Sunday 2 February 2014

Battle at Volhov River

Portrait caption: "Martynov, Aleksandr Maksimovich"
Photograph caption: "KV tank commander Lieutenant Martynov and enemy tanks captured at the village of Zhubkino"

"Battles at the Volhov River
In the region of villages Nikiforovo, Zhubkino, Zadnevo, Andreevo

The enemy was stopped at Mga, but, at the end of October, made an attempt to break through to Lake Ladoga from the south, and take the large railroad station Volhovstroy. 

The tank brigade, with assistance from the 6th Naval Brigade, received an objective: stop the enemy's progress on the right and left shores of the Volhov river.

During the end of October, the brigade was sent out from Apraksin-Gorodok, and concentrated in the region of Veltsy, from where scouts were sent to Zamoshye, Zarechye, and Dunyakovo. The scouts established that the village Dunyakovo is occupied by the enemy. Bridges at Chernorechye and Zadnevo are destroyed, bridges at Nikiforovo, Zarechye, and Zamozhye are old, and cannot carry much weight. Tanks cannot pass there. The terrain left and right of roads is a swampy forest, making deploying tanks difficult. 

On November 1st, two T-34 tanks and one BA-20 armour car were sent in the direction of Volhov, Vyndin Ostrov, and Cherentsovo, under the command of Captain Kudryavtsev, subordinate to the commander of the 331st Infantry Division with the objective of supporting the division in the attack on Andreevo. 

As a result of the battle, the enemy was knocked out of Andreevo on November 2nd, the objective was completed, and the tanks were transferred to the region of Gatika and Pankovo, where the enemy was threatening to encircle the 285th Infantry Division. Thanks to the tanks, elements of the 285th Infantry Division took Olomne by 18:00 on November 3rd, 1941."

Portrait caption: "Senior Mechanic-Driver of Martynov's KV, Senior Sergeant Serov"
Painting caption: "Lieutenant Martynov's engagement with a company of German tanks."

"Tank crews took out 1 AT gun, 2 mortars, 1 machine gun, and up to 150 enemy soldiers and officers.

On November 5th, 1941, the same two tanks covered the retreat of infantry units for three and a half hours, while holding the village of Narostynya. In this battle, the tanks destroyed 4 AT guns, a company mortar, 2 hand machine guns, and up to 50 soldiers of the enemy.

At the same time, a second group of tanks under the command of Captain Yurenkov, supported by infantry from the 6th Naval Brigade, entered Nikiforovo on November 4th, destroyed a group of enemy submachinegunnners, and took up defensive positions north of Zamoshye. Tanks were buried into the ground and fired while stationary. In this battle, Lieutenant Antonyuk destroyed two enemy tanks and one armoured car. 

On November 8th, 1941, an enemy battalion with mortar support and a tank company occupied Zhubkino, and started moving south-west. Two infantry companies from the 6th Naval Brigade with the support of one KV tank and two T-26 tanks counterattacked, dealt significant damage to the enemy, and threw them back to initial positions. 

Lieutenant Martynov's KV crew distinguished themselves in this battle, fighting a German tank company for two and a half hours, destroying 5 enemy tanks and capturing 3 intact. 

For this, Lieutenant Martynov is awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

The few tanks that remained worked with infantry in small groups in the region of Zhubkino, Nikiforovo, Zadnevo, Kukol', and Bor.

Meanwhile, MSPb protected the village of Zarechye, covering the retreat of elements of the 6th Naval Brigade, in the direction of Moiseevo. In the morning of November 4th, 1941, the task was completed, and the battalion, in full numbers and organized fashion, broke out of encirclement, and subsequently defended Zamoshyevo, Panevo, and even advanced in the region of Slavkovo, but due to a lack of ammunition and supplies, combined with a complete lack of roads, had to withdraw to the region of Beltsy, where it joined up with Major General Martyanov's forces, and was sent to the region of Vyachokovo in order to capture it. 

The commander of the 5th Army personally issued thanks to the MSPb for successfully capturing Vyachkogo."

I'd like to focus on that episode that earned Martynov his Gold Star. To the archives!

"On November 8th, 1941, his tank engaged 8 fascist tanks in battle. Despite being outnumbered, Martynov demonstrated bravery, tactical cleverness, and, as a result, destroyed 5 enemy tanks with precise gunfire, and captured 3 for his unit. In that battle, comrade Martynov also destroyed 50 soldiers and officers, and 7 ammunition transports."

Seems that the two T-26es that accompanied Martynov didn't participate in the tank battle. Let's see what the Germans have to say about the battle.

The documents match up. The Germans lost 5 Pz 38(t) tanks, as well as 1 man dead and 4 wounded. However, according to them, there were several heavy tanks. It appears that either the KV cloned itself when no one was looking, or the T-26 tanks count as heavies when it's convenient. 

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