17th Tank Division (Soviet Union)
The 17th Tank Division was a tank division of the Red Army, formed in mid-1940. The division suffered heavy losses during fighting against German forces during the Battle of Smolensk and was converted into a tank brigade in late August 1941; the 17th Tank Division was formed in July 1940 at Crossing 77 with the 5th Mechanised Corps from the 37th Light Tank Brigade. It included the 199th Flamethrower and 526th Transport Battalions; the 17th Tank Division's structure in 1941 included the 33rd and 34th Tank Regiments, the 17th Motor Rifle Regiment, the 17th Howitzer Artillery Regiment, the 17th Reconnaissance Battalion, the 17th Transport Battalion and the 17th Maintenance Battalion. The division was commanded by Major General Ilya Alekseyenko. On 1 March 1941 Colonel Ivan Korchagin took command. Beginning on 12 June 1941 the division was relocated to Izyaslav. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the division moved with the corps to Smolensk; the division was 60% Ukrainian in early July, German troops attributed its poor performance to its ethnic composition.
On 6 July, the division had 413 tanks, including 130 T-26 tanks. The remainder were flamethrower or amphibious tanks; the division fought in the 5th Mechanized Corps' counterattack towards Lepel. The division was placed in the corps' first echelon during the counterattack; when it reached the region south of Senno, the division, reinforced by 6 KV-1 and 10 T-34 tanks, ran into the 17th Panzer Division. The counterattack failed with heavy losses; the division was encircled in the Smolensk Pocket, in which it defended the Dnieper line to the west of the city. The division fought against the 17th and 18th Panzer Divisions, which were attempting to establish positions on the southern bank of the river. On 25 July, the division had three KV tanks, four T-34s, 73 BT tanks, 28 T-26s, 16 KhT-26 flamethrower tanks, for a total of 124 tanks. On the night of 31 July to 1 August, the division and the rest of the corps escaped the Smolensk Pocket through the gap in the German encirclement line. On 28 August, it was converted into the 126th Tank Brigade.
On 31 August, the 17th Motor Rifle Regiment was awarded the Order of Lenin. The brigade was destroyed in the Vyazma Pocket in October, it was not disbanded until 22 August 1942. Drogovoz, Igor. Танковый меч страны Советов. Moscow: AST. ISBN 9851311332. Forczyk, Robert. Tank Warfare on the Eastern Front 1941–1942: Schwerpunkt. Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword. ISBN 9781781590089. Glantz, David M.. Barbarossa Derailed: The German Advance to Smolensk, the Encirclement Battle, the First and Second Soviet Counteroffensives, 10 July – 24 August 1941. Philadelphia: Casemate. ISBN 9781906033729
Western Front (World War II)
The Western Front was a military theatre of World War II encompassing Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. World War II military engagements in Southern Europe and elsewhere are considered under separate headings; the Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale combat operations. The first phase saw the capitulation of the Netherlands and France during May and June 1940 after their defeat in the Low Countries and the northern half of France, continued into an air war between Germany and Britain that climaxed with the Battle of Britain; the second phase consisted of large-scale ground combat, which began in June 1944 with the Allied landings in Normandy and continued until the defeat of Germany in May 1945. The Phoney War was an early phase of World War II marked by a few military operations in Continental Europe in the months following the German invasion of Poland and preceding the Battle of France. Although the great powers of Europe had declared war on one another, neither side had yet committed to launching a significant attack, there was little fighting on the ground.
This was the period in which the United Kingdom and France did not supply significant aid to Poland, despite their pledged alliance. While most of the German Army was fighting against Poland, a much smaller German force manned the Siegfried Line, their fortified defensive line along the French border. At the Maginot Line on the other side of the border, French troops stood facing them, whilst the British Expeditionary Force and other elements of the French Army created a defensive line along the Belgian border. There were only some minor skirmishes; the British Royal Air Force dropped propaganda leaflets on Germany and the first Canadian troops stepped ashore in Britain, while Western Europe was in a strange calm for seven months. In their hurry to re-arm and France had both begun to buy large numbers of weapons from manufacturers in the United States at the outbreak of hostilities, supplementing their own production; the non-belligerent United States contributed to the Western Allies by discounted sales of military equipment and supplies.
German efforts to interdict the Allies' trans-Atlantic trade at sea ignited the Battle of the Atlantic. While the Western Front remained quiet in April 1940, the fighting between the Allies and the Germans began in earnest with the Norwegian Campaign when the Germans launched Operation Weserübung, the German invasion of Denmark and Norway. In doing so, the Germans beat the Allies to the punch. However, when the Allies made a counter-landing in Norway following the German invasion, the Germans repulsed them and defeated the Norwegian armed forces, driving the latter into exile; the Kriegsmarine, suffered heavy losses during the two-months of fighting required to seize all of mainland Norway. In May 1940, the Germans launched the Battle of France; the Western Allies soon collapsed under the onslaught of the so-called "blitzkrieg" strategy. The majority of the British and elements of the French forces escaped at Dunkirk. With the fighting ended, the Germans began to consider ways of resolving the question of how to deal with Britain.
If the British refused to agree to a peace treaty, one option was to invade. However, Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine, had suffered serious losses in Norway, in order to consider an amphibious landing, Germany's Air Force had to first gain air superiority or air supremacy. With the Luftwaffe unable to defeat the RAF in the Battle of Britain, the invasion of Great Britain could no longer be thought of as an option. While the majority of the German army was mustered for the invasion of the Soviet Union, construction began on the Atlantic Wall – a series of defensive fortifications along the French coast of the English Channel; these were built in anticipation of an Allied invasion of France. Because of the massive logistical obstacles a cross-channel invasion would face, Allied high command decided to conduct a practice attack against the French coast. On 19 August 1942, the Allies began an attack on Dieppe, France. Most of the troops were Canadian, with some British contingents and a small American and Free French presence along with British and Polish naval support.
The raid was a disaster two-thirds of the attacking force became casualties. However, much was learned as a result of the operation – these lessons would be put to good use in the subsequent invasion. For two years, there was no land-fighting on the Western Front with the exception of commando raids and the guerrilla actions of the resistance aided by the Special Operations Executive and Office of Strategic Services. However, in the meantime, the Allies took the war to Germany, with a strategic bombing campaign the US Eighth Air Force bombing Germany by day and RAF Bomber Command bombing by night; the bulk of the Allied armies were occupied in the Mediterranean, seeking to clear the sea lanes to the Indian Ocean and capture the Foggia Airfield Complex. Two early British raids for which battle honours were awarded were Operation Collar in Boulogne and Operation Ambassador in Guernsey; the raids for which the British awarded the "North-West Europe Campaign of 1942" battle honour were: Operation Biting – Bruneval, St Nazaire, Operation Myrmidon – Bayonne, Operation Abercrombie – Hardelot, Dieppe (19 Augus
5th Combined Arms Army
The 5th Combined Arms Red Banner Army is a Russian Ground Forces formation in the Eastern Military District. It was formed in 1939, served during the Soviet invasion of Poland that year, was deployed in the southern sector of the Soviet defences when Adolf Hitler's Operation Barbarossa began in June 1941 during World War II. In the disastrous first months of Barbarossa, the 5th Army was destroyed around Kiev. Reformed under Lelyushenko and Govorov, it played a part in the last-ditch defence of Moscow, in the string of offensive and defensive campaigns that saw the Soviet armies liberate all of Soviet territory and push west into Poland and beyond into Germany itself; the 5th Army itself only advanced as far as East Prussia before it was moved east to take part in the Soviet attack on Japan. Since 1945 under the Soviet and now Russian flag it has formed part of the Far East Military District keeping watch on the border with the People's Republic of China; as the Russian armed force shrunk it found itself part of the larger Eastern Military District in the twenty-first century.
The 5th Army was created in August 1939 in the Special Kiev Military District from the Northern Army Group. In September 1939 the 5th Army took part in the Soviet invasion of Poland, justified by the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact; the Army was placed under the command of I. G. Sovietnikov. On 22 June 1941, the 5th Army consisted of the 15th Rifle Corps, as well as the 27th Rifle Corps, the 22nd Mechanised Corps, the 2nd Fortified Region, seven artillery regiments, 2 NKVD border regiments, an engineer regiment; the Army's rifle divisions were assigned to cover the Lutsk-Rovno approaches to the Ukraine and were tasked to man the Kovel and Vladimir-Volynsk fortified districts. The Army was stationed in barracks up to forty miles from the frontier, would need three to four days to take up its positions. On 22 June, the 15th Rifle Corps managed to take its place in the line, holding the sector from Vlodava to Vladimir-Volynsk, but that same day, the southern end of the line at Vladimir-Volynsk "began to buckle in," in John Erickson's words.
The main German thrust in the sector came at the junction point between the 5th Army and its neighbour to the south, the 6th Army, both the 5th and 6th Armies committed their mechanised forces to try to stem the gap, but without success. The Commander Southwestern Front, Mikhail Kirponos, decided to halt this with an attack into the flank of Panzer Group 1 using all the available mobile forces – five mechanised corps; this was unsuccessful in the face of the thrusting German advance, lack of coordination from the various Soviet formations, acute shortage of equipment and spares, lack of proper equipment radio sets. Meanwhile General M. I. Potapov, now commanding the 5th Army, was ordered on 29 June to make another attack on Panzer Group 1's flank from the woods of Klevany. Amid these efforts, Kirponos managed to withdraw most of his Front to a new line on the old Soviet/Polish border, prevented the Germans from rupturing the Soviet defensive line; the 11th Panzer Division took Berdichev on 7 July, the juncture between the 5th and 6th Armies was broken.
The gap between the 5th and 6th Armies widened to forty miles. To remedy the situation another counterattack was ordered, Potapov, now commanding the 15th and 31st Rifle, 9th, 19th and 22nd Mechanised Corps, was directed to strike northwards from Berdichev and Lyubar. However, his forces had been badly worn down: the 9th Mechanised Corps had 64 tanks left, the 22nd less than half that number, the rifle regiments of 31st Corps had "no more than three hundred men." Potapov's force cut the Zhitomir highway and kept up the pressure for a week, afterwards remained as a thorn on the German Sixth Army's northern flank. By 7 September the 5th Army was threatened with being split in two by the Second Army coming from the east and the Sixth Army's northern outflanking of Kiev; the Stavka refused permission for the 5th Army to withdraw, as they were still hoping for results from a counterattack by the Bryansk Front. By 9 September Stalin had given authority for the 5th Army to withdraw but by it was trapped, on 20 September Potapov and his command group were taken prisoner.
In the disastrous battle, the German forces encircled forces from the 5th, 21st, 26th, 37th Armies, captured Kiev, claimed 665,000 prisoners. The 5th Army was re-raised for the second time in October 1941, under the command of Dmitri Lelyushenko, as part of the Soviet Western Front. Recent sources give the actual re-raising date as 11 October 1941, it included two three tank brigades. At the Battle at Borodino Field, on a former Napoleonic battlefield, the first elements of the reforming Army to arrive at the front—two regiments of the Soviet 32nd Rifle Division and the 18th and 19th Tank Brigades—attempted to halt the German 10th Panzer Division and Das Reich divisions which were striking for Mozhaisk. Lelyuschenko was wounded and General L. A. Govorov took over. What thin reserves there were ran out, Mozhaisk fell on 18 October; that year the Army took part in the Klin-Solnechogorsk offensive operation. On 15 November, another German strike toward Moscow opened, but while
Oryol or Orel is a city and the administrative center of Oryol Oblast, located on the Oka River 360 kilometers south-southwest of Moscow. Population: 317,747 . While there are no historical records, archaeological evidence shows that a fortress settlement existed between the Oka and Orlik Rivers as early as the 12th century, when the land was a part of the Principality of Chernigov; the name of the fortress is unknown. In the 13th century the fortress became a part of the Zvenigorod district of the Karachev Principality. In the early 15th century, the territory was conquered by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania; the city was soon abandoned by its population, after being sacked either by Lithuanians or the Golden Horde. The territory became a part of the Tsardom of Russia in the 16th century. Ivan the Terrible decreed that a new fortress be built on the spot in 1566, for the purpose of defending the southern borders of the country; the fortress was built speedily, work starting in the summer of 1566 and ending in the spring of 1567.
The location chosen was less than ideal strategically, as the fortress was located on a seasonally flooded low ground targeted from the neighboring high ground. False Dmitry I and his army passed through Oryol in 1605. Polish intervention sacked it in 1611 and 1615. Orlovsky Uyezd nonetheless continued to exist on paper. Oryol was rebuilt in 1636; the question of moving the fortress to the more advantageous high ground was in the air up until the 1670s, but the move was never made. The fortress was taken apart in the early 18th century. In the mid-18th century Oryol became one of the major centers of grain production, with the Oka River being the major trade route until the 1860s when it was replaced by a railroad. Oryol was granted town status in 1702. In 1708, Oryol was included as a part of Kiev Governorate; the Province was transferred to the newly created Belgorod Governorate in 1727. On March 11, 1778 Oryol Vice-Royalty was created from parts of Belgorod Governorates. In 1779, the city was entirely rebuilt based on a new plan.
After the October Revolution of 1917, the city was in Bolshevik hands, except for a brief period between October 13 and October 20, 1919, when it was controlled by Anton Denikin's White Army. Oryol was once again moved between different oblasts in the 1920s and 1930s becoming the administrative center of its own Oryol Oblast on September 27, 1937; the Oryol Prison was a notable place of incarceration for political prisoners and war prisoners of the Second World War. Christian Rakovsky, Maria Spiridonova, Olga Kameneva and 160 other prominent political prisoners were shot on September 11, 1941 on Joseph Stalin's orders in the Medvedev Forest massacre outside Oryol. During World War II, Oryol was occupied by the Wehrmacht on October 3, 1941, liberated on August 5, 1943, after the Battle of Kursk; the city was completely destroyed. In February 2012, the city duma abolished the direct election of mayor. In December 2013, a referendum was held, which 71% of the people supported the return of direct mayoral election.
Oryol is the administrative center of the oblast and, within the framework of administrative divisions, it serves as the administrative center of Orlovsky District though it is not a part of it. As an administrative division, it is incorporated separately as the city of oblast significance of Oryol—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts; as a municipal division, the city of oblast significance of Oryol is incorporated as Oryol Urban Okrug. The city is served by the Oryol Yuzhny Airport. Since 1868, there has been a railway connection between Moscow. Oryol is a major transport hub on the borders of the Central and Central Black Earth economic regions. Through the city converge 7 important highways of federal and republican values: M2, P92, R119, R120, A142, 5 railway lines: on Yelets, Kursk, Mikhailovsky mine; the city has an airport. The formation of the Oryol as an important transportation hub is due to the favorable geographical position of the city on the borders of economic regions.
The town has trolley and bus systems. These kinds of public transport cover the entire territory of the city; each bus and trolley is equipped with route indicators that inform about the route through the city, designated stops. There is a waterbus on the Oka River. In the city there are taxis and shuttles, rental cars. Intercity transport terminals: Oryol Station, Station Luzhki-Oryol, Oryol Bus Station, as well as federal highway M2, P92, R119, R120, A142. On November 3, 1898 Orel inaugurated an electric tram; the draft was prepared by the Belgian entrepreneur FF Gilon and firm «Compagnie mutuelle de tramways», which won the right to build not only a tram, but lighting in the city. Oryol has a humid continental climate. 1991–1997: Alexander Kislyakov 1997–2002: Yefim Velkovsky 2002–2006: Vasily Uvarov 2006–2009: Alexander Kasyanov 2009–2010: Vasily Eremin 2010–2012: Viktor Safianov 2012: Mikhail Bernikov 2012–2016: Sergey Stupin 2016–present: Vasily Novikov Oryol is twinned with: Brest, Belarus Ke
The Stavka was the high command of the armed forces in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. In Imperial Russia Stavka refers to the administrative staff, to the General Headquarters in the late 19th Century Imperial Russian armed forces and subsequently in the Soviet Union. In Western literature it is sometimes written in uppercase, incorrect since it is not an acronym. Stavka may refer to its members, as well as to the headquarter location; the commander-in-chief of the Russian army at the beginning of World War I was Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievitch, a grandson of Tsar Nicholas I. Appointed at the last minute in August 1914, he played no part in formulating the military plans in use at the beginning of the war. Nikolai Yanushkevich was his chief of staff. In the summer of 1915 the Tsar himself took personal command, with Mikhail Alekseyev as his chief of staff. In the years 1915–1917 Stavka was based in Mogilev and the Tsar, Nicholas II, spent long periods there as Commander-in-Chief; the Stavka was divided into several departments: Department of General-Quartermaster Department of General on Duty Department of military transportations Naval department Diplomatic chancery The Stavka was first established in Baranovichi.
In August 1915, after the German advance, the Stavka re-located to Mogilev. 19 July 1914 – 18 August 1915: Lieutenant-General Nikolai Yanushkevich 18 September 1915—01.04.1917: General of Infantry Mikhail Alekseyev 10 November 1916 – 17 February 1917: General of Cavalry Vasily Gurko 11 March 1917—05.04.1917: General of Infantry Vladislav Klembovsky 5 April 1917 – 31 May 1917: Lieutenant-General Anton Denikin 2 June 1917 – 30 August 1917: Lieutenant-General Alexander Lukomsky 30 August 1917 – 9 September 1917: General of Infantry Mikhail Alekseyev 10 October 1917—03.11.1917: Lieutenant-General Nikolay Dukhonin 3 November 1917—07.11.1917: Major General Mikhail Dieterichs 7 November 1917—02.1918: Major General Mikhail Bonch-Bruevich The Stavka of the Soviet Armed Forces during World War II, or the headquarters of the "Main Command of the Armed Forces of the USSR", was established on 23 June 1941 by a top-secret decree signed by Joseph Stalin in his capacities both as the head of government and as the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
According to this decree Stavka was composed of the defence minister Marshal Semyon Timoshenko, the head of General Staff Georgy Zhukov, Vyacheslav Molotov, Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, Marshal Semyon Budyonny and the People's Commissar of the Navy Admiral Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov. The same decree organized at Stavka "the institution of permanent counsellors of Stavka": Marshal Kulik, Marshal Shaposhnikov, Kirill Meretskov, head of the Air force Zhigarev, Nikolay Vatutin, head of Air Defence Voronov, Kaganovich, Lavrenty Beria, Zhdanov, Mekhlis. Soon afterwards, the deputy defence minister of the army, was arrested following false charges made by Beria and Merkulov. Meretskov was subsequently released from jail on the same day, at the end of the first week of September 1941, called for by Stalin. Stavka's Main Command was reorganized into the Stavka of the Supreme Command on 10 July 1941; this action occurred after Stalin was named Supreme Commander, replaced Timoshenko as head of Stavka.
On 8 August 1941 it was again reorganized into Stavka of the Supreme Main Command. On the same day Strategic Directions commands were instituted. A 17 February 1945 decree set out the membership of Stavka as Stalin, Aleksandr Vasilevsky, Aleksei Antonov, Nikolai Bulganin and Kuznetsov. General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Creation of the Main Command of the Armed Forces of the Union of USSR
The Soviet Union the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were centralized; the country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Minsk, Alma-Ata, Novosibirsk, it spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, steppes and mountains; the Soviet Union had its roots in the 1917 October Revolution, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by a treaty which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s.
Stalin committed the state's ideology to Marxism–Leninism and constructed a command economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During his rule, political paranoia fermented and the Great Purge removed Stalin's opponents within and outside of the party via arbitrary arrests and persecutions of many people, resulting in at least 600,000 deaths. In 1933, a major famine struck the country. Before the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, agreeing to non-aggression with Nazi Germany, after which the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939. In June 1941, Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk; the territories overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Soviet Union.
The post-war division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the United States-led Western Bloc, known as the Cold War. Stalin died in 1953 and was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization; the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during Khrushchev's rule, among the many factors that led to his downfall in 1964. In the early 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed with the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. In 1985, the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost and perestroika, which caused political instability. In 1989, Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist governments; as part of an attempt to prevent the country's dissolution due to rising nationalist and separatist movements, a referendum was held in March 1991, boycotted by some republics, that resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation.
Gorbachev's power was diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin's high-profile role in facing down a coup d'état attempted by Communist Party hardliners. In late 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the Soviet Union; the remaining 12 constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states, with the Russian Federation—formerly the Russian SFSR—assuming the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and being recognized as the successor state. The Soviet Union was a powerhouse of many significant technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite, the first humans in space and the first probe to land on another planet, Venus; the country had the largest standing military in the world. The Soviet Union was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states and possessed the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, it was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.
The word "Soviet" is derived from a Russian word сове́т meaning council, advice, harmony and all deriving from the proto-Slavic verbal stem of vět-iti, related to Slavic věst, English "wise", the root in "ad-vis-or", or the Dutch weten. The word sovietnik means "councillor". A number of organizations in Russian history were called "council". For example, in the Russian Empire the State Council, which functioned from 1810 to 1917, was referred to as a Council of Ministers after the revolt of 1905. During the Georgian Affair, Vladimir Lenin envisioned an expression of Great Russian ethnic chauvinism by Joseph Stalin and his supporters, calling for these nation-states to join Russia as semi-independent parts of a greater union, which he named as the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia. Stalin resisted the proposal, but accepted it, although with Lenin's agreement changed the name of the newly proposed sta
Battles of Rzhev
The Battles of Rzhev were a series of Soviet operations in World War II between January 8, 1942 and March 31, 1943. Due to the high losses suffered by the Red Army, the campaign became known by veterans and historians as the "Rzhev Meat Grinder"; the operations took place in the general area of Rzhev, Sychyovka in Sychyovsky District, Vyazma against German forces. The major operations that were executed in this area of the front were: Rzhev–Vyazma Strategic Offensive Operation of the Kalinin Front, Western Front, Bryansk Front, Northwestern Front Sychyovsky–Vyazma offensive operation of the Kalinin Front Mozhaysk–Vyazma offensive operation of the Western Front Toropets–Kholm Offensive Operation of the Northwestern Front and reassigned to the Kalinin Front from 22 January 1942 Vyazma airborne operation of the Western Front Rzhev operation Operation Seydlitz and the Soviet defensive battles around Bely and Kholm-Zhirkovsky launched by 9th Army of Germany to eliminate the salient in the vicinity between Bely and Kholm–Zhirkovsky and annihilate the 39th Army and 11th Cavalry Corps of the Kalinin Front First Rzhev–Sychyovka Offensive Operation by forces of the Kalinin Front and Western Front Second Rzhev–Sychyovka Offensive Operation by the forces of the Kalinin Front and Western Front Battle for Velikiye Luki by 3rd Shock Army of the Kalinin Front Third Rzhev–Sychyovka Offensive Operation by the forces of the Kalinin Front and Western Front, at the same time, the southern flank offensive operations on the Bryansk Front.
These were operations that occurred during the planned German retreat from the salient known as Operation Büffel During the Soviet winter counter-offensive of 1941, the Rzhev-Vyazma Strategic Offensive Operation, German forces were pushed back from Moscow. As a result, a salient was formed along the front line in the direction of the capital, which became known as the Rzhev-Vyazma Salient, it was strategically important for the German Army Group Centre due to the threat it posed to Moscow, was therefore fortified and defended. Initial Soviet forces committed by the Kalinin and Western Front included the 22nd, 29th, 30th, 31st, 39th of the former, the 1st Shock, 5th, 10th, 16th, 20th, 33rd, 43rd, 49th, 50th armies and three cavalry corps for the latter; the intent was for the 22nd Army, 29th Army and 39th Armies supported by the 11th Cavalry Corps to attack West of Rzhev, penetrate deep into the western flank of Army Group Centre's 9th Army. This was achieved in January, by the end of the month the cavalry corps found itself 110 km in the depth of the German flank.
To eliminate this threat to the rear of the Army Group Centre's 9th Army, the Germans had started Operation Seydlitz by 2 July. However, due to the nature of the terrain the supply route of the troops of the Soviet 22nd Army, 29th Army and 39th Armies which attempted to enlarge the penetration became difficult, they were encircled; the cutting of a major highway to Rzhev by the cavalry signalled the commencement of the Toropets–Kholm Offensive. The offensive was conducted in late 1942; this offensive was conducted across the northern part of the Western Front against the Wehrmacht's 4th Panzer Army and the 4th Army. A Soviet airborne operation, conducted by the 4th Airborne Corps in seven separate landing zones, five of them intended to cut major road and rail line of communication to the Wehrmacht's 9th Army. In the aftermath of the Soviet winter counteroffensive of 1941–42, substantial Soviet forces remained in the rear of the German Ninth Army; these forces maintained a hold on the primitive forested swamp region between Bely.
On July 2, 1942, Ninth Army under General Model launched Operation Seydlitz to clear the Soviet forces out. The Germans first blocked the natural breakout route through the Obsha valley and split the Soviet forces into two isolated pockets; the battle ended with the elimination of the encircled Soviet forces. The next Rzhev-Sychyovka Offensive codenamed Operation Mars; the operation consisted of several incremental offensive phases: Sychyovka Offensive Operation 24 November 1942 – 14 December 1942 Belyi Offensive Operation 25 November 1942 – 16 December 1942 Luchesa Offensive Operation 25 November 1942 – 11 December 1942 Molodoi Tud Offensive Operation 25 November 1942 – 23 December 1942 Velikie-Luki Offensive Operation 24 November 1942 – 20 January 1943This operation was nearly as heavy in losses for the Red Army as the first offensive, failed to reach desired objectives, but the Red Army tied down German forces which may have otherw