Fifth Stalinist strike. Part of 4. Destruction of the Bobruisk enemy group
The plan of the operation and the Soviet forces
Initially, only the right flank of the 1 Belorussian Front took part in the operation. The Soviet armies were to strike at converging directions from areas north of Rogachev and south of Parichi, to encircle and destroy enemy troops in the area of Bobruisk. Then the troops were to advance in the general direction of Slutsk and Osipovichi. The crushing of the Bobruisk grouping should have contributed to the general defeat of the Army Group Center and the liberation of Belarus.
The plan of K. K. Rokossovsky as a whole represented the classic "cannes". The Rogachev (northern) group included the 3rd, 48th combined arms armies and the 9th tank Corps, southern - 65th, 28th Army, horse-mechanized group and the 1st Guards Tank Corps. Gorbatov’s 3rd Army, reinforced by the 9th Panzer Corps, advanced from the area north of Rogachev and covered Bobruisk from the north. The 48th army of Romanenko supported the offensive on Bobruisk and bound the enemy. Batov’s 65th Army, reinforced by the 1st Guards Tank Corps, delivered a strike from southeast to northwest, gradually turning northward to Bobruisk. The 28th Luchinsky army and the horse-mechanized group advanced westward, in the Slutsk direction.
Before the operation, a regrouping of forces was carried out. The 3rd Army seriously reduced the front. Gorbatov’s army was strengthened by the 9th Panzer Corps, 23rd Anti-Aircraft Division, two high-power artillery brigades, and a number of artillery regiments. The front of the 48th Army was increased to 98 km, all the way to Rogachev. The 65th Army reduced its front almost three times, to 28 km. To the south between the 65th and 61st army, the 28th army was introduced, which arrived from the reserve of the Headquarters of the Supreme High Command. The 4th Guards Cavalry Corps, the 1st Guards Donskoy Panzer Corps and the 1st Mechanized Corps were pulled into the band of the southern group. The 4th artillery corps was also transferred here. Dnieper River flotilla was focused on the Berezina, to support the offensive by ship fire and help in crossing the river. As a result, a significant superiority in strength over the Wehrmacht was achieved in the breakthrough areas.
Four combined arms armies took part in the operation: the 3rd, 28th, 48th and 65th armies, the 9th, 1st Guards Tank Corps and the horse-mechanized group. The offensive was also supported by the Dnieper naval flotilla, the 16th air army and formations aviation long range. The troops of the right flank of the 1st Belorussian Front totaled about 400 thousand people, more than 10 thousand guns and mortars, about 1,3 thousand tanks and self-propelled guns.
In the Bobruisk sector, the 9 Army (10 infantry divisions) under the command of General Jordan infantry (from 27 June, General von Formann) and part of the forces of the 4 Army Tippelskirch (2 division) were defending. The army reserve was a guard division and the 20-I tank division. In total, there are about 130 thousand soldiers and officers, more than 350 tanks and assault guns, about 2,5 thousand guns and mortars. From the air they were supported by 6 air fleet (near 700 aircraft).
The Germans had time to create a powerful, deeply echeloned defense. Her tactical zone included two lines of defense. Additionally, along the Dobosna, Ola and Berezina rivers defensive lines were pre-equipped. In addition, a whole fortified area created around Bobruisk. On the territory within a radius of 20 — 30, two defensive lines were equipped for kilometers from Bobruisk. The first was on the western bank of the Ola River and consisted of two or three trenches. The second defensive line ran along the western bank of the Berezina River and consisted of one or two trenches.
Bobruisk itself was turned into a real fortress, and without the permission of Hitler it could not be left. For the protection of the city, two by-pass lines were equipped: the outer side was located a few kilometers from the city, many villages were turned into strong points; internal prepared directly on the outskirts of the city. The approaches to the city were covered with wire barriers and minefields. The streets were barricaded, many houses and basements adapted to the firing points. At the important crossroads of streets dug tanks. There were also long-term stone and reinforced concrete weapon emplacements. The city had strong anti-aircraft artillery.
Soviet soldier inspects padded tanks Pz-4 20-th tank division in the vicinity of Bobruisk
Breakthrough enemy defenses
At 6 on the morning of June 24, the troops of the 3 and 48 armies, after a powerful artillery preparation, launched an offensive. At 7 in the morning, infantry and tanks of the 65 and 28 armies went on the offensive. Soviet aviation at the beginning of the Bobruisk operation was unable to strike due to poor meteorological conditions. Aircraft, already ready for departure, were forced to stay on the ground. Aviation was able to deliver the first massive strike only in 12 hours, when it improved six months. However, aviation was very active and made 2465 departures that day.
The offensive of the 3 and 48 armies developed slowly. The shock group of the 3 Army of Gorbatov, advancing on the front of Ozerane, Kostyashovo, met with serious opposition from the enemy. The Germans constantly counterattacked. Here, the German command used its main reserve, the 20 Tank Division. The 35 and 41 units of the rifle corps were able to capture only the first trench, and then were forced to go on the defensive. The assault of 48 Army Romanenko also faced difficulties. Here, the main obstacle was created by nature - the crossing of infantry and means of reinforcement (especially tanks) was greatly complicated by the wide, swampy floodplain of the Drut River. Parts of the 42 and 29 units of the rifle corps were only able to occupy the first trench only after two hours of heavy fighting. By lunchtime, the troops of the 48 Army captured the second trench, but they could not go any further.
The troops of the 65 and 28 armies advanced more successfully. 65-I Batova army broke through the enemy defenses. Batov, taking into account the fact that in the well-traveled area of Parichi the defense of the enemy was dense, shifted the blow somewhat to the south-west, through the marsh. The swamp was considered impassable, this direction was guarded badly by the Germans. A gati was laid through the quagmire, and the 65-I army broke through the defenses of an adversary completely stunned by such a maneuver. In the first half of the day 18 th rifle corps under the command of Major General Ivanov seized five enemy trenches and by 13 watched the enemy’s defenses on 5-6 km, capturing strong strongholds in Rakovichi and Petrovichi. In the evening, General Batov brought into battle the 1 Guards Don Tank Corps of Panov. Tankers significantly expanded the breakthrough, occupied the settlements of Gomza, Sekirichi and began to go to the rear of the Pariči enemy group. Lucinsky's 28 Army also broke through enemy defenses.
As a result, the troops of the 1 of the Byelorussian Front broke through the enemy front on the adjacent flanks of the 65 and 28 armies to the depth of 5-10 km and along the front to 30 km. The 1-th Guards Don Tank Corps, entered into battle, deepened the breakthrough to 20 km and expanded it on the flanks. Conditions were created for the entry of a mobile group in the zone of the southern group of the front. The Northern (Rogachev) group was unable to break the German defenses. The German command brought into action a mobile reserve (tank division) and kept the third and fourth trenches.
On the morning of June 25, the cavalry mechanized group (KMG) under the command of Lieutenant General Pliev began to move to the forefront. KMG received the task of developing an offensive in the north-west direction, bypassing the Bobruisk enemy grouping from the west. The composition of the EP is 4-th Guards Cavalry Corps (9-I, 30-I, 10-I Cavalry Division) and 1-Mechanized Corps (35-I, 37-I, 19-Motorized Brigade and 219-Tank Brigade).
In 16.30, the horse-mechanized group went through the 28-th army and swiftly moved forward. The Germans no longer offered any serious resistance, scattered enemy groups retreated to the west, mining roads, exploding bridges and crossings. During the first day of the offensive, KMG went deep into the enemy's defensive orders on 30 km, on the second day - on 40 km. Pliev's troops intercepted all the routes leading to Bobruisk from the south and southwest.
The success of KMG facilitated the offensive of the 65 Army. The Batov Army and the 1 Guards Tank Corps routed the enemy grouping in the area of Parichi, reached out to the Petrovichs and the Voronovichs, cutting off the Bobruisk-Slutsk road. Continuing the offensive and at night, at noon 27 June tankers reached the Berezina River north of Bobruisk. As a result, the Wehrmacht's Bobruisk grouping went around from the rear and cut off its escape routes to the west. 28-I army crossed the river Ptich, liberated the city of Glusk and continued to develop the offensive to the west.
The environment of the Bobruisk group
On the night of June 25, battles in the offensive zone of the 3 and 48 armies continued unabated. The Germans tried to knock out the Soviet troops wedged into their defensive orders and restore the situation. However, the Soviet troops repelled all enemy attacks.
In the morning, after the 45-minute artillery preparation, the Soviet troops continued the offensive. General Gorbatov, trying to speed up the breakthrough of the enemy’s defense, threw two tank brigades of the 9 tank corps into battle. The offensive accelerated, but failed to completely break through the enemy's defenses. Romanenko’s 48 Army I didn’t achieve much success that day. As a result, the army Gorbatov and Romanenko still could not break through the deeply echeloned defense of the Wehrmacht and fought stubborn battles in the zone between the rivers Drut and Dobritsa. Rokossovsky demanded to throw into the battle all the reserves and break through the enemy defenses in order to complete the encirclement of the Bobruisk enemy group.
On the morning of June 26, after a powerful artillery preparation and bombing and assault attack, the 9 tank corps of Bakharov broke through the enemy defenses on the Dobritsa River. Along the way, Soviet tanks overtook the solid columns of the enemy of their vehicles, artillery and carts. Firing from guns and machine guns, the tanks broke into the clusters of the enemy. German soldiers scattered or surrendered in droves. In the head of the columns, the Germans burned cars, property, and shot horses. Numerous fires, broken vehicles, piles of abandoned property and a huge number of animal corpses slowed down the progress of the Soviet troops.
Tankers quickly developed their success, took possession of a large settlement Barchitsa and, having restored the destroyed crossing over the river Dobyssna, moved on. The 17 watch 9-th tank corps took the Elders. The 48 units of the 26 Army of June liberated the city of Zhlobin and continued their advance to the west. On the morning of June 27, the entourage of the Bobruisk enemy grouping was completed. Parts of the 9 tank corps were connected to the 1 Guards Tank Corps.
The liquidation of the surrounded Bobruisk group. Liberation of Bobruisk
The “boiler” had a length of 25-30 km from east to west and 20-25 km from north to south. The 35 army and 41 armored corps (5 divisions), and a significant number of individual units, got into the encirclement ring. In total, the entourage got to 40 thousand Germans (according to other sources - 70 thousand).
Rokossovsky entrusted the task of eliminating the surrounded grouping to Lieutenant-General Romanenko’s 48 Army, and the 105 Army Rifle Corps. The rest of the Fronde troops were to develop an offensive to the west and north-west, in order to liberate Slutsk and Minsk. Thus, the 65 Army developed an offensive in the direction of Lyubonichi - Svisloch. The 3 tank corps was to force the Berezina and capture Osipovichi. 9-I army was to develop its attack on the main Osipovichi, the Old Roads, and then on Slutsk.
The 9 th commander of the German army, hoping to use insufficient encirclement density, ordered the commander of the 35 Army Corps Lutzow: "" By all means withdraw troops from the encirclement ", breaking through to the north or north-west. Baron Lutzov decided to make his way north to join the 4 army. All superfluous equipment the commanding order to destroy, having left only necessary for fight. However, the order was late. Soviet troops firmly blocked the northern direction. In the morning of June 28, Soviet troops had already reached the Berezina River in the Svisloch area.
In the afternoon of June 27, strong explosions were heard in the "cauldron", shooting and fires appeared. The Germans burned and blew up equipment, killed cattle. At the same time, German forces, with up to an infantry regiment, supported by 10-15 tanks, attempted to break through to the north. Parts of the 9 tank corps repulsed up to 15 enemy attacks. At the same time, under the cover of strong rear guards, formed from the most persistent soldiers and determined officers, the German command created an attack fist to break through to the north.
Soviet reconnaissance aircraft discovered a large accumulation of enemy forces — up to 150 tanks and assault guns, more than 1 thousand guns of various calibers, up to 6 thousand cars, hundreds of tractors, etc. The Belarusian front command did not have time to transfer to the defense area 1 th tank corps infantry. Therefore, it was decided to inflict a powerful airstrike on the accumulation of manpower and enemy equipment. On the 9 of 19 June, 27 machines were hoisted into the air. For an hour, Soviet planes bombed and shot down enemy columns. The ammunition depots were hoisted up into the air, and the whole convoy burned. In the German order began to panic. Management was lost. Soldiers throwing weapon and fled, some tried to swim across the river to force Berezina and get into Bobruisk. But here, too, they came under flank fire. Others fled into the forest and began to surrender. As a result, the area affected by the 16 Air Force’s aviation presented a terrible picture. Thousands of corpses of German soldiers and commanders, piles of broken, burned and abandoned equipment, weapons.
The column of German technology, destroyed on the road near Bobruisk
After the bombing was completed, the troops of the 48 Army went on the offensive on all fronts. Part of the German troops, especially the SS units and units that were least affected by the air strike, put up stubborn resistance. However, there was no common front. Parts of the 29, 42, and 53 rifle corps quickly dismembered the enemy forces and, destroying individual centers of resistance, quickly moved to Berezina. German soldiers in groups of 100-300 people, along with their commanders, began to surrender. Among the prisoners was the commander of the 35 Army Corps von Lutz. Only a minor part of the group was able to escape to Bobruisk.
By June 13 28, the connections of the 3 and 48 armies completed the destruction of the remnants of the encircled grouping, and reached the Berezina River. Over two days of fighting east of Bobruisk, more than 16 thousand Germans were killed and captured. As trophies, about 700 guns and mortars, about 4 thousand vehicles, 20 slides with ammunition, etc. were captured.
The destruction of the German garrison of Bobruisk began simultaneously with the defeat of the encircled grouping of Germans southeast of the city. The city originally defended about 10 thousand soldiers and officers. But, the garrison was constantly replenished at the expense of the remnants of the broken divisions of the 35 Army and 41 Armored Corps. Here, soldiers of the remnants of 6 infantry, one tank, one anti-aircraft division, a regiment of communications, several guard and other battalions found shelter. The commandant of the city, Major General Gaman, led the garrison.
Already on June 27, units of the 1 Guards Don Tank and 105 Infantry Corps organized the first assault on the city, but did not succeed. At night on the outskirts of Bobruisk were stubborn battles. However, the Germans fought back violently, and did not want to give up. The Soviet command regrouped and prepared for a new assault. The blows were planned to strike from the west, south and north.
However, at this time intelligence reported a concentration of enemy forces in the northern and northwestern parts of the city. The Germans weakened the resistance on the outskirts, led the troops to the city center and prepared for a breakthrough. According to the testimony of the prisoner, Gamen gave the order: “The Bobruisk garrison leaves the city tonight and breaks to the north-west. The attack assault officer battalions will be the first to attack. Therefore, the Soviet command transferred additional artillery forces to the north-western direction.
On the night of June 29, the 356 Corps Infantry Division of the 105 Corps (65 Army) suffered heavy artillery and mortar fire, and after it the German infantry, supported by the remaining tanks of the 20 Panzer Division, went into a fierce attack. Ahead were the officer chain. However, the Soviet troops were ready. Artillery and the Mortar Division of the Guards almost completely destroyed the enemy's advanced columns. The Germans suffered huge losses and rolled back.
At 2 in the morning, the Germans launched a new assault on the Soviet positions. It was a mad attack. The Germans were drugged by alcohol and, despite the terrible losses from the fire of Soviet artillery and machine guns, rushed forward. Mostly they flopped to the Soviet positions. Soviet soldiers shot opponents at close range and repelled their attacks with bayonets. At night, bloody melee flared up. Within an hour there was a fierce battle. German troops, at the cost of enormous losses, were able to break into the defense of the Soviet division.
At 4 hours of the morning the corps of the 48 Army, with the support of strong artillery fire, forced the Berezina River and entered the eastern outskirts of the city. The Germans continued to offer brutal resistance. At the same time, Soviet troops resumed their offensive in the southern and western directions. There were stubborn fights, many houses had to be taken by storm.
At about 8 hours, the German group of about 8 thousands of soldiers went on the third assault on the positions of the 356 division. At the cost of heavy losses, the Germans were able to break through several small corridors. Their retreating masses literally shot down the fighters of the 356 division that continued to defend. However, this breakthrough did not make sense. All routes of withdrawal to the north and west were already cut, large forces of the Soviet troops had gone far ahead. In total, about 5, thousands of people, broke through under the command of the commander of the 41 tank corps, Lieutenant General Hoffmeister. The Germans tried to make their way along the highway to Osipovichi. But soon they were blocked and partly destroyed, partly - surrendered to captivity.
With the breakthrough of the Hoffmeister group, the defense of Bobruisk was greatly weakened. By 10 clock 29 June, Soviet troops completely liberated the city. As a result, the troops of the 1 of the Byelorussian Front occupied Bobruisk - an important communications hub and “fortress”, which covered the road to Minsk and Baranavichy.
The task set by the Stake was solved. The Red Army destroyed the Bobruisk enemy grouping, creating the conditions for a swift attack on Minsk. Both flank of Army Group Center were open. By the end of June 29, Soviet troops advanced on 110 km.
For six days of heavy fighting the Germans suffered huge losses. Two corps were crushed, their commanders were captured. About 50 thousand of soldiers and officers of the enemy were killed, more than 23 thousand people were taken prisoner. More trophies were captured.
Parade of the 96 Guards Rifle Division in Bobruisk
To be continued ...
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