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    Project: Russian to English translation - Episodes of Tank Battles in the Great Patriotic War

    Lance Corporal

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    Project: Russian to English translation - Episodes of Tank Battles in the Great Patriotic War

    Post by Tenente on Fri Jun 22, 2018 5:42 pm

    Hello everyone. So I decided that since I have access to Russian sources that talk about history of WWII and provide examples of usage of tanks in warfare through specific battles, I thought of using my Russian language skills to translate them and make them accessible to the wide English speaking public. The reason I decided to do this is to provide ideas for those who want historical examples of tactical usage of tanks on the Eastern Front and for those who want ideas for scenarios for their WWII battles. It is just a thought that came from Taki's page with regards to the IJA, he translates Japanese sources and generally makes them freely available to the English speaking public. I though I would do the same, but with Russian sources. So, I decided to embark on this long project (off-course if it will be of interest, if not, just let me know and I'll stop). However, this won't see regular output. The problem is not with translation, I can do it with ease since I have good fluency in both languages. The issues involve for example, restoring and translating maps (old books dated back to 1946, like the one I am translating now, maps are old and really shabby and some things are smudged and muddled), finding dates and locations on Google maps to give the reader a direction to where the battle occurred, and so on and so forth. This work is quite a bit much more than it sounds. All fitted in within my busy life as well. Anyway, I think I shall begin:


    The first book on the list is by Lt.-Col. Zuzin N.M:

    Episodes of Tank Battles in the Great Patriotic War

    Military Press
    Moscow 1946

    Offensive Battle Tactics

    1 – decoy action of a tank in the attack of Gavrilovka Station

    Scheme 1

    Note: the small circles represent the trees

    During the previous night, the enemy retreated to a defensive position along the line: Gavrilovka Station and Bugaevka (see the map) and fortified their positions, turning the villages into a defensive perimeter.
    By the morning of 13th September, Soviet forward infantry units advanced towards Gavrilovka Station. An attempt to attack the enemy positions and capture the Gavrilovka Station from the march did not yield the desired result. However, during the attack, together with actions from reconnaissance troops, it was found that the enemy concentrated their main forces in the region around the station and on the North outskirts of Bugaevka.
    Recent strong downpour of rain made flank envelopment an extremely difficult task. Hence  it was decided to repeat the attack onto Gavrilovka Station, reinforcing the infantry units with a company of heavy tanks. To draw away attention from the main course of attack towards the Gavrilovka Station, it was also decided to perform a decoy manoeuvre on the left flank with just a handful of forces.
    A heavy tank supported by a section of assault infantry was allocated for this enticement manoeuvre. The tank commander was given the task to advance towards the group of trees within 1 km of North-East of Height 124.0 and actively demonstrate an attack on the Gavrilovka from the East.
    The tank commander using the ravine, advanced towards the trees unnoticed by the enemy, and at the signal of the tank company commander began active manoeuvres. Advancing 200-300 metres from the group of trees in a South-West direction, the tank began to take fire from enemy artillery. At the same time, 4 Ju-87 attacked the tank with bombardment and MG-fire, as a result of which the tank got damaged optics.
    Judging the situation, the tank commander decided to press on in the direction of the Southern outskirts of Gavrilovka.
    When the tank reached Height 124.0 from the Southern outskirts of Gavrilovka the tank took fire from hostile anti-tank gunnery. The tank commander gave the order to the driver to increase the speed towards the Southern outskirts of Gavrilovka, while at the same time opening intensive fire at the position of the anti-tank gun. Upon reaching the Southern outskirts of Gavrilovka, by moving behind the cover of the trees, the tank commander ordered the tank to halt. The tank commander observed where the flashes of anti-tank artillery are coming from, and ordered fire using HE rounds against the gun position, consecutively silencing it. Almost immediately following this, the tank began to take fire from a self-propelled anti-tank gun which was masked under a hay-stack. Turning the tank gun towards the next hostile target, the tank commander silenced the self-propelled gun by an armour piercing round.
    At this time, the infantry section that reached Bogdanovka, joined up with the tank. The tank commander turned the tank and advanced towards Gavrilovka Station with the infantry section following. At the first line of houses, the tank commander observed an Infantry transport vehicle with infantry. Firing it’s gun and MG’s, the tank silenced this target as well.
    Then travelling along the Western rim of Gavrilovka, the tank reached the road leading to Height 158.4. The tank commander noticed that the infantry which was following the tank went to ground and ahead the infantry section there were explosions seen. The tank crew began to observe fore and sides of the tank more carefully. Soon the tank commander noticed that from the ditch at Height 158.4 flashes appeared, with clouds of smoke or dust. The tank commander immediately gave the order to advance towards the ditch. Upon reaching this position, the tank commander noticed a mine-thrower in cover within the ditch, and from close range opened fire at it, thereby silencing it. As soon as the fire stopped, the infantry rose and assaulted and broke into Gavrilovka.
    Using the success on the left flank, where to the enemy dedicated quite a portion of their defensive strength, the Soviet main attack on Gavrilovka Station was initiated and broke the enemy defensive positions and this assualt culminated in the taking of the locality.

    This example shows that decoy actions, conducted by a small portion of troops, may result in success if they are performed swiftly and confidently.

    Successful execution of the task at hand owed mainly to the proactive actions of the tank commander. These were the result of a clear understanding of the task assigned, from good situational awareness, and from the confidence in the reliability of his own machine


    Notes to the reader:

    1) The year of this battle was 13th September 1943

    2) The area for those that would like to find it as it is today from satellite imagery on Google Maps is Havrylivka, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine, 64740:

    Anyway, hope this was of interest to anyone. Let me know if you have any comments or there was any difficulty in understanding something. Next time I will continue with translation of this book in the comments below.

    "Go, go, keep advancing! The one who manages to claim victory gets to take home the pasta!"

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    Re: Project: Russian to English translation - Episodes of Tank Battles in the Great Patriotic War

    Post by OCDPaul on Sat Jun 23, 2018 4:36 am

    That's amazing! I don't want to eat up too much space here, but I'm definitely interested in any and all of the translations you're willing to do. Very interesting in both the details and the lessons they want to share with the recounting and looking forward to seeing more of these 'small-scale' reports vs the broad strokes I'm used to reading about the Eastern Front.
    Thank you So Much for sharing your work!
    Lance Corporal

    Posts : 82
    Join date : 2018-02-23
    Age : 25
    Location : Australia, Adelaide

    Re: Project: Russian to English translation - Episodes of Tank Battles in the Great Patriotic War

    Post by Tenente on Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:28 pm

    Alright, here is the second part of many. Before I proceed, there is one point I would like to clear up. It is with regards to the terminology "assault infantry". These are the infantry groups that are either primarily (or completely so) with PPSH assault rifles, or with higher than normal proportions so armed. They weren't special elites or something, any Soviet infantry group, before being thrown into urban combat, had their rifles exchanged for PPSH - a shorter, fast firing (almost like an LMG), yeah bad accuracy on range, but firing lines are not usually more than 500m. This is where there is quite a lot of misconception arising from trying to understand Russian sources, especially with the episode of assault upon Stalingrad. The statement, to my memory I think, quoted in English sources as Soviet troops having "one rifle per two troops" or something along those lines is somewhat correct, but it doesn't mean that the other were armed with nothing. Upon reaching Stalingrad, some Soviet troops had their rifles taken and given PPSH in exchange (a weapon as I said above better suited for urban fighting in cramped ruin conditions). There wasn't enough PPSH rifles for everyone though it appears, so those that didn't get them, went with rifles instead. Just a clear-up on possible misunderstandings I thought that I should give beforehand. Anyway, on to the second scheme:


    2 – Battle of a tank platoon in the town of Domotkan’
    Scheme 2:

    The tank platoon, reinforced by a platoon of assault infantry, was given the task to push out the enemy from the 6th block of Domotkan’ and upon successful completion of the task entrench there.

    The tank platoon was given an artillery battery as a support.
    The tank platoon commander after judging the situation, made the following plan of attack: the tanks with the infantry will form a battle line and will advance towards the Western half of the block and clear it of the enemy positions. After the 6th block is successfully taken, a defensive position will be set up, with tanks positioned on the Western and the infantry positioned on the Eastern edge of the block before the valley.

    The initial pre-attack position the commander chose as the Western edge of the 5th block.

    Then, the commander of the tank platoon, together with the tank commanders and of infantry platoon, tank driver-mechanics and commanders of artillery, performed commander's reconnaissance. During this reconnaissance, the position and orientation of the town blocks was carefully scrutinised, as well as the possible locations of enemy fire points were noted on the map, and the order in which they will be silenced was marked out. After which, the tank platoon commander divided this task into sub-tasks and gave specific orders to each tank commander, at the same time planning the coordination with the infantry. The following signals were agreed upon for communication between infantry and tanks, infantry to tanks: at the discovery of a mine-thrower – fire a red signals rocket in the direction of the threat, machine-gun nest or other hostile fire location – fire a green rocket in the direction of the threat, hostile element suppressed – fire a green and red signal rocket simultaneously; tanks to infantry communication: anti-tank gun – fire a tracer round in the direction of the hostile element, machine gun position – fire a tracer burst from tank machine guns in the direction of the hostile element. Communication with artillery was achieved by way of radio.

    1700, 15th October, the tank platoon commander ordered the tanks to take initial pre-attack position.

    1800, after a 5 minute artillery barrage upon the enemy, the platoon initiated the attack. As soon as the tanks advanced forward by 300 metres, they began to take fire from anti-tank guns positioned in the 6th block. The tank platoon commander fired his gun in the direction of the shot, and silenced the hostile gun. As soon as the soviet infantry got to the silenced gun and took it, they immediately turned the gun against the Germans and opened fire upon them. The German infantry began to fall-back into corn fields just off Northerly from the 6th block. By 2200, the block was cleared of the German positions. Infantry took up defensive positions at the Eastern end of the 6th block, and the tanks under infantry cover took defensive positions on the Western edge of the 6th block.

    The Germans, attempting to use the dark, initiated a counter-attack, and managed to wrestle back the Northern edge of the 6th block. The tank platoon commander, to restore the gained positions, ordered the advance of a single tank into the Southern edge of the block in support of the infantry there, one tank was ordered to remain on stand-by, while ordering his own command tank to assault the enemy that broke-through on the Northern edge of the block.

    Upon reaching the Northern block edge, the tank commander fired up the enemy. German infantry, with the aim of psychologically suppressing the tank crews, rose out of cover, and with loud shouting advanced to assault the tank. To be able to see what is going on in the dark, the tank platoon commander ordered his tank to back off behind cover, and firing a round at the nearest house set it to fire. By the light of this fire, the tank platoon commander was able to see what was going on, and deciphered the intentions of the enemy, opening lethal MG fire upon the advancing enemy infantry. The tank that remained on stand-by on the western rim of the block, upon hearing MG shots fired, advanced to support the combat. Under fire, the assaulting infantry took massive casualties and fell back behind the valley into the western rim of the 7th block.

    It is important here to emphasize, that tanks fight in urban areas in coordination with assault infantry, or tank riders (Note from translator: these are known to some English speaking people as Tanko-desant, direct transcription from the Russian term), hence the tank platoon was reinforced by a platoon of assault infantry.

    The commander of the tank platoon, preparing for the assault of the 6th block, devoted considerable time for study of the orientation of the urban blocks, as well as marking out the disposition of enemy fire locations. Also, a considerable time was devoted to the organisation of coordination between infantry and tanks within the urban area.

    Was the tank platoon commander correct in organising the defensive perimeter of the taken block, in which the tanks were placed on the Western edge and the infantry on the Eastern edge of the block? During the night, the tanks had to have infantry before them to act as a defensive line against surprise attacks from tank destroyers. The platoon commander, after pushing out the enemy from the 6th block, fell back with his tanks to the Western edge, as leaving the tanks in the Eastern edge, in lieu of night-fall was risky and dangerous. More-so, being located on the Eastern edge of the 6th block, the tanks would be under possible fire from anti-tank artillery positioned in the 7th block.

    Repelling the night assault, the tank commander took the correct course of action, flaming up a house among the enemy positions to act as a lighting flare. This gave the tank platoon commander the opportunity to obtain clear situational awareness, and have the chance for firing accurate shots at the advancing enemy.



    The location referred to is (for entering into Google maps to find the place): Domotkan', Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine, 51631,

    The general whereabouts as taken from Google maps:

    That's it for now, watch this space for some more translations, I hope this gave you another war-games scenario idea (my aim for doing this translation work).

    "Go, go, keep advancing! The one who manages to claim victory gets to take home the pasta!"

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    Re: Project: Russian to English translation - Episodes of Tank Battles in the Great Patriotic War

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      Current date/time is Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:48 pm