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Russian battlefield memories

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Joined: 13 Apr 2006
Posts: 390
Location: Midwest

PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:40 pm    Post subject: Russian battlefield memories Reply with quote

Very recently I was sent an e-mail with an interesting first hand account of how American equipment fared when used by the Russians in WW2.

It is worth looking at.

My primary reason for looking there was the result of a conversation I had with a friend regarding the opinion of some English rules writers regarding the "Poor" performance of American equipment and soldiers during WW2. I find that opinion interesting considering how the UK fragmented their production and continued to use obsolete weapons systems late into the war. Prime example being the 2 pounder AT gun fitted to almost all the tanks that fought in Egypt and Lybia, but that is not the purpose of my post, rather it is to make available the recollection of Russian tankers, infantrymen, pilots, etc... for our enlightenment.


Here is also a quote from a Russian tanker...

They delivered the Churchill later.

- Yes, a bit later. After 1943 we largely declined British tanks because they had significant deficiencies. In particular, they had 12-14 h.p. per ton of weight at a time when good tanks had 18-20 h.p. per ton. Of these three British tanks, the best was the Valentine produced in Canada. Its armor was streamlined but more importantly, it featured a long-barreled 57mm main gun. My unit switched over to American Shermans at the end of 1943. After the Kishinev Operation our corps became the 9th Guards Mechanized Corps. I missed to tell you that every corps consisted of four brigades. Our mechanized corps had three mechanized brigades and one tank brigade, in which I fought. A tank corps had three tank brigades and one mechanized brigade. Yes, we had Shermans in our brigade at the end of 1943.

I worked with a representative from Jagaur who had the same attitude as the guy mentioned in the next segment...

- Well, there were always problems. In general, the Matilda was an unbelievably worthless tank! I will tell you about one of the Matilda's deficiencies that caused us a great deal of trouble. Some fool in the General Staff planned an operation and sent our corps to the area of Yelnya, Smolensk, and Roslavl. The terrain there was forested swamp. The Matilda had skirts along the sides. The tank was developed primarily for operations in the desert. These skirts worked well in the desert-the sand passed through the rectangular slots in them. But in the forested swamps of Russia the mud packed into the space between the tracks and these side skirts. The Matilda transmission had a servomechanism for ease of shifting. In our conditions this component was weak, constantly overheated, and then failed. This was fine for the British. By 1943 they had developed a replacement unit that could be installed simply by unscrewing four mounting bolts, pulling out the old unit, and installing the new unit. It did not always work this way for us. In my battalion we had Senior Sergeant (Starshina) Nesterov, a former kolkhoz tractor driver (Kolkhoz is sort of farm - Valera), in the position of battalion mechanic. In general each of our tank companies had a mechanic and Nesterov was it for the battalion. At our corps level we had a representative (whose name I have forgotten) of the British firm that produced these tanks. At one time I had it written down, but when my tank was hit everything I had in it burned up -photographs, documents, and notebook. We were forbidden to keep notes at the front, but I did it on the sly. Anyway, this British representative constantly interfered with our efforts to repair separate components of the tank. He said, "This has a factory seal. You should not tinker with it!" We were supposed to take out a component and install a new one. Nesterov made a simple repair to all these transmissions. One time the British representative came up to Nesterov and asked him, "At which university did you study?" And Nesterov replied, "At the kolkhoz!"

Perhaps something interesting can be learned from this site and the memories of men who were there...

"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster." - Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, 1844-1900
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Joined: 25 Jul 2006
Posts: 74

PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Will, this site hasn't changed much since I saw it a while ago (probably about 6 months or so?) and I still have the same query. The factual info appears to be valid but there is something that the translators have done which does not fit with the interviewees and the way that they express themselves. This is a little thing and does not detract from the interesting aspects of the contents but.........

I will ask my wife to check the Russian version and see what we find.

I wonder if we should have a listing of sites of relevance to different theatres etc, it would be pretty big what with everything out there and a pain to keep current as well!Sad but it might be of use for us rather than each individual having their own favourite sites etc.


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