Meat Grinder

Meat Grinder

The Battles for the Rzhev Salient, 1942–43

General Military
  • Author: Prit Buttar
  • Short code: GNM
  • Publication Date: 13 Oct 2022
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An engrossing history of the desperate battles for the Rzhev Salient, a forgotten story brought to life by the harrowing memoirs of German and Russian soldiers.

The fighting between the German and Russian armies in the Rzhev Salient during World War II was so grisly, so murderous, and saw such vast losses that the troops called the campaign 'The Meat Grinder'. Though millions of men would fight and die there, the Rzhev Salient does not have the name recognition of Leningrad or Moscow. It was simply a vast tract of forests and swamps in the heart of Mother Russia that has been largely ignored by Western historians…until now.

Prit Buttar, a world expert on the Eastern Front during World War II, reveals the depth and depravity of the bitter fighting for the Rzhev Salient in this astonishing new history. He details how the long-ignored region held the promise of a renewed drive on the Soviet capital for the German Army - a chance to turn the tide of war. Using both German and Russian first-hand accounts, Buttar examines the four major offensives launched by the Red Army against the salient, all of which were defeated with heavy losses, exceeding two million killed, wounded or missing, until eventually, the Germans were forced to evacuate the salient in March 1943.

Drawing on the latest research, Meat Grinder provides a new study of these horrific battles but also examines how the Red Army did ultimately learn from its colossal failures and how its analysis of these failures at the time helped pave the way for the eventual Soviet victory against Army Group Centre in the summer of 1944, leaving the road to Berlin clear.

Biographical Note

Prit Buttar is an established expert on the Eastern Front in 20th-century military history. His previous books include the acclaimed Battleground Prussia: The Assault on Germany's Eastern Front 1944-45 and Between Giants: The Battle for the Baltics in World War II. His most recent publication was The Reckoning: The Defeat of Army Group South, 1944 (Osprey, 2020) which was described as a ‘masterful account' by critics. Prit originally studied medicine at Oxford and London before joining the British Army as a doctor. He latterly worked as a General Practitioner for several years. He now writes exclusively from his home in rural Scotland where he can also indulge his hobbies for wildlife and astro photography.


List of Illustrations
List of Maps
Dramatis Personae

Chapter 1: Barbarossa and Taifun
Chapter 2: The Red Army's Counteroffensive, December 1941
Chapter 3: Frustration, January 1942
Chapter 4: Snow, Mud and Confusion
Chapter 5: Hannover
Chapter 6: Belov's Escape and Seydlitz
Chapter 7: The First Rzhev-Sychevka Operation
Chapter 8: Grinding Through Summer
Chapter 9: 1942, Preparing for Operation Mars
Chapter 10: The Commencement of Mars: Western Front, 25-30 November
Chapter 11: The Commencement of Mars: Kalinin Front, 25-30 November
Chapter 12: December: The Vazuza Valley and the Bely Sector
Chapter 13: December: Exhaustion in the Luchesa and Northern Sectors
Chapter 14: Büffel: The End of the Salient
Chapter 15: Lessons Imperfectly Learned
Chapter 16: Remembering the Past