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Liveblogging World War ii: August 24, 1942

Bill Stone:

Second World War Books Review:At about 1500 hours, the advancing kampfgruppen of von Strachwitz's Panzer Detachment from 2nd Panzer Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 64th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, approached Stalingrad's northern suburbs of Latashanka, Rynok, and Spartanovka (named Spartakovka on period maps but Spartanovka after the war) and the Stalingrad Tractor Factory south of the Mokraia Mechetka River.

There they encountered gunfire from heavy antiaircraft guns and antitank guns operated by women, as well as infantry hurling grenades. However, virtually every one of these first rounds fired in the battle for Stalingrad missed Strachwitz's tanks. The Germans were more accurate in response, smashing 37 different antiaircraft gun positions. When the Germans later examined these positions, the reason for the Soviet inaccuracy became obvious—the gun crews were composed entirely of civilian women, apparently factory workers and members of Stalingrad's antiaircraft defense (MPVO). Essentially these defenders were locals who had received only rudimentary instruction....

By nightfall the thrust by Sixth Army's XIV Panzer Corps to the Volga River north of Stalingrad placed the Stavka's defenses in the entire southern sector of the Soviet-German front in peril. In addition to threatening the city itself, the panzer advance had also driven a deep wedge between Eremenko's Stalingrad Front and Southeastern Front, severing most communications between Moscow and the Caucasus. Compounding this threat, southwest of the city the spearhead of Hoth's Fourth Panzer Army had reached Tinguta Station, only 35 kilometers southwest of Stalingrad's southern suburbs, in position to cut off the withdrawal routes of Lopatin's 64th Army back through the city...