Glowaczow 1944

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Art
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Glowaczow 1944

Postby Art » 22 Oct 2017 18:58

Below is an interesting tactical account published in the Volume II of T. Jentz's "Panzertruppen" and describing a battle fought by 19 Panzerdivision near a Polish village of Glowaczow on 21/22 August 1944.

A. Attack
Objective: Attack the fortified positions at Glowaczow with the entire Panzer-Regiment and Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment concentrated, take the position and break through the north side of Lezenice.
Battle Plan: At 1900 hours, the Panther-Abteilung is to head east from Lipa advancing up to the road from Glowaczow to Barka, than turn south. The strong right wing is to attack toward the Glowaczow church, while the left wing screening toward the north, is to attack the southwest side of Lezenice. At the same time, the Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment along with the II.Abteilung/Panzer-Regiment 27 are to strike north-east and take Glowaczow and Lezenice.
Execution: The Panther-Abteilung started east at 1900 hours, supported by heavy covering fire from our own artillery, broke through the enemy main battle line, which was reinforced with numerous anti-tank guns and crossed the road in a quick thrust.
At 1920 hours, the Panther-Abteilung turned southeast. Simultaneously, a heavy artillery barrage started, followed by an enemy tank attack in the depth of the Panther-Abteilung’s flank. Under the protection of one Panther-Kompanie, which was employed for screening and forced the enemy tanks to turn away, the Panther-Abteilung continued to strike toward Glowaczow and Lezenice.
Toward 2000 hours, as the attack was effectively delivered on the heavily occupied northwest side of the village, the Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment and the II.Abteilung/Panzer-Regiment 27, which were already located on the southwest edge of Gloweczow, started to attack. The heavy clouds of dust and smoke as well as the failing night made it impossible to carry out a quick action and forced a tough and stubborn advance against the strongly occupied village of Glowaczow,
Glowaczow was in our hands at 2130, with the exception of the high ground around the church. After destroying the remaining enemy, the units reached the north edge of Glowaczow at 2330 hours. After a break to reorganize the units, the attack on Lezenice was initiated at 0045 hours. Part of the Panther-Abteilung supported this attack by firing on the northwest edge of the village. Simultaneously, the Panther-Abteilung started an envelopment to the left toward the northeast side of Lezenice. In spite of bitter enemy resistance, Lezenice was also taken. Shortly after 0400 hours the units reached the northeast side of Lezenice. While the Panther-Abteilung was pulled back into the village of Lipa, the II.Abteilung/Panzer-Regiment 27 and Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment built the newly ordered main battle line

B. Defense
Based on the increasing preparatory artillery fire, a strong enemy attack was expected the next day. The Panther-Abteilung was ready in the village of Lipa, while the II.Abteilung/Panzer-Regiment 27 was in defensive positions on the north edge of Lezenice. About 1400 hours, artillery preparation barrages started and the enemy started to attack from both sides of Rogozek. The Panther-Abteilung promptly drove east and took ip scouted positions on both sides of the road facing southeast. The enemy attacked the north-east side of Lezenice with a strong infantry and tank force, to the right toward the Glowaczow church with a strong tank wedge, and to the left through Point 115 and the southwest side of Lezenice with a weaker assault wedge.
The left-hand enemy assault group, after bypassing our own right wing, struck toward Point 115 and were totally destroyed in short order by an awaiting group of Panzers. At the last moment, this prevented the enemy from rolling up our own positions from the right wing, and all of the forces located in Lezenice could concentrate their fire on the main enemy forces attacking from the northeast. On spite of very heavy losses, the enemy managed to get into the village. However, he lose striking power because the tank unit advancing from the north toward the Glowaczow church ran into the flanking fire from the Panther-Abteilung.
After 15 enemy tanks were destroyed the entire attack on the village was halted. An enemy group of infantry and tanks that were striking toward Lezenice were defeated by Panthers that were being repaired. Two additional enemy tanks were knocked out. The rest of the enemy tanks fled and pulled back into wooded lots northeast of Rogozek.
About 1530 hours, the enemy tank attack was completely defeated and two hours later the Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment and part of the II.Abteilung/Panzer-Regiment 27 started to counterattack and cleaned out the enemy that had penetrated into the northeast side of Lezenice.
Results: 42 tanks, of which three were Josef Stalin heavy tanks, 38 guns, and uncounted light and heavy infantry weapons were destroyed in this battle. In addition the enemy lost about 1000 men killed.


Scheme 1 "Attack"
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Scheme 2 "Defense"
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What I'm interesting in is reconstructing this episode from the Soviet side.

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Re: Glowaczow 1944

Postby Art » 22 Oct 2017 19:15

General context: in early August 1944 the Soviet 1 Belorussian Front captured two bridgeheads on the west side of the Vistula River: the larger at Magnuszew and the smaller at Pulawy. Between 5 and 12 August the Germans tried to eliminate the bridgehead at Magnuszew using two newly committed Panzer Divisions: "Hermann Göring" and 19 PzD but without success. As the situation stabilized the Soviet side resumed attacks on the Vistula. The plan was a to make a concentric thrust toward Radom and to connect both bridgeheads building a larger position west of the river. In accordance with this plan on 19.8.44 the 8 Guards Army attacked from the southern part of the Magnuszew bridgehead to the south-south-west.

General situation on 18 August 1944 and Soviet attacks (red arrows)

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Re: Glowaczow 1944

Postby Michate » 23 Oct 2017 11:03

No info from the Soviet side, but the German perspective is further described in the volume "Truppendienst Taschenbuch - Gefechtsbeispiele aus dem Zweiten Weltkrieg" (Wien, Ueberreuter, 1971) as well as by Hinze in his "Die Hannoversche Artillerie - Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment 19", the latter briefly describing artillery support for the attack.

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Re: Glowaczow 1944

Postby Art » 23 Oct 2017 19:58

Thanks. What I find interesting in this episode is a concentrated action of a full panzer regiment and nighttime employment of tanks, some of them without any infantry support. It must be added that 19 PzD was one of the strongest divisions on the Eastern Front around that time. In particular by early August 1944 it received a fully equipped Panther battalions. On 1 September after some losses suffered it still mustered 115 tanks operational and in short repair:
http://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de/index ... #post81929

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Re: Glowaczow 1944

Postby Art » 23 Oct 2017 20:28

Ok, further on. On 19 August the 8 Guards Army launches an offensive from the southerner part of the Magnuszew bridgehead with 5 divisions in the first line. From right to left: 39, 88, 82, 47, 57 Guards Rifle Divisions. Two more divisions are in the second line and 16 Tank Corps with more than 180 tanks and SP guns is ready as a mobile exploitation force. 82 Guards Rifle Division attacks in the center along the main axis of offesnive toward Glowaczow. The division is the strongest in the army as it suffered relatively few losses in the previous weeks; on 18.8 its personnel strength is about 6300 men. The initial attack is stopped by German resistance and counterattacks some 4 km from the start line. On 20.8 elements of the 164 Tank Brigade and 1239 self-propelled regiment (both from the 16 Tank Corps) are additionally committed to revitalize offensive in the 82 GRD's sector. Together with infantry they enter Glowaczow by dusk and fully clear it by the morning of 21 August. At this point the offensive power of infantry is spent and 8 Guards Army switches to defense in order to hold the ground conquered in the previous two days. As a result of successful penetration made by the 82 Guards division the frontline looks like a wedge with an apex at Glowaczow. Weak German probes against Glowaczow during the day of 21 August are easily repulsed.

Soviet offensive and the front-line on 18 and 21 August 1944 (clickable). The map cell size is 2 km:
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Re: Glowaczow 1944

Postby Art » 25 Oct 2017 18:24

By evening 21.8.44 Soviet situation at Glowaczow is as shown on the scheme below:

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The wedge at Glowaczow-Lezenice is occupied by the 244 Guards Rifle Regiment/82 Guards Rifle Division and 76 Guards Rifle Regiment/27 Guards Rifle Division. There is a large gap between them and other two regiments of the 82 Division which is only weakly screened by a submachine gun and anti-tank rifle companies of the 244 GRR. 83 Guards Rifle Regiment of the 27 Division is at the base of the wedge in reserve. Infantry at Glowaczow is a having a low level of heavy weapons ammunition.
A tank force at Glowaczow includes assorted vehicles from several units, namely:
- 11 T-34-76 from the 11 Guards Tank Brigade (5 on the east edge of the village and 6 on the west)
- 2 IS-122 from the 36 Guards Tank Regiment near the church of Glowaczow
- 3 or 2 T-34 from the 3 Battalion/164 tank brigade on the east edge. Other tanks of the battalion are either knocked during attack of G. or withdrawn for refueling.
- one battery of the 1239 Self-Propelled Regiment on the south-east edge - 3 or 4 lend-lease M-10 tank destroyers.

Other armored elements on the battlefield:

2. At Moniochy:
- 1 Battalion/164 Tank Brigade - up to 15 T-34
- one battery 1239 SP Regiment - several M-10
- 1200 Self-Propelled Regiment - 7 SU-76 operational
- 1 IS-122 from the 36 Guards Tank Regiment

3. At Jasienec:
- 2 Battalion/164 Tank Brigade - up to 15 T-34
- one battery/1239 SP Regiment - several M-10.

107 Tank Brigade is further back in reserve with about 50 operational T-34.

Conclusion: an attack of the Panther Battalion (1/27 Pz.Rgt.) hits a weak spot between Soviet 244 and 246 Regiment. Soviet armored elements are rather strong but scattered and are not employed in a concentrated manner.

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Re: Glowaczow 1944

Postby John Hilly » 26 Oct 2017 15:02

Very interesting. Thanks Art!
"Die Blechtrommel trommelt noch!"

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Re: Glowaczow 1944

Postby Art » 26 Oct 2017 20:48

Soviet accounts on the German attack on Glowaczow suffer from obviously skewed reporting. For example, different document provide for the start time a bracket from 18 to 20 hours (Moscow time zone). Also initial reports erroneously claimed that the German evening attacks was successfully beaten off. In fact the attack soon enveloped and almost isolated Glowaczow-Lezenice. Some Soviet tanks and infantry retreated when the attacks started, others stayed and offered determined resistance throughout the night. Isolated from friendly forces, suffering heavy losses (both 83 and 76 Regiments lost 2 battalion commanders out of 3) and running out of ammunition they were ultimately overwhelmed and escaped to the north and north-east.
Soviet infantry and armor at Moniochy were engaged in firefight with German tanks and infantry but didn't move from their positions apparently under impression that attack was directed against them. One company of the 2 Battalion/164 Tank Brigade with several T-34 was sent to rescue Glowaczow but wasn't able to reach it and fell back. By all probability that was what the German account described as "an enemy tank attack in the depth of the Panther-Abteilung’s flank". As another example of erroneous reporting the commander of 164 TBr claimed that the company actually reached Glowaczow and supported the garrison. That didn't stay without consequences for him as will be described later.

Conclusion:
- Soviet positions at Glowaczow-Lezenice were enveloped and isolated which made them untenable
- Attempts to rescue G. were lacking strength and determination
- Soviet conduct of battle suffers from false or inaccurate reporting

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Re: Glowaczow 1944

Postby Art » 27 Oct 2017 10:31

After Glowaczow is lost commander of the 8 Guards Army general Chuikov orders a counterattack to retake it and assigns a reserve 107 Tank Brigade for this attack. Infantry of the 82 Guards Divisions attacks about 12 hours (Moscow time) 22.8 after a short artillery preparation. For some reasons not stated tanks of the 107 TBr lag behind and only join action at 13 h. 107 Tank Brigade attacks with 2nd (308) and 3rd Tank Battalions (each battalion about 15 T-34 tanks) from the north and north-east. Tanks take heavy losses on open terrain from German armor and guns, in a short order 13 T-34 are destroyed and 4 damaged and the attack is beaten off. While Germans are distracted by those events the 246 Guards Rifle Regiment with supporting armor (1 Battalion/164 Tank Brigade, 1200 Self-Propelled Regiment etc) advances several hundred meters and takes the village of Moniochy and tactically important Hill 146.7 capturing several guns and other trophies. Further advance is stopped under strong artillery fire, in particular rocket launchers. Since the attack obviously fails in the middle of the day 22 August the order is given to switch to defense and consolidate on the current positions. The period of generally uneventful trench war starts which last until the grand Soviet offensive in January 1945.

Conclusions:
1. Soviet counterattacks started many hours after Glowaczow is lost so ample time was available for German defenders to consolidate.
2. The number of tanks assigned for the counterattack (about 30) was apparently smaller than what was available to Germans in that area, so its failure was predictable. Other Soviet tanks and SP guns were present but they were given a role of passive spectators.
3. 244 and 76 Regiments were exhausted after the night battle and couldn't support the attack with much effect.

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Re: Glowaczow 1944

Postby Art » 27 Oct 2017 16:36

Tank losses of the 16 Tank corps are given in detail:
107 Tank Brigade lost 13 T-34 destroyed and 4 damaged, all in the attack on 22.8. Location of lost tanks are shown on the scheme:
https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=136222680
We see a good agreement with the German account. Namely "The enemy attacked the north-east side of Lezenice with a strong infantry and tank force..." - 4 T-34 from the 3rd Tank Battalion/107 Tank Brigade destroyed at Rogozek". Then " to the right toward the Glowaczow church with a strong tank wedge" and "After 15 enemy tanks were destroyed the entire attack on the village was halted" - 308 Tank Battalion/107 Tank Brigade which lost 7 tanks destroyed, 2 damaged and two running on mines. Finally "The left-hand enemy assault group, after bypassing our own right wing, struck toward Point 115 and were totally destroyed in short order by an awaiting group of Panzers" - by all probability 2 tanks from the 3 Battalion destroyed south of Lezenice.

164 Tank Brigade lost 7 T-34 destroyed and 8 damaged on 20-22 August. Again there is a scheme with location of destroyed tanks:
https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=136222681
3rd Battalion/164 Tank Brigade lost 4 T-34 at Glowaczow. Most probably 2 were lost in a Soviet attack on 20 August. By the evening of 21 August the battalion had 3 T-34 at G., of them 2 more were destroyed and 1 managed to escape as described in the brigade's after action report.
1st Battalion/164 Tank Brigade lost 3 T-34 at Moniochy. As appears from the scheme two were lost during the German attack on the evening of 21.08 and one - in a counterattack on the next day.

1239 Self-Propelled Regiment lost 2 M10 Wolverine destroyed and 3 damaged. As the story looks from available documents on the evening of 21.8 there was a battery with 4 M10 at Glowaczow. Of them 2 were destroyed in a German attack and 2 escaped.

There is far less certainty with losses of independent tank units.
36 Guards Tank Regiment - 5 IS-122 were reported as write-offs between 21 and 24 August. Some of them seem to be lost on the previous days. On the other hand there were 3 IS operational by the evening of 21.8 and 1 on the evening of 22.8. 2 IS situated at Glowaczow seem to be lost in those 24 hours. So the most probable number is 2 tanks destroyed.

11 Guards Tank Brigade - reporting is quite contradictory. Either 1 or 2 T-34 became write-offs after 21 August. In any case most of 11 T-34 that were at Glowaczow managed to escape in a running order.

1200 Self-Propelled Regiment - no losses suffered.

So finally in 24 hours between the evening of 21 and 22 August 22-24 Soviet tanks and SP guns became irreparable losses. The German claim (42) is a usual exaggeration probably influenced by counting vehicles that were lost on the same battlefield in the previous days or counting damaged but repairable tanks/SP guns.

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Re: Glowaczow 1944

Postby Art » 27 Oct 2017 17:53

Personnel losses:
In 48 hours (midday 21 August - midday 23 August) 82 Guards Rifle Division reported 162 men killed, 18 missing, 453 wounded. Total 663 battle casualties
Losses of the 27 Guards Division were smaller: 13 killed, 125 wounded reported in the same 48 hours.
164 Tank Brigade lost 27 men killed and 77 wounded on 22-22 August
107 Tank Brigade - 20 killed, 41 wounded (mostly on 22 August, I guess).
Losses of other separate units must be small.

It's clear that "1000 men killed" is a very large overclaim. Not that it was uncommon for such estimates to be more or less arbitrary.

As far as guns losses are concerned 82 Guards Division lost 10 76-mm divisional guns, 4 76-mm regimental guns, 5 45-mm AT guns, and 10 82-mm mortars abandoned at G. 27 Guards Division lost two 45-mm guns knocked out on 21-22 August. Again "38 guns" seems overstated somewhat.

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Re: Glowaczow 1944

Postby per70 » 13 Nov 2017 22:00

Just wanted to add that I found this both interesting and enlightening. Thank you, Art.

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Re: Glowaczow 1944

Postby Art » 14 Nov 2017 20:06

You are welcome. Worth to add that total losses of the 82 Guards Rifle Division on 19-22 August (attack, defense and counterattack) were 530 men killed and 1370 wounded. Weapons losses included 1 122-mm howitzer, 19 76-mm divisional and 6 regimental guns, 10 45-mm AT guns, 1 120-mm and 10 82-mm mortars, 8 AT rifles, 35 medium and 52 light machine guns, 312 machine pistols and 436 rifles. Quoted in the final battle report of the 82 GRD:
https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=134759956

Another interesting topic is tactical conclusions from this episode. Soviet documents mentioned such factors as vulnerability of wedge-like positions at Glowaczow and a large unprotected gap between 244 and 246 Regiment. It was said that 83 Guards Rifle Regiment was supposes to full this gap but failed to to that. The reasons were not clarified. The battle report of the 244 Regiment also blamed Soviet tanks who promptly retreated from Glowaczow-Lezenice when the German attack started thus the infantry was left exposed. That is probably true in regard to the 11 Guards Tank Brigade, since this unit suffered relatively small losses in the battle. However other armored elements at G. offered as much resistance as they could as seen from the losses they suffered. Other factors mentioned were a deficit of mortar ammo and ill-directed fire of Soviet artillery which shelled own infantry in a confusion if night battle.

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Re: Glowaczow 1944

Postby Art » 14 Nov 2017 21:03

A report on battle experience of the 82 Guards Division staff contained more general observations and conclusions:

- German defensive tactics. It was said that German didn't have sufficient forces to maintain a continuous defensive line and instead relied on active defense concentrating forces supported by strong armor for counterattacks in limited sectors Night counterattacks by infantry and armor were a favorite trick designed to shaken morale of defenders

- Own artillery was critical in view of strong German armor and frequent counterattacks. However conduct of artillery fire was lacking flexibility. All divisional and attached artillery was distributed between regiments and its fire couldn't be promptly concentrated on a threatened sector. Supporting artillery was placed under the Corps HQ (29 Guards Rifle Corps). All calls for fire had to pass to the Corps artillery commander who was quite far from the battlefield. Usually 10-12 minutes passed between calls for fire and the start of the fire mission. German tanks could move quite a distance during that time and a barrage was hitting and empty place. It was recommended to place supporting artillery under divisional command for more straight control.

- Own armor was also important for repulsing counterattacks since in offesnive actions towed guns used to lag behind. Armored elements were also lacking flexibility, since they were controlled by a tank group commander who was in personal liaison with a divisional commander. In battle situation he could give orders only by radio and they were transmitted with much friction and delay. Adequate cooperation between tanks and infantry was normally maintained only in the first phase of the battle but then it was upset. Also tanks used to retreat from forward lines to the rear for refueling and replenishing ammunition thus leaving infantry without support. It was recommended to directly attached small tank elements to infantry units (regiments) for better cooperation.

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Re: Glowaczow 1944

Postby Art » 16 Nov 2017 18:27

As an epilogue several words about repercussions of this tactical engagement.

164 Tank Brigade happened to be a particularly unlucky unit. Just a couple of days before the Glowaczow battle the brigade commander colonel Kopylov became a target of investigation which found that he failed to carry out the tasks assigned to him in action on 19 August and his command of the brigade was lacking vigor and competence. Kopylov was officially reprimanded. Further on his brigade was additionally criticized in the 2 Tank Army's order for car accidents involving drunk driving. Kopylov's questionable performance in the battle of 21/22 August seems to be the last straw and he was relieved of command.

Soviet tank generals were very dissatisfied with the way the 8 Guards Army handled the 16 Tank Corps. On 24 August general Radzievsky (2 Tank Army's commander) submitted a report to marshal Rokossovsky to bring his attention to this problem. Radzievsky complained that the 16 Tank Corps was given under operational control of the 8 Guards Army with a clause that it could only be committed to action in a critical situation and with a special permission from Rokossovsky. Instead the commander of the 8 Guards Army general Chuikov beginning from 19 August sent elements of the 16 TC (first 164 and then 107 Tank Brigade) to battle by penny packets without a necessity dictated by military situation. As a result the losses of 22 destroyed and 15 damaged tanks were suffered and no positive results achieved. Radzievksy requested to end this ineffective employment of the corps and withdraw its elements from the first line to reserve and only commit the corps as a whole unit and for really important tasks.

Already on the next day Rokossovsky read this report and ordered to forward a copy to general Chuikov with his own comments. Rokossovsky wrote that he was appalled with the way Chuikov employed the 16 Tank Corps and the loss of 37 tanks. He also added that the situation didn't demand commitment of the corps which was meant for critical situations such as a German large-scale attack against the Magnuszew bridgehead. A more mundane task of supporting Chuikov's infantry had to be assigned to his artillery and separate tanks and self-propelled guns units and "an aimless extermination" of the 16 TC had to be stopped. Rokossovsky also noted that Chuikov's action were undisciplined and violated orders since he committed the corps without permission. "I warn you that I will not tolerate undisciplined actions from anybody regardless of position and past merits" was supposed to be clear hint for Chuikov.

Unsurprisingly neither Rokossovsky nor Chuikov mentioned this conflict in their memoirs although both definitely had to remember it. Regardless of Rokossovsky's warning the problem was resolved by itself since active operations on the Magnuszew bridgehead had already ended by that moment.


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