Wednesday 16 July 2014

Guards Application

A unit doesn't just receive a Guards designation all willy-nilly. Like any title, it must be earned. The commander of the 16th Tank Brigade compiled a report in order to apply for the status of a Guards brigade. His efforts were insufficient, but not unrewarded, as his brigade was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.

"Summary of the combat action of the 16th Tank Brigade, starting from September 23rd, 1941

To the Military Council of the 54th Army

A report on the combat action of the 16th Tank Brigade over the course of 8 months of the Patriotic War.

A. Combat action of the brigade

The 16th Tank Brigade began formation in the city of Vladimir during a difficult time for our Motherland. In 19 days, on September 23rd, 1941, it entered battle on the south shore of Lake Ladoga as a part of the 54th Army, and fought for 8 months nonstop along with infantry of this army. The army always successfully crushed fascist scum, cleaving the path to victory for infantry, even in difficult forested and swamped areas, limiting action to 2-3 tanks, or even single vehicles, in the Sinyavino-Mgin, Volhov, and Tikhvin directions. Many battles are shining examples of this success:
  1. Battles for Gontavaya Lipka and Tortolovo
  2. Battles around Volhov: Zhubkino, Zamoshye, Vyachkovo
  3. Battles in the Tikhvin direction, where the brigade was covering a 40 km front: Sorokino, Valya, Hvalovo, height 70.9 ("cannon mountain")
  4. Capture of villages Shala and Dubovik
  5. Actions of the brigade at Lipovik (twice)
These are far from all examples of the courage and bravery of the brigade members, remorselessly crushing the enemy, in most cases while outnumbered. Even in cases when the situation did not allow for organization of cooperation with infantry, tankers and motorized infantry of the brigade improvised cooperation on the the battlefield, demonstrating resourcefulness, bravery, and heroism, stopped at nothing, and always emerged victorious, leading accompanying personnel by example.
  1. Most powerful anti-tank and anti-infantry fortifications at Gontovaya Lipka were taken with help from the 310th and Guards 4th Infantry Divisions on October 21-22nd, 1941, involving a river crossing.
  2. Right after Gontovaya Lipka, the brigade captured the no worse defended fortifications at Tortolovo (the infantry lagged behind) and held it against counterattacks for a day.
  3. In early November 1941, the 16th Tank Brigade was transferred to the left flank of the 54th Army, where the city of Volhov was in danger of being captured, cutting off elements of the 54th Army.
    Moving on both shores of the river, in cooperation with weakened retreating elements of the 285th Infantry Division, 6th Naval Brigade, the 16th Tank Brigade:
    1. Stopped the enemy's further advance northwards towards the joint between the 54th and 4th Armies.
    2. Prevented the capture of Volhov and the encirclement of the 54th Army.
  4. Having held the enemy in the Volhov direction, the 16th Tank Brigade (less its motorized infantry battalion) was dismounted at the joint between the 54th and 4th Armies across a front of 40 km, where its actions aided the 4th Army in its famous defeat of the fascist occupants in the Tihvin region.
  5. In the middle of March of 1942, the brigade, in cooperation with the 294th Infantry Division, penetrated the enemy fortifications at Pogostye and Zharok, after which, acting on the initiative of the commander of the 1st Independent Tank Battalion, Major Kudryavtsev, the Shal Fortification Region (village Shal) was hit from three sides with tank infantry (March 12th, 1942), guaranteeing the successful penetration of the region by the 4th Guards Infantry Corps.
    For the capture of the Shal fortifications, the Military Council of the Leningrad Front thanked the 16th Tank Brigade.
  6. On March 25th, 1942, the 16th Tank Brigade was roused by the Staff Commander of the 54th Army, Major-General Berezinskiy, and transferred in the direction of the Dubovik-Zenino and regional border intersection, with the aim of defeating the threat to the left flank of the 4th Guards Infantry Corps, which was successfully breaking through in the Korodynya-Luban direction.
    The brigade, in cooperation with the thinned out 198th Infantry Division, captured marker 41.3 near river Reli, dealing great damage to the enemy and disrupting the joint between the Kirish and Maluksin groups.
  7. Having been removed from combat to restore its vehicles, the 16th Tank Brigade was transferred to the region north of Dubovik and, in cooperation with 285th Infantry Division, captured Dubovik and held it for two days under intense artillery fire and bombings.
  8. In cooperation with elements of the 4th Guards Infantry Corps, in operations from May 8th to May 11th, the 16th Tank Brigade, in most difficult conditions of spring mud, in a thick forest, through swamps and minefields, laid a path for the infantry to capture the Klin grove, crossed the river Chagoda, and blocked off the Dubovik-Lipovik road, which earned an expression of gratitude from the commander of the 4th Guards Infantry Corps.
The brigade owes these successes to its collective of combat brotherhood, bearing true heroes of the Patriotic war, having taught tens and then hundreds of tank destroyers, sharpshooters, AA gunners in battle, carefully and skilfully applying the mighty combat vehicles they have been given. 

Over the 8 months of its presence in battle, the brigade has not seen one instance of its members attempting to evade their task of protecting the Motherland. On the contrary, the brigade is proud of names known by the whole country, such as:
  1. Senior Lieutenant Martynov: In a battle by the village of Zhubkino, he took one KV tank into battle against a German tank company. Outnumbered, he returned victorious, having destroyed 5 tanks and captured 3 (the crews fled), with the remaining 6 tanks avoiding battle. Comrade Martynov also destroyed one armoured car, 15 horse carts, up to 8 "Hanses" and "Fritzes", and towed his trophies intact to the repair and fuel station.
  2. Senior Lieutenant Antonyuk: Participated in 43 attacks. Destroyed 27 AT guns, 25 mortars, 48 machineguns, 5 tanks, one ammunition depot, 2 field guns, 34 dugouts, 1 field kitchen, and up to 1000 soldiers and officers.
  3. Senior Lieutenant Bachilov: His vehicle was the first to penetrate enemy defenses at Dubovik, having destroyed 5 AT guns, 5 AT rifles, 4 mounted and 6 hand-held machineguns, 10 carts with ammunition, 8 earth emplacements, 12 dugouts, and up to 100 soldiers and officers. Bachilov's tank was damaged, and could not move, so he was forced to remain in enemy territory. The enemy gathered 100 submachinegunners and a tank to try and capture Bachilov's vehicle, but his courageous crew destroyed the enemy tank, after which the enemy knocked out his gun and machinegun. As the enemy drew closer, Bachilov made the only correct decision, to call artillery fire on his location. Bachilov corrected artillery fire through his radio, not leaving his vehicle for the enemy.
  4. Junior Lieutenant Sherstnev: During a night attack in the Shal region, his vehicle lost a track and it slipped off the road wheels. The enemy advanced, wishing to capture the vehicle. Sherstnev repaired the track at night, resuming the attack in the morning, destroying 8 earth emplacements, 7 machinegun nests, captured an anti-tank gun, 2 mounted machineguns, 40,000 rounds for them, and killed up to 250 fascists. Sherstnev was wounded with shrapnel to the back, but did not leave the battle, serving as a commander of two tanks at once (the commander of the other was heavily wounded).
  5. Senior Lieutenant Polyakov: Heroically defended a tank stuck in a hole (Shal region). His cool-headness and courage triumphed and he left 20 fascist corpses lying next to the tank. Before the next battle, Polyakov was accepted as a VKP(b) candidate. In that battle, he destroyed one medium tank, two mortar batteries, 4 dugouts with infantry, 20 submachinegunners. Our infantry was pinned down by mortar and machinegun fire. Comrade Polyakov exited his tank and raised the infantry into an attack with cries "For the Motherland, for Stalin!". The enemy was routed, but in this battle, comrade Polyakov fell the death of brave men, having completed his battle objective.
  6. Junior Lieutenant Vasilyev: Participated in 9 attacks, and, during the last one, in the region of Dubovik, he was trapped in an encirclement with a group of infantry. He continued fighting for three days with no refills of fuel or ammunition, having taken up the initiative of coordinating infantry and tank actions. Over three days, Vasilyev destroyed 28 dugouts, 5 AT guns, 8 mortars, and up to 500 soldiers and officers, captured a large amount of ammunition and other trophies. 
  7. Captain Kiryashin: Former platoon commander, currently the commander of the motorized infantry battalion. With his rifle, he killed 200 fascists. Kiryashin trained a group of soldiers numbering over 150 which proved themselves in combat against fascist scum.
  8. Former Private, currently Senior Sergeant Pershin, a student of Captain Kiryashin. Went on several scouting missions behind enemy lines. Twice performed particularly daring raids:
    1. In the first, he stole a hand machinegun with ammunition from a German machinegunner, and then killed the machinegunnner with a grenade.
    2. In the second, with a small group of scouts, he penetrated deep into enemy lines, scattered the Germans' rifles, and then killed them by throwing grenades into chimneys. Aside from that, he killed 50 soldiers and officers with his PPSh.
This list of heroes is by no means complete (see attachment #1). These "aged" heroes train the brigade for more and more victories.

Over 8 months of battles, the 16th Tank Brigade has fought a numerically superior enemy, having crossed forests, swamps, rivers, deep snow, off-road terrain, and delivered crushing blows to the enemy, completing missions for the Army and the Front as a powerful cohesive fighting force. It is a menace to the enemy and a reliable foundation, capable of completing any task on the front of this Patriotic War.

The Brigade captured and destroyed the following in 8 months (September 23rd 1941 to May 20th, 1942)
Item Destroyed Captured Total
Anti-tank guns 136 25 161
Tanks 61 3 64
Machineguns 152 159 311
Mortars 217 42 259
75 mm infantry cannons 11 - 11
SMGs - 41 41
Rifles - 554 554
Radios - 8 8
Anti-tank rifles 9 10 19
MG barrels - 16 16
Flamethrowers - 6 6
Pistols - 7 7
Shells - 3480 3480
Rifle rounds - 86000 86000
Mines - 1870 1870
Grenades - 2400 2400
Flares - 500 500
Cars 1 4 5
Warehouses - 1 1
Horses 25 35 60
Kitchens 1 1 2
Soldiers and officers 8913 13 8926
Airplanes 14 - 14
Armoured cars 4 - 4
Tankettes 2 - 2
Motorcycles 2 - 2
Dugouts 448 - 448
Earth fortifications 181 - 181
Tents 27 - 27
Fuel warehouses 2 - 2
Ammunition warehouses 2 - 2
Sheds with infantry and equipment 2 - 2
Carts 25 35 60
Then there are a bunch of stats on political work (VLKSM membership, party membership, amount of money spent on war loans, stuff like that) that isn't very interesting. Then we get to more good stuff, awards.

"214 men from the brigade were recommended for a government award, 105 of which have already been awarded. The Military Council of the 54th Army has declared gratitude and awarded monetary or otherwise valuable items to 5 members of intermediate commanders, 7 members of junior commanders, and gratitude was expressed to 35 Red Armymen, 61 members of junior commanders, and 75 members of  intermediate and senior commanders."

Some more pomp about gratitudes, previously described above, goes here. This article is getting long enough, so attachments of more detailed successes of the brigade are going into another part.

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