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Tiger Hunters

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"Explanation of moving two 152 mm gun-howitzers to direct fire positions

At 20:00 on April 17th, 1944, the commander of the 60th Army, Colonel-General Kurochkin, summoned me to the observation post of the 302nd Rifle Division and ordered me to destroy the four Tigers that were at height 350.0, for which it was necessary to tow the guns to direct fire positions. I replied that this is an impossible task and that the guns will be destroyed before they could take positions. The general replied "If you lose the guns, you'll lose your head. Immediately move two guns to any hill and destroy those Tigers." 

I replied that six of my guns are in position to fire directly near the highway and I can open fire immediately. Upon arriving at my observation post I opened fire at one of the Tigers. After six shots, the Tiger retreated. I opened fire on the second one. After 5 shots, the sun set. (The range was 4 kilometers). 

The way I understood the general's orders was that he wanted the guns to be in any position where they could see the target. I had such guns, and therefore considered his orders carried out.

At 21:00 I received orders through the commander of the fire platoon of the 2nd battery (even though I have a line to the observation post of the commander of the 7th Breakthrough Artillery Corps) to move two guns of the 1st battery to height 351.0. I gave this order to the battery, and it lined up in travel position. 

At 23:00 I received a second set of orders to cancel the movement of the 1st battery and to carry out orders personally given to the brigade commander. I have never seen the commander of the 7th Breakthrough Artillery Corps face to face, and especially not today.

At 23:30 I sent the HQ Chief of the 1st Squadron, Captain Strizhak, to figure out these confusing orders. At 3:30 I received clarification: my orders are cancelled, carry out the army commander's orders. Having considered those orders carried out, I ordered the 1st battery to relocate to closed firing positions.

At 10:00 I received confirmation from the Chief of Staff of the 1st Glukhov Order of the Red Banner, Order of Suvorov, Artillery Division and the Chief of Staff of Artillery of the 60th Army regarding the execution of orders given by the commander of the 7th Breakthrough Artillery Corps. I immediately relayed the message to the commander of the 4th battery, which set out at 10:30, arrived at 13:00, and by 14:00 was ready to open fire on the orders from the commander of the 1st Artillery Division.

At 11:00 I personally set out to oversee the battery's work and to choose an observation post, which was placed on a nameless hill 1 km southwest of height 351.0, 100 meters behind the observation post of the 76 mm battery firing directly.

The battery did not fire on April 18th, 1944, because the tanks did not appear again.

Attachments: order of the commander of the 7th Breakthrough Artillery Corps and telephonogram, in two pages.

Commander of the 1st Guards Gun Artillery Brigade, Guards Colonel Semak

April 19th, 1944"


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