Surprise Soviet attack outside Stalingrad
19th November 1942: The Red Army launches Operation Uranus - and moves to isolate the German 6th Army
On the Eastern Front the Germans believed that the Soviet Army was as exhausted as they were. The German focus was on making the final breakthrough in Stalingrad where they had 'only' to dislodge a few small pockets of Russians clinging on to the west bank of the Volga - and they would have won the battle. Everything could then settle down for the remainder of the winter.
Stalingrad lay at the very end of a very long supply line. The wide open spaces of the terrain to the west of the city were nominally under German occupation. In practice they were thinly held by the Romanian Army, bolstered by small groups of German troops.
Henry Metelman1 was amongst these troops, sitting it out in the middle of nowhere. He describes how the situation dramatically changed in this hitherto quiet sector of the front:
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