During the Battle of Raseiniai in WWII, one Soviet tank held off German troops for 24 hours. The men inside were injured, hungry, and were deep behind enemy lines. There would be no reinforcements. Only the grit and determination of the soldiers inside.

Germany infiltrates Russian territory

The Battle of Raseiniai was a large tank battle that took place in June of 1941. It was part of Operation Barbarossa, Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. The battle took place in Lithuania, 47 miles northwest of Kaunas.

The Red Army’s 3rd and 12th Mechanized Corps did all they could to prevent the German 4th Panzer Group from crossing the Neman River, but they were unable to halt the advance. On June 23, Germany encountered Soviet KV heavy tanks for the first time. Germany’s anti-tank weapons were ineffective against them.

One tank with a big heart

As Germany continued to press into Lithuania, the majority of the Red Army’s mechanized forces were forced to pull back. One Soviet KV tank had plans of its own. It advanced far behind German lines, attacking a column of German trucks.

The Soviet tank stopped on the road and was heavily assaulted by the 6th Panzer Division anti-tank battalion. It took a beating but continued to return fire, disabling all four German guns. Night fell. German combat engineers tried to disable the tank with satchel charges. They damaged the tracks but failed to destroy the tank.

A blood-red sun

In the early morning, German infantry advanced. The KV tank opened heavy machine-gun fire, but it soon became clear that there would be no halting the advance. German tanks fired on the KV from the woods while an 88 mm gun assaulted it from the rear. German troops managed to toss grenades into the tank’s hatches.

German soldiers buried the Soviet crew with full military honors. The Battle of Raseiniai destroyed the majority of the Soviet’s Northwestern Front armored forces. Despite the heroic efforts of the KV tank, the path was cleared for the Germans to continue their attack into Russian territory.