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Liveblogging World War II: November 12, 1942

Operation Uranus in detail:

On 12 November Colonel Gehlen presented his report about the Soviet operational possibilities to the General Staff of the Army. Here he doubts the possibility of a large scale counteroffensive, but doesn’t discount the possibility of small scale flank attacks against the 6th Army’s neighbouring allied armies.

The same day, II/Panzer Regiment 4 and another panzer company were transferred from Stalingrad to the assembly area of their parent formation, 14. Panzerdivision. Large parts of Werferregiment 51 (rocket launcher regiment) were withdrawn from Stalingrad and subordinated to XIV Panzer Corps. Later it was transferred to intersection between the 3rd Romanian and 6th German Armies. In this position the rocket launchers were be able to support either the 1st Romanian Cavalry or German 376. Infanteriedivision.

Operation Hubertus:

November 12, 1942: The Germans learnt from the mistakes of the previous day and equip Pionier Bataillon 50 with ladders. This battalion was moved into the former attack sector of Pionier Batailon 305. The later was moved towards 79. Infanteriedivision. The attack from the previous day was resumed. The 2nd platoon, Pionier Bataillon 50, managed to get to the house walls and set up the ladders, while the infantry together with the remaining pioneers set up precise screening fire to hold down the defenders. The pioneers suffered horrible losses while climbing into the rooms, with hand grenades and flamethrowers in use, they defeated the Russians room by room fighting. When the situation became more and more hopeless for the defenders, they retreated to the first floor and finally into the cellar. The German attackers were not able to penetrate the cellar through the descending stairs, so they broke the wooden floor open with picks and threw fuel canisters, smoke grenades and explosives into the darkness below them. Thick smoke starts soon appeared, indicating, that intense fires were raging. This was too much for the defenders and they evacuated themselves through prepared escape tunnels to the positions of the 138th Rifle Division. The result was nonetheless a success for the Germans, they removed this strong point from the Soviet defensive line, which had dominated the Volga bank and connected areas for several hundred metres.

After a brief break, the Germans regrouped and called in another artillery bombardment for their next advance. They intended to clear some neighbouring housing blocks to secure their positions.

After they received their support, they assaulted a row of houses. At house no. 78, the attack was halted by a Soviet machine-gun in a trench that had pinpointed the Germans’ positions. Leutnant Kretz of 578. Grenadier Regiment gathered some men, stormed forward, firing his sub-machine gun and took the enemy position.

The final act of the attack came from a Red Army soldier to his left, who fired his PPsH and downed Leutnant Kertz.

He was the last leutnant of 578. Grenadier Regiment to die on this day on the Volga. This loss shocks his men and nearly halted the whole attack, but they overcame their horror and took house no. 78. Shortly after they took up positions in the house itself, the sharp eyes and ears of one machine-gunner saved this newly gained position. From the second floor he noticed a strong Soviet force sneaking up to the house. He opened fire, which alerts the rest of the Germans, and with a counterattack they were able to hold the building.

After they received some fresh troops at 0950 hours, 305. Infanteriedivision gained control over all of the area east of the gun factory. The 389. Infanteriedivision reached the Volga bank on a 500 meter broad strip. The fuel tanks were taken and cleared by Pionier Bataillon 294 of all enemy resistance. During German attack, the 768th Rifle Regiment was split in two parts and it drove a deep wedge into the Soviet positions and divided 138th Rifle Division of Ljudnikov into two parts. One of his battalions only had a combat strength of 15 soldiers. The Soviets were partially driven back to within 70 metres of the Volga bank.

Ljudnikov decided to commit his last reserve battalion and threw them against the advancing Pionier Bataillon 294. This cleared the situation for the moment. Another platoon fought until only 4 men were left and ammunition was running out. One of these brave men was sent back, already wounded, to order fire on their own positions.

The 14. Panzerdivision and 79. Infanteriedivision resumed their attack from the previous day, this time together with Panzergrenadier Regiments 103 and 108, and gained the Volga bank. They were supported by Pionier Bataillon Sprenger and the usual heavy air/artillery barrage. The Soviet 241st Rifle Regiment was totally destroyed and the few survivors fought their way to neighbouring units.

The battle groups of 24. Panzerdivision repulsed a counterattack by 284th Rifle Division against the chemical factory “Lazur”.

The advance of Pionier Bataillon 162 and 389 (389. Infanteriedivision sector) ground to a standstill….

After this second day of bloody combat von Seydlitz-Kurzbach reported to the headquarters of 6th Army that the newly arriving infantry replacements, especially for 79. Infanteriedivision, were insufficiently trained and therefore suffer high casualties.