Now and Then - Armoured trucks

Armoured car izhora metalworks people's militia volunteers siege of Leningrad

Khalturina street, Leningrad. July 1941 / Millionnaya street, St. Petersburg. March 2021

People's Militia volunteers going to a training exercise on trucks and an IZ armoured personnel carrier.

In the end of June 1941 the huge Izhora Metalworks located in Kolpino, a southern suburb of Leningrad, developed several designs of makeshift armoured personnel carriers and cars on its own initiative. They were based on the chassis of Soviet GAZ-AA, ZIS-5 and ZIS-6 trucks and received the codename "IZ" [Izhorsky Zavod]. Since the factory was strictly forbidden to use the steel sheets or weapons allocated for the production of standard BA armoured car series, only the motor, driver's cabin and sides of the truck bed were protected with 6-10mm armour sheets. The trucks were armed with whatever spare weapons that could be found: 7.62 machine guns, 20mm autocannons and even 45mm guns which had to be aimed by turning the truck itself.

Zhigunov Dmitry Venediktovich, 35. Worker at the Kirov Metalworks, volunteer of the 1st People's Militia Division

Diary entry from July 4-6, 1941:

"The commander of the regiment Major Snopik convened the council of the regiment's Military-Political staff and after making a report on our first combat mission left the school building where the meeting was held and disappeared. Only on July 6 he was found dead by the regiment's reconnaissance in the same school building, but in a different classroom.

The causes of his suicide were explained in the letter that was found on his body, here is its contents in brief: "The people in the regiment are courageous and have high morale, but our ordnance is extremely antiquated and its quality is bad, and even this rubbish is not enough. The division commanders didn't react to my demands at all: there's treason everywhere, they threaten me with execution, we can't fight the enemy like this, and therefore I decided to end my life myself because I'll be shot anyway". It's not a true Russian act, it's undeserving of a Soviet person to behave like this, he chickened out, this quitter, he got afraid of the difficulties. He couldn't find the strength to fight with treason from within. Well, good riddance, one weak link less. We've already lost 4 men without seeing the enemy in the eye.

Diary entry from July 12, 1941:

"In the period from July 7 to 11 our recon guys did a great job, causing 102 enemy casualties with 6 officers among them, and captured one prisoner. We've got our first trophies: 5 German bicycles, a motorcycle, 2 machine guns, an SMG, rifles and other war materiel. On our side there were 15 KIA and 12 WIA soldiers and officers.

The civilians sent here from Leningrad for defensive works to dig anti-tank ditches, trenches, build embankments, bunkers and pillboxes, were used mindlessly. I'd even say there must have been sabotage involved. The defences were built incorrectly, without due consideration of enemy avenues of approach, and when the time came to use them against the enemy they appeared to be useless for a number of reasons. This begs the question what idiots are in charge of this and whether this was done accidentally or on purpose. All of this looks very suspicious."


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