Stepan Gray: what shot hero

History 26/12/19 Stepan Gray: what shot hero “Nevsky Piglet”

the Battle on the “Nevsky patch” – a small area on the left Bank of the Neva river is one of the most dramatic and bloody pages of fight for Leningrad. A strategically important bridgehead, which was to play a crucial role in breaking the siege the city was captured thanks to the skillful actions of major Stephen Gray. But a few months later the officer was convicted and executed. Why did this happen?

On the banks of the Neva

By the end of August 1941 the German army broke through the defense of the Soviet forces South of Leningrad and started to go around the city. Developing the offensive, the Wehrmacht on 8 September took Shlisselburg, and thus closed the ring of siege. After that, to break through to the besieged town was only possible on lake Ladoga.
the Soviet command immediately developed a plan of unblocking of Leningrad. It was assumed that the 54-th army will strike from the East towards the left Bank of the Neva. Meet 54-th army was to advance Soviet units on the other side of the river: it was necessary to force the river and capture a bridgehead for further advance.
the Operation began on September 18. The objective is to capture the bridgehead was put before the 115th infantry division. It was supposed to solve this problem for two days, and then come to meet the 54-th army.

blood patch

the First assault, had to go 576 th regiment of the 115th infantry division. The Department largely depended on the success of the operation. The regiment was led by major Stephen Gray.
He was born in 1901 in Kursk province, joined the Red army at the age of 19 years. In October 1940 he received the rank of major. War met near Vyborg, where he received the first wound.
Soldiers Gray on makeshift rafts and fishing boats were able to secretly cross to the left Bank and a swift attack to dislodge the Germans. Developing the offensive, infantry regiment with the support Morskax the infantry was able to expand the beachhead up to four kilometers wide and two deep. Thus was formed the “Nevsky Pyatachok”.
the Successful attack of the Gray has enabled the Soviet command to send to the springboard of new units and equipment. But the Germans did not sit idly by. Strengthening existing troops there infantry and tank units, the Wehrmacht went on the offensive and began to push the red army.
Attack of the Germans almost did not stop, every day for Gray and his men were bombarded by tens of thousands of mines and shells. Despite a decrease of up to two kilometers wide and 500 meters deep, the bridgehead, the division of major the defense held.

“most of the mouth does not exist”

the Soviet troops suffered significant losses. Gray October 4, the command reported that 576 regiment left 82 people. The average life expectancy of soldiers on the “Nevsky patch” was about two days, the officers – three. Mayor Gray was able provoevat in the bridgehead for more than two weeks. On 6 October he received earlier, was sent to the hospital, but after 15 days he returned to the springboard.
By this time the Soviet command began a new operation to break the siege of Leningrad. Her plan has not changed – attack with the “Nevsky Pyatachok” towards advancing from the East 54-th army. Again fierce fighting, and again the 576-th regiment at the point of attack.
the Germans met the attackers with heavy fire, Soviet units carried a terrible loss. By October 30 the unit Gray twice lost almost the entire command structure. The same day he reported to headquarters that his regiment has left 170 people. “Most mouth does not already exist, the number of battalion – 10 to 12 people”, – said the major.
He urged the command to rebuild the unit, bring it to the second tier. However, on 1 November Gray was arrested, quickly conducted the investigation and executed the next day in front of the line.

For what?

According to historians, the fate of major was influenced by the requirement Rates and personally Joseph Stalinand as soon as possible to break the blockade. The offensive due to lack of preparation and strong defence of the enemy in the end is bogged down, which led to the search for the perpetrators as “appointed” by Stephen Gray.
In the decision of the special Department of people’s Commissariat of internal Affairs from November 2, 1941 stated that the Gray in the course of the management unit showed “negligence and criminal negligence”.
Specifically on the causes of the shooting of Gray according to the report of regimental Commissar Pankov. In his words, subordinates of the major November 1, went on the attack six times, but have not succeeded as the commander of the unit ordered to attack the escarpment (anti-tank obstacle in the wall), which had important significance. In addition, claimed the officer, the Gray during the fight he was drunk and did not give a report of his actions.


for a Long time the name of Stephen Gray was erased from the history of the great Patriotic war. After the collapse of the USSR the Prosecutor’s office of the Leningrad military district was asked to review the case of major.
In September 2010 Grizzly rehabilitated his good name was restored. The following year, major declared victim of repression, and in 2014 it was named one of the streets of Kirovsk – city a couple of kilometres from the “Nevsky patch”.

Ivan Proshkin

© Russian Seven

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