February 7, 2017

1943. The Campaigns to Retake Oryol and the Donbass

The Soviets Retake Territory Across the Eastern Front
"Red Army soldiers in camouflage gear on a snow-covered battlefield, somewhere along the German-Russian war front, as they advance against German positions on March 3, 1943" (source)
Parentheses indicate portions censored by Soviet press officials.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

February 23, 1943

To the ordinary observer, Red Army Day passed very quietly. When the people of Moscow got up today, they switched on their radios and heard the first news given in Premier Stalin's order of the day. When word of this spread, the citizens of Moscow arranged to take their places early in front of the newsstands, and an hour before the papers were due, lines already had begun to form.

The only concessions the city itself made to commemorate the Red Army's 25th anniversary were the placing of crimson flags at the doorways and corners of all public buildings. It was not an ostentatious display, and there were no demonstrations. Except for the red flags with the hammer and sickle embroidered in the upper right hand corner in yellow cloth, well, it was an ordinary day in Moscow.

Listening to the foreign radio broadcasts here in Moscow, I got the idea that America and Britain observed Red Army Day with more public enthusiasm than Moscow did.

However, this is not (exactly) true. Hundreds of factories and schools held their own private celebrations. You see, the Red Army is something of a family affair over here. The Russian people feel the same affection for their army that, say, a high school student feels for his football team. And their reaction to the army's successes and defeats are the same. When their army was retreating, they suffered. When it advances, they rejoice.

Tonight's special communiqué announced the capture of the town and railroad station of Maloarkhangelsk, only forty miles south of Oryol. The successful storming of this position south of the important German winter base completes a forty-mile arc east of Oryol from which Russian forces can close in on three sides. Russian forces were last reported about forty miles away on the railroad line leading eastward from Oryol as well as on the railroad leading northwestward toward Moscow.

Meanwhile, the special communiqué announced the capture of the railroad junction of Summa and two other railroad towns on the railroad stretching northwest of Kharkov. This move by the Red Army appears to have completely cleared the northern flank of the troops holding Kharkov, and serves to protect the Russian drive now proceeding toward Poltava and the Dnieper River.

Meanwhile, in the Donbass and in the Kuban, the Red Army's drive to kick the Germans out of these two rich Soviet districts has been slowed. In the Kuban, bad weather and thaw has hampered the Russian advance. In the Donets basin, the Russian soldier has found himself faced with town-by-town street fighting on a countrywide scale.

The Donbass is not an area of separate communities. In reality, it is one big suburb interconnected and intertwined with interurban lines, highways, and roads. It is the first complete frontal street fighting that any army in the world has encountered on such a large scale. The Germans are putting up a desperate defense. It is natural that the Donbass advance should progress more slowly than the Russian progress has been over the steppe-land to the north.