BATTLE OF THE DNIPER, Fall 1943A TOTAL OF 2,438 SOLDIERS WERE AWARDED THE TITLE OF HERO OF THE SOVIET UNION FOR FORCING THE DNIEPER CROSSING – THE ONLY SUCH MASSIVE AWARD CEREMONY FOR ONE OPERATION IN THE WHOLE HISTORY
History and Modernity
Great Patriotic War
Georgy Zhukov, Marshal of the Soviet Union: “The troops that forced the Dnieper displayed the greatest insistence, bravery and courage. As a rule, after approaching a river, they moved forward at once, without waiting for military hardware to build bridges. The units crossed the Dnieper by any means - wooden rafts, makeshift ferries, fishing boats and motorboats, using anything they could find. The opposite bank also saw fierce fighting for bridgeheads. Having no time to take hold, the troops engaged in fighting the enemy who tried to throw them back into the river at any cost...”
As a result of a four-month offensive operation, the left bank of the Dnieper was liberated by the Red Army from German occupants. During the operation, considerable forces of the Red Army forced the river, created several bridgeheads on the western bank, as well as liberated the city of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.
The Dnieper is Europe’s third largest river after the Volga and the Danube. In the lower reaches, the river’s width can reach 3 kilometers. The right (west) bank is much higher and steeper than the left bank, which considerably complicated the crossing.
In addition, the opposite bank was turned by German Army soldiers into a huge complex of barriers and fortification facilities – “the Eastern Wall.”
The forcing of the Dnieper is the most vivid example of Soviet troops’ heroism. Using the slightest opportunity, soldiers crossed the river on any water craft and, under most fierce fire of German troops, sustained heavy losses.
The Soviet troops created new fortifications on regained bridgeheads, digging into the ground from enemy fire and covering with fire the approach of new forces.
At the end of 1943, the Chinese Army successfully repelled one of the “rice attacks” by the Japanese in the Hunan Province, emerging victorious in the Battle of Changde.