3. Kompanie Reichsgrenadier Regiment 'Hoch- und Deutschmeister'
Reichsgrenadier Division 'Hoch- und Deutschmeister'
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The 2nd Russian Campaign & the Division's destruction at Stalingrad 1942/43


Due to the Soviet breakthrough on both sides of Izyum on the 18 January 1942 a salient of almost 100Km in depth had been created in the German lines. Before the planned German Summer Offensive could be conducted this salient would have to be eliminated with a planned operation earmarked for May. However, Soviet General Timoschenko launched his own offensive north and south of Kharkov with a target set of reaching Dnepropetrovsk and therefore cutting off the German forces in the South. 

During the hard defensive battles that ensued around the Kharkov area it became necessary to temporarily attach Infanterie Regiment 131 to the 71st Infanterie Division to the northeast of Kharkov. Once the Soviet threat had been eliminated, German forces including the 44th Infanterie Division began their assault eastwards on the 10 June 1942. During the battle of Volchansk, once the Soviet positions had been penetrated, strong armoured counterattacks were also successfully beaten back forcing the Soviets to conduct a fighting withdrawal to the Oskol Sector. The 44th Infanterie Division pursued this retreat by conducting long marches through stifling summer heat to reach finally the bend in the Don River. However at this point the resistance of the Soviets stiffened which culminated in the encirclement of Kalach during the period 7-11 August 1942 with the 44th Infanterie Division making the assault in the Surovinko area.

Whilst the bulk of 6th Army continued its eastward assault towards their eventual target of Stalingrad the 44th Infanterie Division was assigned the task of securing the flank on the Don, northeast of Stalingrad on both sides of Surovinko. Here the Soviets were able to maintain a bridgehead on the southern side of the Don River. The establishment of positions in the forests and sparsely settled area around the Don was extremely difficult. On 22 November 1942, following the Soviet encirclement of Stalingrad, the Division moved to secure its position by relocating to Kalatsch.
Unfortunately, these new positions soon had to be evacuated as a withdrawal further east into Stalingrad itself was ordered towards the area southeast of Vertyatchi and Peskovatka on the western front of the Stalingrad Kessel. Despite severe weather conditions, dwindling ammunition supplies and inadequate rations, the Kessel held out throughout December into early January 1943 until the build up of Soviet forces was sufficient to commence an overwhelming offensive on the 10 January 1943. 
Forces within the Kessel were eventually crushed under the weight of the offensive with the final pockets of resistance in the western suburbs of Stalingrad being finally subdued on the 28-29 January 1943. The 44th Infanterie Division was no more, any survivors still alive in the Stalingrad Kessel fell into Soviet captivity and an uncertain future.


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