April. April 15, General F.I. Tolbukhin set the troops of the 4th Ukrainian Front to seize Sevastopol. The Soviet command searched for weak spots in the enemy’s defense and threw the 19th tank body from the right flank to the left. Involved Aviation long range. On April 15-16, she inflicted powerful blows on the railway station, warehouses, port facilities and watercraft of the enemy.
During this period, the Soviet troops in the region of Sevastopol did not have superiority over the German-Romanian forces in either manpower or heavy weapons. The orders of the advancing armies were stretched. The most powerful forces in the second stage of pursuing the enemy were left in the reserve of army commanders, 50-60 km from the forward detachments. As a result, the 4 UV could not begin the assault on the Sevastopol fortress with all its might. Thus, the 13-th Guards Rifle Corps of the 2-th Guards Army was located in the Ak-Mosque-Yevpatoria-Saki region; The 10 th rifle corps of the 51 th army is in the area of Simferopol. A separate Maritime army has not yet reached Sevastopol. Tanks, artillery, aircraft experienced a shortage of ammunition and fuel, due to the backlog of rear services. The 19 tank corps suffered heavy losses in previous battles. In addition, Sevastopol had powerful fortifications, which consisted of three lanes. The most powerful center of resistance was Sapun-gora, where there were six tiers of solid trenches covered by anti-tank minefields and other barriers. Powerful centers of resistance were also Mekenziev Mountain, Sugar Loaf and Inkerman.
Therefore, it was not possible to organize a powerful artillery preparation and air strike during the first assault. A short artillery attack failed to disable the enemy’s long-term fortifications. Tankmen had to fight with powerful German fortifications. In addition, German aviation was able to organize several strikes on the combat formations of the 19 tank corps. As a result, the battles for Sevastopol were protracted. The Soviet infantry were also unable to advance due to strong fire resistance. On the shoulders of the enemy in Sevastopol failed to break.
At the end of the day on April 15, Tolbukhin was forced to order a more thorough preparation for the assault on Sevastopol. 16 April Marshals A.M. Vasilevsky and K.E. Voroshilov, who also personally witnessed the stubborn resistance of the enemy troops, decided to postpone the assault on the city until April 18. At the same time, the infantry units and the 19 tank corps, supported by artillery and aviation, continued the offensive, slowly biting into the German defensive orders.
A separate Maritime army continued the offensive and on April 16, with the support of the partisans of the Southern Union, liberated Yalta. Thanks to the help of partisans and underground fighters, many buildings and facilities of the city were preserved intact. The advanced forces of the army by the end of the day 16 April captured the important pass Baydarskie gates and the end of 17 April started a battle for Balaclava.
Tank T-34 in the street of liberated Sevastopol
On April 18, artillery and aviation training was conducted and the Soviet troops again launched an assault on the German positions. A separate Primorsk army advanced on 4-7 km, captured the villages of Nizhny Chorgun, Kamara, Fedyukhiny heights, the village of Kadikovka, the city of Balaklava. The troops of the 51 Army, advancing together with the 19 Armored Corps, also had some success. However, it was not possible to take Sapun Hill. The troops suffered heavy losses, and retreated to their original positions. So, 19 tank corps, on 18 of April had 71 tank and 28 self-propelled artillery units on the move, and on 19 of April 30 tanks and 11 SAU remained in the corps. April 19 The 19 Armored Corps was handed over to the Separate Maritime Army. 2-I Guards Army in the attack 18-19 April was not successful. Soviet troops met stubborn resistance of the enemy, who relied on strong fortifications and went into fierce counterattacks.
It became obvious to the Soviet command that it was necessary to prepare more thoroughly for the assault. It was necessary to concentrate the forces of artillery and aviation, the supply of ammunition. The calculation of the Soviet leadership that the German command is actively leading the evacuation of troops and will not be able to organize a powerful defense of Sevastopol, was not justified. We had to attract all the forces and means of the front to the assault. A general assault was scheduled for April 23. In previous days, the fighting continued. The Soviet troops actively probed the German defense, monitored its condition and were ready to immediately launch an offensive when a withdrawal of the enemy’s main forces was detected. On April 20-22, separate units were fighting local battles. There was a replenishment of the 19 of the tank corps armored vehicles.
On the night of April 23, Soviet long-range aviation attacked German positions. 23 April in 11 hours after the hour of artillery preparation and air strike the Soviet troops launched an offensive. As a result of stubborn fighting, Soviet troops achieved some success. However, to break through the German defense failed. On April 24, after an hour-long artillery and aviation training, the Red Army again launched an offensive. The whole day went hard battles. The Germans counterattacked with the support of assault guns and aircraft. Thus, in the area north of Mekenzievye Gory station, the enemy launched 20 counterattacks with forces from the battalion to the regiment. 25 April, Soviet troops attacked again. However, despite the fierce attacks, failed to break through the enemy defenses. Soviet troops achieved only local success. As Vasilevsky admitted: "... and this our offensive did not bring due success."
It was necessary to start a new regrouping of forces and means, the preparation of troops for battles in mountain conditions, the creation of assault groups, and the working out of the interaction between the units. Before the next assault, they decided to subject the fortifications of the enemy to thorough artillery bombardment and bombing and assault strikes. 29 April Vasilevsky on this issue spoke with the Supreme Commander. Stalin was dissatisfied with the tightening of the assault on Sevastopol, but was forced to agree with Vasilevsky’s arguments. It was decided on 5 in May to launch the 2 Guards Army offensive in the secondary direction to lead the enemy astray, and on May 7 a general assault on Sevastopol.
The command of the 17 Army, realizing that Sevastopol could not be retained, and wishing to preserve at least part of the army’s capable core, repeatedly addressed Hitler with a request to evacuate the troops. However, Hitler still demanded to keep Sevastopol. In the order of 24 on April 1944, it was said: "... not one step back." The alarmists and panties were to be shot. The commander of the German Navy on the Black Sea, Vice-Admiral Brinkman and the head of the naval region of Crimea, Rear Admiral Schultz, reported to Hitler that the fleet was capable of supplying the Sevastopol garrison with all the necessary sea. The Fuhrer believed that Sevastopol must be kept from both political and military considerations. Among the political factors stood out the position of Turkey, which after the fall of Sevastopol could go over to the Allies, as well as the situation in the Balkans. Militarily, Sevastopol was important because it shackled a significant Soviet grouping. 17-I army had to defend Sevastopol and inflict the greatest losses to the enemy. Therefore, the High Command allowed to take out only the wounded, Romanians and, collaborators, prisoners from the Crimea. In addition, the forced evacuation of the Soviet population was practiced, the Germans covered themselves from the raids of Soviet aviation. For example, equipment and soldiers were often loaded into the hold, and women and children were placed on the decks. The latter were warned that when the Soviet planes appeared, they would lift the children up and throw out white sheets. After the order of Hitler to hold Sevastopol, the Germans strengthened the transfer of sea and air replenishment for the military units of the 17 Army. Brought a large number of ammunition.
In liberated Sevastopol
General assault on Sevastopol
The Soviet command worked hard, preparing for the general assault. It was especially difficult to ensure the transportation of ammunition and fuel, as the front and army depots were still behind the Sivash and in the Kerch area. By Sevastopol all the artillery of the front. Intelligence conducted an additional study of the German defense system and the location of the enemy troops. Local operations were carried out to capture or destroy certain important points in order to improve the position of the troops before the offensive. Across the front, Soviet aviation and artillery continued to strike at German positions. The corps, which remained in the rear, were pulled up to the combat area.
In the period preceding the general assault, Soviet troops constantly disturbed the Germans. Territorial success was insignificant. But, but the German defense was weakened and well studied. The Germans lost more people in local battles than they received replenishments. They could not replenish the outgoing equipment. Nevertheless, the 17 Army was still a significant force: on 5 in May, the army included 72,7 thousand people, 1775 guns and mortars, 2355 machine guns, 50 tanks and assault guns. Taking into account the fortified area, this made it possible to create a greater density of defensive orders and firepower. Sevastopol fortified Germans created more than one month. After the defeat of the Wehrmacht near Stalingrad, the German troops began to build defensive lines near Sevastopol. The Germans restored part of the old Soviet pillboxes and bunkers, and also paid special attention to improving the system of fire from field fortifications and mining the territory. The defensive line ran along several important heights, which, due to the steepness of the slopes, were inaccessible to tanks and reinforced by engineering structures. The whole area from them was repeatedly shot through with cross and objectival fire. Deep in the rocks, they arranged machine gun points, they could only be destroyed by a direct hit. German troops received orders to defend themselves to the last possible. The appointed 1 of May, the new 17 Army commander Karl Almendinger, 3 of May, turned to the troops and demanded that ".. all be defended in the full sense of the word, so that no one would leave, keep every trench, every funnel, every trench."
On May 5, after the 1,5 watchmaking of artillery, in the area of Balbec - Kamyshly, the 2-th Guards Army launched an offensive. The tactics of using small assault groups (by 20-30 fighters) justified themselves, and the army achieved some success. The offensive of the Soviet infantry was supported by hurricane artillery fire and continuous attacks of aviation. 6 May 2-I Guards Army resumed the offensive. However, on this day the resistance of the German troops intensified. The Germans conducted a 14 counterattack during the day. Soviet troops advanced only a few hundred meters. However, 2-I Guards Army fulfilled the main task - introduced the German command astray regarding the direction of the main attack. The command of the 17 Army finally decided that the 4 UV would deliver the main attack in the Mekenziye Gore region (repeating the German offensive of 1942 of the year).
7 May began a general assault. The main blow was inflicted on the Sapun-Gora-Karan site. The attack was preceded by the most powerful artillery preparation - on the 1 km front was drawn from 205 to 258 artillery barrels and mortars. Three of the four Guards mortar brigades that had been equipped with the MLRS BM-31-12, eight of the ten Guards mortar regiments and three separate Guards mortar battalions were involved. In addition, Soviet aircraft delivered powerful blows to the German positions — the airplanes of the 8 Air Army made X-NUMX sorties in a day.
Nine o'clock was a fierce battle. The Germans fiercely defended the multi-tiered fortifications of Sapun Mountain, which had 63 pillboxes and a bunker. Fighters of the 63 Infantry Corps under the command of Major General P.K. Koshevogo and 11 of the Guards Rifle Corps, Major General S.Ye. Rozhdestvensky attacked violently the German positions. There was no quick break. Now and then the Russians and Germans converged in hand-to-hand combat. Many positions changed hands more than once. The enemy counterattacked, the Germans fought hard and skillfully. There were four German positions on Sapun Mountain, and every opponent did not want to surrender. However, the Soviet soldiers took this impregnable position - the key to Sevastopol. This assault predetermined the outcome of the entire battle for Sevastopol.
After unsuccessful night counterattacks, fearing the encirclement of their forces, the German command began a partial withdrawal of troops north of the North Bay (on the offensive section of the 2 Guards Army). 8 may still be raging furious battles. By the end of the day, the 2-I Guards Army reached the North Bay. The troops of 51, and the army finally breaking through the external line of the German fortifications, reached the internal line of the Sevastopol fortress. A separate Primorsk army captured the Karani heights and created conditions for the entry of the 19 tank corps into battle. The enemy intensively led the evacuation.
Evacuation of German soldiers
In such a critical situation, the commander of Army Group South, Ferdinand Schörner, in the evening on May 8 asked Hitler to allow the evacuation of the main forces of the 17 Army, since the further defense of Sevastopol was no longer possible. On May 9, the command of the 17 Army received such permission, but it was too late. Now I had to run. Part of the 2-th Guards and 51-th armies went to the ship side. Part of the Maritime Army in the settlement Rudolfova - Otradny. 9 in May The 3 th Mountain and 16 Rifle Corps, with the support of the 19 Tank Corps, attacked the German rear line (evacuation cover line). In all areas, the Germans were still actively defending themselves, making counterattacks. By the end of May 9, Sevastopol was liberated from the enemy. At about one in the morning on May 10, the order of the Supreme Commander Stalin was transmitted by radio, which emphasized the great importance of the liberation of Sevastopol from the German troops. Soviet soldiers expressed gratitude. At the same time, Moscow saluted the liberators of 24 with volleys from 324 guns. Elemental fireworks conducted in Sevastopol.
Soviet flag over the Panorama building in liberated Sevastopol
The fighting was still going on. The Germans defended themselves with despair of the doomed and tried to evacuate their forces from the area of Cape Chersonese. Here they fought their last line of defense. From the remnants of various formations, branches of troops and services combat groups were formed, at the head of which they put the most experienced and decisive commanders. Practically all the remaining artillery was pulled into this area, bringing the density of barrels to 100 by 1 km. Moreover, there was an unlimited amount of ammunition and they were not spared.
However, all the efforts of the German command were in vain. In the evening of May 9, Soviet artillery began shelling a German airfield in the Chersonese area. The leadership of the Air Force was forced to transfer the last fighter aircraft to Romania. Thus, the German troops lost their support from the air. From Romania, the German Air Force could no longer solve the task of supporting its ground forces. The evacuation possibilities have also decreased. On the night of May 11, only the command and headquarters of the 17 Army were taken out. By this time, even more 50 thousand Germans and Romanians remained on the peninsula.
Normal evacuation has been disrupted. The Wehrmacht machine began to falter. There were not enough ships, they were late, they continued to carry ammunition that was no longer needed (they were simply thrown overboard). Many ships were not fully loaded, their captains were afraid to stand under fire for a long time. People crowded the pier, waiting for ships, were forced to wait under the blows of artillery and aircraft. Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz personally ordered the launch into the sea of more than 190 German and Romanian ships (minesweepers, transports, barges, boats, etc.), which would be enough for 87 thousand people. However, an eight-point storm forced some ships to return and others to stop. The operation was forced to transfer to 12 May. German troops in the Crimea had to withstand the blows of the Red Army for another day. On the night of May 11 panic began. The soldiers fought for seats on the ships. Many ships were forced to leave without loading.
Exploration obtained information that the German troops had received an order from four o'clock on 12 in May to begin withdrawal on m. Khersones for evacuation. Therefore, the front command decided to launch a night assault on the last German defensive line in order to prevent the withdrawal and evacuation of enemy troops. After a short artillery raid, at 3 one o'clock in the morning, Soviet troops launched a final assault. German defense was torn. Evacuation was disrupted. By 12 watches 12 in May 1944, the Soviet troops completed the capture of the remnants of the German troops, who began to surrender en masse. In the area of Chersonesos, more than 21 thousand enemy soldiers and officers were captured, a lot of equipment was captured, weapons and ammunition. Among the prisoners were the commander of the enemy troops in the Kherson region commander of the 73 infantry division, Lieutenant General Boehme and commander of the 111 infantry division, Major General E. Gruner. The commander of the 336 Infantry Division, Major General Hageman, was killed. A significant part of the German ships that arrived for evacuation, scheduled for May 12, were sunk by artillery and aviation. Total German-Romanian troops during the general assault on Sevastopol and the elimination of remnants of the Crimean grouping in the Kherson area 7 - 12 in May 1944 lost more than 20 thousand people killed and more than 24 thousand people captured. The ground command blamed the fleet for the tragedy. For many months after the death of the 17 Army, the investigation continued.
Cruiser "Red Crimea" when returning to Sevastopol
Results of the operation
Crimean offensive operation ended in complete victory of the Red Army. If in 1941-1942. It took the Wehrmacht 250 days to take the heroically defended Sevastopol, then in 1944, the Soviet troops broke into strong enemy defenses and cleared the entire Crimean peninsula in 35 days.
The goal of the Crimean operation was realized. Soviet troops broke into the deeply layered enemy defenses at Perekop, Sivash and the Kerch Peninsula, stormed the powerful Sevastopol fortified area and actually destroyed the German 17th Army. The irretrievable losses of the 17th Army amounted to about 120 thousand people, of which more than 61 thousand people were captured. In addition, the Germans suffered heavy losses during the evacuation. So, the Romanian Black Sea was actually destroyed flotilla, which lost 2/3 of the available ship composition. In particular, Soviet aircraft drowned the large transports Totila, Thea (convoy Patria). It is believed that up to 8-10 thousand people died on them. Therefore, the total losses of the German-Romanian troops are estimated at 140 thousand people. In addition, almost all the equipment of the German army fell into the hands of the Red Army. The Soviet troops and fleet in this operation lost more than 17 thousand people killed and more than 67 thousand people wounded.
In strategic terms, the Crimean victory returned an important economic region to the Soviet Union, and the main base of the Black Sea Fleet was returned to the fleet. The threat from the southern strategic flank of the Soviet-German fleet was finally removed. The Red Army eliminated the last major German bridgehead, which threatened the Soviet rear. The Soviet Union regained control of the Black Sea, sharply increased the operational capabilities of the fleet and aviation in the region. The political weight of the Third Reich in Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey has further declined. Romania began to seriously think of a separate peace with the USSR.
The Crimean peninsula was seriously affected by the German occupation. Many cities and villages have suffered greatly, especially Sevastopol, Kerch, Feodosiya and Evpatoria. More than 300 industrial enterprises and many resorts were destroyed. Agriculture was badly damaged, almost all the livestock was slaughtered. Many people were hijacked to Germany. Well the picture of destruction shows the population of Sevastopol. On the eve of the war, more than 100 thousand people lived in the city, and by the time the hero city was liberated, about 3 thousand inhabitants remained in it. In Sevastopol, the entire 6% of the housing stock has survived.
The course and results of the Crimean operation showed the increased skill of the Soviet troops. The 4-th Ukrainian Front and the Separate Maritime Army quickly broke into the powerful defensive lines of the enemy, which had been created for a long time. The Crimean operation once again showed the advantage of the offensive over the defense. No, not even the strongest defense, can withstand the onslaught of well-trained, courageous troops. When the command skillfully chooses the direction of the main attacks, organizes the interaction of the troops, skillfully applies the fleet, aircraft and artillery. For their heroism and skillful actions of the 160 formations and units of the Red Army, the honorary names of Kerch, Perekop, Sivash, Evpatoria, Simferopol, Sevastopol, Feodosia and Yalta were given. Dozens of units and ships were awarded orders. 238 Soviet soldiers were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union, thousands of participants in the Crimean operation were awarded orders and medals.
P.P. Sokolov-Scaly. The liberation of Sevastopol by the Soviet army