“High Water Mark of the Wehrmacht”-German units penetrate to within 19 kilometers of the Kremlin during the Battle of Moscow, December 2, 1941. Painting by Howard Gerrard
No actual fighting going on in this painting, but an important historical moment nonetheless. This image comes from Osprey Publishing’s Campaign 167-Moscow 1941. The painting was done by Howard Gerrard.
More info from the book:
“After the fall of Istra on 27 November 1941, the remnants of the Soviet 16th Army fell back in some disarray towards Moscow. Although Rokossovsky was able to quickly re-establish a new defensive line closer to the capital, the retreat left some temporary gaps. Fourth Panzer Army dispatched a number of patrols to try and infiltrate the threadbare Soviet lines and find a suitable crossing over the Moskva-Volga Canal – the last major water obstacle between the Germans and the Soviet capital.
Around 1900hrs on 1 December 1941, a motorized patrol from the German 62nd Panzer Pioneer Battalion managed to slip unobserved through a gap in Rokossovsky’s line. During the night, temperatures rose due to a thaw, creating patches of thick ground fog that aided the German infiltration and not a shot was fired at the patrol as it moved steadily closer to Moscow. Around dawn, the German patrol reached the train station in the village of Khimki, still without being fired upon. The distance from the Khimki train station to the Kremlin was 19km. Russian civilians in Khimki panicked when they saw Germans riding into the town and either hid or fled, although a few local militia members fired at the Germans from a distance. The patrol leader realized that they had discovered an unprotected route to the capital and realized that he must report this vital information quickly to Fourth Panzer Army. After a brief stay in Khimki, the German troops drove back the way they had come and reached the German lines. However, the Fourth Panzer Army no longer had the combat strength left to take advantage of this coup.
The German patrol was probably built around a Motorized Light Combat Engineer Company and supposedly had about eight motorcycles plus a few light vehicles. This scene depicts the reconnaissance patrol as having several BMW motorcycles with and without sidecars, two Type 82 Kubelwagens and one SdKfz 15 medium personnel carrier, along with about 20 troops. Operation Barbarossa was the first campaign for the nimble Type 82 and its good performance on poor-quality Russian roads made it an instant favourite. However, the SdKfz 15, which was often used as a scout car in engineer units, suffered during Typhoon from poor off-road capability and a weak transmission. The German lieutenant leading the patrol looks at the poster on the wall of the train station and realizes just how close they are to the Soviet capital.”
I can only imagine what was going through the thoughts of these cold German soldiers. Gazing at the distant lights of Moscow that appear tantalizingly close after such a long campaign.