A letter written by Yuri Petrenko.

Ponyri July 9, 1943

Dearest Natasha,

We have been redeployed to the north. We are now temporarily attached to the 6th Guards Army, and are headed for a town called Ponyri. I hear the fighting has been fierce. They are calling it the Stalingrad of Kursk. The commissars seem to like shifting us around like cattle; cattle being led to slaughter. I saw things at Cherkasskoye, things that I would soon like to forget. It is now clear to me what has hardened Antonov's face into a permanent grimace. I can only pray that my luck holds up.


[Just outside Ponyri]

[July 11, 1943]

[1100 hrs]

Russian soldiers are in a group, listening to Antonov speak. Tanks move up a road behind him.

Antonov: Listen well, comrades. Just beyond this hill to the north, we will advance to a train station, where our tanks will gently persuade the enemy to abandon their posts, or die. Once the station has been secured, we will press our advantage until the only Germans left in Ponyri are dead! Move out!

The soldiers move up the road with the tanks. Germans begin firing on them.

Antonov: Fall in behind! Use the tanks for cover!

With the tanks as cover, the soldiers fight off the soldiers and move up.

Antonov: Left flank! Left flank!

They clear the train area of Germans. A sniper begins firing on them from a tower.

Antonov: Sniper in the tower! Yuri - stop him - we will take care of the Germans in the station.

Yuri takes out the sniper and the soldiers move up to the train station.

Antonov: You men - into the station! Drive them out! Go! Go! Go!

The soldiers clear the first floor, and Yuri goes upstairs to clear the attic.

Antonov: Yuri, get back down! The rail station is secure. Nicely done men, we have them on the run -- so let's keep it that way. Move out!

They leave the train station and enter the village, which is occupied by Germans.

Antonov: Regroup!

They clear the initial area. An MG42 begins firing on the group from a perch in a schoolhouse, pinning them down.

Antonov: Down - get down! Machine guns! Yuri, get into that schoolhouse and teach them a lesson!

Yuri and the other soldiers clear out the schoolhouse and the soldier on the MG42.

Antonov: Regroup!

The soldiers leave the schoolhouse and continue through the village to an area covered by a panzer.

Antonov: We have to get through here! Boris, flank right behind these buildings and plant your charges on that Panzer! Yuri! Follow Boris and cover him while he destroys that tank!

Yuri and Boris flank the soldiers from the buildings and Boris plants the charges on the back of the tank. They both move to a safe distance as they detonate. An MG42 fires on them from the street.

Antonov: Machine gun! Flank left and move in behind it! Yuri! Flank left with Boris and get behind that machine gun!

Yuri and Boris move into the building with the MG42 and clear it out. Boris then plants charges on the panzer in the street. The soldiers clear the village.

Antonov: Move in! The assault on the factory has begun!

They move up to the factory and fight the soldiers outside.

Antonov: Yuri - into the basement! We will hold off the Germans here!

Yuri and a few other soldiers enter the basement.

Russian Soldier: Quickly! Move - move!

Through the basement, the soldiers fight through.

Russian Soldier: It's too quiet, we've taken them by surprise!

The soldiers reach a staircase.

Russian Soldier: Let's hurry to the factory floor!

They go upstairs and fight through to the factory floor.

Russian Soldier: While our forces keep them occupied, we'll slaughter them from within!

The soldiers clear the floor. Russian soldiers outside breach through a wall and fight off the Germans entering rom another room.

Antonov: There's a man in that tank! Find a Panzerfaust and take care of him! Take out that tank!

Yuri takes out the tank with Panzerfausts, and the soldiers clear out the factory.

Antonov: Regroup! Comrades, we have driven the enemy from Ponyri, and we will not rest until the whole German army has been driven off Russian soil!