7 June 1941

7 June 1941

7 June 1941

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War in the Air

RAF bombs Brest, four more attacks follow



Following World War II, numerous military historians argued that 1943&rsquos Battle of Prokhorovka was the largest tank battle in history. Over the past decade, however, most scholars revised this opinion, and point to the concentrated armor clashes during the opening phases of Operation Barbarossa Nazi Germany&rsquos 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. The largest estimates of armor at the Battle of Prokhorovka range between 978 (the most likely number) and 1,500. The Battle of Brody, however, included 4,100 tanks at a minimum. Scholars suspect the number of armored units may have been closer to 5,000, but the insane chaos of the invasion wreaked havoc on the logistics of both sides, and the true number may never be known.

The Battle of Brody pitted the German 1st Panzer Group, commanded by Generaloberst Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist, against six concentrated Soviet Mechanized Corps drawn from 5th Army to the north and the 6th Army to the south… and no clear commander. Orders to counter-attack came on the heels of orders to defend. Movement, difficult as it already was, was compounded by conflicting instructions. The Soviet Union was straining every sinew to repulse the German Army before it reached Kiev, and the result was complete pandemonium.

World War Photos

When the two armies crashed into each other, hundreds of Panzers fought thousands of Soviet armored units in a bitter, brutal, struggle near the triangle of three towns (Dubno, Lutsk, and Brody) over the course of four days. Experienced and confident in their officers and equipment, the German 1st Panzer Group expected to triumph over the Soviets. The evidence seemed to support their optimism as the Panzer&rsquos raced forward, but the Soviet&rsquos had a nasty surprise for the German Army: the T-34. Following the Battles of Khalkhin Gol two years prior, the Soviet&rsquos analyzed the weakness of their BT tank line, and used their experience to build a medium tank with dense, sloped armor, a more powerful main gun, and a vastly improved track design. The result was the T-34, and the Germans had absolutely no idea it existed.

Kliest later referred to the T-34 as &ldquothe finest tank in the world,&rdquo and Guderian would grudgingly admit it was superior to German Panzers. Combined with the operational and tactical prowess of the veteran Panzer crews, the T-34 fought against a stacked deck in 1941. With one notable exception, the German Panzers devastated the Soviet&rsquos armor over the next four days. The Soviet&rsquos gave ground slowly, but the Panzer&rsquos consistently outflanked their opponents, encircled their armor, and destroyed them like a wolfpack pumped on steroids and backed up with air support.

This was not the case for the Soviet&rsquos 8th Mechanized Corps who successfully attacked the 11th Panzer Division on the 26th, but a single victory does not win a battle. When the smoke cleared on June 29, 1941, only shattered remnants of the first Soviet counter-attack remained, and the final tally ended thusly: Germany lost roughly 200 tanks out of 750 whereas the Soviets lost between 2,600 and 3,000 armored units.


7 June 1941 - History

USS Yorktown , now with large torpedo holes on both sides amidships, floated through the night of 6-7 June 1942, while her escorting destroyers unsuccessfully pursued the Japanese submarine I-168 , treated injured sailors and kept watch. As dawn approached, it was clear that the carrier was lower in the water with an increasing list. As the sun rose on 7 June, Yorktown rolled over on her port side and sank by the stern.

She was not seen again by human eyes until 19 May 1998, when an expedition led by Dr. Robert Ballard located and photographed her wreck, sitting upright on the sea floor with a approximate 25-degree "list " to starboard. On her starboard side amidships the "mud line" reached to about the hangar deck level, while on her port side her midships underwater hull was visible nearly to the turn of the bilge. Despite fifty-six years under 16,650 feet of salt water, Yorktown was in surprisingly good condition, with all but a little of her structure undistorted and readily recognizable. Measure 12 camouflage paint was still intact, and the white hull number "5" could be clearly seen at her bow and stern. Evidence of Battle of Midway damage and the subsequent salvage efforts was abundant: the bomb hole in her flight deck aft of the midships elevator fire-damaged paint and metal on her smokestack a huge torpedo hole in her port side anti-aircraft guns still pointing skyward and other guns missing where they had been jettisoned by the salvage party on 6 June 1942. Damage incurred as the ship plunged to the sea floor was also apparent: Yorktown 's bow was distorted by implosion her tripod mast and aft flight deck overhang had disappeared globs of the clay-like sea bottom still adhered to some vertical surfaces, where they had been driven by the force of impact.

This page features, and provides links to, all the views we have showing USS Yorktown as she sank.
These photographs are presented in approximately the order in which they were taken, up to the point at which the ship began to settle rapidly by the stern.

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the Online Library's digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

Battle of Midway, June 1942

USS Yorktown (CV-5) sinking, just after dawn on 7 June 1942, as seen from an accompanying destroyer.
The ship has capsized to port, exposing the turn of her starboard bilge.
This view looks forward, with Yorktown 's forefoot in the right center. The large hole made by one or two submarine torpedoes is in the center of the photo. Yorktown 's starboard forward 5-inch gun gallery is in the left center, with two 5"/38 gun barrels sticking out over its edge. The two larger thin objects sticking up, just aft of the 5-inch guns, are aircraft parking outriggers. When the ship's wreck was examined in May 1998, both guns were still in position, but the outriggers were gone.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 107KB 740 x 610 pixels

Battle of Midway, June 1942

USS Yorktown (CV-5) sinking, just after dawn on 7 June 1942, as seen from an accompanying destroyer.
The ship has capsized to port, exposing the turn of her starboard bilge.
This view looks toward the ship's bottom, with Yorktown 's bow off camera to the right. The large hole made by one or two submarine torpedoes is in the center of the photo, severing the ship's forward bilge keel. Note the strip of debris sticking up from the hole's lower rear.
The stern of one of the ship's accompanying destroyers is in the extreme right distance.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 107KB 740 x 605 pixels

Battle of Midway, June 1942

USS Yorktown (CV-5) sinking, just after dawn on 7 June 1942, as seen from an accompanying destroyer.
The ship has capsized to port, exposing the turn of her starboard bilge, with a large torpedo hole amidships severing the forward bilge keel. Yorktown 's forefoot is at the extreme right. Her starboard forward 5-inch gun gallery can be seen further up her hull, with two 5"/38 gun barrels sticking out over its edge. The two larger thin objects sticking up, just aft of the 5-inch guns, are aircraft parking outriggers. When the ship's wreck was examined in May 1998, both guns were still in position, but the outriggers were gone.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 104KB 740 x 600 pixels

Battle of Midway, June 1942

USS Yorktown (CV-5) sinking, just after dawn on 7 June 1942, as seen from an accompanying destroyer.
The ship has capsized to port, exposing the turn of her starboard bilge.
This view looks toward the ship's bottom, with Yorktown 's starboard forward five-inch gun gallery at the right. Her bow is off-camera, further to the right. The large hole, made by one or two submarine torpedoes and severing the ship's forward bilge keel, is in the left center. Note the strip of debris sticking up from the hole's lower rear.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 82KB 740 x 610 pixels

Battle of Midway, June 1942

USS Yorktown (CV-5) sinking, just after dawn on 7 June 1942, as seen from an accompanying destroyer.
The ship has capsized to port, exposing the turn of her starboard bilge.
This view looks toward the ship's bottom from off her bow, with Yorktown 's forefoot in the right foreground and her starboard forward five-inch gun gallery beyond. The large hole made by one or two submarine torpedoes, severing the ship's forward bilge keel, is toward the left.
USS Monaghan (DD-354) is in the left center distance.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 95KB 740 x 610 pixels

Battle of Midway, June 1942

USS Yorktown (CV-5) capsized and sinking, just after dawn on 7 June 1942, as seen from an accompanying destroyer.
The ship has rolled over to port, exposing the turn of her starboard bilge, with a large torpedo hole amidships severing the forward bilge keel. Yorktown 's forefoot is in the center foreground. The forward starboard corner of her flight deck is near the sea surface at extreme right, with the bow Landing Signal Officer platform extending upward from it.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 97KB 740 x 610 pixels

Battle of Midway, June 1942

USS Yorktown (CV-5) sinking, just after dawn on 7 June 1942, as seen from an accompanying destroyer.
The ship has capsized to port, exposing the turn of her starboard bilge.
This view looks aft, with Yorktown 's forefoot in the center foreground and the forward end of her flight deck in the right center.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 84KB 740 x 615 pixels

Battle of Midway, June 1942

USS Yorktown (CV-5) sinking, just after dawn on 7 June 1942, as seen from an accompanying destroyer.
The ship has capsized over to port, with her bow nearest to the camera. Her forefoot is at left, and her forward 1.1" machine gun positions, located just in front of the island, are very near the sea surface at right. Note froth on the water from escaping air.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 83KB 740 x 610 pixels

Battle of Midway, June 1942

USS Yorktown (CV-5) sinking, just after dawn on 7 June 1942, as seen from an accompanying destroyer.
The ship has capsized to port, exposing the turn of her starboard bilge.
This view looks aft from off the forward end of Yorktown 's flight deck. Her forefoot is at the left. In the center, severing the ship's forward bilge keel, is the large hole made by one or more submarine torpedoes.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 103KB 740 x 615 pixels

Battle of Midway, June 1942

USS Yorktown (CV-5) sinking, just after dawn on 7 June 1942, as seen from an accompanying destroyer.
The ship has capsized to port, exposing the turn of her starboard bilge.
This view looks toward the ship's starboard flight deck gallery, with her forefoot at the left. The front edge of the flight deck is slightly to the right of the forefoot, with a .50 caliber machine gun tub and the bow Landing Signal Officer platform sticking up. Further aft is her starboard forward five-inch gun gallery, with two 5"/38 guns pointing upwards. Behind them are two aircraft parking outriggers and the front of her forward 1.1-inch machine gun position, located just in front of the island. Beyond that, in the right center, is the large hole made by one or more submarine torpedoes. Note the strip of debris sticking up from the hole's rear end.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 129KB 740 x 615 pixels

Battle of Midway, June 1942

USS Yorktown (CV-5) sinking, just after dawn on 7 June 1942, as seen from an accompanying destroyer.
The ship has capsized to port, exposing the turn of her starboard bilge, and is settling rapidly by the stern.
This view looks over the ship's upper starboard structure, with her bilge beyond. Yorktown 's forefoot and front edge of her flight deck are toward the left. In the right center is the large hole made by one or more submarine torpedoes. Note the oil slick surrounding the ship.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 112KB 740 x 615 pixels

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the Online Library's digital images, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Page made 12 April 1999
New images added and page divided 15 August 2008
Coding updated 22 April 2009


The Negro Struggle

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 23, 7 June 1941, p.م.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Negro March On Washington

Last week, in our discussion of the proposed march of 10,000 Negroes on Washington on July 1, we indicated our support of the undertaking and called attention to the fact that the most important consideration in the march had to be the demands made by the marchers when they got there.

We discussed the proposal of the Negro Committee handling the march preparations it intends to ask a presidential decree abolishing discrimination in employment and the armed forces. We explained how this was based on A. Philip, Randolph’s theory that Roosevelt could issue such an order tomorrow, “and discriminations against colored people would promptly end.”

We support the demand, that Roosevelt should issue an executive order against discrimination. But we definitely do not believe that discrimination would end if Roosevelt issued the order. We support this demand because it would help the fight against specific cases of Jim Crowism, but do not believe it would by itself abolish Jim Crowism.

In support of our position, we want to recall one of the statements made by A. Philip Randolph in the article in which he first called for the march. It should be remembered that this, statement of his was advanced as a reason for holding the march. Printed in January, it said:

“It seems to be apparent that even when well-meaning, responsible, top government officials agree upon a fair and favorable policy, there are loopholes, and subordinate officers in the Army, Navy and Air Corps, full of race hatred, who seek its contravention, nullification and evasion.”

To this he should have added that the Negro-hating, labor-hating employers in industry know very well how to avoid laws and rulings when it serves their purpose.

How does Randolph square this statement of his in January with the one he made in April that a presidential decree would “promptly” end discrimination?
 

What Randolph Leaves Out

He doesn’t, and he doesn’t try to. He ignores this question, as he does others which touch the very heart of the problem, such as:

Industry, lock, stock and barrel, is in the hands of an employer class which fosters and strengthens anti-Negro prejudices in order to be able to more easily exploit workers of all races.

Military training, lock, stock and barrel, is in the hands of a hardened anti-Negro bureaucratic military caste which is dedicated to the maintenance in military life of every form of racial discrimination that exists in civilian life.

The government, lock, stock and barrel, is in the hands of a war-mongering administration that is notorious for its indifference to the needs and desires of the Negro people, and of two capitalist parties which take turns when they are in power in kicking around legislation such as the anti-lynch bill and the poll tax bill.

In other words, far more important than the question of an executive order which would only echo other rulings already on the books, is the question of CONTROL.

Even if the order were issued by Roosevelt, it would remain on paper, as long as control of industry, military training and the government remain in the hands of the enemies of the Negroes.
 

A Program for Militant Negroes

Consequently, Negroes must ask for more than a presidential order.

Employers controlling the war industries won’t hire Negroes? Then expropriate the war industries, have the government take them over, and let them be managed and operated without discrimination by committees elected by the workers!

Negroes need military training in this period when all major questions are decided arms in hand, but the army bureaucrats are bitterly anti-Negro and determined to “keep them in their place”? Then join the fight for military training, financed by the government but Under control of the trade Unions, based on full equality for the Negroes!

The government and the boss parties aid the bosses in segregating and discriminating against the Negro people, refusing to pass such elementary legislation as the anti-lynch and poll tax bills ? Then aid in the formation of a labor party pledged to carry on the Negroes’ struggle, pledged to establish a Workers’ and Farmers’ government that, would create a hew society that would forever abolish poverty, war and racial discrimination!

This is the kind of program that Negroes need and must fight for – in Washington on July 1 and everywhere else until they win full social, economic and political freedom.

We do not pretend that the mere adoption of these demands by the marchers will bring automatic victory. Jim Crowism is too strongly rooted in the ways and customs and traditions of our great American democracy to be torn out easily. It will require a long and bitter fight, that will not be ended on July 1.

But with this program the marchers, and the Negro people, will have a Weapon that will make a good start on July 1 and lay the foundation for a struggle that will end in victory, instead of in defeat and demoralization, as happens to so many actions that have no clear goal.


June 27th, 1985 is a Thursday. It is the 178th day of the year, and in the 26th week of the year (assuming each week starts on a Monday), or the 2nd quarter of the year. There are 30 days in this month. 1985 is not a leap year, so there are 365 days in this year. The short form for this date used in the United States is 6/27/1985, and almost everywhere else in the world it's 27/6/1985.

This site provides an online date calculator to help you find the difference in the number of days between any two calendar dates. Simply enter the start and end date to calculate the duration of any event. You can also use this tool to determine how many days have passed since your birthday, or measure the amount of time until your baby's due date. The calculations use the Gregorian calendar, which was created in 1582 and later adopted in 1752 by Britain and the eastern part of what is now the United States. For best results, use dates after 1752 or verify any data if you are doing genealogy research. Historical calendars have many variations, including the ancient Roman calendar and the Julian calendar. Leap years are used to match the calendar year with the astronomical year. If you're trying to figure out the date that occurs in X days from today, switch to the Days From Now calculator instead.


USS Arizona Memorial

The USS Arizona Memorial was constructed above the battleship USS Arizona where 1,177 service members lost their lives. The Memorial was built to honor all of the 2390 Americans who died during the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941.

November 26th, 1941: Japanese navy left Japan

Adm. Chuichi Nagumo takes command of the Japanese First Air Fleet and begins moving towards Pearl Harbor. The movement was a response to the U.S.’s decision not to lift economic sanctions on Japan.

December 7th, 1941: The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.

Just before 8 a.m., a swarm of Japanese fighter planes descend on Pearl Harbor and begin dropping bombs. The attack destroys 20 naval ships and more than 300 planes, and more than 2,000 crewmembers lose their lives.

December 7th, 1941: News of the attack spreads.

Evening editions of daily newspapers spread the word. By evening, most of the country knows of the devastating attack.

December 8th, 1941: President Franklin D. Roosevelt asks Congress to declare war with his Day of Infamy speech.

With a promise to “make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again,” President Roosevelt asks Congress to declare war on Japan. Congress approves, and three days later, Germany and Italy formally declare war on the U.S., bringing the country into World War II.

April 18th, 1942: The Doolittle raid attacks Tokyo.

Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle leads 16 American B-25 bombers on a mission to bomb Tokyo. The attack does little damage, but it does weaken the Japanese government’s prestige and shake their confidence.

June 3-7th 1942: Battle of Midway begins.

In a grueling four-day battle, the outmatched U.S. Pacific Fleet manages to destroy four Japanese aircraft carriers while only losing one of its own. The battle comes as a major U.S. victory, and it proves that the Japanese navy was not quite as invincible as previously believed.

August, 1945: Crew of Enola Gay prepares.

Twelve men on a top-secret mission begin preparing their plane, Enola Gay. They’ve been told their mission will either shorten or end the war, but none of them know the extent of the destruction the mission will cause.

August 6th, 1945: The U.S. drops the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Just after 8 a.m., the Enola Gay flies over the Japanese city of Hiroshima and drops the world’s first atomic bomb. About 80,000 people die from the bomb and another 35,000 are injured, but the Japanese do not surrender.

August 8th, 1945: The U.S. drops a second atomic bomb, this time on Nagasaki.

Another atomic bomb devastates the city of Nagasaki, and the destruction moves Japanese officials to action. Finally, they consider surrender.

September 2nd, 1945: The Japanese surrender on Battleship Missouri

Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemutsu signed a declaration of surrender on behalf of the Japanese government and armed forces. Supreme Commander Douglas MacArthur then signed the document of behalf of all the members of the newly-created United Nations.

Thank You!

To all of those brave men and women who have fought, and continue to fight, to protect our freedom.


Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 190, June 1941

Post by CNE503 » 21 Apr 2020, 16:15

Am I right assuming that this assault guns battalion had 22 StuG III on June 22nd or July 2th, 1941?
I suppose that it was organized with three 7-gun batteries, plus one assault gun for the battalion commander.

Thank you for your insight.
Regards,
CNE503

Re: Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 190, June 1941

Post by Jeff Leach » 23 Apr 2020, 09:17

there are a number of after-action reports of this battalion

Sturmgeschütze-Battalion 190 1
After-Action Report of 2./190th Assault Gun Battalion during its employment on the 7th July 1941 2
Activity Report of 2./190th Assault Gun Battalion on the 10th and 11th July 1941 3
Account about the vehicle accident of 3./190th Assault Gun Battalion during the crossing of the Prut River at Stefăneşti 4
After-Action Report of 3./190th Assault Gun Battalion for 1st – 10th July 1941 5
After-Action Report of the 3./190th Assault Gun Battalion for the 18th July 1941 8
After-Action Report of the 2./190th Assualt Gun Battalion for the 18th July 1941 10
After-Action Report of the 2./190th Assualt Gun Battalion for the 17th July 1941 11
After-Action Report of the 3./190th Assualt Gun Battalion for the 17th July 1941 12
After-Action Report of the 2./190th Assualt Gun Battalion for the 20th July 1941 13
After-Action Report of the 3./190th Assualt Gun Battalion for the 19th and 20th July 1941 15
After-Action Report 1./190th Assualt Gun Battalion, Employment with the 46th Infantry Division’s Advance Detachment, 9th – 13th August 1941 17

I translated them all into English (the number after the date is the page number).

There is also a history of Sturmgeschütz Abteilung 190.

Re: Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 190, June 1941

Post by CNE503 » 23 Apr 2020, 10:44

Thank you very much for that.
I'm interested in these unit history and after action reports (especially if there are translated into English, my English being so much better than my German). Where can I get them?

Re: Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 190, June 1941

Post by CNE503 » 12 May 2021, 12:22

Do you know the numbers of assault guns in the 2./Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 190 at the start of the operations on the Eastern Front (July 2nd, 1941 for this battery)?
I don't know whether it was a six-gun or a seven-gun battery.

Thank you for any help provided.
Regards,
CNE503

Re: Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 190, June 1941

Post by Jeff Leach » 19 May 2021, 18:26

Re: Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 190, June 1941

Post by CNE503 » 19 May 2021, 20:20

That's pretty excellent, thank you very much.
Do you know when and where the two Sturmgeschütze were lost? Stefanesti on July 2nd and Mogilev-Podolski on July 7th?
Other question: do you know the name of the Batterieführer?

Re: Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 190, June 1941

Post by Jeff Leach » 21 May 2021, 13:18

No Stugs were lost at Mogilev-Podolski. I think there were only three vehicles there and they gave supporting fire to the Brandenburgers from the south side of the Dniester River. One vehicle was preparing to cross the bridge when the Soviets blew it up.

I think the commder of the 2./ was Senior Lieutnant (Oblt) Näther

I don't know which battery(batteries) lost vehicles. Oh, It was the 3./ battery that lost a Stug in the Prut River.

Here is a translation of the Combat Report about the attack

After-Action Report of 2./190th Assault Gun Battalion during its employment on the 7th July 1941 (Revised 04 November 2015)

After an earlier briefing on its deployment, the battery was split up during the evening of 6 July and traveled to the assembly area of the company-sized advanced detachment. The 3rd Platoon under Senior Lieutenant Nottebrock was deployed on the right and the 2nd Platoon, which was to support the attack on the bridge by Assault Company “Brandenburg”, under Lieutenant Röver was deployed in the middle. One assault gun under Staff Sergeant Steinwach was providing security on the left flank and another vehicle under command of the battery chef stayed provisionally at the command post of the advanced detachment.

At 01:45 in the morning of the 7th July, the advanced detachment formed up to take the bridge at Mogilev-Podol’skiy by a surprise attack. Upon reaching the area around Otach’-Tyrg the attack proceeded forward without much resistance. The right company under Captain (Cav.) von Rochow with the assault platoon was to penetrate into the town of Otach’-Tyrg at 04:00. The assault platoon fought in Otach’-Tyrg as well as combated heavy weapons on the opposite shore of the river.

The 2nd Platoon, with Assault Company “Brandenburg”, had orders to support the attack on the bridge over the Dniester River by all means and all the while advancing towards the bridge. By 03:30 the assault platoon had reached the south bank of the river but the 2nd Platoon’s commander decided it was impossible to advance further without proper reconnaissance. Shortly before the platoon was to cross the bridge, it was blown up. After that, the platoon supported the infantrymen crossing the partially destroyed bridge and it had visible success while providing supporting fire.

Staff Sergeant Steinwach’s vehicle on the left flank was withdrawn when the assault company reached the steeply sloped bank of the river. Thereafter the acting battery commander, the 1st Platoon’s commander, used both the vehicles in the attack sector of the 2nd Platoon, helping to combat the enemy position on the heights on the opposite side of the river, especially those close to the right or left of the bridge. The use of assault guns seems very effective based on their own observation and the reports of the assault company.

It proved impossible to get more troops over the river because of the enemy’s heavy small arms fire and the partially destroyed bridge. The tasks of the assault guns became mainly defensive during the day. Despite coming under very strong enemy fire, during which two assault guns received several direct hits, the vehicle has proved itself to be excellent. They destroyed an enemy artillery piece, two antitank guns, two concrete bunkers, and three machine gun nests, in the immediate vicinity of the river.


The Biggest Tank Battle in History Wasn’t at Kursk

Destroyed Soviet tanks on June 24, 1941 in western Ukraine. Photo via Wikimedia

The Battle of Brody in 1941 was bigger, and is largely unknown

A thousand coffee table books and countless hours of popular history programs have described the Battle of Prokhorovka, part of the Third Reich’s 1943 Operation Citadel, as the largest tank battle in history. Near the city of Kursk on the Eastern Front, hundreds of Soviet tanks slammed into the 2nd SS Panzer Corps in an enormous conflagration of flesh and metal.

Prokhorovka was certainly an important clash and one of the largest tank battles ever, but it might be time to retire its description as the biggest — a claim which has been seriously questioned in recent years by historians with access to Soviet archives opened since the end of the Cold War.

In fact, there’s a strong case that history’s largest tank battle actually took place two years prior and is largely unknown.

Prokhorovka was the centerpiece of Citadel, the last German strategic offensive on the Eastern Front. On July 12, 1943, counter-attacking Soviet tanks charged across open terrain, taking heavy losses to German tank fire, including from heavily-armored Tiger Is with 88-millimeter guns.

This particular engagement was a tactical defeat for the Soviets, but the charge inflicted enough damage to help stall — and eventually halt — the German army’s Citadel offensive.

So, how many tanks were at Prokhorovka? To be sure, not the common popular figures which range as high as 1,500 tanks in total, according to the 2011 book Demolishing the Myth: The Tank Battle at Prokhorovka, Kursk, July 1943 by Valeriy Zamulin, a Russian military historian and former staff member at the Prokhorovka State Battlefield Museum.

The actual number was 978 tanks in total — 306 German and 672 Soviet, according to Zamulin. As many as 400 Soviet and 80 German tanks were destroyed.

Expanding the battle beyond Prokhorovka, the total number of tanks fielded by the 2nd SS Panzer Corps and the Soviet 5th Guards Tank Army at and near the battle amounted to 1,299, according to a statistical analysis published in 2000 by Niklas Zetterling and Anders Frankson.

A destroyed Soviet T-26 tank in 1941. Photo via Wikimedia

Expanding the number to encompass all of Operation Citadel would include many more tanks. But they were not concentrated and committed in the same numbers as at the Battle of Brody, which hardly anyone has written about.

That’s also according to Zamulin and David Glantz, a historian of the Eastern Front and Soviet military. “This, in fact, is the biggest tank battle in World War II,” Glantz said regarding the Battle of Brody during a 2007 lecture available via the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center. [Embedded below.]

Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Beginning on June 23 between Dubno, Lutsk and Brody in far western Ukraine, six Soviet mechanized corps under Gen. Mikhail Kirponos launched a counter attack into the advancing 1st Panzer Group advancing toward Kiev.

The battle which developed and then concluded on June 30 was a confusing morass that swallowed 2,648 Soviet tanks out of a total force of 5,000 versus some 1,000 German tanks. It’s unclear how many tanks of the 1st Panzer Group were destroyed in the battle, but the force did lose 100 of its tanks during the first two weeks of the war.

Making sense of the chaotic battle on available maps is … difficult. The six Soviet corps were disorganized and lacked enough trucks and tractors to transport infantry, howitzers and supplies, and their attacks were uncoordinated. German warplanes bombed them incessantly, and fast-moving Panzer divisions with coordinated artillery support chopped them apart.

What’s all the more remarkable is that the Soviet corps had considerable numbers of heavier KV and T-34 tanks, tougher than the German army’s best tanks at the time.

The Soviet 10th Tank Division of the 15th Mechanized Corps alone had 63 KVs and 38 T-34s, according to Glantz’s book The Initial Period of War on the Eastern Front. However, lightly-armed BT and T-26 tanks comprised the bulk of the Soviet force.

By June 29, 1941, as the advancing German tanks encircled and annihilated the Soviet units, with others falling back, “the battles the Soviets were still waging elsewhere were now battles more for survival than anything else,” Glantz wrote, “because at this point the Soviets began running out of fuel and ammunition.”

There were some limited Soviet successes. When the 13th Panzer Division advanced on Rovno, Gen. Konstantin Rokossovsky of the 9th Mechanized Corps — who would become one of the USSR’s most famous commanders — bombarded it with artillery and inflicted a heavy loss of life. Rokossovsky had actually set up the ambush after ignoring an order to continue counter-attacking, deeming it pointless.

Glantz also noted in When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler that the battle contributed in a small way to Germany’s later defeat on the Eastern Front by drawing away German troops intended for the advance on Moscow.

The USSR went on to inflict a major defeat on Germany during the Moscow counter-offensive during the winter of 1941–1942, closing the door on the Germans ending the war on the terms Hitler set out. The later Battle of Stalingrad in 1942–1943 ended the possibility of German victory completely.

“The southwestern border battles also demonstrated that German armor was not invincible, and they gave future commanders such as Rokossovsky their first expensive but useful lessons in mechanized warfare,” Glantz wrote.


Floods in Wisconsin

Floods have always been part of Wisconsin life. Early French-Canadian residents of Prairie du Chien recalled 1785 as "l'annee des grandes eaux" -- the year of the great waters -- from Mississippi River flooding in April of that year. Here follows a list of the most significant floods in Wisconsin history links to photographs, newspaper articles, and other sources can be found at the end.

La Crosse, 1880: From June 15 to 19, during the season of the log drives, the Black and Mississippi rivers steadily rose, flooding the lower part of the city. By June 19 the crest of 15 feet 2 inches had been reached and reports from upstream cities showed that the flood was beginning to subside. Railroad grades and tracks suffered much damage and train service was badly disrupted but no lives were lost. [Wisconsin Centennial Story of Disasters and Other Unfortunate Events (Madison, 1948)]

Wolf River, 1880: The same storms raised streams and creeks in northeastern Wisconsin, and bridges at Keshena, Belle Plaine and Shiocton were all swept away as those communities were inundated. [Chicago Tribune, June 15, 1880: 5]

Fox Valley, 1880-1881: The low-lying headwaters of the Fox River, which start within a mile of the Wisconsin River, have always been subjected to frequent flooding. Where the two come closest together, at Portage, floods in 1838, 1845, 1850, 1852, and 1866 damaged homes and businesses. The city's worst flood occurred in 1880, when the Lewiston levee on the Wisconsin gave way and sent it pouring into the Fox, leaving Portage an island completely isolated from the outside world. In the fall of 1881, the Lewiston levee broke again, in October, sending the Wisconsin River overland into the headwaters of the Fox the resultant floods downstream in the latter river submerged businesses and caused disease outbreaks in Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, and Neenah. [Oshkosh Northwestern April 25, 1929]

Chippewa Valley, 1884: On September 11, 1884, a 27-foot flood carried away houses and all the bridges in Eau Claire the total loss in the Eau Claire Valley was placed at $1,500,000 and more than 3,000 people were left homeless. Damage extended from Chippewa Falls all the way to Durand. [Chicago Tribune, Sept. 11 and 13, 1884]

Sparta, 1899: On the night of June 11-12, an intense storm sent all local streams and rivers over their banks, washing out roads, bridges, and cultivated fields there was no loss of life. [Wisconsin Centennial Story of Disasters and Other Unfortunate Events (Madison, 1948)]

Black River Falls, 1911: In early October, heavy rains filled the upstream tributaries to the Black River, and near dawn on Oct. 6, two dams above Black River Falls gave way. The river rose 20 feet over its already high level and rushed through city all day long. By nightfall, 85% of the business district had been washed downstream 80 buildings and 42 acres of land, including entire hillside neighborhoods, were swept away. Miraculously, no one was killed, but only 14 structures remained in the downtown and damages were estimated at $2,000,000. [Olson, Ann Marie. Black Friday (Black River Falls, Wis.: Block Print, 1987)]

Northern Wisconsin, 1941: Floods in Sept. left 1,500 people homeless and two dead in the upper Wisconsin and Chippewa watersheds at Eau Claire, waters crested at a level of 22 feet. [Wisconsin Centennial Story of Disasters and Other Unfortunate Events (Madison, 1948) Chicago Tribune, Sept. 2, 1941]

Sparta, 1943: On May 31, the worst flood in the town's history caused damage estimated at half a million dollars when Bear Creek jumped its banks after torrential rains. Homes and businesses were inundated three to four feet deep, bridges were washed out, and roads destroyed water mains were broken, which not only reduced the water supply but contaminated that which was available. At least one person drowned, and damages were estimated at $250,000 within the city and an equal amount in surrounding areas. [Wisconsin Centennial Story of Disasters and Other Unfortunate Events (Madison, 1948)]

Ashland, June 1946: In far northern Wisconsin, 9.23 inches of rain fell on two days in late June, submerging concrete highways and railroad grades, sweeping away bridges, and sending three feet of water roaring through the Ojibwe community of Odanah. The area affected stretched at least sixty miles from north to south and included severe damage in Washburn, Bayfield, and Glidden as well as Ashland and Odanah. [Wisconsin Centennial Story of Disasters and Other Unfortunate Events (Madison, 1948)]

Darlington, 1948: As it had in 1923 and 1937, the Pecatonica River rose rapidly after two inches of rain began on February 27. Hard frozen ground sent all the water toward the town, where the river rose a foot each hour before cresting at 18 feet. Two blocks of the business district on Main Street fell under several feet of water, the fairgrounds lay under five feet, and the Milwaukee Road discontinued trains for nearly a week. [Wisconsin Centennial Story of Disasters and Other Unfortunate Events (Madison, 1948)]

Kickapoo Valley, 1951: When more than 8 inches of rain fell during the last week of July, floodwaters tore through Crawford, Vernon, and Richland counties as the Kickapoo emptied into the Wisconsin. Gays Mills was submerged five feet deep in water, buildings floated away at Boaz, and all six members of a family near Viroqua drowned when their farmhouse was swept downstream. [Chicago Tribune, July 23, 1951: 11]

Prairie du Chien, 1965: The Mississippi rose rapidly in early April and some residents of the city, built on islands and low-lying prairie, began evacuating on the 9th. Over the next two weeks, sandbagging commenced, shelters were set up, and highways closed, but all in vain. Residents eventually exchanged cars for boats and watched sheds, garages and other small buildings float away. On the 24th, the river crested at 25.4 feet, the highest level ever recorded in the city. [Floods: 1993, The Longest Flood 1965, The Highest Water. (Prairie du Chien, Wis.: Howe Print. Co., 1993?]

Darlington, 1990: In June of 1990 the Pecatonica River again washed out bridges and roads, submerged crops, flooded businesses and homes, and caused power outages. Water levels in approximately 30 buildings varied from minor basement flooding to water four feet above the first floor. Damage was estimated at more than $2.8 million. [Wis. DNR. "History of Flooding in Wisconsin."]

Entire state, 1993: An unusually snowy winter was followed by two to three times the normal rainfall between January and July (20-40 inches, in many places in the Upper Mississippi Valley). When two to seven inches of rain fell on June 17-18, every major river in Wisconsin flooded 20 dams were overtopped, broken, or washed away. Crop and soil damage in Wisconsin topped $800 million, residentual damage totaled $46 million, and business losses were estimated at $31 million. The federal government declared 46 of the state's 72 counties disaster areas. [Wis. DNR, Bureau of Water Regulation & Zoning. The Floods of 1993: The Wisconsin Experience (Madison, Dec. 1993)].

Southern Wisconsin, 2008: During the first half of June, 2008, seven southern counties received more than a foot of rainfall, as daily precipitation records were set 114 times in Wisconsin cities and towns. The town of Ontario received more the 6 inches on June 8th, and Baraboo more than 17 inches during the month. Unfortunately, record snowfalls the previous winter had left historic high streamflows across much of the state. The combination of the two forces led to flooding of historic proportions in the watersheds of the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers. Lake Delton, located in the Wisconsin Dells in south central Wisconsin, breached its dam and emptied into the nearby Wisconsin River on the 9th, sweeping away three homes and part of a highway. Thirty-one Wisconsin counties were declared disaster areas, more than 40,000 homes and 5,000 businesses were damaged state officials estimated the total damage at more than $1.2 billion. [U.S. Geological Survey. "Flooding in the Midwest, June 2008" and "Record Rains during the First Half of June 2008" Capital Times, Dec. 3, 2008 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 18, 2008]

More details are available on pages 31-34 of The Wisconsin Centennial Story of Disasters and Other Unfortunate Events (Madison, 1948). A handful of historic newspaper articles on Wisconsin floods can be found among our collection of Wisconsin Local History & Biography Articles, and you can view several dozen historic photographs of floods at Wisconsin Historic Images.


Barbarossa June 1941: Who Attacked Whom?

John Erickson reviews the recent controversies surrounding Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union.

In the last two decades, perceptions of the Soviet-German war, formerly known as the ‘Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union 1941-1945’, have been dramatically transformed both in Russia and in the West. Before this, decades had to pass before it was possible to establish a wholly reliable operational narrative of the war in the east. Much time and energy was taken up by historians in countering the preponderance of German documentation and interpretation.

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