Red armored train "Avenger"
General situation on the Eastern Front
The September offensive of the Kolchak armies in Siberia did not improve their situation. Kolchak won only space. However, they suffered such losses that they could no longer recover them in a short time. The 3-I White Army only in the first two weeks of the offensive lost a quarter of its composition. The ranks of the most combat-ready divisions, which took upon themselves the bulk of the hostilities, such as the 4th Ufa and Izhevsk, lost almost half of the composition. Bloodless Kolchak units barely reached the Tobol line. The Siberian Cossack corps of Ivanov-Rinov proved to be much worse than expected. Cossacks self-willed, preferred to act in their own interests, and not in general. All reserves were completely depleted. At the end of September 1919, the last reserve was sent to the front - a total of 1,5 thousand people. The attempt to send Czechoslovakians to the front failed because of their complete decay and unwillingness to fight. The situation in the rear was awful. The Kolchakov government controlled only the cities and the Siberian Railway (the Czechs kept the railway). The village was ruled by rebels and partisans.
To deliver a decisive blow to the Red Army and failed to gain time. The 3-I and 5-I red armies entrenched at the turn of Tobol and quickly recovered from their first unsuccessful attack on Petropavlovsk. The Red Command, party and Soviet organizations carried out new mobilization in the Ural cities. Military commissariats sent thousands of new reinforcements to the divisions. In the two weeks of September alone, the Chelyabinsk province gave 24 thousand people for the 5 Army. The 3 Army received in the middle of October 20 thousand people. Also, the mobilization of peasants and workers was carried out in the frontline areas. New regiments, brigades and divisions formed in the rear of the red Eastern Front. Front armies received one rifle and one cavalry division, 7 serf regiments.
By mid-October 1919, the strength of the red Eastern Front was doubled. Red Army received the missing weapon and uniforms. True, there was a shortage of ammunition. The Soviet units rested, recovered, and were ready for new battles. The number of the 5 Army increased to 37 thousand bayonets and sabers, with 135 guns, 575 and machine guns, 2 armored trains (Krasny Sibiryak and Avenger), 4 armored vehicles and 8 airplanes. The army of Tukhachevsky occupied the front in 200 km from Kara-Kamysh Lake to Belozerskaya (40 km north of Kurgan). Operating north of the 3 Army, there were 31,5 thousand bayonets and sabers, 103 guns, 575 machine guns, an armored train, 3 armored car and 11 aircraft. Matiyasevich’s army occupied the front from Belozerskaya to Bachalin about 240 km long. The Reds had an advantage in manpower, weapons, and reserves. In the reserve regiments of the two armies, the serfs of Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk and Troitsk, there were 12 thousand people.
The 5 Red Army was opposed by the 3 White Army, the Steppe Group and the remains of the Orenburg Army - only about 32 thousand bayonets and sabers, 150 guns, 370 machine guns, 2 armored trains ("Zabiyaka" and "Tagil"). These troops were brought into the “Moscow Army Group” under the leadership of General Sakharov (in the hope of the capture of Moscow by Denikin’s army). The 3-I and 2-I white armies acted against the 1-th red army, only about 29 thousand bayonets and sabers. In the front reserve, the Kolchak command had only about 3 - 4 thousand people. Kolchakites had an advantage only in cavalry.
Thus, the 3-I and 5-I armies were very quickly restored full combat readiness. Taking advantage of the fact that the Kurgan with ferries through Tobol and the railway line remained in the hands of the Reds, marching replenishment was constantly going to the front, new units were being pulled up. The Red Army had an advantage in the number and quality of troops, their morale was high. The whites were demoralized, despite the latest success on Tobol. They had to fight on two fronts: against the Red Army and the rebels. To all this was added an insufficient supply of army uniforms, ammunition. The uniform received from August-September 1919 from abroad was used, or it was plundered in the rear, and a new one has not yet arrived. Therefore, it turned out that the Kolchakites had weapons and ammunition in October, but felt a great need for overcoats and shoes. Meanwhile, a period of cold rains came, winter was approaching. This further undermined the spirit of Kolchakites.
The white command no longer had reserves, the latter were absorbed in the offensive. True, the whites here and there tried to form various voluntary formations, “squads”, to restore the voluntary principle. However, the number of units such as their fighting efficiency was negligible. So the "squads" of the Old Believers did not get to the front - part of them fled along the road, others did not dare to send the white command to the front line, leaving behind. Often these were frauds of individual adventurers who, in troubled times, “fished”, that is, “mastered” money and property.
Even before the start of a new offensive of the Red Army in the Omsk sector, the whites lost their base in southern Siberia. Most of the Orenburg army of Dutov in September 1919 was defeated by the troops of the red Turkestan front under the command of Frunze near Aktyubinsk. The Belokazaks surrendered, others either dispersed or with the chieftain Dutov left for the Kokchetav - Akmolinsk district, then in Semirechye.
At the same time, England and France, realizing the futility of the Kolchak regime, refused to support Omsk. They saw that the Kolchak government had exhausted itself. England and France are intensifying aid to Poland, seeing in it a full-fledged force opposing Soviet Russia. The United States and Japan continued to provide assistance to Kolchak in order to maintain positions in Siberia and the Far East. So in October 50 thousand rifles were sent from the Far East to the headquarters of Kolchak. Negotiations were also held on the supply of tanks. In addition, negotiations were held in Omsk with the Japanese. Kolchakites hoped that Japanese divisions would be sent to the front. The Japanese promised to strengthen their military contingent in Russia.
The second battle on Tobol
Although the position of the Kolchak armies was deplorable, the Kolchak command still hoped to continue the offensive. However, the Reds were ahead of the enemy. The main blow in the Peter and Paul direction was dealt by the 5 Army. For this purpose, a strike group of three divisions was formed on the right flank. In the south, this offensive was supported by the attack of the 35th Infantry Division on the Zverinogolovsky Highway. On the left flank of the army, the 27-I division dealt a blow. That is, it was envisaged to take in the ticks the main forces of the enemy to destroy them. To demoralize the rear of the enemy and develop the offensive, they planned to introduce a cavalry division (more than 2,5 thousand sabers) into the breakthrough. A few days later, the 3 Army was to begin to move in the Ishim direction.
At the dawn of October 14 1919, units of the 5 Army began to force the river. Tobol. At first, the Kolchakites showed stubborn resistance. In some places, the White Guards even repelled the first attacks and threw back Soviet troops on the right bank of Tobol. White showed especially fierce resistance on the railway line and to the north of it. Two armored trains and most of the artillery were located here. However, already on the first day of the offensive, Tukhachevsky’s army crossed the river and occupied a significant bridgehead. The White Command tried to stop the advance of the enemy, threw the best units into battle. The counterattack was inflicted by the Izhevsk division, which was considered the best in Kolchak’s army, it was supported by the 11th Ural Division, and most of the army artillery. But the counterattack was repelled, the Izhevsk division even got encircled and only at the cost of heavy losses broke through to the east. On October 18, White launched another counterattack, but it was also repelled.
Thus, the 5 Army again succeeded in successfully crossing the river. Tobol, striking with its right flank to cover the communications of white troops from the south. The White Command tried in vain to suspend the encompassing advance of the right flank of the 5 Army (35 and 5 I Rifle Divisions), trying to regroup towards its left flank and build a front to the south. However, this regrouping was late, and the White Guards were forced to hastily retreat beyond the river. Ishim.
19 - On 20 on October 1919, the 3 Red Army went on the offensive. Her right-wing 30-I division was advancing on Ishim and helped the troops of the 5-th Army to break the resistance of the northern flank of the 3-th White Army. The white front was broken, and Kolchakites everywhere retreated. In some places, the withdrawal turned into flight, Soviet divisions quickly moved east. Entire units of the enemy were surrendered or went over to the Reds. So the regiment of the Carpathian Rusyns sided with the Reds. Kolchak’s army was falling apart. Mobilized soldiers scattered home, surrendered, switched to the side of the Reds. Some troops mowed typhoid. Cossacks, without entering into battle, dispersed across the villages. During the two weeks of the offensive, the Red Army advanced on 250 km. On October 22, the Reds took Tobolsk.
The liberation of Petropavlovsk
The commander-in-chief of the white army, General Diterichs, not seeing the opportunity to save the capital, ordered to evacuate Omsk on October 24. 4 November, he was dismissed, in his place was appointed General Sakharov. Having suffered a defeat between Tobol and Ishim, the white command withdrew the remnants of the army beyond the river. Ishim, hoping to create a new defensive line here and try to stop the enemy’s advance. The regiments of the 1 Army were sent to the rear, to the region of Novonikolaevsk - Tomsk, for restoration and replenishment.
At the end of October 1919, the advanced units of the Soviet armies marched on the Ishim River. It was necessary to move, until the enemy came to his senses, force the river and liberate the cities of Petropavlovsk and Ishim. First of all, three regiments of the 35th Infantry Division went to Petropavlovsk. On the evening of October 29, the Reds approached the bridge over Ishim. White set fire to the bridge, but the Red Army men were able to extinguish it. They quickly crossed the river and threw the enemy barrier to the city. On the morning of October 30, all three Soviet regiments were in Petropavlovsk. But Kolchakites kept a part of the city behind them. Pulling up the troops, the White Guards launched a counterattack. Kolchak organized 14 attacks, but were repelled. The next day, White again tried to drive the opponent out of the city, but without success. On November 1, when new Soviet units arrived to help, the Reds resumed their offensive and completely liberated Petropavlovsk. Significant trophies were captured in the city.
On November 4, units of the 5 Army liberated Ishim. After the fall of Petropavlovsk and Ishim, the Kolchakites began a hasty retreat to Omsk. Part of the Kolchak forces on the southern flank led by Dutov went south to the Kokchetav area. The battle of Tobolsk and Peter and Paul was the last stage of the organized and serious resistance of the Kolchak army. The White Guards were defeated and suffered heavy losses. Only the 3-I White Army lost from 14 to 31 October about 13 thousand killed, wounded and captured, thousands of soldiers and Cossacks fled to their homes.
The successful offensive of the red armies of the Eastern Front was important for the overall strategic situation. It began at the decisive moment of the battle on the Southern Front, when Denikin's army was on the outskirts of Tula. Success in the east of the country allowed the Soviet high command in November to withdraw part of the forces from the Eastern Front and send them south for the final defeat of the white armies in southern Russia.
Soviet troops without a pause continued the offensive. In the main direction, along the Petropavlovsk-Omsk railway, three divisions of the 5 Army moved. To pursue the Dutov group on the southern flank, a special group of troops was allocated as part of the 54th Infantry Division and the Cavalry Division. She launched an attack on Kokchetav. The 30th Infantry Division of the 3 Army was advancing along the Ishim - Omsk railway line. In the valley of the Irtysh River upstream to Omsk the 51 Division was advancing. The 5-I and 29-I rifle divisions were withdrawn to the front reserve.