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6th Panzer Division - Combat Diary

01.07.41 The division remains in the bridgehead at Līvāni, although forward elements push on and reach Varakļāni.

02.07.41 Local Russian attacks are repulsed throughout the day in order to keep the highway to Ostrov open for the supply of 1st and 6th Panzer Divisions.

03.07.41 Ordered to bypass significant Russian forces at Kārsava, the division moves through the swamps around Tilža, making slow progress. This leaves the bulk of the division scattered over a wide area. However, forward elements manage to reach the highway at Gavry.

German Pzkpfw 35(t) tank and infantry

04.07.41 Advance elements capture Augšpils and Jaunlatgale, and reach the Latvian-Russian border. Attacked by Russians east of Baltinava, who cut the Baltinava-Gavry road. Russians defeated by Motorcycle Battalion and Engineers equipped with Nebelwerfers. The division regroups in preparation for the attack against the Stalin Line. Kārsava taken by 8.Pz., relieving the division of the threat to its flanks and rear.

05.07.41 The division assaults the Stalin Line, breaking through late in the afternoon after 15 hours of fighting.

06.07.41 Ostrov is reached late morning and the division moves into the eastern part of the bridgehead. Russians either side of the Ostrov-Porkhov road are attacked and the division advances a further 10km.

07.07.41 Attack at Ostrov bridgehead gains a further 10-15km towards the north-east before the troops grind to a halt through exhaustion and enemy counter-attacks. Kampfgruppe Raus continues to advance on the evening.

08.07.41 Limited advance towards Porkhov, then the division pivots northwards. Kampfgruppe Raus is attacked by strong Russian tank forces on approaching Slavkovichi. Kampfgruppe von Seckendorf attacks northwards and establishes a bridgehead across the Cherekha River. Kampfgruppe Raus moves up to the bridgehead during the night.

09.07.41 The division crosses the Pskov-Porkhov railway line, then attacks eastward. Kampfgruppe Raus, to the north, reaches Zagoska by turning east through Lopatovo. Kampfgruppe von Seckendorf, to the south, is halted by Russians defending the road triangle at Yamkino.

10.07.41 The second appearance of Soviet heavy tanks leads to the first tactical failure of the division since Barbarossa began. However, the Russians withdraw from Yamkino during the night and move eastwards to Borovichi.

Abandoned Russian T-26 tanks

11.07.41 The division is ordered to halt the drive east and advance north towards Novosel'e to assist the 1st Panzer Division, whose drive via the Leningrad-Pskov highway towards Luga has run into stiff resistance. Marched through sandy/swampy terrain across dirt tracks, averaging 1½ km per hour.

12.07.41 Forward elements attack Russians guarding highway and manage to cross Cherekha River, pushing the Russians back to the south of Novosel'e.

13.07.41 Forced march northwards a distance of 59km in 9 hours to seize a bridge over Plyussa River at Lyady and form a bridgehead. Launch a surprise raid and capture the bridge intact. Kampfgruppe Raus ordered to seize two bridges over Luga River near Porech'e. Reach swampy region south and west of Lake Samro, where road turns to marshland and the advance bogs down. Continue to advance through the night. Reach hard road at Zaruchye after 8 hour march. The remainder of the division reaches Lyady.

14.07.41 Kampfgruppe Raus seizes two bridges over the Luga River in a surprise attack, then pushes on and seizes the road junction at Ivanovskoye. Attack airfield at Yastrebina with a platoon of light tanks, destroying many Russian aircraft on the ground. Muravina and Porech'e are bombed by the Russians in retaliation. Dig-in and prepare to defend the bridgehead, which measures 5km long by several hundred metres wide. The remainder of the division has to wait for engineers to construct a corduroy road through the marshy terrain en-route to the Luga bridgehead.

15.07.41 Attacked by Russian aircraft early morning, then by 1st Proletarian Division, supported by tanks, during the course of the morning, but attacks defeated. Attacked four times by 3rd Proletarian Division on the afternoon, but defeated the attacks each time. During another attack, one KV tank rampages through the Regimental HQ. The remainder of the division are still waiting for the corduroy road to be completed so they can move into the bridgehead.

German Pzkpfw 35(t) tank

16.07.41 Russian attacks continue for two days in succession against the Luga bridgehead using the same tactics, all to no avail.

18.07.41 Russians use different tactics, including a surprise night attack by a company from the 2nd Proletarian Division. Several further attacks against the bridgehead during the course of the day are defeated. Kampfgruppe Raus starts to run low on ammunition.

19.07.41 Joined in the Luga bridgehead by 3rd Battalion, 118th Motorised Infantry Regiment of the 36th Motorised Infantry Division during the night.

20.07.41 Ivanovskaya attacked from both sides by heavy tanks, but defeated. Several infantry attacks follow, which are again defeated. Counter-attack a Russian infantry regiment in the rear and defeat it. The remainder of the division is attacked by Russians at Arinovka.

21.07.41 Kampfgruppe Raus remains in the Luga bridgehead for the next two and a half weeks, during which time, the troops rest and plan for the breakout. The remainder of the division counter-attack the Russians and push them back to Monastyrek.

23.07.41 Russians attempt to cross the Luga River south-east of Porech'e in order to encircle the bridgehead. 1st Infantry Division arrives to take over the defence of the bridgehead, but only takes up positions in the left half of the bridgehead in order to leave the division room for a jumping off point for the breakout.

27.07.41 Russian attacks slowly die down as XXXVIII Corps reach Luga. 78 wrecked Russian tanks are found in the bridgehead.

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