246 Infanterie Division

 

Overall presence in the Rshew area from januari 42 until March 43

 

In early January 246 Infanterie division took up positions around Belyi, south west of Rzhev. In late January the division was involved in the destruction of enemy forces that had been cut off to the south west of Rzhev and isolated by German counter attacks. After this the division continued to occupy defensive positions at Belyi throughout the rest of the winter and into summer. At the beginning of April 1942, the 7. Panzer is transferred to Vjasma, to relieve the 246 Infantrie division around Belyi. They succeed finally on 2 May. In May the division was active just north of the highway Smolensk-Wjasma.

In early July the Germans launched Operation Seydlitz, which was to pinch off the Soviet salient still present in the rear of 9. Armee. 246 Infantrie division formed part of the southern pincer and attacked from Belyi to the northwest. The two pincers soon met thereby cutting off the Soviet forces completely. By the 12th July the Soviets had been eliminated and over 40,000 prisoners were taken. After the completion of this operation the division resumed its defensive stance at Belyi. During the summer and autumn the sector remained relatively quiet, despite fierce battles raging in other parts of the Rzhev salient.

However, on the 25th November 1942 the Soviets launched Operation Mars a new offensive to destroy the Rzhev salient and one of the main assault sectors was at Belyi. On the first day, with generous tank support, they split open the front of the 246 Infantrie division between Ssimonowka-Demaschi, which was pushed to the north of the breach after suffering heavy casualties. Within three days the breakthrough had gained 20km's. 246 Infantrie division however, continued to hold it positions in Belyi to north of the breach, thereby preventing it being enlarged in that direction. Reinforcements consisting of Panzer divisions were rushed to the area and succeeded in halting the Soviet advance. They then went over to the counter attack, cut off the Soviet breakthrough at its base and destroyed the surrounded Soviet forces.

The division reoccupied its positions and continued to hold until March 1943, when the decision was taken to evacuate the salient. This was completed by the end of March and 246 Infantrie division took up new defensive positions near Dukhhovchina, 75km's north east of Smolensk.