At 8.00 July 26, 1944 our artillery started the 30-minute preparatory fire.
The 40th tank mine-sweepers' regiment, cleared two passages in the mine field allowing our regiment to join the battle. Soon the fight continued already in the trenches as our tanks and Guard Infantrymen reached the first line of the German defense.
We made a few shots from our flame-thrower and hand-to-hand combat in the trenches started. Suddenly I saw explosions around my tank. The driver, Viktor Kulik, member to the Order of the Red Banner, saw them as well and turned the tank left. I could only guess why when I saw four guns behind the bushes. I fired from the gun while Viktor dealt with the gun crews from the flame-thrower.
The counter-attack of German tanks came without warning. As a giant hammer, the shell bounced off the turret. The bang announced the opening of the encounter battle. I felt pain and blood on my hands and face, the splinters from the internal surface of the turret got me. The first thought was that we should get out of the open and fast. Not far from us partly ruined, partly burning, was the small farm. A few barns were still standing.
The smoke from the fire stretched over the ground and under its cover we rushed toward the farm. The Germans shifted the fire to the farm, evidently, supposing it to be a good place for an ambush.
The enemy did not make us wait. After a few more preventive shots at the farm, a Panther appeared among smoke and fire almost at the same time with us.
Evidently, the beast still did not saw us in the dust and smoke because it swerved suddenly and crushed to the ground already burning barn, giving us a clear line to its side.
"Thank you, Fritz", thought I, firing from the gun. The shell hit the Panther in the front left part of the hull. The tank stopped abruptly among the burning ruins. I shot again damaging the track.
Evidently, the graveness of the situation was clear to the fascists, as one of them appeared from the hatch with submachine gun in hands and shooting around. I cut him down by a burst from the machine gun. Nobody else came out and some seconds later the turret of the Panther raised on the column of the orange fire and fell aside. The fascist swine ended its battle career.
I looked around. With the air support, the Germans continued the counter-attack. Returning to the line of our tanks, I saw three burning German tanks. Meanwhile the fight went on all around us. The tanks of Ivan Gorbachev, Vasiliy Bushma were burning. Novikov blew up on the mine just after killing a self-propelled gun. The company commander, Uvarov, skillfully got his tank on flank position and killed two tanks. The air in the tank was hot and stale from non-stop shooting, it was difficult to breath but we moved forward shooting and maneuvering, step by step pushing Germans backwards.
More tanks remained on the battlefield but again, with new power, came a barrage from our artillery and Katjushas. The small pause allowed us to re-group and attack again. At 14.00 on June 26, 1944, the German retreated from the last town on the way to Belostok.
Very soon it became evident that the Germans moved all their reserves into the battle. More desperate counter-attacks followed. But in vain! We reached Belostok. Germans fought bravely and fiercely. Each street was taken after the heavy fight.
Nothing could help Germans. At 20.00 they remained only in the Western part of Belostok, trying to keep the road to Warsaw.
The battle continued the whole night and on 27th Belostok was taken. Following retreating fascists, we rushed forward. Suddenly, on one of the streets Uvarov's tank stopped. We saw a small Polish girl running to us and shouting "Mines! Mines!" It turned out that the Germans mined the street. Thanks to the bravery of the girl, our tanks were saved.
Boris Shelukhanov distinguished himself in Belostok. His tank was hit by two AT shells and burned. The crew did not leave their tank but extinguished the fire and continued the battle, killing a few MG's. They were hit again by a self-propelled gun. The shell hit the turret, totally damaging the gun and killing the loader. The Germans failed to stop Boris. He continued the battle, bringing the terror with his flame-thrower.
All battles end. Ended and this one. Standing among smoking ruins, we saw the columns of infantry, tanks and Katjushas moving to the West. We would join our comrades later-our regiment is for now in the reserve. In honor for the battle for Belostok, our regiment was named after the city of Belostok. My crew got medals "For the bravery" and I was awarded with the Red Star.
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