Friday 10 May 2013

Guardsmen in the Fall, Part 5: Battle at Shtepovka

"5. Battle at Shtepovka

The brigade left Padanki on the night of September 28th to 29th, and moved to north-east, concentrating in the forests west of Lifino, with one company remaining at Serobabino. 9th CD retreated to the Gostronurovo defensive line. 5th CD defended Mezherichi and Markovka. The 35th Motorized Division of the enemy, reinforced by a battalion of tanks from the 9th Tank Division, was located in Malinovka and further south along the river Suna.

The roads were muddy, and unsuitable for wheeled transport. The weather was cloudy, and it was raining. The brigade was ordered by Major-general comrade Belov to capture Shtepovka by the end of September 29th, and hold it until reinforcements from the 9th CD arrive at nightfall. Elements of the brigade approached Shtepovka at 23:00 on September 29th, crushed the enemy guard, and fought until 5:00 on September 30th. Without tank or cavalry support, they were forced to retreat to Yakovenki. Tanks and cavalry, due to the poor roads and dark night, were held up, and the mission was unsuccessful. 

Additional tanks were assigned to the 6th Guards ITB to attack Shtepovka and hold it, supported by elements of the 9th CD. During this operation, a group of tanks from the brigade noticed a column of 40 vehicles and enemy infantry, and attacked it. The enemy fled, leaving behind some vehicles, 15 dead, and one captured. At the same time, another column was spotted moving from Malinovka to Shtepovka. Taking fire from tanks and AT guns, the column was stopped and scattered. The enemy lost 3 tanks and 15 vehicles. 

At 16:00, the attack on Shtepovka began. Tanks and motorized infantry fought until nightfall. The enemy resisted, and forced us to retreat at 21:00. The enemy lost:
  • Vehicles: 40
  • Guns: 8-10
  • Infantry: two companies
Another attack on Shtepovka was scheduled for October 1st. After an artillery barrage, tank-borne infantry advanced on Shtepovka and destroyed a series of hardpoints, as well as infantry scattered through the village. At 20:00, Shtepovka was secured. The enemy lost:
  • Vehicles: 95
  • Guns: 60
  • Motorcycles: 20
  • Tanks: 8
  • Tractors: 18
  • Aircraft: 1
  • Infantry: two battalions
We captured: 
  • Light vehicles: 11
  • Heavy vehicles: 15
  • Tank machine guns: 8
  • Ammunition: 40 000 rounds"

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