Karotyak Bridgehead

Hungarian Shield Karotyak Bridgehead

More on the Battles For Uryv…

Uryv was not the only foothold the Soviets had over the Don in the Hungarian sector. After the Soviets retook the bridgehead at Uryv they also poured reinforcements into Karotyak, pushing the 10th Light Division out of the position and leaving another dangerous Soviet toehold in the Hungarian positions there.

During the second attack on Uryv the Hungarian 1st Armoured Field Division organised an identical force to attack the Soviet bridgehead at Karotyak. The Hungarian force consisted of one Tank, one Motorised Infantry and one Artillery Battalion and included 75mm anti-tank guns. The 12th Light Division added further support.
Hungarian Steel
The attack on Karotyak began on August 7. The attacking infantry and armoured forces soon came under intense artillery and air attacks; despite this Hungarian tanks and a few units of the 12th Light Division reached the Don bank at Karotyak. Unfortunately they were unable to mop up the bridgehead, rail line to the south remained in Soviet hands.

The next day the Hungarian attack group was reorganised and the attack re-launched.
Karotyak Map
Hungarian Panzer IV F1 This time the tanks stayed with the infantry and acted as assault guns, clearing pockets of heavy resistance so the infantry could continue their advance. By August 9 they had cleared part of the bridgehead. A Soviet attack on the positions of the III Corps on August 8 lead to the withdrawal of the 1st Armoured Field Division units from Karotyak. Further attacks would be carried out by the IV Corps only.
The departure of the 1st Armoured Field Division battle group left a gap on the left flank of the 12th Light Division and Soviet scouts soon discovered this and an attack was immediately launched. The only Hungarian troops holding this gap were artillery of the IV Corps. Artillery crews were organised into ad hock infantry units, leaving just minimal crews behind to fire the guns, but not permitting movement.

The men of the IV Corps gained valuable battle experience from this first encounter at Karotyak.

Gaming Ideas

The Hungarian artillerymen fought a desperate Hold the Line battle. For a scenario the artillery crews can be fielded as Puskás Platoons with Rifle teams only (don’t upgrade them to Rifle/MG teams). Allow them up to three Artillery Batteries as support, but no weapons platoons. Pit them against a Strelkovy Batalon.
A Hungarian rests after a days fighting.
A concealed Hungarian gun The 2nd Battle for the Karotyak Bridgehead

On August 12 the attack on the Soviets at Karotyak was renewed. This time the operations included the 10th and 13th Light Divisions with support from the 1st Armoured Field Division.

The battle lasted for three weeks. During the fighting the Hungarian armour we able to successfully deal with much of the Soviet armour, but were still troubled by T-34s. During the days fighting on August 15 the Hungarians tankers took out ten Soviet T-60s and lend lease M3 Stuarts, but several T-38Gs were taken out by T-34s.
Unfortunately they also lost two T-38Gs to the German 687 Infantry Regiment who mistakenly identified them as Soviet.

During the late August fighting the first replacement tanks arrived from the Germans in the form of four Panzer IV F2s.

The Karotyak bridgehead was finally destroyed on September 3 after the German 336 Infantry Division joined the fight, the combined weight of three Hungarian and one German Division finally pushing the Soviets back across the Don.

A Hungarian Anti-tank gun in action
A Hungarian infantry on the move. Stutye Bridgehead

The third Soviet bridgehead was at Stutye, to the south of Karotyak. Unusually no attacks were launched against this by either the Hungarians or Germans, this would be a fatal mistake later as it would prove the main route of attack for the Soviet 18th Rifle Corps on January 12, 1943, the first day of the attack that would break through the Hungarian 2nd Army.

Niehorster, Leo W. G., The Royal Hungarian Army, 1920 – 1945, Volume I Organisation and History, Axis Europa Books, Bayside New York, ISBN 1-891227-19-X

Mujzer, Dr. Péter, The Royal Hungarian Army, 1920 – 1945, Volume II Hungarian Mobile Forces, Axis Europa Books, Bayside New York, ISBN 1-891227-35-1 

Last Updated On Monday, January 10, 2022 by Wayne at Battlefront