did not fight in your waist

I leave in your honor this dark grenade,

this song of love for Stalingrad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Army of Heroes

1944 - Moscow - Publishing House