Now and Then - Khruslovka

Khruslovka Venev KV tank battle of Moscow

Khruslovka, late November 1941 / Khruslovka, December 2021

KV-1 of the 108th Tank Division and an 85mm AA gun destroyed by German troops in Khruslovka

After the failure of the first attempt to capture Tula on the march in October 1941, the front around the city fell into a temporary lull until mid-November. Having improved the overstretched logistical lines of their troops and waited for the November cold to set in which made swamped roads solid again, Guderian's troops continued their offensive in order to both complete a broad encirclement of the city and advance towards Moscow as part of Operation Typhoon. By November 21 the Germans captured Uzlovaya train station (literally translated as "The Hub" station, which points at its strategic importance), and after this success the 17th Panzer Division was ordered to move north to the capture the town of Venev to the northeast of Tula.

The fighting at the approaches to Venev lasted for 3 days from November 21 to 24. Battered Soviet units were not able to mount a solid defense in front of superior German forces and retreated continuously, receiving an order to defend the city proper on November 25. However, in a sudden breakthrough maneuver a German Panzer regiment outflanked Soviet units to the west of the city. After an hour-long battle the village of Khruslovka located 5 km to the north of Venev was captured by the enemy, closing the trap on the Soviet troops in the city.

Here's a translation of the German report on this action [translated from the page on www.veneva.ru]:

"The attack to the west of Venev progresses rapidly. Kampfgruppe Cuno reinforced by the 1st Company of the 6th Panzer regiment is directed to capture the bridge in Khrulovka to the north of the town. It reaches its goal quickly and advances to the road south of the bridge. Oberst Cuno sends his recon tank to observe the movement of trucks across the bridge. Soon thereafter the guard of the bridge is destroyed, two 52-ton tanks located on the northern side are hit at a close distance. Kampfgruppe Cuno turns south and advances to the town where it faces tenacious resistance of enemy tanks and infantry firing from buildings. By 12.00 Cuno enters the town center." For this action Oberst Kurt Cuno was awarded the Knight's Cross in January 1942.

Khruslovka AA gun captured German Venev
Captured Soviet 85mm AA gun in Khruslovka

The loss of Venev followed a series of catastrophes at the gates of Moscow when it seemed that the capture of the Soviet capital was a matter of the nearest weeks, if not days. The 108th Tank Division which defended the town lost more than 80% of its vehicles and personnel and very few of its soldiers managed to escape from the encirclement. Guderian's troops continued moving forward in spite of their supply lines being overstretched and the ever mounting losses from the enemy who refused to break down and admit his defeat. His main thrust was aimed to the north with the aim of extending his pincer of encirclement of Moscow to the northeast. The fate of both Tula and Moscow was hanging by a thread in those fateful days of late November 1941.

Tank picture location: https://goo.gl/maps/CY9iJbQ7sJoLf15PA

AA gun picture location: https://goo.gl/maps/sKusbJzZ2ydyPWWA7

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