Drawing of a cadet-Alekseev, which shows a squadron of Wrangel's Russian army in June 1920. White aviation played an important role in the outcome of the operation to defeat the cavalry group of the Rednecks
Pursued by planes, rushing between the shock groups of the White Guards, the Redneck's cavalry group was completely defeated. Red units, suffering heavy losses and having lost most of their material, fled in small groups to the east and northeast.
Counteroffensive of the 13th Soviet Army
After the successful breakthrough of Wrangel's Russian army from the Crimea to Tavria, the fighting continued practically without pauses. White still tried to attack, but their attack was exhausted. By June 19, 1920, Wrangel's army reached the Dnieper - Orekhov - Berdyansk line. On June 24, a White Guard landing force captured Berdyansk for two days. From the Sea of Azov to the village of Gnadenfeld, the Don corps was located: the 2nd division (mounted on horses) and the 3rd division (foot). Further, the honor of the 2nd corps of Slashchev was located: the 34th and 13th divisions, the 1st corps of Kutepov and the Barbovich Horse Corps. In the area of the village of Mikhailovka, there was the Drozdovskaya division of General Vitkovsky and the 2nd cavalry of General Morozov, in the area of the village of Bolshaya Belozerka - the Kuban division. To the left of the Kuban was a native brigade, with a base in Verkhniy Rogachik. Markov and Kornilov divisions were located opposite Kakhovka in the Dmitrovka-Natalino area. The front line of Kakhovka to the mouth of the Dnieper was occupied by the 1st Cavalry Division. On this line, the Whites pulled up the rear, replenished the units that had suffered heavy losses and strengthened themselves.
Meanwhile, the Soviet command was preparing a counteroffensive. The defeated 13th Soviet army was hastily restored, reinforcements were transferred, three rifle divisions and two brigades were sent. The 1st Separate Cavalry Corps of the Rednecks (created on the basis of Dumenko's corps) was transferred from the North Caucasus. Reorganized and replenished, the cavalry corps had 12 thousand sabers and bayonets, 6 armored cars and artillery. Eideman was appointed commander of the 13th Army instead of the disgraced commander Pauki.
Taking into account the experience of battles with Denikin by breaking through the front with powerful mobile formations, the Soviet command planned to cut off the enemy from the Crimea with converging strikes, dismember and destroy the White Army in Tavria. After the death of the army, the white Crimea was doomed. The command of the 13th Army formed two shock groups: 1) Fedko's group (30th, 46th and 15th rifle divisions, the 2nd brigade and two brigades of the 23rd division); 2) the cavalry group of Zhloba (1st cavalry corps, 2nd cavalry division Dydenko, 40th rifle division and an air group - 9 aircraft). Fedko's group was supposed to strike from the north, from the Aleksandrovsk region, to forge Kutepov's 1st army corps and break through to Melitopol. The Redneck's group with a blow from the east was supposed to crush Abramov's Don corps and go to the rear of the main forces of the whites, cutting off their escape routes to the Crimea. In addition, in the west, from the Berislav area, the Latvian and 52nd divisions went on the offensive, which received the task of crossing the Dnieper at Kakhovka and advancing on Perekop.
Soviet military leader, hero of the Civil War Dmitry Petrovich Zhloba (1887-1938)
Goons group blow
On June 27, 1920, the offensive of the 13th Soviet Army began. Fedka's group acted unsuccessfully. Here, the Reds, who had just recovered from a heavy defeat, were opposed by selected White Guard units. There were no powerful equestrian formations capable of finding the enemy's weak spot and breaking through to the rear. As a result, White not only repulsed the attack, but launched a counteroffensive and moved to Aleksandrovsk. The failure of Fedko's group, as well as of the red divisions in the Kakhovka area, predetermined the defeat of the Redneck's corps. Moreover, the Reds' strike was not sudden. On June 25-26, intelligence informed Wrangel about the approach of the Redneck's cavalry corps. It was not possible to strike a sudden blow. There was only tactical surprise, the white command did not expect the red cavalry to attack so soon. As a result, Wrangel began regrouping troops and forming two shock groups with the aim of taking the Reds in ticks.
On June 27, the red cavalry was concentrated in the Belmanka-Tsare-Konstantinovka area in the Melitopol direction. On June 28, the Redneck's troops launched an offensive. In the area of the Verkhn. The Tokmak Reds attacked the 2nd Don Division of the Whites. Near the village of Chernigovka, a rare battle of armored cars took place at this time. White and red cars rammed. They tried to kick in the side to overturn the enemy. The White Guards in this battle lost 4 armored vehicles, red - 3. Behind the armored cars was the lava of the red cavalry. The Cossacks, who were several times inferior in strength, were defeated. The famous Gundorovsky regiment was cut down almost entirely. The other Don units, which went to the rescue of their own, were discarded by the Reds. The numerical inequality was aggravated by the fact that part of the bottom was still horseless, which sharply worsened the ability to maneuver. By evening, the Reds occupied the area with. Tokmak and Chernigovka. On the southern flank, the 40th Infantry Division, after a stubborn battle, occupied the villages of Andreevka and Sofievka, defeated the 3rd Don Division and reached the Sea of Azov in the Nogaysk region. The front of the White Army was broken through.
On July 29, the red cavalry entered the Yushanli River. Wrangel pushed all free forces into the area of the breakthrough: the remaining regiments of the Don, armored cars and an air squadron. White Guards force up to a cavalry division, supported by armored cars and an air squadron (12 vehicles), inflict a counterstrike from the Mikhailovka area. White pushed the red left flank. After regrouping, the cavalry group again went on the offensive and again threw the enemy back to the Yushanly River. June 30 - July 2, the fighting continued with varying success. The Goons group had little progress.
There were battles on the western flank, in the Kakhovka area. The Reds crossed the Dnieper and, after fierce fighting, occupied Kakhovka. However, they could not go further. The White Guards counterattacked and forced the enemy to go on the defensive. Then they recaptured Kakhovka.
The defeat of the red cavalry
The White Command actively used aviation. White had no advantage in strength. However, Soviet aviation was divided into different sectors of the front. And the Wrangelites were able to concentrate almost all of their aviation against the Redneck divisions - 20 vehicles led by General Tkachev. The Whites defeated the Red Air Group, which covered the Redneck's corps. Then they began to bomb the cavalry, fire at it from machine guns. Having used up the ammunition, they simply scared off the horses, sweeping over the ground. The red cavalry, not being able to fight the enemy aircraft, was dispersed. This was used by the white foot units. They launched counterattacks. They clung to individual settlements, held back the onslaught of the enemy with machine-gun and artillery fire. The Red Command switched to night marches, but summer nights are short. Therefore, the pace of the offensive dropped sharply. In four days, the Zhloba's cavalry advanced only 30-40 km.
Thus, having broken through the enemy's front on the very first day, then the Redneck's group was carried away by small fights and victories over individual units of the Whites, in fact, it was tied up and stamped on the spot. The cavalry had to quickly break through to the deep rear of the enemy, avoid unnecessary battles. The 40th Rifle Division, operating on the southern flank, practically did not interact with the Redneck's group and advanced sluggishly. This allowed the white command to complete the regrouping of forces. This was also facilitated by the unsuccessful offensive of the Fedko group, its low combat effectiveness, the passivity of the Berislav group, which could not expand the bridgehead at Kakhovka. As a result, the command of the 13th Army did not use the success of the Goons group at the beginning of the operation and missed the chance to win.
In the meantime, the white command pulled everything that was possible from the passive sectors of the front. Three infantry and one cavalry divisions were concentrated. A total of about 11 thousand bayonets and sabers with armored vehicles and armored trains. They tried to overlay the Reds from all sides. By the evening of July 2, 1920, on the southern flank, in the area of the villages of Orekhovka and Astrakhanka, the 2nd and 3rd Don divisions (3,5-4,5 thousand bayonets and sabers) were located. The Kornilov division (1800 bayonets), the Drozdovskaya division (2,5 bayonets) and the 2nd Cavalry Division (1,5 sabers) were advancing from the west. From the northern direction, from the area of Big Tokmak, the 13th Infantry Division was to strike. The Wrangelites surrounded the enemy in a half-ring and took them in pincers. The Red cavalry, not knowing about the concentration of large enemy forces (reconnaissance failure), on July 3 was going to resume the offensive.
On the morning of July 3, in the area of the village of Klefeld, a counter battle between the 3rd Don Division and the Reds began. Troops of the Goons pushed the Donets in the direction of Melitopol. The Red cavalry was 15 km from the city. A fierce battle raged north of the city. The Kornilovites, supported by armored cars, began an offensive behind enemy lines. Dybenko's 2nd cavalry division first repelled the onslaught of the Kornilov division. But the dashing onslaught of the red cavalry was repulsed by strong machine-gun and artillery fire, a blow from the air group. The Reds attacked from different directions mixed and began to withdraw. Troop control was lost. Part retreated to the east, and the main forces went north - to Big Tokmak. But there they ran into parts of the 13th division and came under fire from armored trains plying on the railroad. The cavalry group retreats to the south and falls under the blow of the Drozdovites.
Pursued by planes, rushing between the shock groups of the White Guards, the Redneck's cavalry group was completely defeated. Red units, suffering heavy losses and having lost much of the material part, fled in small groups to the east and northeast. Only a quarter of the original composition reached its own, thousands of Red Army men were captured, the Whites captured 60 guns, 200 machine guns and other trophies.
However, Wrangel's troops were unable to develop their success. The White army was drained of blood, tired of continuous fighting, the transfer of units from one sector of the front to another. There were no fresh units and reserves for an immediate offensive. And the units participating in the defeat of the Redneck's group had to be again thrown into dangerous areas. The Whites did not have the opportunity, unlike the Reds, to quickly replenish their ranks. It was difficult to make up for the losses. The Red Army, despite high losses, was able to continue the onslaught. Already on July 2-3, the Reds again crossed the Dnieper, captured Kakhovka. At the same time, Fedko's group began to move again, somewhat recovered from the previous failure. On July 4, the Reds even temporarily occupy Bolshoi Tokmak, on the 5th - Mikhailovka. However, these attacks were already late. White, having eliminated the breakthrough of the Redneck's group, quickly managed to regain positions in the northwestern sector.
General P.N. Wrangel accepts the report of the pilot of the 5th squadron
The defeat of the Don landing
With the defeat of the Polish army in the Kiev region, hopes of joining with them became unrealistic. Therefore, the white command decided to break through to the Don. Hoping that the Don Cossacks will rise up against the Bolsheviks again. Wrangel decided to send an airborne detachment to the Don and rouse the Cossacks to a large-scale uprising in the rear of the Reds. The Don uprising would have improved the position of Wrangel's army. Diverting enemy forces. The opportunity arose to break through to the Don and obtain new human resources.
On July 9, 1920, a detachment under the command of Colonel Nazarov (800 people) was landed east of Mariupol. Nazarov's Cossacks captured the village of Novonikolaevskaya (now Novoazovsk) and fortified there. But the red command, taking into account the experience of previous operations of the white fleet, formed its Azov flotilla of 13 ships (gunboats, patrol boats and armed steamers). The red ships met white ships at sea, which were carrying the second echelon of Nazarov's detachment. The Whites were forced to retreat. On July 11, the Azov flotilla began bombing the village and suppressed the enemy's battery. On July 13, the Red Army led an attack from land and blocked the Whites. The strength and significance of the enemy landing by the Reds was greatly exaggerated. Therefore, against the Nazarov detachment, a powerful group was created consisting of two brigades (several thousand fighters, an armored detachment), as well as a significant number of separate garrison units, detachments and subunits of cadets, workers, militia, labor army and the Cheka. Plus the Azov flotilla.
On July 14, the Reds launched an assault from the land, from the sea, the Whites fired at the floating batteries. Taking advantage of the enemy's mistakes, on July 15, Nazarov managed to break through to the east and move in a raid along the villages. Due to the insurgent Cossacks, his detachment grew to 1,5 thousand people. But a large-scale uprising did not happen. Don was drained of blood. The combat-ready core of the Cossacks perished on the fronts of the First World War and the Civil War, died out of typhus, left with the Whites, or joined the Reds. The villages were half empty. On the other hand, there was a mental break. The Cossacks are tired of the war. There were almost no "irreconcilable" ones, and the rest accepted Soviet power.
The Reds pursued Nazarov's detachment on the heels, and on July 25, in the area of the village of Konstantinovskaya, the Whites were blocked and pressed to the Don. Here the White Cossacks were attacked by two Red brigades. The detachment was destroyed. Some perished, some scattered, fled to the Salsk steppes. On July 28, the Reds settled the last group under the leadership of Bazilevich. The captured Cossacks were mobilized into the Red Army. Nazarov himself was captured, mistaken for a Red Army deserter and mobilized. Waiting for an opportunity, he fled to the whites in Northern Tavria. As a result, Don could not be raised.