Friday 12 March 2021

School of Hard Knocks

 "Order to units of the Leningrad Front #032

Active army
September 16th, 1941

I assigned one tank battalion each (84th and 107th Independent Tank Battalions) to the Slutsk-Kolpino Fortified Region and the 22nd Fortified Region with the special objective of reinforcing the fortified regions' firepower and not for use in counterattacks.

However, on September 5th, 1941, the commander of the 1025th Rifle Regiment of the 291st Rifle Division Major Belousov sent out one KV tank from an ambush to attack Beloostrov, as a result of which the tank was disabled and abandoned on the battlefield. The commander took no action to recover this tank over the course of two days.

On September 6th, 1941, Major General Zaitsev, the representative of the Front Staff in the 4th People's Militia Division, ordered the commander of the 2nd Tank Company to send a T-50 tank and two KV tanks with the following objective: "Perform reconnaissance in front of the fortified region and capture Peschanka and Perevoz". He did not notify the battalion commander.

As a result of improper use, the T-50 tank was hit and burned up, two crew members were killed. One KV tank was hit with mines, the other got stuck in a swamp north of the peat farm. Major General Zaitsev did not take any measures to evacuate the tanks.

This kind of behaviour is criminal and requires strict investigation.

I order that:

  1. It is categorically forbidden to remove tanks from ambushes and send them into attacks or prematurely reveal their presence by opening fire at targets.
  2. When organizing counterattacks with tanks from their reserves combined arms commanders must organize artillery support and a reliable infantry escort.
  3. The responsibility to evacuate knocked out or bogged down tanks lies on the combined arms commanders to whom these tanks are subordinate.
  4. The commanders of the 55th and 23rd Armies are to investigate the aforementioned acts of criminal misuse of tanks and hold the guilty parties responsible.
Commander of the Leningrad Front, Hero of the Soviet Union, General of the Army, Zhukov
Member of the Military Council, Central Committee of the VKP(b) Secretary, Zhdanov
Chief of Staff of the Leningrad Front, Lieutenant General Hozin"


  1. Do we know if those commanders were actually punished?

    1. No idea, if they were executed then it would be easy to find out, but I doubt it.