30 July 2013

German Pioneer Attempting to Demolish Turret No.2 of Fort Maxim Gorky

Image size: 1600 x 1154 pixel. 445 KB
Date: Thursday, 18 June 1942
Place: Fort Maxim Gorky, Sevastopol, Crimea, Soviet Union
Photographer: Unknown

German assault troops from the 1.Kompanie / Pionier-Bataillon 173 / 73.Infanterie-Division / XIV. Panzerkorps / 1.Panzerarmee / Heeresgruppe Süd attempting to demolish turret No.2 of Fort Maxim Gorky I on 18 June 1942. Althought the fort's two turrets were already inoperative, the German pioneers made repeated attempts with explosive charges and improvised fire bombs to get at the gun crews still holding out below ground. In June 15-17 Germans Infanterie-Regiment 213, 1st and 2nd company of Pionier-Bataillon 132 and 1st company of Pionier-Bataillon 173 moved in to encircle the 30th battery. Communication land line with Sevastopol was cut, on the next day radio communication was also shut down, since all external aerials were destroyed (radio with internal antenna proved to be unable to perform properly). Clearly understanding value of 30-th battery in Sevastopol defense system Germans continued attacks by tanks and infantry. Gnawing their way through Russian defenses they put out of action machine-gun nests, suppressed snipers fire and ward off counter-attacks. Previous heavy bombardment, going on for weeks, considerably soften defense, stripping 30th battery of all field defenses, removing barbed wire, leveling trenches, machine-gun nests and detonating minefields. On June 17 30-th battery was completely encircled. Next day it fired all remaining live shells. Battery gunners used whole shots, which were stored before war for training purposes. One such shot torn off turret of the German tank, which tried to fire from Sofia Perovsky state farm. When no more shells remains in stock, battery fired 70 kg powder charges, three at once, and lucky shot, producing jet stream of powder gases with temperature up to 1000 degrees Celsius, reportedly, could obliterate approaching German infantrymen. But 30th was already doomed. By that time Germans were storming Northern Side and Michailovsky Bastion, far in the battery's rare. 200 gunners, marines and soldiers from 95th Rifle Division were still inside the battery compartments, blocked by the Germans, who by that time positioned machine guns to control exits. German infantry regiment and three pioneer battalions managed to reach damaged turrets and lobbed hand grenades inside.

"Sevastopol 1942 - Von Manstein's Triumph" by Robert Forczyk

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