Skip to comments.RAF RIPS COLOGNE, ‘FORTS’ RAID FRANCE; ANOTHER LANDING MADE IN SOLOMONS (7/5/43)
Posted on 07/05/2013 5:51:44 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
Greatest tank battle in history: Kursk
Monday, July 5, 1943 www.onwar.com
On the Eastern Front... The battle of Kursk begins. After several delays, the German summer offensive is launched against the Soviet held salient centered on Kursk. To the north of the salient, the German 9th Army (General Model) attacks southward against the Soviet Central Front (General Rokossovsky). To the south, 4th Panzer Army (General Hoth) and Army Detachment Kempf (General Kempf) strike northward against the Soviet Voronezh Front (General Vatutin). The Soviet Steppe Front (General Konev) is held in reserve. Marshal Zhukov and Mashal Vasilievsky are STAVKA representatives for the battles in the north and south, respectively. The Germans hope to eliminate the Kursk salient and, with it, a Soviet capability to launch an offensive in 1943. The Soviets have prepared extensive defenses and anticipate the German offensive. A disruptive bombardment is carried out shortly before the German forces are scheduled to begin attacking. When the offensive does get under way, progress is relatively slow and casualties are relatively high on both sides.
In the Solomon Islands... On New Georgia, American force of regimental strength lands in the north at Rice Anchorage. Fighting on the Zanana-Munda track continues. During the night (July 5-6) Japanese destroyers bring nearly 3000 more troops to Vila. Admiral Ainsworth, with 3 cruisers and 4 destroyers, engages elements of the Japanese force and sinks one destroyer while losing the cruiser Helena.
July 5th, 1943 (MONDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: ASW trawler HMS Grilse commissioned. Frigate HMS Ekins laid down.
MEDITERRANEAN SEA: At 1543, U-593 attacked Convoy KMS-18B NE of Cap Bengut and sank the ship of the convoy commodore, the Devis. She had 289 Canadian troops and two British landing crafts (LCTs) on board for the Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. 52 soldiers were lost. One of the LCTs sank with the ship; the other was damaged but remained afloat. The master, the convoy commodore, six naval staff members, 38 crewmembers, eight gunners and 237 soldiers were picked up by HMS Cleveland and landed at Bougie.
U.S.S.R: On the Eastern Front around Kursk both the Germans and the Red Army have assembled large groups of land and air forces. The Germans hope to cut of the Kursk salient and exploit the resulting gap in the Soviet lines. The Soviets, knowing the general German intentions, are following the advice of Zhukov and prepare to stand on the defensive rather that mount their attack first. The northern German forces, commanded by General Model and Kluge, are the XLVII Panzer Corps of the 9th Army. The southern German forces, commanded by General Hoth and Manstein, are the 5th Panzer Army and Operational Group Kempf. The Soviet northern defence is commanded by Rokossovsky and Zhukov and the Soviet southern defence is commanded by Vatutin and Vasilievsky, the Soviet reserve is commanded by Konev. The German attack begins at dawn today along a 170-mile front. PanzerKampfwagen V [Panther] tanks are used for the first time.
At 02:25 a.m., the Germans begin “Operation Citadel” to cut off the Kursk salient and thereby shorten the eastern front and free up considerable forces for offensive operations. On the northern side of the salient, troops of Army Group Centre (GFM Guenther von Kluge) are assembled in 9th Army (GO Walter Model) and include XXIII Army Corps, XLI Panzer Corps, XLVI Panzer Corps, and XLVII Panzer Corps. On the southern side of the salient, troops of Army Group South (GFM Erich von Manstein) are assembled in the 4th Panzer Army (GO Hermann Hoth) and Provisional Army Kempf (Gen. d. PzTr. Werner Kempf) and include XLVIII Panzer Corps, SS Panzer Corps, III Panzer Corps, and “Korps Raus.” (Jeff Chrisman)
Polar Fleet and White Sea Flotilla: Submarine “M-106” - sunk by surface ASW ships Uj1206 and Uj1207 by depth charges and ramming, at Varanger-fjord. (Sergey Anisimov and Dave Shirlaw)(69)
Soviet submarine SC-422 damaged by depth charges of German hunter-group and rammed by Uj-1217 near cape Bludschutudde. All hands lost.
Brooklyn-class light cruiser USS Helena broke in half after being hit by 3 Japanese torpedoes at the battle of Battle of Kula Gulf, off New Georgia. Her bow was sunk the following morning by US destroyers. US Admiral Ainsworth is trying to stop Japanese reinforcement of New Georgia. Shortly after midnight, (1) the USN’s Task Group 36.1 consisting of cruisers and destroyers bombards Vila and Kolombangara Islands and Bairoko Harbor, New Georgia Island; and (2) the 1st Marine Raider Battalion and one battalion each from the Army’s 145th and 148th Infantry Regiments land at Rice Anchorage. In the afternoon, the Allies learn that ten Japanese destroyers, the “Tokyo Express,” are sailing towards New Georgia Island and by 2400 hours local 5 July, TG 36.1 is positioned off the NW corner of New Georgia to meet them.
The 1st US Marine Raider Battalion and one battalion each from the US Army’s 145th and 148th Infantry Regiments land at Rice Anchorage.
In the afternoon, the Allies learn that ten Japanese destroyers, the “Tokyo Express,” are sailing towards New Georgia Island and by 2400 hours local 5 July, TG 36.1 is positioned off the northwest corner of New Georgia to meet them.
Destroyer USS Strong sunk after being torpedoed by a Japanese destroyer off New Georgia, Solomon Islands. 46 of her crew were lost.
U.S.A.: The first turbojet engine developed for the U.S. Navy, the Westinghouse I9A, completes its 100-hour endurance test.
Destroyer escorts USS Creamer, Finnegan, Gustafson, Hollis, Samuel S Miles laid down.
Destroyer escorts USS Baron and J Richard Ward commissioned.
CARIBBEAN SEA: At 0330, the Maltran in Convoy GTMO-134 was torpedoed by U-759 about 70 miles west of Port Salut, Haiti. One torpedo struck on the starboard side at the #2 hatch. The explosion blew the hatch cover off and threw portion of the cargo over the deck and into the sea. As the ship settled rapidly the engines were secured and she first listed to starboard but then settled on even keel. The armed guards fired one round to indicate the direction of the U-boat. As the water reached the forward deck after ten minutes, the eight officers, 27 crewmen and 12 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4in, two .50cal and two .30cal guns) abandoned ship in two lifeboats and three rafts. The overboard discharge from the condenser swamped one of the boats. The ship sank by the stern 15 minutes after the torpedo hit. The survivors were picked up by USS SC-1279 about two and a half hours after the attack and taken to Guantanamo the same day.
ATLANTIC OCEAN: U-535 sunk NE of Cape Finisterre, Spain, in position 43.38N, 09.13W, by depth charges from an RAF 53 Sqn Liberator. 55 dead (all hands lost).
There are a number of myths about Kursk that gained general acceptance. As with much of the Eastern Front, for many years, much of the historical truths remained hidden. On the Soviet side, the truth was hidden under the shroud of Soviet secrecy and propaganda. On the German side, the truth was “hidden in plain sight.” That is to say that the memoirs of surviving Germans like Manstein, Mellenthin, Guderian and others served as the official account of the battle in the west. In the meantime, a treasure trove of German unit records sat unresearched in the national archives.
In the past 10-15 years or so, much has changed and many of he myths have been challenged. The Soviet records were briefly open, and western historians, notably David Glantz, mined as much as he could. In the meantime, other historians in the west began to actually do the hard work of digging and sifting through the German after action reports.
Some of the myths have been refuted, but some of the historical notions of this battle have been confirmed. I’ll discuss more later as the battle progresses. But as a teaser, Prokhorovka was not what is populuarly believed.
Those liberated Russians on p12 don’t realize what awaits them when they get to Russia.
You are right about that. From all of the books I have read on this monumental battle (largely forgotten even though it was the greatest clash of armor in all history), it looks to me as though the Germans were about score a major breakthrough on the southern end of the offensive(the northern end of the attack was going nowhere)yet Hitler called the whole thing off after the Allies invaded Sicily and redeployed a number of key divisions fighting at Kursk.
There is a very good description the Soviet reaction to the beginning of the battle in Alexander Werth’s “Russia at War.” The Soviet people learn of the start of the battle today. For the past two months they have been very tense about when the front will erupt, and in the past two summers the Germans have inflicted massive defeats on the Red Army. It is now with a sense of relief that the battle has begun, there is more confidence in the armed forces, but also a sense of concern. Will we be able to stop the fascists this time?
Well, the Soviets had plenty of advanced information of German offensive and were tipped off by spy network that had connections to the German General Staff. Consequently they had plenty of time to construct eight elaborate layers of defensive belts around the Kursk Salient. Further, Hitler kept pushing back the date of the attack, waiting for his newly minted Tiger and Panther tanks to arrive off the assembly line and to the front, thus eliminating the most effective element of Blitzkrieg tactics: the element of surprise. While the Tiger and Panther were the two best tanks of WWII, their size and complex engineering made it impossible for the Germans to produce great numbers of them.
Beginning July 17 Werth will be the Times Moscow correspondent. (Maybe he already is, but the first piece to appear here is 7/17.) I don't know what happened to Ralph Parker.
I will look forward to Werth’s contributions. Werth had an interesting life. He was a British citizen raised in St. Petersburg. He had ties to the early communists, and was probably at least a communist sympathizer himself. This gave him great credibility with the Soviets, and during the war they gave him access that many other western journalists could only dream about. He was allowed to tour Stalingrad even before all the German POW’s had been removed. He had a really stark description of one of them scurrying from his stinking hole, shitting in a frozen pool of excrement, and then scurrying back. Later this month, he will tour Kursk, and will be able to enjoy the stench of rotting unburied bodies in the Ukraine summer miles away before his aircraft lands.
While Werth was a communist sympathizer, he had no love for Stalin and despised Beria. Of course, he wrote this in “Russia at War” during the time Khruschev was belittling Stalin, and Khruschev hated Beria too. But a lot of influential and common Russians trusted Werth, and were very open to him.
Again, his articles will be very well worth the read, a real star to the Times lineup.