Baltic Operation


The Baltic Operation, also known as the Defensive operation in Lithuania and Latvia encompassed the operations of the Red Army from 22 June to 9 July 1941 conducted over the territories of the occupied Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in response to an offensive launched by the German army.

Baltic Operation (1941)
Part of The Eastern Front of World War II
Прибалтийская операция

Execution of operation 22.06.1941 - 10.07.1941
Date22 June – 9 July 1941
Location
Result

German victory

  • Successful German Offensive
Belligerents
 Germany  Soviet Union
Commanders and leaders
Nazi Germany Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb Soviet Union Fyodor Isodorovich Kuznetsov
Strength
655,000
1,389 tanks
7,673 artillery pieces
1,070 aircraft
498,000[1]
1,393 tanks
5,573 artillery pieces
1,210 aircraft
Casualties and losses
unknown 75,202 killed
13,284 wounded
2,523 tanks & SPGs destroyed[2]
990 aircraft destroyed[2]
Total:
88,486 casualties[1]

Operational parts

The operation consisted of three distinct smaller operations

Border Defensive Battles (22–24 June 1941)
Battle of Raseiniai also known as the 'Kaunas Counterattack'
Šiauliai Counter-Offensive Operation (24–27 June 1941)
Defense of the Hanko Naval Base (22 June–2 December 1941)

Execution

The principal Red Army formations of the operation were the Northwestern Front and the Baltic Fleet, with the major ground forces consisting of the 8th (commander General Major P.P. Sobennikov), 11th (commander General Lieutenant Morozov) and later 27th Armies.

The operation was conducted after the forces of the Baltic Special Military District were alerted in the morning of 22 June 1941 following a surprise attack by the German Wehrmacht's Army Group North which consisted of the 18th, 16th Field Armies and the 4th Panzer Group, and elements of the 3rd Panzer Group, supported by the Luftflotte 1.[3]

On 22 June, the Soviet 8th Army was positioned in northern Lithuania opposed by the German 18th Army. The Soviet 11th Army defended the rest of the Lithuanian border with East Prussia and sought to contain the attacks of the German 16th Army and the 4th Panzer Group.

While the Soviet 8th Army retreated along the JelgavaRigaTartuNarvaPskov direction, the Soviet 11th Army sought to initially hold the KaunasVilnius sector of the front, but was forced to retreat along the Daugavpils–Pskov–Novgorod direction. These withdrawals, although costly in losses of personnel and materiel, avoided major encirclements experienced by the Fronts to the south, and succeeded in delaying the Army Group North sufficiently to allow preparation for the defence of Leningrad.

The operation was not a single continuous withdrawal, but was punctuated by short-lived counterattacks, counterstrokes or counteroffensives.[4]

Subordinate Red Army formations

The subordinate formations and units of the Armies were:

Front Subordination

  • 65th Rifle Corps
  • 5th Airborne Corps (2nd, 10th and 201st Airborne Brigades)
  • Northwestern Front Air Force (commanded by L.P. Ionov)[5]
    • 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 57th Mixed Aviation Divisions
  • 10th Anti-Tank Artillery Brigade
  • 10th, 12th and 14th Air Defence Brigades
  • 110th, 402nd and 429th High Power Artillery Regiments
  • units and subunits of support troops
  • 1st Long Range Bomber Corps of the Reserve of the Supreme High Command (Stavka Reserve)

Aftermath

The Soviet forces were defeated and forced to fall back. The next operation, according to the Soviet official history, was the Leningrad Strategic Defensive Operation (10 July-30 September 1941), which attempted to establish a stable front along the Narva–Novgorod line.

References

  1. ^ a b Krivosheev 1997, p. 111.
  2. ^ a b Krivosheev 1997, p. 260.
  3. ^ Bishop 2005, p. 69.
  4. ^ Glantz 2005, p. 70.
  5. ^ Wagner 1973, p. 36.

Sources

  • Bishop, Chris (2005). The Military Atlas of World War II. London: Igloo Books. ISBN 1-904687-53-9.
  • Glantz, David M. (2005). Colossus reborn: The Red Army at war 1941-1943. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1353-6.
  • Krivosheev, Grigori F. (1997). Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-280-7.
  • Wagner, Ray (1973). The Soviet Air Force in World War II: the official history. Melbourne: Wren Publishing. ISBN 0-85885-194-6.
11th Army (Soviet Union)

The 11th Army was an army of the Red Army, formed four times. The first formation was a unit of the then newly created Soviet armed forces. It was formed by the Bolsheviks on October 3, 1918, from the Red Northern Caucasus Army. In February 1919 it was dissolved and was again deployed in March 1919 as a subdivision of the Caspian-Caucasian Front. It took a prominent part in the sovietization of the three republics of the southern Caucasus in 1920–21, when Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia were brought within the orbit of Soviet Russia. In 1939 the 11th Army (2nd formation) was formed in the Belarusian Special Military District (BSMD) from the former Minsk Army Group. It fought in the Soviet invasion of Poland, the Baltic Operation, the Demyansk Pocket, and the Battle of Kursk. The army disbanded in December 1943.

12th Mechanized Corps (Soviet Union)

The 12th Mechanized Corps was a formation in the Soviet Red Army during the Second World War.

Formed in March 1941 in response to the German victories in the West, it served with the 8th Army and was held in reserve near Šiauliai in Lithuania 75 km northwest of Kaunasa in the Special Baltic Military District. Under the command of Major General N.M.Shestopalov when the German Operation Barbarossa began in June 1941, it initially consisted of the 23rd and 28th Tank Divisions and the 202nd Mechanized Division. After the invasion began the Special Baltic Military District was renamed Northwestern Front, commanded by Colonel General Kutznetsov. The front fielded the 8th and 11th Armies along with the 27th Army in its second echelon. The 12th Mechanized was heavily engaged in the first battles of Operation Barbarossa, particularly during the Baltic Operation (1941) and at the Battle of Raseiniai, and by early July it had virtually ceased to exist as a formation, although remnants rejoined Soviet lines later. b c

By the end of 22 June, the German armoured spearheads had crossed the Niemen and penetrated 80 kilometres (50 mi). The next day, Kutznetsov committed his armoured forces to battle.

Near Raseiniai, the XLI Panzer Corps was counter-attacked by the tanks of the Soviet 3rd and 12th Mechanised Corps. But this concentration of Soviet armour was detected by the Luftwaffe, which immediately directed heavy air attacks from Fliegerkorps I Ju 88s against tank columns of the 12th Mechanised Corps south-west of Šiauliai. These attacks went in unopposed by any Soviet fighters and were carried out with great success. The Soviet 23rd Tank Division sustained particularly severe losses, with 40 tanks or lorries set ablaze. On 25 June, the Germans reportedly destroyed another 30 tanks and 50 lorries. The 28th Tank Division alone lost 84 tanks. The battle would last four days. After escaping the encirclement at Raseiniai and making a fighting retreat through Estonia during July, the remnants of the 12th Mechanized Corps were disbanded in August 1941.

However, the 28th Tank Division was reported as part of the Novgorod Operational Group (seemingly a reformation of the 1939-40 Novgorod Army Operational Group) on 1 September 1941, while the 202nd Rifle Division was reported with 11th Army

16th Rifle Corps

The 16th Rifle Corps was a corps of the Soviet Red Army, formed twice.

It took part in the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 and destroyed in the Baltic Operation during Operation Barbarossa. Reformed in 1942, the corps fought through the rest of the war on the Eastern Front, and was disbanded immediately postwar.

1st Mechanized Corps (Soviet Union)

The 1st Mechanized Corps was a mechanized corps of the Red Army during World War II, formed twice.

20th Guards Motor Rifle Division

The 20th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Russian: 20-я гвардейская мотострелковая Прикарпатско-Берлинская дивизия) was a formation of the Russian Ground Forces, originally formed within the Soviet Red Army as the 3rd Mechanised Corps.

21st Mechanized Corps (Soviet Union)

The 21st Mechanized Corps was a formation in the Soviet Red Army during the Second World War.

Initially formed in March 1941, in response to the German victories in the West it was attached to the newly forming 27th Army, and held in reserve near Opochka in Soviet Union 130 kilometres (81 mi) South of Pskov in the Special Baltic Military District. It was under the command of Major General Lelyushenko when the German Operation Barbarossa began in June 1941. It initially consisted of the 42nd and 46th Tank Divisions, and the 185th Mechanized Division. a After the Invasion began the Special Baltic Military District was renamed Northwestern Front, Commanded by Colonel General Kutznetsov. The front fielded 8th and 11th Armies with the 27th Armies in its second echelon. The 21st Mechanized was heavily engaged in the first battles of Operation Barbarossa, particularly during the Baltic Operation (1941). After the spectacular advances by 4th Panzer Group Kutznetsov asked Stavka for the release of Berzarin's 27th Army and the 21st Mechanized Corps on 25 June and was ordered to halt Erich von Manstein's LVI Panzer Corps which was closing up to the Daugava River later that day both units engaged near Dvinsk.

Next Army Group North sent a special force which captured the bridges at Daugavpils and consolidated with 8th Panzer Division. As the fighting intensified elements of 21st Mechanized Corps broke into the Northern suburbs of the town, with fierce house-to-house fighting. After failing to clear Daugavpils further fighting and attacks by the Luftwaffe succeeded in wearing down its forces during next two days to the extent that by 29 June it had only seven operational tanks, 74 artillery pieces and slightly more than 4,000 men left and was exhausted as a fighting force. On 30 June the Soviet Air Force put in an all out effort which resulted in the loss of 43 aircraft (27 DB-3s and SBs for only four Bf 109s) but did not succeed in destroying the principal river crossings over the Daugava River but did succeed in destroying some pontoon bridges.b After continuing a fighting retreat through the Baltic states in July, but in remnants the 21st Mechanized Corps was disbanded in August 1941.c

22nd Rifle Corps

The 22nd Rifle Corps was a corps of the Red Army, formed twice. It was initially formed from the Estonian Army after the Soviet occupation of that country in June 1940. The corps was destroyed during the Baltic Operation. After large-scale desertions of its troops, the corps disbanded in September 1941. Its soldiers were used in construction battalions in the Urals, where many of them died. The corps was reformed in November 1942 with the Transcaucasian Front. It fought in the Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive, Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive, Sandomierz–Silesian Offensive and the Prague Offensive during the war. The corps was disbanded in the summer of 1945.

24th Tank Division (Soviet Union)

The 24th Tank Division was a tank division of the Soviet Union, formed twice. The division's first formation was formed in the spring of 1941 and fought in the Leningrad Strategic Defensive before being broken up into two smaller brigades. The division's second formation was originally formed in 1956 as the 24th Heavy Tank Division and became a regular tank division in 1957. It became a training division in 1960 and was redesignated the 54th District Training Center in 1987 before being disbanded in 1995.

27th Army (Soviet Union)

The 27th Army was a field army of the Soviet Union's Red Army, which fought in World War II.

2nd Guards Tank Corps

The 2nd Tatsinskaya Guards Tank Corps was a Red Army tank corps that saw service during World War II on the Eastern Front. After the war it continued to serve with Soviet occupation forces in Central Europe. It was originally the 24th Tank Corps. The unit had approximately the same size and combat power as a Wehrmacht Panzer Division, and less than a British Armoured Division had during World War II.

2nd Tank Division (Soviet Union)

The 2nd Tank Division (2-я танковая дивизия) was a division of the Red Army and Soviet Ground Forces, which was formed twice under very different circumstances.

33rd Rifle Division (Soviet Union)

The 33rd Rifle Division was a rifle division of the Red Army and Soviet Army, formed twice. The division was formed in 1922 at Samara and moved to Belarus in the next year. It fought in the Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939 and in the Occupation of Lithuania in June 1940. After Operation Barbarossa, the division fought in the Baltic Operation and Leningrad Strategic Defensive. In January 1942, it fought in the Toropets–Kholm Offensive. The division participated in the Leningrad–Novgorod Offensive, the Pskov-Ostrov Offensive, the Tartu Offensive and the Riga Offensive. In 1945, the division fought in the East Pomeranian Offensive and the Battle of Berlin. The division remained in Germany postwar with the Soviet occupation forces and disbanded in 1947. In 1955, it was reformed from the 215th Rifle Division in the Far East and inherited that division's honorifics, but was disbanded in 1956.

5th Rifle Division (Soviet Union)

The 5th Rifle Division was an infantry division of the Soviet Union's Red Army, formed twice. The division was formed in 1918, initially as the 2nd Penza Infantry Division. After becoming the 5th Rifle Division a month later, it fought in the Counteroffensive of Eastern Front in spring 1919 and later operations in Siberia. In the spring of 1920, the division was relocated west and fought in the Polish–Soviet War, participating in the Battle of Warsaw. The division was awarded the Honorary Revolutionary Red Banner for its actions during the wars in 1929. In September 1939, it fought in the Soviet invasion of Poland and was then sent to Lithuania under the Soviet–Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty. After Operation Barbarossa, the division fought in the Baltic Operation and the Leningrad Strategic Defensive. During the winter of 1941-1942, it participated in the Battle of Moscow, fighting in the Kalinin (Tver) area. During the summer of 1942, the division fought in the Rzhev-Vyazma Offensive and became the 44th Guards Rifle Division for its actions there on 5 October.

Just more than a week later, the 5th Rifle Division was reformed from a rifle brigade in the Moscow Military District. In February 1943, the division fought in offensives in the Mtsensk and Tver areas. In July, it fought in Operation Kutuzov and was awarded the honorific "Orel" after it captured the city on 4 August. Between September and October, it fought in the Bryansk Offensive. It continued to advance and participated in the Gomel-Rechitsa Offensive and reached the Dnieper before it went on the defensive in early December. In February 1944, the division fought in the Rogachev-Zhlobin Offensive and was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for its actions. From June 1944, the division fought in Operation Bagration, It was awarded the Order of Suvorov 2nd class for breaking through German defenses on the Drut River. It the fought in the Minsk Offensive and Belostock Offensive. For its capture of Vawkavysk on 14 July, the division received the Order of Kutuzov 2nd class. The division continued its advance and reached the Narew in August. From then until November, it fought in the battle for the Narew bridgeheads. In 1945, the division fought in the Mlawa-Elbing Offensive and the Berlin Offensive. It was awarded the Order of Lenin for its actions. The division was disbanded in June 1946.

Alexey Kurkin

Alexey Vasilievich Kurkin (Russian: Алексей Васильевич Куркин; 30 March [O.S. 17 March] 1901–16 March 1948) was a Soviet Army colonel general.

Kurkin commanded an armored train in the Russian Civil War and became a commissar after the war. After graduating from the Military Academy of Mechanization and Motorization, Kurkin commanded tank brigades and then a tank division. In January 1941 he was appointed commander of the 3rd Mechanized Corps. The corps fought in the Baltic Operation after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, in which it was virtually destroyed. Kurkin escaped capture and became deputy commander of the 1st Guards Special Rifle Corps. After the corps became the 26th Army, Kurkin took command of the army. The army suffered heavy losses in the Battle of Moscow and was disbanded. He became commander of the Armored and Mechanized Forces of the Northwestern Front. From May to October 1942 he led the 9th Tank Corps, and then the Saratov Tank Camp. In January 1943 he became deputy commander of the Armored and Mechanized Forces of the Red Army. In July 1943 he took command of the Armored and Mechanized Forces of the Steppe Front, which became the 2nd Ukrainian Front. In July 1945 Kurkin became commander of the Armored and Mechanized Forces of the Transbaikal Front. In 1946, he became General Inspector of the General Inspectorate of the Armored and Mechanized Forces. Kurkin died two years later.

Alexey Rodin (general)

Alexey Grigoryevich Rodin (Russian: Алексей Григорьевич Родин; 17 February 1902 – 27 May 1955) was a Soviet Army colonel general and Hero of the Soviet Union. Born in 1902 to a peasant family, Rodin was drafted into the Red Army in 1920. After fighting in the Russian Civil War, he became an officer and rose to command 50th Rifle Corps Armored and Mechanized forces during the Winter War. After the end of the war, Rodin became deputy commander of the 24th Tank Division and fought in the Baltic Operation and Leningrad Strategic Defensive. Given command of the 124th Tank Brigade in September 1941, he led the unit during battles around Leningrad and in the Lyuban Offensive Operation. From June 1942, Rodin commanded the 26th Tank Corps and led the unit during Operation Uranus. For its actions, the corps became the 1st Guards Tank Corps and Rodin received the title Hero of the Soviet Union. After Stalingrad, he was promoted to command the 2nd Tank Army and led it during Operation Kutuzov and the Battle of the Dnieper, but was dismissed due to lack of progress and heavy losses incurred in the army's advance. In September 1943, Rodin became commander of the Western Front (later 3rd Belorussian Front) Armored and Mechanized Forces, participating in Operation Suvorov, Operation Bagration and the East Prussian Offensive. Postwar, he became head of the Directorate of Combat Training of the Armored and Mechanized Forces before retirement in 1954.

Baltic Offensive

The Baltic Offensive, also known as the Baltic Strategic Offensive, denotes the campaign between the northern Fronts of the Red Army and the German Army Group North in the Baltic States during the autumn of 1944. The result of the series of battles was the isolation and encirclement of the Army Group North in the Courland Pocket and Soviet re-occupation of the Baltic States.

Fyodor Truhin

Fyodor Truhin (Russian: Фёдор Иванович Трухин; 26 December 1896 – 1 August 1946) was a Soviet major general during World War II. Following his capture during the Baltic Operation he defected to Nazi Germany becoming a leading member of the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia and the National Alliance of Russian Solidarists. In the aftermath of the German defeat he was captured by pro-Soviet Czech partisans, who in turn transferred him to the Soviet Union where he was executed for treason.

HNoMS Olav Tryggvason

The minelayer HNoMS Olav Tryggvason was built by the naval shipyard at Horten in the early 1930s and had build number 119. She served in the Royal Norwegian Navy until captured by the Germans in 1940. The Germans renamed her first Albatros II, and a few days later Brummer. She was wrecked in a British bombing raid in northern Germany in April 1945.

Vassili Grigorjev

Vassili Grigorjev (11 March 1870 Dymkovo, Pechorsky District, Russian Empire – ?) was a Russian-Estonian farmer and politician.

He was born in Dymkovo in Perchorsky District, into a poor peasant family. He received a secondary education. After military service, he worked for the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs for 22 years. In 1918, he left Russia to Estonia, where he became a farmer. He later became a pediatrician and journalist.

Grigorjev was a member of the Riigikogu for the Estonian Labour Party from 1920 to 1929.In 1927, Grigorjev and a number of other people from Petseri County were arrested on charges of treason due to them planning a possible separatist movement in Petseri County and Narva in response to Petseri County being given to Estonia as a result of the Treaty of Tartu, as well as working with Soviet intelligence as a member of the Riigikogu. He was sentenced to death in absentia.After the Baltic Operation, where Nazi Germany invaded the Baltic States, Grigorjev was captured by their forces. His fate is unknown.

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