Chapter VI - Red Army: Operation "Winter Thunder-Storm" (December 1942)

To de-block encircled divisions of the 6th Army under command of Gen. Paulus, German HQ formed new Group of Armies Hoth, right between Group of Armies A and B. Defeated and retreating 3rd Romanian Army was ordered to stop at river Chir. Germans managed to organize formidable defense by means of "battle groups" (formed by combat service support soldiers, later replaced by 17th Army Corps.), who stopped between the estuary of river Chir and settlement Veshenskaya. Soon, fresh 17th Army Corps. arrived to the region, which took defense at river Chir and river Krivaya near settlement Dubovsky. Remaining forces of the 48th Tank Corps., defeated by Soviet forces during the de-block operation, came into position between 3rd Romanian army and 17th Army corps. Thus German Command managed to establish new defense front at the river Chir, not far from Stalingrad. It also included task force Hollidt, remnants of the 3rd and 4th Romanian Armies and 4th Tank Army (newly formed from reserve units). Gen. Mannstein took command over the newly-established front.

On December 1, command of the Group of Armies "Hoth" ordered to commence operation "Winter Thunder-Storm". According to its plan, 4th Tank Army had to begin offensive near settlement Kotelnikovo, situated to the east of river Don. The operation was scheduled for December 8. 4th Army had to breach the front, strike at the flank or rear of the surrounding enemy located to the south and west of Stalingrad, and defeat it. 48th Tank Corps. from the group Hollidt was meant to strike at the rear of the Soviet forces from the footholds at rivers Don and Chir, not far from settlement Nizhne-Chirskaya.

6th Army had to obey to the direct order from Hitler and hold its positions inside the mousetrap it was into. Moreover, it was also ordered to battle through the encirclement in the South-Western direction towards river Donskaya Tsaritsa so that to link up with advancing 4th Tank Army.

Forces engaged in combat during the period shown in "Stalingrad:

Wehrmacht (4-th Tank Army):

6-th Tank Division (Gen.-Major Erchard Raus)

17-th Tank Division (Gen.-Major Zanger und Etteilen)

23-th Tank Division (Gen.-Major Hans von Boineburg-Lengsfeld)

503-th Heavy Tank Battalion

Red Army (Southern Front):

2-nd Guards Army (Gen.-Lieutenant Malinovsky);

  • 235-th Tank Brigade;

  • 360-th Mechanized Brigade;

  • 383-rd Anti-Tank Regiment;

  • 1378-th Infantry Regiment;

  • 1058-th Artillery Regiment;

51-st army (Gen.-Major Trufanov);

  • 17-th Mechanized Brigade;

  • 61-st Mechanized Brigade;

  • 62-nd Mechanized Brigade;

  • 20-th Separate;

  • 235-th Fire Tank Brigade ;

  • Parts of the 302-nd rifle division;