Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Battle of Kusk - 2nd Part

By early July the Germans had amassed hundreds of thousands of men along with 3000 tanks. Opposite them, the Russians had nearly 2 million men ready to commit to battle and over 5000 tanks! The Red Air Force controlled the skies and could provide overwhelming fire power in support of the Soviet ground forces. In addition to this, the Soviets had constructed 7 layers of defense to contain and repel the German advance. The stage was set for a dramatic German defeat rather than the war winning success Hitler had in mind.
                On July 5th, 1943 the battle began with a pre-dawn massive artillery barrage and an all out assault on the Soviet lines. Men and machines poured into the battle and losses were horrible on both sides. Estimates put several hundred tanks destroyed the very first day with thousands upon thousands of men killed or wounded. After almost a week of bitter fighting the Germans had pushed nearly 20 miles into the Soviet’s defensive lines but it wasn’t quite enough to make the desperately needed breakthrough. The town of Prokhorovka was next under German attack due to its strategic railway junction.
                On July 12th, the largest tank battle in history began. The Red Army command staff knew that if the Germans took the town of Prokhorovka they could unhinge the entire Soviet defense. As a result of this, Russian troops were rushed to the town to aid in the defense. The new German Tigers and Panthers mauled the Soviet Fifth Guards Tank Army, inflicting a 50% casualty rate on the Russians. Despite this, the German’s lack of numbers soon began to show as the enormous losses suffered in the battle for Prokhorovka caused the attack to stall and then halt completely. The German flanks had been weakened to funnel troops into the attack on the town and now the Soviet army conducted a series of fierce counter attacks aimed at the German flanks. They met with tremendous success and the Germans began a fighting retreat that lost them all the land they had taken in the Battle of Kursk plus much more.
                Both the Germans and the Russians had lost an enormous amount of soldiers and armor, however, the Germans could not afford the losses while the Russians had more than enough men in reserve to bring themselves back to full strength. Ultimately, the Battle of Kursk had gained the Germans nothing and had cost them priceless men and materials that could have been better used in a defensive position rather than wasted in a hopeless attack. The Russians began an advance that would not stop until it took the German capital of Berlin itself.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Battle of Kursk

After their crushing defeat at Stalingrad, the Germans were on the defensive for most of 1943. The Soviet Union’s Red Army had amassed an enormous amount of men and machines to throw against the ever dwindling German forces. Although on the defensive, the Germans were nowhere near defeat, however, and were able to put up ferocious resistance to all Soviet advances. Hitler was looking for a dramatic victory to swing the war in Russia back into Germany’s favor. He decided on a full counter attack aimed at the Soviet weak spot around the city of Kursk. What followed was the largest tank battle in history!

                Hitler was convinced that the Soviet’s success lay in their superb T-34 tank. He thought that by building bigger, stronger tanks he would deliver the key to victory to the German forces. By the spring and summer of 1943, brand new Panther and Tiger tanks were rolling off the production lines, however, they were not being produced anywhere near the number of Soviet tanks. Hitler decided to delay his attack on Kursk until larger numbers of tanks could be produced and sent to the front. His generals on the other hand, who didn’t agree with the assault in the first place, protested even more fiercely to Hitler’s delay. This would give the Red Army ample time to prepare incredibly strong defenses, making the additional tanks unable to break through.

                Hitler listened to his general’s pleas, alternative plans designed to maintain the German position in Russia, and outright objections before promptly ignoring all of them. In his mind, Hitler saw the coming battle of Kursk to be the definitive battle which would turn the tide of the war in the east. It is important to note that this is not the first nor the last time that Hitler gambled everything on a battle that he “knew” would win the war for Germany. Neither was this the first nor the last time he refused to listen to his officers. True to his generals’ fears, the Soviets, under the command of Georgy Zhukhov, recognized the weak point of Kursk and heavily fortified it.

                The stage was set for a massive battle comprised of millions of men and nearly 7,000 tanks. Tune in tomorrow for the dramatic battle itself!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Brave Gorkha Soldier

"Go into battle expecting to die and surely you will live." - Ancient Samurai saying
It was a calm night in September in Afghanistan for Nepalese soldier Corporal Dipprasad Pun; that is, until 30 Taliban fighters attacked his checkpoint. All alone, Pun was faced with the seemingly impossible task of trying to defend his checkpoint. Mentally accepting the fact that he was going to die, Pun's final objective in life was to take as many of the Taliban with him as he could.
Under attack from every direction and taking constant fire from AK-47s and RPGs for 15 minutes, Pun still found the time to unload over 400 rounds of ammunition, 17 grenades and a mine into the attackers. He beat a Taliban climbing the checkpoint wall with his weapon's tripod when he ran out of bullets. Two soldiers were still firing at him towards the end of the engagement until he used a Claymore mine to "encourage" them to finally withdraw. 1 lone Nepalese Gurkha had single-handedly defeating an attacking force of over 30 Taliban. And even more impressively, he lived!
For this extraordinary act of bravery and skill he has just been awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC) by Queen Elizabeth II. The CGC is second only to the Victoria Cross, which is the highest honor that can be bestowed by the UK and other commonwealth nations. Gurkha fighters are internationally hailed for their skill, heroism, and bravery and this is but one example of why.

If you're interested in 100% historical and authentic antique Gurkha weapons then please visit us at Antique Militaria
These weapons were acquired directly from the Nepalese government and many have seen combat.