75 years ago, on April 15-16, 1944, the Red Army fought its way to Sevastopol. In seven days, Soviet troops liberated almost the entire Crimean peninsula. However, it was not possible to take the well-fortified city on the move, and Soviet troops began preparations for the assault on Sevastopol.
The course of the offensive. Breakthrough of the German defense
On the morning of April 8, 1944, the Crimean offensive operation began. After 2, 5 hours of artillery and aviation preparation, the Soviet troops launched an attack. Kreizer's 51st Army delivered the main blow with the forces of the 1st Guards and 10th Rifle Corps in the Tarkhan-Ishun direction, the auxiliary one - with parts of the 63rd Rifle Corps in the direction of Tomashevka. The German command correctly determined the direction of the main attack of our troops and transferred all its reserves there. As a result, the battles took on an extremely difficult character, and the corps of Generals Missan and Neverov could only penetrate the enemy's defenses.
In the auxiliary direction in the Sivash area, Koshevoy's 63rd Infantry Corps broke through the defenses of the Romanian 10th Infantry Division. To develop success, the Soviet command on April 9 threw into battle the second echelon of the corps (its third division), the guards tank brigade and the guards tank regiment. Also, this direction was strengthened with artillery and aircraft of the 8th Air Army. The auxiliary direction became the main one. The Germans transferred units of the German 111th Infantry Division, a brigade of assault guns to a dangerous area, and counterattacked. However, our troops, repelling enemy attacks, advanced 4-7 kilometers and occupied the important nodes of the enemy's defense - Karanki and Ass-Naiman. The Soviet command, in order to finally break through the German defenses, reinforced the 63rd Corps with another rifle division from the reserve with an army and rocket artillery.
At the same time, Zakharov's 2nd Guards Army stormed the enemy positions in the Perekop direction. On April 8, the guards broke into the enemy's defenses and took Armyansk. By the end of April 9, Soviet troops broke through the German defenses. The Germans fiercely fought back, counterattacked, but were forced to retreat to the Ishun positions.
Thus, by the end of April 10, 1944, the troops of the 51st and 2nd Guards armies broke through the German defenses at Perekop and south of Sivash. The Germans and Romanians retreated to rear positions. The command of the 17th German army gave the order for the withdrawal of troops to Sevastopol (operations "Adler" and "Tiger"). The 5th Army Corps, defending in the Kerch direction, also received an order to retreat. First of all, logistics and transport services, collaborators, civil servants, etc. were evacuated. Hitler gave the order to defend Sevastopol to the end, not to evacuate combat-ready units.
Retreat of the 17th Army
The commander of the 17th Army, General Eneke (Jenecke), the commander of Army Group South Ukraine, General Scherner, and the chief of the General Staff of the Ground Forces Zeitzler were against the Fuehrer's decision to resist to the end. It was obvious that the German Crimean grouping was not capable of withstanding a strong offensive of the Red Army from two directions - from the north and east. Therefore, the German command worked hard on plans for the withdrawal of troops to Sevastopol and further evacuation to Romania.
Evacuation groups were created. All military units were revised, leaving only the necessary minimum of people at the front for battles and supplies. The rest of the soldiers and "hivi" (German.Hilfswilliger willing to help; Ost-Hilfswillige, eastern volunteers), volunteer Wehrmacht assistants from the local population, traitor collaborators, were sent to the rear. Also evacuated most of the technical, railway, construction troops, parts of the supply and military economy, counterintelligence, propaganda departments, policemen, etc.
At the same time, the German command was carrying out a plan of destruction during the evacuation from the Crimean peninsula. All important routes on the peninsula, which could stop the movement of Russian troops, were destroyed. Especially the roads that led to Sevastopol. Ports, harbors, airfields, bridges, outbuildings, communication lines were destroyed. Stockpiles of goods and all military property, equipment, vehicles and appliances that could not be taken out were destroyed. Railroad property, locomotives and wagons were destroyed. The Germans did everything so that the Crimea was in ruins for a long time and the peninsula could not be used as a naval and air operational base. Stone blockages were created on the roads, especially in the mountains, and the lines of communication were mined in order to prevent the rapid advance of Soviet mobile units.
At the same time, the Germans still hoped to hold Sevastopol for some time. The command gave instructions to deliver to the Sevastopol fortress as much ammunition and food as possible. Everything that you could take with you, take out to the city. When retreating, the troops were supposed to seize as much food as possible on the way, and drive cattle to the city.
Romanian artillerymen fire from a 75-mm PaK 97/38 cannon during a battle in Crimea
Romanian soldiers await evacuation in the port of Sevastopol
German minesweeper class R (Räumboote, R-Boot) in the bay of Sevastopol. Photo source:
On April 10, 1944, the commander of the 4th Ukrainian Front, Tolbukhin, ordered General Vasiliev's 19th Panzer Corps to be brought up closer to the forward edge in order to launch an offensive from the line south of Tomashevka. On the morning of April 11, the mobile unit entered the battle, advancing on Dzhankoy, a major railroad junction. The task of the corps was to develop an offensive in the direction of Simferopol - Sevastopol, cutting through the German army, breaking its resistance, the ability to maneuver and control troops. The commander of the 19th Panzer Corps, Vasiliev, was seriously wounded during a reconnaissance of the area during an air raid, so the compound was headed by Colonel Kiss.
The offensive of the Soviet reinforced tank corps (187 tanks, 46 self-propelled guns, 45 armored personnel carriers and armored vehicles, more than 200 guns and mortars, BM-13-15 rocket launchers) from the bridgehead south of Sivash was unexpected for the Nazis. Russian tanks were waiting at Perekop. However, the tank corps in March 1944 was secretly transferred to a bridgehead south of Sivash. The transfer of tanks and other equipment was carried out at night or in bad weather, when the German aviation could not operate. On the spot, shelters were prepared for the equipment, they were carefully camouflaged.
On April 11, 1944, Soviet riflemen and tankers completed the breakthrough of the enemy's defenses. Already at 11 o'clock, the forward detachment of the tank corps under the command of Colonel Feshchenko (the commander of the 202nd tank brigade) broke into the northern outskirts of Dzhankoy. From the south, the city was attacked by the 26th motorized rifle brigade of Lieutenant Colonel Khrapovitsky. The German garrison, near an infantry regiment, up to two artillery battalions, 4 assault guns and an armored train, fought back stubbornly. By evening, Soviet troops liberated Dzhankoy. At the same time, the tankers captured the enemy's airfield in the Vesely area, which immediately began to prepare the planes of the 8th Air Army. The Soviet command is creating a mobile group of General Razuvaev for the speedy liberation of Simferopol, where the headquarters of the German army and the Romanian mountain rifle corps were located. The group consisted of a tank corps, a rifle division (two regiments on vehicles), and an anti-tank artillery brigade.
The command of the German army gives the order for the withdrawal of the troops of the fortress of Sevastopol from the northern and Kerch sectors of the front. The reconnaissance of the Separate Primorsky Army discovered the enemy's withdrawal. Eremenko's army was preparing an attack south and north of Bulganak, bypassing Kerch. At 21:30 on April 10, 1944, after artillery and air preparation, the forward detachments of the Primorsky Army went on the offensive, and on April 11, the main forces. Parts of the 3rd Mountain Rifle Corps of General Luchinsky took the enemy stronghold Bulganak and began to break through to the Turkish shaft. Behind them, the enemy's defenses were penetrated by the troops of the 11th Guards Corps of General Rozhdestvensky and the 6th Rifle Corps of General Provalov. When Russian troops intercepted the Kerch-Feodosia highway, the Germans and Romanians, fearing encirclement, fled. On April 11, Soviet troops liberated Kerch. Part of the Romanian troops were captured. The enemy lost a large amount of equipment and artillery. The German 5th Army Corps retreated to the Kerch Isthmus.
Fighters of the 2nd Guards Taman Division ripping off the fascist signboard from the club named after. Engels in Kerch. In the club them. Engels during the occupation, a camp of Soviet prisoners of war was located, in which there were more than 1000 people. Kerch was liberated on April 11, 1944.
Soviet soldier rips the Nazi swastika from the gates of the metallurgical plant. Voikova in liberated Kerch
Soldiers of the 9th separate motorized reconnaissance company of the intelligence department of the headquarters of the Separate Primorsky army of captain S.G. Tokhtamysh on the armor of the M3 "Stuart" tank on Kerch street on the day of the city's liberation
Thus, Soviet troops broke through the enemy's defenses on the Kerch Peninsula. German-Romanian troops were retreating everywhere. On April 11, 1944, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief Stalin expressed gratitude to the troops of the 4th Ukrainian Front and the Primorsky Army, which broke through the powerful defense of the Nazis at Perekop, in the Sivash region, on the Kerch Peninsula, liberated Dzhankoy and Kerch. At 21:00 in Moscow, 20 artillery salutes of 224 guns were fired in honor of the 1st UV, and on the same day, at 22:00, in honor of the troops of the Separate Primorsky Army.
The 19th Panzer Corps, supported by aviation, continued to move towards Simferopol. The mobile group was followed by units of the 51st Army. The left-flank detachment of the 19th corps (202nd tank brigade, self-propelled guns regiment and motorcycle regiment) advanced towards the Primorsky army in the direction of Seitler - Karasubazar. On April 12, our troops took Seitler, and a large group of retreating enemy troops was defeated in the Zuya area. Soviet troops cut the path to Sevastopol through Simferopol for the enemy's Kerch grouping. Now parts of the 5th German corps were retreating along the southern coast of the peninsula.
Near Sarabuz (here the rear position of the 17th Army was located), in the airfield area, our troops met stubborn resistance from the German group under the command of General Sixt. Without getting involved in protracted battles, the Soviet tank crews bypassed the enemy positions from the east and continued their attack on Simferopol. On April 12, the 2nd Guards Army broke through the positions of Hitler's troops on the Chatyrlyk River. The mobile detachments of the guards began to pursue the enemy.
On the same day, the troops of Eremenko's army reached the Ak-Monayskaya line, but could not break through it on the move. Only after a strong artillery barrage and a powerful air strike (844 combat sorties per day) did the Nazis leave the AK-Monay positions. By the end of the day, the Kerch Peninsula was completely liberated. The advance units of the 11th Guards Rifle Corps and the 3rd Mountain Rifle Corps and an army mobile detachment were sent to Stary Krym, Karasubazar, in order to establish contact with the forces of the 4th UV. Parts of the 16th Rifle Corps developed an offensive on the coast, on Feodosia and further on Sudak - Yalta - Sevastopol.
On April 12, the naval aviation of the Black Sea Fleet dealt a strong blow to enemy ships in the Feodosiya port, disrupting the planned evacuation of enemy troops by sea. On April 13, Soviet troops occupied Feodosia. On the same day, attack aircraft and bombers of the Black Sea Fleet struck Sudak, sank 3 large barges and damaged 5 barges with German-Romanian troops. After that, the Germans no longer tried to evacuate significant forces to Sevastopol by sea. The Germans and Romanians had to retreat along the mountain roads, but even there they were subjected to pressure from the Soviet aviation and partisan detachments. They were pursued by the mobile vanguards of the Soviet troops.
On April 13, the forward forces of the 4th UV and the Separate Primorsky Army joined up in Karasubazar. On the same day, the mobile group of the front liberated Simferopol, the troops of the 2nd Guards Army - Evpatoria. In the Soviet capital on this day, fireworks thundered three times - in honor of the heroes of the liberation of Feodosia, Simferopol and Yevpatoria.
A column of the Red Army infantry unit is moving along the road next to the destroyed Wehrmacht self-propelled gun StuG 40 Ausf. G after breaking through the defense of the German-Romanian troops in the Crimea
ACS SU-152 of the 1452th heavy self-propelled artillery regiment in Simferopol
Assessing the current situation, the command of the 19th Panzer Corps proposed to send the main forces of the mobile formation directly to Sevastopol, so that they could break into the city on the shoulders of the enemy. However, the commander of the mobile group of the front, the deputy commander of the 51st Army, Razuvaev, sprayed the forces by sending two tank brigades east, to the Karasubazar region, to defeat the withdrawing troops of the Kerch group; a motorized rifle brigade - to Aluchsha to try to cut the escape routes of enemy troops retreating along the southern coast of the Black Sea. As a result, only two tank brigades were left to pursue the enemy through Bakhchisarai to Sevastopol. Soon the front command canceled this order of Razuvaev, but the troops were already following in the indicated directions and the withdrawal would only worsen the situation (confusion, loss of time).
Early in the morning of April 14, Soviet tankmen, with the support of partisans, liberated Bakhchisarai. The Germans did not manage to burn down the city. Then Soviet troops struck a blow at the villages in the Sevastopol region - Kachu, Mamashay, Eski-Eli and Aranchi. In the Kachi and Mamashay area, the tankers joined up with the forward detachments of the Guards Army.
On April 14, units of the Primorskaya Army and the motorized rifle brigade of the 19th Corps suppressed enemy resistance at the Angarsk Pass. Then, with a blow from the north and east, our troops, with the assistance of partisans, liberated Alushta. On April 15, the main forces of the 2nd Guards and 51st armies came to the approaches to Sevastopol.
Thus, the Crimean peninsula, except for Sevastopol, was liberated from the Nazis. It took the Red Army seven days to liberate almost all of Crimea. However, despite the high rates of the Soviet offensive, the main forces of the 49th Mountain Rifle Corps of General Konrad (defended in the north of Crimea), retaining the artillery, successfully retreated and took up defensive positions in the Sevastopol Fortress on April 14. The German 5th Army Corps of General Almendinger (Kerch group) was also able to avoid destruction by retreating along the Black Sea coast. This predetermined the failure of the first assault on Sevastopol, when Soviet troops tried to liberate the city on the move.
Partisans in Yalta. Yalta was liberated on April 15, 1944.
Meeting of Soviet partisans and sailors-boatmen in the liberated Yalta. Soviet torpedo boats of the G-5 type are visible at the pier. Photo source: