WWII Demyansk Pocket

Sunday, June 29, 2014

After work on June 27 I started the drive towards Finland. I have a week to get there so I am no in a hurry. I stopped off at Okcanas house in Tver for the night. She had dinner and a glass of this stuff called Tarhun…. Its fluorescent green carbonated and made from Tarragon and woodruff.
Woke up on the 28th about 6am and headed off west towards Rzhev, Okcana decided to tag along for a few days.
The Bike before take off!
Everytime we stop people ask whats up where we are going where we are from. Once they hear Tver going to Velikey Novgorod through Rzhev they call us crazy, there is a main highway between the two towns no need for back roads.
Just north of Rzhev we ran into this little monument it was a dedicated to all the men from the Yakutia area who fought and died here
I don’t have an exact number on the guys buried here but all these plaques are covered with their names.
There was also this little chapel located on the same site. I little old lady was there to let people in. She chatted with Okcana a while looked at us like we were crazy prayed for us then we headed down the road.
This was a Soviet Bunker we ran into. there was a line of defense roughly from Belikiy Novgorod to Rzhev, 400-500km long. The sign said there were more than 150,000 civilians working on building all these bunker along that line.
This is me again with the bike waiting on her to come down off the hill so we can continue. So far the roads have been paved and in good shape.
In the town of Selizharovo its located on a river not many people but it was worth a quick stop and a breather to walk around.
After that we continued directly north to the town of Ostashkov. It was lunchtime when we got there so stopped at this café. When we walked in they weren’t to excited to see to people in motorcycle gear and dirty.
I was planning on stopping here for the night but I thought it would take us longer to get here. Discussed the situation with Okcana told her just north the lake Seliger I thought the roads would be not so good for about 50 km so what do you want to do? After thinking it over we decided the weather was good, we wanted to get to Novgorod tomorrow and we weren’t to tired so lets push on!
Immediately the road turned to crap. A paved road that was so corrugated and pot holed nobody was going more than 30km/h.
We came across these bunkers and decided to take a rest, 20km after the town.
This is one of the points the Soviets started to push the Germans back. The bunker below form what we can figure was built for tanks. The back was completely open and the front to shot out of was huge.
This bunker was across the road and made for machine gun fire.
After resting at the bunker a bit we decided to get back to the road. Eventually the road turned to a fairly decent gravel road which lasted the next 30km or so. There were some old villages along the road mostly deserted now though
then the dirt road stopped and it turned to this….. The “paved” road was so bad people were driving besides it on the dirt shoulder.
We were back heading North again towards the town of Demyansk. There was some big fighting in the area. It is referred to as the Demyansk Boiler. The soviets were able to surround about 100,000 Germans. The Germans were getting resupplied through the air. the fighting was brutal eventually the Germans were able to break out and rejoin their main forces. The fighting cost the Soviets upwards of 200,000 men.
A monument to some of these men
Right after that monument the only dark cloud in the sky decided to visit us. it dumped for about 10 minutes. We pulled over and took cover under some old debris from a building on the side of the road before heading on.
We found this bunker, not sure how it worked though. It would of been to small to get in and lay we are thinking it used to be dug deeper but got filled in….
This was across the street. I don’t remember the details other than it was built in 1927 and used in the war.
Next we stopped in Demyansk at the only hotel in town. They had no one open room but it was communal bathrooms and all the other rooms were taken by some road workers. It was pretty disgusting so we decided to push on towards Staraya Russa.
A monument in Demyansk to the pilots of the war.
And Paratroopers that fought in the area.
this church was in Demyansk also. I had to take a picture because I have never seen a church with domes like this. It looked like they got tired and said ahh that’s good enough.
Continue: Staraya Russa