Jäger Kopold Title

Unternehmen "Barbarossa" Part 2
The campaign against the Soviet Union Continues

After endless marches and continued fighting early in September 1941 Oberjäger Kopold with Gebirgs-Jäger-Regiment 98 reached the river Dnjepr at the town of Berislaw. During the night of the 2nd to 3rd September 1941, and despite several determined attacks by the Soviet Air Force, engineers of 
- Pionier-Bataillon 46
- Gebirgs-Pionier-Bataillon 54 (The engineers of the 1. Gebirgsdivison)
- Pionier-Bataillon 240
- 10 Romanian Bridge Company
managed to build a 431m pontoon bridge across the river. That night Oberjäger Kopold’s Gebirgs-Jäger-Regiment 98 were the first unit to dash towards the eastern bank of the Dnjepr. 

Instead of the seizure of Moscow the Soviet capitol, the industrial area of the Donez district, the Caucasus and finally the oil fields around Baku at the Caspian Sea had become the most prominent objective in the campaign due to Hitler's personal orders. This is why the direction of the further advance of the 1. Gebirgs-Division turned from south-east to north-east towards the industrial center of Stalino. 

The next Soviet line of defense on the advance route of the 1. Gebirgs-Division was the heavily defended anti-tank ditch near Timoschewka. On the 20th September 1941 the 1. Gebirgs-Division along with the 4. Gebirgs-Division launched their first assault against this artificial barrier. After some days of fierce combat at the anti-tank ditch it was decided that both divisions should take part in the invasion of the Crimean peninsula and that there place in the front-line at the ditch should be taken over by the 1st, 2nd and 4th Romanian Mountain Brigade. On the 24th of September 1941, after handing their foxholes and trenches over to the Romanian mountain troops, the Gebirgsjägers marched off towards the south-east, only to be hurriedly ordered back when the Soviets launched a counterattack against the Romanian sector that put the Romanians in grave danger. 

The Gebirgsjägers managed to seal off the Soviet break-through and on the 29th September started their own counterattack. On 5th October, after the Russian defenders had deserted the anti-tank ditch, both Gebirgs-Divisions started the pursuit of the retreating Russian forces. 

Before the Gebirgsjägers reached the industrial area around the Stalino, they again took part in a large encirclement battle near Mogila Tokmak. When this battle came to an end on 10th October 1941, another 100,000 Russians, 212 tanks and 672 artillery pieces had been captured. But also again the Gebirgsjägers had paid a bloody toll since the crossing of the river Dnjepr. Between the 6th September and the 10th October, 573 Gebirgsjägers (30 officers, 543 Oberjäger and Jäger) of the 1. Gebirgs-Division were killed and 1,975 wounded. 

From the start of the campaign in the East on the 22nd June 1941 till the end of the battle of Mogila Tomak on 10th October 1941, Oberjäger Kopold and his Kameraden had already marched and fought 2,600km through a never ending country that Hitler had expected to defeat in just another Blitzkrieg. 

Major-General Steets, who in 1941 as a Major was the Ia (Staff officer for operations) of the 1. Gebirgsdivision, provides some further statistical figures on the logistical problems the division encountered during the initial phase of the campaign in the East. 

The following figures which are taken from Major-General Steets’ book „Gebirgsjäger in der Nogaischen Steppe“ (published 1956) covers the time between the 6th of September (Crossing of the Dnjepr) and the 10th of October (Battle of Mogila Tokmak ended) = 34 days of combat:

1,050 km  of cable for field telephones laid
622  radio messages received

Medical services
2,547   wounded soldiers attended
596  cases of various forms of illness treated
10  Medic officers lost (killed or wounded)
47  Medic NCO’s lost (killed or wounded)
33  stretcher bearers lost (killed or wounded)

Bakery company of the 1. Gebirgsdivison
240,000kg  of flour milled
412,000kg  of bread baked

Butchery company of the 1. Gebirgsdivison
31,000kg of meat prepared
6,000kg of sausages prepared

Rations detachment of the 1. Gebirgsdivison
590,000 rations distributed
43,000kg chocolate distributed
3,800,000 cigarettes distributed
206,200 cigars distributed
24,441  bottles of liquor distributed

Veterinary branch
1,988  wounded/sick horses and mules treated

6,175,000 rifle cartridges fired
291,000kg artillery ammunition fired

844, 000 Lt. of fuel consumed

Field maintenance
1,121  cars, trucks and motor-cycles repaired (some of them several times)

On the 10th of October 1941 about 75% of the divisions motor vehicles were worn to a point where they would normally have had to undergo a general overhaul. But what were normal conditions on the Ostfront. 
And this was still the initial phase of the inevitable disaster ahead.

To be continued......




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