Demolishing the Myth by Valeriy Zamulin & Stuart Britton

Demolishing the Myth by Valeriy Zamulin & Stuart Britton

Author:Valeriy Zamulin & Stuart Britton
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: HISTORY / Military / World War II
ISBN: 9781912174362
Publisher: Helion and Company
Published: 2011-06-27T04:00:00+00:00

According to the plan, the first Katiusha salvo from the Guards mortar regiments on the morning of 12 July was to serve as the signal for the initiation of the artillery preparation. Its aim was to disrupt the command and control in the enemy’s forward units; to smash, as it seemed then, the hastily-prepared defenses (which had been thrown up over the course of one night); to suppress the enemy’s anti-tank means; and by all of this to create the basis for a successful attack by the tank brigades of the first echelon. However, in connection with the changes inserted into the plan, only a fifteen-minute artillery barrage was conducted, which failed to damage the enemy’s system of fire seriously and to suppress his anti-tank means. From an after-action account by the 5th Guards Tank Army’s artillery staff, compiled after the operation:

1. Reconnoitering of the enemy did not precede the start of the artillery preparation; it was not possible to establish fully the location of his firing means; aerial reconnaissance intelligence did not arrive, and there were no communications with aviation. The latter point prevented the possibility of fully using the longrange artillery group against the approaching enemy tanks to further disorganize their command and control from a distance.

2. There were also no communications links with the headquarters of the artillery units, previously positioned on this sector. Communications were further hindered by the fact that the commanders of the army’s artillery and corps artillery had no artillery reconnaissance means or means of communication.

3. … Information on the readiness of artillery units was late in arriving from the corps and the army’s attached artillery units. Because of the lack of communications, coordination with neighbors was lost, while the divisions’ artillery commanders often paid little regard to this matter. Thus, for example, the artillery commander of the 42nd Guards Rifle Division Colonel Kholodny on 12.07.43, in the face of intensifying combat, only took questions of cooperation with the artillery commander of the 29th Tank Corps under study and rejected any mutual assistance and exchange of information. The primary connections with the units were conducted … through runners and staff officers, which retarded the delivery of supplementary assignments and the passing of any type of intelligence or orders.

Fire direction, the issuing of new tasks, or the clarification of the conditions and the situation in the units were conducted exclusively by means of travel to the unit’s position and by signal wire.

… The launching of the army’s offensive on 12.07.43 was preceded by a short artillery preparation, in which the supplemental artillery and the corps artillery took part. The supplemental artillery was directed by artillery staff of the Voronezh Front, [but] was working in essence on behalf of the 5th Guards Tank Army, though it had no communications with the army headquarters or the army’s artillery staff.

The firing plan and the schedule for the artillery attack were compiled without regard for intelligence; therefore the effectiveness of the fire was low. Moreover, the inadequate amount


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