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Cheating at Statistics 17: Leaving Leningrad

In early 1944, the German forces around Leningrad weren't doing so well. The blockade around Leningrad had ruptured, Sinyavino heights were lost, and Army Group North was beginning to slink back westward. Introduction of the hyped up Tiger tank failed to make a difference here. Now these Tigers, namely s.Pz.Abt 502, were holding back the Red Army while the rest of the Germans escaped. Forczyk describes the situation: "The remaining Tigers of the s.Pz.Abt.502 assisted the AOK 18 in its withdrawal by turning to ambush the Soviet spearheads; on 25 January they claimed 41 Soviet tanks destroyed at Voyskovitskiy, 5 km southwest of Gatchina."

Anyone who's been keeping up with this long running series will have recognized the perfect storm: the Tiger crews know for a fact that the battlefield will remain in Soviet hands and that their claims will not be checked. There was also incentive to make up for the Tiger tank's rather dismal performance on the Leningrad front. Let's take a look at just what happened at Voyskovitsy on January 25th.

January 25th was well into the Krasnoye Selo-Ropsha Offensive Operation, known as January Thunder or Neva-2. The 42nd Army, was attacking from Krasnoye Selo southwest, towards Pskov. By this time, it had reached Gatchina.

Diagram #142
Leningrad and Volkov Fronts
Krasnoye Selo-Ropsha Offensive Operation and its progress to Pskov (fragment)

For once, everything is very cut and dry in the documents:

"Armoured and Mechanized Forces:
The 220th Tank Brigade fought for Zhernovo, Voyskovitsy station, Ilkino, and was passed over to the commander of the 196th Rifle Division at 16:00"

Looks like they were the only ones fighting here. Let's take a look at their documents.

"At 12:20, the tanks moved out from their initial positions and into battle.
At 13:00, the tanks crossed the railroad and burst into Ilkino and Voyskovitsy station. At 13:30, the tanks had carried out their mission, having captured Ilkino and Voyskovitsy station, where they set up 360 degree defenses. Rifle units were cut off upon approaching the railroad and did not proceed further, as the enemy impeded them with automatic fire. The enemy turned Voyskovitsy station into an anti-tank stronghold, reinforced by 3 AA batteries and 4 gun crews (as we learned from a prisoner after the battle). The tank attack destroyed a portion of the anti-tank stronghold.

At 14:00, two Tiger tanks and one Ferdinand SPG appeared on the road between Voyskovitsy and Ilyino. They started shooting up our light tanks at point blank range from the southwest outskirts of Ilyino. The AA gun batteries partially resumed activity and began firing at the tanks again.

The tanks fought for over 3 hours, taking heavy losses, and had to retreat to a grove 1 km east of Ilyino.

7 T-34 tanks arrived at the battlefield at 15:30, reinforcements from the 1st Red Banner Tank Brigade, which participated in battle and took losses.

Losses of tanks consisted of:
Burned: 14 T-26 tanks, 1 T-34 tank
Knocked out: 1 T-34 tank"

Even counting the tank that was knocked out instead of destroyed, that's 16 vehicles knocked out by the Tigers, whatever that Ferdinand was (most likely a StuG), and the AA and AT batteries, compared to 41 claimed by the Tigers alone. 

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