Moniushko – From Leningrad to Hungary

In 1944 – yes another World War II memoir – Evengii Moniushko (2005) was a Lieutenant in a tank destroyer artillery regiment (IPTAP) along the Vistula River. From March to May 1945 he was an artillery observer in Silesia and Czechoslovakia. His book is largely recollections of civilian and military life during the war, so I can not particularly recommend it to anyone searching for combat accounts. But there are a few interesting bits.

The book is available from Amazon USA, UK, and Canada:

Moniushko, E. D. (2005). From Leningrad to Hungary: Notes of a Red Army soldier, 1941-1946 (O. Sheremaet, Trans; D. M. Glantz, Ed.). Frank Cass.

Order of Battle

to Hungary

1645th Tank Destroyer Artillery Regiment

In 1944 Moniushko (2005) joined the 1645th Tank Destroyer Artillery Regiment (IPTAP). This unit was part of the Stavka Reserve and was attached to the 13th Army in the 1st Ukrainian Front.

  • 1645th Tank Destroyer Artillery Regiment
    • 6 x Batteries
      • 2 x Platoons
        • 2 x 76.2 mm ZIS-3 field gun and truck
        • 2 x light or medium machine guns (one per field gun)

There were no battalions in this regiment. The batteries were directly subordinate to the regiment.

Out of 30 cases of ammunition, two were sub-calibre shells, eight were armour piercing, and the remainder fragmentation/high explosive. The guns also had a number of grapeshot for defence against infantry.

When in battle the gun crews man-handled their ZIS-3s. This was easy, but was possible.

9th (Leningrad) Artillery Regiment

In 1945, having been discharged from hospital, Moniushko (2005) joined the 9th (Leningrad) Artillery Regiment, 72nd Rifle Division, 117th Rifle Corps, 21st Army, 1st Ukrainian Front. This regiment was designated “Leningrad” because most of the personnel were from that city.

  • 9th (Leningrad) Artillery Regiment
    • 2 x Battalions (I assume two to give the same number of batteries as in the IPTAP)
      • 2 x Field Gun Batteries (1st and 2nd)
        • 2 x Platoons (I assume two as in the IPTAP)
          • 2 x 76.2 mm ZIS-3 field gun and truck
      • 3rd Howitzer Battery
        • 2 x Platoons (I assume two as in the IPTAP)
          • 2 x 76.2 mm howitzers and truck

I’m not sure which level the Reconnaissance squad was attached to, but I suspect the platoon.

Moniushko was part of the 2nd Battery and also refers to the “3rd Howitzer Battery”.

Tarnopol, Ukraine, USSR, Mar-Apr 1944

[See my notes on Tarnopol]

Sandomierz Bridgehead, Aug 1944 – Jan 1945

Main Source: Moniushko (2005), p 95-103. Also have a look at Tactics of Soviet Antitank Regiments as this reinforces what Moniushko has to say about the tactics of the regiment.

The Sandomierz Bridgehead ultimately stretched for over 70 km along the west bank of the Vistula River, and was over 60 km deep (Erickson, 1996).

Five of the six batteries of the IPTAP were camouflaged in a harvested wheat field just behind the infantry lines (Moniushko, 2005). Each gun was in a entrenchment under a haystack. The sixth battery was deployed around the regimental HQ. Moniushko’s gun was on a gently sloping hill facing the enemy. In one gun position there was a small farm (house and shed) to the left of Moniushko’s gun and in another a wide hollow starting 50 m in front of the gun (these might have been same position).

Throughout Aug 1944 the Germans attacked constantly with large numbers of tanks; in one attack they had 120 tanks in the sector facing the 1645th IPTAP ( Moniushko, 2005). The Russians were happy with an exchange of guns for tanks. Due to the design of their entrenchments the 1645th IPTAP lost relatively few personnel in the 1.5 months they fought in the Bridgehead, however, they had to replace their guns three times over.

The German attacks started with a short but heavy artillery barrage (Moniushko, 2005). As Pz IVs and small numbers of infantry advanced, the heavy German AFVs (Ferdinands and Tiger Is) would take up position on hills 1 – 1.5 km from the Russian lines. At that range the Russian guns could not penetrate their heavy armour, so the gunners held their fire. Only when the Pz IVs got close did the Russian anti-tank guns open up. Each Russian gun would get one or two shots off at the German medium tanks before a German heavy would destroy it.

In one incident, in the position with the wide hollow starting about 50 m in front of the gun, Moniushko (2005) mentions having a German medium tank across the hollow in his sights. Suddenly a Tiger lurched out of the hollow just in front of the gun. The first armour-piercing round from the ZIS-3 ricocheted off the Tiger’s frontal armour. The second shot – sub-calibre and fired at point blank range – hit the bottom of the turret and destroyed the tiger. The tank crew bailed but were mowed down by the machine gunner attached to Moniushko’s gun.

In terms of terrain in the Bridgehead, Moniushko (2005) mentions harvested wheat fields with haystacks, a long gentle slope, a small farm, hills, a wide hollow (depression), groves, ditch, and a “deep furrow” through which they crawled across a field. Some of the haystacks were huge (5 m high and dozens of metres long).

Moniushko was wounded and evacuated from the Bridgehead.

Hill 188.1, Silesia, Poland, Late Feb 1945

Source: Moniushko (2005), p 138-142.

In Feb 1945 Moniushko joined the 9th (Leningrad) Artillery Regiment. His first assignment was in a forward observation post (FOP) on the northern slope of Hill 188.1 near Dankwitz in Silesia. This hill was of considerable interest to both sides as it provided a 2-3 km view into the Russian rear. The FOP was about 100 m from the top of the gently sloping hill and was dug into the side of a 2 m deep irrigation ditch. Unfortunately, this ditch was perpendicular to the front line so visible to the enemy. The infantry trenches ran from the dug out to the top of the hill to the left; their positions were dispersed presumably because they had insufficient men to cover the front. The German positions extended to the town of Dankwitz on the right.

On one occasion in late Feb 1945 the Germans broke through the Russian lines and captured Hill 188.1. The local battalion commander, however, organised a counter attack and retook it. The Germans had an APC with an anti-aircraft machine gun mounted on it, and during the following night they fired into the Russian positions on the hill. The Russian artillery responded by firing blindly and persuaded the APC to desist. The next day the Germans had another go at Hill 188.1. They preceded their attack with a 15 min artillery barrage (nothing above 105 mm). Every available man was thrown into the defence. This meant any artillery men which weren’t being actively used in gunnery joined the infantry. The second attack was repulsed.

Upper Silesian Operation, Poland, 15-23 Mar 1945

Source: Moniushko (2005), p 147-163.

In Mar 1945 Koniev wanted to seize Upper Silesia as far as the Czechoslovak frontier (Erickson, 1996). The plan was to encircle the German forces in the Oppeln bulge and in Oppeln itself. Koniev planned to achieve this with had two forces to achieve this:

  • One force to attack from the area of Grottkau in a south-westerly direction. This force consisted of 21st Army and 4th Tank Army, plus two corps.
  • Another force to attack from north of Ratibor in a westerly direction. This force consisted of 59th and 60th Armies, plus one tank corps and one mechanised corps.

At the beginning of Mar 1945 the 72nd Rifle Division was transferred to the Grottkau region (Moniushko, 2005) – presumably in the first of the Koniev’s two forces. The thinned ranks of the rifle companies had been filled by untrained Ukrainian replacements, but the Division was still not up to strength. Moniushko’s battery took over entrenchments on the southern side of Grottkau city forest. The German positions were 300-400 m away. As the days passed the Russians built up their offensive forces in the area. On the night of 14-15 Mar the artillerymen could hear T-34s rumbling into position near the Grottkau-Neisse road to their right (west). Everything was ready the Upper Silesian Operation. D-Day was set as 15 Mar and H-Hour as 0700 hours.

At sunrise on 15 Mar 1945 the Russian artillery opened up (Erickson, 1996; Moniushko, 2005). Two armies encircled the 45,000 Germans at Neustadt. On 19 Mar Belov’s 10th Guards Tank Corps beat off the Herman Goring Panzer Division when the latter tried to break through to Neustadt. On 20 Mar three Soviet Corps fended off a German army corps, two Panzer divisions and one infantry division when the Germans once again tried to break the Soviet ring. Of the encircled troops 30,000 were lost and another 15,000 taken prisoner.

Moniushko (2005) recalls that the initial bombardment lasted for only 10 min allowing infantry reconnaissance detachments to move forward. They discovered the Germans had abandoned their first line of trenches. The main body the the Russians moved forward, with infantry, tanks and artillery observers at the front. The region consisted of hills and forests and rain soaked fields. The Russians tended to cluster on the roads as, being rain soaked, the fields were difficult to cross. The Germans fought from crest to crest; the Russian infantry would struggle to a crest, come under fire, go to ground, then wait for the artillery to push the Germans off the far crest. The Russian tanks took heavy casualties.

Waldau was by-passed, Wintzenberg taken on 16 Mar ( Moniushko, 2005). The houses of the later were separated by fenced gardens and sheds. Between Wintzenberg and the next town, Gross-Briezen was 1.5 km of fields. German infantry and armour (tanks or assault guns) repulsed the initial assault on Gross-Briezen. The Germans fired on the Russians from the trees lining the edge of their side of the field. The 9th (Leningrad) Artillery Regiment responded by firing all three batteries of one battalion into Gross-Briezen.

The Russians (infantry, tanks, artillery observers) bypassed Gross-Briezen from the north and reached the Grottkau-Neisse highway ( Moniushko, 2005). They passed through the western strip of Friedewalde – the town ran perpendicular to the highway – and captured Mogwitz at the end of 17 Mar. Mogwitz ran along the highway, although most of the town was to the left (east) of the road. The Germans line was in Bozdorf 1.5 km to the south.

Moniushko (2005) set up a FOP in a small house to the left of the highway. A much reduced rifle company (30 men) dug in nearby, on a 500 m from the highway, past the house, and out to the left. They stayed there until the night of 21-22 Mar 1945. During that night Moniushko was transferred to the Stefansdorf village about 3 km to the west. On 22 Mar 1945 Moniushko experienced life as a tank rider – which he didn’t like.

On 22 Mar 1945 the Russian infantry broke into Neisse city ( Moniushko, 2005). The guns of Moniushko’s battery were ordered to act independently in support of the infantry. Neisse had 3-4 story buildings with narrow streets. There was a small square with a lawn in the centre with streets radiating out from the square. The river Neisse was near the left (east) side of the square and a single span bridge crossed at that point. A 1 m high parapet provided some protection to anyone approaching the bridge. Moniushko’s gun, plus supporting infantry arrived at the river at dusk. Moniushko dragged his gun over the parapet, but the Germans blew the bridge before he reached it. During the night the Russians forced the river downstream and the Germans retreated from the far bank. Moniushko remained in Neisse until 26 Mar.

Moniushko (2005) mentions the following terrain: hills, forests, rain soaked fields (some with trees on the edges), roads, towns, hollows, bridges, streams, apple orchard (out of season) surrounded by deep ditches filled with water.

Zobten, Germany, 5 May 1945

Source: Moniushko (2005), p 178-180.

From Neisse the 9th (Leningrad) Artillery Regiment was redeployed to Marksdorf about 4 km northwest of the town of Zobten. After a relatively inactive period the Russians attacked Zobten on 5 May 1945. The attack began with a 10 min bombardment from two batteries of the 9th (Leningrad) Artillery Regiment. The infantry went in support by two or three IS-2 heavy tanks. The Russian advance was halted in the south of the town, as the Germans had entrenched in the last houses on the south. While this blocking distracted the Russians, flanking forces bypassed the town and entered it from both east and west. The outflanking Germans met in the centre of town thus cutting off the Russian advance forces. Moniushko realised this and to the surprise of his superiors called in fire between himself and the guns (located in the north of Zobten). Moniushko and some colleagues the infiltrated back to their battery, but he doesn’t mention what happened in the town.

Moniushko mentions buildings, stone fences/walls up to 2 m high, and gardens.

Striegau, Germany, 6 May 1945

Source: Moniushko (2005), p 182.

On 6 May 1945 Russian infantry and SU-152 assault guns fought their way through Striegau. The Germans had set up barricades throughout the town, and the assault guns were used to blow them apart.

Freiburg, Germany, 7 May 1945

Source: Moniushko (2005), p 184.

7 May 1945 found Moniushko’s battalion on the southern edge of the Vorst Nonnen Busch Forest about 3 km north of Freiburg. When the Russian infantry and artillery observers reached the forest edge, 10+ German assault guns rolled out of Freiburg and rumbled up the gentle slope toward them. The 3rd Howitzer Battery was consequently ordered to deploy for direct fire but there was little chance it would arrive in time. It turned out they weren’t needed as a group of SU-152s rolled out of the forest and destroyed all of the enemy assault guns – for no losses of their own.


Buchner, A. (1995). Ostfront 1944: The German Defensive Battles on the Russian Front 1944 [D. Johnston Trans.]. PA: Schiffer.

Erickson, J. (1996). The Road to Berlin: Stalin’s war with Germany: Volume Two. Phoenix Giants.

Moniushko, E. D. (2005). From Leningrad to Hungary: Notes of a Red Army soldier, 1941-1946 (O. Sheremaet, Trans; D. M. Glantz, Ed.). Frank Cass.

Tactics of Soviet Antitank Regiments.

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