Notice: This is the official website of the All Empires History Community (Reg. 10 Feb 2002)

  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Register Register  Login Login

Neglected Operations in Eastern Front 1942-44

 Post Reply Post Reply
Nenonen View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard

Joined: 27-Jan-2011
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 5
  Quote Nenonen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Neglected Operations in Eastern Front 1942-44
    Posted: 27-Jan-2011 at 06:26
David Glantz:

"Soviet sources cover the period in greater detail, properly underscoring the importance of these combat phases in the ultimate outcome of battle on the approaches to Moscow. Soviet historians highlight the confused ferocity of the Border Battles; the importance of the Battle of Smolensk; and the Herculean efforts of the Stavka to assemble, amass, and commit to combat those strategic reserves which, at the gates of Leningrad, Moscow, and Rostov, ultimately thwart the German BARBAROSSA offensive. In the context of their accounts, however, Soviet historians have mentioned, but not elaborated upon to a sufficient degree, the intense Soviet efforts to counter the German advance before it reached unprecedented depths.

Specifically, they have not covered in adequate detail the apparently concerted series of counterstrokes and counterattacks that periodically punctuated (and in the process, perhaps, wore down) the German advance. In short, there are a series of Soviet counteractions, which occurred in clusters during July, August, and September 1941,which deserve further study and elaboration. "

At a minimum, these include the following:

-Soviet Offensive and Counteroffensive Operations Within the Context of German Operation BLAU (June-July 1942)

1. Operation "MARS": The Rzhev-Sychevka Operation (24 November-December 1942)

2. Central and Western Fronts' Orel-Briansk-Smolensk Offensive (February-March 1943)

3. The Belorussian Strategic Offensive (November 1943-February 1944)

4. The Battle of Targul-Frumos (2-4 May 1944)

5. The Battle of Karelian Isthmus (10 June - 18th July Finland)

6. Soviet (1st Belorussian Front's) Actions East of Warsaw in August-September 1944

7. The Gumbinnen or Goldap Operation (16-27 October 1944)

1. At Rzhev experienced German divisions (like the 102.D) were dug into well prepared defenses. Unlike the case at Stalingrad, the Germans also had the 5th Panzer Division deployed in defenses opposite Konev's main assault. Second, at Stalingrad, the Germans had burned up their armor in city fighting and had only two panzer divisions in reserve (22d and 1st Romanian). At Rzhev, however, German 9th Army had four mobile divisions in their immediate operational reserve (1st and 9th Panzer, Grossdeutschland and the 14th Panzer Grenadier) and three other panzer divisions (9th, 19th, and 20th) within striking distance in a matter of days. This spelled doom for the Soviet offensive.

2. German resistance stiffened on the Fatezh-Orel axis, halting Rokossovsky's offensive, and redeployed German forces struck his overexposed forces in the Novgorod Severskii-Lgov sector. The final blow to his offensive plans occurred on 11March when Chistiakov's 21st Army, which had just arrived to join
Rokossovsky's Orel offensive, was diverted to Oboian to deal withManstein's continued advance toward Belgorod. Although desultory fighting continued along the Orel axis until 23 March, Rokossovsky's forces abandoned Sevsk and occupied new defenses along what would become the northern and central face of the Kursk bulge.

Thus, the ambitious strategic effort failed, and the Stavk, once again would have to postpone an advance to the line of the Dnepr River. The Soviet failure would have a major impact on how Soviet forces would operate at Kursk later in 1943. It also accorded strategic significance to Manstein's Donbas and Kharkov counter strokes. Most important, from the standpoint of this work, is the apparent neglect of this operation by Soviet historians, which is extraordinary, given its potential importance. No single account exists, and even recent works ignore its conduct. For example, Krivosheev's new work on Soviet wartime losses provides no personnel loss figures for the operation (or for Operation MARS), nor does it recognize the very existence of the Central Front in February-March 1943.

3. Soviet military encyclopedic literature ignores the operations, and the recent Krivosheev volume fails to mention losses in these additional operations and the overall losses of participating fronts during the lengthy period. The only exception to this neglect is the recent important revelations by M. A. Gareev concerning the multiple failed operations by Western Front during this period.  German unit histories, memoirs, and archival materials, however, amply attest to the scope, intensity, and duration of Soviet offensive efforts against German forces in Belorussia during this entire period. Unless additional Soviet materials become available, the history of these operations will, of necessity, once again have to be based
on German sources alone.

4. Soviet sources are silent on the battle. Scattered references appear in divisional histories concerning combat in Romania during this period, but only 2d Tank Army's history makes direct reference to this particular battle. It notes that in late March 1944, the tank army regrouped into 27th Army's sector with the mission of "attacking in the direction of Fokuri and Podul-Iloaei. Subsequently, the army was to strike a blow toward the city of Iassy and secure it." 28 In its narrative of subsequent operations, the history relates that the tank army attacked with 27th Army's 35th Rifle Corps, and, although 3d Tank Corps reached Targul-Frumos, it was thrown back by heavy German counterattacks. The account attributes the Soviet failure to a poor artillery preparation and German advance warning that the attack was to occur.
Historians are thus left with the question of whether the Soviet offensive was a major effort to penetrate into Romania or simply a local assault to improve the Soviet operational posture and opportunities for a renewed offensive in the future. The Germans maintain it was the former. This author has argued that it was the latter and was also associated with deception planning for future operations in Belorussia (to fix the future presence of 2d Tank Army in Romania, while it was shortly moved elsewhere).

5. Soviet sources are mostly telling the early part of that operation by Leningrad Front against Finnish armed forces. Soviets conquerred the city of Vyborg in 20th of June 1944. But after that there tried to make breakthrough to inner part of Finland but very severely punished by Finnish armed forces, especially finnish powerfull arthillery and joint-fire operations by arthillery, Luftwaffe unit Kuhlmey and Finnish Air Force.

Doctor Tapio Tiihonen had studied that battle over a decade and have found lots of failuries of Soviet casualty figures. E.g he found that there was gap of 18 000 between 5th July-31st July (Official numbers 40 129, Tiihonen found after recalculation 58 125. There was soviet mistake addition). Tiihonen has estimated that Soviet losses between 10th of June and 20 th June were minimum 60 000 and maximum 75 000. Total offensive (10th of June to 18th of July) casualty numbers for Soviet forces were 123 000 (minimum) and 143 000 (maximum).

At the beginning of that offensive Soviet forces had 260 000 - 280 000 soldiers, 650 tanks and assault guns and little bit more than 1 000 aircraf. Soviet lost about half of their soldiers (by studies of Tiihonen and Manninen). Finns had at the early stage some 70 000 soldiers with about 40 modern APV's and 70 modern aircraft. At the latter part about 120 000 soldiers plus 14 000 Germans (mostly reserve) and 50 aircraft of Luftwaffe unit Kuhlmey (in action from 19th of June to 18th of July).

6. Political considerations and motivations aside, an objective consideration of combat in the region indicates that, prior to early September, German resistance was sufficient to halt any Soviet assistance to the Poles in Warsaw, were it intended. Thereafter, it would have required a major reorientation of military efforts from Magnuszew in the south or, more realistically, from the Bug and Narew River axis in the north, in order to muster sufficient force to break into Warsaw. And once broken into, Warsaw would have been a costly city to clear of Germans and an unsuitable location from which to launch a new offensive. 

This skeletal portrayal of events outside of Warsaw demonstrates that much more needs to be revealed and written about these operations. It is certain that additional German sources exist upon which to base an expanded account. It is equally certain that extensive documentation remains in Soviet archival holdings. Release and use ofthis information can help answer and lay to rest this burning historical controversy.

7. On 20 October, 11th Guards Army and 2d Guards Tank Corps finally ruptured the defense and approached the outskirts of Gumbinnen. The next day,Cherniakhovsky committed Lieutenant General A. A. Luchinsky's28th Army to battle, but the entire forces' advance faltered in the Stallupinen Defensive Region as heavy German panzer reinforcements arrived to stiffen the defense. Fighting continued until 
October as the flank Soviet armies closed up with 11th Guards Army's forward positions. At a cost of heavy casualties (by German count), Soviet forces had advanced from 50-100 kilometers into East
Prussia and learned from experience what extensive preparations would be required in the future to conquer Germany's East Prussian bastion.

The Gumbinnen operation stands as an example of an operation that had considerable impact on the manner in which Soviet forces would operate in the future. With the earlier Targul-Frumos operation and other unmentioned cases, it also raises serious questions about ultimate Soviet strategic aims in the waning stages of significant strategic operations. Again, accounts of the operation would be more thorough and conclusions more valid if the operation could be recounted and evaluated from Soviet as well as German sources.

Sources: David Glantz, G. Zhukov Reminiscences and Reflections, Tapio Tiihonen,  Battle in Karelian Isthmus 1944, M. A. Gareev, G. F. Krivosheev Grif sekretnosti sniat: poteri vooruzhennykh sil SSSR v voinakh.boevykh deistviakh. i voennykh konfliktakh [Classification secret removed: losses of the USSR's armed forces in wars, combat actions, and military conflicts]. (Moscow:Voenizdat, 1993). This is but one of many gaps in this otherwise useful and enlightening book.

Edited by Nenonen - 27-Jan-2011 at 06:38
"Military history is nothing but a tissue of fictions and legends, only a form of literary invention; reality counts for very little in such an affair."

Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Bulletin Board Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 9.56a [Free Express Edition]
Copyright ©2001-2009 Web Wiz

This page was generated in 0.141 seconds.