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GERMANS CLAIM GAINS ON WIDE FRONT, REPORTED 200 MILES FROM MOSCOW (7/20/41)
Microfilm-New York Times archives, Monterey Public Library | 7/20/41 | C. Brooks Peters, Daniel T. Brigham, James MacDonald, A.C. Sedgwick, Dr. George Gallup, more

Posted on 07/20/2011 5:07:52 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson

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THE NEWS OF THE WEEK IN REVIEW

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TOPICS: History
KEYWORDS: milhist; realtime; worldwarii
Free Republic University, Department of History presents World War II Plus 70 Years: Seminar and Discussion Forum
First session: September 1, 2009. Last date to add: September 2, 2015.
Reading assignment: New York Times articles delivered daily to students on the 70th anniversary of original publication date. (Previously posted articles can be found by searching on keyword “realtime” Or view Homer’s posting history .)
To add this class to or drop it from your schedule notify Admissions and Records (Attn: Homer_J_Simpson) by freepmail. Those on the Realtime +/- 70 Years ping list are automatically enrolled. Course description, prerequisites and tuition information is available at the bottom of Homer’s profile. Also visit our general discussion thread
1 posted on 07/20/2011 5:07:58 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
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To: Homer_J_Simpson
Selections from West Point Atlas for the Second World War
German Invasion of Russia – Operations, 22 June-25 August 1941
The Mediterranean Basin
The Far East and the Pacific, 1941 – The Imperial Powers, 1 September 1939
2 posted on 07/20/2011 5:09:00 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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To: Homer_J_Simpson
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Winston S. Churchill, The Grand Alliance

3 posted on 07/20/2011 5:10:51 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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To: r9etb; PzLdr; dfwgator; Paisan; From many - one.; rockinqsranch; GRRRRR; 2banana; henkster; ...
Nazis Drive Ahead – 2
Where the Nazi War Machine Made its Way into Russia (photos) – 3
Red Defense Firm – 3-5
British Open ‘V’ Nerve War; Churchill Spurs Resistance – 5-6
Navy is Not Getting Priority, Says Vinson – 5
Asks Annapolis Increase to Train Latin Americans – 6
The International Situation – 6
New Soviet Army Believed Massing – 7
Beirut Discloses Nazi Effort There – 7 *
The Nazis Take a Boat Ride on the Eastern Front (photo) – 8
German Air Ace Meets His Chief (photo) – 8
Swiss and Reich Sign Trade Accord – 9
Urges Listed Firms be Nationalized – 9
Leopold is Reported Firm in Spurning All Offers to Cooperate with Nazis – 9
Advocates End of National State – 10
45% in Who’s Who Want Us in War – 10
United States Marines Make a Landing in North Carolina (photos) – 11
Day’s War Communiques – 12
Commissar Captives Segregated by Nazis – 12
Netherlanders’ Cheers for Britons are Banned – 12

The News of the Week in Review
Twenty News Questions – 13
The Arena of the Greatest Battle in History (map) – 14
Hitler is Slowed Up by Russian Resistance (by Hanson W. Baldwin) – 15
Merchant Marine Losses-British, Allied and Neutral (chart) – 16

The New York Times Book Review
American in Arms: The Experience of the United States with Military Organization, by Brig. Gen. John McAuley Palmer, U.S.A. (Retired). Reviewed by Hanson W. Baldwin – 18-19

*A.C. Sedgwick, last heard from April 13 in Athens, reports today from Beirut, Syria. (Syria?)

4 posted on 07/20/2011 5:12:31 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

5 posted on 07/20/2011 5:21:12 AM PDT by CougarGA7
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

http://www.onwar.com/chrono/1941/jul41/f20jul41.htm

Stalin now Commissar for Defense

Sunday, July 20, 1941 www.onwar.com

In Moscow... Stalin takes the title of People’s Commissar for Defense.


6 posted on 07/20/2011 5:22:30 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/andrew.etherington/month/thismonth/20.htm

July 20th, 1941

UNITED KINGDOM: London: Tighter centralised control of British news and propaganda services was announced today when Brendan Bracken, the swashbuckling Tory MP who has been Churchill’s Parliamentary Private Secretary, took over as Minister of Information (MOI). It is expected that there will be a more systematic and rigorous censorship in future. This follows calls from politicians in all parties for greater and more ruthless use of propaganda as a main war weapon. That goes particularly for the BBC’s overseas services.
Lord Moyne, the Colonial Secretary, said in the House of Lords last week: “We must remember that we alone in the Old World have a free press, and that no other country now enjoys our advantage of quick information and well-informed comment which the British press provides.” In Fleet Street, journalists smiled. What they print is already vetted by the MOI.

London:

A “V for Victory” campaign was launched by the BBC at midnight last night. It began with a message from Churchill for occupied EUROPE: “The V sign is the symbol of the unconquerable will of the people of the occupied territories and a portent of the fate awaiting Nazi tyranny.”

The broadcaster in charge of the campaign, “Colonel Britton”, said: “Tomorrow the V army, Europe’s invisible army of many millions, will come into being. You are asked to do two things. Take a vow to continue this fight for your country’s independence. Second, to demonstrate to the Germans by putting V’s on the wall, and everywhere you can out them, and beating out the V sound whenever you get the chance.” The “V”-sign began to appear in Europe last January after a BBC broadcast to Belgium in which Victor de Lavelaye suggested that Belgians who were chalking up the letters RAF should add a V for ‘vrijheid’ (Flemish for freedom). V also stands for victoire, the French for victory.

“Colonel Britton” (a pseudonym for Douglas Ritchie of the BBC European Service) suggested an audible V, using the morse code rhythm - three dots and a dash. This is the rhythm of the opening bars of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which is now used as a station call-sign by the BBC in its broadcasts to Europe.

RAF Bomber Command: 2 Group: ‘Channel Stop’ aircraft of 18 and 139 Sqns. sink a 7,000-ton ship between Le Touquet and Berck. Two aircraft lost and one Bf109 shot down.

Destroyer HMS Lively commissioned. (Dave Shirlaw)

FINLAND: Lt. Fred Luther and of the 2nd Rannikkoiskukompania (Coastal Shock Company) are landed as reinforcements on the strategically important Finnish island of Bengtskär, whose 52m lighthouse provides a commanding view of the entry to the Gulf of Finland and thus the approach to Leningrad. (Cris Wetton)

MEDITERRANEAN SEA: Submarine HMS Union is sunk by depth charges dropped by the Italian torpedo boat Circe SSW of Pantellaria at 36 26N 11 50E. (Alex Gordon)(108)

U.S.S.R.: Moscow: Stalin, the “man of steel” has taken over the position of commissar of defence from Marshal Timoshenko and is now in supreme command of the Soviet Union’s armed forces, a post traditionally occupied by a soldier. Stalin has thus gathered all military and civilian power into his own hands. It will be a heavy burden, but there is no doubt that the ruthless Georgian leader will bear it with his customary resilience.

Soviet Northern Fleet destroyer Stremitel’ny bombed and sunk by Stukas in Kolafjord. (Dave Shirlaw)

ATLANTIC OCEAN: At 0100, U-126 sighted the unescorted Canadian Star and followed her until 0242, when two torpedoes were fired at the ship in 49°15N/21°W (grid BE 1932). Both missed and Bauer decided to attack with the gun. The U-boat shelled her victim for about 10 minutes but hit only a few times. Then the gunners on the ship fought back with a great accuracy and forced Bauer to cease the attack.

At 0505, U-95 fired two torpedoes at the unescorted Palma but missed. The U-boat then tried to stop the merchant with gunfire at 0528, but had to break off the gun duel after 11 minutes due to problems with the deck gun and gave up the chase because the ship was running zigzagging courses at high speeds. They reported one hit, but in fact three had been scored. (Dave Shirlaw)


7 posted on 07/20/2011 5:24:32 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

The bigger they boast THE HARDER THEY FALL.


8 posted on 07/20/2011 5:35:14 AM PDT by the invisib1e hand ("America will cease to be great when America ceases to be good." -- Welcome to deToqueville.)
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To: Homer_J_Simpson
The "V" for Victory program reminded me of this picture so I figured I'd post it.


9 posted on 07/20/2011 5:46:44 AM PDT by CougarGA7
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

I see the Germans admit to segregating the Red Army’s political commissars from their units when the Germans capture them. Seems they forgot to mention killing them on the spot or turning them over to the SS for execution. Oops!


10 posted on 07/20/2011 6:52:47 AM PDT by PzLdr ("The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am" - Darth Vader)
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

HITLER IS SLOWED UP BY RUSSIAN RESISTANCE

Why, then, did Hitler go into Russia?

2) By his attack upon Communist Russia physically and communism ideologically, Hitler hoped to spread ideological confusion and division in Britain and the United States. Lessen the likelihood of our intervention and perhaps pave the way for a negotiated peace....................


We look at history as completed but at the time it was the future and unknown. Communisim/Socialism (what is the difference?) was a big concern back then and no one knew for sure what would happen.

Our future is unknown right now.


11 posted on 07/20/2011 7:46:33 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( getting closer to the truth.................)
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To: Homer_J_Simpson
YACHT FITTINGS OFFERED

Furniture of Morgan's Corsair to Be Sold to Aid Britain

Furnishings and fittings from J.P. Morgan's yacht Corsair have been presented to Bundles for Britain, Inc, for resale to swell the organization fund to aid war sufferers in the British Isles, it was announced yesterday.

The corsair was sold in May, 1940 and was transferred to British registry, with the approval of the United States Maritime Commission. She now is in the British war service. The furnishing were removed by Mr. Morgan at the time of the sale; they include furniture from the dining saloon, sets of deck furniture, and cushions, drapes, rugs and carpeting, bedding and incidental pieces.

All this material is to be turned over by Bundles for Britain to Gimbals Brothers, to be sold with other notable collections. A preview of the furnishings will be held on Aug 6 at the store and the sale will be opened to the public on Aug 11.


What was J.P Morgan's motivation in this? Would be interesting in knowing what men like him were thinking.

What would be the war service of a yacht? Sentry duty, U boat scouting?

What was the background negotiation in getting this done? something was given and something was gained, wonder what the gain was.

12 posted on 07/20/2011 7:58:46 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( getting closer to the truth.................)
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To: Homer_J_Simpson
Doing a search for J.P. Morgan and World War II finds the following. I cannot vouch for the site but there must be some truth here. In lite of the world today, I think we are pawns in someones chess game. Honor to Major General butler for being a patriot. :

http://www.threeworldwars.com/world-war-2/ww2-background.htm

The Plot to Seize the White House
It was about this time that an incredible scheme concerning the presidency of the United States started taking shape. From July, 1932 through November, 1933, a well known and popular military general. Major General Smedley Butler of the U.S. Marine Corps “...was sought by wealthy plotters in the United States to lead a putsch (revolution) to overthrow the government and establish an American Fascist dictatorship.”10

Butler was tempted into the plot by “... the biggest bribe ever offered to any American—the opportunity to become the first dictator of the United States.” He was approached by three gentlemen: Grayson Mallet-Provost Murphy, a director of Guaranty Trust, a J.P. Morgan Bank; Robert S. Clark, a banker who had inherited a large fortune from a founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company; and John W. Davis, the 1924 Democratic candidate for President and the chief attorney for J.P. Morgan and Company. Their plan was to “... seize the White House with a private army [of 500,000 veterans], hold Franklin Roosevelt prisoner, and get rid of him if he refused to serve as their puppet in a dictatorship they planned to impose and control.”11

The plotters revealed to Butler that they had $3 million in working funds and could get $300 million if it were needed.

Why the plotters selected General Butler is a mystery, as Butler truly understood his role as a general in the Marine Corps. He was on record as saying: “War was largely a matter of money. Bankers lend money to foreign countries and when they cannot repay, the President sends Marines to get it. I know - I've been in eleven of these expeditions.”12

Butler's assertions that the military actually acted as a collection agency for the big bankers was confirmed in 1934 by the Senate Munitions Investigating Committee which “confirmed his (Butler's) suspicions that big business - Standard Oil, United Fruit, the sugar trust, the big banks – had been behind most of the military interventions he had been ordered to lead.”13

In addition, Congress created the McCormack-Dickstein Committee to investigate Butler's charges. The conclusions of this group confirmed General Butler's charges by finding five significant facts that lent validity to Butler's testimony.

Jules Archer, the author of the book on Butler's charges, entitled The Plot to Seize the White House, interviewed John J. McCormack, the co-chairman of the Committee and asked for his views on the plot:

Archer- Then in your opinion, America could definitely have been a Fascist power had it not been for General Butler's patriotism in exposing the plot?

McCormack: It certainly could have. The people were in a very confused state of mind, making the nation weak and ripe for some drastic kind of extremist reaction. Mass frustration could bring about anything.14

There are those, however, who believe that the intent of the plotters was not the imposition of Butler as the leader of the government, but was actually to use the incident as a means by which Roosevelt could impose a dictatorship down upon the American people after Butler led his army upon the White House. This action, after Roosevelt termed it to be a “national emergency,” could have enabled him to take complete control of the government in the emergency, and the American people would probably have cheered the action. So Butler was, according to this theory, only the excuse to take complete control of the machinery of the government, and was never intended to be the new dictator.

The plan failed, after Butler revealed the existence of the plot, and Roosevelt had to be content, if the theory is correct, with just being the President and not the dictator of the United States. Roosevelt had other plans for a fascist United States, however. Frances Perkins, Roosevelt's Labor Secretary, reports that “At the first meeting of the cabinet after the President took office in 1933, the financier and advisor to Roosevelt, Bernard Baruch, and Baruch's friend, General Hugh Johnson, who was to become the head of the National Recovery Administration, came in with a copy of a book by Gentile, the Italian Fascist theoretician, for each member of the Cabinet, and we all read it with care.”15

So the plan was to move the American government into the area of Fascism or government control of the factors of production without a Butler-led revolution. It was decided that one of the main methods of achieving this goal was through a war, and the plans for a war involving the United States were being laid.

13 posted on 07/20/2011 8:11:09 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( getting closer to the truth.................)
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To: Homer_J_Simpson
Sometimes it is interesting where threads take you. Following is more info on Major General Butler:

http://americanbuilt.us/patriots/smedley-butler.shtml

Most of us would define Major General Butler has a hero and patriot but yet there is an association with “ American League Against War and Fascism (which some considered communist-dominated).”

And what is “the non-Marxist, socialist” magazine, Common Sense?

What we are experiencing today is just a continuation of the 30’s. The matter is never settled.

14 posted on 07/20/2011 8:24:18 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( getting closer to the truth.................)
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

More on Major General Butler. After seeing his service history and can understand his perceptions of war, industry and politics. I would have liked to have met him. I wonder what that squad of marines were thinking?:


During a training exercise in western Virginia in 1921, he was told by a local farmer that Stonewall Jackson’s arm was buried nearby, to which he replied, “Bosh! I will take a squad of Marines and dig up that spot to prove you wrong!”[27] Butler found the arm in a box. He later replaced the wooden box with a metal one, and reburied the arm. He left a plaque on the granite monument marking the burial place of Jackson’s arm; the plaque is no longer on the marker but can be viewed at the Chancellorsville Battlefield visitor’s center.[27][

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smedley_Butler


15 posted on 07/20/2011 8:41:18 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( getting closer to the truth.................)
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Boop His Nose But Don’t Get Burned!

Even This Tiny Baby Dragon
Thinks Donations Are In Order


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Thank you, JoeProBono

16 posted on 07/20/2011 8:59:01 AM PDT by TheOldLady (FReepmail me to get ON or OFF the ZOT LIGHTNING ping list.)
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To: PeterPrinciple

Smedley Butler was, by 1930, a Socialist/Communist nut. His story is doubtless largely fanciful.


17 posted on 07/20/2011 10:00:14 AM PDT by iowamark
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To: iowamark
Smedley Butler was, by 1930, a Socialist/Communist nut. His story is doubtless largely fanciful.

Do not be so quick to rush to judgment.

The world in the 30’s and 40’s was quite different. Trench warfare and depression were very vivid in their lives. Smedley Butler had seen the dark side of politics and big business in many military campaigns. Like many of us, he knew what he didn't want, but did not know clearly what he wanted. But it appears he stood up for what he believed the truth. We cannot create utopia on this world. AT that time big business had overplayed their hand and a correction was needed. That is the nature of Capitalism.

What exactly do you think is “doubtless largely fanciful?”

18 posted on 07/20/2011 10:16:22 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( getting closer to the truth.................)
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To: PeterPrinciple
“What was J.P Morgan's motivation in this? Would be interesting in knowing what men like him were thinking.

“What would be the war service of a yacht? Sentry duty, U boat scouting?”

IIRC the big, ocean capable yachts of the super rich were subject to being sized for naval use by the US gov’t in time of war. My grandfather and his brother served together on John Jacob Astor's yacht in WWI which was fitted with small guns (5”?) and depth charges and put on antisubmarine patrol in the Bay of Biscay.

All of the luxurious fittings would be removed to convert the yachts to military use.

I suspect that the Morgan family, unable to use their yacht since the start of WWII in 1939 for any European cruising or probably any safe cruising and likely inability to maintain insurance for such cruising and knowing that the US would ultimately impress the yacht decided to get ahead of things and make the yacht available to the Brits in 1940.

19 posted on 07/20/2011 10:50:11 AM PDT by Seizethecarp
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To: Seizethecarp
Here is what Morgan was probably anticipating as the use for his yacht against Hitler. The Wiki piece says Astor's yacht, the Noma, was “loaned” but I think it may have been less voluntary than that “for the duration.” It was Vincent Astor's yacht, actually that my grandfather served on in WWI (They became aware that a u-boat was nearby on one occasion when a torpedo zoomed by the stern!).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Noma_(SP-131)

USS Noma (SP-131) was a yacht loaned to the U.S. Navy during World War I by Vincent Astor of New York City. Noma was outfitted by the Navy with military equipment, including heavy guns, and commissioned as a patrol craft assigned to protect shipping from German submarines. At war’s end she performed various services for the American Relief Commission at Constantinople and in the Black Sea before returning to the U.S. for decommissioning and return to her owner.

Anti-submarine duty

Upon arriving at Brest 4 July, Noma immediately commenced operating in the submarine danger zone, convoying troop transports and cargo vessels. While patrolling off Cape Finisterre 20 July, she sighted a German U-boat running awash and boldly attacked it. On 25 July Noma escorted a large American convoy from Belle Isle to the Loire.

Noma next encountered a German submarine when she went to the aid of British “Q-Ship” Dunraven 8 August. At the time the vessel was being shelled and torpedoed by the enemy submarine. Dunraven’s commanding officer, Capt. Gordon Campbell, RN, credited Noma’s arrival and prompt depth charge attack with saving his ship. Noma stood by Dunraven until two British destroyers arrived, and she took off several wounded sailors.

Noma came upon a large German U-boat recharging her batteries 16 August and engaged her in a vigorous gun duel until the U-boat submerged. She next sighted a medium-sized German submarine watching for convoys close in shore 17 September, and in a dawn attack, straddled it with many salvos.

20 posted on 07/20/2011 11:17:51 AM PDT by Seizethecarp
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To: Seizethecarp

I suspect that the Morgan family, unable to use their yacht since the start of WWII in 1939 for any European cruising or probably any safe cruising and likely inability to maintain insurance for such cruising and knowing that the US would ultimately impress the yacht decided to get ahead of things and make the yacht available to the Brits in 1940.


Those are valid points, but I still suspect there was more it than that.


21 posted on 07/20/2011 12:47:20 PM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( getting closer to the truth.................)
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To: Seizethecarp
Here is some info on the Corsair.

http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-c/sp159.htm

It served in WWI and “The Navy reacquired the former yacht in April 1942. Following brief classification as a gunboat, with the name Natchez (PG-85), she was placed in commission as USS Oceanographer (AGS-3) in August 1942”

So what happened to the British, I would assume in the interim, we decided we needed it and traded for something else we promised?

It does look like the ship was becoming obsolete so selling to the govt might have been a good way to get rid of it.

22 posted on 07/20/2011 12:59:26 PM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( getting closer to the truth.................)
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To: Seizethecarp

It appears the Morgans owned 4 yachts named Corsair............

Corsair IV was the one sold to the British.

http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/node/30155


23 posted on 07/20/2011 1:21:53 PM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( getting closer to the truth.................)
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To: PzLdr
When Guderian ordered Lieutenant-General Schaal's 10th Panzer Division and General Hausser's Motorized Waffen SS Division "Das Reich" to capture the Russian town of Yelnya-it sounded simple enough.

It was anything but simple for Guderian's Panzer divisions, which had by then fought their way across roughly 600 miles—through deserts of dust, over unmetalled roads, and through virgin forest.
The artillery's firepower had also been greatly diminished by the loss of many heavy and medium batteries. Given fresher formations, with stronger armoured and artillery support, the high ground of Yelnya would have been no problem. But in the circumstances it was quite a task.

General Schaal, then commanding the 10th Panzer Division, has described the operation to the author. Beyond the Dnieper,he explained, the Russians no longer stood up and fought openly, but increasingly adopted the tactics which were to be practised later by the large partisan units. General Schaal quoted the following instance:

Between Gorodishche and Gorki the division's vanguard had driven through a patch of thick forest. The bulk of the division got past the same spot during the night. But the artillery group which followed was suddenly smothered with mortar-fire from both sides and attacked by infantry at close quarters. Fortunately a motor-cycle battalion of the SS Division 'Das Reich' was bivouacking near by. They came to the assistance of the gunners and hacked them free.

More serious than this kind of skirmish was the wear and tear on armoured fighting vehicles.
The shocking roads, the heat, and the dust were more dangerous enemies than the Red Army. The tanks were enveloped in thick clouds of dust. The dust and grit wore out the engines. The filters were continually clogged up with dirt. Oil-consumption became too heavy for supplies to cope with. Engines got overheated and pistons seized up. In this manner the 10th Panzer Division lost the bulk of its heavy Mark IV tanks on the way to Yelnya.
They were defeated not by the Russians but by the dust. The men of the maintenance units and engineer officers worked like Trojans. But they were short of spares. And the spares did not arrive because supplies no longer functioned. The distances from the army stores had become too great. Every single ammunition or supply convoy lost about a third of its vehicles en route, either through breakdown or through enemy ambushes. Not only the machines but the men too were overtaxed. It would happen, for instance, that parts of a column on the march failed to move off again after a short rest because its officers and men had dropped off into a comatose sleep.

These conditions applied not only to 10th Panzer Division. It was the same throughout the central sector—on Hoth's part of the front as much as on Guderian's. In a letter to Field-Marshal von Bock, Hoth wrote: "The losses of armoured fighting vehicles have now reached 60 to 70 per cent, of our nominal strength." Nevertheless, the troops accomplished their task. On 19th July the 10th Panzer Division took Yelnya.

The wide anti-tank ditch which Russian civilians had built around the town in ceaseless round-the-clock work was overcome by the infantry of 69th Rifle Regiment in spite of murderous gunfire. The division suffered heavy losses, but worked its way forward yard by yard. By evening the infantry had pushed through Yelnya and dug in on the far side.

Lieutenant-General Rokossovskiy, commanding hurriedly collected reserves, drove his regiments against the German positions. But the line of 10th Panzer Division held. On 20th July the SS Division "Das Reich" took up position on the high ground to the left of them. The troops needed a breather.
The Yelnya bend projected a long way eastward from the German front line. It was its most advanced spearhead. South of it the front ran back as far as Kiev, and north of it there was a kink in the direction of Smolensk and thence a wide semicircle towards Leningrad. A glance at the map made it obvious that the Yelnya bend was a bridgehead, the logical strategic starting-point for an offensive against Moscow.

The Soviets understood that too, and therefore determined to smash the Yelnya bend. From the end of July until the beginning of September Army Group Centre was engaged here in its first great defensive battle. Nine German divisions passed through the hell of Yelnya in the course of these weeks—the 10th Panzer Division, the SS Division "Das Reich," the 268th, 292nd, 263rd, 137th, 87th, 15th, and 78th Infantry Divisions, as well as the reinforced "Grossdeutschland" Infantry Regiment.

The following is an account from the sector of the Motorized Infantry Regiment "Grossdeutschland," generally known as G.D.
First Lieutenant Hänert of 4th (Machine-gun) Company, 1st Battalion, G.D. Regiment, was in his foxhole, looking through his trench telescope. That was in front of the level-crossing at Kruglovka in the Yelnya bend. Russian artillery had been firing ceaselessly for the past three hours. All telephone lines were cut, and no runners or repair parties could leave their foxholes. Now the barrage was being stepped up. But it passed over the battalion's sector.

They are lengthening their range—that means they'll charge in a minute, Lieutenant Hänert thought to himself. And, true enough, there they were in his telescope. He stared in amazement: the Soviet troops were charging in close order, mounted officers in front and behind and on both sides of the uniformed earth-brown mass, like sheepdogs around a flock. Bent double, the Russians were pulling their low two-wheeled carts with their water-cooled heavy machine-guns, the Maksims. Infantry guns and anti-tank guns were also heaved into position on the double, including the dangerous 7.62-cm. field-gun known to the German troops as "Crash-boom" because with its flat trajectory the burst of the shell was heard before the sound of the firing.

That was the moment when the German artillery should have massively intervened. But the guns were firing only sporadically. For the first time since the start of the campaign there was a shortage of ammunition, because supplies had all but broken down. It was the first warning of things to come.
The Russians jumped into the ditch of a small stream and vanished from sight. A moment later they were coming up the bank—in front, the officers, who had now dismounted. The men of First Lieutenant Rössert's 2nd Company, dug in to the right of 4th Company, looked out of their foxholes. The Russians were still 700 yards away. Now they were at 600 yards. "Why isn't Lieutenant Hänert opening up with his machine-guns?" the men asked Sergeant Stadler. "He's got his reasons," the sergeant grunted.

Hänert had his reasons. He was looking through his telescope. Now he could make out the faces of the Russians. But still he did not give the firing order. The sooner he ordered fire to be opened the sooner the Russians would go to ground and merely creep up under cover. Hänert knew from experience that the Russians must be crushed decisively with the first blow. Their infantry charges were made with a tenacity bordering on insensate obtuseness. Even if ten machine-guns mowed down wave after wave the Russians would come up again. They would cry "Urra!" and be killed.

Lieutenant Hänert, by the railway embankment of Kruglovka, saw them coming. They were still 500 yards away. At last Hänert stood up and shouted, "Continuous bursts!"
Like a thunderclap a storm of stuttering broke out. The Russians went down. Past the dead and wounded of the first wave the second wave pushed forward—firing, leaping, using aimed fire with single rounds. And the Russians were excellent marksmen.
The grenadiers of 2nd Company had to push their heads out of their foxholes if they wanted to fire. And they must fire if they did not want to be killed by the Russians. But as soon as a head appeared anywhere the Russian snipers opened up with their excellent automatic rifles with telescopic sights. More and more weapons fell silent in the area of 2nd Company, "Grossdeutschland" Infantry Regiment, by the level-crossing of Kruglovka in the Yelnya bend. But the last fifty yards defeated the Russians.

Night fell. Russian artillery opened up again. The Russian guns killed many of their own men still alive on the open ground, which afforded no cover. At midnight the pounding ceased. Rössert's and Hänert's men climbed out of their foxholes. There had been two men to each hole when the battle started. But from most of them only one man emerged now. They called for stretchers for the wounded and for the dead by whose sides they had crouched for hours, firing. The battle was resumed at dawn. It went on for five days. Over hundreds of dead bodies the Russians pushed their way into the positions of 1st Battalion. The machine-gun 20 yards to the right of Sergeant Stadler was silent: the last gunner had got a bullet in his stomach, heaven knew how—probably a ricochet. Sergeant Stadler heard the sharp crack of a pistol: the lance corporal had preferred this way out to the long and painful death of a stomach wound. Ten minutes later two Russians jumped into the foxhole. Stadler straightened up. He placed three hand-grenades in front of him. He pulled the pin of the first and flung it. Too short. The second hit the lip of the foxhole and showered it with fragments. The third grenade rolled right in. Like fireworks the machine-gun ammunition went up.

During the sixth night, on 27th July, the position by the railway embankment of Kruglovka was abandoned. The 2nd Company withdrew some 800 yards, to the edge of the wood. The Russians followed up. And the same thing began all over again. On 18th August the regiment was relieved by 263rd Infantry Division. The 2nd Battalion, 463rd Infantry Regiment, repulsed 37 Russian attacks in 10 days. On 25th August the reconnaissance detachment of 263rd Infantry Division joined the neighbouring 2nd Battalion, 483rd Infantry Regiment, in an immediate counter-attack against the enemy, who had penetrated into its positions on the fiercely contested "Crash-boom Hill."

In this engagement Captain Orschler, commanding the reconnaissance detachment, was killed—the first member of the German Wehrmacht to receive the Gold Cross. On 29th August the companies of 15th Infantry Division dropped into the blood-drenched infantry foxholes. The battle continued. Three Soviet divisions were sacrified by Timoshenko on the northern sector at Yelnya alone.

The Russian doctor in charge of the dressing station at Stamyatka, who was taken prisoner, stated that on the sector of 263rd Division he had tended 4000 wounded in a single week.

24 posted on 07/20/2011 3:15:15 PM PDT by Larry381 (If in doubt, shoot it in the head and drop it in the ocean!)
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To: Homer_J_Simpson
Photobucket

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Digging in!

25 posted on 07/20/2011 3:33:39 PM PDT by Larry381 (If in doubt, shoot it in the head and drop it in the ocean!)
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To: Larry381

What book is that from?


26 posted on 07/21/2011 1:00:36 PM PDT by jjm2111
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To: jjm2111
What book is that from?

Photobucket

27 posted on 07/21/2011 3:13:49 PM PDT by Larry381 (If in doubt, shoot it in the head and drop it in the ocean!)
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To: Larry381

I have to check that out at the library.


28 posted on 07/22/2011 7:21:21 AM PDT by jjm2111
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To: jjm2111
I have to check that out at the library

Just to be clear I should advise you that the photos come from a number of other sources-not this great book. If you're interested in The Eastern Front I believe it's one of the best books you can read. BTW:There's a sequel to this book by the same author. It's called Scorched Earth and if I remember right it concentrates on the Eastern Front between Stalingrad and early 1944.

29 posted on 07/22/2011 9:15:37 AM PDT by Larry381 (If in doubt, shoot it in the head and drop it in the ocean!)
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