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.
3 Sep 1939
Britain and NZ declared war on Germany (Cody, 1953).
22 Jun 1941
At 3.15 am the Germans launched Operation ‘Barbarosa’ – the attack on the Soviet Union (Erickson, 1993).
14 Jul 1941
General Muñoz Grandes and his Spanish staff flew to Berlin, as the rank and file of the Spanish Volunteer Division boarded trains for Germany (Scurr, 1980).
17 Jul 1941
Spanish Battalions began arriving at the Grafenwöhr training grounds near Bayreuth in Bavaria (Scurr, 1980). Nicknamed the “Blue” Division because of the blue fascist shirts they arrived in.
25 Jul 1941
The Spanish Volunteer (Blue) Division was officially designated the 250th Infantry Division of the Wehrmacht (Scurr, 1980). The Division was reorganised to match German Division structures.
Marching through Poland
28 Jul – 19 Aug 1941
The 250th (Blue) Division underwent intensive training (Scurr, 1980).
12 – 23 Aug 1941
Staraia Russa Offensive Operation (Glantz, 2001).
21 – 26 Aug 1941
The 250th (Blue) Division trained 1,200 km east to Suwalki in Poland (Proctor, 1974).
29 Aug – 8 Oct 1941
The 250th (Blue) Division marched nearly 1,000 km through Poland and Lithuania to Vitebsk in Russia (Scurr, 1980).
Sep – Dec 1941
Between 6 and 27 Sep 1941 the Luftwaffe heavily bombed Leningrad (Glantz, 2001). From 4 Sep to 31 Dec the Germans artillery also pounded the city.
1 Sep 1941
On 1 Sep the Soviet 52nd Army – the force the 250th (Blue) Division was shortly to face, consisted of (Glantz, 2001): 267th, 285th, 288th, 292nd, 312th, 314th, 316th Rifle Divisions, 442nd Corps Artillery Regiment, 881st Anti-tank Artillery Regiment.
Soviet 52nd Army – 1 Sep 1941 (Glantz, 2001)
- 267th Rifle Division
- 285th Rifle Division
- 288th Rifle Division
- 292nd Rifle Division
- 312th Rifle Division
- 314th Rifle Division
- 316th Rifle Division
- 442nd Corps Artillery Regiment
- 881st Anti-tank Artillery Regiment
19 Sep 1941
Germans captured Kiev.
20 Sep – 28 Oct 1941: Siniavino Offensive Operation
Siniavino Offensive Operation (Glantz, 2001). As the Germans pushed towards Tikhvin (16 Oct – 18 Nov) the Russians tried to cut them off by attacking toward Siniavino. As it happened the Germans won the struggle.
29 – 30 Sep 1941
As the Russians attacked in the Leningrad area the Germans brought in the 7th Flieger Division as reinforcements for Eighteenth Army (Lucas, 1988). The first units to arrive were 1st and 3rd Battalions of 1st Para Regiment, and 2nd Battalion of the divisional assault regiment. On the night of 29/30 Sep 1941 1st and 3rd Battalion took positions of 1st Infantry Division southwards along the Neva from the Schlusselburg to Viborogskaya. 2nd Assault Battalion went straight from transports into action. With the aid of No. 2 Company of the Para anti-aircraft machine-gun battalion they reduced the Petroschkino bridgehead where the Russians had managed to get several armoured fighting vehicles over the river. Over the next few days the Russians repeatedly tried to retake their postions, but were driven off.
1 Oct 1941
The first troops of 3rd Para Regiment of 7th Flieger Division reached the line at Viborgskaya on 1 Oct 1942 (Lucas, 1988).
2 Oct 1941
Hitler launched Operation Typhoon (Glantz, 2001). Battle of Moscow began.
7 Oct 1942
On 7 Oct 1942 the Fallschirmjaeger of 2nd Assault Battalion were transfer from Petroschkino to Viborgskaya (Lucas, 1988). When 3rd Battalion of 3rd Para Regiment arrived they went straight into action alongside 2nd Assault Battalion in attempting to reduce Russian bridgeheads across the Neva.
9 – 10 Oct 1941
The 250th (Blue) Division trained northward to Shimsk to join the XXXVIII Corps in Army Group North (Scurr, 1980, says as part of Eighteenth Army, but Glantz, 2001, has this Corps as part of Fourth Panzer Group on 1 Sep 1941 and part of Sixteenth Army on 1 Jan 1942, by which time the Spanish had joined its ranks).
11 Oct 1941
On the night of 11/12 Oct the 250th (Blue) Division relieved the German 18th Division and part of the 126th (Scurr, 1980). The Spaniards were to defend a 50 km north-south front from Lubkovo on the west bank of the River Volkhov to the western shore of Lake Ilmen.
Facing them were the Russian 52nd Army and Novgorod Army Group (NAG) (Glantz, 2001). At that time the 52nd Army had two understrength rifle divisions, four corps artillery regiments, and one anti-tank artillery regiment. The NAG had two rifle and one tank division, although the later had no tanks. (Proctor, 1974, consistently calls the Russian “Armies” “Corps”, but other sources, notably Glantz, correct this.)
Note: On 1 Sep states the 18th Motorised Division was part of XXXIX Motorised Corps, and 126th Infantry Division was part of I Army Corps (Glantz, 2001). Given they were in different Corps I query them being in the line adjacent to each other. None-the-less it is plausible the 250th (Blue) Division replaced them as they were operating together against the Russian 52nd Army at Bolshaia and Malaia Vishera on 16 Oct.
12 Oct 1941
On the night of 12/13 Oct the II/269 battalion fought the first action of the 250th (Blue) Division (Scurr, 1980). Spanish outposts surprised and stopped a Soviet battalion from crossing the Volkhov under cover of darkness at Kapella Nova. The Russians left behind 50 dead and 80 prisoners.
Mid Oct – Dec 1941
The HQ of 7th Flieger Division arrived on the Neva (Lucas, 1988). The divisional Engineer Battalion was the last of the division to arrive. Whilst the rest of the battalion reinforced 3rd Regiment at Viborgskaya, No. 3 Company of the Engineer Battalion was sent to reinforce 328th Infantry Regiment in Siniavino woods. The 110 man company were given the task of clearing Russian trenches which had been pushed forward to within 200 m of the one of the battalion HQ of 328th Regiment. The Engineers attacked, took the trenches, and blew up a T-34 in the process, then held off Russian counter attacks. During the rest of the day they killed 250 enemy, took 200 prisoners, and knocked out two tanks. Constant fighting radically reduced the numbers in the companies. As a consequent the Para Engineer Battalion was pulled out of the line on 16 Nov and the Division in Dec. All returned to German
16 Oct – 18 Nov 1941: Tikhvin Operation
Tikhvin Operation (Glantz, 2001). The Germans attacked toward Tikhvin on 16 Oct 1941. The Russians launched their own offensive toward Siniavino on 20 Oct, but it made little headway. On 23 Oct the Russians ordered reinforcements to Tikhvin. On 28 Oct the Russians called off their offensive toward Siniavino, but launched a counterattack near Tikhvin from 2 to 5 Nov. None-the-less the Germans captured Tikhvin on 8 Nov.
16 Oct 1941
The Spanish repulsed a second Russian assault by artillery and infantry (Proctor, 1974). I/269 Battalion – the hardest hit unit – suffered four dead and many wounded, but the Russians lost 40 dead and another 80 prisoners.
During the 250th (Blue) Division’s first week on the line the Russians and Spanish bombarded each others positions (Proctor, 1974). The Spanish also sent small parties across the Volkhov in rubber boats, where they discovered the Russians were entrenched in considerable strength.
Assault Engineers cross the Volkhov
18 – 19 Oct 1941
In the bitter cold of early winter, two platoons of the II/269 battalion crossed the Volkhov at Udarnik on the night of 18-19 Oct (Proctor, 1974; Scurr, 1980). This was the start of an offensive, made jointly with German troops, intended to complete the encirclement of Leningrad by connecting with the Finns to the east of the Ladoga. The lead elements established a bridgehead and other units including a company of III/263 battalion followed. The later company took causalities, including the company commander, from Russian mortars and machine guns. The Spanish infantry were and supported by Spanish and German artillery, but also faced Russian artillery and mortar fire. During the battle for the bridgehead German artillery accidentally fired on Spanish positions. By the evening of the 19th the Spanish had secured the bridgehead – they named the bridgehead “Posición Navarro” in honour of a captain who had died in a Russian artillery barrage two days earlier.
20 Oct 1941
The remainder of the II/269 battalion followed the advance guard across the Volkhov (Scurr, 1980) and the Spanish expanded their positions, taking Smeisko on the highway to Novgorod (Proctor, 1974).
21 – 22 Oct 1941
The II/269 battalion occupied Russa, and Sitno (Scurr, 1980). Soviet machine gun emplacements offered stiff resistance in the woods between Russ and Sitno. Several large forces of the Soviet 52nd Army counter attacked against Sitno. Both sides suffered heavy losses, with the Russians losing 200 dead and 400 prisoners. Continuous Russian artillery fire did not prevent the Spaniards reinforcing the bridgehead.
23 Oct 1941
An early morning Soviet attack supported by artillery penetrated to the centre of Sitno (Scurr, 1980). Comandante Román lead men of II/269 in close quarter fighting to drive them out again. The Russian retreated after suffering heavy losses.
27 Oct 1941
The Russians brought up sizable reserves and counter-attacked the Spanish bridgehead (Proctor, 1974). The Russian infantry managed to reach within 30 m of the Spanish positions before being driven off.
28 Oct 1941
On 28 Oct the Russians called off their offensive toward Siniavino (Glantz, 2001).
III/263 battalion occupied Tigoda (Scurr, 1980).250 Mobile Reserve Battalion took Dubrovka, turned south and attacked ‘the Barracks’, a Soviet strong point established in stone buildings at Muravji (Scurr, 1980). The Spaniards were driven back by heavy automatic fire.
29 Oct 1941
III/263 battalion occupied Nitlikino (Scurr, 1980). Germans captured Shevelevo, Otenski, Possad and Posselok during this period (Proctor, 1974, says the Spanish captured them, but Scurr, 1980, has the Spanish taking over the positions from Germans on 8 Nov).
The 250 Mobile Reserve Battalion attacked the Barracks again, this time backed by three batteries of 10.5 cm guns (Scurr, 1980). The Soviet machine guns drove them back with heavy loss, and the battalion retired again. In their two attacks the battalion had suffered 50% losses (Proctor, 1974)
Early Nov 1941
The Spanish positions on the east bank suffered continuous attacks by Soviet infantry, artillery and aircraft (Scurr, 1980).
2 – 5 Nov 1941
Russians counterattacked near Tikhvin (Glantz, 2001).
2 Nov 1941
Spanish repulsed a strong Russian attack at Nikitkino (Proctor, 1974; Scurr, 1980). Russian dead 221; Spanish 15 dead and 55 wounded.
6 Nov 1941
By 6 Nov the Spanish front had stabilised (Scurr, 1980).
Temperature dropped to -15º C (Proctor, 1974) and rivers and streams began to freeze (Glantz, 2001). The Volkhov froze enough to allow heavy motor vehicles to cross (Scurr, 1980).
8 Nov 1941
Germans captured Tikhvin (Glantz, 2001).
The I/269 Battalion under Commandante Luque and a batttery of 10.5 cm guns were instructed to relieve the Germans who had captured Otenski, Possad and Posselok (Scurr, 1980). Their new positions lay beyond thick woods, 12 km east of the main Spanish positions. For the next month the Spanish defended these extended positions. They dealt with full on Soviet assaults, artillery bombardment, temperatures reaching -20º C, and Soviet ambushes of the their convoys of supplies and wounded.
9 Nov 1941
Russians halted their offensive toward Siniavino (Glantz, 2001). I’m a bit puzzled by this as Glantz also said they called it off on 28 Oct.
10 Nov – 30 Dec 1941 Tikhvin Strategic Offensive Operation
Tikhvin Strategic Offensive Operation (Glantz, 2001). The Russian 52nd Army and NAG (12 Nov 1941), 4th Army (19 Nov), and 54th Army (9 Dec) attacked the German positions across a broad front. They captured Tikhvin on 9 Dec.
12 – 18 Nov 1941
Either the NAG or the 52nd Army were attacking the 250th (Blue) Division, but probably 52nd Army given the relative positions on the Volkhov .
From 12 to 15 Nov 1941 the four rifle divisions of the Russian 52nd Army repeatedly attacked the defences of the German 126th Infantry Division around Malaia Vishera (Glantz, 2001). Poor reconnaissance, inadequate artillery support, failure to concentrate, and a propensity for frontal assaults, all contributed to heavy losses and little progress. However, on 17/18 Nov the 52nd army attacked again and took Malaia Vishera, driving the defenders back toward Bolshaia Vishera.
The NAG attacked in the same period without success (Glantz, 2001).
12 Nov 1941
Waves of Soviets attacked Possad and Posselok early in the morning of 12 Nov 1941 (Proctor, 1974; Scurr, 1980). The Russians suffered 40 dead and over lost 80 prisoners; Spanish 9 dead, 26 wounded. At 6 am the 40 surviving Spanish in Posselok evacuated the burning village and retreated north to Possad (also burning by this stage).
13 Nov 1941
The Russians encircled the remains of the I/269 battalion in Possad; the Spanish lost communication with Otenski and hence the ability to evacuate their wounded (Proctor, 1974; Scurr, 1980). I/269 defend the 6 km of trenches at bayonet point against massed Russians assaults supported by heavy artillery bombardment.
The company of the 269 regiment located at Sitno (probably in II/269 battalion) repulsed three Russian companies (Proctor, 1974). Spanish losses: 30 dead, 70 wounded.
The Russians mined the Otenski-Possad road (Proctor, 1974, although Scurr, 1980, suggests this was 14 Nov). 10 Spaniards were wounded by a mine.
14 Nov 1941
The remaining 180 effectives of I/269 battalion continued to man the defences of Possad (Scurr, 1980). Another 200 lay dead or wounded. Commandante Rebull replaced the wounded Luque. 250 Mobile Reserve Battalion was committed to defence.
15 Nov 1941
The suffering I/269 battalion repulsed further Russian attacks at Possad (Proctor, 1974; Scurr, 1980). Spanish assault engineers built two strong points between Possad and Otenski: Intermediates A and B. That night 200 wounded were evacuated from Possad.
16 Nov 1941
After its failure of the previous few days the 52nd Army regrouped near Malaia Vishera (Glantz, 2001).
The remnants of the six companies defending Possad were evacuated (Scurr, 1980). Three new companies replaced them, one each from II/262, I/263, and the assault engineers. Rebull remained in command.
17 – 18 Nov 1941
On the night of 17/18 Nov 1941 the Russian 52nd Army launched itself at Malaisa Vishera again (Glantz, 2001). Two detachments for 259th and 111th Rifles Divisions infiltrated the German rear and on the morning of 18 Nov these divisions ousted the German 126th Division from the village back toward Bolshaia Vishera. Within days the 126th Division was reinforced by the 215th Infantry Division, fresh from France.
19 Nov 1941
The Russian 4th Army attacked around Tikhvin (Glantz, 2001).
Russian 50th Tank regiment attacked Possad (Proctor, 1974).
21 Nov 1941
Russians penetrated Spanish positions (II/269 Battalion?) (??). Spanish also attacked by Partisans.
25 Nov 1941
By this time Fediuninsky’s 54th Army had halted I Army Corps’ attack south of Volkhov (Glantz, 2001).
26 – 29 Nov 1941
On 29 Nov 1941 the shock group of Fediuninsky’s 54th Army (3 divisions and a rifle brigade) attacked 21st Infantry Division of I Army Corps south of Volkhov (Glantz, 2001). By 29 Nov 21st Infantry Division had been driven back several kilometres.
27 Nov 1941
The Spanish built two blockhouses between Otenski and Schevelevo to guard the supply route (??).
1 Dec 1941
Temperature -28º C (Proctor, 1974). Elements of 262 regiment repulsed Russian attacks. All units of 250th (Blue) Division suffered artillery and aerial bombardment.
2 Dec 1941
Temperature -31º C (Proctor, 1974). 3rd Company in I/269 battalion repulsed Russian attack. Russian artillery and aerial bombardment continued; Russians use American Martin Bombers.
3 Dec 1941
The Russian 54th Army attacked I Army Corps west of Volkhov with a new shock group including four rifle divisions, one rifle brigade and one tank brigade (Glantz, 2001). They drove the German flank southwards, encircling and destroying several companies from 254th Infantry Division.
Temperature -30º C and Russians continued their attacks on the Spanish positions (Proctor, 1974).
4 Dec 1941
In -38º C frost four Soviet infantry regiments, supported by artillery, mortars and aircraft, attacked the Spanish positions east of the Volkhov (Proctor, 1974; Scurr, 1980). The units of 263 Regiment at Nikitkino and 250 Mobile Reserve Battalion at Dubrovka were particularly heavily hit by the artillery barrage. II/263 threw back Russian attacks at Otenski and Possad (100 dead). It took the garrison of the Otenski monastery (2 companies of assault engineers and an anti-tank gunners, supported by 2 artillery batteries) four hours to see off the Soviet battalion attacking them. 269 Regiment also repulsed the attack at Shevelevo (25 dead). After nine hours the situation stablised, although Possad was still under massive Russian assault. The remnants of I/269 returned to Possad to reinforce the defenders. The Russians also infiltrated Spanish units on Lake Ilmen. Spanish losses for the day were 18 dead and 97 wounded.
5 Dec 1941
Marshal Zhukov launched Russians on their Winter offensive (Scurr, 1980).
Russian Air, artillery, mortar and infantry attacks on the Spanish positions continued unabated in -30° C temperatures (Proctor, 1974). .
6 Dec 1941
Temperature -31° C (Proctor, 1974). At 0800 hours Russians began intensive artillery and mortar attack on Possad – the barrage was maintained all day. Spanish repulsed attack at Nikitkino. Spanish repulsed Russian attacks launched on Possad at 1700 hours. None-the-less the Spanish position had become dire – they would have withdrawn except it would have exposed units on their northern flank.
7 Dec 1941
The day the USA came into the war (Proctor, 1974).
Russian attacks on the Spanish positioins continued in -40° C cold (Proctor, 1974). The defenders weakening with 269 Regiment alone losing 30 dead and 30 wounded. The German command ordered all exposed units to withdraw to the west bank of the Volkhov.
As the Russian attackers withdrew in exhaustion, the Spanish in Possad began to evacuate at 2100 hours and retired quietly to Otenski (Scurr, 1980, although Proctor, 1974, says the evacuation began on 8 Dec).
8 Dec 1941
The mauled Assault Engineer company of Captain Guillermo Diaz were probably the last to leave Possad, as they were ordered out at 0700 hours on 8 Dec (Proctor, 1974). The combined Spanish force in Otenski retired to Schevelevo (Scurr, 1980; date is conjectural but based on Proctors, 1974, assertion that the evacuation of the east bank started on 8 Dec; Proctor also says the Spanish evacuated Poselok at the same time as Otenski, however, this would imply they’d recaptured it after abandoning it on 12 Nov).
9 Dec 1941
With the Russian 4th Army advancing from three sides, the outflanked Germans abandoned Tikhvin (Glantz, 2001). As the three German divisions retreated 151st Regiment (61st Infantry Division) and 11th and 12th Companies of 51st Panzergrenadier Regiment (18th Motorised Division) formed the rearguard. Already heavily reduced to the previous fighting and the cold, the 151st Regiment suffered further heavy casualties and the Panzergrenadier companies were wiped out completely. The Russians took the village in the evening.
10 Dec 1941
The Spanish abandoned Sitno, Tigoda, and Nikithino (Proctor, 1974).
11 Dec 1941
The Spanish evacuated Smeisko and Posición Navarro – the original bridgehead on the east bank (Proctor, 1974). The last of the Spanish recrossed the now frozen Volkhov to the west bank (from Proctor, although Scurr, 1980, gives the date as 10 Dec). During the month of combat 269 Regiment alone lost 120 dead, 440 wounded and 20 missing (from Scurr, although Proctor gives a total of 566). III/263 Battalion lost 196 men, mostly from 2nd company which was left with one officer and nine other ranks. The Assault Engineers were down to 40% effectives.
15 – 17 Dec 1941
On 15 Dec 1941 two additional divisions (115th Rifle and 198th Rifle) joined the attack of Fediuninsky’s 54th Army, and by 17 Dec had driven the Germans back to Olomny (Glantz, 2001). By doing so they had enveloped I Army Corps’ left flank on the western bank of the Volkhov. Meanwhile 4th Army was enveloping their right flank southeast of Volkhov. 1 Army Corp was forced back toward Kirishi.
16 Dec 1941
The Russian 52nd Army captured Bolshaia Vishera and pushed the two defending divisions back to the River Volkhov (Glantz, 2001). Based on previous events the defenders were presumably 126th and 215th Infantry Divisions.
End of Dec 1941
The 250th (Blue) Division established a new line on the Volkov (Proctor, 1974). The Division was dedicated to repel the numerous infiltrations and raids that the Russians tried, taking advantage of the ice layer that covered waters of the river.
17 Dec 1941
The Stavka formed the new Volkhov Front (Glantz, 2001). This included Meretskov’s 4th Army and Klykov’s 52nd Army, plus, from Stavka reserve, Sokolov’s 26th Army (redesignated 2nd Shock Army in late Dec) and Galanin’s 59th Army.
19 Dec 1941
Hitler took over direct command of OKH.]
24 Dec 1941
The Soviets attacked Udarnik and Gorka (Scurr, 1980). The Spaniards defended “as though nailed to the ground” – fulfilling an order from General Grandes.
26 Dec 1941
A Spanish platoon under Alferez Moscoso established a strong point between Udarnik and Lubkovo (Scurr, 1980). Yet another ‘Intermediate’.
27 Dec 1941
The Russian 4th and 52nd Armies finally reached the Volkhov river near Kirishi, Gruzino and north of Novgorod, and seized bridgeheads across the river, but Kirishi and Tigoda Station remained in German hands (Glantz, 2001).
Early in the morning of 27 Dec 1941 Soviet forces attempted to infiltrate to the rear of the Spanish positions, leading to heavy fighting at the Intermediate (Scurr, 1980). At 6.30 am a Russian battalion, with artillery support, attacked and penetrated Udarnik. Commandante Román’s II/269 drove them out and southward. At 10 am, the II/269 met 3 companies of the I/269 (under Rebull) moving north from Lubkovo. They found the Spanish defenders of the Intermediate naked, mutilated, and nailed to the ground with their own bayonets and picks.
Rebull then led two companies of the I/269 battalion, supported by German 7.5 cm artillery, against a Russian Battalion that had taken the ‘Old Chapel’ – a half ruined church near Lubkovo (Scurr, 1980). The Russians quickly fled back across the Volkhov and Spanish fire decimated them on the frozen river.
28 Dec 1941
German I Army Corps finally drove the Russian 54th Army away from Kirishi and the surrounding villages (Glantz, 2001). With the addition of 291st and 269th Infantry Divisions to the defence, Kirishi had become the linchpin of the German defence along the Volkhov.
Last of the Russians driven from the Spanish positions (Proctor, 1974).
30 Dec 1941
By 30 Dec 1941 the Volkhov Front had driven the two German Corps facing it back to their 16 Oct positions, prior to the Tikhviin Offensive (Glantz, 2001).
31 Dec 1941
In -40 C temperatures elements of II/263 Battalion effected a golpe de mano (limited assault) and captured 4 prisoners and one machinegun for the loss of 4 wounded (Proctor, 1974). This type of operation was typical of the warfare engaged by the two sides.
1 Jan 1942
On 1 Jan 1942 XXXVIII Army Corps of Sixteenth Army comprised the 250th (Blue) Division, 61st Infantry Division, 126th Infantry Division, and 215th Infantry Division (Glantz, 2001).
The Russian 52nd Army contained (Glantz, 2001): 46th, 111th, 225th, 259th, 267th, 288th, 305th Rifle Divisions, 25th Cavalry Division, 442nd, 448th, 561st Artillery Regiments, 884th Anti-tank Regiment, 44th Guards mortar Battalion, 2nd Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment , 513th Fighter Aviation Regiment, 313th Assault Aviation Regiment, 673rd Light Bomber Aviation Regiment, 3rd, 4th, and 770th Separate Engineer Battalions, 771st Separate Sapper Battalion, 55th Pontoon-bridge Battalion.
3 Jan 1942
Due to stiff German resistance, the Russians gave up trying to expand their bridgeheads west of the Volkhov river (Glantz, 2001).
The Russian 52nd and 59th Armies on the east bank of the River Volkhov were reinforced by the 2nd Shock Army (Scurr, 1980; actually Scurr once again calls these Corps, but Glantz, 2001, makes it clear they are Armies). The Russians and Spanish exchanged artillery fire, and the Spanish infantry found it difficult to work on their defensive positions (Proctor, 1974).
On 1 Jan 1942 the 2nd Shock Army comprised (Glantz, 2001): 327th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 53rd, 57th, 58th, and 59th Rifle Divisions; 39th, 40th, 41st, 42nd, 43rd, and 44th Separate Ski Battalions; 18th Artillery Regiment; 839th Howitzer Artillery Regiment; 160th and 162nd Separate Tank Battalions; 121st Bomber Aviation Regiment, 522nd Figther Aviatioin Regiment, 704th Light Bomber Aviation Regiment, 1741st and 1746th Separate Sapper Battalions.
On 1 Jan 1942 the 52nd Army comprised (Glantz, 2001): 46th, 111th, 225, 259th, 267th, 288th, 305th Rifle Divisions; 25th Cavalry Division; 442nd,448th and 561st Artillery Regiments; 884th Anti-tank Artillery Regiment; 44th Guards-mortar Battalion; 2nd Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment; 513th Fighter Aviation Regiment; 313th Assault Aviation Regiment; 673rd Light Bomber Aviation Regiment; 3rd, 4th and 770th Separate Engineer Battalions; 771st Separate Sapper Battalion; 55th Pontoon-bridge Battalion.
Jan – Jun 1942
From 6 Jan 1942 the Russians attacked along the Volkhov in the Liuban Offensive Operation (Glantz, 2001). The Stavka did not allow sufficient time for their forces to organise, and the attacks went in without adequate artillery and logistical support. The 2nd Shock and 59th Armies advanced into the frozen swamp south of Liuban and stayed there from Jan to Jun. During the same period the Northwestern Front encircled the German forces in Demiansk and reached Staraia Russa. The 54th Army got locked in combat west of Kirishi. And these were the most fruitful outcomes of the badly organised offensive.
In the Spanish sector the 52nd Army (Volkhov Front) attacked north of Novgorod as the 11th Army (Northwestern Front) attacked Novgorod (Glantz, 2001).
4 – 5 Jan 1942
Fediunksy’s 54th Army (Leningrad Front) attacked near Pogost’e west of Kirishi, but made little headway (Glantz, 2001).
6 Jan 1942
Galanin’s 59th Army (Volkhov Front) tried to expand the Front’s bridgeheads west of the Volkhov river, but without much success (Glantz, 2001)
7 – 9 Jan 1942
Despite the failure of the lead divisions of the 59th Army the day before, the remainder of the 59th and all of 2nd Shock Army were fed into the battle on 7 Jan 1942 (Glantz, 2001). Introduced piece meal they soon got bogged down like their predecessors. Their attacks ground to a halt on 9 Jan.
On 7 Jan Morozov’s 11th Army (from Northwestern Front) attacked toward Starrai Russa 60 km away. In two days of fighting they reached the outskirts of the city (Glantz, 2001). Ski battalions bypassed the German strongpoints to the north of the city, crossed the frozen Lake Ilmen, and cut the Staraia Russa-Shimsk road. Other Russian forces entrenched along the Lovat River to the south of Staraia Russa, but at that point the offensive faltered.
In the Demiansk area Berzarin’s 34th Army (Northwestern Front) and 3rd Shock Army (Kalinin Front) also attacked on 7 Jan 1942, making slow progress (Glantz, 2001).
8 Jan 1942
As a result of the Soviet Winter Offensive, and of Hitler’s order to hold at any cost, the Russians smashed the German 290th Division south of Lake Ilmen (Proctor, 1974; Scurr, 1980). By 8 Jan 543 men of this Division were trapped in the village of Vsvad (under Captain Pröhl), surrounded by the Russian 71st Ski Battalion and without outside contact. The 250th (Blue) Division were asked to reestablish contact with the Vsvad garrison.
9 Jan 1942
Captain Ordás of the 5th Anti-tank Company was given command of the Ski company at Spasspiskopez on north-west shore of Lake Ilmen (Scurr, 1980; Proctor, 1974, suggests Ordás was commander from their origin in Nov 1941).
10 Jan 1942
At 0600 hours on 10 Jan 1942 the Ski company set out in -40° C temperatures, heading south over the surface of Lake Ilmen (Scurr, 1980; Proctor, 1974 says 0800 hours and -33° C). Ordás had 206 Spaniards and 70 horse-drawn sleighs with Russian drivers. The sleighs contained ammunition, provisions for three days, and a pedal powered radio. Out on the lake temperatures dropped to -56° C. The rough ice and open stretches of water forced the company to take many detours, and the 30 km journey took 24 hours.
11 Jan 1942
On 11 Jan 1942 Ordás’ exhausted men made contact with a German patrol from Ustrika, and took shelter in their cabins (Proctor, 1974; Scurr, 1980). At 1010 hours Ords made his first radio report to the Division, and it was good news. Their overnight ordeal had caused 102 frostbite cases, 18 of which were very serious resulting in subsequent amputations. None-the-less Ordás was ordered to continue his mission and so he established his HQ at Pagost Ushin and sent his men out to reconnoiter.
13 – 15 Jan 1942
After regrouping for some days, the Volkhov Front (2nd Shock, 59th, 4th and 52nd Armies) and Leningrad Front (54th Army) resumed the offensive on 13 Jan, this time with proper artillery preparation (Glantz, 2001). Between 13 and 15 Jan the 2nd Shock Army drove into the gap between 126th and 215th Infantry Divisions. Its neighbouring units, 4th and 52nd Armies, failed to keep up and went on the defensive on 14/15 Jan. The 54th Army also attacked on 13 Jan and took Pogost’e on 17 Jan, but made little further progress against 269th Infantry Division (and its supports).
13 Jan 1942
Russians attacked between Godorok and Dubvizy (Scurr, 1980). The attackers penetrated to Finev Lug, Miassojbor and Lujbino Pole, and established a pocket on the west bank of the Volkhov. Subsequently Commandante Román’s II/269 Battalion was detached from the 250th (Blue) Division to operate against the Volkhov pocket.
14 Jan 1942
With temperatures below -40° C frostbite had reduced Ordás’ Ski company to 76 effectives (Scurr, 1980).
17 Jan 1942
Fediuninsky’s 54th Army captured Pogost’e (Glantz, 2001). 2nd Shock Army resumed its own attack and advanced 5-10 km before halting.
Latvians of the 81st Division joined forces with Ordás Ski company (Proctor, 1974; Scurr, 1980). In -21° C cold Lieutenant Otero de Arce took men of the Ski company and 40 Latvian soldiers on a reconnaissance to the south-east. Passing through Maloye Utschno and Bolshoye Utschno, they encountered Russians at Shiloy Tschernez. De Arce assaulted the Russian positions and drove them out at bayonet point. Two of his squads advanced to the next village to the south – Pnikovo – but the defenders (six T-26 tanks and two battalions of infantry) drove the imprudent squads back and forced De Arce’s main force out of Shiloy Tschernez. De Arce and a rear-guard of 36 Spaniards made a stand at Bolshoye Utschno allowing the wounded to escape by sleigh. The Lieutenant and a few survivors later escaped under cover of darkness. Of the 36 men in the rear guard, 16 were killed and 16 wounded. (Scurr actually says De Arce started with 36 Spaniards, but I’ve chosen to accept Proctor’s assertion that this was the number in the rear-guard. Given the company only had 76 effectives on 14 Jan this may be incorrect.)
18 Jan 1942
Temperature -22° C (Proctor, 1974). 23 Spaniards and 19 Latvians, under Alférez López de Santiago and other Alférez, retraced the path of De Arce and entrenched at Maloye Utschno (Scurr, 1980). Overnight a swarm Russian ski troops, backed by tanks and artillery, assaulted Maloye Utschno (Scurr, 1980). The defenders claimed the Russian infantry were primed on Vodka and rushed into the explosions of their own grenades. Overwhelmed the surviving defenders abandoned the shattered and burning village.
19 Jan 1942
At day break Lieutenant Otero de Arce led a rescue party towards Maloye Utschno (Scurr, 1980). This group had eight Spaniards, two German platoons, and a Pz IV tank. They recovered the only survivors from Maloye Utschno: Alférez López de Santiago, four other Spaniards and two Latvians.
20 Jan 1942
Captain Pröhl and his men of 290th Division broke out of Vsvad after dark and headed west across Lake Ilmen. (?? I can’t remember who mentioned this but probably Proctor, 1974, or Scurr, 1980 – must look it up ??)
21 Jan 1942
2nd Shock Army pushed on once again, this time capturing several German strongpoints, including Spasskaia Polist, Mostki, Zemtitsy and Miasnoi Bor (Glantz, 2001).
Lieutenant Otero de Arce, with only six men, headed west across Lake Ilmen (Scurr, 1980). At 0530 hours they met Pröhl and his men – mission complete. Ordás reported the Ski company down to 34 men (Proctor, 1974).
24 Jan 1942
Gusev’s 13th Cavalry Corps (25th and 87th Cavalry Divisions, plus an attached Rifle Division) passed through 2nd Shock Army into the German rear (Glantz, 2001). The 59th and 52nd Armies failed to expand the base of the penetration, and the Germans contained the 13th Cavalry and 2nd Shock in the swamps south of Liuban.
The surviving 34 men of the Spanish ski company, German infantry of the 81st Division, and several Pz IV tanks attacked south in temperatures below -58° C (Scurr, 1980). They took Maloye Utschno, Bolshoye Utschno, and Shiloy Tschernez, with the Spanish leading the way with hand grenades. Ordás’s men reached Shiloy Tschernez half an hour before the German infantry arrived.
25 Jan 1942
The Spanish ski company reached its lowest level, 12 combatants (Scurr, 1980; Proctor, 1974), and was allowed to return to the division. Subsequently the company was reorganised with Lieutenant Otero de Arce assuming command.
27 Jan 1942
German strongpoints at Spasskaia Polist and Zemtitsy on the flanks of 2nd Shock Army’s penetration, once again beat off Russian attacks (Glantz, 2001). 2nd Shock successfully passed into the German rear. At this time it included 327th, 46th Rifle and 80th Cavalry Divisions, and 39th and 42nd Ski Battalions (there might have been other units too).
29 Jan 1942
By late Jan 1942 Berzarin’s 34th Army (Northwestern Front) and 3rd Shock Army (Kalinin Front) had enveloped the German II Army Corps in Demiansk (Glantz, 2001). The Russians had passed through the Vatoline and Molvotisty regions to the south of the city, and the bypassing German strongpoints had pushed on west. Only the narrow Ramushevo corridor remained between Demiansk and and the main force of Sixteenth Army at Staraia Russa. The 3rd Shock Army also encircled Germans forces at Kholm.
On 29 Jan 1942 the Russians attacked the Ramushevo corridor (Glantz, 2001). 1st and 2nd Guards Rifle Corps – recently arrived – from the north and 34th and 3rd Shock Armies from the south. Meanwhile 1st Shock and 11th Armies attacked towards Sol’tsy and Shimsk.
Late Jan 1942
Fediuninsky’s 54th Army was divided into two: a smaller 54th and a new 8th Army (Glantz, 2001).
Early Feb 1942
In early Feb 1942 I Army Corps cordoned of the Russian penetration near Liuban (Glantz, 2001). The 22tth, 212th, 254th, 61st and 215th Infantry and SS Police Divisions were on the northern face. The 285th and 126th Infantry and 20th Motorised Divisions were on the south.
Meanwhile the Volkhov Front organised a special assault group to attack the German strongpoints south of Spasskaia Polist (Liubino Pole and Mostki) (Glantz, 2001). This force, under Roginsky, comprised 11th Rifle Division and 22nd Tank Brigade.
Battle Group Meindl – formed from the Fallschirmjaeger of 1st Battalion of the Assault Regiment, Jaeger Regimental HQ, and a battalion of the Artillery Regiment – arrived around Vyasma, a town to the east of Smolensk, hence presumably near Demiansk (Lucas, 1988). Subsequently Battle Group Meindl was used to reinforce 2nd Regiment and the 4th Battalion with Army Group South. After some weeks of fighting they were moved north again to the Volkhov River.
12 Feb 1942
Roginsky’s assault group took Liubino Pole and Mostki, thus expanding the base of 2nd Shock Army’s penetration to 14 km (Glantz, 2001).
Commandante Román’s II/269 Battalion relieved the German garrison encircled at Maloye Samoshie (Scurr, 1980).
19 Feb 1942
Klykov’s 2nd Shock Army attacked northward toward Liuban (Glantz, 2001). The attacking force comprised the 327th, 46th Rifle and 80th Cavalry Divisions, and 39th and 42nd Ski Battalions. They enveloped and captured the German position at Krasnaia Gorka at the junction of the German 291st and 254th Infantry Divisions. With this success Klykov ordered the 327th and 46th Rifle Divisions toward Liuban (only 10 km away) as the cavalry and ski troops headed for Riabovo (10 km northwest of Liuban) to cut the Leningrad-Liuban railway. Riabovo was taken, but Liuban wasn’t.
27 Feb 1942
German 291st Infantry Division recaptured Krasnaia Gorka, and encircled the Russian 327th Rifle and 80th Cavalry Divisions in Riabovo (Glantz, 2001). Most of the encircled troops subsequently escaped.
26 Feb 1942
After nearly a month’s fighting the Russians closed the Ramushevo corridor and cut off the German II Army Corps in the Demiansk Pocket (Glantz, 2001).
4 Mar 1942
As part of a general offensive Koronikov’s 59th Army attacked Chudovo, but were blocked (Glantz, 2001). Fediuninsky’s 54th Army, the 8th Army, and 2nd Shock armies also attacked during this period.
6 Mar – 9 Apr 1942: Demiansk Pocket
From 6 Mar to 9 Apr 1942 Kurochkin – using 3rd Shock Army (Kalinin Front) and 34th and I Guards Rifle Corps (Northwestern Front – tried and failed to crush II Army Corps in Demiansk (Glantz, 2001). The offensive featured elite Russian airbourne troops in a joint air-ground role. Starting on 20 Mar Group Seydlitz (five divisions) tried to break the encirclement from the Staraia Russa in the west; they broke through on 21 Apr.
9 Mar 1942
Soviet attacks on Kholm distracted the Lufwaffe thus delaying the start of Operation Beast of Prey (Glantz, 2001).
15 Mar 1942: Operation Beast of Prey (Raubtier)
By 15 Mar 1942, after some days of fighting, Fediuninsky’s 54th Army had penetrated the German defences near Pogost’e and advanced 22 km southwards (Glantz, 2001).
Operation Beast of Prey also started on 15 Mar (Glantz, 2001). This was the Eighteenth Army’s attempt to close 2nd Shock Army’s supply routes through its 10 km wide corridor to the east. The Germans had two assault groups, one aimed at each of the Russian supply routes:
- Northern: SS Police, 61st and 121st Infantry Divisions, from I Army Corps. Aimed at route Erika.
- Southern: 58th and 126th Infantry Divisions, from XXXVIII Army Corps. Aimed at route Dora.
On 15 Mar 1942 the northern group advanced 3 km and the southern group only 1 km (Glantz, 2001). Progress continued to be slow.
In response to Operation Beast of Prey, Meretskov counterattacked toward Liubino Pole with all his reserves (Glantz, 2001).
17 Mar 1942
The German northern shock group cut route Erika (Gantz, 2001). However, the Russians positioned their tanks to rake the area, thus preventing its capture.
18 Mar 1942
The German southern shock group cut route Dora (Glantz, 2001).
20 Mar 1942
The German shock groups met astride the 2nd Shock Army’s supply route, thus cutting off the army in the frozen swamp south of Liuban / west of Miasnoi Bor (Glantz, 2001). Route Erika, however, remained out of German control, and the commanders of XXXVIII Army Corps and the 58th Infantry Division were removed for failing to take it. Within days the 2nd Shock Army also retook route Dora.
In the south Group Seydlitz (five divisions) launched their attempt to break through to the Demiansk Pocket (Glantz, 2001). They attacked from the Staraia Russa in the west.
27 Mar 1942
By 27 Mar 1942 the Russian counter attack had created a narrow corridor to 2nd Shock Army near Miasnoi Bor (Glantz, 2001).
31 Mar 1942
Fediuninsky’s 54th Army made it to within 10 km of Liuban before being contained by the German 5th, 93rd, 217th and 21st Infantry Divisions (Glantz, 2001).
Early April 1942
In early April rain and mud paralyzed communications along 2nd Shock Army’s supply routes. (Glantz, 2001; Scurr, 1980).
5 Apr 1942
Fuhrer Directive No 41 – summer offensive in Russia. This was known as Operation Blue (Blau) (Lucas, 1988).
15 Apr 1942
In Mar 1942 2nd Para Regiment of 7th Flieger Division was transferred from Southern Russian to the Volkhov sector (Lucas, 1988). It took until Apr for them to arrive. Once on the Volkhov they came under the command of 21st Infantry Division. 1st Battalion of 151 Infantry Regiment was also attached to 21st Division.
21 Apr 1942
After weeks of fighting in swampy conditions Group Seydlitz met up with II Army Corps in the Demiansk Pocket and reestablished the Ramushevo corridor (Glantz, 2001).
Late Apr 1942
Some days before 23 Apr 1942 General Vlasov, Meretskov’s deputy, replaced the ailing General Klykov as commander of 2nd Shock Army (Glantz, 2001).
By the end of Apr 1942 mud forced the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts to abandon their offensives (Glantz, 2001).
23 Apr 1942
The Stavka reorganised the forces in the Leningrad area (Glantz, 2001). The Volkhov Front was merged into the Leningrad Front, also this larger formation retained a “Leningrad Group of Forces” and a “Volkhov Group of Forces”.
Leningrad Group of Forces: 23rd, 42nd and 55th Armies, and the Coastal and Neva Operational Groups.
Volkhov Group of Forces: 8th, 54th, 4th, 2nd Shock, 59th and 52nd Armies, 4th and 6th Guards Rifle and 13th Cavalry Corps.
1 May 1942
With summer came soaring temperatures (40 º C), short nights (2330 hours to 0130 hours), and mosquitoes (Scurr, 1980).
German 58th Infantry Division and the 4th SS Police Division linked up to the north of the Volkhov pocket (Scurr, 1980).
Subsequently, the German XXXVIII Corps attacked the pocket from the south (Scurr, 1980). As part of these operations, elements of the 250th (Blue) Division were provisionally aggregated to the German 126th Division.
3 – 20 May 1942
The Russians repeatedly attacked the Ramushevo corridor to the Demiansk Pocket, but failed to close it (Glantz, 2001).
8 – 10 May 1942
The Regimental HQ of 2nd Para Regiment of 7th Flieger Division set up in the village of Lipovka (Lucas, 1988). No. 5 Company of the anti-aircraft machine-gun battalion was located in a wood southwest of the village – as local defence. On 8 May 1942 the Russians tried to break through at Lipovka. A massive barrage preceded the swarms of Russian infantry. The machine gunners of the local defence platoons were sent forward to reinforce 2nd Battalion but were attacked by Russian aircraft whilst still in the village. Only 20 men made it forward. A tank escorted them but got stuck in the thick mud of the forest path. At 1700 hours the local defence platoons made it to a forward company, which had been reduced to six men. For two days the battalion were surrounded and fought off Russian attacks. Supply troops were forced to man the line. The AA machine gunners with 2nd Battalion were ordered back to Lipovka for instructions and fought off Russian ground and air attacks on their journey.
13 – 21 May 1942
The Germans counter attacked on the Volkhov, including 21st Infantry Division and the attached Fallschirmjaeger (Lucas, 1988).
13 May 1942
Some tanks and assault guns joined the 2nd Para Regiment and helped seal the penetrations made by the Russians over the preceding week (Lucas, 1988).
14 May 1942
On 14 May the commander of 21st Infantry Division ordered the remnants of 2nd Para Regiment to attack again (Lucas, 1988). Despite promises of artillery and Stuka support the attack preparation was a grand total of six shells. At 0600 hours the Fallschirmjaeger started their slog across the 700 m of marshy ground toward the enemy. The company’s were much reduced, No. 5 Company of the anti-aircraft machine-gun battalion having only 40 men split into two platoons. Once the firing started the Jaegers took the first line of trenches and pushed on to three knocked out tanks about 300 m beyond (2 x T-34 and one “double turret tank” so possibly a version of the T-26). The Russians of the main trench line then counter attacked. Within 3 hours the Jaeger had suffered 50% casualties. The threat of outflanking forced the Germans to retreat. By 1700 hours they had driven off two more Russian attacks, but were back in their original positions. Platoons were down to less than 8 men.
20 May – 10 Jul 1942
From 20 May to early Jul 1942 Vlasov’s 2nd Shock Army repeatedly tried, and failed, to escape from encirclement (Glantz, 2001).
17-24 May 1942
The Russians again repeatedly attacked the Ramushevo corridor to the Demiansk Pocket, but failed to close it (Glantz, 2001).
17-25 May 1942
Battle of Kharkov. (?? which one ??)
30 – 31 May
After a delay due to heavy rains the German I and XXXVIII Army Corps began a determined effort to close the neck of the Volkhov Pocket (Glantz, 2001). I Army Corps cut route Erika at 0130 hours on 31 May. By 1200 hours the two corps had a continuous front facing east and their westward facing front was established later in the day.
End May 1942
The front line in the sector of the Northwestern Front stabilized along the Lovat River (Glantz, 2001).
4 Jun 1942
The now trapped 2nd Shock Army made desperate attempts to break out eastward (Glantz, 2001). German reports described the attacking soldiers as “drunk”.
5 Jun 1942
Other Russian forces attacked the German cordon from the east, but 2nd Shock Army remained trapped (Glantz, 2001).
8 Jun 1942
The Stavka reestablished the Volkhov Front, separate from the Leningrad Front (Glantz, 2001).
Mid Jun 1942
The Russian made several failed attempts to free 2nd Shock Army (Glantz, 2001).
21 Jun 1942
The much reduced Volkhov pocket was attacked from north, west and south (Scurr, 1980). At dawn on 21 Jun a battle group under the German Colonel Burke attacked the southern flank through thickly wooded and marshy terrain. Burke’s group comprised:
- The Valentine Battalion (German) – northwest of Dolgovo
- III/262 Battalion, 250th (Blue) Division – on eastern bank of River Keresti
- A Flemish Battalion – west of Ossiya
- 250 Reconnaissance Group, 250th (Blue) Division – north and west of Bolshoye Samoshie.
III/262 Battalion thrust forward 3.5 km, but the Valentine and Flemish Battalions advanced more slowly leaving the flank of the III/262 Battalion exposed (Scurr, 1980). In the absence of their allies, III/262 Battalion was halted by Russian machine gun fire. After bringing up anti-tank guns the III/262 Battalion pushed forward again, despite fierce opposition. By 1600 hours the battalion had lost 80 men, but had reached the River Ossianka to the west of Maloye Samoshie, far ahead of its flanking units. Meanwhile the 250 Reconnaissance Group had run into strong Russian defences and was ordered to withdraw.
22 Jun 1942
In danger of being cut off the III/262 Battalion was ordered back to its start line (Scurr, 1980). Mines and Russian harassment causes nine more deaths and 67 wounded. Meanwhile 1st and 2nd Squadrons of the 250 Reconnaissance Group suffered 50% casualties in unsuccessful attacks against Russian positions near Maloye Samoshie.
23 Jun 1942
Burke’s group went in again, although this time the Germans and Flemings were given orders to push ahead at any cost, and not leave the Spanish to fight alone (Scurr, 1980). South of Maloye Samoshie German Stukas pounded the zone ahead of the advancing 250 Reconnaissance Group. Supported by four Tigers of the Heavy Panzer Battalion 502, the Reconnaissance Group forced the Russians out of their outer defensive line. To the south-west, the III/262 battalion took hundreds of prisoners in several encounters with the Russians. Three companies (9th, 10th, 12th) of III/262 battalion flushed out scattered Russian units on the east bank of the River Keresti, while the 11th Company pushed northward to link up with the 266th Norwegian Battalion advancing from the north-west.
25 Jun 1942
At midday the III/262 Battalion and 250 Reconnaissance Group put the final, and successful, assault on Maloye Samoshie (Scurr, 1980).
28 Jun 1942
After three more days of clearing woods and marsh, the Volkhov pocket was liquidated (Scurr, 1980). The Spanish had suffered 274 casualties, but captured 5,097 prisoners and 46 pieces of artillery.
The Germans captured 48,000 men from 2nd Shock Army during June (Glantz, 2001). They captured Vlasov himself on 12 Jul.
Start of German summer offensive in Russia.
3 Jul 1942
Germans capture Sebastopol and hence the Crimea (Scurr, 1980).
25 Jul 1942
Germans secure Rostov, the gateway to the Caucasus (Scurr, 1980).
10 – 21 Aug 1942
The Russians again attacked the Ramushevo corridor to the Demiansk Pocket, but failed to close it (Glantz, 2001).
19 Aug – 20 Oct 1942
Siniavino Offensive Operation (Glantz, 2001).
6 Sep 1942
German Sixth Army invested Stalingrad.
7 Sep 1942
Spanish 250th (Blue) Division occupied front-line positions near Leningrad (Scurr, 1980) – they could see the city only 10 km away (Proctor, 1974). The Division was part of the XXIVth Corps (General Hansen) within the Eigtheenth Army (Colonel-General Lindemann). The Spanish occupied 29 km from Pushkin in the west to Krasny Bor in the east, a front facing the Soviet 56th, 73rd and 109th Infantry Divisions. The defensive work left by the German 121st Infantry Division didn’t impress the Spaniards as it contained only a thin continuous line of works with wire entanglements; the position lacked sufficient depth and mines. The Spaniards preferred a series of strong points with interlocking support fire. There was only one particularly strongpoint, El Bastion, defending the Moscow-to-Leningrad highway.
15 – 16 Sep 1942
The Russians again attacked the Ramushevo corridor to the Demiansk Pocket, but failed to close it (Glantz, 2001).
18 Nov 1942
Russian winter offensive opened.
19-20 Nov 1942
Russian armour cut off the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad. Planned German offensive against Leningrad was cancelled.
End of Nov 1942
Temperature dropped, snow came, and rivers in the zone of the 250th (Blue) Division – Ishora and Slavianka began to freeze (Scurr, 1980).
12 Dec 1942
Failed German attempt to relieve Stalingrad.
12 – 30 Jan 1943
Operation Iskra penetrated the Leningrad blockade (Glantz, 2001).
The German forces of Army Group North south of Lake Ladoga were crushed in a Russian vice; as the Russian 57th Army (Leningrad Front) advanced east from inside the circle, the 2nd Shock Army (Volkhov Front) advances westward to meet them (?? probably Erickson or Beevor ??).
1 Jan 1943
LIV Army Corps of Eighteenth Army comprised the 250th (Blue) Division, 2 SS Police Infantry Brigade, and 5th Mountain Division (Glantz, 2001). Note: the 2 SS Police Infantry Brigade was different to the SS Police Division which was part of I Army Corps.
16 Jan 1943
Captain Patiño’s II/269 Infantry Battalion was selected to help the Germans resist the Soviet breakthrough attempts (Scurr, 1980). 20 trucks drove the 800 men of the battalion to Mga in the north-west
18 Jan 1943
Siege of Leningrad is broken when the 57th Army meets the 2nd Shock Army.
21 Jan 1943
II/269 battalion advanced from Mga through woods towards Poselok where it relieved a badly mauled German battalion from the 162nd Regiment (Scurr, 1980).
22 Jan 1943
II/269 battalion took up their front line positions at 0300 hours (Scurr, 1980). Unfortunately these positions lacked trenches, and the Spaniards sought what little shelter they could behind trees, logs and mounds of snow. At dawn the Russians bombarded the improvised positions – Russian artillery, Katyusha rockets, and Sturmovick fighter-bombers raged at the Spanish troops. Russian infantry followed the barrage with 5th company in the centre taking the brunt of the attack. Many of the defenders were killed including Lieutenant Acosta, the company commander. As the Russians closed in the 5th company fixed bayonets and charged the enemy masses. The Russians were driven off, but only 1/4 of the company were still standing. 5th company drove off two further attacks before retiring in the early afternoon 500 m to the battalion command post. 6th company on their left were also forced to retire. 7th company on the right fought doggedly losing many casualties including the commander – Captain Massip. The 7th had only 40 effectives, out of 200, were in the ranks when at 1530 hours the company was ordered to withdraw behind the German 366th Regiment to their right.
23 Jan 1943
At 0000 hours the 200 remaining men of II/269 battalion counter-attacked (Scurr, 1980). By 1000 hours 5th and 6th companies had recaptured their positions of the day before. This, however, just meant they became surrounded and suffered artillery, mortar, and infantry attacks until relieved at midnight by a German unit. The battalion was down to 70 effectives.
25 Jan 1943
Captain Patiño was ordered to supply 60 of the remaining 70 effectives in II/269 Battalion to defend a threatened sector (Scurr, 1980). Lieutenant Soriano led this group and held off several Russian attacks.
26 Jan 1943
A Russian shell wounded Captain Patiño and five other Spanish officers, leaving Lieutenant Soriano sole effective officer in II/269 Battalion (Scurr, 1980). By the end of the day Soriano had only 29 men, however, the Russians had also suffered heavily and relative peace settles on the battlefield..
28 Jan 1943
Lieutenant Soriano and the remnants of the II/269 Battalion withdrew from the front line (Scurr, 1980).
30 Jan 1943
II/269 Battalion rejoined the 250th (Blue) Division (Scurr, 1980). From 800 men in 20 trucks they were reduced to 28 men in one.
Late Jan 1943
Fearing a German attempt to close the narrow gap, the Soviets attacked the German held Siniavino Heights (??). When this attack failed the Soviets decided to take the indirect approach advancing towards Mga, the critical supply head supporting the heights. The western arm of the attack will be centred at Krasny Bor. The threatened Spanish respond by moving men of the 250 Mobile Reserve Battalion, assault engineers Group and Reconnaissance Group into the Krasny Bor sector.
2 Feb 1943
Russians capture Stalingrad; German 6th army lost.
4 – 19 Feb 1943
Staraia Russa Offensive Operation (Glantz, 2001).
7 Feb 1943
The first Soviet train heads for Leningrad after a gap of 526 days.
Just before midnight on 9 Feb 1943, General Kleffel of Lth Corps warned General Esteban Infantes of an imminent Soviet attack on the exposed Spanish positions at Krasny Bor on the eastern bank of the Ishora river. The Soviets had massed an impressive force (over 4 Divisions) to crush the Spanish defenders and clear the main Moscow-to-Leningrad highway upon which the eastern lines of the division were positioned.
At 06.40 on 10 Feb (subsequently known as “Black Wednesday”) a massive Soviet bombardment hit the Spanish sector. Massed Soviet infantry and armour then flooded the Spanish lines. During the course of the day the Spanish suffered 3,645 casualties from the 5,608 men deployed in the Krasny Bor sector = 75% casualties. They, however, inflicted about 11,000 Soviet casualties, a high price for the relatively small piece of land gained.
Hostilities continued in the Ishora sector, with the Spanish taking about 30 casualties a day.
15 – 28 Feb 1943
Operation Polar Star / Demiansk Offensive (Glantz, 2001).
21 Feb 1943
German winter offensive in Russia around Kharkov.
19 Mar 1943
The last full scale Soviet attack in the Ishora sector. Under cover of a heavy artillery bombardment, successive tank and infantry assaults were repulsed by the Spanish at Putrolovo and the paper factory.
Following this attack the area settled into the routine of trench warfare. Daily artillery and mortar attacks. From Mar to Sep the Spanish conducted monthly company sized attacks on the enemy lines. Normally preceeded by a 5 minute artillery barrage, the infantry and assault engineer raiders had about 40 minutes to blow up bunkers and fortifications, destroy armaments and take prisoners. The Soviets responded by section strength attacks at night with the aim of capturing sentries. Occasionally the Russians mounted larger assaults of 200-300 men – usually ending in major losses for themselves.
The German 254th Division relieved the 250th (Blue) Division from its positions in the Ishora River sector. This left the 250th (Blue) Division covering a 21 km front from west of Pushkin to join up with the 254th in the east. Facing them were four Soviet Divisions: 72nd, 56th, 109th, and 189th.
During the summer months the Spanish constructed three lines of fortifications as a precaution against an expected Soviet offensive.
22 Jun – 22 Aug 1943
Mga-Siniavino Offensive Operation (Glantz, 2001).
5 Jul 1943
Operation Zitadelle begins.
5 Oct 1943
Soviet artillery bombarded the positions of the 9th company of the III/269 to the east of Pushkin for 5.5 hours. The Russian Battalion that then attacked the company’s positions was repulsed with heavy losses; they left 200 dead when they retreated at mid-day.
The adjoining I/269 repulsed a second Soviet attack.
Later that day the 250th (Blue) Division received orders to withdraw from the line for rest and training.
18 Oct 1943
The 250th (Blue) Division handed over their positions to the German 81st Division. Aside from those who volunteered to continue in service as part of the Spanish Volunteer Legion or “Blue Legion”, the men were gradually returned to Spain.
23 Dec 1943
The 250th (Blue) Division left active service.
4 Jan 1944
Russians cross 1939 Polish eastern border.
14 Jan – 1 Mar 1944
Leningrad-Nogorod Strategic Offensive Operation (Glantz, 2001).
4 Mar 1944
Russian offensive in Ukraine opens.
10 Jun – 9 Aug 1944
Vyborg-Petrozavodsk Strategic Offensive Operation (Glantz, 2001).
22 Jun 1944
Large scale Russian offensive against German Army Group Centre.
24 – 30 Jul 1944
Narva Offensive Operation (Glantz, 2001).
4-6 Aug 1944
Finland and Bulgaria surrender.
23 Aug 1944
12 Jan 1945
Start of Russian winter offensive. East Prussia reached by 23rd.
See my sources page for a more complete list.
Cody, J. F. (1953). 21 Battalion. On-line http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2-21Ba.html. War History Branch, Department of Internal Affairs. New Zealand.
Erickson, J. (1993). The Road to Stalingrad: Stalin’s war with Germany: Volume One. London: Weidenfeld.
Glantz, D. M. (2001). The Siege of Leningrad 1941-1944: 900 Days of Terror. Cassell.
Kleinfeld, Gerald, R. and Lewis, A. Tambs. (1979). Hitler’s Spanish Legion : The Blue Division In Russia. Southern Illinois University Press.
?? TODO ?? I’ve marked up this book but I’ve got to add details to the timeline.
Lucas, J. (1988). Storming Eagles: German Airborne force in World War II. London: Guild.
Proctor, R. L. (1974). Agony of a Neutral: Spanish-German wartime relations and “The blue Division”. Idaho research foundation inc.
Scurr, J. (1980). Germany’s Spanish Volunteers 1941-45. Osprey.