Tank single
Material posted: Publication date: 14-07-2015
Without exaggeration we can say that in the first, the most dramatic days of war cementing foundation of defense of the Red Army were the representatives of the technical branches of service. Tankers, artillerymen, engineers, more literate than the Marines, to better navigate the environment and less panic. Their exceptional exposure can be seen in many battle scenes.

The case in Baltic became "axiomatic. It is a question of tank KV which, on one sources, has held back 6th German tank division, on another - almost all 4th tank grouping of the enemy.

“The tank turret was developed, has accurately groped the purpose and the beginnings methodically to destroy instruments single shots”

At the heart of these rather exaggerated estimations the real fact lies. On June, 24th, 1941 during counterblow of 3rd mechanised case one of tanks KV of 2nd tank division for the unknown reasons has turned on the northwest and left to road on which supply and communication with battle group "Раус" of 6th German tank division which by then have grasped bridgehead on right river bank Dubisa came true.

To understand that has occurred, it makes sense to address to the certificate of Eraharda Rausa which in the morning on June, 24th has learnt: the unique road conducting to bridgehead, is blocked by the heavy tank SQ. we will ask to speak to the most German officer, he tells very figuratively and in detail.

«The Russian tank has managed to destroy the telephone wires connecting us with a division headquarters. Though intentions of the opponent remained not clear, we have started to be afraid of attack from back. I have immediately commanded to 3rd battery of lieutenant Vengenrota from 41st batallion of tank destroyers to take position in back near flat top of a hill nearby from command point of 6th motorised brigade which also served as command point of all battle group.

To consolidate our anti-tank defence, I had to develop the battery which was nearby of 150-mm of howitzers on 180 degrees. 3rd company of lieutenant Gebhardta from 57th sapernogo a tank batallion has obtained the order to mine road and its vicinities. The tanks given to us (half 65th tank batallion of major Shenka) have been arranged in wood. They have obtained the order to be ready to counter-attack as soon as it is required.

The Tank-odinochkaVremja went, but the enemy tank which has blocked road, did not move, though from time to time shot towards Rasejnjaja. At midday scouts whom I have sent on June, 24th have returned to specify conditions. They have informed that except this tank have not found out neither troops, nor technics which could attack us. The officer, commanding subdivision, has drawn a logical conclusion that is the single tank from the group attacking battle group «background of Zekendorf».

Though danger of attack has vanished, followed take measures, somewhat quicker to destroy this dangerous hindrance or at least to drive away the Russian tank far away. The fire it has already set fire to 12 trucks with supply which went to us from Rasejnjaja. We could not evacuate wounded men in battles for bridgehead and as a result some persons have died, without having received medical aid, including the young lieutenant wounded by a shot in an emphasis. If we have managed to take out them, they would be rescued. All attempts to bypass this tank have appeared unsuccessful. Cars or vjazli in a dirt, or faced the isolated Russian subdivisions still wandering on wood.

Therefore I have commanded to the battery of lieutenant Vengenrota which has recently received 50-mm anti-tank guns, to make the way through wood, to approach to the tank on a distance of effective shooting and to destroy it. The battery commander and its brave soldiers with pleasure have accepted this dangerous task and have started working with full confidence that it will not be delayed. From command point at top of a hill we watched them while they accurately made the way among trees from one ravine to another. We saw, how the first instrument has come nearer on 1000 metres to the tank which roads stuck out directly in the middle. Apparently, Russian did not notice threat. The second instrument was gone for some time from a kind, and has then come up from a ravine directly in front of the tank and has taken of well disguised position. Has passed even 30 minutes, and last two instruments too left on initial positions.

We watched for occurring with hill top. Unexpectedly someone has assumed that the tank is damaged and thrown by crew as it stood on road absolutely motionlessly, representing an ideal target. Has suddenly banged a shot of the first of our anti-tank guns, flash and a silvery line has blinked has rested directly against the tank. The distance did not exceed 600 metres. Fire ball has flashed, the abrupt crash was distributed. A direct hit! Then the second and third hits have followed.

Officers and soldiers have joyfully cried, as if spectators at cheerful performance. «Have got! Gallant! The tank it is finished!». The tank did not react in any way while our guns have not achieved eight hits. Then its tower was developed, has accurately groped the purpose and the beginnings methodically to destroy our instruments single shots of 80-mm of the instrument (Raus is mistaken, certainly, 76-mm. - M. B.). Two our 50-mm of a gun have been carried on pieces, other two have been seriously damaged. The staff was lost by some persons killed and wounded men. Deeply shaken, lieutenant Vengenrot together with the soldiers has returned on bridgehead. Recently received weapon to which he unconditionally trusted, has appeared absolutely helpless against the monstrous tank. The feeling of deep disappointment has captured all our battle group.

It was clear that from all our weapon only 88-mm antiaircraft guns with their heavy armour-piercing shells can cope with destruction of the steel giant. In second half of day one such instrument has been withdrawn from action under Rasejnjaem and the beginning carefully to creep up to the tank from the south. КВ-1 has still been developed on the north as from this direction the previous attack has been conducted. The long-barrelled anti-aircraft gun has come nearer on distance about 1800 metres from which it was already possible to achieve satisfactory results. Unfortunately, trucks which were destroyed earlier by the monstrous tank, still burnt down on road shoulders, and their smoke prevented to aim to artillerymen. But on the other hand - the same smoke has turned to a veil under which cover the instrument could be dragged up even more close to the purpose.

At last calculation has got out on a wood edge, whence visibility was excellent. The distance to the tank did not exceed now 500 metres. We have thought that the first shot will give a direct hit and for certain will destroy the tank stirring to us. Calculation has started to prepare the instrument for shooting.

Though the tank did not move since battle with the anti-tank battery, it has appeared that its crew and the commander have iron nerves. They coolly watched anti-aircraft gun approach, without disturbing it as while the instrument moved, it did not represent any threat for the tank. Besides the more close there will be an anti-aircraft gun, the it will be easier to destroy it. There has come the critical moment in duel of nerves when calculation has begun to prepare anti-aircraft gun for a shot. For tank crew time has come to operate. While artillerymen, terribly being nervous, directed and loaded gun, the tank has developed a tower and has shot the first. The shell hit the mark. Hard damaged anti-aircraft gun has fallen down in a ditch, some persons of calculation were lost, and the others have been compelled to run. Machine-gun fire of the tank has prevented to take out the instrument and to pick up victims.

The failure of this attempt upon which huge hopes were rested, became for us very unpleasant news. Optimism of soldiers was lost together with 88-mm the instrument. Our soldiers have spent not the best day, chewing canned food, it was impossible as to bring up hot food.

However the greatest fears have disappeared at least for a while. Attack of Russian to Rasejnjaj has been beaten off by battle group «background of Zekendorf» which has managed to keep height 106. Now it is possible not to be afraid any more that the Soviet 2nd tank division will break to us in back and will cut off us. There was only painful splinter in the form of the tank which blocked our unique way of supply. We have decided that if with it it was not possible to consult in the afternoon at night we will make it. The headquarters of a brigade discussed some hours various variants of destruction of the tank, and preparations to several of them have begun at once.

Our sappers have suggested at night 24/25 June to undermine the tank simply. It is necessary to tell that sappers not without mischievous satisfaction watched unsuccessful attempts of artillerymen to destroy the opponent. At 1.00 sappers have started to operate, as the tank crew has fallen asleep in a tower, without suspecting about danger. After on a crawler band and the thick onboard reservation blasts have been established, sappers have set fire to a bickford fuse and have run off. In some seconds booming explosion has broken off night silence. The problem has been carried out, and sappers have decided that have achieved resolute success. The explosion echo among trees however has not had time to stop, the tank machine gun has revived, and bullets have around whistled. The tank did not move. Possibly, its crawler band has been interrupted, but to find out it it was not possible, as the machine gun without restraint fired at all around. Lieutenant Gebhardt and its patrol have returned on bridgehead notably become gloomy.

Despite all reasonable efforts, the tank continued to block road, firing at any moving subject which noticed. The call pikirovshchikov Ju 87 for tank destruction was the fourth decision which was born in the morning on June, 25th. However to us it has been refused, as planes were required literally everywhere. But even if they would be, hardly pikirovshchiki would manage to destroy the tank a direct hit. We have been assured that splinters of close ruptures will not frighten crew of the steel giant.

But now this damned tank was required to be destroyed at any cost. Battle power of garrison of our bridgehead will be seriously undermined, if it will not be possible to unblock road. The division will not manage to carry out the problem set for it. Therefore I have decided to use last means which has remained with us though this plan could lead to the big losses in people, tanks and the technician, but thus did not promise the guaranteed success. However my intentions should lead the opponent into error and help to reduce our losses to a minimum. We intended to distract attention КВ-1 a sham attack of tanks of major Shenka and to bring up more close instrument 88-mm, to destroy the awful monster. The district round the Russian tank promoted it. There there was a possibility is reserved to creep to the tank and to arrange observation points in woody region to the east of road. As wood was rare enough, our nimble Pz.35 (t) could move freely in all directions.

There has soon arrived 65th tank batallion and has started to fire at the Russian tank from three parties. Crew КВ-1 of the beginnings notably to be nervous. The tower span here and there, trying to catch on a sight impudent German tanks. Russian shot on the purposes flashing among trees, but all time were late. The German tank appeared, but literally immediately disappeared. Tank KV-1 crew has been assured of durability of the reservation which reminded slonovju a skin and reflected all shells, however Russian wanted to destroy opponents annoying them, at the same time continuing to block road.

Fortunately for us, Russian were captured by passion, and they have ceased to watch the back, whence the misfortune came nearer to them. The antiaircraft gun has taken position near to that place where one the day before has already been destroyed same. Its terrible trunk has aimed at the tank, and the first shot has thundered. Wounded man КВ-1 has tried to develop a tower back, but zenitchiki in this time had time to make two more shots. The tower has ceased to rotate, however the tank has not lighted up, though we expected it. Though the opponent did not react any more to our fire, after two days of failures we could not believe in success. By armour-piercing shells four more shots have been made of 88-mm of the antiaircraft gun which have ripped up a skin of a monster. Its instrument was helplessly lifted up upwards, but the tank continued to stand on road which has not been blocked any more.

Witnesses of this deadly duel have wanted to approach more close to check up results of the shooting. To the greatest amazement, they have found out that only two shells have punched the reservation whereas other five 88-mm of shells have only made deep hollows on it. We also have found eight dark blue circles, marking places of hit of 50-mm of shells. Result of a sortie of sappers were serious damage of a crawler band and superficial vyshcherblina on an instrument trunk. But we have not found any traces of hits of shells of 37-mm of guns of tanks Pz.35 (t). Movable by curiosity, we "davidy" have scrambled on poverzhennogo "goliafa" in vain attempt to open the turret hatch. Despite all reasonable efforts, its cover did not yield.

Suddenly the instrument trunk has started to move, and our soldiers in horror have rushed away. Only one of sappers has kept self-control and has quickly put a manual grenade in a hole made a shell in the bottom unit of a tower. Deaf explosion has thundered, and the hatch cover has flown away aside. In the tank bodies of brave crew which have got before only wounds lay. Deeply shaken by this heroism, we have buried them with all military honours. They fought to the last breath, but it was only one small drama of great war ».

Well, as it is visible, the description of events more than detailed. However it needs some comments as the range of estimations of actions of unknown crew fluctuates recently from enthusiastic to sceptically scornful.

What influence on a course of operations in this region was rendered by a feat of unknown crew? We will try to understand.

At 11 o'clock 30 minutes units of 2nd tank division attacked on June, 23rd group "Зекендорф" bridgehead, have beaten out from it Germans and were forwarded through Dubisu. Originally 2nd tank division was promoted by success. Having routed units of 114th motorised regiment of Germans, our tankmen have occupied Rasejnjaj, but soon therefrom have been beaten out. In total for June, 23rd Rasejnjaj four times passed from hand to hand. On June, 24th battles have renewed with new force. We will underline: within two days battle group "Зекендорф" and all units which were available in submission at the division commander, combated with the Soviet tank division. That to Germans was possible to resist, at all their merit. 2nd tank division operated without interaction with other units of front, without aircraft support, in the conditions of deficiency of ammunition and fuel. For reflexion of counterblow of the Soviet division command of 4th German tank group has directed on June, 25th 1st tank, 36th motorised and 269th infantry to a division. By common efforts crisis in a strip of 4th tank group has been liquidated. All this time battle group "Раус" has been completely cut off from the basic forces of 6th tank division, was on other coast Dubisy and tried to cope with one tank! And after all just on June, 24th group "Раус" manoeuvre on the right coast Dubisy in flank and back to attacking Soviet tank units would have very opportunely.

We never learn the reason on which single tank KV-1, having come off the basic forces of a division, left on communications of battle group "Раус". Probably that in a course of action the crew has simply lost orientation. We do not learn and the reason on which within two days the tank remained motionless. Any breakage of the engine or transmission (transmission failure on KV was the mass phenomenon) most likely took place. This abundantly clear as the tank did not try neither to leave a position nor to maneuver on it. Clearly one - the crew has not left the failed car and has not tried to disappear in wood under favour of the darkness. Nothing prevented it to make to tankmen - except road the district around plainly was not controlled by Germans. Unknown Soviet tankmen have preferred destruction in battle to flight and especially to delivery in a captivity. Eternal it glory!


In Soviet period the tank-single history was a little known. Officially this episode mentioned only in 1965 when remains of the fallen transferred on a military cemetery in Rasejnjaj. «The country newspaper "(" lajkrashtis ») has informed on October, 8th, 1965 Valstechju:« The tomb at village Dajnjaj has started talking. Having dug out, have found personal things of tankmen. But they speak very little. Two baklazhki and three pens without inscriptions or signs. Two belts show that in the tank there were two officers. Spoons have appeared more eloquent. On one of them the surname is cut out: Smirnov V. A. On the second - three letters: SH. N.A.Vidimo, is the first letters of a surname, a name and a patronymic of the soldier. The most valuable find establishing the person of heroes - a cigarette case and in it the Komsomol ticket, time decently spoilt. Internal leaves of the ticket have stuck together with any other document. On the first page it is possible to read only last figures of number of the ticket-... 1573. A clear surname and an incomplete name: Ershov Pav... The receipt has appeared the Most informative. On it it is possible to read all records. From it we learn a surname of one of tankmen, a place of its residence. The receipt speaks: The passport, series LU 289759, is given out on October, 8th, 1935 by the Pskov department of militia to Ershov Pavel Egorovichu, handed over on February, 11th, 1940 ».

Michael Barjatinsky

Source: <http://topwar.ru/78607-tank-odinochka.html>