The January 1945 of the year the offensive of the 1 of the Byelorussian and 1 of the Ukrainian Fronts, launched on the Vistula, was included in history as the Vistula-Oder strategic offensive operation. One of the bright, bloody and dramatic pages of this operation was the liquidation of a group of German troops surrounded in the fortress city of Poznan.
Tank "gas chamber"
The German command tried to use the city and the fortress “Stronghold”, which was strong in engineering, in order to constrain the actions of our troops and delay their advance in the Berlin direction. Adapting the fortress to the tactics of modern warfare, the Germans dug up anti-tank ditches around tank-dangerous directions around the city, created field firing positions with the calculation of the armored roads and approaches to anti-tank ditches. Along the roads, the enemy equipped the firing points located in staggered order. They were installed anti-tank guns and machine guns. All field structures were connected by a common system of fire with fortresses located around the city.
The fort was an underground structure that almost did not protrude above the ground level. Each fort was surrounded by a moat with a width of 10 meters and a depth of up to 3 meters with brick walls, in which there were loopholes for frontal and flank attacks. The forts had an overlap of up to one meter and were covered with an earth embankment up to 4 meters thick. Inside the forts there were dormitories for garrisons from platoon to battalion, vaulted abraded (underground corridors) with a number of pockets for accommodating ammunition, food and other property. All forts had artesian wells and appliances for heating and lighting.
In total, there were 18 forts around the ring around the city, and they alternated: large and small. All the forts, according to the German plans and maps, were numbered and denominated and were used by the enemy, in addition to their main purpose, as production shops, warehouses, and 1 barracks.
In addition to the forts, the buildings and streets of the city were also prepared for possible battles. For example, the commander of the 1 Guards Tank Army, General M.Ye. Katukov noted: “Poznan was a typical tank“ deceiver. ”In its narrow, well-prepared for the defense streets, the Germans would have knocked out all of our cars" 2.
German military specialists not only adopted the experience of building long-term defense structures of the Finnish Mannerheim Line, the French Maginot Line, but also made their changes in accordance with the new combat conditions. Soviet troops, and in particular, the Soviet artillery, faced the difficult task of destroying the fortress city of Poznan and its garrison as soon as possible.
The destruction of the encircled grouping was entrusted to the 29 Guards and 91 rifle corps, who were reinforced with elements of the 29 th artillery breakthrough division, 5 th rocket artillery division, 41 cannon artillery and 11 th division, reactive artillery, 1400 cannon artillery and 1200 th merging artillery, 76 th artillery, and XNUMX th artillery and XIUMX rocket artillery, XNUMX th artillery and XNUMX th artillery, meteorological artillery, XNUMX th artillery and XNUMX th rocket artillery, XNUMX th artillery, and XNUMX th artillery and X-Numx rocket artillery, XNUMX th artillery, and XNUMX th artillery and X-Numx rocket artillery, XNUMX-r. In total, the troops involved in the assault had about XNUMX guns, mortars and rocket artillery combat vehicles, including over XNUMX caliber units from XNUMX mm and above.
Given the powerful defenses of the German garrison, the decisive role in the storming of the fortress was assigned to artillery. The artillery reserve of the main command (RGC) was divided into two powerful groups: the northern and southern.
The assault on Poznan was difficult and was accompanied by serious losses among the attackers. Even the commander of the artillery 1 of the Belarusian Front, General VI. Kazakov noted in his memoirs that "these were long, stubborn and exhausting battles, where every building had to be taken with a fight" 3.
Fort behind the fort, home behind the house
The assault of the city by Soviet troops began on 26 in January of 1945, however, this day did not bring success. The next day, the units of VI Chuikov began storming the forts that were in front of the "Citadel". The 3-5 artillery with minute fire attacks overwhelmed manpower and fire weapons in the forts until the infantrymen passed into the intervals between them and blocked them. Such a construction of artillery support for the attack required high accuracy in preparing the initial data and correcting the shooting itself. Unfortunately, sometimes these calculations were not entirely correct, and the infantrymen got their hands on their own artillery.
Initially, attempts at capturing the forts failed, although attacking infantry was attached to support weapons and tanks. One such unsuccessful example was written in the memoirs of V.I. Chuikov "End of the Third Reich". The battle for Fort Bonin was led by an assault group consisting of an incomplete rifle company, a company of 82-mm mortars, a company of sappers, a branch of smoke detectors, two T-34 tanks and a battery of 152-mm guns. After the artillery processing of the fort, the assault group, under the cover of a smoke screen, burst into the main entrance. She managed to get hold of two central gates and one of the dungeons, covering the approach to this gate. The enemy, having opened strong rifle-and-machine-gun fire from other casemates and also using faustpatrony and grenades, repulsed the attack. After analyzing the actions of the attackers, Chuikov understood their mistakes: “It turned out that the fort was stormed only from the main entrance, without restricting the enemy from other directions. This allowed him to concentrate all his forces and all the fire in one place. In addition, practice showed that Forts caliber guns 152 millimeter is clearly insufficient "4.
All these reasons were taken into account in the subsequent attack. It began after the fort was treated with heavy cannons firing concrete-concrete shells. The assault group approached the enemy from three directions. Artillery and during the assault did not cease fire on embrasures and surviving firing points. After a short struggle, the enemy capitulated. Such an organization of the actions of artillery in the seizure of blocked forts securely ensured the unimpeded advance of our infantry. As a result of January 27 1945, all three forts were captured. Fighting began in the neighborhoods of the city, which were heavy and bloody for both sides.
Day after day, slowly and hard Chuikov cleaned the house behind the house. The fights were heavy and bloody. Usually the day began with a short artillery preparation, which lasted no more than 15 minutes. During the artillery barrage all artillery fired. From closed positions, the fire was fought on the depth of the enemy's defenses, and then the actions of the assault groups began, which supported the guns that fired direct fire. As a rule, the assault group consisted of an infantry battalion reinforced with 3-7 with caliber guns from 76 to 122-mm.
By mid-February, Soviet troops captured the city of Poznan, with the exception of the Citadel fortress. It was a pentagon of irregular shape and was located in the northeastern part of the city. Walls and floors reached 2 meters. In each corner there were fortifications - redoubts and ravelins. Inside the fortress there was a number of underground rooms and galleries, one-story and two-story buildings for warehouses and shelters.
Along the perimeter of the "Citadel" was surrounded by a moat and earthen wall. The walls of the ditch with a height of 5 - 8 meters were lined with bricks and proved to be insurmountable for tanks. Of the numerous loopholes and embrasures arranged in the walls of buildings, towers, redoubts and ravelins, all the faces of the moat and the approaches to it were shot by both frontal and flanking fire. In the “Citadel” itself, about 12 thousands of German soldiers and officers, led by two commandants - the former commandant, General Mattern and General Connel, were hiding.
The main attack on the fortress inflicted two rifle divisions from the south. To ensure the capture of the fortress, four cannon and howitzer brigades, three artillery and mortar battalions, one of them of special power, were supplied. 236 shells and mortars of caliber up to 203 and 280-mm inclusive were concentrated on a section less than a kilometer wide. 49 guns stood out for direct fire, including five 152-mm howitzers-guns and twenty-two 203-mm howitzers.
An exceptional role in the battles for Poznan was played by the artillery of large and special power RGK. The 122-I high-power howitzer artillery brigade, the 184-I high-power howitzer artillery brigade and 34y separate artillery division of the special power of the RGK took part in the storming of the fortress and in street battles. These units, having marched under their own power, during 5-10 in February 1945 arrived in Poznan and came to the disposal of the commander of the 8 Guards Army5.
The destruction of the most important objects of the fortress began on February 9 with the approach of large and special power artillery. The artillery of the Red Army of large and special power usually consisted of X-NUMX-mm cannon Br-152 and X-NUMX-mm howitzer B-2. The shells of these guns made it possible to punch concrete floors with a thickness of 203 meter. In addition to them, 4-mm mortars Br-1 of sample 280 were in service. The armor-piercing projectile of this mortar weighed 5 kg and could pierce a concrete wall up to 1939 thickness. The effectiveness of these guns in the battles for Poznan was very high.
February 18 was made a powerful artillery strike on the "Citadel". 1400 guns and rocket launchers "Katyusha" ironed the German defense for four hours. After that, Soviet assault groups broke into the destroyed buildings of the fortress. If the enemy continued to resist in any place, then 203-millimeter howitzers were urgently pulled up to him. They began to strike with direct fire at the fortified positions of the enemy, until they achieved complete destruction.
The heat of struggle and bitterness were incredible. Soviet artillerymen were more than once rescued by savvy and good interaction with other branches of the military. This is evidenced by the following characteristic episode, described in the memoirs of V.I. Kazakova. 20 February 1945 The assault groups of the 74 Guards Division, covered by well-aimed artillery fire, seized a section of the ramparts between the fortifications N 1 and N 2. On the eve of the gunners made a breach in the fortress wall, through which a unit of Soviet infantrymen broke into the fortifications of N 2. However, there the attackers had to tight, as the Germans began to conduct accurate fire on them. It became clear that the Soviet infantry could not advance further without the help of artillery. The commander of the 86 separate combat and anti-tank division, Major Repin, was quickly ordered to transfer guns to the support of the infantry. The gunners managed to roll one 76 mm and one 45-millimeter cannon on the assault bridge, but it was impossible to overcome the distance between the bridge and the fortress wall because of strong enemy fire. Here the soldier ingenuity and initiative came to the aid of the artillerymen. Let's give the floor to V.I. Kazakov: "The gunners secured one end of the rope to the base of the 45-millimeter cannon and, clinging to the other end of the rope, crawled under fire to the wall. Hiding behind it, they started pulling the gun, and when they pulled it to the wall, they opened fire on the firing points, located inside the fortress. It has now become possible to roll an 76-millimeter cannon through the breach into the courtyard and open fire at the entrance to the N NNNXX "2. The flamethrower Serbaladze took advantage of these resourceful actions of the artillerymen. He crawled to the entrance to the fortification and from the backpack flamethrower launched one after another two fiery streams. As a result, a fire broke out, then the ammunition was detonated inside the fortifications. Thus, the fortification N 6 was eliminated.
Another example of soldier's ingenuity was the creation of the so-called RS assault groups, which fired single direct-impact rockets directly from the closure. The M-31 projectile was packed and secured on the window sill or in the wall break where the firing position was selected. The M-31 projectile pierced a brick wall 80 cm thick and broke inside the building. To attach the guides M-20 and M-13 used tripods from captured German machine guns.
Evaluating the effect of applying this weapons in the battles for Poznan, VI Kazakov noted: "True, only 38 was fired at such shells, but with their help, the Fascists were expelled from 11 buildings." 7. Subsequently, the creation of such groups was widely practiced and fully justified in the battles for Berlin.
As a result, with great difficulty overcoming the desperate resistance of the German garrison, the Soviet troops to 23 in February 1945 captured the "Citadel" and completely liberated Poznan. Despite the almost hopeless situation, the German garrison resisted to the last and could not resist only after the massive use of large and special power by the Soviet troops. Moscow celebrated the Day of the Red Army and the taking of Poznan with a salute in the form of 20 volleys from 224 guns.
Total artillery suppressed enemy firepower in 18 forts outside the city, 3 of which received the destruction of the rear walls. 26 armored caps and concrete firing points on these forts were destroyed. High-power artillery fire destroyed the forts of Radziwill, Grolman, the bastion south of Khvalishevo and the fort in the N 796 quarter, which were above-ground fortresses. The central southern fort of the Poznan fortress was completely destroyed by artillery fire, its raelins, redoubts and other structures received significant damage. The artillery fire of medium calibers suppressed enemy firepower in five dots and completely destroyed about 100 bunkers.
What did the shells say about?
Of particular interest to historians is the analysis of the ammunition consumption during the storming of Poznan. From 24 January to 23 February 1945, he made 315 682 8 projectile weighing more than 5000 tons. For the transportation of such a quantity of ammunition, more than 400 wagons were needed, or about 4800 GAZ-AA vehicles. This figure does not include the 3230 M-31 missiles used in the battles. The consumption of mines amounted to 161 302 mines, that is, the consumption per unit of weapons is about 280 min. From the 669 trunks in the Poznan operation, 154 380 shots were fired. Thus, one barrel accounted for 280 shots. The 29 Artillery of the Guards Rifle Corps with reinforcements on the west bank of the Warta River consumed 214 583 shells and mines, and the 91 Artillery of the rifle corps on the east bank was twice as small - 101 099 shells and mines. From open firing positions, artillery fired 113 530 shells, about 70% of total shot consumption. Direct fire from 45mm and 76mm guns. The 203-mm B-4 howitzer was used en masse on direct fire, using 1900 rounds from open firing positions, or half the expenditure of high-power ammunition. In the battles for Poznan, especially on the streets of the city, the Soviet troops spent 21 500 special shots (armor-piercing, incendiary, subsampling, armor-burning). In battles around Poznan (24-27 January 1945), artillery and mortars of all calibers used 34 350 shells and mines, including missiles. Street fights from 28 January to 17 February required over 223 000 shots, and fights to capture the fortress - about 58 thousands of shells and mines.
In the course of the battles for Poznan, tactics of field and rocket artillery actions in urban environments were made up of assault groups, large-scale and special power artillery actions against the enemy’s long-term fortifications, as well as other methods of fighting in urban environments. The capture of Poznan became the dress rehearsal for the storming of Berlin.