Artillery is a class of heavy military weapons built to fire munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry's small arms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls, fortifications during sieges, led to heavy immobile siege engines; as technology improved, more mobile field artillery cannons developed for battlefield use. This development continues today. In its earliest sense, the word artillery referred to any group of soldiers armed with some form of manufactured weapon or armour. Since the introduction of gunpowder and cannon, the word "artillery" has meant cannon, in contemporary usage, it refers to shell-firing guns, howitzers and rocket artillery. In common speech, the word artillery is used to refer to individual devices, along with their accessories and fittings, although these assemblages are more properly called "equipments". However, there is no recognised generic term for a gun, mortar, so forth: the United States uses "artillery piece", but most English-speaking armies use "gun" and "mortar".
The projectiles fired are either "shot" or "shell". "Shell" is a used generic term for a projectile, a component of munitions. By association, artillery may refer to the arm of service that customarily operates such engines. In some armies one arm has operated field, anti-aircraft artillery and anti-tank artillery, in others these have been separate arms and in some nations coastal has been a naval or marine responsibility. In the 20th century technology based target acquisition devices, such as radar, systems, such as sound ranging and flash spotting, emerged to acquire targets for artillery; these are operated by one or more of the artillery arms. The widespread adoption of indirect fire in the early 20th century introduced the need for specialist data for field artillery, notably survey and meteorological, in some armies provision of these are the responsibility of the artillery arm. Artillery originated for use against ground targets—against infantry and other artillery. An early specialist development was coastal artillery for use against enemy ships.
The early 20th century saw the development of a new class of artillery for use against aircraft: anti-aircraft guns. Artillery is arguably the most lethal form of land-based armament employed, has been since at least the early Industrial Revolution; the majority of combat deaths in the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, World War II were caused by artillery. In 1944, Joseph Stalin said in a speech that artillery was "the God of War". Although not called as such, machines performing the role recognizable as artillery have been employed in warfare since antiquity. Historical references show artillery was first employed by the Roman legions at Syracuse in 399 BC; until the introduction of gunpowder into western warfare, artillery was dependent upon mechanical energy which not only limited the kinetic energy of the projectiles, it required the construction of large engines to store sufficient energy. A 1st-century BC Roman catapult launching 6.55 kg stones achieved a kinetic energy of 16,000 joules, compared to a mid-19th-century 12-pounder gun, which fired a 4.1 kg round, with a kinetic energy of 240,000 joules, or a late 20th century US battleship that fired a 1,225 kg projectile from its main battery with an energy level surpassing 350,000,000 joules.
From the Middle Ages through most of the modern era, artillery pieces on land were moved by horse-drawn gun carriages. In the contemporary era, artillery pieces and their crew relied on wheeled or tracked vehicles as transportation; these land versions of artillery were dwarfed by railway guns, which includes the largest super-gun conceived, theoretically capable of putting a satellite into orbit. Artillery used by naval forces has changed with missiles replacing guns in surface warfare. Over the course of military history, projectiles were manufactured from a wide variety of materials, into a wide variety of shapes, using many different methods in which to target structural/defensive works and inflict enemy casualties; the engineering applications for ordnance delivery have changed over time, encompassing some of the most complex and advanced technologies in use today. In some armies, the weapon of artillery is the projectile, not the equipment; the process of delivering fire onto the target is called gunnery.
The actions involved in operating an artillery piece are collectively called "serving the gun" by the "detachment" or gun crew, constituting either direct or indirect artillery fire. The manner in which gunnery crews are employed is called artillery support. At different periods in history this may refer to weapons designed to be fired from ground-, sea-, air-based weapons platforms; the term "gunner" is used in some armed forces for the soldiers and sailors with the primary function of using artillery. The gunners and their guns are grouped in teams called either "crews" or "detachments". Several such crews and teams with other functions are combined into a unit of artillery called a battery, although sometimes called a company. In gun detachments, each role is numbered, starting with "1" the Detachment Commander, the highest number being the Coverer, the second-in-command. "Gunner" is the lowest rank and junior non-commissioned officers are "Bombardiers" in some artillery arms. Batteries are equivalent to a company in the infantry
Operation Bagration was the codename for the Soviet 1944 Belorussian Strategic Offensive Operation, a military campaign fought between 23 June and 19 August 1944 in Soviet Byelorussia in the Eastern Front of World War II. The Soviet Union inflicted the biggest defeat in German military history by destroying 28 out of 34 divisions of Army Group Centre and shattered the German front line. On 23 June 1944, the Red Army attacked Army Group Centre in Byelorussia, with the objective of encircling and destroying its main component armies. By 28 June, the German Fourth Army had been destroyed, along with most of the Third Panzer and Ninth Armies; the Red Army exploited the collapse of the German front line to encircle German formations in the vicinity of Minsk in the Minsk Offensive and destroy them, with Minsk liberated on 4 July. With the end of effective German resistance in Byelorussia, the Soviet offensive continued further to Lithuania and Romania over the course of July and August; the Red Army used the Soviet deep battle and maskirovka strategies for the first time to a full extent, albeit with continuing heavy losses.
Operation Bagration diverted German mobile reserves to the central sectors, removing them from the Lublin-Brest and Lvov–Sandomierz areas, enabling the Soviets to undertake the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive and Lublin–Brest Offensive. This allowed the Red Army to reach the Vistula river and Warsaw, which in turn put Soviet forces within striking distance of Berlin, conforming to the concept of Soviet deep operations—striking deep into the enemy's strategic depths. Germany's Army Group Centre had proved tough to counter as the Soviet defeat in Operation Mars had shown, but by June 1944, despite shortening its front line, it had been exposed following the defeats of Army Group South in the battles that followed the Battle of Kursk, the Battle of Kiev, the Crimean Offensive in the late summer and winter of 1943–44. In the north, Army Group North was pushed back, leaving Army Group Center's lines protruding towards the east and at risk of losing contact with neighbouring army groups; the German High Command expected the next Soviet offensive to fall against Army Group North Ukraine, while it lacked intelligence capabilities to divine the Soviet intentions.
The Wehrmacht had redeployed one-third of Army Group Centre's artillery, half of its tank destroyers, 88 per cent of tanks to the south. The entire operational reserve on the Eastern front was deployed to Model's sector. Army Group Centre only had a total of 580 tanks, tank destroyers, assault guns, they were opposed by over self-propelled guns. German lines were thinly held. Operation Bagration, in combination with the neighbouring Lvov-Sandomierz Offensive, launched a few weeks in Ukraine, allowed the Soviet Union to recapture Belorussia and Ukraine within its 1941 borders, advance into German East Prussia, but more the Lvov-Sandomierz operation allowed the Red Army to reach the outskirts of Warsaw after gaining control of Poland east of the Vistula river; the campaign enabled the next operation, the Vistula–Oder Offensive, to come within sight of the German capital. The Soviets were surprised at the success of the Belorussian operation which had nearly reached Warsaw; the Soviet advance encouraged the Warsaw uprising against the German occupation forces.
The battle has been described as the triumph of the Soviet theory of the "operational art" because of the complete coordination of all the strategic front movements and signals traffic to fool the enemy about the target of the offensive. The military tactical operations of the Red Army avoided the mobile reserves of the Wehrmacht and continually "wrong-footed" the German forces. Despite the massive forces involved, Soviet front commanders left their adversaries confused about the main axis of attack until it was too late; the Russian word maskirovka is equivalent to the English word camouflage, but it has broader application in military use. During World War II the term was used by Soviet commanders to describe measures to create deception with the goal of inflicting surprise on the Wehrmacht forces; the Oberkommando des Heeres expected the Soviets to launch a major Eastern Front offensive in the summer of 1944. The Stavka considered a number of options; the timetable of operations between June and August had been decided on by 28 April 1944.
The Stavka rejected an offensive in either the L'vov sector or the Yassy-Kishinev sectors owing to the presence of powerful enemy mobile forces equal in strength to the Soviet strategic fronts. Instead they suggested four options: an offensive into Romania and through the Carpathian Mountains, an offensive into the western Ukrainian SSR aimed at the Baltic coast, an attack into the Baltic, an offensive in the Belorussian SSR; the first two options were rejected as being too open to flank attack. The third option was rejected on the grounds; the only safe option was an offensive into Belorussia which would enable subsequent offensives from Ukraine into Poland and Romania. The Soviet and German High Commands recognised western Ukraine as a staging area for an offensive into Poland; the Soviets, aware that the enemy would anticipate this, engaged in a maskirovka campaign to catch the German armoured forces off guard by creating a crisis in Belorussia that would force the
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 Kerch–Eltigen Operation was a World War II amphibious offensive made in November 1943 by the Red Army as a precursor to the Crimean Offensive, with the object of defeating and forcing the withdrawal of the German forces from the Crimea. Landing at two locations on the Crimea's eastern coast, the Red Army reinforced the northern beachhead of Yenikale but was unable to prevent an Axis counterattack that collapsed the southern beachhead at Eltigen. Subsequently, the Red Army used the beachhead at Yenikale to launch further offensive operations into the Crimea in May 1944. Following the defeat and withdrawal of German and Romanian troops from the Taman Peninsula in the fall of 1943, the Soviets decided to follow this success with two amphibious landings on the eastern coast of the Crimea as a prelude to the retaking of the entire Crimean Peninsula; the southern, diversionary assault was planned for the small town of Eltigen and the northern, main assault landed at Yenikale, near Kerch. Soviet successes north of the Crimea had cut off the German 17th Army in Crimea, although the Axis forces were still supplied by sea.
The 17th Army controlled the V Army Corps in the north, the XLIX Mountain Corps defended the Perekop Isthmus and the Romanian Mountain Corps defended the south and southeastern areas of the Crimea. The Germans had anti-aircraft artillery batteries/operators and 45 assault guns to bolster their defense. Commanding the Axis forces were German Generaloberst Erwin Jaenecke and Romanian Major General Corneliu Teodorini. For the landings, the Soviet 4th Ukrainian Front employed the 18th and 56th Armies, the Black Sea Fleet, the Azov Flotilla. Commanding the 56th Army and overall on the Soviet side was General Ivan Petrov, Vice Admiral Lev Vladimirsky for naval operations. Despite poor weather and rough seas that postponed the landings, the Soviets succeeded in landing Colonel V. F. Gladkov's 318th Rifle Division of the 18th Army and the 386th Naval Infantry Battalion at Eltigen on 1 November; the landing was characterized by ad hoc use of naval craft of all kinds and the loss of formation organization in the face of bad weather and darkness.
Fighting their way ashore, the Soviet units pushed back the Romanian forces and established a small beachhead. Two days at Yenikale, over 4,400 men of the Soviet 56th Army, enjoyed massed artillery support from positions on the Taman Peninsula and established a firm beachhead which the German V Army Corps and Romanian 3rd Mountain Division were unable to defeat. By 11 November, the Soviets had landed 27,700 men in the Yenikale Beachhead. Among the reinforcing units was the 383rd Rifle Division which landed on 7 November, the 339th Rifle Division, which crossed over the course of November 6, 7 and 8. Although the Red Army managed to land the 117th Guards Rifle Division's 335th Guards Rifle Regiment to reinforce the Eltigen Beachhead, they were unable to push farther than 2 km inland, a situation worsened when the German forces managed to establish a naval blockade around the landings with light craft of the 3rd Minesweeper Flotilla operating out of Kerch, Kamysch-Burun, Feodosiya; the Soviets countered by attempting to supply the beachhead at night, resulting in close-range naval encounters but insufficient delivery of supplies.
Soviet attempts at aerial resupply were interdicted by the Luftwaffe. The Axis forces besieged the beachhead for five weeks before attacking on 6 December. During the attack, Romanian cavalry of the 6th Division made diversionary attacks from the south while Romanian mountain troops supported by assault guns attacked from the west. By 7 December, the beachhead had collapsed and the Romanians took 1,570 prisoners and counted 1,200 Soviet dead at a cost of 886 men to themselves; the Romanians captured 25 antitank guns and 38 tanks. In the course of the Eltigen Beachhead's collapse, some 820 Soviet troops managed to break out to the north in an attempt to reach Yenikale, occupying Mount Mithridates and defeating German artillery positions there; this alarmed General Jaenecke, as the attack had the potential of breaching the German front facing the Yenikale Beachhead. Jaenecke committed the Romanian 3rd Mountain Division to a counter-attack against the Soviet troops. By 11 December, the Romanians recaptured Mount Mithridates.
An unknown number of these Soviet troops were subsequently evacuated to Opasnoe village in the Yenikale Beachhead by the Azov Flotilla under the command of Rear Admiral Sergey Gorshkov. In the face of strong German reinforcements, the Soviets contented themselves with reinforcing the Yenikale Beachhead. By 4 December, the Soviets had landed 75,000 men, 582 guns, 187 mortars, 128 tanks, 764 trucks, over 10,000 short tons of munitions and material at Yenikale; the Soviets pushed some 9 km inland and to the outskirts of Kerch. Although the Germans succeeded in defending the Crimea against the Soviet landings, the successful landing near Kerch placed the Soviets in a solid position from which they could push and conquer the entire Crimean peninsula, an operation they concluded in May 1944. A minor planet 2217 Eltigen discovered in 1971 by Soviet astronomer Tamara Mikhaylovna Smirnova is named for the landing of Soviet troops in November 1943. Soviet Amphibious Operations in the Black Sea, 1941-1943, Charles B.
Atwater, Jr. thesis for the CSC, 1995. Third Axis Fourth Ally, Mark Axworthy et al. London: Arms and Armour Press, 1995. ISBN 1-85409-267-7. Forczyk, Robert. Where the Iron Crosses Grow: The Crimea 1941–44. Oxford: Osprey. ISBN 9781782009757. Frieser, Karl-Heinz.
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
Marjina Horka Belarusian: Ма́р'іна Го́рка, translit. Marjina Horka, Russian: Марьина Горка, Maryina Gorka, Polish: Maryjna Górka) is a town in Minsk Voblast, the capital of the Pukhavichy Raion; as of 2009 its population was 22,500. Maryina Horka is located 60 km south of Minsk, it is traversed between Minsk and Babruysk. The town was first mentioned in 1222 and received its town status in 1955; the Jewish population, numbering 786 people in 1939. The town’s Jews were murdered in September 1941; the 5th Spetsnaz Brigade, first of the Soviet Spetsnaz GRU, now of the Armed Forces of Belarus, has been located here since 1963. FC Rudensk Media related to Maryina Horka at Wikimedia Commons Maryina Horka official website
Kerch is a city of regional significance on the Kerch Peninsula in the east of the Crimea. Population: 147,033. Founded 2,600 years ago as an ancient Greek colony, Kerch is considered to be one of the most ancient cities in Crimea; the city experienced rapid growth starting in the 1920s and was the site of a major battle during World War II. Today, it is one of the largest cities in Crimea and is among the republic's most important industrial and tourist centres. Archeological digs at Mayak village near the city ascertained that the area had been inhabited in 17th–15th centuries BC. Kerch as a city starts its history in 7th century BC, when Greek colonists from Miletus founded a city-state named Panticapaeum on Mount Mithridat near the mouth of the Melek-Chesme river. Panticapaeum subdued nearby cities and by 480 BC became a capital of the Kingdom of Bosporus. During the rule of Mithradates VI Eupator, Panticapaeum for a short period of time became the capital of the much more powerful and extensive Kingdom of Pontus.
The city was located at the intersection of trade routes between Europe. This caused it to grow rapidly; the city's main exports were salted fish. Panticapaeum minted its own coins. According to extant documents the Melek-Chesme river was navigable in Bosporan times, sea galleys were able to enter the river. A large portion of the city's population was ethnically Scythian Sarmatian, as the large royal barrow at Kul-Oba testifies. In the 1st century AD Panticapaeum and the Kingdom of Bosporus suffered from Ostrogoth raids. Myrmekion was founded in the eastern part of 4 km NE of ancient Panticapaeum; the settlement was founded by Ionians in the first half of the 6th c. BC. From the 6th century the city was under the control of the Byzantine Empire. By order of Emperor Justinian I, a citadel named. Bospor was the centre of a bishopric, the diocese of Bosporus and developed under the influence of Greek Christianity. In 576, it withstood a siege by the Göktürks under Bokhan, aided by Anagai, the last khan of the Uturgurs.
In the 7th century, the Turkic Khazars took control of Bospor, the city was named Karcha from Turkic "karşı" meaning'opposite, facing.' The main local government official during Khazar times was the tudun. Christianity was a major religion in Kerch during the period of Khazar rule. Kerch's Church of St. John the Baptist was founded in 717; the "Church of the Apostles" existed during the late 8th and early 9th centuries, according to the "Life of the Apostle Andrew" by Epiphanius of Salamis. Following the fall of Khazaria to Kievan Rus' in the late 10th century, Kerch became the centre of a Khazar successor-state, its ruler, Georgius Tzul, was deposed by a Byzantine-Rus expedition in 1016. From the 10th century, the city was a Slavic settlement named Korchev, which belonged to the Tmutarakan principality. Kerch was a center of trade between Russia', Crimea and the Orient. In the 13th century, the Crimea including Korchev was invaded by Mongols. After Mongols, the city became the Genoese colony of Cerco in 1318 and served as a sea harbour, where townspeople worked at salt-works and fishery.
In 1475, city was passed to the Ottoman Empire. During the Turkish rule Kerch served as a slave-market, it suffered from raids of Zaporizhian Cossacks. In response to strengthening of Russian military forces in Azov area, the Turks built a fortress, named Yenikale, near Kerch on the shore of Kerch Strait; the fortress was completed by 1706. In 1771 the Imperial Russian Army approached Yenikale; the Turks decided to abandon the fortress, though reinforcements from the Ottoman Empire had arrived a few days earlier. By the Peace Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji in 1774, Kerch and Yenikale were ceded to Russia; as a result, the Turkish heritage has been completely wiped out. In 1790 Russian naval forces under the command of admiral Fyodor Ushakov defeated the Turkish fleet at the Battle of Kerch Strait; because of its location, from 1821 Kerch developed into an important fishing port. The state museum of ancient times and a number of educational institutions were opened in the city; the ironwork factory was built in 1846 based on a huge iron ore deposit found on Kerch Peninsula.
During the Crimean War the city was devastated by British forces in 1855. In the late 19th century and cement factories were built, tinned food and tobacco factories were established. By 1900, Kerch was connected to a railroad system, the fairway of Kerch Strait was deepened and widened. At this time, the population had reached 33,000. After suffering a decline during the First World War and the Russian Civil War, the city resumed its growth in the late 1920s, with the expansion of various industries, iron ore and metallurgy in particular, by 1939 its population had reached 104,500. On the Eastern Front of World War II from 1941 to 1945, Kerch was the site of heavy fighting between Red Army and Axis forces. After fierce fighting, the city was taken by the Germans in November 1941. On 31 December 1941 the 302nd Mountain Rifle Division recaptured the city following a naval landing operation at Kamysh Burun, to the south of the city, five days earlier. In 1942 the Germans occupied the city again.
The Red Army killed or taken POW at the Battle of the Kerch Peninsula. On 31 October 1943 another Soviet naval landing operation w