|SS-Obersturmführer Hans Flügel|
SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Wiking fell back through Zimovniki and Proletarskaya. On January 16 1943, the German Bridgehead on the East bank of Manytsh was only held by the division. During those days in the middle of January 1943, a race against time started. A period began that saw a steady withdrawal from sector to sector, from Zelina and Yegorlykskaya towards Bataisk. Who would reach the bridges over the Don at Rostow first? Would it be the German forces in the Caucasus flowing back in an orderly fashion to the North and Northwest or would it be the Soviets who were constantly being reinforced. The casualties continued: companies shrank to platoons, platoons to sections. The value of those days cannot be measured highly enough in the race against time for holding open the area from Bataisk to Rostow for the withdrawal of the German formations across the Don. At 15:30 hours February 4 1943, orders arrived for the withdrawal to Rostow. The bridgehead over Don at Rostow was held open until the beginning of February 1943. Thanks to outstanding performance of the Wiking, the Soviets did not achieve their objectives – breakthrough and encirclement. Image: To the left: SS-Obersturmführer Hans Flügel, Commander of Wiking´s II.Kompanie. He would later receive the Knight's Cross on October 16 1944 while in command of Wiking´s II.Battalion. Flügel survived World War II and died on March 1 1989. Public domain.