Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Most people understand that war is conducted with a series of battles. What folks may not understand is that battles can last for days, sometimes weeks or even months. It is not the size of the real estate being fought over, but rather the tenacity of the combatants.
Fought by the Germans and the Soviets, one such battle was called Operation Typhoon by the Germans and referred to as the Battle of Moscow by the Russians. Hitler began his attack of Moscow on September 30, 1941. The city was one of the Axis power’s primary objectives in its attempt to conquer the USSR. However, the Russian army successfully defended their capital, and the peasants burned, destroyed, or scattered everything left behind: homes, crops, and farm animals. These acts left nothing to support the advancing German army.
History has named two additional Soviet allies that helped defend the city: General Mud and General Winter. Because most Russian roads were dirt rather than paved, the autumn rains turned them into quagmires, sucking into their murky depths guns, equipment, and troops. General Winter followed close behind, and German troops were ill-prepared for his attack.
Temperatures regularly dropped to forty degrees (Fahrenheit) below or colder. Lubricants froze, engine blocks cracked, and frostbite wreaked havoc. Reports indicate over 100,000 cases of frostbite. Still wearing their summer uniforms, troops stuffed newspapers and propaganda leaflets under their cloths to provide warmth. (The German participation medal was called Gefrierfleisch Orden – the Medal of the Frozen Meat.)
The battle waged back and forth with the Germans alternately retreating and attacking, with the finally surrendering in January 1942. Over one million Medal for the Defense of Moscow were issued to Russian soldiers.
A freelance writer for over ten years, Linda Shenton Matchett writes historical fiction. Her novellas Love’s Harvest and Love Found in Sherwood Forest are available on Amazon. She is currently seeking a publisher for her series about WWII war correspondent Ruth Brown. Visit her at www.LindaShentonMatchett.com