Tanks clash at Prokhorovka
12th July 1943: During the largest tank battle in history one Red Army infantryman is determined to destroy a Tiger tank
The battle of Kursk, which the Germans had launched on the 5th July, continued. The Wehrmacht and SS troops were making much less progress than anticipated. They found themselves confronting successive lines of well-prepared Soviet defences, manned by determined troops who were prepared to fight to the death in defence of the motherland.
Within the wide-ranging continuous battle, one engagement stood out. On the 12th July one of the largest single-tank engagements of the war broke out south of the city of Prokhorovka - when the Germans made a sustained attempt to smash through the Russian lines with a concentration of armour. Estimates vary about the numbers involved, but it is thought that a combined total of over a thousand tanks clashed that day.
The heat of the fighting can be illustrated by the fact that along the battlefront clouds formed from which rain fell. These leaden clouds marked the curved outline of the front, while in our rear (and that of the Germans) the sky was absolutely clear. I have never again seen anything like it! It was a blazing hell and the hot air rose upwards night and day.