Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Katyusha Effectiveness

"Information

Enemy soldiers on our artillery and mortars (based on interrogations of POWs, journals and letters of German and Hungarian troops)

POW Unteroffizier Franz Georg Lamus (222nd Infantry Regiment, 1st battalion, 4th company) says the following on the power of Russian weapons:

"Russia has many weapons. There are powerful airplanes. This goes against the stories were were told that the Red Army is poor and has nothing. The Stalinorgel (Katyusha) has the greatest effect on troops. When the mortar fires 42 shots everything living in the vicinity of the explosions burns. The sound of the explosions also has a negative effect on the morale of troops."

An unsent letter of soldier Erwin Kaiser from the 164th Infantry Regiment, 57th Infantry Division reads:

"December 12th, 1942. Our train with armament arrived at Voronezh station. The Russians noticed this... At 15:45 we hear the sound of Russian guns and the ground shakes for kilometers at the sound of a Stalinorgel concert. What used to be white is now black, holes the size of a house appear where there used to be hills."

August 9th, 1942. Hungarian soldier Illes Istvan wrote in his diary: "Artillery fired on us again in the morning, we withdrew to the edge of the village. I hid behind a house where there was a tough brick pillar. The sounds of Russian shells drew closer and closer. Around half past noon a terrible rain or mortar shells rained on us that set fire to the whole village. There were dead and wounded, several cars burned. Feldwebel Kochka was wounded. A splinter wounded the commander of our sapper squad... We ran from the village, as the Russians noticed movement and subjected it to powerful fire."

Gefreiter of the 3rd battalion of the 1st Hungarian Motorized Brigade Istvan Blag wrote in his diary: "August 8th, 1942. Artillery is always firing. Shells whistle above our heads from 3 to 6. At home they are preparing for the holidays, here we are constantly fearing death. At 11 the Stalinorgel spoke. My heart stopped. The village burst into flames, everyone ran where they could. The Russians destroyed an anti-tank gun with a car. The fire is out, but there is a storm of smoke all around. There are wounded.
August 15th, 1942.  ... Help me God and Holy Mother! It is 11. 5 Russian bombers bombed us. Machine guns fired at the left flank. At 10 we were hit by the Stalinorgel. It hit a truck with ammunition. Help us God! Don't leave me, Holy Mother!  ... The Stalinorgel sounds again. Again there are wounded in the battalion. Russian rifle, mortar, and artillery fire is powerful. In the evening the Stalinorgel fires again. Mines are bursting."
September 11th, 1942. We are moving forward. The Russians are bombing us. There are wounded. We enter the village (Storozhevoye, translator's note). There are many German and Hungarian corpses. Powerful artillery fire comes from all sides. The Stalinorgel fires."

Report of war experience of the summer 1942 campaign of the operational department of the 94th Infantry Division dated November 12th, 1942 reads: "The Russians successfully use large amounts of mortars with large amounts of ammunition. Our infantry does not fully use mortars, especially heavy mortars."

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