Hello to all, greetings from Argentina. This engagement took place during the period of relative calm along the entire enormous Soviet-German Front when the sides were preparing for the engagements on the Orel-Kursk bulge.
Combat Operations to capture the Karagashinka Bridgehead in June 1943 (Taken from MILITARY HISTORICAL JOURNAL No. 6, June 1982)
With the going over to the defensive along the Oka River in March 1943, in the 336th Rifle Division (the 1128th, the 1130th and 1132d Rifle Regiments, the 909th Artillery Regiment, engineer work was being carried out on a broad front. In the 35-km defensive zone of our formation, by the end of May more than 100 km of trenches and communications trenches had been dug, several hundred dugouts and shelters had been built and over 20,000 antitank mines laid. At the same time, the units were preparing for offensive engagements. For these purposes intense active reconnaissance of the enemy was carried out. The personnel in the second echelons of the regiments was trained in the procedures and methods of actions in offensive combat.
It was established that in the zone of the division units of the enemy's 112th Infantry Division were on the defensive. A solid trench ran along its forward edge with many equipped firing pits as well as open and covered areas for machine guns and antitank weapons. In front of it ran two or three lines of wire obstacles and solid antipersonnel minefields. Behind the first trench was a second some 150-200 m away and a third 600-800 m behind. These were inter-connected by communications trenches and alternate positions. Population points and heights had been turned into strongly reinforced strongpoints. The Oka in the defensive zone was 50-60 m wide, more than 2 m deep and only near the vil-lage of Teremtsy (see the diagram) some 1.2-1.5 m deep.
However, in having these data, the command of the division and the units did not sufficiently know the enemy fire plan or the locations of its command and observations posts and also remained uncertain of the reserves and their pur-pose. The main thing was it was essential as quickly as possible to determine how the river could be crossed in the event of going over to the offensive if the opposite bank was defended by troops in engineer-prepared positions. The division's units did not have experience in carrying out such tasks.
In mid-May we were visited by a representative of Hq SHC, Mar SU A. M. Vasilev-skiy. He was interested in the most minute details of the battleworthiness of the units, their logistical support and preparations for coming battles. The marshal approved a proposal by the division's commander, Maj Gen V. S. Kuznetsov, to conduct reconnaissance in force and issued instructions to the army commander, Lt Gen P. A. Belov, to reinforce the formation with army resources and to ready the main forces for broadening and holding the bridgehead which was to be captured by the reconnaissance forces.
For conducting reconnaissance in force. Gen P. A. Belov by 25 May had reinforced the division with the 554th and 397th Light Artillery Regiments and the 348th, 347th and 284th Mortar Regiments, two battalions of guards mortars [rockets], and the 244th, 243d and 151st Army Rifle Companies of 200-250 men each.
With the receiving of reinforcements, the division began preparations for the forthcoming combat operations. For this, 8-12 km behind the forward edge, in the region of the population points of Bolshiye Golubochki and Prilepy on the Ista River, under the leadership of the deputy divisional commander, Col I. I. Petukhov7 a divisional training center was established for training the per-sonnel in the methods and procedures for crossing the water obstacle at night. The water level in the river by means of an earthen dam was raised to 2.5 m and its width in this area increased to 40-50 m. The divisional staff (the chief, Lt Col V. S. Kryukov) began to work out the plan for reconnaissance in force and this was approved by the army commander on 1 June.2 In brief, it came down to the following.
In the first place, the crossing of the river was to be carried out at night, and at dawn, after a 10-minute intense artillery shelling, with a rush attack the first battalion of the 110th infantry regiment was to be wiped out and a line established between Maloye Palchikovo and Bolshaya Karagashinka and Bolvanovka, creating a bridgehead 3.5-4 km along the front and 2.5-3 km in depth. Prisoners were to be taken, the fire plan of enemy defenses and their engineer-design structures would be ascertained along with the position, compo-sition and nature of operations of the reserves and the locations of command and observation posts.
Secondly, for carrying out the task, the following were assigned: the 2d Rifle Battaltion of the 1128th Rifle Regiment reinforced by the 151st and 244th Army Rifle Companies, by the regimental artillery, a combat engineer regiment and the 3d Rifle Battalion of the 1132d Rifle Regiment reinforced by the 243d Army Company, regimental artillery and combat engineers of the regiment. As a whole, this grouping had over 1,600 men and exceeded the number of enemy personnel by 2-2.5^fold in the given area.
Thirdly, for conducting the reconnaissance in force, the section of Maloye Palchikovo and Bolvanovka was designated as this was close to a small bridgehead on the left bank of the Oka in the region of Bedrintsy and Krutogorye which had been captured by our troops even in the course of the winter offensive. The possibility arose of subsequently broadening this and creating a larger one. Moreover, landing and crossing equipment could be secretly and rapidly delivered down the Ista to the Oka in a preassembled form while the presence of fords, although deep ones, in the area of Teremtsy facilitated the crossing of the rifle subunits.
Fourthly, the division's combat engineer subunits under the leadership of the divisional engineer, Maj V. A. Manvel'yan, were given the following tasks: 2 or 3 days before the start of the attack, unbeknownst to the enemy, to make 20 10-m passages through the enemy minefields and obstacles and on the eve of the attack to mark them with unidirectional lights and lime; to deliver 14 DSL-10 boats and two rafts for the 45- and 76-mm weapons to the crossing area, to put up an assault footbridge from difficult-to-sink equipment and stretch two lines in order to support the fording. Bridges were to be built after the capturing of the bridgehead.
Fifthly, the artillery reinforcements and our own under the leadership of the artillery commander, Lt Col P. A. Pichkura, were to destroy and neutralize the enemy firing positions in the zone of the attack and on the flanks, to disrupt command and subsequently neutralize the Nazi artillery and mortars and thwart counterattacks by Nazi reserves. The subunits of the chemical warfare troops were to conceal the crossing areas with smokescreens, by creating 10-12 smoke release areas directly on the bank of the Oka. Tasks were also set for the signals and rear subunits as well as measures to conceal and support the sur-prise of actions.
In the course of preparing for the combat operations at the training center, exercises were conducted with subunits from all the regiments on the subject "Crossing a River and an Offensive Against Heavily Reinforced Enemy Defenses." The final exercises of all the rifle battalions and artillery subunits of the rifle regiments were conducted by the divisional commander during the period from 1 through 5 June.
nd=Infantry Division; nn=Infantry Regiment.
cd=Rifle Division; cn=Rifle Regiment.
The combat operations will follows ASAP. Regards. Tigre.
Serás lo que debas ser o no serás nada. General José de San Martín.