Tuesday, 28 July 2015

First PTRs

"People's Commissariat of Defense of the USSR
Military Council of the 30th Army
September 23rd, 1941

To the HQ chief of the Western Front, #029/OP in response to #01012 on September 15th, 1941

Inspections of anti-tank rifle platoons and meetings with platoon commanders revealed the following:

Anti-tank rifle companies arrived at the army HQ on August 17th, and were sent to divisions on that same day.
Company commanders, upon arriving at divisional HQ, reported to division commanders regarding the purpose of these rifles and their tactical characteristics.
Commanders of the 251st, 242th, and 162nd infantry divisions treated the rifles as a formality. There were no orders to the divisions or inventory entries, even though they were warned about the great secrecy and value as an anti-tank weapon of the new rifles.
Regimental commanders treated the rifles the same way as the divisional commanders, and used them recklessly.

Anti-tank rifle personnel were frequently thrown into offensives, ordered to fire upon pillboxes and machineguns from their rifles. As a result, 450 rounds were used up fruitlessly, about 40 men were lost, and two rifles have still not been found. It is possible that they have fallen into the hands of the enemy.

Commanders (instructors) of the anti-tank rifle regiments did not demonstrate the necessary backbone and did not manage to persuade battalion and regimental commanders to use the rifles correctly.

Existing measures did not correct this state. Divisional commanders were warned and the guilty are being investigated. Attached is a copy of order #048/OP issued on September 22nd, 1941.

It is necessary to use the anti-tank rifles as follows:
  1. Attach ATR companies (3 platoons) to infantry regiments. It is reasonable to have a separate heavy weapons battalion at the divisional level.
  2. Increase the crew of one rifle to 5 men (2 carry the rifle, two carry ammunition, one is for communication). Give them a cart.
  3. Each ATR platoon should have one handheld machinegun and two PPDs for cover (to destroy small enemy groups that seep through).
  4. Carefully pick the personnel, especially commanders. Equip them with necessary communications and control equipment. (Company commanders should be issued a motorcycle).
Commander of the 30th Army, Major-General Khomenko
Member of the Army Military Council, Brigade Commissar Abramov
HQ Chief of the 30th Army, Colonel Vinogradov"


  1. Using them against pill boxes and machine gun nests actually seems like a good idea to me, especially considering their limited usefulness against tanks. "Divisional commanders were warned and the guilty are being investigated" does not sound like a situation that would encourage much tactical creativeness.

    1. The document is dated 1941, so at that time the 14.5mm AT rifles were still pretty effective against german tanks from the side. In other words they were the most effective weapon against tanks that wasnt a towed gun.
      Also popping 14.5mm AP bullets at a concrete structure or a bunch of sandbags is almost completely fruitless, since the rounds dont explode in any way and the kinetic impact is negligible. Might as well throw stones.
      Also at the time the red army still had very few experienced officers thanks to stalins paranoia, and tactical creativity was discouraged. Being a complete fool on the other hand is obviously punishable.