The only assault gun unit that was in the area was the 190. Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung, (strength on 12.01.1943: 32 Sturmgeschütz III) under General-Kommando zu besondere Verwendung Cramer (“Corps Cramer for special purposes”). Korps Cramer was the reserve of German Herresgruppe B. It was commanded by General der Schnellen Truppen Hans Cramer.
Corps Cramer was released from reserve on 15.01.1943. At that time, the 190. StuG-Abt was located near Ostrogosk, probably under the 26. German Infanterie-Division.
By 19.01.43, the entire Second Hungarian Army had been pushed westwards, holed up in Ostrogosk, Alexeyevka, and Budyenny, while the Eighth Italian Army had been bypassed by the 15th and 17th Soviet Tank Corps. Towards evening, the northern Italian remnants of the Alpini Corps (designated "Tridentina Group") started moving out of the encirclement, but the fall of Valuiky to the 7th Soviet Cavalry Corps (redesignated as 6th Soviet Guard Cavalry Corps) forced the Italians to move north west.
Then on 21.01.1943, the “Tridentina Group”, supported by the 26. German Infanterie-Division's artillery and Sturmgeschütz, broke through the Soviet lines in the early morning hours, and began crossing the Olhovatka River. The “Tridentina Group” then marched through Novo Kharkovka and by evening, a mixed German-Hungarian-Italian column of 25,000 men, hundreds of horses, vehicles, and equipment stretched from Limaryev to Novy Georgiyevsky.