Operation Zvezda (Star) was into its second week. As part of this campaign, three Soviet armies from the Voronezh Front were targeting the city of Kharkov. Two tank corps from the 3rd Tank Army commanded by General Rybalko proved the most threatening, advancing against the German held city from the east. In response, German high Command redeployed some of its best units to this front, incuding three SS divisions. Rybalko attempted to pin the Germans in Kharkov and sent the mobile 6th Guard Cavalry Corp in a sweeping movement south of the city to encircle his enemy. The Germans responded quickly and, after establsihing a key supply base south of Kharkov in the town of Merefa, formed a number of kampfgruppes to sweep the Soviet cavalrymen aside. South of Merefa, at Novaja Vodolaga, reinforced SS reconnaissance elements from the “Das Reich” division attempted to push the elements from the 6th Guard Cavalry Corp out of the town.
Attacker: German (SS) (Elements of the SS-Krudschutzen-Battalion 2. “Das Reich” plus supprting elements 6./SS-Panzer-Regiment “Das Reich”)
Defender: Russian (Elements from the 11th Cavalry Division, 6th Guard Cavalry Corps)