Near Voronezh, Defense Ministry experts raised an American tank used during the World War II from the bottom of the Don. This fighting vehicle called «General Stuart» was supplied to the Red Army as part of US Lend-Lease program. The work was complicated by a strong current and very poor visibility. Alexander Revunov will tell about how the tank got into the river waters and what happened to the crew.
75 years under water. However, the «General Stuart» tank managed to completed the crossing. It lost the tower, but the ammunition is intact. Most likely, «General Stuart» was in the 24th tank corps. In the summer of 1942, there was a bridge over which carts with wounded fighters defending the town of Ostrogozhsk got to the rear. Most likely, this fighting machine covered the retreat of our troops. It was one of the last to get to the bridge and came under artillery fire of the Wehrmacht attacking battalions. The Uryv village, which was in the center of those bloody events, was occupied several times.
As a result of the fighting, it was burnt down to the ground. The banks of the Don are littered with deadly iron. Divers sent these shells to EOD specialists during the first hours of work. Samples of weapons of three countries: a German anti-tank mine, an American 37-mm warhead for M3 Stuart, and a 100-kilogram howitzer. An explosive. There is at least 15 kilograms. It has a very large radius of damage for both equipment and personnel. Divers didn’t find the remains of the fighters.
Perhaps, the «General Stuart» crew managed to leave the tank. What happened to them will be established with the help of the archival documents of the Ministry of Defence. Long work is ahead to clean the hull from an almost century-old crust of river sand, shells, and silt. They need to find the serial number. According to it, it will be possible to trace the history of this American tank from the moment of its creation and to the last battle. It’s a light tank with a 37-millimeter gun. It had been delivered to us since 1942 as part of US Lend-Lease program. Its fighting power wasn’t very good, so it fought badly against seriously armored units. But it was used.
The work of divers is complicated by a strong current, 1.5 meters per second. After high waters, visibility is almost at a zero level. In addition, in more than 70 years, military equipment has sunk into the sand up to the lower edge of the hatches. Before starting the tank lifting operation, the divers had to wash out the soil with pumps. We have a special underwater flashlights that give us some light. In fact, the work of the diver is done by touch, everything is tactile. Until you touch it, you can’t understand what it is. Another finding became a surprise for divers.
On the place where there used to be a bridge, they managed to find the remains of a German tank. A S-65 Stalinets tractor was hidden close to the shore. These exhibits will also be examined by the military equipment restoration crew.