Showing posts with the label Combat action

53rd directive

by Luka Bilić In his 53rd directive(Fuhrer order 11) issued in 8th March 1944, Hitler eatablished an institution of Fortress city(Festung Platz). It was to be assigned to places of strategic importance with idea of holding key transport centers in isolation and denying them to the Soviets, which would slow down their offensive and give time to the Wehrmacht to re establish solid front line. In this way they were to have a role similar to castles of the old age. Garrison was expected to hold out as long as possible, usually to the last man, in order to hamper Soviet rapid exploitation in depth for maximum time. It was known as Himmelfahrtscommandos (Mission to Heaven). Fortress was to be commanded by a General, subordinated directly to Army Group, but actually Fuhrer’s headquarters as it was only from there that fortress could be relieved of its mission. Fortress commander was automatically given authority of corps commander, because that was the lowest rank authorized to autono

Three interesting anecdotes during battle for Belorussia

by Luka Bilić Litvanian 16th Division Among the divisions of 4th Shock Army of Bagramyan’s 1st Baltic Front was 16th Litvanian division. Since Litvania was under German occupation at the time, Litvanian replacements weren’t available, so for political reasons(to have ethnic Litvanian unit in Red Army) this division wasn’t to be exposed to big losses during Bagration and was thus of limited military value. Nevertheless later it faught valiantly for example in Siaulai battle and elsewhere and were awarded Order of Red Banner.Panzer Corps crossing over two ton bridge General Martinek’s XXXIX Panzer Corps, part of 4th Army consisted of 4 full strength infantry divisions of high quality, with veteran soldiers, elite Feldherrnhalle Panzergrenadier division and 185th assault gun brigade. A powerful formation, assigned to protect Mogilev and precious hard surface, quality road toward Beresino and Minsk. Only a week into Bagration forces of XXXIX Panzer corps were broken and running f

(I)Typhoon-origins, aims and feasibility

by Luka Bilić Operation Barbarossa’s aim were many things. Acquiring living space in the east, destruction of Soviet state and ‘Judeo-Bolshevik’ decay, permanent state of serfdom for its people, destruction of Russian cultural heritage, obtaining of resources for protracted war with Anglo American powers, securing only potential threat to nazi dominated Europe, isolation of Britain and so on. But above all else its goal was decisive and rapid defeat of the Red Army and collapse of Soviet state. It’s goal wasn’t to impress the world with booming performance in border battles or to get as advantageous position in early months for subsequent protracted war, its only goal and its essence was to defeat the Soviets in 1941. Germans were aware of implications of long war of attrition and knew that they had only one shot at this enemy. That’s what Barbarossa was about. Anything else wouldn’t had been considered success at all. One doesn’t go into fight with stronger opponent, that’s almost

(II) Typhoon- origins, aims and feasibility

by Luka Bilić Today first rate historians connect the failure of Typhoon to three reasons: Soviet resistance and resilience, German outright amateurish planning and the elements. 1. Soviet resistance. This is without doubt the basic cause of failure of German plans in the east. Soviet armies of first and second strategic defensive echelon (border regions and area closely beyond DD (Dnepr-Dvina) line at Luga, Smolensk,Kiev) were relatively easily destroyed (though those on the borders with uncomparably less trouble than the letter) in unequal struggle, sucker punched by nazi army. Yet this came with a price as resistance was much more stubborn and fierce than expected, resulting in shattering of German schedule and serious blood letting of the Wehrmacht which it could hardly afford. German growing logistical troubles derived from miserable planning but as well from Soviet sabotage of lines of communications, various installations, partisan activity and so on. Paramountly Soviet mor

(III) Typhoon- origins, aims and feasibility

by Luka Bilić Of three reasons for failure: Soviet resistance, German inadequacies and weather the middle one is arguably the most interesting and obscure. 2.German inadequacies. Barbarossa failed already in summer mainly because of already overstretched capabilities to project power further east, because of unyielding and even stiffening Soviet resistance and actually already debilitating losses of mechanised forces that by late summer had only a fraction of its former strength left. For example by late July PG 2 had suffered 71 percent drop of total tank strength (total losses plus temporary losses, many of which became only partly functional vehicles or needed protracted time to return to service forming at every moment present large ‘virtual’ strength of panzers hidden under ‘temporary losses’ because of inadequate repair capacities), and of remaining 29% half were Pz IIs. PG 3 in late July had some 60% casualties rate among tank units. Even two months of refitting and

(IV) Typhoon- origins, aims and feasibility

by Luka Bilić In parts III and IV I analyze German inadequacies that led to failure of Typhoon. Last part focused on the railways and this one is about trucks and fuel. Trucks As paramount as it was, railway system by itself wasn’t enough for the army to function. Truck fleets were used to bridge the gap between the railheads, often far in the rear and the units fighting on the front. Thus while railways were the king, system was only as strong as the weakest link, and one couldn’t err too much to consider it to be trucks availability. Germans began their onslaught with around 600 000 trucks and slightly larger number of horses. There were several reasons for rapid rate of truck loss. Condition of Soviet roads were bad and seriously shortened the life expectancy of trucks, which was exacerbated by tactical usage of trucks to bring supplies forward through terrain they weren’t supposed to operate on. Distances that trucks had to overcome were much greater than was calculated

(V) Typhoon- origins, aims and feasibility

by Luka Bilić After analyzing Soviet resistance and German failings, in final part impact of the third reason that affected Typhoon is described- elements, and its impact on both sides 3. Weather No one could possibly miss detrimental effects of the seasonal changes on German war machine. Rains turned the ‘roads into mud rivers which severely restricted movement and later deep freezing temperatures and snow painfully hit unprepared German armies. This isn’t in question. What is questionable is traditional German narrative on the matter where they act astonished by rains in autumn and cold in winter, like it wasn’t something absolutely normal, something they experienced in detail just 20 years before in ww1 and what in the words of one Wehrmacht general staff officer, ‘belonged to ABCs of eastern front’. What’s more they conveniently omit their role in the mess they found themselves in. From childishly optimistic and recklessly planned Typhoon, to OKH ordering in September o


by Luka Bilić Controversies and analysis of intelligence, strategy and outcome Every interesting eastern front operations is full of controversies and Bagration is no exception. These mostly fall into categories of inadequate and/or ignored intelligence; faulty strategy of defense and responsibility for the above mentioned. Intelligence . It is often said that intelligence reports about comming offensive were ignored by the high command and that catastrophe was thus largely preventable. In reality Soviet maskirovka (concept of deception, operational security, counter intelligence, camouflage etc) was highly efficient and sophisticated. It was at work on virtually every level. Reinforcements to the Belorussian sector were huge, but yet remained obscured. Only in last six weeks prior to offensive Soviets moved in 56 rifle divisions, 4 cavalry corps, 10 tank corps, 2 mechanised corps, one tank brigade, 18 tank regiments, 31 assault gun regiments and huge numbers of other units

Bagration Controversies and analysis of intelligence, strategy and outcome Strategy

by Luka Bilić For the summer of 1944 STAVKA was planning multiple offensives and Germans were trying to guess exactly when and where these would materialize. Soviet advance during winter of 1943/44 (great Dnepr- Carpatian offensive) brought them into Romania in the south, to the Carpathian foothills in the center and into the prewar Poland, just south of Prypiat marshes around Kovel area. To the north ‘Belorussian balcony’ jutted east all the way to Russian border, less than 300 miles from Moscow. Two significant strategic realities presented themselves consequently. First, vital Romanian oil fields were within striking distance (a fortnight infantry’s march) and second, advance to Kovel area in Poland finally took the Red Army beyond the Prypiat marshes which were left to their north east opening possibility to cut into the rear of army groups Center and North by driving north toward Baltic and possibly encircling those units with simultaneous offensive from the north shoulder o