The Battle of Krasny Bor was the climax of the Blue Division’s time on the Eastern Front during WW2. Four Soviet rifle divisions, supported by tanks and guns, smashed into the equivalent of five Spanish battalions. the Spanish took a mauling but were only pushed a few kilometres back from their starting positions before the line was stabilised.
The Spanish Blue Division is what got me into WW2. Officially the 250th Infantry Division of the Wehrmacht and comprising Spanish Volunteers, this unit was also know as the Spanish Volunteer Division, Division Azul, or the Blue Division. They are Spanish, of course, but I use them as Germans when needed.
Golpe de Mano literally means “blow of the hand” (Proctor, 1974). The Spanish troops of the Blue Division of World War II used this term for a limited assault. The assault force would consist of 5-40 men, under either an officer or NCO, and armed with automatic weapons, hand grenades, bayonets, and knives (meat cleavers were also favoured). The force would work their way through the Soviet defences, defusing mines and marking their path for the return journey. The attackers would eliminate the Russian sentries then split up in the enemy positions causing as much damage as possible in the few minutes available (never more than 20-30 min). The Spaniards would then regroup, and withdraw under cover of an heavy artillery barrage, taking any prisoners with them.
The Fascist government of Spain contributed an infantry division to the Axis effort in World War II. The Spanish Volunteer Division was designated the 250th (“Blue”) Infantry Division of the Wehrmacht on 25 July 1941. The Division left active service on 23 December 1943 after seeing considerable and bloody combat on the Eastern front, particularly around Leningrad. It was called the “Blue Division” (Division Azul) because the original uniform included the distinctive dark blue shirts of the Spanish Fascists (the Falange), however, the Division adopted German uniforms as soon as they reached Germany. Their climatic encounter of the war was the Battle of Krasny Bor.
Most people don’t realise that although officially neutral Spain had an active part in WW2 in the form of the Blue Division, otherwise known as the Spanish Volunteer Division, Division Azul, or by its official German title of the 250th Infantry Division of the Wehrmacht. Individual Spaniards were also involved on both sides during WWII, often in quite large numbers. In a few cases these individuals were collected into units.
This is a rough outline of the life and times of the Spanish fighting on the Eastern Front during WW2 – the Blue Division. I’ve included some detail about higher level operations to provide context and ditto for nearby operations. The 250th (Blue) Division’s finale was at Krasny Bor. If you’re looking for maps then try here.