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Combat operations of the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Field Battalion
Battle of Sokolovo (08.03.1943)
Command: to hold position on a 15 km wide line (Timchenkovo-Mirgorod-Artukhovka) of new built up defense on Mza river.

Place: Sokolovo (the Ukraine, USSR) - village on the other bank of Mza river, which was chosen as forward operating location for defense line Timchenkovo-Mirgorod-Artukhovka
Date: 08.03.1943
Czechoslovak unit: 1st Czechoslovak Independent Field Battalion
in particular: strengthened 1st company (350 soldiers) + one strengthened platoon
Allied forces: Soviet artillery support: 2 cannons 45 mm, 4 cannons 76 mm, rocket launcher commando (from Soviet 25th guards division)
Enemy forces: German 4th tank army [1]
in particular: units of 6th and 11th tank divisions (engaged 40-60 tanks, 20 armor vehicles and 2 infantry battalions against Czechoslovak stage in Sokolovo)
Brief chronology: 14 German tanks charged Sokolovo to do armed reconnaissance (13:30). Two hours later they started the actual attack. Czechoslovaks postured circle of defense around Sokolovo's church (17:00). Commander Svoboda wanted 10 tanks T-34 and strengthened platoon to be sent, but tanks did not cross the river for thin ice. At 19:00 commander Svoboda placed order to the 1st company to fall back beyond river. Some of them continued to fight (because of interrupted connection) all night and arrived only the second day.
Czechoslovak casualties: 86 killed, 56 wounded, 1 anti-tank cannon 45mm, 7 anti-tank guns, 5 heavy machine guns, 16 light machine guns and 5 mortars was destroyed
Enemy casualties: from 300 to 400 soldiers killed, 19 tanks and from 4 to 6 armor vehicles was destroyed
Notes: Medals:
87 soldiers were awarded by Soviet medals. Among them in memoriam was the second lieutenant Jaroš Otakar - the commander of the 1st company. For especial bravery he was awarded (as first foreigner at all) by the highest Soviet decoration: Gold Star of a "Hero of the Soviet Union". Further 87 with Czechoslovak war cross 1939 and 72 with medal "For gallantry in the face of the enemy".
Firing devices of strengthened 1st company:
6 heavy machine guns, 24 light machine guns, 8 anti-tank guns, 2 anti-tank cannons 45 mm (1 was later withdrawed to Mirgorod), 3 mortars 50 mm, 3 mortars 82 mm
Battle map: Kharkov area (March 1943) - © unknown, taken from internet Battle of Sokolovo - © Richter Karel - Pøes krvavé øeky (Across bloody rivers)


Battle of Sokolovo (09.03.1943)
Command: to hold position on a 15 km wide line (Timchenkovo-Mirgorod-Artukhovka) of new built up defense on Mza river.

Place: Sokolovo (the Ukraine, USSR)
Date: 09.03.1943
Czechoslovak unit: 1st Czechoslovak Independent Field Battalion
in particular: 2nd and 3rd companies
Allied forces: 1 company of 182nd guards rifle regiment [2]
Enemy forces: German 4th tank army [1]
in particular: units of 6th and 11th tank divisions
Info: combat of Sokolovo continued. Czechoslovaks supported Soviet assault group attack (19:15) with 2nd company against village Sokolovo. The 3rd company crossed the river and held position before Sokolovo to embarrasse the escape of enemy units. Germans embattled in Sokolovo in strength of infantry battalion with artillery, mortars and 15 tanks. After midnight companies got command to go back into defensive positions.
Czechoslovak casualties: 23 killed, 49 wounded
Enemy casualties: 2nd company captured 16 houses, killed [uwc] soldiers, destroyed 3 tanks and 4 machine gun nests



Reinforcements during battle of Sokolovo

[07.03.43] - battalion was strengthened by Soviet 179th tank brigade (reportedly 24 tanks T-34), 1 artillery commando (from 131st guards artillery regiment of 62nd guards rifle division), 1 rocket launcher battery (from 440th guards commando), 1 artillery battery (from 1245th anti-tank artillery regiment), 1 artillery battery (from 69th guards fighter artillery regiment), 1 engineer company.
[09.03.43] - battalion was strengthened by Soviet 3 rocket launcher commandos, 1 artillery anti-tank regiment, 1 company of 182nd guards rifle regiment.
[09.03.43] - mentioned 4 tanks T-34 of Soviet 179th tank brigade, which guarded line between Mirgorod-Artuchovka.


Church in Sokolovo, strong point of Czechoslovak defence - © Hrabyne's memorial
Church in Sokolovo, strong point of Czechoslovak defence (© Hrabyne's memorial)



[1] - German 4th tank army which charged Kharkov from south direction consisted of: 2nd SS tank corps (1st SS tank division Adolf Hitler, 2nd SS tank division Das Reich, 3rd SS tank division Totenkopf), 48th tank corps (11th and 6th tank divisions) and 57th tank corps (17th tank division and 1st infantry division). Village Sokolovo belonged to area of 48th tank corps.
[2] - mostly destroyed at the beginning of the attack, taken back from combat.


abbreviations:
[uwc] = unknown whole casualties

Czechoslovak military units in the USSR (1942-1945) | © 2005-2017 Michal Gelbiè | supported by www.czechpatriots.com