The successful course of the Battle of Stalingrad contributed to the victories of the Red Army in the North Caucasus. Back in January, 1943, when troops of the Transcaucasian Front with the armies of the Northern and Black Sea groups of troops, drove out the Wehrmacht from the Caucasus and with a swift attack threatened to squeeze and knock back the enemy’s Kuban grouping at sea, the German command began to build defensive lines in the lower reaches of the Kuban River, on the outskirts of the Taman Peninsula . The Nazis called their main, most engineering-oriented position in the lower reaches of the Kuban, the “Blue Line”. The Nazi troops started its construction in February 1943, and in four months, by the time our troops reached the lower reaches of the Kuban, they had managed to create a powerful defensive belt. The Blue Line had a depth of kilometers to 6. Its left flank began in the Azov plains - near Verbaianaya Spit on the Sea of Azov, passed through the Azov estuaries, along the Kurka River and the marshland along the Adagum River to the village of Kiev and rested with the right flank into the Black Sea. In the Kuban and the Taman Peninsula, the main line of defense of the Blue Line, up to the Kerch Strait, the enemy prepared 10 intermediate lines at a distance from one another from 5 to 25 kilometers. The “Vienna Line” appeared between the Akhtanizovsky and Kiziltash estuaries, the “Pre-Berlin positions” between the Akhtanizovsky estuary and the Taman Bay, and 5 kilometers north, between the stanitsa Akhtanizovskaya and the Taman Bay, the Berlin Defense Line. On the construction of all these lines of defense the Nazis force weapons drove the entire local population. Tens of thousands of residents from villages and farms, under the supervision of Hitler’s machine gunners, dug trenches, anti-tank ditches, trenches. They were defended by units of the 17th Wehrmacht Army of Army Group “A”. The total number of the Taman group of Germans in the 15 infantry and 1 cavalry divisions reached 400, 000 guns and mortars, over 2860 tanks and assault guns, 300 aircraft. Having retreated from the Caucasus to the Taman Peninsula, the 17th Army and part of the forces of the 1st Tank Army significantly reduced the front line, which allowed them to create tight battle formations on the peninsula. Preserving its presence on the Taman Peninsula, the German command, on the one hand, covered the Crimea, and on the other, had a bridgehead to resume offensive operations in the Caucasus. The Taman group of Germans managed to pull back significant forces of the Red Army, which could not take part in the spring battles of 1943 to liberate Ukraine.
The left-flank section of the Blue Line, starting at the Kurchansky Estuary, took place at a turn favorable for defense. Kurki. The Germans, using high earthen ramparts poured along the banks of the river, turned this water line of 56 km into a strong position which was firmly covering the communications of the Nazis in the northern part of the Taman Peninsula. Further, the Blue Line turned eastward and went along the swampy Adagum River to the village of Kiev, hiding from the front with a wide strip of Prikubansky floods, and then turning back to the south. The central section of the Blue Line was a narrow, hilly plateau accessible to the actions of all branches of troops. Strengthening this area, the length of 32 km on the front, the Nazis paid the main attention. Here the Blue Line had two positions with a large number of defense units and strong points. The first position was based on two defense knots: Kievsky - blocking the road to Taman through the village of Varenikovsky, and the defense center - at the height of 195,5, covering the highway and railway to Novorossiysk through the village of Nizhne-Bakanskaya and Verkhne-Bakanskaya. The enemy’s large settlement Moldavanskoe, located in the center of the plateau, turned into a powerful defense center of the second position, blocking the way to the center of the Taman Peninsula in the event of a breakthrough of the first position. This defense node was covered from the front by a strong point at the height of 114,1, which is very well positioned tactically and represents a serious obstacle for the advancing troops. The villages and farms turned into powerful strong points and resistance nodes, are braided with wire, the approaches to them are mined. Brick, stone and reinforced concrete buildings on the outskirts and in the central areas of the city the enemy adapted and equipped for long-term firing points. Most often these were the buildings of mills, institutions, posts, factories, power stations, barracks, characterized by thick walls and solid basements. The approaches to long-term facilities, including stone buildings, were covered with barricades. Barricades were built on all main streets. Highways and bridges mined. The right-flank section of the Blue Line, from the village of Neberdzhayevskaya to Novorossiysk, with a length of 25 km, passed through inaccessible mountainous areas and was strengthened by the enemy since November 1942. Having sent 1943 artillery batteries from the Crimea to the Blue Line in June 38 from the Crimea and occupied it with the main forces of the 17 Army, replenished with new formations, the fascist German command reached a very large operational density for that time - 5 – 6 km of front for one division . The number of artillery in some areas reached 60 trunks at 1 km. Defense units and strong points were in close fire and tactical interaction. In the intervals between them were firing means in strong fortifications. The defense units and strong points prepared for all-round defense had two to three lines of trenches and full-profile posts. At a distance of 20 – 60 m from the first line of the trench were pushed forward, mainly on the slopes of the heights or on the outskirts of the settlements, timber-earthen or ferro-concrete fire installations. Located in 50 – 75 and m from one another, they were intended to flank the front edge of the defense and the approaches to the barriers. The enemy fire system was organized with strict regard to the terrain. All ravines, valleys, ravines, narrow passages were under cross-automatic machine-gun, artillery and mortar fire. A second line of firing installations was located at the backstop, covering the gaps between the buildings of the first line with frontal fire. Numerous rifle cells were tied to the trenches or pushed forward a small distance. In the depth of the stronghold there were dugouts and dugouts for personnel, artillery and mortar positions. All structures erected in the reference point, were connected by communication with the trenches. At the mountain site of the position, the defense was built on the principle of creating a multi-tiered fire, combined with forest debris and a whole system of anti-personnel, mainly mine-blast, barriers. The front edge of the central section was covered with a solid band of obstacles, the density of which on tank-accessible directions reached 1200 anti-tank mines on 1 km of front. In order to fight tanks that had broken through to fire installations, each structure had a stock of equipped anti-tank mines, which, when the attacking tank approached, the garrison was to be installed on the rigstrum or surface of the structure. In addition, in order to protect against attacking infantry, a large number of tension action mines were installed, controlled from the structure; they were complemented by wire anti-personnel barriers installed in large numbers throughout the position. A well-developed system of communications moves allowed the enemy to establish minefields deep in the strongholds, filling the gaps between the trenches with them, which should have impeded and delayed the advance of the attacking units.
29 April - 15 May 1943, the troops of the North Caucasus Front carried out an offensive operation in order to break through the Blue Line and seize the Taman Peninsula. After six days of fierce battles of the 56-th army advancing in the central direction under the command of Lieutenant-General A. A. Grechko, 4 in May managed to capture only one focal point of the German defense - the village of Krymskaya. The further advance of the Red Army in the area of the stanitsas of Kiev and Moldavan was stopped, including powerful air strikes. They carried out 1400 German aircraft operating from bases on the Kerch Peninsula. The Soviet troops again failed to break through the deeply echeloned Blue Line and 15 in May stopped the active offensive. After the liberation of the stanitsa of Krymskaya and the exit to the main line of enemy defense, the troops of the North Caucasian Front prepared for a new offensive operation for 16 days, which had the task of breaking through the enemy’s Blue Line and entering the Taman Peninsula.
The breakthrough of the defense was planned to be carried out by forces of the 37th and 56th armies in the sector between the villages of Kiev and Moldavansky, with the subsequent development of strikes in the direction of the villages of Varenikovskaya and Gastagaevskaya. The main blow was dealt by the left flank of the 37th Army. After its units left, the troops of the 9th Army on the right flank and the troops of the 18th Army on the left flank from the Myskhako bridgehead went on the offensive. The offensive began on May 26th. In the first half of the day, our troops, conducting stubborn battles, wedged 3-5 km into the enemy’s defenses, capturing a number of strong points of the first position, but could not complete the Blue Line breakthrough. The attacks of the Soviet troops were replaced by counterattacks of the Nazis, trying to restore their lost positions. Fights with unrelenting strength continued until nightfall and resumed in the morning of May 27 with even greater stress. Particularly active aviation the enemy, fettering the actions of our troops. In just 4 hours of the first day of the offensive, from 16 p.m. to 20 p.m., over 1500 sorties of enemy aircraft were recorded on the breakthrough site. In the fierce battles that unfolded, neither side was able to achieve their goals: the Nazi troops could not restore the situation, and our troops could not complete the breakthrough. On May 30, the offensive was suspended and resumed on June 2. When it became clear that the battles were becoming protracted, the front commander, with the permission of the Supreme High Command Headquarters, ordered the cessation of the offensive on June 5. The troops of the 37th and 56th armies went on the defensive at the achieved lines.
And in these difficult conditions, Soviet military intelligence officers found their way through the Blue Line by reconnaissance groups and even large reconnaissance units and successfully carried out command assignments. Here are some examples of successful actions of 56 army reconnaissance troops in the summer of 1943.
At the end of June 1943, the commander of the 317 Infantry Division ordered the commander of the reconnaissance company to capture a prisoner in the area of the village of Nizhne Grechesky and find out which parts of the enemy were defending before the front of the division, whether there were any changes in the enemy grouping. It has long been in the area there were no prisoners or documents.
For a long time, the commander of the reconnaissance company of the 317 Infantry Division, Senior Lieutenant Ganzha, was examining the enemy defenses from various places. As a result of the observation, the target for the attack of the scouts was chosen by the subservatory beyond the leading edge of the Blue Line, 500 meters south-west of the Lower Greek.
The reconnaissance team included 16 people: 5 people in the seizure subgroup, 8 - in the support subgroup and sapper 3 constituted the detente subgroup. The sappers, removing the minefield and making the passage in the wire fence, remained here until the scouts returned. Together with them to protect the passage, the commander of the reconnaissance group Ganzha left a light machine gun with two scouts. The support team moved to the first trench of the enemy and took a favorable position for firing. And the subgroup of the seizure, headed by Lieutenant Tkachenko, meanwhile, having bypassed the subdivision from the rear, broke into it. But the bunker was empty. As it turned out, the enemy occupied him only during the daytime. Check the presence of the enemy in it at night was impossible. It turned out an annoying mistake. But Tkachenko did not lose his head. It was important to covertly overcome the leading edge of the enemy. Once in the near rear of his, it is easier to capture the prisoner. Therefore, the commander of the subgroup capture took a new decision - to find another object to attack. From DZOT in depth of defense went the course of the message. It was not difficult to guess that somewhere near there should be an enemy dugout, where, as a rule, the DZOT duty group would go to rest. Two scouts Tkachenko ordered to stay at DZOT for cover. With the other three, he moved into the depths of defense along the way. After a few meters - branching. And right here, right and left, the scouts found two dugouts at once. The three of them went cautiously to the right of them, leaving one scout at the junction of the message, because it was not clear - what if the fascists appeared from the second dugout? However, the dugout was locked to an internal lock. The invaders slept in comfort, did not want anyone to disturb them. And Tkachenko did not dare to break the door: this can arouse the enemy.
The door of the second dugout was unlocked. Tkachenko with two scouts cautiously entered the dugout, one scout left outside the door, the other - at the fork in the message. Then he lit a flashlight and saw two sleeping soldiers in uniform. At this time, the board creaked under my feet, one of the sleeping ones woke up and immediately grabbed the machine gun. But it was too late: Tkachenko immediately shot him. The second German, waking up from the gunfire and realizing what had happened, raised his hands.
Returned by the old route; they walked confidently, they knew that every meter of the way was covered by their battle friends from the second subgroup. We didn’t sleep at our forefront either: the machine guns on duty and the battery of regimental mortars were ready to open fire at any moment. Only a signal was needed. But the signal did not follow - the fire of supporting means was no longer required.
And soon on separate sectors of the front 56-I army launched an offensive. During 23 July, 1943, in the offensive zone of the 109 Guards Rifle Division on the Blue Line, there were fierce battles. Our units attacked the enemy. The enemy fiercely resisted, several times went into counterattacks in order to restore the lost position. By the end of the day the fight subsided. The command during the night had to find out the intentions of the enemy. This task was assigned to the reconnaissance group of the Guard Senior Sergeant Tsar'kov. Tsar'kov’s group must sneak behind the front edge of the enemy, find out his actions, whether he pulls reserves to the front edge or takes them deeper, capture the prisoner and the documents.
The peculiarity of the task was that, as it was already more than once, especially in mobile forms of combat, there was practically no time to prepare the intelligence officers for the search. Having received the team, Tsarkov with four scouts, without hesitating a minute, in 16 hours on July 23 went into battle formations of their units southeast of the village of Podgorny. Soon the scouts found that the enemy was occupying the south-western outskirts of the village and the height to the south of it. The situation prompted Tsarkov to make a decision: to break through the hollow with bushes south of Podgorny to the rear of the enemy. At nightfall, Tsarkov did just that. In a small group of five people, and even in the conditions of a mountain-wooded area and with a dense defense, it is possible to break through to its rear secretly from the enemy. Crawling, then on all fours, then crawling, the five brave scouts reached the first bushes and, having crossed the Gechepsin river ford, lay down. Listened, looked around. It was clear that they were already in the rear of the enemy. They advanced into the depth of defense by another 300 – 400 meters. Again lay down in the bushes next to the vineyard. Now, at every step, it was possible to meet a group of the enemy or a doubles patrol, patrols. Single soldiers at night in the depths of the defense can not be found. The scouts knew about the strict prohibition of the enemy on the movement of single soldiers at night.
Soon Tsarkov noticed that from the south a group of German soldiers was approaching the vineyard, moving in line with the front edge of the defense. There was no time left for reflection. In such cases, the scout must decide very quickly. To wait is to give initiative to the enemy. And Tsar'kov knew that the initiative in such cases is equal to victory. An unexpected ambush attack on an adversary group, even marching in the ranks, increases the reconnaissance forces many times. And here is just the double superiority of the enemy in numbers. And Tsarkov immediately ordered: a couple of scouts quickly go to the northern part of the vineyard, while he and a couple of others remain in place in the bushes.
A few minutes later, the enemy's soldiers were in the disposition of the scouts. At the same time, five grenades flew into the Germans. A series of powerful explosions. Scouts with machine guns rush at the enemy. As a result, ten invaders found themselves a grave to the south of Podgorny. One of the Germans, who was alive, surrendered, and the other, who had survived, rushed to the side, but Tsarkov stopped the fugitive with a grenade. The reconnaissance aircraft did not fire a single shot. Sometimes, depending on the situation, the explosions of grenades are less alarming than the automatic rifles. Scouts must consider all the details. These seemingly trivial things sometimes save their lives, contribute to success in a battle with an experienced adversary.
Tsarkov brought the prisoner, documents and several enemy machine guns. The prisoner at the interrogation gave valuable information. It became clear to our command that the enemy will not move away; it will put up stubborn resistance on the Blue Line.
In July, 1943, on active days of the 56 Army, on the Blue Line, the reconnaissance team of the 83 Mountain Division, led by Sergeant Bukin, was tasked with observing from areas of 352,1 height (south of the village of Neberdzhayevskaya) from the neutral zone to establish enemy cluster areas , to reveal its firing points and warn our units about upcoming counterattacks.
It would seem that something interesting and heroic can be done here: sit and look, move from one place to another and watch again, report in a timely manner about everything noticed by the dispatched boss. But not so understand these tasks experienced intelligence. Having located his observers in several convenient places, Bukin moved from one place to another, carefully looking through the binoculars now one or the other area. Finally, the sergeant discovered the area in which the enemy was accumulating. It is clear that a counter attack is being prepared. He immediately informed the chief that he had reported this, while he himself continued to watch the enemy with the scouts.
And then Bukin suddenly saw that very close to him, masquerading behind a bush, in a small shelter two German soldiers installed an easel machine gun, preparing to open fire on our defenses. Beautiful goal, an object that you will not find soon. And the invaders have already opened artillery and mortar fire on our leading edge. They are about to launch a counterattack, and the enemy machine gun will support the advancing infantry with fire. "Do not happen this!" - Decided Bukin.
The sergeant ordered the scouts to continue to monitor the enemy, report the enemy’s boss on the actions of the enemy, observe the actions of Bukin himself, and be ready to help him with fire.
And taking two more scouts, Bukin crawled with them around the enemy machine gun, which had already opened fire. The enemy went to the counter. Enemy infantry here, very close to them, was already in the neutral zone. The attackers could not notice our scouts. Yes, and Sergeant Bukin deftly disguised. But our warriors were in the rear of the enemy machine gun. Crawled up close to him and at close range of three machine guns shot the enemy machine gunners. The machine gun instantly got a new calculation - Bukin himself went to the machine gun, one of the scouts became number two, and the other sergeant ordered to observe. Not knowing where they were being fired from, they were rushed back to their first trench. Our machine guns, mines and artillery shells exploded along the runners.
Taking the machine gun and documents of the enemy soldiers with them, the scouts quickly disappeared into the bush and arrived in short breaks at short breaks across their fleet. Reasonable decision, accurate and simple calculation in a favorable current situation, courage and determination, suddenness of actions gave an excellent result - victory over the enemy. The counterattack was successfully repulsed. And in this great merit troika brave scouts led by Sergeant Bukin.
On September 10, the North Caucasus Front launched a new offensive with the goal of liberating Novorossiysk and the Taman Peninsula. During the fighting in the Novorossiysk-Taman operation, Soviet troops captured the Blue Line, and on October 9, 1943, German troops were finally knocked out of the Taman Peninsula. “In the Kuban and the Taman Peninsula there is not a single living German left, except for prisoners,” are these words of the report of Colonel General I. E. Petrov to the Supreme Commander? V. Stalin became a kind of epilogue to the Battle of the Caucasus. The defeat of the Taman group of the enemy and the liberation of the Taman Peninsula ended one of the most heroic battles of World War II - the battle for the Caucasus. The liberation of the Taman Peninsula and Novorossiysk significantly improved the possibility of basing the Black Sea fleet and created the conditions for the struggle for the return of the Crimea (Caucasus).