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Click here to view this topic in its original format Forum > Romania in World War II 1941-1945 > 47. The Defensive Battle in Kuban

Posted by: dragos June 03, 2004 07:56 pm
by Teofil Oroian

The bitter defeat of the Axis at Stalingrad had a negativ effect on the situation and on the actions carried out by the German and Romanian troops in Caucasus. First of all, the success of the Soviet counteroffensive launched on November 19, 1942, and the failure of the action destined to get away the allied forces encircled at Stalingrad had created the danger of blocking the German-Romanian group of troops in the Caucasus. As a result, the German Command ordered the general withdrawal out of the region, with the view of a regrouping of the forces on the intermediate alignments. The 1st Armoured Army was guided through Rostov (which was held by the Germans till Februay 14, 1943), and the 17th Army, composed of 11 German divisions and 6 Romanian divisions, through Kuban. The 6 Romanian divisions - 3 belonging to the structure of the Cavalry Corps (19th Infantry, 6th and 9th Cavalry) and the other 3 (10th Infatry, 2nd and 3rd Mountain) subordinated to some German operative groups of forces - were totalizing about 64,606 officers, NCOs and soldiers.

The spreading of the Soviet offensive against the German and the Romanian troops in Caucasus consisted in the actions carried out by the "NorthCaucasus" and "Trans-Caucasus" Fronts, which advanced through Eisk, Krasnodar and Novorossyisk. On Februay 12, 1943, the German troops lost Krasnodarsk, organizing a new defence position on the alignment east of Abynskaia, Slavianskaia, the Protoka Canal.

Beginning with Februay 18, 1943, the German Command decided to maintain in the north-western part of the Caucasus a bridgehead which was limited by the Azov Sea (in the north), the Black Sea (in the south), the Taman Peninsula and the Kerch Strait (in the west), having an initial width of about 200 km - between the Protoka Canal and the Gemjeskaia Bay, and more than 180 km depth, including Novorossyisk also. This purposed that - in the view of a better future strategic situation for the Wehrmacht - the offensive towards the oilfieds region in Caucasus, so important for the warfare, would be restarted. Also, the maintaning of the bridgehead assured - indirectly - the defence of Crimea, thus reducing the possibilities of the Soviet Fleet on the Black Sea to undertake an action towards Bosphorus, the Romanian and the Bulgarian seashore. Perceiving the offensive intentions of the Soviets, the German Command in Kuban prepared manifold lines of resistance – including “Blue Line" (Novorossyisk, Krimskaia, Plavensky, the Kurka Channel) – with the view to oppose a long term defence on intermediate alignments.

The Defence

The battle in the bridgehead of Kuban took 7 and a half months (February 25 - October 9, 1943) and included 6 phases.

The Romanian and the German troops of the 17th Army had to face the strong Soviet attacks on land, supported from the air and from the sea.

The first phase of the battle developed between February 25 and March 12, 1943. During this time, the more important fights were carried out in Abynskaia area, were the 94th and the 95th Romanian Regiments from the 19th Romanian Infantry Division distinguished themselves, mainly in the actions for defending the neighbourhoods of Beregovoi and Iasterbovski (in the sector of the 2nd Romanian Mountain Division, which mopped Belikov village and participated in rejecting the Soviet forces that had penetrated in the lagoon area, at Svistielnikof.

The second phase of the military confrontations developed between March 25 and April 6, 1943. All this time, the Soviet forces stroke strongly blows to the direction Slavianskaia - Anastasievskaia and in Svistielnikof area. In the region south of the Kuban River the main efforts were carried out on north of the line Abynskaia - Krimskaia, connected with low level attacks on the entire front.

The Romanian troops disposed in the sectors attacked by the Soviets opposed a determined resistance. In Krimskaia area, where the Soviet used tanks to join infantry divisions advance, distinguished especially the 94th and 95th Infantry Regiments and the 19th Light Infantry Battalion, which resisted to the successives attacks, performed by almost three Soviet divisions. The operation journals of the Romanian big units issued on those days, the reports and the operative synthesis emphasize the fact that the success of the defensive actions was due both to the heroism and to commitment of the soldiers and to the initiative, gumption and competence of their commanders.

At the end the second phase of the military actions in the Kuban bridgehead (the beginning of April 1943), the Romanian and the German troops regrouped and occupied the fortified position called "Blue Line". Within the defensive disposition worked up by the 17th Army, the Romanian big units were in the safety strip on the seashore of the Black Sea (the 10th Infantry, 6th and 9th Cavalry) and in the resistance position: the 19th Infantry Division (in the sector Krimskaia, Keslerovo), and the 3rd Mountain Division (in the Varenikovskaia zone); the 2nd Mountain Division had been withdrawn from Crimea in the middle of March 1943.

In the third phase (the second half of April and the first days of May 1943), the Romanian divisions (19th Infantry and 3rd Mountain) faced the shock of the main stroke (which was performed by the Soviets with 3 infantry divisions and 1 Armoured brigade) and were obliged to regroup on intermediate alignments in the Prikubanskyi, Krimskaia zones.

On May 26, 1943, the Soviet troops launched the fourth offensive, with the spearhead to the direction Krimskaia Anapa, connecting the main action with diversion attacks on. the entire front. By rallying together a great number of forces in the sector selected for the main attack (Kievskoe - Moldovanskoe), the Soviet troops made a small breach north of the road Krimskaia - Moldovanskoe.

Until the middle of July 1943 on the front of Kuban only local actions developed. In the disposition of the Romanian troops some changes produced as the big units that suffered heavy losses were replaced with other, whose combative capacity was considerated as better. So, the 19th Infantry Division was shifted on the Black Sea shore, near Anapa, being replaced by the 10th Infantry Division. The 3rd Mountain Division was withdrawn in Crimea, in its place being disposed the 1st Mountain Division.

After intense preparations, in the middle of July 1943, the Soviet troops, strongly supported by artillery, tanks and aircrafts, launched again their offensive actions, which were performed in two phases: July 16-30 and August 7-12, with heavy fights delivered on the entire front. In both phases the Romanian troops acted in an exemplary manner, south of Novorossyisk and between Werth - Adagum and the road Krimskaia - Moldovanskoe.

Starting with September 7, 1943, the Soviet troops intensified their offensive in the nortern sector, then in the southern one, where they tried to force the entering into Novorossyisk, yet managing to land a great number of forces. In the view of supporting this action and mainly for rejecting our troops, the Soviet attacked stronger and stronger, both in the area of the beaches of the bridgehead established in the south of Novorossyisk , and in the centre sector, especially between Keslerovo and Kievskoe, purposing to break the defense and to encircle the allied forces. The 10th Romanian Infantry Divison; backed by German reserves, succeeded to stand all attacks and, by carrying out a few counterattacks, inflicted heavy losses on the Soviet troops.

These actions, and others alike, have represented the preamble of the sixth Soviet offensive in the Kuban bridgehead, started on September 9/10, 1943, that at last did not have as a result the fulfilment of the goals which the Soviet Command had had in its view: to annihilate the Romanian and the German effectives in the Taman Peninsula and to impede them to be shifted in Crimea.

The Evacuation of the Troops out of the Bridgehead

When the prospect of a strong Soviet forces rally in the Kuban bridgehead was perceived on September 4, 1943, Hitler ordered to the commander of the "A" Army Group to evacuate Kuban an operation undertaken in secrecy starting with the night of September 16, 1943 (the logistical formations had been already withdrawn, beign disposed out of the zone of the operative depth).

The break off from the battle performed by the Romanian and German big units disposed in the bridgehead was perceived by the Soviet Command only a day after that, and the withdrawal of the troops and of the materials was accomplished on intermediate positions, placed at a distance of 10-15 km from each other. The total regrouping action of the big allied units disposed in the bridgehead ended on October 9, 1943. The last Romanian big unit that left Kuban was the 19th Infantry Division.

During the evacuation were carried on sea (using 240 ships) to Crimea 177,355 German military men, 50,139 Romanian military men, 28,486 volunteers, 27,457 civilians, 1,815 cannons, 115,477 tones of supplies, 13,940 tones of fodder, 74 assault cannons and armoured light vehicles, 72,899 horses, 17,741 waggons; by air 15,661 military men and 1,153 tones of materials were evacuated. During the defensive battle in the Kuban bridgehead the German troops have lost 10,008 killed (among them, 4 generals that were in command of division), 36,225 wounded and 526 missing men; the Romanians losses were: 1,598 dead, 7,264 wounded and 806 missing men.

In spite of the fact that it was planned by Hitler as a eventual basis for starting a new offensive to Caucasus, the defensive battle of Kuban represented, finally, a "shield" for protecting the Crimea Peninsula, thus immobilizing a great number of Soviet forces at the southern flank of the front.

Posted by: Petre October 21, 2016 06:02 pm
Source - NET, russian web-page :

The defeat and the retreat of the romanian troops, Caucasus and Kuban.

În dec. 1942 trupele române au fost înfrânte la Stalingrad, iar în Caucaz Div.2 VM ajunsese într-o situaţie dificilă. La 4 dec Div.2 a primit ordin să părăsească Osetia de Nord. Retragerea s-a făcut în condiţii complicate, la temperaturi scăzute şi atacuri permanente ale trupelor sovietice. În Kuban se afla Armata 17 germană, care număra şi 64 000 militari români.
La 11 ian. 1943 Div. 6 şi 9 cavalerie împreună cu Corpul 44 german au barat calea Armatei roşii spre Krasnodar. La 16 ian. Div.9 a intrat în luptă cu trei divizii sovietice, în cursul căreia a reuşit să respingă atacul. La 12 feb. trupele Armatei roşii au intrat în Krasnodar, după care au făcut o încercare de a scoate armatele germane din Kuban. Div.2 VM s-a aflat într-o situaţie grea, de aceea la 20 feb. Div. ge. 9 inf. şi Div. rom. 3 VM au întrerupt la timp ofensiva sovietică şi au ajuns la Div. 2.
Concomitent a fost reorganizat frontului în Kuban. Două divizii rom. de cavalerie au fost direcţionate spre Anapa şi spre litoralul Mării Negre. Restul diviziilor române au fost date în întărire trupelor germane sau au fost despărţite în câteva unităţi. Div. 2 VM a rămas pe poziţiile anterioare. Această reorganizare a precedat ofensiva sovieticilor pe direcţia Pen. Taman. Ofensiva a început la 25 feb.1943. Armata 17 germană a reuşit să reziste pe poziţii şi să respingă atacul, au rămas pe poziţii şi toate unităţile române. Deşi au acţionat cu succes, trupele germano-române au suferit pierderi mari. De aceea Armata 17 şi-a scurtat linia frontului, iar Div.2 VM a părăsit Kubanul, retrăgându-se în Crimeea. La 25 martie trupele sovietice au încercat iar să rupă apărarea germană, dar ofensiva s-a terminat iar fără succes. Pe timpul luptelor s-a remarcat Batalionul 1 rom. care n-a permis Armatei roşii să împresoare (?) Armata 17. Pe timpul celei de-a treia ofensive sovietice din aprilie Div. 19 a trebuit retrasă în spate din cauza pierderilor mari. La 26 mai a început a patra ofensivă, de această dată cu direcţia principală Anapa. În cursul luptelor, Armata roşie a reuşit să ia doar cota 121, la 4 iunie. La acel moment Div. 19 a revenit pe front.
La începutul lunii iunie 1943 intensitatea luptelor în Kuban s-a redus, în acest răgaz Div. 3 VM fiind trimisă în Crimeea. La 16 iulie trupele sovietice au declanşat o nouă ofensivă, însă au fost respinşi pe poziţiile iniţiale. La 22 iulie două batalioane sovietice au pătruns spre Novorossiisk, toate încercările de a le respinge atacul fiind fără succes. Pe timpul luptelor pentru oraş trupele germano-române au suferit pierderi mari, unele unităţi peste 50 % efective. În acest timp evacuarea trupelor române în Crimeea a continuat, aviaţia română a fost trimise la Kerci, Div.6 cavalerie trimisă şi ea în Crimeea. În locul ei a venit Div. 4 VM.
La 9 sept. Armata roşie a pornit Operaţia ofensivă Novorossiisk-Taman. Pentru a nu pierde controlul asupra Novorossiiskului trupele germano-române au aruncat în luptă toate forţele. Însă la 10 sept. Armata roşie a executat o operaţiune de desant, debarcând în portul Novorossiisk 5000 oameni. La 15 sept. bătălia pentru Novorossiisk s-a încheiat – trupele germano-române au fost scoase de aici. În nordul Kubanului situaţia era de asemenea dificilă, de aceea trupele române au început retragerea.
Din 4 sept. a început elaborarea planurilor de evacuare a trupelor germano-române din Pen. Taman, iar la mijlocul lunii sept. după înfrângerea trupelor germane la Novorossiisk a început evacuarea. Div. 1 şi 4 au părăsit regiunea pe calea aerului la 20 sept. Restul trupelor române s-au retras din Kuban în Crimeea la 24 şi 25 sept. iar Div. 10 inf. a atins Crimeea tocmai la 1 оct. Retragerile au fost însoţite de lupte permanente cu trupele sovietice.
În total, februarie-octombrie trupele române au avut pierderi 9668 oameni (1598 morţi, 7264 răniţi, 806 dispăruţi).

Posted by: Petre September 08, 2017 06:49 pm

Posted by: adicontakt September 16, 2017 02:05 pm
great story Petre , like usual , do you have more?

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