The grey, drizzly dawn broke at 3 a.m. over the rain-soaked fields and forests north of Orel (pronounced Oryol). The thundering artillery barrage which had been splitting the night lifted and the Red Army surged forward along a 25-mile front. The attack was led by 42-ton KV tanks, made in large Soviet plants in the Urals. Lend-leased British Churchills and U.S. Shermans were close behind. Then came the infantry, battle-toughened and well equipped, spirited by the news two days before of the invasion of Sicily. Their battle cry: Na Zapad (Westward).

Toward the front over muddy roads and fields went thousands...

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