SS-Division Wiking at Rostov July 1942
- Published: 17 December 2010 17 December 2010
- Last Updated: 07 April 2012 07 April 2012
Rostov, with 525.000 inhabitants (at that time) was an important city on the Don river. There crossed the river the only rail road leading toward the Caucasus with its large quantity of oil. Another rail road runs toward Stalingrad, 400 kilometers far to east.
Besides, Rostov was a vital railroad hub; from the west, the line Dniepropetrovsk-Taganrog; from the north the line Voronezh-Vorosilograd, which in the Lichaja region turned east leading towards Stalingrad; from the south came in the lines from Novorossijsk, Armavir and Tuapse; to the southeast, in the Salsk region, came in the line from Stalingrad.
Having started the advance with its northern wing, the 17 German AOK jumped off with its southern wing on the 20 july in order to attack Rostov from the west and northwest and conquest the city in conjuction with the 1 Pz Army.
But the SS Wiking division could not advance as a whole due to the shortage of vehicles, only one motorized detachment could be organized as follows:
Sturmbanfuhrer Dieckman (Cdr I / SS Reg. Germania)
I / SS Reg. Germania.
SS Pz Abteilung 5.
III / SS AR 5 (2 batteries of 105 mm and 1 battery of 155 mm).
10 / SS AR 5 (105 mm cannon battery)
1 company of engineers.
1 AA platoon (4 / 6 MG of 20 mm).
On 20 july the troops of the XXXXIX Mountain Army Corps had broken through the soviet defensive positions moving forward as far as 10 kilometers to the east. On 21 july the combat group “Dieckman” was ordered to advance along the north wing of the Mountain Army Corps, moving as far as possible toward the east in order to facilitate the movement of it.
The column moved on and having advanced 12 kilometers changed the direction heading northeast and passing through the locality of Vodianoie with the following disposition:
Advance guard: Cdr of SS Pz Abteilung 5 with one Pz company and half rifle company
Distance: two kilometers.
Main body: SS Sturmbanfuher Dieckman with the bulk of the troops. One tank platoon with one rifle squad (mounted) in each flank.
Distance: one kilometer.
Rearguard: one tank platoon with one rifle squad (mounted).
Roughly 10 kilometers after passing Vodianoie the vanguard exchanged fire with Russian positions located further to the east. The commander then ordered to pass around it. When the night fell the combat group took up an all-round position at the cross-road located 3 kilometers west of Stojakov. The position was organized in three rings, in the inner ring was placed the artillery, in the midst ring the tanks and the heavy weapons and in the outer ring was deployed the infantry. The perimeter included also a source of fresh water.
Attack on the first Russian position
On 22 july, in the morning, the combat group proceeded its advance. The vanguard just had left the last houses of Stojakov when was fired on by the Russian from some hills located to the south. The formation continued its advance up to one kilometer before the position, where the riflemen dismounted in order to attack on foot; but the sight of the tanks roaring forward caused the withdrawal of the Russian troops.
The vanguard proceeded then in deployed formation and shortly after that was fired upon again from enemy positions located two kilometers to the north of Sultan Saly. The infantry attack went over supported by the tanks, which moved ahead by bounds. But this time having reached a point 800 / 1000 meters before the posistions, some Russian antitank cannons opened fire striking two tanks (one disabled by hit on one of its track and the other set on fire, nevertheless both crews were rescued). The tanks moved back up to 1.500 meters from the positions in order to avoid the antitank fire. The commander of the combat group, on the spot, stopped the main body in a valley, 4 kilometers to the north of the enemy position and ordered the artillery commander to be ready to support the attack. The sturmbanfuhrer Dieckman (situated on the top of one tank’s turret could observe the trench’s lines running along the ouskirts of the town and scarcely manned so decided attack at once. Taking advantage of the presence of one air liaison officer, Sturmbanfuhrer Dieckman requested air support, which was granted.
About 17:00 hours, 36 stukas appeared roaring and dropped its bombs over the enemy trenchs and the neighbourhood of Sultan Saly, simultaneously the artillery and the infantry heavy weapons shelled and fired on the Russian positions. Making use of the fire suport furnished by the stukas, the artillery and the heavy weapons, the tanks with mounted riflemen reached the trenchs at great speed and then the infantry dismounted and cleared it. The mopping up operations lasted up to the 22:00 hours and when finished the combat group rested in an all-round position to the south of the town.
The breakthrough of the second defensive position
At that time the combat group commander could ascertain that:
The enemy in front of it were at least of battalion’s strenght.
Friendly forces (XXXIX Mountain Army Corps) had engaged strong hostiles forces along the line Krim-Tschaltir.
There were enemy forces of unknown strenght to the east and northeast.
The 13 Pz division was located between 10 / 20 kilometers toward the east and northeast of Rostow.
The combat group rested between the 23:00 hours and the 03:00 hours and then proceeded. About 04:00 hours and having reached the vanguard the point 93 (3 kilometers to the south of Sultan Saly) the situation had developed as follows:
West of the line Krim-tschaltir, roughly 10.000 / 15.000 were holding its defensive positions against the assault of the german infantry.
The combat group, in front of point 93 would be engaged by enemy troops in company strenght (200 - 300 men). These troops were in position about 8 kilometers off the Rostow ouskirts. An antitank ditch runs in front of it.
At the Trud factory (4 kilometers to the southeast of point 93) the Russian had organized one strong point.
There were movements of Russian troops toward the east, the german security troops there, could not get in contact with the 13 Pz division.
When the vanguard reached the point 93 was engaged in a firefight with the Russian troops. The riflemen dismounted and pushed forward; having advanced up to 800 meters of the enemy position, the lead elements checked the presence of one antitank ditch. The tank platoons seeked for a ford but without success. The infantry men suported by the fire of the tanks, 4 heavy machine guns and 2 mortars (81 mm) pressed on and conquisted the point 80, the Russian fled. Later the engineers blew up the walls of the antitank ditch allowing the armor to pass. About 07:00 hours the vanguard surpassed the point 80 and advanced up to leninawa, where was fired on by rifles, heavy weapons, antitank cannons and artillery. The Russian position was heavily defended and the ground up to the enemy line (800 meters) was coverless. When the commander arrived at point 80, he ordered that the artillery be placed in order to fire on the enemy.
The air support requested was denied. Then taking advantage of one recce plane that was overflying that area, the german commander requested the pilot the following:
-Frontage of the position.
-Wheter it was totally manned or not.
-passages through the anittank ditch.
About 11:00 AM the the pilot answered that:
-From Leninawa toward the northeast the position was manned.
-Roughly 2 kilometers toward south of the point 80, there is a bridge without security detachment, no troops can be seen nearby.
The commander in taking a daring resolution ordered a raid against the bridge; two rifle companies mounted over the tanks located in the same hollow. The artillery continued firing on the enemy, one of the batteries should follows the riders as soon as posssible.
The vanguard continued the exchange of fire with the foe in order to cover the action and avoid any countermeasure. SS sturmbanfuhrer Dieckman climbed up onto the tank battalion commander’s vehicle and pointing toward south ordered via radio: to reach the Tschaltir-Rostov road, from there to the east in order to seize the bridge located 5 kilometers west of Rostov.
The column advanced at great speed along the hollow, past the antitank ditch, reached the road and got through the bridge ( 9 kilometers from the starting point ) in less than 20 minutes. One engineers’ squad was left on the bridge dismounting the explosive charges. Having reached the objective, one rifle company reinforced with tanks attacked along the Russian position from southwest toward northeast cleaning it and allowing the vanguard, deployed near of Leninawa, to join with the bulk of the combat group.
The combat group then took up an all-round position where the road cross the rail road and patrols were detached to reconnoiter the surroundings.
Breakthrough the third defensive position and break into Rostov
About 14:00 the commander knew the following:
-The main Russian position (defeated shortly before) was cleaned of enemy troops.
-Toward the southeast, along the rail road and the edge of Rostov, the situation was unknown. Russian soldiers with heavy machine guns and infantry cannons had been detected.
-Toward the south, in the Sapadni area, own patrols met several Russian soldiers, who surrendered at once. In the same direction and along the edge of the city, an antitank ditch could be observed (5 meters deep and 6 to 8 meters width) also 40 to 60 riflemen with machine guns could be seen in the neirbourhood, deployed in the houses.
The commander decided then engaged his troops in the Sapadni direction and organized the combat group as follows:
-Assault group: commanded by the Tank battalion commanding officer (Mulhenkamp), with one tank squadron, one rifle company and 2/3 of the engineers company (with explosive charges). Its mission was to attack in the Rostov’s neibourhood direction, directly to the southeast of Sapadni.
-Support group: composed of the heavy weapon company of the 3rd battalion SS Rgt “Germania” and the artillery group (III / SS AR 5). Its task was to furnish fire support to the asssault group. The heavy weapons (machine guns, infantry cannons, antitank guns and mortars) were placed on the eastern edge of Sapadni; the two 105 mm batteries occupied fire positions to the south of the locality, with the mission of furnish direct fire against the houses in the edge of Rostov, located 1.500 meters ahead. The heavy battery (155 mm) and the cannons of 105 mm occupied fire positions to the west of Sapadni in order to furnish indirect fire support on Rostov and, if necessary on the river Don’s bridges.
-Reserve group: composed by one rifle company, one engineers platoon and one tank platoon located west of Sapadni with two tasks, one to reinforced and exploit the attack in the Rostov direction and another, to protect the artillery positions against attacks from the north and the west.
-Security group: composed by one rifle squad and one tank platoon in order to protect the bridge conquested on the road Tschaltir-Rostov and to block the roads leading to Krim and Tschaltir.
When the order was given, the assault group pressed forward up to 100 meters before the antitank ditch where they were fired upon with rifles and machine guns from the neibourhood’s houses; the machine guns were shooting especially from the windows. Since there was not antitank fire, the tanks approached up to 50 meters before the edge of the city and shot against the windows; protected by this fire, the riflemen past through the ditch and occupied the first houses. While the engineers were trying to build a passage through the antitank ditch, the reserve company was engaged and break into the city carrying on with they the artillery’s forward observers. This attack reached a hill (point 80) located 2 kilometers to the southwest of the railway station and roughly 1.500 meters before the river Don. On the spot an all-round position was organized and simultaneously arrived there, the artillery group and the heavy batteries (155 mm howitzers and 105 mm cannons) commanding officers. From this position, toward the south, could be observed the great swampy area and the towns of Koisug and Bataisk. Towards the east and on a big island formed by the river Don, two bridges where located (one road bridge and one rail road bridge). A big number of Russian troops trying to cross toward the south bank could be seen. To the souhtwest another men were building wooden rafts, surely there were the troops defeated at Krim-Tschaltir. The heavy batteries took the bridges under fire in order to break off the traffic, which they did. The light batteries were fired upon the Russian troops located toward the southwest.
Meanwhile the engineers allowed the tanks to pass through the antitank ditch and the tank battalion commanding officer with one tank squadron, one rifle company, some heavy weapons and two engineers platoons raced across the city towards the bridges in order to block and break off all the traffic through them. After nightfall this group got in contact with formations of the 13 Pz division, which had break into Rostov from the northeast. Between 16:00 and 18:00 hours, the following dispositive was adopted:
- An all-round position between the rail road bridge and the railway station under orders of the tank battalion commander. Links with the 13 Pz division’s troops (on the road bridge) should be maintained.
- -An all-round position at a point located 2 kilometers to the south of point 80’s hill, in order to check the road along the south Don river bank.
- An all-round position at point 80’s hill with the artillery and the bulk of the combat group.
The combat group had marched and fought during three days that seemed months. About 20:00 hours the orders had been accomplished and the defensive positions adopted. The following day arrived the infantry divisions advancing from Krim and Tschaltir. So with them and the 13 Pz division Rostov was mopped up and 10.000 prisoners were taken when the operation ended.
During the attack on the city itself, the combat group, suffered as casualties: 3 men killed in action and 12 wounded ( 2 seriously). The operations in order to clean the city lasted several days, block by block.
Rostov was an old city, occidental in aspect but it seemed that no one had maintained the buildings for the last 20 years. About the inhabitants: 1% were dressed as scandinavian workers; 24% were dressed with old but clean suits while the remainder 75% were dressed with old and ragged suits. In the squares only stalin’s statues were razed.