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To: Larry381
On 22nd June Field-Marshal von Rundstedt launched his offensive on his left wing with the Seventeenth and Sixth Armies, which stood to the north of the Carpathians. Farther to the south the Eleventh Army and the Rumanian Army were still standing by, both in order to deceive the Russians and to protect the Rumanian oil. The offensive in the Black Sea area was not to start till 1st July.
On the northern wing of Army Group South, at Reichenau's Sixth Army, on the Bug, good progress was made on the first day of the campaign, in spite of the difficulties which 62nd Infantry Division had in building its bridge. Major-General von Oven's 56th Infantry Division crossed the river without any hitch with the very first wave of rubber dinghies. The artillery-fire lay so squarely on the well-reconnoitered enemy positions that the attackers suffered practically no casualties. Half-way through the morning a pontoon bridge was in position in the sector of 192nd Infantry Regiment at Chelm. The artillery crossed at high speed. On the very first day the regiments of XVII Corps pushed ahead nine miles right through the Russian frontier fortifications.

On the southern wing of the Army Group, where the frontier was formed by the river San, the divisions of General von Stülpnagel's Seventeenth Army found things more difficult. The bank of the San north of Przemysl ; was as flat as a pancake —without woods, without ravines, without any cover for whole regiments. That was why the assault battalions of 275th Infantry Division, from Berlin, could not move out of their deployment areas until the night of 21st/22nd June. "Not a sound" was the order of the regimental commander. Weapons were packed in blankets; bayonets and gas-mask cases were wrapped round with any soft material that was handy. "Thank God for the frogs," whispered Second Lieutenant Alicke.
Their croaking drowned the creaking, rattling, and bumping of the companies making their way towards the river.
At 0315 precisely the assault detachments leaped to their feet on both sides of Radymno. The railway bridge was seized by a surprise stroke. But in front of the customs shed the Russians were already offering stubborn resistance. Second Lieutenant Alicke was killed. He was the division's first fatal casualty, the first of a long list.
The men laid him beside the customs shed. The heavy weapons rolled on by him, over 'his' bridge.
In the south the Soviet alarm system functioned with surprising speed and precision. Only the most forward pickets were taken by surprise. The 457th Infantry Regiment had to battle all day long with the Soviet Non-commissioned Officers' Training School of Vysokoye, only a mile beyond the river. The 250 NCO cadets resisted stubbornly and skillfully. Not till the afternoon was their resistance broken by artillery-fire. The 466th Infantry Regiment fared even worse. No sooner were its battalions across the river than they were attacked from the flank by advanced detachments of the Soviet 199th Reserve Division.

In the fields of Stubienka the tall grain waved in the summer wind like the sea. Into this sea the troops now plunged. Both sides were lurking, invisible. Stalking each other. Hand-grenades, pistols, and machine carbines were the weapons of the day Suddenly they would be facing one another amid the rye—the Russians and Germans. Eye to eye. Whose finger was quicker on the trigger? Whose spade would go up first? Over there a Russian machine pistol appeared from a foxhole. Would it score with its burst? Or would the hand-grenade do its work first? Only with the fall of dusk did this bloody fighting in the rye-fields come to an end. The enemy withdrew.
The sun set behind the horizon, large and red. And still from amid the grain came the voices, despairing, anguished, or softly dying away: "Stretcher! Stretcher!" The medical orderlies hurried into the fields with their stretchers. They gathered in the bloody harvest. The harvest of one day, of one regiment.
It was a big harvest.

19 posted on 06/22/2011 8:27:17 AM PDT by Larry381 (If in doubt, shoot it in the head and drop it in the ocean!)
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To: Larry381
In the area of Army Group North concentrated artillery-fire preceded the attack on only a few sectors. For the most part the first wave of infantry, together with assault sappers, rose silently from their dugouts among the crops along the frontier of Soviet-occupied Lithuania shortly after 0300 hours. Shrouded in the morning mist, like phantoms, the tanks moved forward out of the woods. The men of 30th Infantry Division, from Schleswig-Holstein, were in position south of the Memel. They had no water obstacles to overcome on their first day. The sapper platoon of their advanced detachment, under First Lieutenant Weiss, crept up to the barbed wire. For days they had been observing every detail. The Russians patrolled the wire only intermittently. Their defenses were farther back, along some high ground.
Softly. Softly . . .
The wire-cutters clicked. A post rattled, Quiet—listen. But there was no movement on the other side. Keep going. Faster. Now the passages were clear. And already men of 6th Company were coming up on the double, ducking as they ran. Not a shot was fired. The two Soviet sentries stared terrified down the carbine-barrels and raised their hands.
Keep going.
The observation towers on Hills 71 and 67 stood out black against the sky. There the Russians were established in strong positions. The German troops were aware of it. And so were the gunners of the heavy group of 30th Artillery Regiment waiting in the frontier wood behind them. The Russian machine-guns opened up from the tower on Hill 71. These were the first shots fired between Memel and Dubysa. Immediately the reply came from the well-camouflaged heavy field howitzers of 2nd Battalion, 47th Artillery Regiment, in position behind the regiments of 30th Infantry Division on the road from Trappenen to Waldheide. Where their motar-bombs burst there would be no grass growing for a long time.
Assault guns forward! Ducking behind the steel monsters, Weiss's advanced detachment was storming the high ground.
Already they were inside the Soviet positions. The Russians were taken by surprise. Most of them were not even manning their newly built, though only partly finished, defenses. They were still in their bivouacs. These were Mongolian construction battalions, employed here on building frontier defenses. Wherever they were encountered, in groups or platoon strength, manning those defences, they fought stubbornly and fanatically.

The German troops were beginning to realize that this was not an opponent to be trifled with. These men were not only brave but also full of guile. They were masters at camouflage and ambush. They were first-rate riflemen. Fighting from an ambush had always been the great strength of the Russian infantry. Forward pickets, overrun and wounded, would wait for the first German wave to pass over them. Then they would resume fighting. Snipers would remain in their foxholes with their excellent automatic rifles with telescopic sights, waiting for their quarry. They would pick off the drivers of supply vehicles, officers, and orderlies on motor-cycles.

The 126th Infantry Division, from Rhine-Westphalia, fighting alongside the men from Schleswig-Holstein, also learned a bitter lesson from the tough Soviet frontier troops. The 2nd Battalion, 422nd Infantry Regiment, suffered heavy losses. Parts of a Soviet machine-gun picket had hidden themselves in a cornfield and allowed the first wave of the attack to pass by. In the afternoon, when Captain Lohmar unsuspectingly led his battalion from reserve positions to the front, the Russians in the crops suddenly opened up. Among those killed was the battalion commander, among the seriously wounded was his adjutant. It took an entire company three hours to flush the four Russians out of the field. They were still firing when the Germans had got within ten feet of them, and had to be silenced with hand-grenades.

20 posted on 06/22/2011 8:32:37 AM PDT by Larry381 (If in doubt, shoot it in the head and drop it in the ocean!)
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