White And Allied Tanks In Russia

The Russians became interested in acquiring tanks after the British successfully employed them on the Western Front in 1916. Shortly before the October Revolution, the Russian Technical Commission in London partly prepaid an order for British tanks, after having noted their essential superiority over the lighter French models. None arrived before the descent into civil war.

Four models of tanks (three British, one French) participated in the Russian Civil War: the heavy Mark V, the Medium Mark A, the Medium Mark B and the French light Renault FT-17.

Knockout Russian Tank

British Royal Tank Corps personnel inspecting Whippet No. A356 at the Baltic Works, Taganrog, southern Russia, summer 1919. The British tank school had originally been established in Ekaterinodar in the Kuban in April, but had moved to Taganrog by June. Some 200 Russian officers had been trained, interchangeably, as drivers and gunners by the end of the year. (Deryabin)

British Royal Tank Corps personnel inspecting Whippet No. A356 at the Baltic Works, Taganrog, southern Russia, summer 1919. The British tank school had originally been established in Ekaterinodar in the Kuban in April, but had moved to Taganrog by June. Some 200 Russian officers had been trained, interchangeably, as drivers and gunners by the end of the year. (Deryabin)

The Whites had no internal factories capable of producing tanks; all had to be imported from Britain and France. Nearly all tanks in the White inventories were British.

Whenever tanks appeared they dominated the battlefield, seizing strongpoints and overrunning panicked enemy forces. Only a concentration of Red artillery or Gar ford gun cars could drive ihein away.4 Conversely, the arrival of tanks had an almost magical effect on the Whites. White generals on all fronts consistently requested these from the Allies above all other logistical considerations. British Royal Tank Corps personnel witnessed mounted Kuban Cossacks kissing the sides of tanks in gratitude.

Tanks did have inherent limitations. Due to their limited ranges by road, and far less across country, they had to be transported by train to a point within a few miles of the intended action. Since most Civil War battles took place within 20 miles of a railway, this in itself was not a major limitation. Far more limiting was their vulnerability to mechanical breakdowns. Repairs in the field, perhaps under lire, were understandably difficult. In addition, operational distances had to be considered against the proximity of fuel supplies. A knocked-out bridge, or indeed a bridge too weak to support a tank's weight, could effectively terminate their advance.

The limitations tanks imposed on crews were also considerable. Nicholas Wreden, a junior officer in the White Northwestern Army, described his condition after a full day's combat spent inside the tank Captain Cmmit in I9I9: "every member of the crew was half-poisoned by the odors exuding from the motor, and by the fumes of gunpowder which had accumulated in the tank. The heat inside was terrific, and the steel near the motor scorched one's fingers." Stumbling outside, lie pressed his face to the cool, damp ground and vomited.

The primary problem with the tanks, however, was simply that there were not enough of them. Even more importantly, there were never enough fully trained crew, especially on the southern front where the greatest employment of tanks took place.

French tanks in South Russia

The first tanks in Russia arrived at ihc port of Odessa on the Black Sea on 18 December 1918 in order to reinforce French and (¡reek divisions facing ihe Bolsheviks in ilie southern Ukraine. These tanks, numbering approximately 20, were assigned to the 303rd Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Special Artillery Regiment. These tanks were the Renault FT-17 model. Six "Renos" were lost to the Reds in engagements in February and March 1919. At least six more were left behind for the local Whites during the hasty French evacuation in April.

Rumors persist in Western sources that the French supplied the AFSR with 100 Renaults. These do not appear in White orders of battle and are not mentioned in memoirs. British tank pioneer GeneralJ.EC. Fuller, who inspected Denikin's tanks in August 1919, testified that the Reds had captured six Renault tanks from the French and that three of these had been captured by the Whites.

American tanks in the Russian Far East

Admiral Kolchak urgently requested tanks from the United States in September 1919, just before his spectacular, if short-lived, Tobol offensive. In response, ten American Renault FT-17 tanks arrived in Vladivostok in March 1920; unfortunately, Kolchak was executed bv the Reds in February. Bolshevik railway workers learned of the scheme and diverted this shipment to the Amur Red Partisans.

Russian Reds Versus Whites Photos

Front of the Mark V composite tank For Greater Russia, 1st Tank Detachment, attached to General Baron Wrangel's Caucasian Army, Armed Forces of South Russia, at Tsaritsyn, 1919. Two of the White soldiers wear peasant's hats popular in the Volga region between Astrakhan and Saratov. Note the tarpaulin cover on top. (Deryabin)

Tanks in North Russia

Four British Mark V heavv tanks and two Medium Bs of the North Russian Tank Detachment, commanded by Major J.N.I.. Bryan, arrived in the White Sea port of Archangel on 11 August 1919. Officially, the tanks were dispatched to cover the Allied evacuation from Russia. Unofficially, however, they were probably sent in order to test the new Medium B, which had not had such a field opportunity in France.

Three tanks saw brief action along the Vologda Railway in support of an armored train on 29 August, but opportunities to employ the tanks effectively were limited by the immense forests and marshes of North Russia. Headquartered at Solombala on the outskirts of Archangel, the detachment trained Russian volunteers in the use of tanks until final evacuation on 27 September. Ten officers and 24 enlisted men comprised the new North Russian Tank Corps, commanded by Colonel Kenotkenich.

The British left the Corps two tanks, a Mark V (No. 9085) and a Medium B (No. 1613). According to a telegram sent by Kenotkenich to Bryan, these tanks were put to good use in October: "Proud keep traditions, Knglish lank Corps. Took in glorious fight five fortified points and Plesetskaia Station."

The next months, however, took their toll on the northern Whites as the Red Army, increasingly freed from commitments on other fronts, reinforced the northern sector. As the Whites prepared for evacuation on 19 February 1920, General S.T. Dobrovolsky witnessed the last of the ('.orps demolishing tank controls and removing the machine guns. 1 lours before the Bolsheviks entered the city, the tanks were loaded onto barges and sunk in the North Dvina. F.nterprising Red engineers subsequently raised these and shipped them to Moscow for analysis.

Front of the Mark V composite tank For Greater Russia, 1st Tank Detachment, attached to General Baron Wrangel's Caucasian Army, Armed Forces of South Russia, at Tsaritsyn, 1919. Two of the White soldiers wear peasant's hats popular in the Volga region between Astrakhan and Saratov. Note the tarpaulin cover on top. (Deryabin)

Tanks in Northwest Russia

The British Northwest Russian Tank Detachment began arriving at Reval, Estonia, on (i August 1919 to support General N.N. Yudenich's Northwestern Army. Commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel E. Hope-Carson, the detachment comprised 22 officers, 2f> enlisted men and eventually six tanks.

The detachment moved east to Narva at the end of August, and Russian personnel began assembling for instruction, 22 officers (of whom ten were

Narva Fighting Combats 1918

The Medium A (also called the Whippet) had been conceived in 1917. This medium tank possessed a maximum armor protection of '¿in., a crew of four, stood 9ft (2.75m) high with a length of 20ft (6.1m) and a width of 8ft 7in. (2.62m). Weighing 14 tons, the Whippet could achieve a maximum speed of 8.3mph (13.4km/hr) with its twin 45hp Tyior engines; almost twice that of the Mark V, and a rate which allowed it to keep pace with the cavalry. The Medium A carried four Hotchkiss machine guns and had an 80-mile (130km) range. This photo shows three Whippets comprising the 4th Tank Detachment, attached to General Baron Wrangel's Caucasian Army, Armed Forces of South Russia, summer 1919. By October, the detachment had been dispatched to General Denikin's headquarters at Taganrog on the Sea of Azov. By November, the 4th had been attached to the cavalry of the Volunteer Army. Note the open rear doors for ventilation. (Deryabin)

naval), and nine enlisted men. Mixed Anglo-Russian teams were formed into ;i Tank Battalion. According to Hope-Carson: "The tanks issued to us were Mark V Composite, carrying one 6-pdr. and the usual number of machine guns" (probably five). The names of live of these tanks are known: First Aid, Captain Cromie, Brown Hear, Liberator and 'While Soldier.

A Tank Shock Battalion also began forming in early September in order to provide direct infantry support. Led by Captain P.O. Shishko, former commander of the Naval Battalion of Death, the unit numbered 250-400 volunteers.

The tanks first had to stabilize a threatening situation at the front before securing Yamburg, on the Russian-Estonian frontier, the natural base for an offensive against Petrograd. The lirst ac tion took place in early September 1919 southeast of Gdov. Here, Naval Warrant Officer A.S. Strakhov, aboard the White Soldier, witnessed the enemy running from their defenses upon seeing the tanks. Subsequently, during 11-15 September, First Aid, Captain Cromie, Brmifn Bear and I lit- Shock Battalion helped halt a Red breakthrough south of Gdov. Two of the tanks then scattered the Reds at Strugi Belyi on the 28lh.

Brown Bear, First Aid and Captain Cromie assisted in taking the critical point of Yamburg on the Luga River on 11 October. After a gallant rush across the temporaiT wooden bridge by the Tank Shock Battalion, the Whites occupied the city. The tanks themselves had to cross a shallow lord in the Luga. All tanks had concentrated at Yamburg and had been entrained by 17 October. Meanwhile, White units had pushed to the east and taken Gatchina.

The Allied plan to attack Petrograd involved the Estonians anchoring the left and right flanks of the Whites who would provide the central thrust toward the city. Elements of the British Royal Navy would help the Estonian left neutralize the series of Baltic shore fortifications and keep tin- Red Navy bottled up at Kronstadt. Unfortunately, according to White veteran V.K. Kuzminim-Karavaev, many of the tanks were worn-out mechanically, and this is evidenced in British records as well. Hope-Carson kept his tanks in two groups of three, the best three on a given day being sent forward while the second group received supplies or repairs.

The tanks reinforced the Whites at Gatchina on 18 October and engaged in a series of firelights over the next week. From Gatchina, effectively a suburb of Petrograd, the Whites planned to advance up the highway (o secure Tsarskoe Selo before taking the heights at Pulkovo, which overlooked the prize city itself.

ftrst Aid, Captain ('.mmif and Brown Bear led the initial advance from Gatchina. Red resistance stiffened and several units had to be literally overrun with the tanks. Red artillery, armored trains and hand-picked communist regiments impeded the exhausted and depicted White troops, fhe Estonians, never resolute in their desire to go beyond their own borders, failed to protect the flanks.

Under pressure from the Allies, Finland had agreed to loan three Renault FT-17 tanks to the Whites and these arrived in time for the fighting around Gatchina 011 24—25 October, 'fhe Renos formed a separate platoon with Russian crews, one driver and one machine gunner per tank. These returned to Finland later that fall.

By 25 October, all tanks had seen action around Tsarskoe Selo, but were in need of repairs. Commander Bystrumov with a While crew inside First Aid struggled toward Pulkovo, which only a few Whites managed to reach. Now outnumbered five-to-one, the Northwestern Army had no choice but to retire.

All Mark Vs were entrained 011 26 October for the retreat from Gatchina to Narva. The British transferred the tanks to the Estonians on the condition they continue to oppose Bolshevism and Captain Shishko assumed command of a new tank school near Reval, dedicated to training the Estonians in their use. Fhe Russian tankers disbanded in February 1920.

Tanks in Denikin's Armed Forces of South Russia

12 tanks (six Mark Vs. six Whippets), three officers and 26 enlisted men of the South Russia Tank Detachment arrived in Novorossisk 011 22 March 1919. The detachment formed a Tank School at the Kuban capital of Ekaterinodar in April, attached to the British Military Mission under Major-General H.C. Holman. By June, following the front ever-north wards, the Tank School had relocated to the headquarters of the AFSR at Taganrog. Colonel Klialetsky, a former armored car commando who had been a member of the Russian technical delegation to London in 1916, headed the new Russian Tank Corps.

I'he British Royal Tank Corps trained over 200 Russian volunteer officers with experience ¡11 technical arms throughout 1919. The five-week training course emphasized interoperability; that is, each crew member being able to replace another under variable field conditions.

British tank theorist and proponent, General J.EC. Fuller, visited the combined Tank School and Baltic (repair and assembly) Works in Taganrog in August and September. Fuller met AFSR commander General A.I. Denikin, and both expressed satisfaction at the enthusiasm of the Russian officers doing maintenance while noting their extreme desire to get to the front. Several qualified Russian instructors had been certified to

Mark V composite tank, No. 9186 Audacious being inspected by General Sidorin, commander of the Don Cossacks, south Russia, summer 1919. Audacious survived the great advance north and the subsequent retreat, both events under General Denikin, commander of the Armed Forces of South Russia. As part of the 1st Tank Detachment, 1st Tank Divizion under General Baron Wrangel in June 1920, Audacious participated in breaking the Red lines at Perekop in the Crimea before receiving heavy battle damage. Repaired by the end of the month, Audacious moved to Melitopol where the majority of the division's tanks concentrated. The 1st Tank Divizion next concentrated against the Red bridgehead at Kakhovka on the Dnieper River in October. After breaching the White Crimean defenses, the advancing Red Army captured No. 9186 along with seven other tanks at Sevastopol on 20 November 1920. However, the retreating Whites had hastily destroyed what they could, Audacious and others having been "holed" and burned. This photo depicts No. 9186 with the Russian national identification stripes of red, blue and white placed horizontally to the front side of the tank chassis. An elite Kornilov officer stands in the center, top row (see Osprey Men-at-Arms 305: The Russian Civil War (2) White Armies). (Deryabin)

White Army Russian Side ArmsRostov December 1919

Volunteer Army Medium A Whippet General Shkuro, No. A346, moving through Rostov-on-Don, winter 1919-20. Attached to the 4th Tank Detachment, 1st Tank Divizion, No. A346 received its name from the commander of the famous "White Wolves" cavalry (see Osprey Men-at-Arms 305: The Russian Civil War (2) White Armies). General Shkuro survived the retreat and emerged in June 1920 under General Baron Wrangel, with its same detachment and divizion number, for the attack on Perekop. The tank was subsequently deployed with the 1st Tank Divizion at Melitopol, but details of its end are currently not known beyond the fact it had to be abandoned during the White evacuation from the Crimea in November 1920. British identification stripes of white-red-white are visible on the front of the tank and the word Shkuro is in white lettering. (Deryabin)

assist the British in training. Fuller finished his tour by inspecting the tank detachments at Tsaritsyn and Kiev and noted that all 12 original tanks were still in the battle line.

The 1st Tank Divizion (a divizion being two or more tank detachments), had been operational since 15 May and contained four detachments. Theoretically, each detachment was supposed to have up to four tanks, a tractor (American Holt or British Clayton) for pulling a disabled tank from the field, a mobile workshop (British Thornycroft), a half-ton petrol tanker (American Holt), four supply trucks, three automobiles and several motorcycles. These specifications were hard to maintain during the press of civil war.

Each detachment theoretically moved in a train echelon of approximately 15-19 wagons. A flat wagon usually traveled at the front and rear of each train as a precaution against mines, damage to the rails or other ingenious forms of sabotage. A second flat wagon carried spare rails, cross ties and sandbags, then came the locomotive and tender. Additional carriages included up to four reinforced-spring flat wagons for the tanks, up to four flat wagons for the trucks and automobiles, two coaches for passengers, an officers' dining wagon, two for supplies and munitions and one for fuel (gasoline) and lubricants. After arriving at a point for offensive or defensive operations, the tanks would drive down specially prepared ramps that had been affixed to their flat wagons, then remount similarly.

White records show 73 tanks coming in through Novorossisk in 1919, while British indents indicate 74. After the initial distribution of 12 in March, White records note that 16 followed in June, ten in September and a final 35 in early October. Thus, just under half of the tanks arrived when the Whites were at their maximum extension in the campaign for Moscow and when they were so desperately engaged at the front.

A majority of these tanks shipped in October may never have been fully prepared for duties at the front. As evidence for this theory, White orders of battle list 11 tanks still at Novorossisk on 18 November (five of these may have been deployed for defense of the city against active Green partisans), while 11 were still at the Tank School in Taganrog and a further l(i were undergoing repairs (or assembly) at the same location. The White order of battle for mid-October, in fact, listed nine Mark Vs and three Whippets with Wrangel's Caucasian Army, eight Mark Vs and one Whippet with Mai-Maevsky's Volunteer Army, four Whippets with the Don Cossacks, nine Mark Vs and two Whippets at the Tank School, and two Mark Vs at the Baltic Works, for a total of 38.

The White order of battle for 18 November 1919 records 71 tanks in position or in process of formation, the largest grouping of tanks in the Civil War.

1st Tank Divizion lsi Tank Detachment. Volunteer Army: Three Mark Vs (being repaired, Taganrog)

2nd lank Detachment, Volunteer Army: Three Mark Vs

3rd Tank Detachment, Volunteer Army, Kiev region: Four tanks (Mark

Vs and Whippets)

Ith Tank Detachment, Volunteer .Army, Horse Group: Four Whippets 2nd Tank Divizion

5th Tank Detachment, Volunteer Army: Three Whippets

6th Tank Detachment, Caucasian Army: Four Mark Vs

7th lank Detachment, Don Army: Four Whippets

8th Tank Detachment, Volunteer Army: Four, probably Mark Vs

Tanks not yet in divizional structure

9th and 11th lank Detachments: under formation from Tank School and factory

10th Tank Detachment: Four tanks being sent toward Tsaritsyn Tank School, Taganrog: I I tanks At Novorossisk: 11 tanks

At new Nef-Vilde factory, Taganrog, for repairs or final assembly: 16 tanks. Total: 71

The difference in the number of tanks between the White calculation of 71 and the British tally of 74 may be explained by combat losses, or by mistakes in accounting. The three Renos mentioned by Fuller seem not to have been included in these numbers and may have formed a reserve in the rear for lack of reliable parts.

The first tranche of tanks assisted the Volunteer Army in the beleaguered Don Basin sector throughout May 1919. According to Captain A. Zekhov, their arrival put the majority of Reds to flight. Defectors intimated that their commissars had told tlieni the tanks were merely mobile cardboard props and not to be feared.

During May, one Mark V boldly engaged a Red armored train, putting it out of action until a second Red train arrived and hit the tank five times throughout the hull. According to later evidence, this Mark V seems to have been salvaged and refuted for the front by September. Similarly, in April 1920 in the Crimea, the Whites would attack the Red armored train Coal A-//H« with three tanks, causing it to withdraw after receiving damage. Nevertheless, in 1919, AFSR headquarters, placing exceptional value on tanks, expressly forbade tank versus armored train duels.

Renault Bridge

The tight Renault FT-17 had become operational in France in early 1918. This two-man tank had a driver up front, a gunner in the turret, and could be configured with one 8mm Hotchkiss machine gun or one 37mm gun. The armor varied between % to '/¡in. (over '/< of an inch on the sides of the gun-model turret). The Russians nicknamed this tank "Reno" after the maker's name. Although weighing only 6 tons, the tank's 35hp engine could manage no more than 4.8mph (7.5km/hr) and 22 miles (35km) range by road. The Reno had a height of 7« (2.13m), length of 16ft 5in. (5.02m) (including tail) and a width of 5ft 9in. (1.74m). This photo details the retreat of the Armed Forces of South Russia, February-March 1920. From left to right standing on immobile rail wagons, a Mark V, two Renault FT-17s and a Mediurr A. Probable location is along the Rostov-Bataisk-Novorossisk rail line. (Tank Museum)

A handful of tanks survived the disastrous evacuation of the port of Novorossisk in April 1920. The harbor had only one floating crane available, called the Feodosia, for maneuvering the heavy tanks from quay to ship. Note the Mark V in the center of the photo being winched aboard ship. (Tank Museum)

The single most dramatic tank action in 1919 occurred in June at Tsaritsyn (later Stalingrad), a highly fortified city on the Volga which the Don Cossacks had tried to take throughout 1918. Proudly referred to in Bolshevik sources as the "Red Verdun," Tsaritsyn was the supply and communications artery between the southeastern front and Red divisions operating in the Trans-Caspian regions. Seizure by ihe Whites additionally offered the prospect of making contact with Kolchak's left flank west of the Urals.

According to White veteran A. Trembovelsky, all 1st Divizion tanks (16) were deployed with Wrangel's Caucasian Army against Tsaritsyn during the second half of June. However, many of these did not see consistent action because of lack of fuel. The main attack occurred on 29 June, with the tanks of 1st Detachment (three Mark Vs) and 4th Detachment (3 Whippets) leading. Two of the tanks broke down during transit, but the other four smashed through the rolls of barbed wire and turned to drag them apart, forcing holes in the wire defenses. White supporting units followed as the tanks moved parallel to the trench lines and cleared away the defenders.

The Kuban Cossacks entered Tsaritsyn in force the next day and garnered 40.000 prisoners, 10,000 train wagons, 151 locomotives, 70 guns, 300 machine guns and the armored trains I rn in and Trotsky. Denikin visited the city and on 3 July ordered all units of the Armed Forces of South Russia to advance and take Moscow before Christmas. Meanwhile, the tanks of 1st Divizion transferred to Taganrog to repair and refit.

Few records have survived about tank operations in the fall of 1919. Detachments defended Tsaritsyn and moved west to Kiev and advanced from Kharkov to Kursk and then Orel, the farthest point north attained by the AFSR. Due to the rapid White advances and the need for the tanks to travel long distances by train, there were few opportunities to concentrate them against a fixed position at the level of divizion.

One example testifies to the ability of the tanks, especially the Whippet, to work with cavalry. At the end of September. General Ulagai's 2nd Kuban Corps and the 4th Tank Detachment routed the 1st Don Red

Red Cross Kuban Mission 1919

Cavalry near Kotluban. The lanks. having been disguised as haystacks, awaited the charge of the Red cavalry before emerging to wreak havoc with their machine guns.

During the winter retreat, tanks were often detrained to hold a station long enough for retreating troops to escape. Indeed, General Holman, renowned for his exploits with Lewis guns and aircraft, personally commandeered one tank for this purpose, lanks also covered the withdrawal of the British mission from Taganrog and the evacuation from Novorossisk. By April 1920 the Reds had captured ")() British Mark Vs and Whippets. The Russian Tank Corps had temporarily ceased to exist.

Tanks in Wrangel's Russian Army

The 1st Tank Divizion reformed in Wrangel's Russian Army in the Crimea in May 1920; repair facilites were located at Sevastopol. Given a drastically reduced front, White armored units were able to concentrate more effectively, a fact noted by the Red high command. By 7 June the tanks had been reorganized as follows:

1st Detachment: (Mark Vs) Grozny, General Slasrhev, Loyal, Audacious, (¡real Russia, Mighty Russia (renamed Slaschev in June after the loss of its sister tank)

2nd Detachment: (Whippets) S/>hin.\, Tiger, Slepnya, Crocodile (renamed Siberian in June)

3rd Detachment: (Mark Vs) Tor Holy Russia, Field Marshal Kutusov, General Suvorov, General SkobeUv, Field Marshal Potemkin, For Faith and Fatherland

4th Tank Detachment: (Whippets) Sadko, General Wrangel, General Shkuro, Urals (transferred to 2nd Detachment on 10 June) Detached Platoon: (Renault FT-17) Modest, Gray

Wrangel planned the breakout from the Crimea into the fertile Tauride for 7 June. Red 13th Army had dug in on the isthmus at Perekop and to ihc east at Chongar. The moment seemed propitious because die Reds had gone to war with Poland. However, the British informed him that an offensive northward would result in the withdrawal of their military mission; consequently, the British tankers left by the end of the month.

White Army armored train, equipped with naval gun, in North Russia, 1918-19. The top photo shows the unarmored locomotive and artillery wagon. The naval gun has a canvas cover over the muzzle for transportation. The crew has a mixed complement of White soldiers and sailors, judging from other photos in the series. Half of the artillery wagon has been fitted with a protective roof. The wagon is unarmored, being wooden with strip metal reinforcements. The bottom photo depicts the gun ready to fire through a lowered platform in the side, which is also the entry point into the wagon via the ladder. (National Archives)

Wrangel broke the Perekop and Chongar bottlenecks by a classic application of naval, aerial and armored assets. Appreciating iliat the Reds had earmarked special artillery units to knock out the tanks, the Whites formed their own special group of horse artillery to provide counter-battery fire. The tanks were equipped with special mufflers to mask their advance and with hawsers that could grapple and destro\ the wire defenses.

Tanks of the 1st and 4th Detachments plunged into the Red defenders at Perekop and ultimately carried the field. I lowever, an elite Latvian division, supported by artillery, counter-attacked close-in with grenades and disabled three tanks. Meanwhile, 3rd Detachment and the Detached Platoon, encountering lighter resistance, broke the Chongar defenses. The paths into the Tauride had been cleared.

The next months involved establishing positions along the Dnieper River, which formed the White left flank from Kherson to Alexandrovsk (later Zaporozhye), and on the right flank in the open country from Alexandrovsk to the Sea of Azov at Berdian.sk. The 1st Tank Division concentrated at Melitopol, roughly the center of the White positions, on the main railway from the Crimea into the Tauride and fought as detachments in consolidating this perimeter. Both sides recognized the strategic value of Kakhovka on the Dnieper because a Red breakthrough there could split the White army in two and jeopardize any retreat back into the Crimea.

Two events ultimately became decisive Ibr the Whites in August. First, the Poles defeated the Reds in the "Miracle of the Vistula" and the waning parties began negotiating an armistice that would free enormous Red reserves for transfer to the southern front. Second, the Reds managed to cross the Dnieper and establish a bridgehead at Kakhovka. The tanks conducted their last divizion-level operation against that bridgehead in October.

Red engineers constructed three defensive zones at Kakhovka, an external line of trenches, a base line of trenches and wire and an inner line of trenches. Anti-tank ditches and minefields covered anticipated approaches and artillery and machine-gun positions had been sited for maximum effect. The Whites understood that, once inside the perimeter, their supporting units would be outnumbered two-to-one; nevertheless, the liquidation of the bridgehead would disrupt the deployment of massive Red reinforcements from the Polish front. During a preliminary clash in September, 2nd Detachment lost the Sphinx and Siberian.

The main armored battle commenced on 14 October, 12 operational tanks advancing line abreast, just within sight of each other, shrouded in the gloom of the early morning. Mobile artillery first probed the external defenses and then the base line. Infantry, cavalry and the 1st Armored Car Divizion followed to exploit the breakthrough. Breaching the external line, the tanks arrived at the base line and encountered heavy resistance. Red artillery, Car fords and mortars knocked out several tanks and one fell to grenades. White infantry had failed to follow up.

The Reds counter-attacked at noon but were held in check by the Whites until the 16th. In all, nine tanks had been put out of action: the Whites managed to recover four. Only three undamaged tanks remained besides the Renault platoon that had been left in the Crimea for lack of parts. The Whites sabotaged all of these prior to evacuation in November.

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