20th Guards Motor Rifle Division
The 20th Motor Rifle Division was a formation of the Russian Ground Forces formed within the Soviet Red Army as the 3rd Mechanised Corps. The formation of the corps began in the Western Special Military District in June 1940 on the basis of headquarters and the relevant parts of the 24th Rifle Corps, 7th Cavalry Division, 21st Heavy Tank Brigade, 2nd Light Tank Brigade, 84th Rifle Division, tank battalions of the 113th, 121st and 143rd rifle divisions; the 3rd Mechanised Corps was first formed in July 1940, on 22 June 1941, was stationed at Vilnius in the Baltic Military District under MG A. V. Kurkin, it consisted of 2nd Tank Division, 5th Tank Division, 84th Motorised Division, 15th Motorcycle Regiment, an artillery regiment, engineer and signals battalions. On 22 June, the 2nd Tank Division was located in the forest in Gajzhuny, in the Ionava area, the 5th Tank Division was positioned to defend the Neman bridge near Alitus, the 84th Motorised Division - was in forest in the Kajshadoris area.
On 22 June 1941, the 3rd Mechanised Corps had 31,975 men & 651 tanks, of which 110 were new T-34 and KV-1 types. The Corps was engaged in the first battles of Operation Barbarossa during the Baltic Operation and at the Battle of Raseiniai. On 24 June 1941, a single KV-2 heavy tank of 2nd Tank Division, at a crossroads in front of Raseiniai, managed to cut off elements of the 6th Panzer Division which had established bridgeheads on the Dubysa, it stalled the Division's advance for a full day while being attacked by a variety of antitank weapons, until it ran out of ammunition. General Erhard Raus, the Officer commanding 6th Panzer Division's Kampfgruppe Raus, the unit held up by the lone vehicle, described the incident. Raus said that the vehicle was damaged by several shots from a 88mm anti-aircraft gun firing at the vehicle from behind whilst it was distracted by Panzer 35 tanks from Panzer Battalion 65; the crew were killed by grenades thrown by a Pioneer Engineer unit. The grenades were pushed through two holes made by the gun whilst the turret had started moving again, the other five or six shots having not penetrated completely.
The crew had remarkably only been stunned by the shots which had entered the turret. Afterwards they were buried nearby with honours by the German soldiers of the unit held up. However, by early July the Corps had ceased to exist as a formation, though remnants rejoined Soviet lines later. For example, the 5th Tank Division was at Yelnya by 4 July 1941, consisted of 2,552 men and a total of 2 BT-7 tanks and four armoured cars; the 2nd Tank Division was encircled and destroyed at Raseiniai and the 5th Tank Division was encircled and destroyed at the Battle of Białystok–Minskb and was disbanded shortly after. On 11 July 1941 Col P Poluboiarov, Northwestern Front armoured directorate reported that the 3rd Mechanised Corps had'completely perished' having only 400 men remaining who escaped encirclement with 2nd Tank Division & only 1 BT-7 tank; the Corps was formed for the second time on 18 September 1942 at Kalinin in the Moscow Military District. General Lieutenant M. E. Katukov took command, it was assigned to the 22nd Army of the Kalinin Front.
It took part in Operation Mars alongside the 22nd Army. At the beginning of Operation Mars 3rd Mechanised Corps consisted of 232 tanks. Hamazasp Babadzhanian, who commanded the 3rd Mechanised Brigade of the corps, mentioned this operation in his memoirs, quoting a conversation with 22nd Army commander, V. A. Iushkevich, who said, “We will conduct a rather serious offensive together with Western Front forces—we must liquidate the enemy Rzhev grouping.”The Corps fought in the Battle of Kursk fought across the Ukraine with the Central, 1st Belorussian Fronts. On 23 October 1943, it was awarded ‘Guards’ status and re-designated the 8th Guards Mechanised Corps. In 1944, it took part in the Zhitomir-Berdichev, Korsun-Shevchenkovsky, Proskurov-Chernovits, Lvov-Sandomir battles, gaining the'Carpathian' honorific in April 1944, it ended the war in Berlin after participating in the East Pomeranian offensives. In June 1945, recognising its role in capturing Berlin, it was awarded the honorific'Berlin'.
As part of the occupation forces, it was assigned to the 1st Guards Tank Army. In the immediate post-war period, the Corps was reorganised as the 8th Guards Mechanised Division. In May 1957, it was reorganised as the 20th Guards Motor Rifle Division bearing honorifics: Carpathia-Berlin, Red Banner, Order of Suvorov, it was stationed at Grimma in eastern Germany. In 1964, the division was transferred to the 8th Guards Army, it took part in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia as part of the 1st Guards Tank Army, although when it returned to East Germany, it reverted to the control of the 8th Guards Army. Became part of 1st Guards Tank Army in 1983, until 1993; the division was withdrawn from Germany in June 1993, moved to Volgograd in the North Caucasus Military District. There it was under the command of the reduced 8th Guards Army Corps the 8th Guards Army; the division remained garrisoned in Volgograd, with parts of the division having taken part in the First and Second Chechen Wars. The division was engaged from December 1994 to February 1995 in the First Chechen War.
On December 31, 1994, units of the division, together with the 131st Motor Rifle Brigade and the 81st Guards Motor Rifle Regiment entered Grozny. On January 13, 1995, elements of the division began storming the Council of Ministers building. On January 16, the building of the Council of Ministers was taken. On Ja
9th Mechanized Corps (Soviet Union)
The 9th Mechanized Corps was a mechanized corps of the Soviet Red Army, formed twice. It was first disbanded in September 1941 after suffering heavy losses; the corps was formed again in August 1943 at Tula. The second formation fought with the 3rd Guards Tank Army, it participated in the Battle of the Dnieper, the Battle of Kiev, the Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive, the Zhitomir–Berdichev Offensive, the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive. The Battle of Berlin and the Prague Offensive. During the war the corps received the honorifics "Kiev" and "Zhitomir" and was awarded the Order of the Red Banner, the Order of Suvorov 2nd class, the Order of Kutuzov 2nd class; the corps was first formed in November 1940 in the Kiev Military District with the 19th and 20th Tank Divisions, the 131st Motorized Division. In March 1941, the 19th Tank Division was transferred to the 22nd Mechanized Corps and was replaced by the 35th Tank Division. On June 22, 1941, the first day of the German invasion, orders went out from headquarters Southwestern Front under Mikhail Kirponos to the mechanized corps to deploy forward as as possible.
The 9th Mechanized Corps moved its units towards the town of Irkutsk, into the path of the advancing 14th Panzer Division, which pushed the 131st Motorized Division out of the town. Meanwhile, south of Irkutsk, the 11th Panzer Division secured Dubno, a vital road hub, against minimal resistance, Kirponos ordered an immediate counter-attacked to retake it. Although still in the process of moving forward towards the battle zone, both the 20th and 35th assembled forward detachments of between 30–40 tanks together with what infantry was to hand, launched them forward, cutting the Irkutsk-Dubno road. At the same time, elements of 19th Mechanized Corps' 43rd Tank Division recaptured Dubno; the German reaction was swift. The 13th Panzer turned east, along secondary roads, took Rovno in the 9th's Mechanized rear. However, on June 29, the 14th Panzer, attempting to advance eastward along the main tank highway, was stopped cold by the 20th Tank Division, was just able to hold Lutsh against "massive attacks".
The corps commander, Konstantin Rokossovsky wrote of this engagement in his memoirs, "The terrain off road was wooded and swampy, keeping the German advance to the road. The artillery Regiment of the 20th Tank Division deployed its newly issued 85mm Guns to cover the road and with direct fire repulsed the advancing Panzers"; the 14th Panzer followed the 13th Panzer Division. Both Panzer divisions of III Panzer Corps pushed on, leaving 25th Panzergrenadier Division to protect their rear against repeated attacks by 9th Mechanized Corps to drive into Rovno; the 25th Panzergrenadier Division reported extreme difficulty in holding back the attacks and suffered "serious losses" in the process. By the beginning of July, German armor had smashed a hole in the center of the Russian line, the 13th Panzer stood at the edge of the Kiev fortified district. In another attempt to restore the front, Kirponos ordered attacks from the 5th Army in the north and 6th Army in the south to accomplish this aim; the army still had three mechanized corps under command: the 9th, the 19th, the 22nd.
The 5th Army forces lunged southward and managed to cut the Zhitomir – Kiev highway, blocking III Panzer Corps' supply lines. The Germans reacted by assigning infantry to push the Russians back to the north. On the 9th of July, the corps was still in the Kiev Special Military District as part of the General reserve. September 20, 1941 from the remnants of the 9th Mechanized Corps of the 5th Army was formed a combined battalion, who joined in the 15th Mechanized Corps; the 9th Mechanized Corps formed again in August 1943 at Tula. Its main sub units were the 69th, 70th, 71st mechanized brigades; the new corps advanced to the Dnieper River and fought at Fastov and around Kiev in November 1943, Zhitomir in January 1944. The corps now formed a component of 3rd Guards Tank Army, fought under its command for the remainder of the war. In April, it was withdrawn for three months rest and retraining before attacking again in the Soviet push to capture Lviv. In January 1945, the corps fought in the Vistula and Oder battles in eastern Germany, in the Battle of Berlin in May 1945.
It became 9th Mechanised Division 82nd Motor Rifle Division on 17 May 1957. It was based at Cottbus until 1958, it was disbanded on 9 May 1958 in the GSFG at Bernau with the 18th Guards Army. The early war corps tank component was massive on paper, but the 9th Mechanized was well below its authorized strength and lacked the latest modern designs that some of the other mechanized units had begun to receive; the 20th Tank Division in particular had only 32 tanks instead of 375, the corps as a whole 300 instead of 1031. Its most common equipment was the BT models. In terms of command and control, personnel training and logistical support, the mechanized corps were not suited to conduct, sustain or survive in the high intensity combat operations of the early conflict The Wehrmacht decimated the mechanized corps in the first month of the war, destroying over 1000 tanks, so that by mid August the Stavka abolished the remaining corps. Kiev.
North Western Operational Command
The North Western Operational Command is a command of the Belarus Ground Forces. It is commanded by Major General Alexander Grigoryevich Volfovich; the command includes a mixed artillery brigade. It was formed in 2001 from the 65th Army Corps; the command traces its lineage to the 65th Army of the Red Army, a field army of the Soviet Union during World War II. It was formed in October 1942 from rebuilding elements of the first formation of the 4th Tank Army on the Don Front; the army was commanded by Pavel Batov until after the fall of Berlin, served in various Fronts commanded by Konstantin Rokossovsky for the duration of the war. Postwar, the 65th Army was moved to the Belorussian Military District, where it became the 7th Mechanized Army. In 1957 it became the 7th Tank Army. With the Dissolution of the Soviet Union the army became part of the Belarus Ground Forces and was downsized into the 7th Army Corps in 1993. A year it was renamed the 65th Army Corps. 4th Tank Army, under command of Maj. Gen. Vasily Kryuchenkin, launched numerous counterattacks against the German corridor to Stalingrad from August to October, 1942, until it was depleted in strength.
Batov, who had commanded the 51st Army and the 3rd Army, assumed command on October 22, with orders to rebuild these forces as a combined-arms army, the 65th, as part of Rokossovsky's new Don Front. This was accomplished by mid-November, at this time the army consisted of: 3 Guards Rifle Divisions 6 Rifle Divisions 2 Separate Tank Brigades 3 Army Artillery Regiments, 1 Howitzer Regiment, 5 Guards Mortar Regiments, supporting units. 65th Army played a leading role in Operation Uranus, the encirclement of the German forces at Stalingrad. Attacking out of the Kremenskaya bridgehead on the south bank of the Don. Rokossovsky wrote in reference to Batov and his army:" displayed fine initiative with an improvised mobile task force... By striking at the enemy's flank and rear, the task force ensured the swift advance of the other units." In the lead up to Operation Ring the 65th mounted an attack by two rifle divisions against the positions of the German 44th Infantry Division on January 7, 1943. This attack inflicted severe casualties.
A counterattack by German armor contained the Soviet advance, but did not regain the original line, consumed scarce fuel and ammunition, exposed the vehicles to concentrated artillery fire, leading to losses. When Ring kicked off at 0805 hours on January 10, 65th Army was backed by a 55 minute artillery barrage from over 500 guns and howitzers and 450 rocket launchers on an attack front of 12km, the highest density of Soviet artillery achieved to that point of the war; this was followed by air attacks from the 16th Air Army against positions to the rear of the main German line. About 0900 hours, shock groups of five rifle divisions of the Army, supported by the 91st Tank Brigade and six Guards heavy tank regiments; the front of the 44th Division was smashed quite and four depleted battalions were overrun. Following the German surrender at Stalingrad, Rokossovsky's forces were redeployed northwest to become the new Central Front in the region around Kursk. 65th Army exploited a gap between the weak Second German Army and the Second Panzer Army, but was brought to a halt by the spring rasputitsa, German reserves released by their evacuation of the Rzhev Salient, the German counter-offensive to the south of Kursk.
65th Army dug in during the three-month lull in operations, towards the northwestern sector of the Kursk salient. At this time the order of battle of the 65th Army was as follows: 18th Rifle Corps 27th Rifle Corps 37th Guards, 181st, 194th and 354th Rifle Divisions 4 Separate Tank Regiments, 2 Antitank Regiments, 2 Mortar Regiments, 2 Guards Mortar Regiments, other support unitsArmy strength: 100,000, 1,837 guns and mortars, 124 tanks and self-propelled guns. Due to its position in the western sector of the salient, the 65th emerged unscathed from the Battle of Kursk, was well equipped to exploit the German defeat. In late July and August the Army joined in the pursuit of German forces to the Dnepr River. On 15 Oct. with divisional and army artillery firing 1,000 shells per minute in support, the 193rd Rifle Division forced a crossing of the Dnepr. From this point on, the 65th Army began earning a well-deserved reputation for its abilities in river-crossing and bridgehead operations. Rokossovsky's command was renamed 1st Belorussian Front, in June, 1944, 65th Army took part in major strategic operations in Belorussia.
The Army's order of battle at this time was as follows: 18th Rifle Corps 105th Rifle Corps 15th and 356th Rifle Divisions, 115th Rifle Brigade 1st Guards Tank Corps 1 Separate Tank Regiment and 4 Separate Self-propelled Artillery Regiments, other support units. In a well-known confrontation at the planning stage, Rokossovski convinced Stalin that, given the terrain, it was better to strike two strong blows against the German forces than just one, he was counting on Batov's ability to lead his Army across swampy regions south of Bobruisk, using corduroy roads, swamp shoes, other means. 65th Army did not disappoint, within a few days the German Ninth Army was encircled and destroyed. For his
19th Guards Mechanized Brigade (Belarus)
The 19th Guards Mechanized Brigade is a formation of the Armed Forces of Belarus based in Zaslonovo, a few kilometers east of Lepiel. The brigade traces its history back to the 1942 formation of the 2nd Guards Mechanized Corps of the Soviet Army during World War II. Subsequent designations during the Cold War included 2nd Guards Mechanized Division and 19th Guards Tank Division. Following the Cold War, the 19th Guards Tank Division was relocated to Belarus and became part of their armed forces in 1992. Thereafter, the unit was reduced to a personnel and equipment cadre unit and titled the 19th Guards Base for Storage of Weapons and Equipment before being upgraded to a mechanized brigade in 2008. Formed in the Tambov area on 15 October 1942 from elements of the 22nd Guards Rifle Division, the 2nd Guards Mechanized Corps was under the command of Major General Karp Sviridov and subordinated to the Southern Front and the 2nd Guards Army until late 1943, at which time the corps became a front-level asset and fought with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th Ukrainian Fronts for the rest of the war.
By the end of the war, the 2nd Guards Mechanized Corps commanded the 4th, 5th, 6th Guards Mechanized Brigades, as well as the 37th Guards Tank Brigade. The corps fought at Stalingrad in 1942-43, at Melitopol in 1943, Odessa and Budapest in 1944, Vienna in 1945; the 2nd Guards Mechanized Corps finished the war as part of the 6th Guards Tank Army in the area of Benešov, Czechoslovakia, on 9 May 1945. The 2nd Guards Mechanized Corps, like all Soviet mechanized corps, was reorganized as a division in mid-late 1945, was renamed the 2nd Guards Mechanized Division; the 2nd Guards Mechanized Division was part of the Southern Group of Forces based at Esztergom, Hungary. The division was part of the Soviet forces that crushed the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. On 15 December 1956, the division was reorganized as a tank division and renamed the 19th Guards Tank Division; the 97th Motor Rifle Regiment transferred to the division from the 27th Mechanized Division on the same day. The division's 87th Guards Heavy Tank Regiment dropped the designation "Self-Propelled" on the same day.
The 67th Separate Tank Training Battalion was disbanded in 1960. In 1961 the 99th Separate Missile Battalion was activated; the 74th Separate Equipment Maintenance and Recovery Battalion was formed on 19 February 1962. The 87th Guards Heavy Tank Regiment became a regular tank regiment around this time. In 1968, the 55th Separate Sapper Battalion became an engineer-sapper battalion; the chemical defence company was upgraded to a battalion in 1972. The 1081st Separate Material Supply Battalion formed from the 690th Separate Motor Transport Battalion in 1980; the chemical defence battalion was once again downsized to a company in 1985. On 7 September 1987, the 99th Separate Missile Battalion became part of the 459th Missile Brigade. Among other veterans of the unit, Yuri Budanov served with the division in the late 1980s in Hungary; the 87th Guards Tank Regiment, 99th Separate Guards Reconnaissance Battalion and 74th Separate Equipment Maintenance and Recovery Battalion disbanded in December 1989. They were replaced by the 130th Guards Tank Regiment, 56th Separate Reconnaissance Battalion and 77th Separate Equipment Maintenance and Recovery Battalion from the disbanded 13th Guards Tank Division.
The division became part of the 7th Tank Army. Following the end of the Cold War, the unit was withdrawn to Zaslonovo in Belarus 1992 and became part of the Armed Forces of Belarus. At some point following relocation, the division was reorganized and became a Base for Storage of Weapons and Equipment, a partial-strength mechanized infantry formation. "One of the equipment storage bases is the 19th, the former 19th Guards Tank Division at Zaslonovo in the Lepiel region. On October 1, 2003, the base was strengthened. From other bases of storage of arms and techniques now we are distinguished favorably by new structure. Besides a battalion of protection and service, motor-rifle and tank battalions were added."In 2008 the base for storage of weapons and equipment was again upgraded into a brigade. V. I. Feskov et al; the Soviet Army in the period of the Cold War, Tomsk University Publishing House, 2004. Glantz, Colussus Reborn, University Press of Kansas, 2005. Poirier, Robert G. and Conner, Albert Z.
The Red Army Order of Battle in the Great Patriotic War, Novato: Presidio Press, 1985. Ustinov, D. F. - Geschichte des Zweiten Welt Krieges, 1981 https://web.archive.org/web/20130511201841/http://www8.brinkster.com/vad777/
The Leningrad Front was formed during the 1941 German approach on Leningrad by dividing the Northern Front into the Leningrad Front and Karelian Front on August 27, 1941. The Leningrad Front was given the task of containing the German drive towards Leningrad and defending the city from the approaching Army Group North. By September 1941, German forces to the south were stopped on the outskirts of Leningrad, initiating the two-and-a-half-year-long Siege of Leningrad. Although Finnish forces to the north stopped at the old Finnish–Soviet border, the Leningrad front suffered severe losses on the Finnish Front. From September 8, soldiers of the front were forced to conduct operations under the conditions of a blockade, with little supply; some supplies did reach the city however via the lake Road of Life. During the blockade, the front executed various offensive and defensive operations, until with the help of the Baltic and Volkhov Front, the blockade was lifted. From June 1942, Leonid Govorov had been the commander of the front, in June 1944, he was awarded the title Marshal of the Soviet Union.
In January 1943, forces of the Leningrad front made their first advances in years when they took the town of Shlisselburg from German forces, thus restoring communications between Leningrad and the rest of the country. In mid and late-January 1944 the Leningrad front, along with the Volkhov Front, the 1st Baltic Front and the 2nd Baltic Front, pushed back Army Group North and broke the 28-month-long blockade. Several days these forces would liberate all of the Leningrad Oblast and Kalinin Oblast. Six months the Leningrad Front took over the town of Narva. On April 21, 1944, parts of the Leningrad front were broken off to create the 3rd Baltic Front. In June 1944, the Leningrad front, along with the Baltic fleet had carried out the Vyborg operation; as a result of which, Finland would leave the German side of the war. From September–November 1944, the front participated in the Baltic Offensive, it advanced in the Narva-Tartu direction, towards Tallinn. Following the capture of continental Estonia, elements of the front, along with the Baltic fleet, took part in recapturing the Moonsund archipelago.
These were the last offensive operations of the front. Forces of the Leningrad Front were stationed on the Soviet-Finnish border, all along the Baltic coast from Leningrad to Riga; the Leningrad front was reinforced with elements of the disbanded 2nd Baltic Front. These forces were stationed near the Courland Pocket, with the task of containing the German Army Group Courland, which would continue to resist Soviet forces up until the end of war in Europe. On June 24, 1945, the Leningrad front was reorganized into the Leningrad Military District. Upon its creation in August 1941, the Leningrad front included: 8th Army 23rd Army 48th Army Koporye operational group Southern operational group Slutsk operational group Baltic FleetFollowing November 25, 1942, the structure of the Leningrad front increased, it subsequently included: Lieutenant General - Markian Popov. Continuation War#Trench warfare 1942-1943 Любанская операция
12th Mechanized Corps (Soviet Union)
The 12th Mechanized Corps was a formation in the Soviet Red Army during the Second World War. Formed in March 1941 in response to the German victories in the West, it served with the 8th Army and was held in reserve near Šiauliai in Lithuania 75 km northwest of Kaunasa in the Special Baltic Military District. Under the command of Major General N. M. Shestopalov when the German Operation Barbarossa began in June 1941, it consisted of the 23rd and 28th Tank Divisions and the 202nd Mechanized Division. After the invasion began the Special Baltic Military District was renamed Northwestern Front, commanded by Colonel General Kutznetsov; the front fielded the 11th Armies along with the 27th Army in its second echelon. The 12th Mechanized was engaged in the first battles of Operation Barbarossa during the Baltic Operation and at the Battle of Raseiniai, by early July it had ceased to exist as a formation, although remnants rejoined Soviet lines later. B c By the end of 22 June, the German armoured spearheads had crossed the Niemen and penetrated 80 kilometres.
The next day, Kutznetsov committed his armoured forces to battle. Near Raseiniai, the XLI Panzer Corps was counter-attacked by the tanks of the Soviet 3rd and 12th Mechanised Corps, but this concentration of Soviet armour was detected by the Luftwaffe, which directed heavy air attacks from Fliegerkorps I Ju 88s against tank columns of the 12th Mechanised Corps south-west of Šiauliai. These attacks were carried out with great success; the Soviet 23rd Tank Division sustained severe losses, with 40 tanks or lorries set ablaze. On 25 June, the Germans destroyed another 30 tanks and 50 lorries; the 28th Tank Division alone lost 84 tanks. The battle would last four days. After escaping the encirclement at Raseiniai and making a fighting retreat through Estonia during July, the remnants of the 12th Mechanized Corps were disbanded in August 1941. However, the 28th Tank Division was reported as part of the Novgorod Operational Group on 1 September 1941, while the 202nd Rifle Division was reported with 11th Army a On 22 June 1941 the 12th Mechanized Corps consisted of 28,832 soldiers, 749 tanks including only lighter Soviet T-26, Bt Series models, plus 23 armoured cars, 92 artillery guns, 221 mortars, 2531 vehicles, 194 tractors and 39 motorcycles.
B Colonel Grinberg, the temporary commander of the 12th Mechanized Corps after the death of his corps' original commander Major General Shestopalov, reported on 29 July that the strength of his corps had fallen to under 17,000 men after the first two weeks of combat. C On 11 July 1941 Colonel P Poluboiarov, from the Northwestern Front armoured directorate, reported that the 12th Mechanized Corps had been in combat for 12 days and had been committed in large formations without infantry support or cooperation from artillery and air support. Subsequently, committed in local counter-attacks, it had only'80 worn out tanks and 15 to 17 armoured cars in total in both tank divisions'. Bergstrom, Christer.. Barbarossa – The Air Battle: July – December 1941. Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 1-85780-270-5. Glantz, David.. Stumbling Colossus – The Red Army On The Eve of World War. Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0879-6. Glantz, David.. The Battle for Leningrad 1941–1944. Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1208-4. Newton, Steven H.. Panzer Operations on the Eastern Front – The Memoirs of General Raus 1941–1945.
Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81247-9
Battle of Narva (1944)
The Battle of Narva was a military campaign between the German Army Detachment "Narwa" and the Soviet Leningrad Front fought for possession of the strategically important Narva Isthmus on 2 February – 10 August 1944 during World War II. The campaign took place in the northern section of the Eastern Front and consisted of two major phases: the Battle for Narva Bridgehead and the Battle of Tannenberg Line; the Soviet Kingisepp–Gdov Offensive and Narva Offensives were part of the Red Army Winter Spring Campaign of 1944. Following Joseph Stalin's "Broad Front" strategy, these battles coincided with the Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive and the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive. A number of foreign volunteers and local Estonian conscripts participated in the battle as part of the German forces. By giving its support to the illegal German conscription call, the underground National Committee of the Republic of Estonia had hoped to recreate a national army and restore the independence of the country; as a continuation of the Leningrad–Novgorod Offensive of January 1944, the Soviet Estonian operation pushed the front westward to the Narva River, aiming to destroy "Narwa" and to thrust deep into Estonia.
The Soviet units established a number of bridgeheads on the western bank of the river in February while the Germans maintained a bridgehead on the eastern bank. Subsequent attempts failed to expand their toehold. German counterattacks annihilated the bridgeheads to the north of Narva and reduced the bridgehead south of the town, stabilizing the front until July 1944; the Soviet Narva Offensive led to the capture of the city after the German troops retreated to their prepared Tannenberg Defence Line in the Sinimäed Hills 16 kilometres from Narva. In the ensuing Battle of Tannenberg Line, the German army group held its ground. Stalin's main strategic goal—a quick recovery of Estonia as a base for air and seaborne attacks against Finland and an invasion of East Prussia—was not achieved; as a result of the tough defence of the German forces the Soviet war effort in the Baltic Sea region was hampered for seven and a half months. Terrain played a significant role in operations around Narva; the elevation above sea level rises above 100 meters in the area and the land is cut by numerous waterways, including the Narva and Plyussa Rivers.
The bulk of the land in the region is large swamps inundate areas of low elevation. The effect of the terrain on operations was one of channelization. On a strategic scale, a natural choke point was present between the northern shore of Lake Peipus and the Gulf of Finland; the 45 kilometre wide strip of land was bisected by the Narva River and had large areas of wilderness. The primary transportation routes, the Narva–Tallinn highway and railway, ran on an east-west axis near and parallel to the coastline. There were no other east-west transportation routes capable of sustaining troop movement on a large scale in the region. On 14 January 1944, the Leningrad Front launched the Krasnoye Selo–Ropsha Offensive, aimed at forcing the German 18th Army back from its positions near Oranienbaum. On the third day of the offensive, the Soviets pushed westward; the Army Group North evacuated the civilian population of Narva. By 1944 it was routine practice for Stavka to assign its operating fronts new and more ambitious missions while the Soviet Armed Forces were conducting major offensive operations.
The rationale was. For the 1943/1944 winter campaign, Stalin ordered the Red Army to conduct major offensives along the entire Soviet-German front in a continuation of the'Broad Front' strategy he had pursued since the beginning of the war; this was applied in consonance with his long-standing rationale that, if the Red Army applied pressure along the entire front, German defences were to break in at least one section. The Soviet winter campaign included major assaults across the entire expanse the front in the Ukraine and against the German Panther Line in the region of the Baltic Sea. Breaking through the Narva Isthmus situated between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Peipus was of major strategic importance to the Soviet Armed Forces; the success of the Estonian operation would have provided an unobstructed lane to advance along the coast to Tallinn, forcing the German Army Group North to escape from Estonia for fear of getting cornered. For the Baltic Fleet trapped in an eastern bay of the Gulf of Finland, Tallinn was the closest exit to the Baltic Sea.
The ejection of the Army Group North from Estonia would have made Finland subject to air and amphibious attacks originating from Estonian bases. The prospect of an invasion of East Prussia through Estonia appealed more to Stavka, as it could bring German resistance to a standstill. With the participation of Leonid Govorov, commander of the Leningrad Front, Vladimir Tributz, commander of the Baltic Fleet, a scheme was prepared to destroy the Army Group North. Stalin ordered the capture of Narva at all costs no than 17 February: "It is mandatory that our forces seize Narva no than 17 February 1944; this is required both for military as well as political reasons. It is the most important thing right now. I demand that you undertake all necessary measures to liberate Narva no than the period indicated. I. Stalin"After the failure of the Leningrad Front, Stalin gave a new order on 22 February: to break through the "Narwa" defence, give a shock at Pärnu, eliminate the German forces in Estonia, direct two armies at Southeast Estonia, keep going throug