Battle of Uman: Wikis

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Battle of Uman
Part of the Eastern Front of World War II
Map of the battle
The eastern front at the time of the Battle of Uman.
Date July 15 – August 8, 1941
Location Uman, Western Ukraine
Result Decisive Axis victory
Belligerents
Nazi Germany Germany
Romania Romania
Hungary Hungary
 Soviet Union
Commanders
Nazi Germany Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt Soviet Union Marshal Semyon Budyonny (Commander-in-Chief)
Soviet Union Colonel General Mikhail Kirponos
Soviet Union General Ivan Tyulenev
Strength
400,000 men
600 tanks
300,000
Casualties and losses
unknown 103,000 captured
100,000 wounded & killed

The "Battle of Uman"[1] (July 15 – August 8, 1941) was an English name given to the German encirclement of the 6th (General Lieutenant I.N. Muzyrchenko) and 12th (General Major P.G. Ponedelin) Soviet armies south of the city of Uman during the initial offensive operations of the Army Group South commanded by Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt as part of Operation Barbarossa on the Eastern Front of World War II.

The battles resulted during the Kiev defensive operation by the elements of the Red Army's Southwestern Front defending the Southern Bug bridges and the strategic rail road between Odessa and Smolensk, and the offensives by the elements of the German 1st Panzer Group in Western Ukraine during the later's advance from southern Poland to Crimea.

The Soviet forces were under overall command of the Southwestern Direction, commanded by Marshal Semyon Budyonny, which included the Southwestern Front commanded by Colonel General Mikhail Kirponos. The headquarters and many subunits of the 12th Army were able to evade the encirclement due to the inability of the German infantry formations to fully close the cauldron, however both armies were later disbanded, and escaping troops were incorporated into other units. This was among the large Axis encirclements that were executed against the Red Army in the First period of World War II.

Contents

Prelude

In the initial weeks of Operation Barbarossa, Army Group South had rapidly advanced East, capturing Lviv, Ternopil and Vinnytsia, and destroying four mechanized corps that Kirponos used in a counterattack at Brody. By June 29, 1941, the German advance was temporarily halted, but the Soviet forces were exhausted and started to retreat. With the failure of the Soviet armor counter-offensive against the German 1st Panzer Army, Army Group South continued to advance East and reached to a few miles of Kiev by mid-July. An attempt was then made by Budyonny to counter-attack from north of Uman in the direction of Berdychiv to prevent the 1st Panzer Group in cutting off his lines of communication. However this counterstroke failed to contact significant German armoured forces which passed only some 50km to the east of the Soviet concentration in its continued offensive. The counterstroke however exhausted the ability of Soviet formations to continue withdrawal more rapidly than the advance of the German offensive, and in mid-July German troops cut the rail road at Talnoye and other bridges over the Gorniy Tikich, and soon after the bridges over Sinucha.

Orders of Battle

Most of the Soviet forces were severely depleted having withdrawn under heavy assaults from the Luftwaffe from the Polish border, and the mechanised units were virtually reduced to a single "Corps" after the Brody counter-offensive, its mechanised infantry now fighting as ordinary rifle troops.

The Axis forces were divided into those of the 1st Panzer Group that had suffered significant loses in matériel, but retained combat effectiveness, and the largely infantry formations of the German and Romanian armies that attempted to advance from the West to meet the armoured troops north of Crimea, the initial strategic objective of Army Group South.

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Red Army

6th Rifle Corps (reduced)
37th Rifle Corps (reduced)
4th Mechanised Corps (remnants)
15th Mechanised Corps (remnants)
5th Cavalry Corps (remnants)
4th Fortified region (remnants)
6th Fortified region (remnants)
13th Rifle Corps (reduced)
17th Rifle Corps (reduced)
16th Mechanised Corps (remnants)
10th Fortified region (remnants)
11th Fortified region (remnants)
12th Fortified region (remnants)

Wehrmacht Heer

The battles of encirclement

On July 10, 1941, Budyonny was given the general command of the troops operating in the Southwestern direction, to coordinate the actions of Southwestern and Southern Fronts. Budyonny had 1.5 million troops under his command in two strategic sectors of the front to defend: at Kiev (37th and 26th armies), and Vinnytsia-Uman. No sooner had he taken up his command than he was advised of the continued Army Group South three-pronged offensives deep into the breach created between the Kiev sector's 26th Army and the 6th Army to its south as General Ewald von Kleist’s Panzer Group 1 drove a wedge between the two Soviet sectors of the front south of Kiev and north of Vinnytsia, capturing Berdychiv on 15 July 1941 and capturing Koziatyn on July 16, 1941. General Karl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel’s 17th Field Army advanced to the South of Uman and General Eugen Ritter von Schobert’s 11th Field Army advanced northwards from the Romanian border[2].

STAVKA and the Southern Front's command staff mistakenly assumed that the Germans were striving to reach the crossing of the Dnieper between Kiev and Cherkasy for a further offensive towards Donbass, and underestimated the danger of encirclement for the 6th and 12th armies. On 28 July 1941, an order was given to the Southwestern and Southern Fronts to stop the Germans from crossing the Dnieper and to retreat only in the Eastern direction. As a result, an opportunity to avoid the danger of encirclement by retreating in the Southeastern direction was lost.

The effect of the closing Axis forces was to slowly force the concentration of the two Soviet Armies in an ever reduced area, with the combined HQs of the armies located in the town of Podvisokoye (Подвысокое).

On August 2, 1941, the encirclement was closed by the meeting of the German 1st Panzer Group and advance guard elements of the German 17th Field Army. This encirclement was reinforced the next day by a second joining formed when the German 16th Panzer Division met with the Hungarian Mechanized Corps (or Gyorshadtest). By 8 August 1941, the Soviet resistance had generally stopped. Remnants of 20 divisions from the 6th Army and the 12th Army were trapped[3]. German sources after the war reportedly about 103,000 troops were taken prisoner.[4] Included among officers taken prisoner were commanders of both the 6th and 12th armies, four corps commanders, and eleven division commanders.

After the encirclement

As the pocket was eliminated, the tanks of the 1st Panzer Group turned north, and attacked towards Kiev on the orders to assist the 2nd Panzer Group in closing another encirclement around that city. The Crimean objective was for a time left to the field armies; the first of many times when Hitler would change his mind about strategic objectives of the Army Groups.

The Stavka used the respite offered by the German refocusing of the 1st Panzer Group to re-establish its front using the 9th Coastal Army (independent) and either reforming the destroyed armies, or bringing into line reserve 37th and 56th armies from the interior military districts, with the 38th Army eventually left to hold an over-stretched Kharkov sector of the Front.

Citations and notes

  1. ^ p.32, Léderrey
  2. ^ Schobert was killed 11 September 1941 when his plane landed in a minefield
  3. ^ including 80th Rifle Division, II formation, and 139th Rifle Division; Craig Crofoot, Armies of the Bear
  4. ^ Life magazine, p.411, Steinberg

References

  • Léderrey, Ernest, (Col.), Germany's Defeat in the East: The Soviet Armies at War, 1941-1945, The War Office, London, 1955
  • Steinberg, Julien, Verdict of Three Decades: From the Literature of Individual Revolt Against Soviet Communism: 1917-1950, Ayer Publishing, 1971

See also


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