Smoot. 1920 year.100 years ago, on June 6, 1920, the Northern Tavrian operation began. In the first week of the Wrangel army's offensive, the Reds lost almost all of Northern Tavria.
Plans and forces of the parties
Having reorganized the army in late April - May 1920, the white command decided that it was time to go on the offensive. The moment was favorable. After a series of defeats from the Polish army on the Western Front, the Soviet command postponed the assault on Crimea. The most combat-ready forces and reserves of the Red Army were diverted to Ukraine and Belarus. In addition, the white Crimea, clogged with refugees, was threatened by hunger, it was necessary to seize the food resources of Northern Tavria. The Russian army of Wrangel needed resources - people, food, etc., to continue the struggle. To do this, it was necessary to capture new areas. The maximum plan is Kuban and Don, the minimum is Tavria. There were very few cavalry in the army - only 2 thousand sabers (the horse-drawn squad was abandoned during the evacuation), guns and machine guns, but there was no other choice but to attack.
At the front line, the Wrangelites had about 25-30 thousand soldiers, over 120 guns and about 450 machine guns. The Russian army was consolidated into four corps: the 1st and 2nd Army under the command of Kutepov and Slashchev, the Consolidated Corps of Pisarev and the Don Corps of Abramov. The advantage of the White Guards was the presence of a white Black Sea fleet. He supported the defense of the peninsula and made it possible to land troops on the flanks of the enemy. The White Fleet, under the command of Vice Admiral Sablin, included 2 battleships - the flagship General Alekseev (formerly Emperor Alexander III) and Rostislav, 3 cruisers, 11 destroyers, 8 gunboats. A total of about 50 warships and 150 different support vessels. In May 1920, a white fleet fired at Mariupol, Temryuk, Genichesk and Taganrog. Near Ochakovo raider destroyer "Hot". The White Guards threatened communications between Odessa, Kherson and Nikolaev, and sabotaged groups landed on the coast.
On June 2, 1920, Wrangel set combat missions for the troops. Slashchev’s corps was removed from the defense, boarded ships in Feodosia and landed in the area of Kirillovka, on the right flank. The Sushchites were to cause panic in the rear of the Perekop group of the enemy, intercept the Melitopol Railway, create a threat to Melitopol. In the future, attack along with the Pisarev Consolidated Corps. Pisarev’s corps struck from Chongar positions on Genichesk. The 1st corps of General Kutepov struck on the left flank, in the Perekop direction, was to go to the Dnieper in the area from the mouth to Kakhovka. The Don Corps was in reserve in the Dzhankoy area. If the operation was successful, the donors had to go from the Chongar crossing to Melitopol and further to Nogaysk and Berdyansk. With decisive success, the Don corps along the Sea of Azov made its way to the Don. Thus, Wrangel delivered the main blow in the general direction to the Don, three corps were concentrated on the right flank.
In front of the front of the Wrangel army were the troops of the 13th Soviet army under the command of I. Kh. Spiders (after the success of the Wrangel troops he was removed, the army was led by R. Eideman). The 13th army in May 1920, before the advance of the enemy, was strengthened to 19 thousand soldiers (including 4 thousand sabers), received the 2nd Cavalry Division named after Blinov (from the Budenny Cavalry Army). The 46th division was defending in the Genichesk area, the 52nd, 3rd rifle divisions, the Latvian divisions, the 85th and 124th rifle brigades were defending on the Perekop direction. In reserve were Blinov's cavalry division and the cavalry brigade. There were also separate small parts and units.
Battleship "General Alekseev" in the dry dock. 1919
Trooper Slashchev and the breakthrough of the defense of the 13th army
The start time of the operation and the landing site of the 2nd Army Corps were kept secret. The landing party found out about the landing point already at sea. Prior to this, rumors about the preparation of the landing operation in the region of Novorossiysk and Odessa were actively spread. In addition, on the day of the landing, a demonstration was held on the left flank, in the vicinity of the village of Khorly. There, a detachment of ships shelled the coast, diverting the attention of the enemy. June 5, 1920, the landing was loaded onto ships (10 thousand soldiers, 50 guns and 2 armored cars) in Feodosia. Through the Kerch Strait, the fleet passed to the Sea of Azov and landed the sugars in the area of Kirillovka. The troops successfully landed, despite a severe storm. The Red Command hastily put forward reserves here, but obviously insufficient (about 2 thousand people). Slashchev’s corps overturned them quite easily.
On June 6, 1920, the Wrangel army launched an offensive along the entire front. After a short artillery training, Pisarev’s corps supported by tanks and armored trains went forward. At the same time, the sweets in the rear of the Reds went to the railway. Attacked from the front and threatened from the rear, the Red Army left the Genic fortified area and retreated to Rozhdestvensky. The Reds lost several hundred people prisoners. The Wrangelites took the city of Genichesk, their armored trains advanced to Rykovo station.
Meanwhile, parts of Kutepov stormed the Perekop positions. Tanks and armored cars destroyed wire fences. Here the Red Army fought fiercely. The Latvian arrows were especially steadfast. In the area of Preobrazhenka and Pervokonstantinovka villages, red artillerymen damaged several enemy tanks. However, the Wrangelites broke through the enemy defenses. The Reds retreated. The 2nd cavalry division of General Morozov (about 2 thousand drafts) was sent into the breakthrough.
Recollecting themselves after the first defeat, the Reds counterattacked with the forces of two rifle divisions and the cavalry brigade. The Markov division was squeezed. The corps command threw their reserve into battle - the Drozdovites. Markov and Drozdov divisions restored the situation. At that time, the white cavalry reached Chaplinka, repelling the enemy’s counterattack. The Reds (new forces) went forward again. In the area of Pervokonstantinovka there was a stubborn battle, whites suffered heavy losses. So, almost all the commanders of the battalion-company level were killed by the Drozdovites. By night Pervokonstantinovka remained with the Red Army.
June 7 stubborn fighting continued. Slushchevtsy went to the Melitopol railway, captured up to 1 thousand prisoners. Pisarev Corps continued to move, occupied a number of villages. The Reds tried to counterattack the Consolidated Corps with the help of Blinov's division (2500 sabers). The Reds recaptured Novo-Mikhailovka, but by the evening they were knocked out. After a fierce battle, the Drozdovites again occupied Pervokonstantinovka. The Red Army retreated to Vladimirovka. The Drozdov division and the 2nd cavalry division pursued the enemy and occupied Vladimirovka. Part of the red group was pressed to Sivash in the area of Vladimirovka. After a little resistance, the Reds folded weapon. 1,5 thousand people were captured. The White Guards captured 5 guns and 3 armored cars. Meanwhile, the Markov and Kornilov divisions held back the attacks of another part of the Perekop Red Group.
Thus, during the two-day battle, the Wrangel army broke through the enemy’s defenses and entered the operational space. Kutepov’s corps alone captured 3,5 people, captured 25 guns and 6 armored cars. The White Guards suffered significant losses. However, the battle continued. So, on the night of June 7-8, the red cavalry, using the extended position of the 3rd cavalry division of the enemy (on foot), broke into Novo-Mikhailovka and captured the division headquarters, headed by its commander A. Revishin.
The capture of Melitopol
On June 9, 1920, Wrangel ordered Slashchev to take Melitopol, then send cavalry to the north-west, threatening the rear of the red group of troops retreating from Sivash. Pisarev’s corps, reinforced by the 2nd Don division, was to defeat the enemy in the area of the villages of Rozhdestvenskoye and Petrovskoye. Kutepov’s troops were given the task to go to the area of the Dnieper mouth - Alyoshka - Kakhovka. The Don corps advanced to Novo-Alekseyevka, remaining in reserve.
By evening, parts of Slashchev reached Melitopol. Pisarev’s corps was slowly moving forward, Kutepov’s troops pursued the defeated enemy. On June 10, parts of Slashchev took the capital of Northern Tavria - Melitopol. However, after several days there were stubborn battles for the city. The Soviet command pulled up reserves from Aleksandrovka and tried with all its might to recapture the city. The sackcloths had to tight. The consolidated corps fought with the 2nd cavalry division of the Reds near the village of Rozhdestvenskoye. On June 11, the Reds counterattacked again and drove the Kubans to Novo-Alekseevka. Then the Wrangelites went on the attack, threw the enemy to the north and in the evening occupied Rozhdestvensky. On June 12, Pisarev’s corps occupied Petrovskoye. At the same time, the Kuban and Don people unauthorizedly acquired horses, requisitioning them from local peasants. The orders of the commander and commanders did not act on them, the robberies did not stop. In a battle, the command could not resort to stricter measures. But the White Army spontaneously received cavalry, which brought positive results at the forefront.
Retreating from Perekop to Kakhovka, the troops of the 13th Army were replenished with troops that went to the Polish Front. The Soviet command deployed them to save the 13th army. On June 10, regiments of the 15th Infantry Division (4,5 thousand bayonets and 800 sabers) advanced to the area of the village of Chernaya Dolina. The Latvian and 52nd divisions, with the support of the fresh 15th division, launched a counterattack again, dropping the white cavalry. The Drozdov and Kornilov divisions withstood the attacks of the Reds and began to cover the enemy, who had wedged into their positions. The White Command pulled up the Markov Division and the 1st Cavalry Division. On the morning of June 11, the White Guards struck with all their might. The Reds could not stand it and rolled back to the Dnieper. By evening, the whites reached the approaches to Kakhovka and Alyoshka. On June 12, the 1st Corps reached the Dnieper and took a quick blow to Kakhovka. It was captured 1,5 thousand Red Army soldiers. However, the main forces of the Reds managed to leave the Dnieper and destroyed the crossing. By June 13, whites took positions along the Dnieper from the mouth to Kakhovka.
At the same time, stubborn battles continued in the region of Melitopol. Slashchev held out until the other corps developed an offensive, and the Reds, who overlaid the whites in Melitopol on three sides, were forced to retreat. Kutepov sent the Drozdov Division and the 2nd Cavalry Division to the northeast to take up positions west of Melitopol. The consolidated and the Don corps developed an offensive to the east. The defeated troops of the Soviet 3rd and 46th Infantry, 2nd Cavalry Divisions retreated to the Orekhov area. On June 19, 1920, the Wrangel army entered the Berdyansk-Orekhov-Dnepr line. Wrangel’s headquarters was moved to Melitopol.
Thus, during the week of the advance of the Russian army of Wrangel, the Reds lost almost all of Northern Tavria. The 13th Soviet Army suffered a heavy defeat (some units lost up to 75% of their composition), having lost only 7-8 thousand people, about 30 guns and 2 armored trains. The White Guards seized army reserves in the Perekop area. A breakthrough into the rich Northern Tavria provided the White Army with food, horse-drawn stock and other resources.
However, the Wrangels failed to break further. The White Army was forced to stop. It was necessary to replenish losses (Kutepov’s corps lost a quarter of the squad), tighten the rear and secure the occupied areas. Affected by the lack of strategic reserves and powerful cavalry. There was nothing to develop the first success. It was not possible to completely destroy the 13th army. At this time, the Soviet command hastily restored and strengthened the 13th army, the number of which brought up to 41 thousand soldiers (including 11 thousand cavalry). Three new divisions, two brigades and the horse-drawn corps of Zhloba were sent against Wrangel. A counterattack was being prepared in order to clear Tavria and Crimea from the whites. The new commander of the 13th Army was appointed I.P. Uborevich.