The situation at the front. Operation plan
By the spring of 1944 in the south-western strategic direction, Soviet troops completed the first stage in the liberation of Right-Bank Ukraine. Significant territories were liberated, powerful enemy groups were crushed, favorable conditions were created for the further development of the offensive with the goal of completely liberating the south-western regions of the Soviet Union, reaching the state border and beginning the liberation of the Moldavian SSR and Romania.
The German command continued to stubbornly cling to the remaining areas of Right-Bank Ukraine. The enemy was counting on an operational pause, believing that after the stubborn offensive battles that the Red Army waged during almost the entire winter, the Soviet troops would not be able to realize a new big offensive in the near future, especially in the spring thaw.
However, immediately after the defeat of a large group of Wehrmacht in the Korsun-Shevchenko Operation ( link), despite the fatigue of the troops and the mudslide, the Bid directive from 18 February 1944 ordered the command of the 2 Ukrainian Front to prepare for a new strike on the enemy, with the aim of defeating the Uman grouping and completing the liberation of the south-western regions of the USSR. In addition, the operation of the 2 of the Ukrainian Front was, together with the operation of the 1 of the Ukrainian Front (2 link), lead to the dissection of troops of Army Group "South", the strategic front of the enemy. Soviet troops had to go to the Dniester, press the enemy to the Carpathians.
The Soviet command, in preparing the operation, took into account the fact that after the defeat in the Korsun-Shevchenko battle, it would be difficult for the Nazis to quickly replenish their defeated divisions. Intelligence has established that the enemy has no free reserves, and the units that oppose the 2-th Ukrainian Front need rest and replenishment. Therefore, the German command needed to withdraw troops from other directions and transfer them to the area of the Soviet offensive. We took into account the factor of weakening the fighting (moral) spirit of the German army, after the defeat at Korsun-Shevchenko. The combat strength of the German troops seriously decreased.
The 2-th Ukrainian front received the task of launching an offensive from the line Kirovograd-Shpola-Zvenigorodka-Grape, in the general direction of Uman. Get on the line Ladyzhin - Gayvoron - Novo Ukrainka. At the second stage of the operation, the troops of the front were to reach the Dniester, on the Mogilev-Podolsky-Yagorlyk section, then move to Prut. Originally, the offensive was planned to begin on March 8-10.
Konev and his generals conducted a reconnaissance of the area in order to choose the most convenient site for the offensive. The front command chose a 25-kilometer section on the Rusalovka-Stebnoe front. The front command decided to deliver two strikes. They planned to deliver the main blow from the Chemerisskoe and Olkhovets regions. The troops were to advance in the general direction of Uman and further to the Southern Bug and Dniester in the direction of Balti, Yassy. The blow was delivered by the forces of three combined arms (31 rifle divisions) and three tank armies (a total of about 560 tanks and self-propelled guns). The 27th, 52nd, 4th Guards combined arms, 2nd, 5th Guards and 6th Tank armies were located here. At the first stage of the operation, these armies were supposed to defeat the enemy's Uman grouping and reach the Ladyzhin and Gayvoron area. Tank armies were located in the spirit of echelons. The 2nd and 5th Guards Tank Armies were deployed in the first echelon, and the 6th Panzer Army in the second. As a result, the command could use two armies to break through the enemy's tactical defense zone, and use the third army depending on the situation.
Two combined-arms armies were to deliver an auxiliary strike on the 18-kilometer stretch of Shestakovka and Mukhortovka. They received the task of defeating the enemy troops in the Novo-Ukrainka area and moving to the Southern Bug, on Pervomaisk. By this they contributed to the advance of the main forces of the front. 5-I, 7-I Guards armies delivered auxiliary blow. In the first echelon, the 8 rifle divisions attacked, in the second echelon, each army had one rifle division.
In addition, the front had two more armies — the 40 and 53 — which, behind the flanks of the main attack group, concentrated rather large forces — five rifle divisions each. These groups were to ensure the possibility of an offensive development immediately after the German front broke through by the forces of the main attack group. At the same time, these groups could fend off possible German counterattacks on the flanks of the main strike grouping of the front. The 5 th Guards Corps, which was focused on the main line, remained in reserve for the commander.
It should be noted that the direction of blows were chosen correctly. The German defense in these areas was poorly prepared in engineering. True, the terrain was saturated with streams and rivers, which complicated the use of armored vehicles and heavy weapons. The Gorny Tikich, Southern Bug and Dniester rivers were serious natural obstacles in the way of our troops.
Commander 2-th Ukrainian Front Marshal of the Soviet Union I.S. Konev and Chief of Staff Colonel-General M.V. Zakharov for the map of hostilities. Right Bank Ukraine. March 1944
Forces of the parties. German defense
The grouping of troops 2 of the Ukrainian Front was composed of seven combined-arms, three tank, one air army (5-I air army of Sergei Goryunov), two mechanized and one cavalry corps. In all, the front had up to 691 thousand people (480 thousand people took part in the operation), 8890 guns and mortars (including 836 anti-aircraft guns), about 670 operational tanks and SAU, 551 aircraft. By the beginning of the operation, the Soviet divisions did not have time to replenish, on average, they had 4,5-5 thousand soldiers. Tank armies had an incomplete 75% of vehicles.
In the zone of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, the 8th Army held the defense under the command of Otto Wöhler and part of the forces of the 6th German Army Karl-Adolf Hollidt (on April 8 he was replaced by Maximilian de Angelis). The German group consisted of 22 divisions, including 4 tank and 2 motorized. The German group included a total of up to 400 thousand people, up to 3,5 thousand guns and mortars, about 450 tanks and assault guns, and 500 aircraft of the 4th air fleet. Already during the battle, significant additional forces were transferred to this section, including the 4th Romanian army.
The most powerful enemy group was located in the Uman direction. Here, in the first echelon, 17 divisions defended, in the second and reserve - 5 divisions. Of these, three tank divisions were on manning in the Uman area, in 20-60 km from the front. Deeper reserves were located along the Southern Bug. Although the enemy troops suffered a strong defeat during the Korsun-Shevchenko battle, they remained operational. The Germans continued to rebuild their divisions, replenish them with people, weapons and technology. In terms of their average strength, the German divisions significantly exceeded the Soviet infantry divisions, they had 9-10 thousand soldiers.
In connection with the liquidation of the Korsun-Shevchenkovsky protrusion, the Germans had to create a new defensive system, so here the German defense was less deep and less developed in engineering terms than other sectors of the front. In the tactical zone, the Germans managed to build the main defensive zone with a depth of 6-8 km, which consisted of 2-3 positions. Soviet intelligence, which studied German defenses fairly well, noted weak saturation with firepower and engineering facilities, and the incompleteness of work to adapt individual settlements to the defense. In the operational depth, the Germans had only begun to build defensive fortifications in certain sections along the Gorny Tikich river.
Marshal of the Soviet Union I. S. Konev.
The breakthrough of the German defense and the liberation of Uman. March 4 reinforced battalions conducted reconnaissance in the offensive sectors, identifying the enemy’s defense system. On the morning of March 5, artillery preparation began. It lasted 56 minutes: fire raid - 10 min., Methodical fire — 35 min. and still raid— 11 min. Most of the front artillery was concentrated on the main line - up to 71% of all guns. On the 25-kilometer on the 1 km, the front had 148 guns and mortars. A large density of artillery in the breakthrough area was created by attracting artillery from neighboring 40 and 53 armies, as well as tank armies. Given the weakness of the engineering state of German work, it was believed that such a concentration was sufficient for the success of the operation. The main part of the focus and most of the tanks and self-propelled guns - 631 machines.
Due to inclement weather aviation were limited. The initial stage of the battle actually passed without the participation of aviation. In the future, aviation participation was also not effective. The troops went far ahead, the available unpaved airfields needed serious repairs. The Germans destroyed their airfields upon retreat.
After a powerful artillery preparation of the 27 Army of Sergei Trofimenko, the 52 Army of Konstantin Koroteev and the 4 Guards Army of Ivan Galanin, they launched an offensive. On the same day, the 2 th tank army of Semen Bogdanov (in the 27 th army band) and the 5 th Guards Tank Army of Pavel Rotmistrov (in the 4 th Guards Army band) were brought into battle. Soon, Andrei Kravchenko’s 6 Tank Army was introduced into the breakthrough. This blow was a surprise to the enemy. Given the weakness of the German defense and the force of the strike, this quickly brought success to the Soviet armies. On the first day, the German front was broken through 30-35 km. By the end of the day, Soviet warriors, on average, advanced 13 km deep into the German defense. The Germans began to retreat to the Southern Bug. By the end of the second day of the offensive, Soviet troops breached 60 km and depth 25 km.
All German counterattacks were successfully repulsed. By the end of 6 and the day of March 7, the main strike force of the front reached the Gorny Tikich river. Forward detachments on the move forced the river. After the bridgeheads were captured, the sappers quickly erected wooden bridges. It must be said that the sappers worked in the most difficult conditions - in the absence of transport vehicles with heavy means of ferries, under enemy fire, in icy water. Thanks to their dedicated work on the night of 7 and the day of March 7, 11 bridges were built. This made it possible to continue the offensive without losing the gained momentum. As a result, the rear line of the Germans on the Gorny Tikich River was broken. The whole system of German defense collapsed. Soviet troops made their way to the operational space.
The German command on the third day of the offensive was able to prepare a counterstrike. On March 7, units of the 13, 14 and 11 of the German tank divisions, reinforced by two brigades of assault guns, launched a counterattack, trying to stop the rapid advance of the Red Army and cover up the withdrawal of the Uman group. However, the fierce attacks of the enemy near Potash station were repelled. The Germans suffered heavy losses in manpower and equipment. A significant number of whole tanks were captured, which went on to complete the tank divisions. March 7 Soviet troops expanded the breakthrough to 80 km in width and to 50 km in depth. It should be noted that all the first days of the onset of the weather was non-flying. Aircraft front, in fact, inactive.
On the same day, the 40 Army began its offensive under the command of Philip Zhmachenko. It launched the 50 Army Infantry Corps. Using the success of the main strike force, the offensive and the 53 Army under the command of Ivan Managarov began. This provided the army with the main attack force of the front from the flanks, allowing it to develop an offensive quickly and decisively, without diverting forces to defense from the flanks. The second echelons necessary for the development of the first success were saved.
On March 8, the 5-I Guards Army commanded by Alekseev Zhadov and the 7-I Guards Army of Mikhail Shumilov launched an offensive. 56-minute artillery preparation was also conducted at their site. On the same day, the armies broke through the German defenses in the 12 km section and advanced to the depth of 7 km. These armies advanced at a slower pace. This was due to the almost complete absence of tanks and less artillery.
Soviet soldiers inspect the German tank Pz.Kpfw captured in the city of Uman. V Ausf. A "Panther".
The main strike force during the 8 and 9 March expanded the front of the attack to 170 km. By the end of March 9, units of the 52 Army of Koroteev were already fighting for Uman. One of the first to reach the city was the 73 th infantry corps under the command of General PF Batitsky. The 29 th Panzer Corps of General I. F. Kirichenko of the Army of Rotmistrov made a 40-kilometer rush to the rear of the enemy and also broke into Uman. The Germans tried to destroy the city during the retreat, but since the pace of the Soviet offensive was very high, it was not possible to fully implement this plan. Soviet warriors even captured aircraft at the Umani airfield, which did not have time to take off. The city was badly damaged by the Nazis. Many buildings were destroyed or mined. Approximately 10 of thousands of citizens were hijacked to Germany, among them there are a lot of young men and women.
The Soviet troops, despite the lack of roads, were rapidly moving forward. On March 10, units of the 6 Tank and 27 Armies liberated the city and the Khristinovka large railway junction. During the five days of hostilities in the Umansky direction, the front forces basically fulfilled the tasks of the first stage of the offensive. The enemy defenses were destroyed, the troops advanced 65 km. In the auxiliary direction, the Germans also retreated. In an atmosphere of successful advancement of the troops of the main front grouping, German troops also retreated in the 53-th army band. 2-th Ukrainian Front defeated the forces of three infantry, one airfield, one mountain, three tank divisions.
German troops, throwing equipment, weapons, warehouses with weapons, food and ammunition, hundreds of tons of fuel and a large number of different military equipment, retreated to the Southern Bug. In some places the withdrawal took on the character of flight. The German command was planning to gain a foothold at the turn of the Southern Bug, where the defeated divisions retreated and pulled up reserves. The retreat was covered by the rearguards, who put up stubborn resistance, trying to bring down the pace of the Soviet offensive.
Breakthrough through the Southern Bug and the Dniester. Forcing the Prut
March 11 Supreme Headquarters clarified the tasks to the front of Konev. 2-th Ukrainian front had to force the Southern Bug on the move, not allowing the Germans to gain a foothold on it, go to the Dniester and seize a bridgehead on its right bank. The main strike force was to attack Mogilev-Podolsky, then Balti and go to the Prut River, auxiliary - to Pervomaisk, Rybnitsa. To preserve the pace of the offensive, mobile forward detachments were formed, having tanks, artillery and engineering units in their composition. The commanders of the forward detachments appointed the most decisive and enterprising officers. They were assigned the task of bravingly forcing the river with improvised means, without waiting for the approach of the main forces, with engineering means.
By the end of March 11, forward detachments, pursuing the enemy and leading battles with his rearguards, reached the Southern Bug. The regional centers of Dzhulinka and Gayvoron were seized. The breakthrough reached 300 km on the front and up to 100 km in depth. In a number of places, forward detachments went to the river with the Germans or even before them. Thus, the forward detachment of the 2 tank army is the landing of riflemen and sappers on tanks, in 23 an hour. 11 March reached the bridge on the Southern Bug River in the area southwest of Dzhulinka. The Soviet tankers on the move crashed into the columns of the enemy. One group started a battle with the German garrison in the Dzhulinki area and the rear guard, the other moved to the bridge to capture it. However, the bridge was mined. The Germans blew it up, leaving the soldiers who did not have time to cross.
Forcing a turbulent Southern Bug due to high water was a difficult task. But the Soviet soldiers, without giving the enemy a respite and the opportunity to gain a foothold on the right bank, where they had already begun to build a system of defenses and barriers, began to cross the river with boats, pontoons, rafts, and other means. In the Shumilov region, tankers of the Bogdanov army found a ford, where the depth was relatively small - 2 meters. The place is well measured, equipped with entrances and signposts. Exhaust pipes brought out. The hatches are battened down, they are cropped and greased with grease. 12 March on the bottom of the river passed 7 tanks. Their appearance for the Germans was unpleasant surprises. Tankers seized a bridgehead.
By the night of March 14, the bridge in the Birches was restored. According to it, the main forces of the 2 tank army were ferried and the troops of the 52 army began to be shipped. 15 March in Julinka began to build a second bridge, 18 March, he was ready. At the same time a bridge was built in Shumilov. These bridges made it possible to transport all forces of the 2 tank and 52 armies.
Part of the 4-th Guards and 5-th Guards Tank armies managed to seize the bridge in the Hoschevato area. The Germans did not have time to blow it up. On it transferred forward detachments. German aircraft destroyed part of the bridge. But he was quickly restored. In addition, part of the 5-th Guards Tank Army was transported across the bridge in Berezki. And 4-I Guards Army began to be transported using ferries collected from improvised means. The 38 Army of the 1 of the Ukrainian Front reached the Southern Bug of March 15 and immediately captured the bridgehead. As a result, the right flank of the 2 of the Ukrainian Front was secured. Thus, the Southern Bug forced quickly, the Germans could not gain a foothold on it.
The 5-I and 7-I Guards armies, not having mobile units, moved at a slower pace, but they also advanced. Until March 16, the armies conducted heavy battles with six infantry divisions, SS Great Britain and Dead Head SS divisions, and the 10 motorized division. March 17 The 5-I Zhadov Guards Army captured Novo-Ukrainka. The 5 th Guards Corps, which operated in Zhadov’s offensive zone, advanced to the Southern Bug. 7-I Guards Army Shumilova captured railway Helper. 23 March was released Pervomaisk.
The front forces swiftly moved to the next important line - the Dniester. On March 16, units of the 2 Tank Army occupied an important railway junction of Vapnyarka. As a result, Soviet troops intercepted the Odessa-Zhmerinka railway. March 17 Soviet tankers, having passed 130 km in four days, reached the Dniester and, after a hard battle, captured Yampol. The 5 units of the Guards Tank Army liberated the Magpies. On March 19, units of the 6 Tank and 27 combined armies liberated Mogilev-Podolsky. When crossing the Dniester, Soviet soldiers showed miracles of heroism and selflessness. Very little is left to the border. Sappers worked in the most difficult conditions and ensured the transfer of troops. The forward detachments were transported to the other shore, and, engaging in battle with superior enemy forces, captured bridgeheads and held them until the main forces approached.
20-21 March Soviet troops forced the Dniester and captured a large bridgehead. The German command tried to recreate a solid front and stop the Soviet troops, threw into the battle literally everything that was at hand. Infantry and tank divisions were supported by rear, training units, guard, police, construction battalions, etc. The defeated divisions were reduced to battle groups. However, all German counterattacks were repulsed.
A column of T-34-85 tanks on the outskirts of the r. Dniester. 2-th Ukrainian Front, March 1944 of the Year.
The offensive of the troops 1 th and 2 th Ukrainian fronts cut the German Army Group South into two parts. 8-I German army was separated from the 1-th tank army. 22 March The headquarters set the front for the task by the forces of the right flank to reach the Prut River, at the line of Ungheni and Chisinau. The left flank of the front was given the task of advancing in a southerly direction, reaching the line of Bender, Tiraspol and Razdelnaya. The 40 Army had to support the 1 Ukrainian Front's offensive under the command of G. K. Zhukov, cutting off the enemy's Kamenets-Podolsk grouping paths.
26 March Balts were released. On the same day, the armies of Trofimenko, Koroteev, Galanin, Bagdanov and Kravchenko launched an 85-kilometer stretch north of Yassy to the Soviet border. 28 March, Soviet troops forced Prut and began fighting in Romanian territory. 2 April Moscow made a statement in which it announced that it was not going to seize any part of Romania. And also to change the socio-political system in the country. The entry of the Red Army into the territory of Romania was declared a military necessity. 6 on April were taken by Botosani and other Romanian county towns. The Soviet armies reached the approaches to Iasi and Chisinau.
The German command, in order to avoid the encirclement of its forces between the Southern Bug, the Dniester, and the 28, in March began the withdrawal of the German 8, 6, and Romanian 3 divisions. This allowed the troops of the 3 of the Ukrainian Front to accelerate the liberation of Odessa. At the same time, in order to save the southern flank of their strategic front from complete defeat, the German command quickly began to deploy the Romanian 4 army and 9 divisions from the 6 army (total 18 divisions, 3 brigades and other parts) to the Jasino-Chisinau direction. The resistance of the enemy has sharply increased.
The further advance of the Soviet armies did not lead to significant successes. The communications of the armies were greatly stretched, the rear left behind. The presence of a significant number of rivers and their spill dramatically complicated the possibilities for the transfer of forces, the supply of ammunition, fuel, and the supply of troops with everything necessary. The army suffered heavy losses and was tired. Therefore, in the middle of the month, the Stake gave permission to complete the operation. Her main tasks were performed.
The troops of the 2 of the Ukrainian Front enter the territory of Romania.
Results of the operation
Soviet troops lost 266 thousand people, of which 66 thousand killed and missing. German-Romanian troops lost more than 118 thousand people only killed, captured more than 27 thousand people. Ten German divisions were defeated, losing from 50 to 75% of personnel and almost all heavy weapons. More 16 German and Romanian divisions suffered heavy losses. In addition, the enemy suffered huge material losses: the 165 aircraft were captured and destroyed, more than 1400 tanks and assault guns were destroyed or captured, more than 5,8 thousand weapons and mortars were lost, etc. General Field Marshal Manstein and Colonel-General Hollidt A terrible defeat on the southern flank was sacked.
Uman-Botosha operation is considered one of the most successful operations of the Red Army. The offensive of the 1 and 2 of the Ukrainian fronts led to the rupture of the front of Army Group South. The Soviet troops in a fairly short time advanced by 200 — 320 km. Significant territories of Right-Bank Ukraine and Moldova were liberated. Soviet troops began the liberation of Romania from fascism. Conditions were created for the neighboring 3 of the Ukrainian Front in the liberation of Odessa, as well as in the operation to liberate Chisinau.
The operation was of great military and political importance. The great successes of the Soviet troops and their swift offensive caused some "enlightenment" in the heads of Romanian, Bulgarian and Hungarian politicians and military. In April, Romania even requested truce from Moscow. Moscow demanded to break off relations with Berlin, go over to the side of the USSR, recognize the border of 1940 of the year and pay damages for the actions of the Romanian occupiers on Soviet territory. The Romanian government rejected these conditions. However, Berlin could no longer hope for the loyalty of its satellites. The Germans first occupied Hungary, and then Romania. The Western allies of the USSR, impressed by the success of the Red Army and fearing being late for sharing the “skin of the Berlin bear”, accelerated preparations for the landing of troops in France.
The peculiarity of the operation was the presence of a number of significant water boundaries, which in the conditions of spring thaw and high water became insurmountable. As Konev wrote, the troops had to overcome the "continuous impassable mud." History I have not yet known such a large-scale and successful operation, which was carried out in conditions of “complete impassability and spring flooding of rivers”.