During the retreat under Oskol, the regiment throws fresh trenches. For the defense there is the first battalion commanded by Shiryaev and his lieutenant Kerzhentsev. Two days later the battalion leaves and on the way the heroes learn that the regiment is defeated. On the way, the battalion stops in sheds, where it is necessary to keep the defenses from the Germans and bear losses. The battalion leaves. He remains to cover Kerzhentsev, Valera, Igor and Lazarenko. Having lost Lazarenko, the other fighters try to catch up with the battalion. On the road, among the many retreating, the surviving fellow soldiers can not find “their own”.
They come to Stalingrad, where they lead a peaceful life in the house of the family of former comrade Igor: they drink tea, read, walk, bathe in the Volga.
Igor is a sapper. So with Yura Kerzhentsev, they fall into a special group, where urban industrial facilities are being prepared for explosions. The Germans are coming to Stalingrad. Sappers work at the factory. There, Igor polemicizes with Georgi Akimovich. The electrical engineer of the CHP, by his profession, is annoyed that the Russians are not prepared for war and only a miracle can provide victory to them. Kerzhentsev recalls the conversation of the soldiers about their native land and realizes that this warming-hearted love for the Motherland is stronger than all the tanks.
The city is bombed. Sappers go to the headquarters on the other bank of the Volga,
Yuri Kerzhentsev participates in battle with his first battalion and, after the death of the battalion commander, assumes command of himself. At the factory, where their position is, the fighters are delayed until October. The battalion is transferred to the area of active combat operations. Despite the scarcity, the soldiers are working as a full-fledged battalion. Kerzhentsev works together with the sapper Lisagor. But the work can not be completed. The order comes and Kerzhentsev leads the battalion to attack. After taking the hills, the fighters are cut off from the battalion. There comes an order for a new attack, which fails. There are many dead. There is almost no hope of salvation, but reinforcements are breaking through. Kerzhentsev gives command of the battalion and goes to Lisagor. They meet with military comrades, conduct conversations.
On November 12, the day of his birthday, Kerzhentsev has to postpone the holiday because of the order of the offensive. Due to the short-sighted attack planned by Captain Abrosimov, who did not listen to the arguments of the battalion commander Shiryaev, many people die. Shiryaev was wounded. The command of the battalion is taken by Faber, who had previously commanded the company. Being an intelligent person, Faber does not possess perfection in the methods of command, but he feels deeply responsible for everything that happens to his soldiers. Abrosimova is tried. He is accused of abuse of power, which led to the death of soldiers. He blames his guilt on people who, in his opinion, have treated the attack in bad faith, have been cowed. Faber protects the dead. Such losses could be avoided, if one does not throw people under enemy fire, but use reasonable methods, as suggested by Shiryaev. Abrosimova sent to the penalty company. To help the soldiers come old long-awaited tanks. Fight again. Kerzhentsev gets wounded. After recovery, he returns to Stalingrad, hoping to see his comrades-in-arms. But plans are interrupted preparation for the next offensive.