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The 262 Infanterie Division in 1941.
There began the war in Russia. Rawa Ruska.
Thus it went under way: With the first shell falling somewhere within or behind the forest, a Russian soldier fell as an hero for his native country. Several shots had met his body, who knows, how many carbines were aimed to him. And with this first order came: „On your feet, go! “and we rushed ahead. Here only was a deep forest and the Infantry which was to deal with the border guards’ remnants, who certainly were in shelters, had a busy time.
We had to storm the forest’s edge and there the resistance was more and more intense, hence the infantrymen cried calling: „SMG, SMG!“ (heavy MG, heavy MG). In such a way it went nearly all day long and we had a lot of work to do. Finally, when we could break into the Rawa-Ruska’s forest, the engagements became even more violents and soon the hostile bullets came from all directions, particularly from the shelters of a line of defense, which could not tear off yet. Here we took our first losses by wounds and death. For us however the fallen will live for ever!. And already on the first day we often had to dig holes, so that we could get some cover.
However this first day became even worse. This 22 June 1941 was Sunday and in addition a very hot summer day. The sun stood highly over us as we were fighting without a pause. Soon the thirst tormented us and although it was forbidden due to health risks, we drank a sip from a puddle or a ditch.
The most part of my unit remained lying at the railway embankment, since the railroad line was under fire from two well disposed shelters. The russians fired well so my comrades could not follow ahead. However we had to get back over it yet. Finally we came over there, and we could get some cover. However the battalion could not move forward any more, but it had to withdraw again far to the rear and entrenched itself before the Rusians’ attacks. The enemy was far superior here and the others battalions could not followed yet. We were cut off of them and had to fight for our skin.
There we entrenched ourselves again and should pass the night awake holding that positions at any cost. In the middle of the night hostile cavalry galloped passing directly on our machineguns position. It was already an amusing feeling. That had been the first day in the war for me - a good baptism of fire - which one does not forget in the life. It was only three days later that we knew that our battalion, the I./ IR 486 (500 men) had suffered 133 casualties, of them 34 killed and 99 either wounded or misses; all this on the first day, Sunday 22.Juni 1941.
Source: Kriegserinnerungen 1939 – 1949 aufgezeichnet von Karl Fischl.
Cheers. Raúl M .
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