On the afternoon of the 14th of September 1942, German infantry reached the shoreline
of the Volga inside the city of Stalingrad. There, they proceeded to set up anti-tank
guns and fortify their positions in the Gosbank, the House of Specialists, and other buildings
nearby. They then sank two Soviet barges, and a ferry, crossing the Volga, as around
60 men from Petrakovs NKVD unit held on desperately to the bank. These policemen were
the last skirmish line stopping the Germans from dipping their toes in the Volga, and
their ammunition was quickly running out.
Another group of NKVD troops from 62nd Armys staff fought their way north and reached Petrakovs
men. Ivan Yerofeyev described what happened.
It was a scene of indescribable chaos Everything was burning, everybody was shouting
and screaming. German planes were attacking in relays, coming down really low, first machine
gunning and then bombing The harbour was in flames and the heat reached such intensity
that the Katyusha rockets, unloaded and stacked by the quayside, suddenly ignited. They were
all flying out of their boxes, exploding everywhere like ghastly fireworks. We were desperately
running about, trying to separate the ammunition boxes, with German snipers picking us off
all the time.
By 1800 hours, the men of the tankless 6th Tank Brigade were fighting German submachine
gunners near Station No. 1. And other units were in a terrible state too. The 1315th Rifle
Regiment of the 399th Rifle Division was down to just 36 men. It was clear that, if the
Soviets didnt get reinforcements, they were going to lose the centre of the city.
But that afternoon, General Aleksandr Ilich Rodimtsev stumbled into Chuikovs command
post. Rodimtsev had just crossed the Volga, his uniform covered in dust and mud having
repeatedly thrown himself to the ground to avoid German bombs.
He was a veteran of the Red Army, having already earned the title of Hero of the Soviet
Union during the Spanish Civil War. More importantly, he was the commander of the 13th
Guards Rifle Division which had just arrived on the eastern bank of the Volga.
This was the fourth time 13th Guards Rifle Division had been re-formed, having originally
started out as the 87th Rifle Division (which was destroyed, reformed, then converted into
the 13th Guards Rifle Division). 13th Guards then got crushed again during the opening
stages of Fall Blau, and had just 33 men left on the 15th of July 1942. It was then evacuated
to the Urals for rest and refitting, before reappearing again on the 14th of September
The division now had between 9,500 and 10,000 men... and this is where we come to one of
the great myths about the Battle of Stalingrad - the one rifle per two soldiers myth.
Portrayed in films like Enemy at the Gates, but also a lot of the older books (like Beevors
popular Stalingrad or Craigs Enemy at the Gates), it has been suggested that
the 13th Guards Rifle Division was without its full complement of rifles when it entered
Stalingrad. It thus sent its soldiers charging into combat in unarmed waves, with commissars
shooting them if they dared to retreat. Since a lot of people in the west subscribe to the
idea portrayed within the film or the books, its worth addressing it, and the one
rifle two soldiers thing, once and for all.
In this film (an entertaining film - Ill give it that) Vassili Zaitsev (who wasnt
even a member of the 13th Guards Rifle Division, which was the one supposedly short of rifles)
crosses over the Volga in daylight (which he didnt do, he crossed at night). Then
Zaitsev is hoarded with the rest of the unarmed men towards a truck to be either given a rifle,
or some bullets. As this happens, the officer or commissar (its not clear which) shouts -
The one with the rifle shoots. The one without, follows him. When the one with the
rifle gets killed, the one who is following picks up the rifle and shoots.
Except the men either get a rifle OR the bullets. They dont get both. So the one with
the rifle cant shoot because he doesnt have any bullets. So yes, the film is that
bad, it even gets its own script wrong. (Although its possible they did this intentionally
to make the Soviets look even worse.)
But, even overlooking this issue, is there any truth to the idea that there was one guy
with a rifle and one guy with bullets? And is there any truth to the idea that 13th Guards
Rifle Division went into combat without enough weapons? Well, Glantz says that at least 1,000
men of Rodimtsevs division didnt have rifles, probably getting this information
from Chuikov who thought that too.
More than a thousand of [Rodimtsevs] soldiers had no rifles.
And in his book, Craig says they were short 2,000 rifles, not 1,000. But is this really
the case? True, the division reached the Volga area on the 13th of September without enough Rifles.
But as Isaev points out, the lack of rifles at this point was mainly in the rear-services
and artillery units, not the front-line rifle battalions (the units going into battle).
The artillery units (except anti-tank) stayed on the East bank of the Volga. And that was
just on the 13th of September. The report clearly states that the division was then
armed on the East bank of the river on the 14th and 15th before being sent across overnight
on the 14th to the 15th. The division went in piecemeal, so not all units crossed over
at the same time. Some didnt arrive until the evening of the 15th and 16th. Therefore,
the soldiers actually had their full complement of rifles by the time they moved into the
city of Stalingrad.
Isaev does note that the division didnt have its full complement of heavy machine-guns
on the 13th of September. But again, they didnt throw their machine-gunners at the
enemy in unarmed waves. Instead, Eremenko had ordered that the division replace a portion
of its heavy machine guns with sub-machine guns, which were much more suited for the
city fight. These were given to the troops by the 15th of September. Even Chuikov - straight
after he mentions that they dont have enough rifles - even Chuikov suggests that the men of the division
got their weapons in time -
The Front Military Council had instructed the Front Deputy Commander, Lieutenant-General
Golikov, to see to it that the weapons the Division needed were delivered to the Krasnaya
Sloboda area by the evening of September 14. There was no guarantee, however, that they
would arrive in time. I immediately ordered my deputy in charge of the Armys rear,
General Lobov, who was on the left bank of the Volga, to collect guns among the Armys
rear units and hand them over to the guardsmen.
So not only did Eremenko give them enough rifles or submachine-guns, but Chuikov may
have given them even more. Therefore, it is wrong to think that the Red Army sent unarmed
men into combat at Stalingrad. And if there were any shortages, they didnt order the
men to charge at the enemy one with a rifle and one without. To conclude, well end
with this quote from Anton Joly.
A long-lasting myth is thus finally dispelled.
By the way, if you havent seen Anton Jolys Suzdal Camp series, which is about the fate
of the German generals captured at Stalingrad (including Paulus), you really really should.
Theres a reason why hes only got 19 thousand subscribers, yet the first video
in the series has 754 thousand views. The reason why is because its brilliant! So
Ill leave a link in the description, and at the end of the video.
Anyway, Chuikov ordered Rodimtsev to ferry his division across the Volga, with two of
his regiments to clear the centre of the city, and another to secure Mamaev Kurgan. Chuikov
then asked Rodimtsev how he felt about his orders.
I am a Communist. I have no intention of abandoning the city.
This was good because the 62nd Army was on the brink. The Germans occupied the Specialists
buildings, the Gosbank, the Brewery, the Railway buildings, and the L-Shaped House. A German
sniper now killed the chief administrator at the landing stage, then got the commissar
who replaced him. From the Gosbank, German machine guns compelled Petrakovs NKVD policemen
and the boarder-guards to keep their heads down, while the Germans used a Soviet 76.2mm
gun that theyd just captured to fire at the ferries on the Volga. Yet, the Germans
couldnt take the last few metres because the handful of Soviet troops counterattacked,
retaking the 76.2mm gun. Petrakovs men then turned this gun against the Germans in
the State Bank, while other artillery and Katyusha rockets from across the Volga blasted
the Germans. Worse, despite deploying purple smoke to highlight their positions, their
called-in Stuka support accidentally bombed their own positions.
The Germans then noticed something there was something in the darkness ahead of them,
and they began firing at it. It was 2000 hours, and five minesweepers appeared on the Volga.
They carried the 750 men of the 1st Battalion of 42nd Guards Rifle Regiment, 13th Guards
Rifle Division, which had been reinforced by some other elements. It was the divisions
artillery that was blasting the Germans in the Specialist Buildings, helping out Petravkovs
men. Colonel Elin, commander of 42nd Guards Rifle Regiment, describes the crossing -
The whole Volga was boiling from explosions. Here and there flashed bursts of tracer bullets
Soldiers were standing stoically. It was getting worse as the barges drew near the shore
German mortars and artillery fire rained down upon their craft. Then the boats hit the shore.
The Guards sprang into the water under a hail of enemy fire. With heavy casualties,
they fought their way forward A 76-mm gun stood on the shore, men busy around it. They
were NKVD troops. I thanked them for their support.
1st Battalion had landed. They charged up the steep, sandy bank of the Volga and
into the history books. The question was: could they do what was needed of them? Could
they push the Germans back? Lets find out.
Initially, Rodimtsev ordered 1st Battalion to retake the Houses of Specialists. However,
after landing, Chuikov himself bypassed the chain of command and told them to recapture
the central railway station instead, which he believed was the linchpin to his defences
in this part of the city. So, they pressed on towards the station. At about 2300 hours,
they moved through Fallen Fighters Square, where they came under fire from a German machine
gunner in a building near the Univermag Department Store. After a brief fight, the battalion
recaptured the store and the area around it.
Chuikov also ordered a battalion of 11 KV tanks from 133rd Tank Brigade to reinforce
the effort to recapture the station. As the KVs arrived, StuGs from the 244th Sturmgeschtz
Battalion blocked their progress, and a stalemate ensued with both sides taking vehicle losses.
Then, just after midnight, as the 1st Battalion continued on towards the Station, 3 KV tanks
from the 133rd Tank Brigade went with them. The 1st Company of the 1st Battalion, commanded
by Anton Kuzmich Dragan, were ordered to take the station. They pressed on through enemy
fire, and when they were ready, they charged forwards, threw grenades and fired their guns,
taking the station and the freight cars on the tracks. They had achieved their objective,
but the Germans counterattacked, and the station changed hands several times over the next
few hours in a swirling struggle. At the end of it though, the Soviets managed to secure
the Station itself. The 1st Battalion now occupied the train station, portions of the
nearby nail factory, and House of Communes, and had located its headquarters in the department
store; knowing its mission was complete.
A quick note: it is claimed that 1st Battalions commander was wounded at some point in this
action and was replaced by his deputy, Senior-Lieutenant Fedoseyev. But according to 1st Companys
commander, Dragan, (whos account sounds a lot more realistic than some of the others)
thats not what happened. Therefore, Chervyakov stayed in command for now.
The 2nd Battalion of the 42nd Regiment also crossed over the Volga at 0100 hours on the
15th of September. They landed north of the Houses of Specialists, and secured the Brewery
and the NKVD Complex.
The Germans intensified their firing and bombing. The soldiers that had been put ashore
threw themselves into hand-to-hand combat from the march in the area of the residence
buildings of the specialists... and brewery. Commanders and political workers inspired
us to do battle, and we knew that there was no ground for us across the Volga. Everything
around us was in flames. We occupied a small strip of shoreline and the fascists figured
that with a modest effort they could sweep us away and destroy us. But the enemy did
not take into account the Soviet soldiers patriotism and will to victory.
Outflanking the State Bank, the 2nd Battalion moved towards the Train Station, but was stopped
by a German machine-gunner in a school.
Two battalions of the 34th Guards Rifle Regiment also started to land further north in the
area of the two ravines. One of their ships sank, with the loss of 12 men, and the pilot
of another refused to drive his boat to the shore, so he was shot. They did manage to
land though, under fire from 1st Battalion of the 518th Infantry Regiment, which held
several buildings on the river bank. An artillery observer recalled what happened.
...at approximately 0300, our command and control platoon - scouts and signallers - were
crossed over to Stalingrad on a cutter together with rifle subunits. When approximately 50
metres remained to the bank, our cutter came under enemy fire, received holes in its hull,
and began to sink. There were about 100 men on the cutter. Around 30, including myself,
reached the bank. We came up in the area of an oil tank. The entire city was engulfed
in fire. Barges with oil were burning on the river. The first thing I saw on the bank was
the corpses of our soldiers.
Using the ravines as cover, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 34th Regiment managed to
outflank the Germans. Then the 2nd Battalion used smoke to get close, before recapturing
these buildings from the enemy. The 1st Battalion meanwhile had moved along the ravine and reached
More elements of 13th Guards Rifle Division crossed the Volga to reinforce this bridgehead.
But this time, they crossed in broad daylight.
In subsequent Soviet histories of the battle, the events of 14 September were rearranged
to show that all the guardsmen crossed the Volga at night. The mass panic - which forced
Chuikov and Rodimtsev to throw their troops into battle in broad daylight - was too painful
to acknowledge. The mere possibility of military failure at Stalingrad besmirched the honour
of the communist state.
But besmirch it or not, this is what happened. In the afternoon, under cover of a smoke screen,
elements of 3rd Battalion, 42nd Guards Rifle Regiment (which a certain Sergeant Pavlov
belonged to) landed near the 2nd Battalion. Rodimtsev and his headquarters also landed
nearby, after his boat was hit by a shell, killing many of those around him. He survived
though and made it to the shore. There are accounts of several more boats being hit and
destroyed in the process of this daylight crossing so this was a terrible waste of
life. Once on the bank though, the elements of 3rd Battalion also moved towards the railway
line, but were again stopped by German fire.
Shortly afterwards, an artilleryman from 13th Guards Rifle Division set up an observation
post in Grudinins Steel Mill. He says that they could see the 9th of January Square,
but only through a periscope, because German snipers had begun hunting them.
Throughout the rest of the day, 71st Infantry Division attempted to attack in the city centre
and went nowhere. The 194th Regiment battled with 13th Guards Rifle Division for Railroad
Station No. 1 and the nearby areas. The 211th and 191st Regiments did take some ground along
the northern bank of the Tsaritsa River, although not much. And by this point, Wster had made
his way from his bathhouse towards the Volga and entered a school-building close enough
to the river that he could see it. He ordered his battery to shell Soviet anti-aircraft
positions located on the island near Krasnaya Sloboda, which they dutifully did.
So yes, 13th Guards Rifle Division had landed, and by the end of the 15th of September, the
Germans had largely been pushed back from the bank of the Volga in most areas. Only
the Gosbank and the Houses of Specialists remained in their hands.
...the timely arrival of Rodimtsevs 13th Guards Rifle Division ensured that Chuikov
could continue to conduct a viable defense in the city at a time when it appeared his
army would simply erode away and collapse outright. It also began a process that would
continue throughout September and October and, at the most critical times, feed fresh
flesh and blood into the Stalingrad meat grinder.
Interestingly, 6th Armys diary states that -
In the morning, units of 71st Infantry Division repelled an attempt to cross the
Volga. However, the crossing in square 45 continues to operate.
Square 45 is the area where the 1st Battalion of the 42nd Guards Rifle Regiment had landed.
But Im not sure which landing was supposedly repelled by 71st Infantry Division,
so 6th Armys diary is clearly incorrect. The landing had been successful.
Still, even with the 13th Guards Rifle Division reaching the city, the Soviets werent out
of the woods yet. Paulus had planned to launch a dawn assault on the 15th of September, due
to start at 0330 hours. Seydlitzs 51st Army Corps, with the 295th Infantry Division
specifically, would strike towards the heights west of the Red October Workers village,
as well as against Mamaev Kurgan. At the same time, Kempfs 48th Panzer Corps would drive
towards the Tsaritsa Balka. If this southern attack succeeded, then 24th Panzer Division
might be able to link up with the 71st Infantry Division, and surround Chuikovs forces
- and perhaps Chuikov himself. At the very least, these attacks should decrease the pressure
on 71st Infantry Division in the centre of the city.
So, at dawn on the 15th of September, Pauluss assault began. Several accounts describe the
intense air, artillery and rocket bombardment that hit both the Soviet formations and the
ferry crossings on the Volga. Then 516th and 517th Regiments of Wuthmanns 295th Infantry
Division advanced eastward towards the heights above the Red October village. They engaged
Krichmans 6th Guards Tank and Burmakovs 38th Motorized Rifle Brigades, and the remnants
of the 9th Motorized Rifle Brigade. The 518th Infantry Regiment fought on the slopes of
Mamaev Kurgan, with several Soviet units resisting them.
And to the south, the main attack of the day began at 0300 hours, with 48th Panzer Corps
24th Panzer and 94th Infantry Divisions pushing eastward. Slightly later, at 0330 hours, 29th
Motorized Division also advanced as well. So clearly, Chuikov and his men had survived
one attack, but would they survive the next? If they didnt stop this new attack, potentially
the whole of the southern and central parts of Stalingrad could be overrun by the Germans,
and the city might fall. They had to hold on.
The battle raged in the streets of Stalingrad. But one of the key parts of this battlefield
wasnt in the urban areas. It was Mamaev Kurgan - the Tartar burial mound which dominated
the centre of the city. Whoever held this hill would have a massive advantage over the
enemy in the central and southern parts of the city, so it was vital for the Germans
to take it, and equally critical that the Soviets hold it.
This is why, on the 15th, the fighting here became a confused mess, with attacks and counter-attacks
happening over and over again. It was so bad that the sources dont entirely match up
with each other, causing a bit of a debate about how things proceeded. Looking at all
the reports, what is definitely certain is that Mamaev Kurgan was taken by the Germans
in the morning of the 15th, after a devastating artillery and air bombardment. And they seem
to have overrun elements of 112th Rifle Division, some of whom fled the battlefield, including
a Soviet gun-battery. To be fair, it does appear that they were dying of thirst, had
nothing to eat but the meat cut from dead horses, and had received no supplies of any
kind, so we cant be too harsh on them. But flee they did, even though there was nowhere
to run too, except the Volga, where the NKVD were waiting.
From 13 through 15 September, the blocking detachment of 62nd Armys Special Department
detained 1,218 men: of these, 21 were shot, 10 were arrested, and the rest were sent to
their units. The majority of those detained came from 10th NKVD Division and the associated
regiment of 399th Rifle Division, which was abandoned on the battlefield by the regiments
commander and commissar.
Its somewhat amusing that, instead of soldiers - one with a rifle and the other without - charging
the enemy in waves, only to fall back and then be gunned down by the NKVD (as portrayed
in Enemy at the Gates), the soldiers (mostly) stood their ground. It was the NKVD
themselves that fell back, were picked up (not shot - for the most part) and were forced
to go back to their units. Yes, the reality is more interesting than the myth. Also it
seems that the soldiers werent the ones who fled - but the officers.
For displaying cowardice - fleeing from the field of battle and abandoning units to
the mercy of their fate, the commander of the associated regiment of 399th Rifle Division,
Major Zhukov, and the commissar - Senior Politruk Raspopov, have been shot in front of the ranks.
This is exactly what we said about Order Number 227 earlier in the series. Rather than the
men being shot, it was the officers who were in trouble. Yes, some of the men got shot
too, but the majority were in fact sent back to their units. Order 227 was primarily intended
to be used as a middle-management technique against the officers, not the men, and here
is a good example of that.
So, Mamaev Kurgan fell to the Germans in the morning - that part, everyone is in agreement
with. Now, this is where things get confusing, and the confusion comes from two reports.
The first is from the 112th Rifle Division, which claims that the 39th Guards Rifle Regiment
arrived, and then together they retook the hill in the early afternoon. This is partly
backed up by 6th Armys diary, which says an interim report indicated that
they lost the hill again. The issue is that, every other source I have - including the
accounts of one of the guardsmen, Chuikov, and Eremenko - indicate that the 39th Guards
Rifle Regiment didnt land in Stalingrad until the evening of the 15th, and didnt
arrive in the Mamaev Kurgan area until the morning of the next day (the 16th).
...it was my own regiment, the 39th, which crossed the Volga twenty-four hours later,
during the night of 15 September, and took up positions close to the Mamaev Kurgan, ready
for an attack the following morning.
And Eremenko himself says -
After the enemy captured the Mamaev Kurgan the situation in the city got harder and harder
for us. There were no reserves and the central crossing of the Volga was under threat.
So theres no reserves at this point.
And Chuikov says that he ordered the 39th Regiment to be ferried across the Volga and
sent to Mamaev Kurgan. Yes he says the wrong regiment number (it wasnt the 42nd) but
the point is that the 39th wasnt at the hill on the 15th.
The 112th Rifle Divisions report most-likely got the days mixed up. And in the 6th Armys
Diary, it does say that the Germans retained the hill after beating back stubborn enemy
counter-attacks, so the interim report was probably added because the hill was being
contested. This is further supported by the fact that Mamaev Kurgan remained occupied
by the Germans at the end of the day, which suggests that the hill wasnt retaken on
this day. So until better sources clarify the situation in the future, were going
to stick to this version of events for now.
As the fighting on Mamaev Kurgan raged, the brawl also continued throughout the day in
the centre of the city, and it was noted that the 13th Guards Rifle Division was by now
running out of ammunition.
The divisions soldiers employ their weapons poorly, and the division reached its
positions in Stalingrad without ammunition. The division undertook measures to obtain
Later in the report, it says -
During combat on 15 September, 13th Guards Rifle Division lost 400 men killed and wounded
and expended all of the ammunition for its automatic weapons
Note, the division had ammunition when they landed, but due to poor logistics, ran low
on ammunition. It seems a stretch to say that they exhausted all their ammunition in a day,
and the fighting raged on - suggesting that they didnt run out completely. They were
also trying to get more ammunition. So again, this doesnt suggest that they sent their
soldiers into battle one with a rifle, one without. Also theres this interesting
part of the report -
During the battle for the NKVD building on 15 September, a woman calling herself Volodina,
who spoke the German language and was actively taking part in combat as an automatic weapons
man on the German side, was taken prisoner. Because she was wounded, the situation did
not permit interrogation, and our worker shot Volodina.
This is the NKVD complex where Volodina fought - in the city centre, close to the Volga.
It does raise the question though: if Volodina had been recruited by the Germans to fight
on their side, did they also employ other non-Germans within their divisions to fight
for them as well? We know they employed Hiwis for non-combat roles, like carrying ammunition
and wounded plus other heavy-labour duties, but did they employ some of them for combat
roles as well?
If they employed some trusted prisoners of war as part of their units, it could help
explain why their combat units had more punch despite being low on German soldiers. And
obviously, the Soviet-fighters would be relied upon more than the Germans, leading to higher
casualties for them, and less for the Germans. Is this what happened? Or is this just a one off?
Interestingly, the Germans claimed that 71st Infantry Division only lost 16 men killed,
and 50 wounded on this day, so if this is true then the main thing they lost was ground,
not men, which could support the idea that it wasnt German soldiers getting killed,
but their helpers that theyd recruited to fight for them. This is, of course, speculation,
but its something to consider.
The main attack of the day though was in the south. At 0300 hours, 48th Panzer Corps
24th Panzer and 94th Infantry Divisions pushed eastward. Slightly later, 29th Motorized Division
advanced as well. After an initial close-combat fight, 24th Panzer Division overwhelmed 10th
Rifle Brigades defences on the railway line, forcing it back. This opened up the
tracks ahead of them.
In the Leather Factory area, 4th Motorcycle Battalion gained ground near the barracks,
fighting against the 244th Rifle Division. Kampfgroup Hellermann pushed into the suburbs
against elements of 10th Rifle Brigade as well as 244th Rifle Division. But it was Kampfgruppe
Edelsheim which made the most gains. Edelsheim struck along the railway line towards the
Maksimovsky Detour north of the Yelshanka River. They reached the area before the detour
by 1400 hours, which is where their attack bogged down.
As a further assault came to a standstill as a result of shortages in assault forces,
the panzers were employed as support in local combat. Brave Russian infantrymen holding
out in foxholes both sides of the tracks defended themselves bitterly but most of them, faced
with being crushed or blasted by the panzers, gave themselves up.
There was also flanking fire coming from the blast furnace buildings to the south, which
stalled the attack. But two regiments from the 94th Infantry Division were now moving
through Minina, and would soon (potentially) clear Soviet forces from the area. The 276th
Infantry Regiment and Fremereys 29th Motorized Division (with some tanks borrowed from 14th
Panzer Division) attacked to the south of the Yelshanka Balka. Soviet guardsmen fell
back to the lumber mill or along the railway line, and the bridge nearest the Volga was
taken by 129th Panzer Battalion early in the morning. Dubianskys men counterattacked
twice near the railroad, but were beaten off with the help of Stuka support, allowing the
Germans to consolidate their positions across the Balka.
At 1345 hours... the panzer crews watched in disbelief as a Soviet plane rammed a Ju-88
and sent it crashing to the ground not far away.
This event is confirmed by Bergstrm, and there was a second ramming incident on this
day too, with Kapitan Tennikov managing to down a Bf 110 with his La-5. These were the
only kills that the Soviets got in the air on this day, losing 30 of their own aircraft in the process.
Its not wrong to say that the Germans dominated the skies at this time.
29th Motorized Division advanced again in the afternoon, moving northwards towards the
power station. One of the German Panzer IIIs was hit by an anti-tank round from a Soviet
7.62cm gun, killing four of the five crew members - the last casualties that 129th Panzer
Battalion would suffer in Stalingrad. The motorcycle battalion advanced to the railway
line south of the power station, while the panzers and 15th Motorized Regiment moved
between it and the Volga, reaching the area just south of Nizhne Yelshanka.
By this point, Dubianskys 35th Guards Rifle Division, the bulk of Pesochins 131st Rifle
Division, elements of 271st NKVD Rifle Regiment, and 133rd Tank Brigade, were devastated. They
had all fallen back into the Nizhne Yelshanka area in a disorganized mess. 62nd Army reports
that these forces lost up to 75-80% of their personnel during this fight, meaning that
there was little left to stop the Germans in the south.
So the attack continued. 94th Infantry and 24th Panzer Divisions jointly used their artillery
to suppress enemy fire coming from the buildings on the southern bank of the Yelshanka River.
This allowed 24th Panzer Divisions grenadiers to move through the first set of buildings
north of the railway line, fighting Soviet infantry as they did. A Soviet machine gun
fired away, protecting the bridge over the next balka, but the bridge quickly fell to
an infantry assault. A Soviet armoured train was spotted ahead, and Stukas were called
in to sort it out. But the Stukas also bombed Kampfgruppe Edelsheim, as the men sent frantic
radio messages for them to stop.
Recovering their composure, the grenadiers pushed forwards into the warehouses and buildings
of the Maksimovsky detour, covering the flanks of the advancing panzers. The buildings were
taken quickly, with Kampfgruppe Edelsheim turning northwards - their left flank moving
into the residential houses to clear them of Soviet resistance. Red Army riflemen in
these streets slowly gave ground, and it wasnt until 1600 hours that Edelsheim finally managed
to capture the southern railway station.
Pausing for a moment under the gaze of the massive Grain Elevator, they wondered why
the Soviets didnt defend it. Yet, for some reason, they also didnt send anyone to
secure it themselves! The reason appears to be that their infantry were in the residential
areas, and so there wasnt enough to be sent to the Elevator. But even so, this was
probably a mistake.
Here we can see a photo of Panzer 525 and some infantry in the southern train station.
The men are resting and dont appear to be in any danger, even though, quite clearly,
they can see the Grain Elevator in the background, suggesting that the Elevator was free of Soviet
troops at this point.
Whats also interesting is that, instead of heading towards the Cannery and the Water
Pumping Station (a shorter move which could have cut off Soviet forces to the south),
Edelsheim received orders to move towards the Tsaritsa Balka. Again, the lack of infantry
seems to have influenced this decision, as did the aim of reaching 71st Infantry Division,
and potentially surrounding Soviet units to the west. Therefore, Edelsheim left a small
guard to defend the Train Station and struck further northwards along the railway. Soviet
forces disintegrated ahead of him, allowing the panzers to make rapid progress and reach
the southern bank of the Tsaritsa Balka at 1615 hours - just fifteen minutes after setting
off. They then moved west, into the streets and buildings of the Dar Gora district north
of the hospital.
Unfortunately, 71st Infantry Division mistakenly believed that the panzers were incoming Soviet
tanks, and knocked three of them out. This, and the fact that the light was fading, was
probably what prompted Edelsheim to pull his panzers back to the railway station, where
they huddled for the evening. At about this time, 274th Infantry Regiment seized the railway
bridge across the Yelshanka River, allowing Pfeiffers infantry to link up with Lenskis
And zooming out slightly, its clear that 24th Panzer Divisions advance had been
largely successful and had almost reached 71st Infantry Divisions lines. Had 71st
Infantry Division been able to advance at all, theres no doubt that they would have
linked up with Lenskis panzers and completed the encirclement of Soviet forces to the west.
This obviously hadnt happened, mainly due to the 13th Guards Rifle Divisions landings
and the perseverance of ad-hoc forces around Chuikovs headquarters.
Probably because of this advance, and the capture of Mamaev Kurgan, in his first diary
entry since the 9th of September - the first since he was told by Keitel that his job was
on the line, and the first since the Vinnitsa Conference - Halder said:
Gratifying advances in Stalingrad.
Yes, even at this stage, Halder was happy with the situation in Stalingrad going
against his own narrative after the war.
He was somewhat right though at this moment: the 24th Panzer Divisions successful advance
had come at the price of only a handful of panzers. After repairs, they were five down
from the day before, bringing their current total to 23 (7 of them Panzer IIs). They also
took about 90 casualties this day, although some were only wounded and would stay with
the troops. The 94th Infantry lost 36 men killed, and 37 wounded, with the 29th Motorized
losing 37 killed, 100 wounded, and two missing as well.
Even though they hadnt completed the encirclement, 244th Rifle Division and the other units to
the west were now more-or-less cut off. As confirmation of this fact, Afanas'ev informed
his superiors that his division hadnt received food or ammunition for several days - even
before the encirclement - which further evidence that the 62nd Army was failing to supply itself
by boats across the Volga. Worse -
The 24th Panzer Divisions breakthrough resulted in the Germans getting into the rear
of the 244th Rifle Divisions units and cutting them off from the formations rear
establishment and headquarters. This led to a loss of troop control, while only scouts
could get into the regiment lines at night.
But the small number of infantry in 24th Panzer and 94th Infantry Divisions had made it impossible
for German forces to clear or occupy all the important buildings in southern Stalingrad
- including the Elevator. This meant that pockets of Red Army riflemen and guardsmen
still occupied - and even reoccupied - buildings that the Germans had thought theyd cleared.
One group was in the Lumber Mill, another in the power station, and more in other buildings
in the Minina and Yelshanka areas.
Thus, as they set out to accomplish their new missions in the morning [of the 16th],
Lenskis panzer-grenadiers, Pfeiffers infantry, and Fremereys panzer-grenadiers
would face renewed opposition to their front, flanks, and rear as Soviet soldiers rose phoenix-like
from seemingly liberated city blocks and buildings. This would significantly slow the pace of
At 1810 hours, the OKH informed 4th Panzer Army that Kempfs 48th Panzer Corps would
be subordinated to Paulus 6th Army at midnight, as agreed at the Vinnitsa Conference on the
12th of September. Lenski then received new orders at 2050 hours: 24th Panzer Division
was to advance west of the railway line up to the Tsaritsa Gully and form a bridgehead
there where they could meet up with the 71st Infantry Division. The priority was to destroy
Soviet forces in the western part of Stalingrad. But could they do this? Well, the German command
certainly had their doubts.
The battle for Stalingrad fortress is distinguished by the enemys exceptional obstinacy and
So, well have to see if they can do what was required next time. Thanks for watching,
bye for now.