The advance on Moscow begins to stall

The 'time without roads' when the rains came before winter was a major setback for the Wehrmacht.

General Bluemntritt locates the first real difficulties for the German army appearing between the battle of Vyasma, which fell on the 14th, and the fall of Bryansk on the 20th October. Huge numbers of Soviet prisoners again became encircled during these battles, perhaps as many as 660,000. But there were now signs that the Wehrmacht could not continue to make the progress it was accustomed to:

The open country too, become a sticky morass. The infantryman slithers in the mud, while many teams of horses are needed, to drag each gun forward. All wheeled vehicles sink up to their axles in the slime. Even tractors can only move with great difficulty. A large proportion of our heavy artillery was soon stuck fast and was therefore unavailable for the Moscow battle. The quality of the mud may be understood when it is realized that even tanks and other tracked vehicles could only just get along and were frequently and repeatedly mired. The strain that all this caused our already exhausted troops can perhaps be imagined.

There was another “equally unpleasant surprise” at the same time – the appearance of the Russian T-34 tank:

at that time our infantry was equipped only with 37 mm. and 50 mm. anti-tank guns. These had been capable of knocking out the Russian tanks we had hitherto encountered but they had no effect on the T34. Thus a very serious state of affairs arose for the infantry divisions, which felt themselves naked and defenceless against this new tank. A gun of at least 75mm. calibre was needed, and such a gun had first to be built.

General Blumentritt’s post war account of the Barbarossa campaign appeared in The Fatal Decisions.

German troops examine a Russian T-34 tank that they did manage to capture in October 1941.

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