Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk was a Second World War engagement between German and Soviet forces on the Eastern Front near Kursk in the Soviet Union during July and August 1943. The German offensive was code-named Operation Citadel and led to one of the largest armoured clashes in history, the German offensive was countered by two Soviet counter-offensives, Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev and Operation Kutuzov. For the Germans, the battle was the strategic offensive that they were able to launch on the Eastern Front. Their extensive loss of men and tanks ensured that the victorious Soviet Red Army enjoyed the strategic initiative for the remainder of the war. The Germans hoped to weaken the Soviet offensive potential for the summer of 1943 by cutting off a number of forces that they anticipated would be in the Kursk salient. The Kursk salient or bulge was 250 kilometres long north to south and 160 kilometres from east to west. The plan envisioned an envelopment by a pair of breaking through the northern and southern flanks of the salient.
Adolf Hitler believed that a victory here would reassert German strength and improve his prestige with his allies and it was hoped that large numbers of Soviet prisoners would be captured to be used as slave labour in the German armaments industry. The Soviet government had foreknowledge of the German intentions, provided in part by the British intelligence service, aware months in advance that the attack would fall on the neck of the Kursk salient, the Soviets built a defence in depth designed to wear down the German armoured spearhead. The Germans delayed the offensive while they tried to build up their forces and waited for new weapons, mainly the new Panther tank and this gave the Red Army time to construct a series of deep defensive belts. The defensive preparations included minefields, artillery fire zones and anti-tank strong points, Soviet mobile formations were moved out of the salient and a large reserve force was formed for strategic counter-offensives. The Battle of Kursk was the first time in the Second World War that a German strategic offensive was halted before it could break through enemy defences, the maximum depth of the German advance was 8–12 kilometres in the north and 35 kilometres in the south.
Though the Red Army had succeeded in winter offensives previously, their counter-offensives following the German attack at Kursk were their first successful strategic summer offensives of the war. As the Battle of Stalingrad slowly ground to its conclusion the Red Army moved to an offensive in the south. Army Group Center came under significant pressure as well, Kursk fell to the Soviets on 8 February 1943, and Rostov on 14 February. The Soviet Bryansk and newly created Central Fronts prepared for an offensive which envisioned the encirclement of Army Group Center between Bryansk and Smolensk, by February 1943 the southern sector of the German front was in strategic crisis. Since December 1942 Field Marshal Erich von Manstein had been strongly requesting unrestricted operational freedom to him to use his forces in a fluid manner. On 6 February 1943, Manstein met with Hitler at the headquarters in Rasternburg to discuss the proposals he had previously sent and he received an approval from Hitler for a counteroffensive against the Soviet forces advancing in the Donbass region
The Continuation War consisted of hostilities between Finland and the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1944. The Continuation War began shortly after the end of the Winter War, in the Soviet Union, the war was considered part of the Great Patriotic War. Germany regarded its operations in the region as part of its war efforts on the Eastern Front. Acts of war between the Soviet Union and Finland recommenced on 22 June 1941, the day Germany launched its invasion of the Soviet Union, open warfare began with a Soviet air offensive on 25 June. Subsequent Finnish operations undid its post-Winter War concessions to the Soviet Union on the Karelian Isthmus and Ladoga Karelia, on the Karelian Isthmus, the Finns halted their offensive 30 km from Leningrad, at the pre-World War II border between the Soviet Union and Finland. Finnish forces did not participate in the siege of Leningrad directly, in 1944, Soviet air forces conducted air raids on Helsinki and other major Finnish cities. A ceasefire ended hostilities on 5 September and was followed by the Moscow Armistice on 19 September, the 1947 Paris peace treaty concluded the war formally.
Finland ceded Pechengsky District to the Soviets, leased Porkkala peninsula to them, shortly afterward, Germany invaded Poland and as a result the United Kingdom and France declared war against Germany. The Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland on 17 September, Moscow demanded that the Baltic states allow the establishment of Soviet military bases and the stationing of troops on their soil. The Baltic governments accepted these ultimatums, signing corresponding agreements in September and October 1939, the Finnish government refused, and the Red Army attacked Finland on 30 November 1939. Condemnation of the Soviets by the League of Nations and by all over the world had no effect on Soviet policy. International help for Finland was planned, but very little actual help materialized, the Moscow Peace Treaty, which was signed on 12 March 1940, ended the Winter War. By the terms of the treaty, Finland lost one eleventh of its national territory, Finland had avoided having the Soviet Union annex the whole country.
Finlands foreign policy had been based on multilateral guarantees for support from the League of Nations, Finnish public opinion favored the reconquest of Finnish Karelia. Finlands government declared the countrys defense to be its first priority, Finland purchased and received donations of war material during and immediately after the Winter War. On Finlands southern frontier the Soviet Union had acquired a base in Hanko near the capital Helsinki. Finland had to resettle some 420,000 evacuees from the lost territories, to ensure the supply of food, it was necessary to clear new land for the evacuees to cultivate. This was facilitated by the Rapid Settlement Act, the Finnish leadership wanted to preserve the spirit of unanimity that was commonly felt throughout the country during the Winter War
Battle of Smolensk (1941)
The First Battle of Smolensk was a battle during the opening stage of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, in World War II. It took place around the city of Smolensk between 10 July and 10 September 1941, about 400 km west of Moscow, the Wehrmacht had advanced 500 km into the USSR in the 18 days after the invasion on 22 June 1941. During the battle the German army encountered unexpected resistance, leading to a delay in their advance on Moscow. Three Soviet armies were encircled and destroyed just to the south of Smolensk, on 22 June 1941, the Axis nations invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. At first, the met with spectacular success, as the surprised Soviet troops were not able to offer coordinated resistance. After three weeks of fighting, the Germans had reached the Dvina and Dnieper rivers and planned for a resumption of the offensive, the main attack aimed at Moscow, was carried out by Army Group Centre. Its next target on the way to the Soviet capital was the town of Smolensk, the German plan called for the 2nd Panzer Group to cross the Dnieper, closing on Smolensk from the south, while the 3rd Panzer Group was to encircle the town from the north.
After their initial defeats, the Red Army began to recover and took measures to ensure a more determined resistance, Stalin placed Field Marshal Semyon Timoshenko in command and transferred five armies out of the strategic reserve to Timoshenko. These armies had to conduct counter-offensives to blunt the German drive, the German high command was not aware of the Soviet build-up until they encountered them on the battlefield. Facing the Germans along the Dnieper and Dvina rivers were stretches of the Stalin Line fortifications, the defenders were the 13th Army of the Western Front and the 20th Army, 21st Army and the 22nd Army of the Soviet Supreme Command Reserve. The 19th Army, was forming up at Vitebsk, while the 16th Army was arriving at Smolensk, the result was a disaster, as the offensive ran directly into the anti-tank defenses of the German 7th Panzer Division and the two Soviet mechanized corps were virtually wiped out. On 10 July, Guderians 2nd Panzer Group began an attack over the Dnieper, his forces overran the weak 13th Army and by 13 July, Guderian had passed Mogilev.
His spearhead unit, the 29th Motorised Division, was already within 18 km of Smolensk, the 3rd Panzer Group had attacked, with the 20th Panzer Division establishing a bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Dvina river, threatening Vitebsk. As both German panzer groups drove east, the 16th, 19th and 20th armies faced the prospect of encirclement around Smolensk, from 11 July, the Soviets tried a series of concerted counter-attacks. The Soviet 19th Army and 20th Army struck at Vitebsk, while the 21st, several other Soviet armies attempted to counter-attack in the sectors of the German Army Group North and Army Group South. This effort was part of an attempt to implement the Soviet prewar general defense plan. The Soviet attacks managed to slow the Germans but the results were so marginal that the Germans barely noticed them as a large coordinated defensive effort, Hoths 3rd Panzer Group drove north and east, parallel to Guderians forces, taking Polotsk and Vitebsk. The 7th Panzer Division and 20th Panzer Division reached the area east of Smolensk at Yartsevo on July 15 and this advanced bridgehead became the center of the Yelnya Offensive, one of the first big coordinated Soviet counter-offensives of the war
Battle of Brody (1941)
It is known in Soviet historiography as a part of the border defensive battles. Although the Red Army formations inflicted heavy losses on the German forces, 1st Panzer Group, led by Generaloberst Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist, was ordered to secure the Bug River crossings and advance to Rovno and Korosten with the strategic objective of Kiev. It deployed two Corps forward and advanced between Lviv and Rovno in an attempt to cut the Lviv–Kiev railway line, thus driving a wedge along junction point between the Soviet 5th and 6th Armies. The Southwestern Front, under the command of General Mikhail Kirponos, had received intelligence on the size. They were surprised when Stavka ordered a general counter-attack under the title of Directive No.3 on the authority of Chief of General Staff Georgy Zhukov, most of the headquarters staff were convinced that the strategy would be to remain in a defensive posture until the situation clarified. The general orders of Directive No, six Soviet mechanized corps, with over 2,500 tanks, were massed to take part in a concentric counter-attack through the flanks of Panzer Group 1.
To achieve this, the 8th Mechanized Corps was transferred from the command of the 26th Army, positioned to the south of the 6th Army and this essentially brought all the mobile assets of the Southwestern Front to bear against the base of von Kleists thrust toward Kiev. The primary German infantry formation operating on this sector of the front, at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, German armor was composed of a mix of Czech and German tanks, as well as small numbers of captured French and British tanks. Furthermore, nearly 50% of the tanks deployed by the Wehrmacht were the virtually obsolete Panzer I, of the 4000 armored vehicles available to the Wehrmacht, only 1400 were the new Panzer III and Panzer IV. In the first few hours of the invasion, German commanders were shocked to find that some Soviet tanks were immune to all anti tank weapons in use by the Wehrmacht, during pre-war exercises, Heinz Guderian noted that on their own, tanks were very vulnerable to infantry. While dispersing tanks among infantry formations solved many of the tanks weaknesses, at the beginning of June, the Red Army included over 19,000 tanks in their inventory, most of them light tanks such as the T-26 or BT-7.
The front armor of the T-26 was just 15mm thick, the poor design of Soviet shells meant that most rounds shattered on contact, rather than detonating. During the interwar years, far sighted military theorists such as Mikhail Tukhachevsky came to conclusions as Heinz Guderian regarding tanks in modern warfare. However, during the Great Purge Tukhachevsky was executed, Red Army tanks were dispersed widely throughout infantry divisions in the 1930s. Then came the shock of the Fall of France, however, by June 1941 this process was barely half complete, so many of the 10,000 tanks in the Red Army arsenal were still dispersed among infantry divisions on the eve of the invasion. This ensured that if the Red Army had a unified command. At full strength, a German Panzer Division was a formation with between 150 and 200 tanks, motorized infantry, motorized artillery, and motorized engineers. To support its logistical needs, each division included 2000 trucks
Lake Ladoga is a freshwater lake located in the Republic of Karelia and Leningrad Oblast in northwestern Russia just outside the outskirts of Saint Petersburg. It is the largest lake in Europe, and the 15th largest freshwater lake by area in the world, Ladoga Lacus, a methane lake on Saturns moon Titan, is named after the lake. In one of Nestors chronicles from the 12th century he mentions a lake called the Great Nevo, ancient Norse sagas and Hanseatic treaties both mention a city made of lakes named Old Norse Aldeigja or Aldoga. Since the beginning of the 14th century this hydronym was commonly known as Ladoga, according to T. N. Jackson, it can be taken almost for granted, that the name of Ladoga first referred to the river, the city, and only the lake. Therefore, he considers the primary hydronym Ladoga to originate in the inflow to the lower reaches of the Volkhov River whose Finnic name was Alodejoki river of the lowlands. The Germanic toponym was soon borrowed by the Slavic population and transformed by means of the Old Russian metathesis ald- → lad- to Old East Slavic, Ладога.
Other theories about the origin of the name derive it from Karelian, aalto wave and Karelian, aaltokas wavy, or from the Russian dialectal word алодь, meaning open lake, eugene Helimski by contrast, offers an etymology rooted in German. Through the intermediate form *Aldaugja, Old Norse, Aldeigja cam about, the lake has an average surface area of 17,891 km2. Its north-to-south length is 219 km and its width is 83 km. Basin area,276,000 km2, volume,837 km3, there are around 660 islands, with a total area of about 435 km2. Ladoga is, on average,5 m above sea level, most of the islands, including the famous Valaam archipelago and Konevets, are situated in the northwest of the lake. Separated from the Baltic Sea by the Karelian Isthmus, it drains into the Gulf of Finland via the Neva River, Lake Ladoga is navigable, being a part of the Volga-Baltic Waterway connecting the Baltic Sea with the Volga River. The Ladoga Canal bypasses the lake in the part, connecting the Neva to the Svir. The basin of Lake Ladoga includes about 50,000 lakes and 3,500 rivers longer than 10 km, about 85% of the water inflow is due to tributaries, 13% is due to precipitation, and 2% is due to underground waters.
Geologically, the Lake Ladoga depression is a graben and syncline structure of Proterozoic age and this Ladoga–Pasha structure, as it known, hosts Jotnian sediments. During the Pleistocene glaciations the depression was partially stripped of its sedimentary rock fill by glacial overdeepening, deglaciation following the Weichsel glaciation took place in the Lake Ladoga basin between 12,500 and 11,500 radiocarbon years BP. Lake Ladoga was initially part of the Baltic Ice Lake, a historical stage of Baltic Sea. It is possible, though not certain, that Ladoga was isolated from it during regression of the subsequent Yoldia Sea brackish stage, at 9,500 BP, Lake Onega, previously draining into the White Sea, started emptying into Ladoga via the River Svir
Siege of Leningrad
The siege started on 8 September 1941, when the last road to the city was severed. Although the Soviets managed to open a land corridor to the city on 18 January 1943. It was one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history, Leningrads capture was one of three strategic goals in the German Operation Barbarossa and the main target of Army Group North. By 1939 the city was responsible for 11% of all Soviet industrial output and it has been reported Adolf Hitler was so confident of capturing Leningrad that he had invitations printed to the victory celebrations to be held in the citys Hotel Astoria. According to a sent to Army Group North on 29 September, After the defeat of Soviet Russia there can be no interest in the continued existence of this large urban center. Following the citys encirclement, requests for surrender negotiations shall be denied, since the problem of relocating and feeding the population cannot, in this war for our very existence, we can have no interest in maintaining even a part of this very large urban population.
Hitlers ultimate plan was to raze Leningrad to the ground and give areas north of the River Neva to the Finns, Army Group North under Feldmarschall Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb advanced to Leningrad, its primary objective. Finnish military forces were north of Leningrad, while German forces occupied territories to the south, thus, it is argued that much of the Finns participation was merely defensive. The Germans planned on lack of food being their weapon against the citizens. On 27 June 1941, the Council of Deputies of the Leningrad administration organised First response groups of civilians, in the next days, Leningrads civilian population was informed of the danger and over a million citizens were mobilised for the construction of fortifications. Several lines of defences were built along the perimeter to repulse hostile forces approaching from north and south by means of civilian resistance. In the south, the line ran from the mouth of the Luga River to Chudovo, Uritsk, Pulkovo. Another line of defence passed through Peterhof to Gatchina, Kolpino, in the north the defensive line against the Finns, the Karelian Fortified Region, had been maintained in Leningrads northern suburbs since the 1930s, and was now returned to service.
Even the guns from the cruiser Aurora were moved inland to the Pulkovo Heights to the south of Leningrad, the 4th Panzer Group from East Prussia took Pskov following a swift advance and managed to reach Novgorod by 16 August. The Soviet defenders fought to the death, despite the German discovery of the Soviet defence plans on an officers corpse, after the capture of Novgorod, General Hoepners 4th Panzer Group continued its progress towards Leningrad. However, the 18th Army — despite some 350,000 men lagging behind — forced its way to Ostrov and Pskov after the Soviet troops of the Northwestern Front retreated towards Leningrad. On 10 July, both Ostrov and Pskov were captured and the 18th Army reached Narva and Kingisepp, from where advance toward Leningrad continued from the Luga River line. This had the effect of creating siege positions from the Gulf of Finland to Lake Ladoga, the Finnish Army was expected to advance along the eastern shore of Lake Ladoga
Siege of Odessa (1941)
Odessa was a port on the Black Sea in the Ukrainian SSR. On 22 June 1941, the Axis powers invaded the Soviet Union, in August, Odessa became a target of the Romanian 4th Army and elements of the German 11th Army. Romanian forces suffered 93,000 casualties, against Red Army casualties estimated to be between 41,000 and 60,000. On 27 July 1941, Hitler sent a letter to General Ion Antonescu in which he recognised the Romanian administration of the territory between the Dniester and the Bug rivers, the Romanian Third Army had already crossed the Dniester on 17 July. On 8 August, the Romanian General Staff issued the Operative Directive No.31 instructing the 4th Army to occupy Odessa off the march and it was thought that the city garrison, which was heavily outnumbered, would surrender quickly. Odessa was heavily fortified by three lines and, thanks to the presence of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet, could not be completely surrounded. The first line was 80 km long and situated 25–30 km from the city, the second and main line of defense was situated 6–8 km from the city and was about 30 km long.
The third and last line of defense was organized inside the city itself, the Red Army had 34,500 men and 240 artillery pieces in the area. Air support was provided by the 69 IAP, two squadrons and one bomber squadron. Later, other fighters joined the defenders, as did an Il-2 squadron, the defense of Odessa lasted 73 days from 5 August to 16 October 1941. On 10 August, in the sector of the 3rd Corps, in the sector of the 5th Corps, the 1st Armored Division broke through Odessas first line of defense. That evening, the Romanian division reached the line of defense. The 1st Cavalry Brigade took Severinovka and joined the 1st Armored Division, at the same time, the 10th Dorobanţi Regiment overran the Soviet forces at Lozovaya. The 4th Army gradually closed the circle around Odessa, but the offensive was stopped by Antonescu on 13 August to strengthen the line west of the Hadjibey bank. The offensive resumed on 16 August, as Romanian troops attacked along the entire line, the Soviet forces put up a stubborn resistance, launching repeated counter-attacks and taking heavy casualties.
The Royal Romanian Air Force actively supported the troops, disrupting Soviet naval traffic to and from Odessa. In support of the offensive, the Romanian Navy dispatched motor torpedo boats to the recently occupied port of Ochakiv. During the night of 18 August, the torpedo boats NMS Viscolul and NMS Vijelia attacked a Soviet supply convoy South of Odessa
A much larger pocket was simultaneously surrounded in Demyansk, about 100 km to the northeast. These were the results of German retreat following their defeat during the Battle of Moscow, at the small Kholm pocket,5,500 German soldiers held it for 105 days. The pocket was supplied by air, but was too small for planes to land, supplies had to be dropped in, among the airdropped supplies were 35 of the first 50 prototype MKb 42 rifles. The German units in the pocket were mainly part of, 218th Infantry Division Reserve-Polizei-Bataillon 65 Infanterie-Regiment 553 Parts of the 123rd Infantry Division Jagdkommando 8 III, bataillon of the Luftwaffenfeldregiment 1 German forces made three attempts to relieve the pocket, in January and May 1942. While the first two failed the third one was successful, with the German forces in the pocket reduced in number to 1,200 by then. In July 1942, the Cholm Shield was awarded to the German defenders of the pocket, upon the suggestion of Generalmajor Theodor Scherer, Scherer was personally awarded the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves by Adolf Hitler for the command of the defense of Kholm.
Kholm was eventually liberated by the Red Army on 21 February 1944, the unit was found to have taken part in a minimum of 5,000 executions and a large number of deportations to concentration camps. Among them was the hanging of a girl in Kholm during the siege. Germany at War,400 Years of Military History, the Second World War in the Air, The Story of Air Combat in Every Theatre of World War Two. Media related to Battle of Kholm at Wikimedia Commons
Battle of Moscow
The Battle of Moscow is the name given by Soviet historians to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a 600 km sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942, the Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitlers attack on Moscow, capital of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the largest Soviet city. Moscow was one of the military and political objectives for Axis forces in their invasion of the Soviet Union. Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion plan, called for the capture of Moscow within four months, the German Army Group North moved towards Leningrad, Army Group South took control of Ukraine, and Army Group Center advanced towards Moscow. By July 1941, Army Group Center crossed the Dnieper River, in August 1941, German forces captured Smolensk, an important stronghold on the road to Moscow. At this stage, although Moscow was vulnerable, an offensive against the city would have exposed the German flanks. In part to address these risks, in part to attempt to secure Ukraines food and mineral resources, Hitler ordered the attack to turn north and south and eliminate Soviet forces at Leningrad and this delayed the German advance on Moscow.
When that advance resumed on 2 October 1941, German forces had been weakened, for Hitler, the Soviet capital was secondary, and he believed the only way to bring the Soviet Union to its knees was to defeat it economically. He felt this could be accomplished by seizing the economic resources of Ukraine east of Kiev, when Walther von Brauchitsch, Commander-in-Chief of the Army, supported a direct thrust to Moscow, he was told that only ossified brains could think of such an idea. Franz Halder, head of the Army General Staff, was convinced that a drive to seize Moscow would be victorious after the German Army inflicted enough damage on the Soviet forces. This view was shared by most within the German high command, but Hitler overruled his generals in favor of pocketing the Soviet forces around Kiev in the south, followed by the seizure of Ukraine. The move was successful, resulting in the loss of 660,000 Red Army personnel by 26 September, with the end of summer, Hitler redirected his attention to Moscow and assigned Army Group Center to this task.
The forces committed to Operation Typhoon included three infantry armies supported by three Panzer Groups and by the Luftwaffes Luftflotte 2, up to two million German troops were committed to the operation, along with 1,000 tanks and 14,000 guns. German aerial strength, had severely reduced over the summers campaign. Luftflotte 2 had only 549 serviceable machines, including 158 medium and dive-bombers and 172 fighters, the attack relied on standard blitzkrieg tactics, using Panzer groups rushing deep into Soviet formations and executing double-pincer movements, pocketing Red Army divisions and destroying them. Facing the Wehrmacht were three Soviet fronts forming a line between the cities of Vyazma and Bryansk, which barred the way to Moscow. The armies comprising these fronts had involved in heavy fighting. Still, it was a formidable concentration consisting of 1,250,000 men,1,000 tanks and 7,600 guns, the Soviet Air Force had suffered appalling losses of some 7,500 or 21,200 aircraft
Battle of the Kerch Peninsula
It was launched on 8 May 1942 and concluded around 18 May 1942 with the near complete destruction of the Soviet defending forces. The Red Army lost over 170,000 men killed or taken prisoner, the operation was one of the battles immediately preceding the German summer offensive, and its successful conclusion enabled the Axis to end the siege of Sevastopol in the following months. Some groups of Soviet survivors refused to surrender and fought on for many months, many of these soldiers were occupying the caves along with many civilians, who had fled the city of Kerch. On 26 December 1941, the Soviets landed on Kerch, and on 30 December executed another landing near Feodosiya with the 44th, the operation was to drive to Sevastopol and relieve the garrison, now encircled by the German 11th Army. The 46th Infantry Division, under Generalleutnant Kurt Himer, was the division in a position to be able to block the Soviet advance. Manstein believed it could contain the landing, but the Soviets consolidated their bridgeheads, Manstein diverted the XXX Corps to support XLII Corps, forming a new front at Feodosiya.
They succeeded in sealing off the Soviet armies in the Kerch peninsula, the Soviet landings had saved Sevastopol and seized the initiative. The Germans lost 8,595 between 17 and 31 December, the Soviets lost 7,000 killed and another 20,000 as prisoners of war. To slow the Soviet build-up, Alexander Löhrs Luftflotte 4 was sent to the region to interdict shipping, the 7,500 long tons transport Emba was severely damaged on 29 January. Still, the Luftwaffe failed to prevent the transport of 100,000 men, at Sevastopol,764 short tons of fuel,1,700 short tons of supplies were sent to the port. On 13 February, the cruiser Komintern and destroyer Shaumyan brought in 1,034 soldiers and 200 tons of supplies, the cruiser Krasny Krym and destroyer Dzerzhinskiy brought in a further 1,075 men on 14 February. The next day, the minesweeper T410 brought in 650 and evacuated 152, on 17 February, the transport Belostok brought in 871 men. The Black Sea Fleet regularly shelled German positions on the coast, the Luftwaffe increased its pressure, dispatching KG27, KG55, and KG100 to bomb the ports at Anapa and Novorossiysk on the Caucasian Black Sea coast.
On 20 February, the 1,900 long tons transport Kommunist was sunk by KG100, Manstein was unwilling to surrender the initiative, and ordered counterattacks which recaptured Feodosiya in January 1942. The German 11th Army lacked the strength to destroy the 44th and 51st Army in the Kerch Peninsula, the Stavka created the Crimean Front under Lieutenant General Dimitri Kozlov on 28 January to coordinate operations. Kozlov began a series of offensives in February and April, petrovs Coastal Army supported the operations on 26 February, inflicting 1,200 casualties while losing 2,500 in return. The spring thaw arrived in early May, and both sides prepared for the battle that would decide the campaign, the Luftwaffe had flown in the specialist torpedo bomber unit KG26. On 1/2 March 1942, it damaged the 2,434 long tons steamer Fabritsius which was damaged, the 4,629 long tons oil tanker Kuybyshev was damaged on 3 March south of Kerch, which deprived the defenders of much fuel