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Battle of Kirovograd from 5th to 17th January 1944


After the Battle of Kursk the Red Army started to push the German Forces in the south back towards Dnieper. Stavka realized that they had to get bridgeheads over Dnieper as fast as possible so the Germans didn't get time to prepare a proper defense-line with help of the river Dnieper.

The Red Army was able to create several bridgeheads over the big river and the Germans failed to destroy these. In November 1943 was Kiev liberated when forces from 1st Ukrainian Front broke out of their bridgehead north of Kiev. The German Command launched heavy counterattacks and retook some areas but Kiev wasn't threaten by this. The Red Army started thereafter to prepare their forces from 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Ukrainian Front for the large operation to liberate the western parts of Ukraine.

The first step was the Zhitomir-Berdichev Operation (24th Dec 1943 to 14th Jan 1944) executed by 1st Ukrainian Front commanded by N.Vatutin. This operation draw away some of Army Group South's reserves before next step which was the Kirovograd Operation.

It was 2nd Ukrainian Front under I.Konev that started to attack on 5th January. The attack was directed mainly against XXXXVIIth Panzer Corps from 8th Army. This Army was under command of O.Wöhler. Not all forces in 2nd Ukrainian Front was used by Konev. The main attacking armies was from right (north) to left (south) 53rd, 5th Guards and 7th Guards Army with 5th Guards Tank Army as mobile force for Konev. On the right the 4th Guards Army supported the attacking forces and on their left 57th Army protected their flank.

The total strength for 2nd Ukrainian Front was 550, 000 soldiers, 265 tanks, 127 SPG's, 7136 guns&mortars, 777 antiaircraft guns and 500 aircrafts on 1st January 1944. This doesn't include the rear area organizations. Also the number of tanks and SPGs given is probable operational because on January 7th 1944 5th Guards Tank Army had 366 Tanks and SPGs (18th Tank Corps - 114, 29th Tank Corps - 130, 8th Mechanized Corps - 107, 1st Guards Mechanized Corps - 15). The 2nd Ukrainian Front had a frontline of 260 km. The Kirovograd attack was conducted on a sector that was 80 km wide with 30 Rifle Divisions (4th Guards Army, 5th Guards Army, 7th Guards Army and 53rd Army). At the points were the breaches was going to be made the concentration was even higher. The main attacking Rifle Divisions had attack sectors that was only 1, 5 km wide.

The defending 8th Army had three corps and XXXXVIIth Panzer Corps was the center corps which stood in the way for the forces under Konev. The Corps had XIth Corps on their left flank and LIInd Corps on their right. The LIInd Corps was partly hit by the offensive on their right flank. During the battle "Grossdeutchland" Panzergrenadier Division and 3rd SS-Panzer Division "Totenkopf" arrived as reinforcements. These Divisions had been fighting since July 1943 on the Eastern Front and was because of this not at full strength. Both Divisions was missing 30-35% of their supposed manpower (TO&E). "Grossdeutchland" had one Tiger Battalion and one Panzer IV Battalion while "Totenkopf" had two Panzer III/IV Battalion and one Tiger Company. But as You can see below they was lacking some panzers (long-term repair objects are not included, these are usually not many in the Divisions since they sometimes are sent further to rear).


Soviet OOB for 2nd Ukrainian Front
German OOB for 8th Army

Sources:
Bundesarchive Freiburg files RH 10/180, RH 10/209, RH 10/314, RH 20-8/130
Boevoi Sostav Sovetskoi Armii, volume IV.
A.N.Grylev "Dnepr, Karpaty, Krym", Moscow 1970.
I.S.Konev "Zapiski Kommanduyushchego Frontom 1943-45", Moscow 1982.
E.von Manstein "Verlorene Siege", Bonn 1956.

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