World Battlefronts: BATTLE OF RUSSIA: The Light Goes Out

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In the ninth month of the siege the Germans broke through. Step by step, the haggard defenders retreated to the coast. The women & children boarded the last ships out. When the wounded were taken off the beaches, they sobbed and clutched handfuls of dirt—the ground of Sevastopol.

A few men withdrew to the Khersonese Cape, fought on. When their ammunition ran out, they swam out into the Black Sea, were not seen again. In the famed Khersonese lighthouse, the light died: the 245-day siege was over. It was July 1942.

Return Home. Five weeks ago the Russians returned to the Crimea, in a whirlwind ten-day drive swept to the walls of Sevastopol. There, Stalin's chief of staff, big, brilliant Alexander Vasilevsky, paused. When the final blow came it had to be hard and fast.

For 20 days Vasilevsky's men, choking in the dust, dragged siege guns to the hilltops. Then the greatest barrage in the history of artillery-minded Russia tore holes in the German defense lines, opened gaps for Vasilevsky's men.

Last week, after 72 hours of such pounding, Sevastopol fell. Into Russian hands fell a vast booty, from shoe polish to crated bombers. Nearly 25,000 more prisoners went behind the barbed wire, to join 37,000 taken elsewhere in the Crimea (some 50,000 others were killed). In the harbor, Red engineers got to work. Soon

Sevastopol would again be a Russian naval base in a Russian sea.

Twenty thousand Germans retreated to the Khersonese Cape, fought bitterly. One night last week, the light in the Khersonese lighthouse went out. The siege was over.