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The benefits of research!
Old 06-08-2005, 01:10 PM   #1
NavyFCO
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Default The benefits of research!

Here's the benefit of research...

I had offered a group of Soviet awards to a paratrooper on the e-stand about a month ago and never got a buyer. The group had the research, but it wasn't translated, and honestly, I wasn't going to bother translating it all. But, the group didn't sell, so I figured that there wouldn't be any harm in it. After all, it's not too often that you see a paratrooper grouping!

Most of the research I was doing for this group, in conjunction with the translations, focused on the Dnepr River crossing. This unit had faced some incredible opposition during their crossing just north of Kiev; at one point the regiment commander led the small group of men into a fight against overwhelming German armored forces! For this, he was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

The group belonged to a machine gunner, and he too was decorated for holding the bridgehead that they had captured across the River. His citation states that: "During the battles while crossing the Dnepr River and while holding the bridgehead on the right bank, he displayed courage, valor and heroism. While advancing in the direction of the hamlet Chervonnyi Zhovten, he killed 45 German soldiers and officers with his machine gun." Not bad!

Fairly impressive citation, which earned him his second Red Star.

What I didn't pay too much attention to was the top line of that citation that read: "Comrade Koshelev, a participant in the fighting for the railway station Ponyri, was wounded twice, but returned to the battlefield." I figured that Ponyri was somewhere in the vicinity of the Dnepr River and could never find it (nor did I ever find Chervonnyi Zhovten.)

On a whim, I decided to Google "Ponyri." To my amazement, it turned out to be a battle that is quite popular with wargamers... for the battle of Kursk! "Wait a second", I thought to myself, "wasn't Kursk in July???" This citation was dated in October. Strange.

So, I looked at his first Red Star citation. It read: "Comrade Koshelev, during the fighting for the village "1st of May", remained alone at his machine gun. Despite this, he continued to fire until his machine gun could no longer operate. Due to his continuous fire, he repelled enemy attacks TWICE as well as completely disabled a facist machine gun crew." [Capitalization in original!]

I never could find the village 1st of May, but I did notice the date on that citation... 19 July 1943. Right after Kursk!

So, I pulled out all my references on Kursk and sure enough, there was the collective farm called "1st of May", just a short distance away from Ponyri - both were right at the tip of the spear from the forces of German Army Group Central!

Reading through the book "Images of Kursk", I came across a chapter entitled "Slaughter at Ponyri"! The subtitle states: "In the north of the salient the Germans launched an all-out attack to seize the village of Ponyri, which was the hub of road and rail links with Kursk itslef, in an attempt to penetrate the Central Front's second defensive belt." Wow!

The chapter goes on to describe what would become called the "Stalingrad of Kursk", which became one of the heaviest infantry and artillery battles reminicent the fighting at Verdun during WW1. On the second page, the chapter states: "At midday [on 7 July, German General] Hoth received some cheering news. To the east of Ponyri, the 1st May State Farm had fallen to a battle group of a dozen tanks and two battalions of infantry that had pressed on into the suburbs of Ponyri itself..."

Now it made sense... My paratrooper had been one of the determined defenders of the 1st May State Farm, and had remained at his machine gun, despite the tanks and the battalions of infantry! In fact, it seems that these same men were the ones that he repelled attacks from twice before retreating into Ponyri himself!

The book describes the fighting in Ponyri during those desperate days in June: "Taking advantage of every scrap of cover, be it metal, stone or human debris, and fighting like men possessed, the Russian infantry gradually drive back their foes. In the brutal, close-quarter street fighting, men hacked and slashed at one another with sharpened entrenching tools, knives and anything else that came to hand. Having regained part of the town, the Russians faced renewed German counterattacks, but despite these, they conceded barely a metre."

WOW

And to think... He went from this fighting, over the Dnepr, and onto Berlin... And I haven't even finished the research for this battle yet!

Dave
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Old 06-08-2005, 02:35 PM   #2
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Hope you will keep the group.

by the way do you know this site ? http://www.kursk1943.mil.ru

Last edited by Soviet; 06-08-2005 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 06-08-2005, 03:00 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soviet
Hope you will keep the group.

by the way do you know this site ? http://www.kursk1943.mil.ru
Thanks for the link to the website! They have some neat interactive maps. Now if I can just find one that details the Ponyri area!

I'll probably still sell the group. It's neat, but I've got no where to display it.

Dave
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Old 06-08-2005, 03:07 PM   #4
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Hey Dave...very interesting research...thanks for the valuable info. By the way when did you have the grouping on sale. I must have missed it...

Quote:
Originally Posted by NavyFCO
Thanks for the link to the website! They have some neat interactive maps. Now if I can just find one that details the Ponyri area!

I'll probably still sell the group. It's neat, but I've got no where to display it.

Dave
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Old 06-08-2005, 04:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Pickard
Hey Dave...very interesting research...thanks for the valuable info. By the way when did you have the grouping on sale. I must have missed it...
I tried to find a link for the group on the estand, but it looks like they deleted it when they split the forum. I'll probably have it listed back up in the not-too-distant future.

Dave
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Old 06-08-2005, 04:18 PM   #6
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Thanks Dave...I for sure would be interested in seeing it now for my knowledge and reading more on what you find out. I know this is not in my collecting field, but for the last few months I have been thinking about getting a Soviet grouping and had I seen it when you had it up on e-stand...it may have had a new home...


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Originally Posted by NavyFCO
I tried to find a link for the group on the estand, but it looks like they deleted it when they split the forum. I'll probably have it listed back up in the not-too-distant future.

Dave
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Old 06-10-2005, 07:20 PM   #7
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Great research, great act of heroism for sure. Very nicely done Dave.
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Old 06-10-2005, 10:16 PM   #8
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Here is some publicity for Dave.

http://www.wehrmacht-awards.net/foru...d.php?t=105619
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Old 06-11-2005, 05:43 AM   #9
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Excellent research and fantastic action-citation.
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