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After leaving SS Brigade "Schuldt," SS-Kampfgruppe "Dietrich" ("LSSAH" and SS Polizei Div.), was assigned to the Army KGr. "Unrein," led by Oberst Unrein (CO of Panzergrenadier Rgt. 4), on 4 January 1943.

In addition to Pz.Gr.Rgt.4, the battle-group contained ll./Pz.Rgt. 11 under Major Dr. Baeke. KGr. "Unrein" was deployed in the Verchne-Obljvskiy sector. Upon its arrival in this area, SS-KGr. "Dietrich" was forced to launch a counterattack, with the support of tanks from KGr. "Unrein," just to regain and occupy its assigned positions.

In the course of 6 January, SS-KGr. "D" was withdrawn from the front under the cover of artillery fire and was then ordered to Kovytkin, from which point it was to take up defensive blocking positions in the Alexejev area. At 1830 hrs., the process of loading the SS troops and their equipment into vehicles began prior to their transfer to Alexejev. Four trucks were available to transport the "Leibstandarte" personnel, while two more were at the disposal of the battalion staff and 2nd Co./SS- Pol.Inf.Rgt.I. The men of 3rd Co./SS-Pol.lnf.Rgt.l were to make their way to Lugovoj, some 12 km away, by riding on top of tanks and in armored scout cars. In addition, the battle-group’s recent fatalities were to be transported to Kovytin for interment.

When the "LSSAH" troops reached Alexejev they were deployed in front of the town along the Stalingrad railroad line, in positions which were only 250 km due west of Stalingrad. They were later joined by the men of the SS-Polizei Div. companies. On the SS battalion left was the Army Anti-tank Detachment 518. SS-KGr. "Dietrich" was subordinated to Pz.Gr.Rgt. 114 under Oberst Zollenkopf on 7 January, and three Army self-propelled guns were attached to the SS command. Towards evening on the 7th, some Russian raiding parties broke into the northern part of Alexejev but were subsequently thrown out in a rapid counterattack and left 20 of their dead behind. To the southwest, Army Det. "Hollidt" had begun pulling back to the west of Morosoff so it was only a matter of time before the Alexejev positions had to go.

On 9 January 1943, SS-KGr. "Dietrich" sent out assault troops to probe the enemy lines. Afterwards the Reds responded in kind with a vigorous attack on the battlegroup’s positions early in the morning of 10 January. The fighting continued until noon when the communists broke off their assault. On 11 January, SS-KGr. "Dietrich" was pulled out of Alexejev and was ordered to proceed as rapidly as possible through Tazinskaja and Masslof to Krassny Gornjak, 6 km to the west of Masslof. The Reds were making a concerted effort to break into the rear of the German forces before Rostov in this general area.

The front on both sides of Krassny Gornjak was held by the hard-pressed Pz.Gr.Rgt.7, and SS-KGr. "Dietrich" was instructed to reinforce it. Upon arriving, the SS troops were flung into violent fighting, and hard close combat raged around the town throughout 12 January and into the early morning of the 13th. The pressure was then taken off somewhat by a relief attack launched towards Masslof by 7th Pz. Division. Although this operation ultimately proved indecisive, it helped stabilize the shaky front, and the men of SS-KGr. "D" were able to enjoy a calm day on 14 January. On the 15th and 16th the hard close-in combat resumed and in the midst of it the SS battle-group was ordered to relocate to a spot about 8 km south of Karpovo-Obryvskiy.


Stubaf. Dietrich (left) with officers from his battle-group

On 17 January, SS-KGr. "D" travelled through Forchstadt to Olchovskiy where it was attached to 6th Pz.Div. and given a new assignment. The battle-group was ordered to put scout troops into operation in order to maintain contact with neighboring units and to keep track of any enemy movement across the Donez, particularly at night. SS-KGr. "D’s" other mission was to prepare random "breakwater" defenses in case of enemy breakthroughs in the sector facing west and southwest from Ravine #5 and the village of Kossovyj to the open fields between the railroad line and the Donez River. To the right of the SS battle-group was Group "Franke," which consisted of poorly armed combat troops and assorted soldiers who had been grouped together indiscriminately after returning from home leaves, while on the left was the Rgt. "Huenersdorff."

SS-KGr. "Dietrich" stayed in place on the western edge of Olchovskij until 3 February. In that time there was only one day of heavy fighting or close combat, and that was 27 January. Other than that, only scouting operations and occasional skirmishes took place. During this period of time the battle-group received the services of the light infantry gun platoon of 4th Co./VII./"LSSAH."

On 24 January the HQ of 6th Army in Stalingrad announced its intention to surrender as soon as feasible and by 1 February all German resistance in that city had ceased. This meant that massive new Red forces would be available for use against the German troops to the west of Stalingrad. Preparations had to be made quickly in an effort to stem the flood.

On 3 February, SS-KGr. "Dietrich" was removed from the control of IIl./Inf.Rgt.l29/306th Inf.Div. and sent 15 km to the west in the Lipoff-Ssasonoff sector, where it was attached to Oberst Rodt’s 22nd Pz. Division. The battle-group had been reduced in size to two companies, one "LSSAH" and one "SS Polizei," and assorted staff troops. On the 4th it entered the lines, facing southwards, with the "LSSAH" Co. holding positions from Knoesel, If km north-northwest of Werch Sasonoff to the east part of the town. The "Polizei" Co. then took over as far as the Boganoff Ravine. The lines could only be manned by strongpoints placed at strategic intervals. A 2 cm Flak platoon under Lt. Bogainy was placed in support of the battle-group positions. The right-hand neighbor of the SS troops was the Army Rifle Bn. 24.

The next few days saw a considerable amount of enemy movement and reconnaissance activities. A major Russian penetration some 50 km to the northwest once again caused the German front to contract and begin adjusting backwards. For one whole day, SS-KGr. "Dietrich" was left on its own to defend an exposed angle where the front veered off sharply from the east to the south, but no particular problems developed. In the late afternoon of 9 February, the SS battle-group was relieved by II. and III. Battalions of Inf.Rgt.581 and was transferred by trucks from the divisional supply column to the area due east of Sverplovsk.

SS-KGr. "D" now had 11 trucks and two motorcycles (one with a sidecar), at its disposal, but the trucks had to be used for hauling supplies, munitions and field kitchens and were thus not able to transport any troops. On 10 February it was rumored that the battle-group would either be sent to join the 6th Pz.Div. or SS Bde. "Schuldt" and on the next day a few trucks arrived from SS Bde. "Schuldt" to transport the SS battalion to Krassnodonsk. It was "Kapt’n" Schuldt’s second attempt to regain control of the battle-group before someone else latched on to it again. But once again something came up. A new Soviet breakthrough to the south of Voroschilovgrad caused SS-KGr. "Dietrich" to be rushed to the south to join 22nd Pz.Div. in an attempt to block off any further Red advances. It was subsequently posted along a line running from Volnuchino to Kruglik to Malaja to Nikolajevka.

Stubaf. Dietrich presenting decorations to his men

On the 12th, SS troops had to reconnoiter the area on foot (due to a heavy snow storm), and found it to be still free of the foe. By 13 February, SS-KGr. "D" had occupied its designated line and had scouted the terrain to the southwest, west and northwest. While the villages were found not to be enemy occupied, some enemy cavalry movement to the west and northwest had been observed. On the 15th, 22nd Pz.Div. was ordered to fall back on Voroschilova. While accompanying this division on its withdrawal, SS-KGr. "D" was ordered out of line to help Gebirgsjaeger Rgt. 114 clear out yet another enemy penetration near the Hills 220.5 and 199. With the backing of three assault guns, the "LSSAH" and "Polizei" Companies were able to restore the situation by the onset of dusk, following which they continued on to Voroschilova. The next day was peaceful, but the SS men remained wary and on the alert due to the uncertain military situation.

The 17th of February saw the battlegroup contain a small Red breakthrough in the hills north of Voroschilova. During the evening hours, SS-KGr. "D" served as the rearguard for a general withdrawal from the area, but no enemy pursuit was noticed. On the next day the battlegroup reached Petro Krassnosselje and took its leave from the 22nd Pz. Division. After a long absence, SS-Bn. "Dietrich" was then ordered to rejoin the SS Brigade "Schuldt" on 19 February 1943.

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