In July of 1941 the 76th Inf. Div was attacking across the Dnestr river south of Mogilev Podolski. The 76th forced a crossing in front of a bunker of the Stalin line. Due to heavy bombardment the field of view of the bunker was obstructed and remained so until after the leading units had crossed. Only at 0630 hrs (two hours after the river was crossed) did the bunker open fire. The bunker was equipped with 4 76.2 mm guns, two on the north side and two to the south. These opened fire on the rear echelon elements of the 76th Div. and on units of the 22nd Div. to the south. The second company of 744th Pionier Reg. was at that time preparing to put a bridge across the river. The bunker also directed artillery fire onto the pioniers.
At 0700 hrs the company commander ordered his first platoon leader, Lt. Sander, to assault the bunker. Sander reorganized his platoon as follows:
|1st Plt.||2nd Plt.||3rd Plt.|
|1 LMG-3 men||1 LMG-3 men||1 LMG-3 men|
|2 Flamethrowers-5 men||2 Demo teams- 10 men||Supply detail- 8 men|
|1 Demo team-5 man||1 medic-2 litterbearers|
Each individual was issued 2 smoke cylinders and each demo team had 2 regular Bangalor torpedoes, 2 short bangalor torpedos and 4 13 lbs demo charges. After crossing the river Sander made contact with friendly troops and arranger for supporting fire from two 50mm AT gun and heavy machinegun.
After a quick recon Sander issued the following orders:
To reduce the bunker, I intend to approach from the rear across the barren slope. I will take the 1st Squad forward through the brush to the slope, then turn right and skirt the steep bank above and behind the objective. We must exercise great care not to be observed by th gun crews and therefore must approach stealthily by creeping and crawling. At this point good concealment will be more essential than speed
The 2nd Squad will move cautiously to its right and cover the east side of the fort as well as the machinegun embrasure in the front of the bunker. The assumed entrance must be blocked by fire or other means; if necessary, even hand-to-hand combat.
The 3rd Squad will move forward to cover the north side of the bunker. [Note:The written orders and the diagram don't seem to agree, but are reproduced as closely as possible to the original]
Each of the guns was protected by a heavy steel shutter. These lay flat on the ground while the guns were in use but could be raised by cables from inside the fort. As the 1st Squad approached the fort it was noted that the shutters were all down. Sander signaled the 50mm AT guns to fire on the two western guns. One of the 50mm was knocked out in the exchange, the flamethrowers soon silenced the guns however. At this point the Russians attempted to close the shutters. Sander rushed forward with a demo team. Charges were dropped into the opening. The shutters were blown open and bangalor torpedos were inserted into each of the guns. These charges completely destroyed the guns and also wounded one of the pioniers.
Meanwhile the Gruppenfüher of 1st Squad took three men and climbed onto the roof of the bunker. They discovered several T shaped ventilation pipes. They blasted these off and inserted hand grenades and smoke cylinders. The Gruppenfüher then reconnoitered the east side and discovered that the shutters on that side had been closed. An attempt to breakout on this side was stopped by 2nd Squad.
The Russians in the bunker now called light artillery fire in on their location, this fire killed one and wounded two. Once the fire let up the Company commander arrived. Together the two officer worked out a plan. 1st Squad would attempt to force the western entrance. 2nd Squad was to destroy the easter two guns and cover the entrance on that side. 3rd was to destroy the southern facing machinegun.
It took 2nd squad about 90 min. to draw the required explosives from unit stores. Two charges were custom made on long poles to be lowered in front of the shutters. They were wired together so as to detonate at the same time. Two bangalor torpedoes were also rigged to poles to be inserted into the guns once the shutters were destroyed.
While these preparations were being made 3rd squad silenced the Machinegun with a flamethrower and several grenades.
At about 1500 hrs the western entrance was blown open and several attempts to enter were made. All were repulsed by machinegun fire from farther up the hall. After sustaining several casualties in these assaults a Pionier officer from the Korps arrived and plans were made to use two 275lbs charges to destroy the bunker. Artillery fire continued and the first charge was not in place until 1800 hrs. After this charge was detonated a Russian soldier stumbled from the entrance and was made prisoner. Again artillery fire from Russian guns in the rear came down on the bunker. Because of the artillery fire the second charge could not be detonated until 2200 hrs. After that the artillery fire died and construction of the bridge resumed and was finished at 0400 hrs on 18 July.
When Sander entered the bunker the next morning he found all the men dead from the blast or suffocation. From the interrogation of the prisoner and examination of the bunker they determined that bunker was manned by about 60 men. They were equipped with an elaborate ventilation, electrical, water and phone system. They were well supplied with ammunition and food.
The Germans noted the following deficiencies in the bunker system: