- Aleksei Isaev translated from the Russian by Kevin Bridge
At 16.51 Hrs Berlin time on the 21st June 1941, a radio message was broadcast across Poland , slotted into this radio message the words The Tale of heroes, Votan, Neckar, 15, rang out, meaningless to most listeners, this phrase supplied the date and time and location for the invasion of Russia.
The worlds greatest tank battle
22nd June 1941
This Book written by an Aleksei Isaev and translated from the Russian by Kevin Bridge is a detailed and accurate treatise on the battle
Aleksei has managed to obtain access to previously unseen archive material on such a grand scale and the book is filled with facts and information that you would be hard pressed to otherwise find.
The basic premise of the book is that in 1941, after much political blustering, the two great forces met.
The Russians were equipped with nearly 3,000 tanks from the Red Army Kiev Special district against the German forces equipped with only 800 tanks.
On paper it should have been a walkover for the Russian forces, especially when a defector from the German army told the Russian Military of the German plan in detail, but in war nothing goes the way it is planned.
Whilst the invading German Army was smaller it comprised of well trained groups of men with excellent organisation who could work together as a team, and already having hard won battle experience.
The Russians on the other hand, although greater in numbers, had a vast array of Tanks, many of which were already outdated,they lacked Motor transport to bring the infantry forward in sufficient numbers or even horse drawn transport, the Infantry slogged it out on foot, arriving late and worn out, their tractor units for pulling artillery pieces were out of date and slow, and the replacements had not arrived.
Couple this with the traditional ponderous complex Russian method of organisation, which resulted in battle groups being broken down and re mustered with regiments not used to working together and you have a recipe for failure.
The Russian leaders, in spite of receiving information and accurate plans blustered and pontificated for hours, and then instead of sending out a simple battle order to move towards the river and bridges, they insisted on typing up and sending battle orders bigger than war and peace, these arrived too late to warn the troops.
Of course the Germans did not have it all their own way, the Molotov and Stalin lines were constructed to hold the advancing forces back, but none of the installations were camouflaged or concealed, or supplied with any form of communications, and many were swiftly overcome.
The Russian air force likewise was at its worst, although larger than the invading forces, its only respite was the fact that many airfields had been properly screened and camouflaged some time earlier, and prevented them all being destroyed in the Blitzkrieg.
The Germans launched their offensive and managed to cross all of the bridges with very little resistance, and killed the soldiers guarding them, of course they reverted to old fashioned treachery by equipping their forces with Russian uniforms and Russian weapons, so buying time to fool the defending troops, A typical cheap shoddy Nazi trick ! ( but it worked).
The German army had planned this battle to perfection, even to the extent of naming Panzer roads dedicated solely to the Panzer tanks and supplies, and woe betide any infantry who dared to used them.
The Russian army also suffered in that its superior numbers were weakened by being made up of troops, many of whom had less than one years military experience, and even a few more having had only two years experience.
This 236 page Hardback book is well written and illustrated with copies of period maps and an amazing archive of never before seen photographs 236 in all.
Every make and model of tank and artillery piece is illustrated here, along with an honest appraisal of their shortcomings, and failures, but the biggest failure was the Russians lack of artillery and close co ordination between the tanks artillery and ground troops.In the last chapter, the author has provided a selection of images of the battle scenes today.
in all a very well written historical treatise, that throws aside the typical Russian Propaganda and bluster and shows the shortcomings in military leadership due to its vast ponderous size and tradition of filibustering and delays.
For the images alone this book is well worth the asking price, I had not realised how many different tanks the Russian army possessed, however many of them look antiquated even by the standard of the day., the vast majority shown in the book are either destroyed or have broken down!
An excellent read and a book that sets the record straight without any of the Normal Russian propaganda.