BATTLESTORM STALINGRAD S2/E5 – Disaster at the Don

5th of August 1942. The attack resumed early.
Stukas dived and bombed nearby, waking Chuikov up from his slumber. They also swarmed on,
and pummelled the riflemen, of 29th Rifle Division, as they withdrew east along the
Askai towards Verkhne-Kumsky. 8th Air Army was nowhere to be seen, as the few sorties
that were flown were sent to stop the spearhead of 4th Panzer Army, not protect Chuikov. “…the [29th Rifle] division lost more
men on the march than it had done in battle.” 400 men were wounded by these strikes, and,
because of the general lack of medical support in the Red Army at this time, 50 percent of
them would have to be left to die without adequate aid. Chuikov sent in the 255th Cavalry Regiment
– the only unit he had spare – to replace the 29th Rifle Division on the Aksai. He knew
this wouldn’t be enough to stop the Axis if they concentrated their advance that way,
but it seemed as though German forces were heading east and only small Romanian units
engaged the cavalry. By 0700 hours, 29th Motorized Division had
taken Kapninski Station. Now they approached a ridge of hills 5kms north-west of Abganerovo,
which were strongly held by Soviet riflemen in bunkers supported by dug-in tanks, all
behind an anti-tank ditch. This line presented a formidable obstacle, so Fremerey decided
to strike east instead and bypass the Soviet positions. However, a good portion of 29th
Motorized Division (including most of 129th Panzer Battalion) were still struggling to
get across the weak bridges over the Aksai River, and thus there were delays. Kempf was not impressed – “I will no longer tolerate the fragmentation
of forces. Panzers to the front!” Because of this, and their own determination,
the Siberian 126th Rifle Division thwarted 29th Motorized Division’s unconcentrated
advances in their positions at Abganerovo. But while that was going on, 14th Panzer Division
had sliced between the 126th and 38th Rifle Divisions, taken Plodovitoye by 1300 hours,
and had compromised the Soviet bunker positions. Thus, new orders were issued. Heim was to
take Tinguta Station while Fremerey would leave elements at Abganerovo and then move
his main force north with 14th Panzer Division. Then, that evening, 14th Panzer Division reached
the railway line near 74km Station, pushing back Soviet forces in the area. But by this
point, their fuel gauge was looking desperate, and the Luftwaffe couldn’t drop any fuel
to relieve the panzers, because it was also out of fuel. So the German advance had once
again been stalled by the weakness of their own logistics. Still, these moves had put Chuikov in a difficult
position. Not only was Chuikov facing panzer forces on his flank, but he had lost communications
with his battalion commanders, who themselves were out of touch with their divisions. Chuikov
was forced to visit them personally in order to maintain a coherent defence as Romanian
and German infantry began to assault his positions. 1st Romanian Division managed to gain a small
bridgehead on the Aksai between the 138th and the 157th Rifle Divisions on the evening
of the 5th. But Chuikov did manage to hold on, and even
prepared to mount a counter-attack for the next day. There was also some good news for
the Soviets in the south. Tanaschishin’s 13th Tank Corps had just reached Tinguta Station.
Its 44 T-34s and full-strength motorized rifle battalion were about to be reinforced by Bobnov’s
133rd Heavy Tank Brigade and their 22 KV tanks. If 4th Panzer Army was having difficulties
before, they were about to have some more difficulties now. 6th of August 1942. “Another blisteringly hot day commenced.
Strong hot winds blew across the parched steppe – it felt like an oven door had been left
open.” Starshiy Leytenant Mikhail Baranov, leader
of four Yak-1s, was flying near Kalach with a formation of Il-2s, when he spotted Stukas
and Bf 109s. The latter were commanded by Hauptmann Wolfgang Tonne. Now, by Soviet standards,
Baranov was an experienced fighter pilot, with seventeen-kills to his name. So he made
a head-on attack against the Tonne’s Bf 109s, scoring another kill with his first
burst. He moved to his right, took down a Stuka, then returned to destroy another Bf
109, using up his remaining ammunition. With no other means available, he brought down
another 109 by ripping off the rudder of the aircraft with the wing of his own aircraft,
before bailing out over friendly territory. However, this heroic action aside, the Soviet
8th Air Army continued take heavy losses this day, and over the period in general. In 100th Jäger Division’s area, 54th Infantry
Regiment, the Croatians and some other units were formed into Kampfgroup Weber and given
the task of closing around the Kalach Pocket. That evening, they moved to the area south
of Yevseyev in preparation for this next attack. And, to the south, Katiusha rockets and Soviet
artillery shells rained down upon the Romanian 1st Infantry Division’s Aksai bridgehead.
Chuikov couldn’t spare any tanks or air support, and so had to rely on his riflemen
to conduct this counterattack. “To be quite frank, I was afraid of conducting
even a simple operation with the troops I had collected during the retreat – I had no
idea what they were capable of. However, I thought that if for some reason or other our
attack did not succeed, or did not take place at all, our line of defence would remain unaffected.” So Chuikov thought it was worth mounting an
attack, even if it did nothing. However, when his attack did go in, Romanian troops broke
and fled back towards the river (or at least, they appeared to do so to the Soviets). And
after a full day of fighting, the Soviets declared that the attack was largely a success.
The Romanians were still on the Soviet-side of the Askai, but a lot of prisoners had been
taken, as well as rifles and much-needed ammunition. At the very least, Chuikov was quite pleased
that his previously-beaten men had been up to the task. But, of course, this was all a distraction
to the main events elsewhere. 9th Army Corps’s 94th Infantry Division and the Romanian 4th
Infantry Division secured the Aksai area and put pressure on Chuikov’s Group from the
east. At the same time, Kempf’s 48th Panzer Corps continued forwards. In fact, Kempf met up with Fremerey to watched
the events unfold. Fremerey’s division had formed Kampfgruppe Kandt out of as many units
as they could spare, including elements of Kandt’s 71st Infantry Regiment and part
of the 129th Panzer Battalion. Kandt had moved east from Peschanka at 0630 hours, but was
delayed when he came across the one thing that they were simply not prepared for – another
weak bridge. Kempf wasn’t happy. He couldn’t understand
why not all of the 129th Panzer Battalion or the 71st Infantry Regiment had taken part,
nor why the infantry felt the need to abandon their trucks and ride on top of the panzers.
Clearly, in his eyes, not enough troops were allocated to the attack, and the execution
had been a mess. “The panzers must be deployed en masse.”
– Kempf said to Fremerey. “General Fremerey replied that according
to a directive from Hoth, the armoured strength of a motorized division must be deployed differently
than in a panzer division, and that is solely to support the infantry. Kempf pointed out
that success with panzers is only expected where forces are concentrated, then they pull
the infantry forward with them. The entire discussion was moot because no time remained
to bring forward the other two panzer companies.” This was all part of a wider debate going
on about the use of panzers and motorized divisions. A typical panzer division at this
stage of the war had one panzer regiment with two panzer battalions inside of that, plus
two panzergrenadier regiments and an artillery regiment. Well, a motorized division was like
a panzer division, except it only had one panzer battalion instead of the two. So it
was kind-of a panzer division, but not really. And it wasn’t clear if it was right to have
a random panzer battalion spearheading a motorized division. Yes, it gave it some punch, but
as we’ve seen with Kempf and Fremerey, that punch was simply weak because one battalion
of panzers wasn’t really enough to accomplish the task. Kempf had tried to circumvent this by giving
Fremerey an extra Sturmgeschütz battalion, so as to increase the firepower. But turretless
assault guns are not quite the same as panzers, and were more suited to the defensive rather
than the offensive, which is why this didn’t really work out so well in practice. It was
no wonder why Generals like Kempf were suggesting that panzer battalions be removed from the
motorized divisions and simply formed into panzer regiments, to then be made into proper
panzer divisions. That way you could have all your panzers where you needed them, and
have dedicated mobile infantry who didn’t really need panzers with them to follow up
behind the panzers. But this debate would not be solved at this
moment, and the issue would plague Kempf and the other German mobile units for the rest
of the Stalingrad campaign. So 29th Motorized Division had stalled once
again thanks to a faulty bridge. But 14th Panzer Division had moved ahead, so Kempf
said that taking Abganerovo Station from the rear was now unnecessary. 29th Motorized Division’s
new task was to push north-east, and move to the left flank of 14th Panzer Division. Kempf then went to see 14th Panzer Division.
Heim informed him that Soviet forces had fallen back to 74km Station, but were causing him
issues. He stated that he couldn’t advance without those forces being taken out – basically
saying that, 29th Motorized Division needed to shift into a higher gear, move up and keep
up. But by 1500 hours, Kampfgruppe Kandt had reached
Hill 148, and made contact with 14th Panzer Division. They then reached Point 169 at 1630
hours, in time to support 36th Panzer and 103rd Panzergrenadier Regiments in the 74km
Station area. “Darkness did not bring relief to the stifling
battlefield. Extreme water shortages exacerbated the men’s discomfort. The heat was relentless
and Soviet forces restless.” In the evening of the 6th of August 1942,
the Stavka were frustrated that Gordov had allowed the panzers to smash through his lines,
and wanted him to mount a counterattack, restore the situation and destroy the enemy. “Our counter-attacks were hopeless. We would
be told to attack after fifty minutes of shelling and an air strike. But there wouldn’t be
any shelling and, no matter how long we waited, our aviation never appeared. The red flare
rocket would go up – the signal for our attack – but there had been no preparation and the
enemy positions were completely intact. We would fix bayonets, run 300 metres, then the
Germans would open fire with everything they had got and we would be forced back to our
starting positions. We felt such desperation and anger – we were so disorganized. Time
and time again we wondered of our High Command ‘Why don’t they help us fight the enemy
properly?’” Coincidentally, with the 126th and 38th Rifle
Divisions under increasing pressure, Shumilov also asked Gordov if he could organise a counterattack
against Kempf’s Panzers. With few other options, Gordov agreed to Shumilov’s request
to mount that counterattack. I do want to highlight the fact that Eremenko’s
new Southeastern Front was supposed to be in charge of Shumilov’s 64th Army at this
point. So it’s not clear why Shumilov was reporting to Gordov, or why Gordov was still
issuing orders to Shumilov. Perhaps the setting up of the fronts hadn’t quite happened yet,
and perhaps this is further evidence of a Soviet command crisis in the area at this
time, which no doubt made things confusing to the officers on the ground. Either way,
it was Gordov who granted Shumilov permission to strike back at 48th Panzer Corps, not Eremenko. Shumilov therefore began building up his forces
for an attack that would be mounted in three days time. He concentrated on reinforcing
both his own 64th Army and Tolbukhin’s 57th Army for the task. 64th Army’s 204th Rifle
Division, 51st Army’s 208th Rifle Division and 57th Army’s 422nd Rifle Division, as
well as Colonel Tanaschishin’s 13nd Tank Corps, began to deploy in the area north of
Tinguta. In order to support Shumilov’s attack, and
possibly divert forces away from the south, Lopatin was ordered to attack as well. He
was given the task of striking towards the Buzinovka area once again. But it’s quite
clear that, overall, Gordov’s forces were in a dire state, especially in 62nd Army’s
area. On the 6th of August, 23rd Tank Corps had six T-34s, four T-70s, and 267 men in
total. Yes, three tank brigades and one motorized rifle brigade were down to 10 tanks and 267
men. The 28th Tank Corps had three tanks and 1,730 men. And the 158th Heavy Tank Brigade
had just 12 KV tanks. Clearly, the Soviet tank park was almost depleted, and the rifle
divisions weren’t much better off. “On 5 August there remained 4,772 and 6,279
men in the 196th and 131st Rifle Divisions respectively. Of their former power, nearly
100 per cent strength, there remained only memories.” Now, to be fair, Danilov’s 21st Army had
been substantially reinforced, and was planning to attack in the Kletskaya area as well. The
German 376th Infantry Division was defending that area and would be in trouble, since Danilov
was gathering 85,000 men for this attack. However, the offensive wasn’t going to be
ready for a few more days, which wasn’t good for the Soviets, because the Axis were
ready to attack now. Richthofen flew to Paulus’s headquarters
and arrived to find von Weichs raging about the subpar Italian and Hungarian efforts to
the west. It turns out that the Voronezh Front’s own 6th Army had seized a small bridgehead
on the Don’s western bank at Storozhevoe and Korotoiak, 45km south of Voronezh. The
thinly stretched light infantry divisions of the Hungarian Second Army had to retreat
a few kilometers, providing a foothold on the southern bank of the Don. Von Weichs wasn’t
the only one who was not amused – “The Hungarians let the Russians recross
the Don!” Paulus, though, seemed confident with the
task before him, and Richthofen coordinated his efforts closely with the ground troops.
A plan was created to utterly (and finally) defeat the Soviets in the Kalach area. Wietersheim’s
corps would strike south as 24th Panzer Corps moved north. This would trap the Soviets in
a pocket west of Kalach. The other units were given the task of closing around the pocket,
and destroying the remnants of the Soviet divisions caught within the pincers. Now, there’s no denying that, after several
days of preparing, Paulus was in a far better position than he had been previously. Not
only had his logistical situation improved, but he currently had around 330 tanks at his
disposal, whereas the Soviets had less than 300 to oppose him. But, despite the improvements
and the preparation, there’s evidence that Paulus’ 6th Army was still suffering from
supply shortages, which would limit the scale and scope of his attack. For example, the
3rd Motorized Division still had a shortage of ammunition, and just 15% of its standard
fuel stocks. With these supplies, 3rd Motorized Division could move barely 15 kilometers. But Paulus was confident of the success of
his upcoming attack. And he would have to be. Even though the Red Army had proclaimed
its refusal to take a step back, both Hitler and Halder were concerned that the Soviets
were about to retreat and escape to the east side of the Don, and thus slip the noose.
So it was imperative that Paulus not let the 62nd Army get away. With this concern at the
forefront of their minds, they ordered Paulus to start his attack a day earlier than planned
– tomorrow, the 7th of August – despite the fact that there hadn’t been enough time
to bring up all the needed supplies or reinforcements. With his own orders from above, Paulus therefore
issued instructions to his officers. 11th Army and 14th Panzer Corps would press Lopatin’s
62nd Army back to Kalach from the north, using 100th Jäger, 384th and 389th Infantry, 3rd
and 60th Motorized, and 16th Panzer Divisions. To the south, Langermann’s 24th Panzer Corps
was tasked with crushing Lopatin’s 62nd Army’s defences near the Chir River, before
advancing towards Kalach. Subordinated to this corps was the 24th Panzer, and the 71st,
76th and 297th Infantry Divisions. Opposing the Germans in the Kalach bridgehead,
Lopatin had at his disposal about 100,000 men supported by fewer than 150 tanks. His
force consisted of eight rifle divisions. But he also had two tank corps – Khasin’s
23rd and Rodin’s 28th – located in the north of the bridgehead. In addition, there were
several separate regiments and separate tank battalions in support as well, all of which
stood ready to defend their positions. The question is: would Paulus’ attack be able
to overcome them? “Early on the 7th of August the earth groaned
under the weight of the tanks rattling forward. The morning silence was suddenly broken by
the exploding of shells and torn by the whipping of the belts of machine-gun fire.” At 0500 hours, Hube’s 16th Panzer Division
drove forwards, supported by the 60th Motorized Division. They rolled through 100th Jäger
Division’s lines, themselves on the attack along with 389th Infantry Division. All of
these units shattered the one Soviet division ahead of them – the 196th Rifle Division – which
had just four and a half thousand riflemen at the time. General Averin himself went into
action, desperately trying to halt 16th Panzer Division as it cut his lines to shreds. “Enemy tanks scythed through our defences
and a group of them made for our command post. Averin made a last stand there – he just had
his personal weapons, some grenades, one machine gun, and a small guards unit. Well – you can’t
fight tanks like that. Averin gave the order ‘Save our banner!’ and his commissar wrapped
it around his body. Averin gave him a five-man bodyguard and ordered him to get across the
Don with it. That was the last anybody saw of our commander. It was all so desperate
– the whole of our front was disintegrating. I couldn’t make any sense of what was going
on. I felt so ineffectual, so completely and utterly lost.” From the skies above, Stukas battered the
Soviet lines, and finally succeeded in destroying all the bridges along the Don – severing the
Soviet lifeline to the east. Bystrik’s 189th Tank Brigade of 23rd Tank Corps fought hard
to stem the tide, supported by 17 guns from the 389th Anti-Tank Artillery Regiment. 160th
Panzer Battalion were so impressed by their resistance that they actually overestimated
the number of Soviet tanks that they faced. They thought the Soviets had 50, but in reality,
there were only 14 tanks in all of 23rd Tank Corps, and 4 of them were not operational.
However, even with this effort, the Soviet lines were broken. Hube’s panzers encircled
the 99th Tank Brigade, and then swarmed 23rd Tank Corps’ Headquarters, which was inside
a nearby farm, compelling Khasin and his staff to flee down a gully to get away from the
Germans. Not one step backwards indeed. The German tanks reached Ostrov by midday.
100th Jäger Division, having been converted into Kampfgruppe Weber, also advanced south-east,
reaching Gureyev. They alone took 2,190 prisoners in the process. As the northern front collapsed, to the south,
Hauenschild’s panzers also stampeded through the defences of the 112th Rifle Division.
With around 8,000 riflemen under his command, Sologub had a little more chance than Averin
had had – at least in theory. But in practice, the panzers quickly overwhelmed him, and his
division was thrown back to the east. Following up this effort, 76th and 297th Infantry Divisions
marched behind the panzers, and began to forge a corridor along the east bank of the Don. At this point, Kutznetzov’s 99th Tank Brigade
was isolated but continued to fight until their ammunition ran out. Parts of the unit
managed to break out, but the majority were annihilated, including Kutznetzov himself
who was killed in action. Then, just after dark, 16th and 24th Panzer Divisions linked
up at the outskirts of Kalach, isolating a large portion of Lopatin’s force to the
west. There’s actually a bit of a debate about
whether the linkup happened at this time, or not. Jason D. Mark says that the 24th Panzer
Division didn’t linkup with the 16th Panzer Division until the 9th of August – in two
days time. Other sources, such as Glantz and Isaev, say that the linkup happened either
late on the 7th, or early on the 8th of August. Isaev actually points out that the 16th Panzer
Division sent a radio message to Berlin in the early hours of the 8th saying that they
had linked up. But that could just be the eagerness of 16th Panzer Division. Perhaps
some reconnaissance troops of 24th Panzer Division had reached them, but not the main
grouping of the division, and thus it wasn’t a full-linkup until the 9th. (You know, there
could be a few possibilities.) Either way, it’s not clear exactly when the linkup did
take place. But what we can definitely say is that (regardless
of whether the linkup had happened or not by this point) for the next few days, the
German line wasn’t a solid line. The front was fluid, and there were gaps between the
various mobile kampfgruppen, and also between them and the follow-up infantry units. These
gaps allowed isolated Soviet units to flee or break out of the pocket to the East over
the next couple of days. Therefore, linkup or not, it’s not so important
because the gaps made the linkup irrelevant until the gaps were closed, which probably
happened by the 9th. But anyway – This pocket – the Kalach Pocket – comprised
of the 91st Guards Rifle Regiment of the 33rd Guards Division; 147th, 181st, and 229th Rifle
Divisions; two officer cadet schools; the 645th, 650th and 651st Separate Tank Battalions;
and the 508th, 555th, 881st, 1,185th and 1,252nd Anti-Tank Regiments. Around about 28,000 men
were encircled in this pocket, along with 17 T-34s, and 39 T-60s, and a host of other
equipment. The Germans were already proclaiming a great – and exaggerated – victory. “…eight infantry divisions and ten armoured
brigades are said to be wiped out.” Much further south, 4th Panzer Army remained
stalled. However, the Germans decided to consolidate their positions by sending two Kampfgruppen
to Abganerovo Station in order to trap Soviet forces in a small pocket there. Kampfgruppe
Kandt, which was spearheaded by the 129th Panzer Battalion, aimed southwest, while Kampfgruppe
Ulich prepared to move north to meet them. While 29th Motorized Division sorted their
situation out, 14th Panzer Division was ordered to hold their ground, and continued to repulse
incoming Soviet assaults. So Kandt’s attack got under way. The weather
was hot, dry, windy and dusty as infantry climbed onto the rear of Gradl’s tanks.
Stukas rained down fire on the Soviet lines as Gradl sliced into the seem between Naumov’s
690th Rifle Regiment and Major Ivanov’s 550th Rifle Regiment. They drove straight
into Captain Malakhov’s 358th Artillery Regiment, which pulverized them with anti-tank
rounds, causing Gradl to retreat. At this point, just as the Germans fell back,
Colonel Krichman’s 6th Guards Tank Brigade, with 44 T-34s, counterattacked. Both sides
locked horns in a vicious brawl, as copious amounts of Soviet artillery fire shook the
earth. A shell splinter wounded Major Gradl, and he was replaced by Hauptmann Bonwetsch
of 1st Company – a humble man who, according to Jason D. Mark, was overly caring for his
subordinates. A unit of German troops entered the Abganerovo
Station area, but were destroyed by Beketov’s 2nd Battalion from 690th Rifle Regiment. The
Germans attacked again, this time with two infantry battalions and 18 panzers, forcing
Beketov’s men back. The regimental commissar – Shvets – rallied Beketov’s men and led
them in a counter-attack. When Shvets was killed in the afternoon (apparently throwing
grenades at a German tank) nearby Soviet troops were inspired by his sacrifice and enraged
by his death: so much so that they counterattacked and managed to repulse the German attacks. Meanwhile, Kampfgruppe Ulich had been delayed
by a Soviet strike to its rear. It only got going in the afternoon, but stalled after
advancing 5 kilometers. “The main reason why the division did not
succeed was the changed mood of their opponent. No longer did Red Army units flee when German
armour broke into the rear echelons and threatened encirclement. Although boxed in on three sides,
the men of the 126th Rifle Division fought like cornered wolves and offered unwavering
resistance.” At this point, 14th Panzer Division wanted
to pull back its left wing in order to form a hedgehog position around Tinguta. If this
happened, a gap would be created between 14th Panzer and 29th Motorized Divisions, and that
wouldn’t be good. So Fremerey said that he would move up Kampfgruppe Ulich to join
Kampfgruppe Kandt the next day, thus closing the gap and stabilizing the situation. In between Kempf’s corps and the 6th Army,
the Romanian 1st Infantry Division once again tried to cross the Aksai. They managed to
push some miles into the 157th Rifle Division’s lines, having attacked slightly to the east
from their last attack. Chuikov’s Southern Operational Group, which by this point had
approximately 23,800 men in total, had been forced to commit the 154th Naval Rifle Brigade
in between the 157th and 138th Rifle Divisions, and only had the 208th Rifle Division in reserve.
This was the division which had been shattered before it had even arrived on the battlefield,
and at this point was still reforming. So Chuikov wouldn’t be able to use it at this
time. Nevertheless, he was committed to mounting
a counterattack against the Romanians, and did so that evening, when the Luftwaffe couldn’t
hit them. Lyudnikov’s force struck from the north-west, while Kuropatenko hit from
the south east. The counterattack was a complete success, and the Romanians were thrown back.
So much so that they actually kept quiet for the next few days, which was good news, since
Chuikov’s troops were running out of ammunition, mainly due to logistical issues. “There was a threat of ‘bullet starvation’,
and the threat grew. Previously we had received as many supplies as we were able to transport,
but now some of the trucks we sent for ammunition returned empty.” 8th of August 1942. The wind had dropped,
and temperatures hit a high of 46 degrees Celsius in the shade. So it was hot. Seydlitz’s and Langermann’s Corps’ pushed
north and east; Strecker, with the 389th Infantry and 100th Jager Divisions pushed south; and
16th and 24th Panzer Divisions turned west, pushing the trapped troops away from the Don.
The remnants of Soviet formations in the pocket formed ad hoc combat groups and continued
to fight on, but in spite of this effort, the pocket was squeezed tighter and tighter
over the course of the day. Inside this cauldron, columns of Soviet vehicles
streamed east, trying to reach the Don crossings, only to find their routes blocked, and themselves
pulverized by Stukas. At some point in the evening, Novikov of the 181st Rifle Division
received the order to form and command a battle group with Utvenko of the 33rd Guards Rifle
Division. His orders were to breakout to the east. “At the moment we received the order to
break through to the east I had up to 3,000 men, 17 guns and 13 light tanks. We set out
in two columns straight ahead through the balki. We were towing out guns by hand. We
broke through along a narrow front, losing about 300 men.” Meanwhile, the remnants of the 112th Rifle
Division, supported by a handful of tanks from 121st and 137th Tank Brigades, held onto
a small bridgehead south of Kalach. These Soviet formations were desperately trying
to evacuate over one burning railway bridge – the last bridge in their area. But the Germans
broke through their lines. And, fearing that the bridge would fall into German hands, someone
decided to blow the bridge in the afternoon. With the last route now cut, the formations
on the western bank of the Don had self-pocketed themselves, further adding to the scale of
the disaster. To the south, as planned, Kampfgruppe Kandt
attacked south, near Point 169, in order to assist Kampfgruppe Ulich. But Ulich’s advance
stalled under heavy Soviet resistance, and both sides lost about 5 tanks each. The Germans
also had 4 men taken prisoner. However, 29th Motorized Division had also
captured Soviet prisoners, and discovered that the Soviets were preparing a bigger counter-attack
in the area. This was true: Shumilov had finally formed a counter-attacking force to the north
of 48th Panzer Corps. For this new attack, he had prepared the 38th, 126th, and 204th
Rifle Divisions for action, as well as Colonel Tanaschishin’s reorganised 13nd Tank Corps.
This now consisted of the 6th Guards Tank Brigade, the 13th Tank Brigade, and the 254th
Tank Brigade, with a total of 27 T-34s and 4 T-70s. There was also the 133rd Heavy Tank
Brigade, with either 22 or 40 KV tanks (the sources vary on the numbers). And over the
next few weeks, Tanaschishin received a steady stream of additional tanks – 97 in total – to
keep this force in battle. Considering that 4th Panzer Army’s units
had already stalled and were unable to straighten out their front, this counter-attack had the
potential to do some serious damage.

100 thoughts on “BATTLESTORM STALINGRAD S2/E5 – Disaster at the Don

  • Hey everyone! As we all know, the Stalingrad pocket relief attempt (Operation Winter Storm) didn’t go so well, and Paulus’s 6th Army suffered the consequences. Well, I’ve narrated Anton Joly's latest video, in which the primary source documents give some interesting clues to what happened… especially about the state of the 6th Army, and Manstein’s inability to issue the order for the breakout. Check it out:
    Also, subscribe to Anton Joly because I’ll be doing more narrations and things on his channel in the future. Cheers!

  • The 1st Romanian Division established a bridgehead across the Askay River between the Soviet 138th and 157th Divisions (4:05 mark). Who tries to hold a riverline, then allows the primary avenue of approach across that river to be the "joint responsibility" (meaning – nobody is actually responsible) for two units? An attack across that bridge would automatically begin to open the seam and place the attacker on the flanks of both Soviet divisions.

  • THANK GOD. Tik, I've been checking your channel almost every day waiting for a new video. I was starting to think the suffering would never end.

  • You used the modern Romanian anthem (dates from 1848, same with the music, so still OK to use). This was the anthem back then:

  • 9:16 “the panzers must be deployed on* mass” you put en. Regardless great work on the videos I appreciate the work you do but can’t donate for patron but if I had the money I would

  • Great as always.
    Like your approach of being neutral and present information, not judgement. Very much waiting for the next episode.

  • Overrated battle. Without the victory of the entente at first battle of the Marne this would never have happened. If you want to find information on that battle on youtube.. forget it…you won't.


  • Wow, some commissars actually behave as supposed. As many historians said, comissar position was highly dependent on the personal qualities of commissar.

  • 38:21 Such devastating losses! No wonder the Germans were rendered incapable of mounting any large scale offensives if they're sustaining such heavy casualties.

  • I wonder if the “historians” that suggest Germany produce more tanks, would they have done even worse Cus more tanks means more fuel consumption

  • Hi TIK, can you explain why the Soviets held the Kalach area west of the Don? Would it not have been more prudent to defend the east bank of the Don?

  • I've watched so many Vids over the years regarding Germany attacking Russia and the Germans ultimate downfall… And clearly by 43 they were done and dusted…

  • Thank you TIK! not a fan of leaving some fanboy comments like this one but i simply appreciate your work too much! so before even watching this one I wanna let you know your vids are amazing and important. take care!

  • TIK….when I click on the 3 vertical dots beside your YouTube icon, I do not get a Watch Later choice but a "Hide This Notification" and another choice of "Turn off all Content from TIK." The latter wording is not exact but close. You probably are aware but thought I'd mention it. I just send it to my email to "watch later." No problem. Typical for YouTube.

  • @TIK, I got a question. The panzer dash by Helm in 3:14 looks oddly familiar to the previous video with Rommel's dash in Battlestorm. May I know if the dashing range are similar as both commander experienced the identical struggle. If it is, I would think the commanders has reached the operational range limit of a panzer division instead of merely running out of fuel. The problem may be deeply rooted to the ground logistical system? What do you think?

  • Thanks for the vid, I wonder if you have planned another documentary like about the Soviet Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operations in the closing years of the war or any significant campaigns in the pacific and Southeast Asian areas?

  • @15:00

    Maybe the line of communication between Shumilov and Eremenko was cut, or Eremenko was not available at that time? It would make some sense that, if Shumilov could not get in touch with Eremenko in a timely fashion, Shumilov would seek to get authority/orders from an equivalent authority in the same general front/theater, lacking better options.

  • you literally couldn't make these videos without your maps you had commissioned from your friend in order not to breach copywrite and I'm guessing that explains the lack of key to hide the source material, the maps are a staggering accomplishment although the source data is clearly been used

  • I have a Theory that WW2 was won by the Allies because Germany did not go directly, did not pass Lenningrad & Moscow then go directly to the Soviet Oil fields. It is almost as if the German high command knew this. They fed Hitlers ego & mania with distractions.

  • I can't wait for the battle inside of the city, I hope it goes into mega detail, but if Tik misses the rosebush North West of the Canning Factory I will be furious.

  • You mispronounced “Weichs” it’s prounounced like the letter I in the middle. Always in german ei sounds like the letter ‘I’ whereas ie is sounds like the letter ‘e’ which was how you mispronounced it

  • I got fascinated with the Soviet experiences of WW2 some 35+ years ago in my early teens. The first 1/72nd scale tank model I built was a T-34 followed by a KV-1. I think the sheer scale of the drama and the apparent ineptitude and failures of their military yet STILL managing to achieve victory struck me as so apparently contradictory and compelling. Plus of course I grew up with the typical view of the Soviet Union, and thus was curious to try to understand the whole mess.
    You're doing your typically great job of meticulously bringing it to life. There's so much tragedy and remarkable feats of bravery and skill.
    It's always struck me as terribly unjust and sad, if understandable, that we in the West were never properly educated (mainly due to Cold War considerations) about the appalling losses inflicted on the common Soviet people and yet just how absolutely central they were to the destruction of the 3rd Reich.
    There's no doubting how dreadful the Soviet system was, and their most senior figures would be considered brutal criminals in a sane world, but it's as true of the Soviet peoples as any other that they are NOT the same as their government, especially when that government isn't answerable to them.
    My late partner grew up in Leningrad, coming to Australia when she was in her late teens in the early 90s. I had many truly remarkable conversations with her father in particular about growing up in the Soviet Union. He and his wife joked that their daughter somehow found an Australian with a better understanding of much of their history, with an appreciation of both the triumphs and catastrophes, than most of their former fellow citizens had, lol.

    For obvious reasons, then, I'm particularly engrossed in this series. Thanks for so much work and care to present 'truth' insofar as it's possible.

  • Thanks Tik, very comprehensive. Seeing the overall map of the situation e.g. 17:24 was handy as its hard to identify where some of the battles are taking place.

  • These make me wish TIK had done World at War, when I was growing up. I mean, Lawrence Olivier was knighted, but, he's not Louis, and BBC, can't touch this. Anyway, what I meant was, thanks, man, whoever you are… this is great WW2 obsessed youtube. Exceeds in detail any of the dozens of S-grad docus I have ever seen, and helps make it unnecessary for me to learn to read history, or play war games. Love this stuff!!

  • man to man: i love you, tik.

    i’ve been studying stalingrad going on 3 years now. so, when you started this series, i felt like christmas. when i have the means, i will absolutely thank you through patreon. thanks so much, man.

  • Hey TIK I am impressed by your content and watched every single video. I wanted to ask if you, like me, have always been interested in ww2 since you were a child. I mean, everyone here watching is a stable history nerd and/or Men of War-Addict (If that can be separated). In the future I'd like to see a battlestorm video about the battle of crete. Thanks!

  • I've seen logistic charts on the burn-rate of fuel/ammunition in the early stages of Blau but nothing on the usage during the 2nd battle of Kharkov in May. Obviously, the Soviets suffered greatly but the irreplaceable loss of material and fuel on the 6th army had to affects it going forward. That was a battle they didn't plan on fighting and the Luftwaffe saved the 6th army from defeat. Paulus was exposed in May.

  • A glass of whiskey, a nice cigar, and TIK's latest Stalingrad episode. Life is good! One question, the Germans had been in Russia for over a year at this point and it seems weird that they STILL are surprised at the lack of infrastructure in the country. Why didn't they adapt by bringing in more engineers?

  • 03:46 – nice to hear the present Romanian national anthem (Deșteaptă-te, române!), but

    it would have been even nicer to hear the Romanian national anthem of that time (Trăiască Regele aka Long live the King, was the national anthem of the Principality of Romania and later Kingdom of Romania between 1866 and 1947).

  • Panzers:
    We broke into their artillery positions, they will be defenseless!
    Zis-3s lowering their barrels:
    Are you sure about that

  • Pronounciation : "Hoth": in German no "th" exists, so a "th" is a a bit longer "t". "Weichs": it is not spelled english like "weeks" as an "ei" in German is pronounced like the English "i".

  • Pronounciation again: "Ulich" the German "ch" is not pronounced as the English one like in "Sandwich" but as a smooth "ch" a bit similiar like the "H" in "huge".

  • I wonder if you'll go into actions by partisan forces and their effect on German logistical supply? As always, a wonderfully detailed and excellent display of maps and unit movements! The lack of maps was always my gripe with most histories. Your work fills this gap wonderfully.

  • An army with more political officers than doctors really needs to be fighting nazis to have any chance of being on the right side of history.

  • I know that hindsight is always 20/20 and everything seems easy and simple to figure out by a "Why didn't they just do this" etc but you can really see the push/pull/problems within each command structure that is driving a lot of the bad decisions and it's brilliant to get this kind of in depth look imo. Great stuff TIK, I am especially loving this series as of yet!

  • Nice Romanian anthem moment. However, that is the current Romanian Anthem. The one used in WW2 was different. I think it was 'Hail the King' or something like that.

  • 5:27 Hilarious that Baranov's plane has little red stars in it to mark his victories, as if he had shot down other Soviet planes, instead of swas tikas or balken kreuzes. I guess the Stalinist system was so paranoid you couldn't paint enemy roundrels on your own plane even in miniature form in the universally recognized way to have a victory tally.

  • 7:21 "Romanian troops broke and fled.." Uh oh. This is in the face of an infantry-only attack in warm weather. I had bought in for a long time to the Romanian narrative that their having broken in the face of Soviet attacks in Operation Uranus was because while they were brave they were unable to dig into the frozen ground, and lacked anti-tank guns necessary to stop the T-34s. Those excuses don't work here..

  • THAT WAS FANTASTIC …….Pls concider a mini-series about Battle of Crete ,beginning with the invasion of Greece and the battles that took place ,before the climax in Maleme/Chania .

    PS- I wrote using capital font , just to emphasize my amazement !!!!!

  • Thank you! This level of detail really is helpful. Russian videos on Stalingrad usually gloss over the retreat to the city, and needlessly as even in retreat the Red Army fought and inflicted damage on the Germans.

  • This is good, because other videos and books gloss over so much of this detail. It is easy to understand because TIK speaks well, slowly and with emphasis,

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