The Gniloy Tikich River
Unknown to the group, about a mile to the northwest, the 1st Panzer division had a bridge under their control and the engineers of the Jena Armoured Engineer Battalion had also erected a smaller footbridge.
As the first arrivals milled around the river, the first T-34’s appeared in the distance. Firing high-explosive shells and ricocheting airbursts, they caused panic. For many, the choice was clear. They would either have to brave the strong current or die where they stood.
Whole groups of men jumped in and began to try to cross. Many were swept away by the current, or dragged under by the weight of their uniforms and drowned. Men began to strip in order to improve their chances of survival. However those who reached the other side were suffering terribly from the cold, the temperature that morning was -5°C. The men still had over a mile to walk through the snow before they reached the safety of the German lines.