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Home Battles Battles 1941 TIRASPOL-MELITOPOL DEFENSIVE OPERATION: July 27 to September 28


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Written by Dmitri Egorov
Published on Thursday, 22 October 2009 23:17
Last Updated on
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Number of 18th and 9th Army on the begining of operation — 280510 men.

Total casualties — 121650;

irrevocable (KIA + MIA)- 75424;

sanitarian (WIA)- 46226.

Battle at Dnepropetrovsk bridg...

The removal of 9th Primorsk Army on the left bank of Dniepr was completed on July 24. By this time Soviet 6th and 12th Armies have been encircled by the Germans from the West, North and East. This actually have adjoined the right flank of Southern Front. July 25 under the solution of the Soviet High Command these Soviet armies were subordinated to the Southern Front.

It is necessary to underline, that the Soviet High Command didn't definitely realize the danger of the situation on the joint of South-Western and Southern Fronts. The transfer of 6th and 12th armies to Southern Front as resulted in final loss of control by them and has sped up catastrophe. Supposing, that the main impact the Germans puts on Kiev, and aiming to assist its advocates, the Soviet High Command has commanded to Southern Front to organize counterattack in flank to a grouping of the opponent operating on the Kiev direction. However both 6th and 12th Armies required the expedited help. Unfortunately, commanding by troops of front and its headquarters did not know a true situation in these armies, therefore and have not accepted measures for rendering of the essential help. The main attention conversioned on reflection of attempts of the opponent to be ripped on the joint of 18th and 9th Armies and on preparation of counterattack. In outcome, 6th and 12th Armies actually lost fighting capability, were completely surrounded.

On July 24, commanding of Soviet 18th Army has put 48th Rifle Corps an offensive task- to rout Balta-Kodyma grouping of the opponent and assist operational to the north 6th and 12th Armies, fallen under threat of encirclement. The 2nd Cavalry Corps should take initial position on the right flank of 9th Army, front on northwest. In a gap of front between 9th and 18th Soviet Armies wedged German 30th Army Corps and by part of forces take Balta city.

The command of Southern Front has made a number of changes in a structure of 9th Army, together with Primorsk Army, namely:
— 25th and 95th Rifle Division finally remain in a structure of Primorsk Army and in 9th Army will not return. They will participate in a defense of Odessa;
— 150th and 51st Rifle Division are transfered from Primorsk Army in to 9th Army (to be exact — in reserve of Southern Front). They will be thrown at once on the right flank: 150th Rifle Division will take boundaries of a defense Kotovsk, and 51st Rifle Division- boundaries of a defense Anan'ev.

The 150th Rifle Division was ordered to be loaded at motor vehicles of 9th Automobile Regiment for redeployment from Tiraspol to Kotovsk to defend the city, on which came formations of 11th German Army.

On July 28, under the order of front, 150th R.D. have retreated from Kotovsk. On same day, 5th Cavalry Division taken initial position on right flank of cavalry corps, successfully attacked Germans in 3–5 km to the west of Balta. The headquarters of 198th German Infantry Division was shabby. However at this time on the left flank of corps 9th Cavalry Division, having a gap with the neighbour at the left (150th Rifle Division), has received impact of the opponent by forces of two infantry batallions with tanks in the flank and rear.

The situation of 18th Soviet Army became rather unstable to a morning of July 29. In a gap between 18th and 9th Soviet Armies, German divisions persistently wedged. Having trapped Balta, they endangered to flank of 2th Cavalry Corps. Under the order of 9th Army on August 1, 2nd Cavalry Corps has received a defensive task to retain region Pasat, Balta. All 9th Army too has passed to a defense. However on August 2, 2nd Cavalry Corps was subordinate to a commanding of Southern Front to the general of army Tulenev I. V. Also has received from him a task to be centred to the south of Pervomaysk. On August 2 and 3, Pervomaisk and Kirovograd were occupied by the Germans. The front hung on the east on 160–180 km from a north above Kotovsk.

Pervomaisk was already taken by German formations of 14th Motorized Corps. The foe's divisions restricted 18th Army on the south from Pervomaisk, clearly displaying the intention deeply encirclement the right flank of 18th Soviet Army. The highway from Pervomaisk to Nikolaev drove through Voznesensk on the left bank of Dniepr river. It meant, that if the Germans will take Voznesensk and take the offensive on Nikolaev, the main Soviet forces of Southern Front will be pushed to the Black Sea and are cut off from the east.

On August 4 evening, 5th Cavalry Division was in Vradievka, and 9th in Trikraty. On August 5, two regiments of 9th Cavalry Division was forwarded through Bug river. However, on August 6, German tanks routed this Soviet formations and captured a bridge in Voznesensk.

By August 3, the Southern Front was reinforced with 223th, 253th, 273th, 296th, 275th, 276th, 226th, 230th, 255th Rifle Division, and 26th, 28th, 30th Cavalry Division.

On August 5.

...In order to schedule us together with Budenny and Tulenev creation of a robust defensive line passing approximately from Herson and Kahovka through Krivoy Rog, than Kremenchug and is farther north-up on Dnieper...

...The Germans prolongs to develop the operations on the joint of fronts, on a segment Korsun', Pervomaysk, stretch of 160 kms, there were no our troops. Today by a morning Germans has taken possession of Kirovograd region.

(From talk of S.H.C with HQ of the Southwest Front).

On August 6, the Germans have undertaken massive offensive on the all left flank of Southern Front. Having forced Dniestr river, ten german divisions have ripped a defense of 9th Soviet Army and by August 8 cut front in the joint between 30th Rifle Division (it was to the south) and 51st Rifle Division (it was to the north) in Berezovka direction. Between these by two divisions was 150th Rifle Division.

On August 7, the 18th Army having the rearguards on Schastlivoe-Ivanovka line, began to retreat. Sergienko group (rests of 218th Mot Rifle Divisions, 47th Tank Divisions, 26th Motorcycle Regiment, border units) retreated to Akmechet. The rests of 164th Rifle Divisions retreated to Liubomirovka, Domanevka, Mordovka area. 55th Rifle Corps (130th Rifle Division), covering the retreat of 18th Army from northwest, retreated to Bulgarka-Ivanovka line. The task was to retreat on Novoselovka-Sofievka-Shirokij line. Staff of 17th Rifle Corps, the rests of 169th Rifle Division retreated to Mostovoe, Ljakhovo. 9th Army being covered with north by forward group, began the withdrawal without the resistance of enemy. The army take such positions by morning of 7th August. 74 Rifle Division — Ananiev, Nv.Georgievka. 176th Rifle Division — Kochurovka, Kondratovka. 51st Rifle Division — Mordarovka, st. Perekrestovo. 30th Rifle Division — Gederimovo, Bogdanovo (under the command of Primorsk Army). 150th Rifle Division — Novoselovka. 2nd Cavalry Corps was involved in fighting at Voznesensk. The group of Odessa Infantry School has retreated from Bratskoe area to Elanets. The special group under command of the Colonel Petukhov was formed for the cover of Nikolaev direction:
— group of Odessa infantry school; the special communist group;
— composite battalion (rests of frontier guards, infantry, tanks and aty units).

The group has take the defense on Peski, Shevchenko, Nv. Odessa line.

By August 8, having broken the resistance of 6th and 12th Soviet Armies, the Germans has had an opportunity easily to advance to Dnieper and in back to a troops of Southern Front. In this situation began retreat of Southern front on the left bank of Southern Bug. Thus Germans were ripped on the joint of 9th and Primorsk Armies, having forced them to head out on missing directions: Primorks Army — on the south to Odessa, and 9th and 18 Army — on the east to Nikolaev. The Germans had intersected a highway Odessa-Nikolaev.

On August 10, formations of 9th Army came to Nikolaev and have begun a ferry through Southern Bug.

On August 11, the 18 Army fought at the night on the right flank for Sukhoj Elanets, New Odessa. Sukhoj Elanets, Zhenevo, Krivorozhie and Mikhailovka were captured by the enemy. 18th Army has taken the positions: 164th Rifle Division- Peskorskiy-Budenovka-Suvorovka line; 130th Rifle Division — Shevchenko-Shmidtovka area; 96th Mountain Rifle Division — at northern outskirts of New Odessa; Staff- at Sebino. 9th Army retreated under the onslaught of the enemy (5th Inf Division, 1st Pz Division, 1st Motor Div) in the southeast direction on Varushino-Shpeer-Komissarovka line. The enemy has captured Nechayannoe. Primorsk Army deployed as follow: 30th Rifle Division — Veselyj Kut-Danilovka area. 2nd Cavalry Corps — New Savitskoe, Sednekovka (Krivoj Rog direction). 5th Cavalry Division — at Marianovka-Khristoforovka-Dobraja Krinitsa. At New Grigorievka-Konstantinovka area are taken the prisoners from 16th Motor Division and the staff documents. The staff of the 17th Rifle Corps and 169th Rifle Division were sent to the rear to reform. The Danube Military Flotilla protected the flanks of 18th Army at New Odessa-Peski area. In that situation the army of front have received the order:

18th Army — to defend Nv. Bug, Nv. Odessa line.

9th Army — to defend Varushino, Raspol’e, Tashino line.

Coastal Army — Shirokoe, Severinovka, Beljaevka area.

To organize 3 sectors of a defense of Nikolaev.

«In difficult conditions 9th Army retreated. From front it have impacts of three army corps of 11th German Army (8 divisions), and from a north to conduct scrambling with 48th Motorized Corps and Hungarian Corps tending to saw of path of withdrawal. August 13, the main forces of 9th Soviet Army have appeared surrounded in region of Nikolaev. The heavy combats have begun.»

On August 15, 1941, 2nd Cavalry Corps moved from Dmitrievka, Maleevka area to Andreevka, Shesternya area (in alertness of attack on Krivoj Rog). Because of bad situation, the corps has the order to attack in Javkino-Barmashovo direction and to ensure the withdrawal of 18 army and 9 army on east coast of Ingulets river. The main forces of 18 Army have crossed on east coast of Ingul river and battle in the operative encirclement at Peresadovka, st. Grejgovo, st. Lotskino, Dobraja Krinitsa, Bolatskoe, Ingulka area. The army has the task to retreat in Snegirevka direction and to breakthrough from east at Nikolaev area (in coordination with 2nd Cavalry Corps and 9th Army). 9th Army is covered with 51st Rifle Division and Danube Flotilla from west and northwest at Nikolaev area. Other army units and marines regiment attack in east and southeast direction, having the task to destroy the mechanized enemy units at Shevchenko, Kopani area, and clearing the ways of retirement on Kherson and line of Ingulets river.

The positions of units before attack:
Marines regiment — southeast outskirts of Shirokaja Balka, Kulbakino.
30th Rifle Division — from Kul’bakino to Vodopoj;
48th Rifle Corps (rests of 74th, 176th, 150th Rifle Div) — Vodopoj — Ingul river line;
Danube flotilla — to north from Nikolaev and Iuzhn. Bug river.

18th and 9th Armies, cooperating with Danube flotilla, 2nd Cavalry Corps and 296th Rifle Division, were ordered to destroy the enemy at Barmashovo area.

August 16.

«Germans, being boosted by reserves, prolongs to develop offensive operation against a troops of Southern Front with the purpose of exit on the east bank of Dnieper and in the south to the Black Sea, developing impact in directions Alexandria, Dnepropetrovsk, Krivoy Rog, Zaporozhye; Nikolaev, Odessa.

On the Alexandria direction acts not less by than one panzer, two infantry divisions; to 16.8 opponents has left on a boundary Dnieper river on segment Klochkovo, Krukov, Uspenskoey, Mishurin Rov.

On Krivoy Rog-Zaporozhye direction not less by than one panzer, two motorized divisions; to 16.8 there was on a boundary Sofievka, Stalindorf, Krivoy Rog, having taken possession last city.

On the Nikolaev direction not less than two panzer, two motorized, one — two infantry divisions directly to Nikolaev from west, north and east, encircling formations of 18th and 9th Soviet Armies by impact from north-east on Nikolaev, with attempts to trap ferries through Ingulets river.

On the Odessa direction up to two army corps (six infantry, not less than two-three regiments of Romanian Cavalry Corps); to 16.8 has left on a boundary Starey Belyary, Visirka, Kremidovka station, Rotmistrovka, Kalantaeyvka, Troitskoye.

The formations of Southern Front as a result of combats of last decade under pressure of enemy forces were retreated in unprofitable conditions and grouping, than there was on all operational directions rather composite and heavy situation.

To create conditions capabilities of production of desirable re-groupings, updating and reduction in the formations of 18th and 9th Armies to prevent threat of breakthrough of the opponent on the east, was resolved to put forward not ready and not completely made up and equipped divisions of Reserve Army on the prepared boundary of Kremenchug, Alexandria, Krivoy Rog, Ingulets river. Absence of tanks in Soviet formations of front and even not full equipment of new divisions, completely poor maintenance by communication facilities promoted fast withdrawal on the east, under a head of motor-tank formations, 233rd, 273rd, 253rd Rifle Divisions and 26th Cavalry Division».

On August 17, 9th and 18th Soviet Armies withdrawed behind Ingulets river. In with carry by the opponent of the main efforts on Krivoy Rog-Dnepropetrovsk direction Soviet forses have had an opportunity is systematic to withdrawed behind Dnieper river. To the moment of exit of Germans on a boundary of Kremenchug, Krivoy Rog and further, here it was possible to put forward only 5 formed and not of the completely made up new Soviet divisions. Nevertheless they managed to slow promoting of an enemy to the Dnieper river and to supply withdrawed on the left bank formations of 18th and 9th Armies, and to the end of August all forces of Southern Front, which one has taken a defense in a band of width 500 km.

By the end of 20th August, 2nd Cavalry Corps has moved at Gavrilovka, Aleksandrovka, Dutchino area in alertness to cross on east coast of Dnieper at Lopatikha area. 18th Army retreated to Dnieper crossings. The exact data on units positions are absent. 9th Army ends the cross through Dnieper at Kakhovka, Kherson area and organizes the defense. 296th Rifle Division — Kakhovka, Britany area. 48th Rifle Corps — Britany, khutor (or farm-stead) Podstepnoe area. 150th Rifle Division — Tsiurupinsk, Rybal’che area. Danube flotilla and marines group — Kherson area. 51st Rifle Division — army reserve at Radinskoe, Kostogryzovo, B. Kopan area.

August 22.

«... A defense on the eastern bank of Dnieper, except for Dnepropetrovsk region, is executed unsufficiently precisely. Instead of a defense on a boundary of the river, even on reference directions, the task is actually reduced to supervision. As a result of withdrawed by Chervichenko from Dnieper from half up to two thirds of forces, the opponent was forwarded through river. Instead of Kherson defense by forces of regiment of 296th Division, this city was defended by the seamen. In outcome the city was handed without a persistent defense of an infantry, despite of availability on Borislav two infantry regiments...»

On August 25, on the basis of Reserve Army of the Southern Front there were formed new 6th and 12th Armies. Commanding of 6th Army- Major-General Malinovsky; 12th Army- Major-General Galanin.

On August 26, the General of the Army Tulenev (head of the Southern Front), was freeded from his post. The Lieutenant-General Rybyshev, commander of 38th Army, now was assigned by commanding of Southern Front.

August 30.

«Under the available items of information the opponent (the Germans) managed to be forwarded for Dnepropetrovsk due to criminal carelessness and irresponsibility of commanders. Bridges and removal of troops not defense, that has enabled the opponent on shoulders of a removing troops to rush on the left bank of the river.»

On September 2, the Germans crossed the Dnieper River and occupied Kahovka and Malaya Kahovka.

«Against the Germans one regiment of 30th Division is entered; acts in Lubimovka direction, 296th Rifle Division on it left flank, in the structure very weak; one regiment of 51st Rifle Division takes a boundary of three kilometers south-east Kahovka; 176th Rifle Division takes front of Hutora,Yarmaki, Novy Sadki, having on the left flank one regiment of 74th Rifle Division in region of Korobki, Kisly; 10–8 kms to the south of Kahovka are centred a reserve of 51st Rifle Division.... In region of Dnepropetrovsk at 18:00 Germans up to a motorized division prolongs to be retained on the left bank of Dnieper river, taking the right flank of Sahalin, Manuylovka. By the right flank was ripped in Osipovka direction; a reserve one regiment of 169th Rifle Division there is thrown. Against Germans act 26th Cavalry Division- 400 persons, 275th Rifle Division-500 persons, 266th Rifle Division — new formation (not in war), squads of military academies up to 400 bayonets. Besides two regiments of 169th Rifle Division are entered into a combat.»

September 16. 4th Rifle Division — boundary Bolshoy Tokmak, 136th Rifle Division- Melitopol'.

On September 20.

«On a right wing of front the forward German formations are stopped on a boundary of Orel' river. In center — in region of Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye — the opponent does not exhibit of activity. On the left wing of front the opponent prolongs offensive by forces up to seven infantry, one panzer divisions in Melitopol' direction. Armies of front, prolonging on a right wing stop attempts of the opponent to be forwarded through Orel' river and in center strongly to retain in hand a boundary of Dnieper river, left wing pass in a counteroffensive with a task to route melitopol' grouping of Germans.

6th Army in a former structure strongly retain in the hand a boundary Orel-Dnieper rivers. By a fissile defense to not admit propagation of the opponent in the eastern direction from Orel' and extension Lomov bridgehead.

18th Army:164th, 130th, 96th, 270th, 4th, 136th Rifle Divisions, 2nd, 7th and 15th Tank Brigade, 266th, 394th, 267th, 437th Artillery Regiment, 4th Antitank Brigade. To take in offensive in a general direction Timoshevka, Pokrovka, Dmitrievka and, in interaction with 9th and 51st Armies, to route Melitopol' grouping of the opponent. 27.09 — came on front Verhniy Rogachik, Pokrovka. Main impact from front Bolshaya Belozerka, Novaya Ivanovka, by forces of four rifle divisions and two tank brigades and one division (on motor vehicles) to have in an army reserve on a main axis of advance. Start attack — 23.09. The boundary at the left — Cycykulak, Troitskoye, Novaya Popovka, Dem'yanovka, Novaya Torgayevka. 9th Army: 30t, 176th, 150th, 218th, 296th Rifle Division, 521st Artillery Regiment, tank brigade of 8th Tank Division. By impact in a general direction Elisavetovka, Novy Serogozy promote offensive of 18th Army. 27.09- came on front Dem'yanovka, Annovka. One rifle division have in an army reserve. 30th Cavalry Division by a morning 23.9 remove in a reserve of front in region Bogdanovka, Troitskoye. Start attack — 23.09.»

On September 26, derivates new 6th Army (45000 persons). The carrying on combats under Krasnograd 270th and 275th Rifle Division, have came in its structure. September 27 in its structure enters 26th, 28th Cavalry Division and 255th Rifle Division.

According to some German memories, on September 26, the Russians have struck a blow on 30th Army Corps:

«The impact on front of 30th Army Corps had no success, but the situation became rather tight. But in a line of 3rd Romanian Army the Soviets has knocked down from positions of 4th Brigade and has knocked in front of army gap of width 15 km. This Romanian formation has lost almost all artillery. Two other Romanian brigades also have suffered large losses.»

On September 27, the Germans had advanced on Novomoskovsk (10 km to the North of Dnepropetrovsk), Spaskoye.

On September 30, formed 10th Soviet Reserve Army. Its structure: 238th, 411th, 393th, 383th and 395th Rifle Division, 35,38,56th and 49th Cavalry Division, 582,591,765 and 885th Antitank Regiment defense on a boundary: Kharkov, Lozovaya, Krasnoarmeysk, Mariupol with the purpose of cover Donbas.

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Special thanks to: Hannes Gruber

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