Six months of real time have elapsed since day five of this battle and its resumption on day six. To recreate a long narrow thrust along a railway line in hilly, forested country, the operation is now being prosecuted along the length of my pasting table, again with the lateral scale massively compressed. YesthatPhil took most of the photos for this battle as his camera skills exceed mine by a considerable margin.
Link to the map
Day six of the offensive began with 4th Tank Corps continuing the attack west along the line of the railway to VELIKIE LUKIE. The Soviet infantry in the line regrouped and paused as 1st Guards Rifle Division passed through the forward positions and assembled for an assault. Heavy artillery support began to pound VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK.
From the contemporary aerial photographs, note the relatively open nature of the suburbs and railway sidings even today, apart from the town centre.
4th Tank Corps continued to press west, with 16th Motor Rifle Corps following on, poised to support either 1GR or 4Tk.
The regrouped Silesians of 8th Infantry Division in VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK braced themselves for a renewed infantry assault as 1st Guards Rifle Division shook out into attack formation, supported by Katyushas, Sturmoviks and KV-1s. Apparently the latter were more plentiful in the north.
Historically, 8th Inf were a good unit with a distinguished reputation. They suffered heavy casualties in the initial campaign and were returned to France to convert to a Jäger division; their model counterparts fared no less well. Despite spirited counterattacks that caused delays of a day, they were pushed out of the city with heavy losses by 1GR, reinforced by 16MR when the first assault showed signs of losing momentum.
Ideally, you would really like something heavier than 3.7cm anti-tank against KV-1s. Yes, those are Soviets behind the dug-in anti-tank position. No, those are not party balloons, they are pin markers*.
Meanwhile, 4Tk were stopping for nothing and no-one. They met the advanced positions of a defended belt and attacked it straight from the line of march … with not unexpected results. Plenty more light armour was available if it was needed. 4Tk‘s T-70s discovered the defending minefields in the traditional way. This is why the Desantny prefer to ride on the T-34s if anyone gives them a choice.
Some distance into difficult country astride the railway, 269 Infantry Division‘s main defensive line provided the defence in depth for the front.
Katyushas and infantry deployed as the armour fought on down the railway. More Sturmoviks appeared overhead; “… wo ist die Luftwaffe?” The heavy and medium dice below are all falling on the German infantry!
When all seemed lost, 8th Panzer Division appeared in a counter attack. The bulk of the division was strung across the frozen countryside, but enough appeared to persuade the Soviets that there would be no more progress on this axis of advance before further reinforcements arrived.
*Thanks to Jaap Boender for pointing out on Facebook that the pins look like party balloons.