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COUNTERPOINT TO STALINGRAD. Operation Mars (November-December 1942)

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Впервые опубликовано 25.09.2005 18:54
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2. For a partial listing of forgotten operations, see, David M. Glantz, "The Failures of Historiography: Forgotten Battles of the German-Soviet War (1941-1945)," The Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4 (December 1995), 768-808. Published in the Russian Federation as David M. Glantz, "Nedostatki istoriografii: zabytye bitvy germano-sovetskoi voiny (1941-1945)" [The shortcomings of historiography: forgotten battles of the German-Soviet War (1941-1945)]. in Vtoraia mirovaia voina: Aktual'nye problemy [The Second World War: Actual problems], (Moscow: "Nauka," 1995), 339-361.
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3. Other glaring instances of flaws in the historical record during the period 1943 through 1945 include the failed Soviet Central Front offensive westward from Kursk in February-March 1943, the abortive Soviet Belorussian offensive of fall 1943, and the defeated Soviet attempt to invade East Prussia in fall 1944.
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4. Existing Soviet accounts, including Zhukov's memoirs, obfuscate when Operation Uranus was planned by stating that planning for the Stalingrad and associated operations occurred in late October and early November. It is now clear that both Operation Mars and Uranus were planned in late September.
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5. Zhukov's memoirs distort both the calendar of events in fall 1942 and his role in and the course of Operation Mars. He mentions the operation but covers up its timing, purpose, course, and consequences. For an accurate account of Zhukov's complete wartime itinerary, including the vital period of fall 1942, see S. I. Isaev, Vekhi frontovogo puti [Landmarks of a front path], VIZh, No. 10 (October 1991), 22-25. This calendar of Zhukov's travels shows that he spent the bulk of this critical fall period with the Western and Kalinin Fronts. All subsequent references in this article to Zhukov's activities accord with his actual work itinerary.
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6. Zhukov's force of over 57,000 men lost over 23,000 in the Khalhin Gol operation, including nearly 9,000 dead and missing. For details see G. F. Krivosheev, Grif sektretnosti niat: poteri vooruzhennykh sil SSSR v voinakh, boevykh deistviiakh, i voennykh konfliktakh [Classification secret removed: losses of the armed forces of the USSR in wars, military actions, and military conflicts], (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1993), 76-84. For details on Zhukov's performance at Khalhin Gol and his crude combat style, see Petro G. Grigorenko, Memoirs, (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982), 105-110.
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7. The July-August 1942 Rzhev operation, formally named the Pogoreloe-Gorodishche Operation, was conducted by the 20th and 31st Armies of Zhukov's Western Front and the 29th and 30th Armies of Konev's Kalinin Front. The partial successes achieved in the operation indicated to Zhukov what another better prepared and more powerful operation could achieve. It also prompted the Stavka to appoint Zhukov to coordinate future operations of both fronts against the Rzhev salient.
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8. At the beginning of war, Zhukov had advocated a "southern" strategy be adopted, in which the Red Army would commit its most powerful forces in the south where strategic decision could be reached. This strategy reflected Zhukov's prior service in the Kiev Special Military District and his role in drafting prewar Soviet defense plans while he was serving as Chief of the General Staff. Zhukov converted to a "northern" strategy after his experiences at Moscow in winter 1941-1942 and strenuously argued that point of view during spring 1942. See David M. Glantz, The Anatomy of a Military Disaster: The Soviet Kharkov Operation (May 1942), forthcoming in 1997 from the Ian Allen (London) and Sarpedon (New York) Presses.
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9. The forces of the Kalinin and Western Fronts, together with the Moscow Defense Zone, comprised 31 percent of the manpower, 32 percent of the artillery, almost 50 percent of the armor, and over 35 percent of the total Soviet Armed Forces' strength. These forces were concentrated along only 17 percent of the overall front.
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10. These Soviet strength figures appear in A. A. Grechko, chief ed., Istoriia vtoroi mirovoi voiny 1939-1945, tom shestoi [A history of the Second World War, Volume six] (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1976), 34-35. German intelligence records generally substantiate the relative strengths.
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11. Stavka reserves available to Zhukov's two fronts included an imposing array of tank, mechanized, and cavalry corps (the 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, and 10th Tank, the 1st, 2d, and 3d Mechanized, and the 2d Guards Cavalry), the superbly refitted tank army of Lieutenant General P. S. Rybalko, then in Western Front reserve west of Kaluga, the 2d Guards Army and associated 2d Guards Mechanized Corps in the process of forming in the Tambov region midway between Moscow and Stalingrad; the 2d Reserve Army in the Vologda region; the 3d Reserve Army near Kalinin; and the 10th Reserve Army in the Volga Military District. While the three reserve armies would not be fit to take the field until late November and December, the Stavka considered them capable of supporting either Operation Mars or Uranus. The most ready of the armies, Lieutenant General R.Y.Malinovsky's powerful 2d Guards, was positioned to participate in the later stages of either operation. In addition, the Stavka had the refitted 6th Mechanized Corps in the Moscow Defense Zone, the fresh 7th and 24th Tank Corps in reserve in the south, as well as the 2d and 23d Tank Corps, which was assigned to the Volga Military District near Stalingrad. See Boevoi sostav sovetskoi armii, chast 2 [Combat composition of the Soviet Army, Part 2], (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1972). Classified secret, but now declassified. Prepared by the General Staff's Military-scientific Directorate.
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12. Vasilevsky remained one of Stalin's most trusted generals and advisers throughout the war. He completed the war as Stalin's theater commander in the Far East, where in August 1945 he organized and led the Soviet offensive against Japanese forces in Manchuria. In terms of his performance, Vasilevsky emerged from the war as the Soviet Union's finest general, a fact which history has also tended to obscure. As was the custom, all Stavka members participated in the planning of both operations. As Deputy Supreme Commander, Zhukov did so as well, which later permitted him to share in the glory of the Stalingrad victory.
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13. The Soviet 5th Army consisted of 6 rifle divisions, 4 rifle brigades, 2 tank brigades, and 9 artillery regiments, while the 33d Army included the 7th Guards Rifle Corps, 8 rifle divisions, 4 rifle brigades, a ski brigade, 3 tank brigades, and 5 artillery regiments. Both armies were far stronger than the other front armies, except the armies conducting the main attacks in Operation Mars. See Boevoi sostav, 211-212.
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14. The Soviets understood that two Rumanian armies and a portion of German Fourth Panzer Army was supporting German Sixth Army operations around Stalingrad.
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15. Ultimately, Operation Saturn was truncated into Operation Little Saturn because German resistance at Stalingrad was stronger than anticipated. In Operation Little Saturn, the Stavka sought to destroy Italian and German forces along the Don River rather than reach deep to Rostov on the Sea of Azov.
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16. For the contents of the Western Front directive, see Tsentral'nyi arkhiv ministerstva oborony {Central Archives of the Ministry of Defense], abbreviated TsAMO, Fond 386, Opis 8583, Ed. Khr. [individual custody] 144, List [page] 8. All archival references hereafter cited as TsAMO, with appropriate fond (F.), opis (Op.), delo (D.), and page (L.).
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17. Late on 26 September, the Stavka planners adjourned their sessions and returned to their respective front sectors to coordinate planning with front commanders and staffs. After surveying the latest conditions in the south, Zhukov intended to rejoined his Western and Kalinin Fronts on 12 October, the initial date set for the launch of Operation Mars. However, bad weather delayed the preparations for Mars, and, instead of rejoining his fronts, on 12 October Zhukov returned to Moscow to finalize plans for the operation's first phase, now rescheduled for 28 October. On 21 October, while Zhukov traveled to the Kalinin Front to finalize attack preparations, the General Staff prepared final orders and dispatched them to the respective fronts.
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18. For a full explanation of the Soviet operational concept, see "Vvod v proryv konno-mekhanizirovannykh grupp" [Introduction into the penetration of a cavalry-mechanized group], Sbornik materialov po izucheniiu opyta voiny, No. 9 (noiabr'-dekabr' 1943 g.) [Collections of materials for the study of war experience, No. 9 (November-December 1943)] (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1944), 135-139. This classified study of the operations of the 20th Army's mobile group was prepared by the Red Army General Staff's Section for the Exploitation of War Experience. Hereafter cited as SMPIOV, with appropriate page.
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19. For a description of the 41st Army's mission within the context of Kalinin Front operations, see M. D. Solomatin, Krasnogradtsy [The men of Krasnograd] (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1963), 11-13, and "Boevye donoseniia i operativnye svodki shtaba 1 mekhkorpusa" [Combat reports and operational summaries of the 1st Mechanized Corps], TsAMO, F. 3424, Op. 1. D. 2, L. 31. Solomatin's work contains a thorough and generally accurate account of 1st Mechanized and 6th Rifle Corps operations. Less detailed descriptions of the missions of the 22d and 39th Armies are found in M. E. Katukov, Na ostrie glavnogo udara [On the point of the mani attack] (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1976), 182-183 and K. A. Malygin, V tsentre boevogo poriadka [In the center of the combat formation], (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1986), 69-70.
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20. While no Soviet documents refer specifically to Operation Jupiter, Soviet force concentrations clearly indicate the Stavka intended to conduct the follow-on operation. Given the names assigned to the other operations, it is likely it was designated either Jupiter or Neptune.
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21. No Soviet sources, open or classified, mention specific plans for Operation Jupiter. German Ninth Army records, however, document the major build-up of forces in the sectors of the 5th and 33d Armies during October and November 1942. Soviet archival sources confirm this major build-up. In addition to the resubordination of the 3d Tank Army to the Western Front in October and its positioning east of Viaz'ma, the 9th and 10th Tank Corps were positioned to the rear of the 5th and 33d Armies. According to "Prikazy 10-mu TK s 13.5 po 27.12.42" [Orders to the 10th Tank Corps from 13.5 through 27.12.42], TsAMO, F. 3404, Op. 1, D. 1, L. 225, at 1800 hours on 13 November 1942, the 10th Tank Corps was shifted from the Stavka reserve to Western Front control. Subsequent reports document its deployment into the 5th Army's sector. Boevoe sostav, chast 2, 190-91, 211-12, 235-36, records the reinforcement of the 5th Army with the 30th Guards, 78th, 194th, and 379th Rifle Divisions and both the 5th and 33d Armies with heavy amounts of supporting artillery.
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22. Stavka support for the Western and Kalinin Fronts included 31 tank brigades and 12 tank regiments, totaling 2,352 tanks, over 54 artillery regiments, 30 guards mortar battalions, and 23 antitank regiments with almost 10,000 guns and mortars, and 20 separate engineer and sapper battalions. This support included one of the newly fielded separate heavy guards mortar regiments (heavy Katiushas or "Stalin organs") and 18 separate heavy guards mortar battalions. See Boevoi sostav, 211-212.
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23. "Prikazy 8Gv SK, sentiabr-dekabr' 42g." [Orders of the 8th Guards Rifle Corps, September-December 1942], TsAMO, F. 825, Op. 1, D. 11, L. 98.
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24. For offensive details, see SMPIOV, No. 9, 141-150, A. L. Getman, Tanki idut na Berlin (1941-1945) [Tanks are advancing on Berlin], (Moscow: "Nauka," 1973), 70-76, and P. G. Kuznetsov, Gvardeitsy-moskvichi [Moscow guardsmen], (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1962), 185-190. These are the official combat histories of the 6th Tank Corps and the 1st Guards Motorised Division.
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25. For German accounts of the operation along the Vazuza River, see H. Grossman, Rzhev: The Cornerstone of the Eastern Front, translated from the German Rshew: Eckpfeiler der Ostefront, (Freidberg, 1980), and Anton Detlev von Plato, Die Geschichte der 5. Panzerdivision 1938 bis 1945, (Regensburg: Walhalla u. Praetoria Verlg KG Geog Zwickenpflug, 1978), 23-257.
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26. The 31st Army led its attack with the 88th, 336th, and 239th Rifle Divisions, supported by the 332d and 145th Tank Brigades. The defending Germans decimated both tank brigades in three days of battle and inflicted huge losses on the Soviet rifle divisions.
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27. The story of the German 102d Infantry Division, in particular, the intelligence situation before the operation, is found in David Kahn, "An Intelligence Case History: The Defense of Osuga, 1942," Aerospace Historian, Vol. 28, No. 4 (Winter/December 1981), 242-251.
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28. In the sector between the Osuga and Vazuza Rivers, the German 102d Infantry Division's 195th Infantry Regiment defeated the Soviet 326th, 42d Guards, and 251st Rifle Divisions, which were supported by the 25th and 93d Tank Brigades.
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29. Mukhin's division was supported by the 80th and 240th Tank Brigades.
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30. The second echelon 8th Guards Rifle Corps consisted of the 26th Guards Rifle Division, the 148th and 150th Rifle Brigades, and the 11th and 18th Tank Brigades. Its mission was to expand the bridgehead and facilitate the exploitation by the Soviet mobile group. In addition, the 20th Army had the 1st Guards Motorised Rifle Division and the 31st Tank Brigade in army reserve. The mobile group was, in reality, a cavalry-mechanized group consisting of the 6th Tank and 2d Guards Cavalry Corps. Mobile groups, the forerunners of the modern operational maneuver group (OMG), had the specific mission of conducting an operational exploitation of the tactical penetration.
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31. A Soviet after-action account recorded, "The responsible 20th Army staff officers who were in charge of the crossing sites had such a poor understanding of the situation that they continued to permit transport and rear service units to cross to the western bank at the same time that combat elements of the exploitation echelon remained on the river's eastern bank."
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32. Arman's 22d and 20th Tank Brigades and 6th Motorised Rifle Brigade made it across the road, but with heavy losses, while his 100th Tank Brigade remained in the bridgehead, stopped by interlocking German strong points.
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33. Elements of Kriukov's 2d and 3d Guards Cavalry Divisions and his entire 20th Cavalry Division made it across the road. His 4th Guards Cavalry Division and corps headquarters did not.
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34. See Grossman, 45.
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35. SMPIOV, No. 9, 146.
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36. Grossman, 44 and von Plato, 245-247.
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37. The immense traffic jam along the Vazuza River also delayed the forward deployment of supporting artillery.
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38. For details on the Soviet offensive in the Belyi sector, see M. D. Solomatin, Krasnogradtsy [The men of Krasnograd], (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1963), "Report by the 3d Air Army Representative with the 1st MC During Operation "Mars," TsAMO, F. 311, Op. 311, D. 24, LL. 86-87. Original document from the archives (Translator unknown), and "Boevye doneseniia i operativnye svodki shataba I mekhkorpua" [Combat report and operational summary of 1st Mechanized Corps' headquarters], TsAMO, F. 3404, Op. 1, D. 2, LL. 2-36.
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39. Popov's rifle corps consisted of the 150th Rifle Division and the 74th, 75th, 78th, and 91st Rifle Brigades, and Solomatin's corps, the 65th and 219th Tank and the 19th, 35th, and 37th Mechanized Brigades.
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40. Solomatin's corps numbered 10 heavy KV, 119 medium T-34, and 95 light T-70 tanks, See the corps' after-action report at TsAMO, F. 3424, Op. 1. D. 2, LL. 2-36.
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41. Popov's infantry accompanied Solomatin's advance, but, since it lagged behind the armor, it made seizure of the Belyi-Vladiirskoe road more difficult.
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42. Solomatin, 22-23.
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43. Rolf O. G. Stoves, 1. Panzer-Division 1935-1945, (Bad Nauheim: Verlag Hans-Henning Podzun, 1961), 380.
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44. Ibid.
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45. The initial Soviet assault routed a regiment of the German 246th Infantry Division. Tarasov believed few German reserves were available to defend the city. Moreover, since Belyi had held out during and since the Soviet Winter offensive of 1941-1942, it was an even more enticing target.
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46. Gruz's division was reinforced, first, by Solomatin's 19th Mechanized Brigade and, subsequently, by the 91st Rifle Brigade.
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47. For details on German actions in the Belyi sector, see Grossman, Rzhev, and Rolf O. G. Stoves, 1. Panzer-Division 1935-1945, (Bad Neuheim: Verlag Hans-Henning Podzun, 1961), 375-409.
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48. Group von Weitersheim consisted of the 1st Panzer Division's 113th Panzer Grenadier Regiment and Group Kassnitz of Grossdeutschland Panzer Grenadier Division's Fusilier Regiment.
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49. The Belyi-Vladimirskoe road was the only German re-supply route into Belyi.
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50. The 47th and 48th Mechanized Brigades were in army reserve, each with a regiment of 39 tanks.
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51. In his memoirs, Nastupala grozhaia bronia [Threatening armor attacks], (Kiev: Politicheskoi literatury Ukrainy, 1981), 38, Dremov notes only that his brigade took part in "an unsuccessful operation near Belyi."
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52. For additional details on the German Ninth Army's defense and detailed intelligence information on Soviet forces throughout the operation, see "Tatigkeitsbericht der Abteilung Ic/A.O." dated 1 July-3 Dec 1942, AOK 9, 27970/6 in National Archives (NAM) microfim series NAM T-312, Roll 304. Daily operational and intelligence maps accompany these reports.
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53. Grossdeutschland's Grenadier Regiment fielded forward a battalion at a time after helping repulse the Soviet assault further north. Details on Soviet operations in the Luchesa River valley are sketchy. See M. E. Katukov, Na ostrie glavnogo udara [At the point of the main attack], (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1976), which, although it admits the operation took place, says little about its conduct. Memoirs by brigade commanders Babadzhanian and Dragunsky are little better. The records of the Ninth Army and the Grossdeutschland Division provide the most detailed and accurate account and confirm which Soviet units took part in the action.
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54. During this period General Iushkevich committed his 114th Rifle Brigade and 39th Tank Regiment from his army reserve . When these forces proved inadequate to the task, he began shifting rifle regiments into battle from other army sectors. The Germans, however, matched these piecemeal reinforcements with just enough strength to hold Iushkevich's army at bay but not enough to close the breech.
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55. Grossman, 54.
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56. Ibid.
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57. General Zygin's 39th Army assaulted along the Molodoi Tud with the 373d, 135th, and 158th Rifle Divisions, supported by the 28th and 81st Tank Brigades. He attacked on the flanks with four rifle brigades, the 100th and 117th on the right and the 136th and 101st on the left, supported by 28th and 29th Tank Regiments. For the few Soviet details see, V. P. Boiko, S dumoi o Rodine [With thoughts about the Homeland], (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1979) and N. M. Khlebnikov, Pod grokhot soten baterei [Under the thunder of hundreds of batteries], (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1979). The former was the commander of the 28th Tank Brigade and the latter was the 39th Army chief of artillery.
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58. The 100th Rifle Brigade broke through the German 253d Infantry Division's defenses southwest of Molodoi Tud city and advanced 5 kilometers into the German rear. A skillful counterattack by two battalions from Grossdeutschland Division's Grenadier Regiment thwarted the Soviet advance, which Zygin was unable to reinforce. Thereafter, Grossdeutschland's two battalions speedily regrouped to meet the Soviet attack in the Luchesa River valley.
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59. Getman, 73-74 and SMPIOV, No. 9, 148-149. All of Colonel Arman's brigades were decimated except for the 100th Tank Brigade, which had been unable to accompany the corps in its drive across the road.
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60. For details of the 20th Cavalry Division's "raid" through the German rear, see A. I. Sekretov, Gvardeiskaia postup' (boevoi put' 17-i Mozyrskoi Krasnoznamennoi ordena Lenina, Suvorova i Kutuzova kavaleriiskoi divizii, podwhefnoi Tadzhikistnu, v gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny 1941-1945 gg.) [Guards gait (the combat path of the Mozyr, Red Banner, Orders of Lenin, Suvorov, and Kutuzov 17th Guards Cavalry Division, sponsored by Tadzhikistan in the Great Patriotic War, 1941-1945), (Dushanbe: "Donish, " 1985), 40-48.
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61. von Plato, 250.
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62. Getman, 74.
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63. von Plato, 251.
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64. Solomatin, 28-29. Solomatin had already withdrawn his 37th Mechanized Brigade from the outskirts of Vladimirskoe, where it had severed the critical German rail line and road to Belyi.
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65. The German Ninth Army's records confirm the interdiction efforts by Soviet partisans, which significantly slowed the 20th Panzer Division's advance.
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66. See Solomatin, 30-35 and the 1st Mechanized Corps' after-action report, which are remarkably similar.
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67. See Getman, 74, who states that his 6th Tank Corps' strength had increased to 100 tanks by 11 December, and A. D. Kochetkov, Dvinskiii tankovyi: boevoi put'5-go tankovogo dvinskogo korpusa [The Dvina Tank: the combat path of the 5th Dvina Tank Corps], (Moscow: Voenizdat, 1989). The latter provides detail on the tank corps' strength and its role in the December operation. It tracks well with 5th Tank Corps' archival documents.
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68. See combat reports in the 5th Tank Corps archival files at TsAMO, F. 3404, Op. 1, D. 9, 10, and 259 , which include records of daily actions and losses from 11-15 December.
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69. Kochetkov, 11.
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70. "Feindnachrichtenblatt Nr 140," Armeeoberkommando 9, Ic/A.)., Nr. 3291/geh., A.H.Qu., den 15 Dezember1942. in National Archive Microfim [NAM] series T-312, Roll 304.
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71. TsAMO, F. 3424, Op. 1, D. 2, L.. 36.
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72. Ibid., F. 373, Op. 6631, D. 56, L. 3-54.
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73. Ibid., F. 3424, Op. 1, D. 2, LL. 2-36.
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74. Ibid., F. 825, Op. 1, D. 32, LL. 63-73.
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75. The casualty tally in individual Soviet formations was equally shocking. In its after-action report, Kiriukhin's 20th Army recorded 58,524 men lost out of 114,176 originally committed. The army's 8th Guards Rifle Corps lost 6.058 men in the five days of combat, and, by 7 December, the corps' 26th Guards Rifle Division had just over 400 "fighters" remaining. At the time, the 148th Separate Rifle Brigade had 47 riflemen remaining and the 150th Rifle Brigade only 110. The tank and mechanized corps too were decimated. The 6th Tank Corps lost virtually its entire strength twice over, the 1st Mechanized Corps was essentially destroyed, and the 5th Tank Corps, whose tanks went into combat without their white camouflage paint, lost its entire complement of tanks in three days of combat. Its 5th Motorised Rifle Brigade counted over 1,500 dead, fully 70 percent of its combat strength. By 15 December the corps could muster only one composite rifle battalion. These losses were but a microcosm of the price the Soviets paid for defeat in Operation Mars. For a detailed survey of Soviet losses, see German Ninth Army records and Soviet archival documents cited above.
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76. von Plato, 256 and Stoves, 408.
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77. A. L. Getman, Tanki idut na Berlin (1941-1945) [The tanks advance on Berlin (1941-1945)], (Moscow: "Nauka," 1973), 76.
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78. "Feindachrichtenblatt Nr. 140.
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Author: David M. Glantz



 
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