Conditions change for Army Group South

The thick mud that was hindering the advance on Moscow was now to start holding up German troops in the far south

Army Group South had been able to continue the blitzkrieg for longer than the other two German thrusts into Russia. Now in early November they too found the weather conditions changing. This was just part of a worsening situation where casualties and now disease were thinning out the ranks to an alarming degree.

Kurt Meyer, commanding a reconnaissance battalion, himself fell victim to dysentery and was admitted to the Field Hospital:

An epidemic of dysentery raged then and dangerously weakened the front. There were no more German regiments and divisions. The Eastern Front was only being held by the weak remnants of once strong fighting units.

The German grenadier was embarking on the hardest battle of his existence-he was bled dry and unprepared. He could see the approaching disaster with wide-open eyes but did not waver for one second in the fulfillment of his duty. He believed in the necessity of his sacrifice.

He recovered but found that the countryside had been transformed :

Frost was followed by rain. Water stood in the foxholes and in the deep ruts of the roads and trickled endlessly into uniforms. Motor vehicles, guns and tanks sank into the mud. The grenadiers waded knee deep through the muck.

Supply had become almost impossible and could only be achieved by using horse-drawn vehicles. Motor vehicles moved at a snail’s pace. The consumption of fuel and loss of equipment was disproportionate to what was achieved. An army was sinking into the mud. Losses due to illness mounted endlessly.

Yet still there were demands for further advances. Soon after his recovery Meyer was summoned to an important briefing where the strategic importance of seizing Rostov was outlined and a new offensive operation ordered.

See Grenadiers: The Story of Waffen SS General Kurt "Panzer" Meyer

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