Designer: Orig: Jeffrey Shields and Adapted by John Letts
Starter kit scenario?: Deluxe scenario?:
At Pratulin, where 17th and 18th Panzer Divisions were to cross the Bug, there was no bridge. At 04:15 hours, the advance detachments leaped into their rubber dinghies and assault boats, and swiftly crossed to the other side. The infantrymen and motor-cycle troops had with them light anti-tank guns and heavy machine-guns. The Russian pickets by the river opened up with automatic rifles and light machine-guns. They were quickly silenced. Units of the motor-cycle battalion dug in. Then everything that could be pumped into the bridgehead was ferried across. The sappers at once got down to building a pontoon bridge.
But what would happen if the Russians attacked the bridgehead with armour? How would the Germans oppose them? Tanks and heavy equipment could have been brought across only with the greatest difficulties in barges or over emergency bridges.
That was why an interesting new secret weapon was employed here for the first time….
…In the sector of 18th Panzer Division fifty batteries of all calibers opened fire at 0315 in order to clear the way to the other bank for the diving tanks, General Nehring, the divisional commander, has since described this as “a magnificent spectacle, but rather pointless since the Russians had been clever enough to withdraw their troops from the border area, leaving behind only weak frontier detachments, which subsequently fought very bravely.”
At 0445 hours Sergeant Wierschin advanced into the Bug with diving tank No.1. The infantrymen watched him in amazement. The water closed over the tank. ”Playing at U-boats!” Only the slim steel tube which supplied fresh air to the crews and engine showed above the surface, indicating Wierschin’s progress under water. There were also the exhaust bubbles, but these were quickly obliterated by the current.
Tank after tank – the whole of 1st Battalion, 18th Panzer Regiment, under the battalion commander, Manfred Graf Strachwitz – dived into the river.
And now the first ones were crawling up the far bank like mysterious amphibians. A soft plop and the rubber caps were blown off the gun muzzles. The gun-loaders let the air our of the bicycle inner tubes round the turrets. Turret hatches were flung open and the skippers wriggled out. An arm thrust into the air three times: the signal “Tanks forward.”
Eighty tanks had crossed the frontier river under water. Eighty tanks were moving into action.
Their presence was more than welcome in the bridgehead. Enemy armoured scout cars were approaching. At once came the firing orders for the leading tanks: “Turret – One O’clock – armour piercing – 800 yards – group of armoured scout cars – fire at will.”
Attacker: German (1st Infantry Battalion, 18th Panzer Division)