Operation Winter Storm pushes on towards Stalingrad

A 'Sturmgeschütz' and a Panzer III tank in Russian winter.

A ‘Sturmgeschütz’ Assault Gun and a Panzer III tank in the Russian winter.

Friedrich Bosch was with the Battle Group Remlinger, during the advance to relieve Stalingrad. He knew men in Battle Group Hunersdorff who nearby, at Werchne-Kumsky, were engaged in ‘probably one of the biggest tank battles of the war’. On the 14th December he was himself quite busy as commander of a Self Propelled Gun Company, part of a Tank Destroyer Battalion. At Saliwski, where they had formed a bridgehead, the German battle group came under Russian attack.

By midday he knew that some of his comrades who had been with him since before the war were dead. Then they came all under a hail of fire from the ‘Stalin Organs’, it was an attempt to soften them up:

The Russians were drumming to wear us down. I myself can’t be bothered by the fire.

I have to observe the terrain in front of us – covered with a light snow cover, broken by the barren long steppe grass – with the large binoculars and check the edge of the enemy-held village of Wodjanski (about 1,500 meters away).

Suddenly, there is movement there! Three – no, four,five, six Russian tanks, probably T-34s, slowly advance on our position echeloned to the rear. I sound the alarm for the two self-propelled guns. The crews huddle behind the thinly armored gunshield, the barrels turn toward the enemy. Apart from this, there is no movement on our side.

Over there the slowly advancing tanks are followed by several waves of Russian infantry that can be clearly made out against the snow cover with their thick brown greatcoats and well-known hats. More and more Russian infantry – like ants – burst forth from Wodjanski and follow the tanks.

Slowly, the ground in front of us becomes black with these infantry masses. In the meantime the six Russian tanks have closed to 1,000 meters. What is their plan?

They virtually take cover in the rolling terrain. Now all have taken up a hull-down position and only the turrets can be made out. There! The barrels of the six T-34s flash!

They shell our positions in Saliwski, and several shells sail far over Saliwski toward the supply vehicles that are driving to the rear over the open space there.

What to do? Should I order ‘Open fire’ in the face of these small turret Largets? What is the penetration of our 7.62cm shells at this distance? Until now, we had no means to get any clarity on this.

So it is better to wait! The crews still are sitting behind their gunshields motionlessly_ This costs a lot of nerves!

Suddenly, the 8.8cm flak roars out in its position, which is covered from our view by a hut, Damn, what’s going on there?

With my binoculars, I can make out three, then five tanks that are driwng across the steppe on our left at high speed toward Saliwski – practically from the direction of our road of advance. Are these our own that want to reinforce the Saliwski bridgehead?

One is already burning; that’s the work of the 8.8cm flak! Aha, so they’re Russians!

Read the whole description of the battle in Winter Storm: The Battle for Stalingrad.

Short sequence of the Stalin Organ in action:

Grenadiers from a Waffen SS cavalry division provide infantry support to a Panzer III.

Grenadiers from a Waffen SS cavalry division provide infantry support to a Panzer III.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

damy December 14, 2012 at 4:25 pm

i just love sound of katyusha rocket fire.

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