As 78 Rifle Division was clearing the south bank of the OSKOL, 61, 59 and 41 Guards Divisions were pushing the grenadiers of 14 Panzer Division back into KURSK.
Despite well-prepared defences, the Germans were unable to hold ground against the Soviet steamroller. The motorised troops took full advantage of their mobility to retire over the river.
All the time, however, Soviet casualties were mounting and ammunition stocks were being depleted. Large numbers of battalions on both sides were down to company strength, with low morale.
The survivors of the Schnelle Abteilungen had redeployed to the northwest bank to cover their slower-moving infantry battalions, and as the last self-propelled artillery pieces trundled over the town centre bridges, pioneers began to connect the firing circuits to the prepared bridges. Fierce fights erupted on the river banks, and after a couple of failed attempts, both bridges were demolished in the face of the enemy.
This did not deter the Soviets, as small parties of scouts and guardsmen slipped across the narrow river, at night, to be joined by more of their comrades as bridgeheads were established. Narrow assault bridges were thrown across the river under the cover of Sturmovik attacks.
The defenders were being pressed from the front and flanks by an enemy that could sense victory. No help was coming from reserves, who had been committed to holding attacks on both flanks. Despite orders to stand firm, willpower alone was not enough “Wo ist die Luftwafffe?¹“.
The single surviving Panzer battalion of 14 Panzer Division threw itself in to the battle around the bridges, but it was too late. Too few Panzergrenadiers could be pulled out of the line to support the counterattack. The Panzers withdrew having exhausted their ammunition and achieved nothing, and the last chance of holding KURSK slipped from 14 Panzer Division‘s grasp.
This concludes the 14-part battle of KURSK.
- Off scrounging Flugkraftstoff.