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Red Banner for forcing Oder in Jan 1945


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Hello,

This Red Banner order 189449 was awarded to First Sergeant Nikolay Ivanovich Lihomanov, a SU-76 driver-mechanic of 1st troop, 1st squad, 8th SABR (Self-propelled Artillery BRigade), 5th Guard Army (as of Jan 1945). 

The N.I.Lihomanov distinguished himself by being in the first wave to establish one of the bridgeheads after forcing Oder river on 23/Jan/1945 at the end of the Vistula-Oder Offensive. Was involved in widtholding the bridgehead agains intensive German counterattacks in the following days. 

Below are the photographs of N.I.Lihomanov and the crew of his self-propelled gun. Fotos are taken app. in February 1944, i.e. a year before the described Oder forcing took place. Lihomanov survived the war and worked as head of tractor park at the agricultural farm. He was born 05/May/1919, and died in 1963 of tuberculosis.  

I will add more material shortly: the citation for the order, description of forcing Order on 23 January 1945. 

BKZ 189449 front copy.jpgBKZ 189449 back copy.jpg

 

N.I.Lihomanov (ca. Feb/1944)

Screen Shot 2016-10-08 at 14.11.27.png

N.I.Lihomanov ia on the right.

Screen Shot 2016-10-08 at 14.12.37.png

Edited by Egorka
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Here is the citation for Lihomanov's order. 

Originally he was recommended by the squad commander for the Order of Glory III class, which is a lower in rank award compare to Red Banner. This recomendation was approved by the Brigade commander Colonel Kochin (see his image below). But armour corp commander of 1st Ukrainian Front General Colonel General Novikov changed it and awarded Lihomanov with Red Banner, recognising significance of establishing bridgehead on the western bank of Oder river. Generally speaking, Lihomanov was a quite decorated service man considering his rank - he was not an officer. 

Here comes the description of personal feat and merits form the citation:

  • First Sergeant N.I.Lihomanov is disciplined, brave and skilled mechanic-driver. His vehicle covered 1300km in battle conditions without a single mechanical failure since it was taken into service. Thanks to professional care taken, the engine is in perfect condition despite that it  already has 185 machine hours.
  • During the offensive near village Chrzanów, Poland 12/Jan/1945 and in the later offensive advances, comrade Lihomanov skilfully maneuvering on the battlefield evaded enemy artillery fire and facilitated his crew with delivering direct fire at enemy position. During the offensive (remark: Vistula-Oder offensive) 12 - 23 January 1945, his crew destroyed 2 field cannons, one 85mm truck mounted AT gun with its supplies, 3 mortar positions, 1 heavy machine-gun position, and up to 25 enemy troops.
  • Comrade Lihomanov with the crew was the first to cross Oder 23/Jan/1945 near Dobern (remark: now Dobrzen, Poland) and entered the battle on the western bank. There his self propelled gun destroyed 1 personal carrier and unto 1 troops
  • Recommend First Sergeant Lihomanov for the state Order of Glory III class. Commander of the 1st artillery squad, Captain Postnikov.

   citation BKZ 189449 part 1.jpg  citation BKZ 189449 part 2.jpg

Edited by Egorka
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The events on 23/Jan were takin place at the end of the Vistula-Oder Offensive operation, in which in a little over two weeks, the Red Army advanced 500km from the Vistula to the Oder. It was essential to secure bridgeheads on the western banks of Oder to secure further course of offensive.

Theoverview map of Vistula-Oder offensive. The path of 5th Guard Army is marked as well as the bridgehead location. 

map 4.jpg

 

Bridgehead location:bridgehead .jpg

 

The view across Oder at the bridgehead location.bridgehead 2016.jpg

Edited by Egorka
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8 SABR consisted of 3 squads plus support units (Brigade Staff, Headquarters company, Recon company, Motorized machinegun company, AA company, Technical support company). 

Each of the 3 squads consisted of 21 SPGs SU-76M, and was devided into 4 troop by 5 SPGs each + 1 squad commander vehicle. N.I.Lihomanov served in the 1st squad, 1st troop. This is known from documents, can also be read on the insignia on Lihomanovs SPG (see photo above). F.ex. on this foto you see SPG from 8 SABR, which belongs to 2nd squad (2 bars), 3rd troop (3 triangles). 

Screen Shot 2016-10-08 at 14.17.50.png

This one belonged to 2nd squad, 4th troop.

Screen Shot 2016-10-08 at 14.18.21.png

Here is the light tank T-70 of the Brigade commander Colonel Kochin. His tanks insignia does not have squad and troop marks.

Screen Shot 2016-10-08 at 14.13.15.png

These and some other photos courtesy tankfront.ru 

Edited by Egorka
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Under pursuit of the enemy, the SPG squads were attached to different Rifle units and were under their tactical control. The 1st squad under command of Captain Markovkin was attached to 178 Guard Rifle Regiment, 58 Guard Rifle Division, 34 Guards Rifle Corp. 

This "Markovkin's group", as called in the reports, consisted of 6 SPGs, which seems to indicate that only 6 out of 21 SPGs were left in the 1st squad at the end of the Vistila-Oder offensive. 

These SPG were used to carry SPG-borne infantry to facilitate the pursuit. In the Brigade report conclusion was the SU-76 were exceptionally effective in such capacity. Being light and having enough motor power they could carry 12-15 troops with their gear in any road conditions, thus each replacing 2 ordinary personal carriers. Markovkin's group og 6 SPG was specially mentioned as being successful. 

The 8 SABR report briefly describes the course of actions of Markovkin's group, which lead to subsequent  forcing of Oder on 23 Jan 1945:

  • 22/Jan 15:30 - two SPGs from the group reseived objective to advance to eastern bank of Oder from Turawa (app. 10km). No active enemy resistance except air attacks. 4 other SPG were ordered to different objective. Seems Lihomanov was operating one of these 2 SPGs.
  • 23/Jan 04:30 - Markovkin's goup reached easter Oder bank together with the infantry from 175th Guards Rifle regiment. It's objective was rot facilitate the river crossing. 
  • 23/Jan 17:00 - temporary crossing was established and part of the infantry managed to cross to the western bank, but the crossing then was destroyed by enemy air bombardement. The enemy delivered intensive artillery and mortar fire. 
  • 23/Jan 19:30 - 6 SPGs crossed to western bank.
  • 23/Jan 20:30  - SPGs reached Eisenau and held the line until 25/Jan. During this period MArkovkin's group repelled several counterattacks inflicting following damage to the enemy: 2 tanks and 2 personal carriers destroyed, up to 150 troops. Group's losses: 1 SPG burnt, 1 damaged, no personal losses. 
  • By the end 25/Jan the group reached Waldhoff.

ODER bridging 8SABR #1.jpg

 

Edited by Egorka
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Thank you! But I not done yet. :) Since SPG were tactically attached to the rifle regiment, I will also present it's battle journal, which adds a couple of extra details on the course of events. 

And if you want to research Soviet awards from your collection - write me a PM. There is often an interestig story to uncover.

 

Edited by Egorka
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12 hours ago, Leaftree said:

I'll echo the others, outstanding job on the research.

Most of the time when I try and follow up on the towns/locations mentioned in award sheets, I can't find them.

Hej. Thanks!

You are right about the names. First of all they change. Worse the names change from one language to another.

Secondly, like in this particular research, I need to understand the transliterated name. The names in these Russian reports are German names, but written in Russian. Phonetically it is not always 1:1 match. :) That is why it is so much fun. I feel like Sherlock.

Edited by Egorka
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This is the revised bridgehead capture diagram based on the 8 SABR and 34 Guard Rifle Regiment report (incl. the battle report by 178th Guard Rifle Regiment). The SPGs were tactically attached to this 178 Gv.SP and followed it's advance.

bridgehead.png

The 178th rifle regiments battle report does not mention the SPGs, but adds some details to the 8 SABR report.

On the night 22-23 Jan, a group of 60 riflemen with radio attempted to cross the river, supported by rifle, artillery and mortar fire. But was met with dense heavy machine-gun and small caliber AA fire. The first forcing was not successful. After the dark, 18:00 the regiment moved to Dobern, where 175th Rifle Regiment was preparing for crossing, and crossed right after 175th (with the attached SPGs). By app. 21:00 it was at the position 1.5km north of Eisenau, and was preparing for charge. At 03:00 the regiment shouting "Hooray!" charged Eisenau and by 08:00 24/Jan took it. In the subsequent 3 hours the regiment (with SPG support) repelled three German counter attacks (supported by 2 tanks and 2 APCs). Each time Germans reached the outskirts of Eisenau, but were thrown off with large losses. Regiments losses: 15 KIA, 55 WIA. Enemy losses: 125 killed, 30 captured, 1 tank destroyed.

The 178th continued advance and by 05:00 25/Jan reached vicinity of Folwark Waldhof. At 17:00 25/Jan the enemy counters attacked regiments left neighbour (50 Guard Rifle Regiment, 15 Guards RD) and routed it. 178th supported its neighbor (SPGs must have been involved too as they were located near Waldhof). Losses: 12 WIA.

 

The map from 34 Gu. Rifle Corps report. Position by 17:00 25/Jan (after the German counter attack routed 50 Gv. SP). SPGs location is marked.

58 GvSD map 25jan1945 part.jpg

 

And this is the actions of 50 Gv. SP and subsequent German counter attack by 20 SS Rifle Division.

50 GvSP map 25jan1945 copy.jpg

 

 

By 30/Jan the bridgehead was expanded as seen in the 34 Guard Rifle Corps:

map 34 GvSK 30jan1945.png

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