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The Mius River Front

Discussions on WW2 in Eastern Europe.

The Mius River Front

Postby Benoit Douville on 24 Nov 2006 23:49

The German created a heavily fortified line, known as the Mius-Front, that was an arena of fierce battles during the Battle of Rostov in 1943. I am interested about more info about that particular event, I heard the German fought really well there.
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Postby Alex Yeliseenko on 25 Nov 2006 11:52

In Russia there are some good researches on this theme. The latest book Mius-Front published in 2006. The author - Alexey Isaev.
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The Mius River Front

Postby tigre on 25 Nov 2006 13:19

Hello Benoit, may be this helps you something.

Sixth Army Defends the Mius River Line
by Major Dr. Martin Francke
War Diarist, Sixth Army

The Russian Strategic Concentration in Front of Sixth Army.

Until 9 July 1943 the Russian strategic reserve opposite the Mius River sector, consisting of Second Guards Army (two rifle corps, four tank/mechanized corps, and three cavalry corps), remained distributed in depth. We had observed no withdrawal of units on our front to reinforce the fighting on the battlefield between Belgorod and Orel nor any change in the disposition or density of the Russian artillery.

Nevertheless, 10 July marked a turning point for Sixth Army. By early afternoon there began such a movement of infantry and mechanized forces in front of Lieutenant General Erich Brandenberger's XXIX and General of Infantry Willi Schneckenburger's XVII Corps. Weather unfortunately rendered our air reconnaissance ineffective between 11 and 14 July. On the other hand, our troops had been trained in ground observation for weeks, and in conjunction with the 623rd Signal Intercept Company (long-range) and the 549th Military Intelligence Company (short-range) we had obtained much accurate information about the enemy's movements and intentions.

As early as 11 July it became apparent that the main Russian concentrations had been assembled east of Kuibyshevo and around Dmitrievka (the boundary between XXIX and XVII Corps and the center of XVII Corps). On 12 July an additional Russian group appeared near the boundary between XVII and IV Corps around Malaya Nikolsevka while another small group surfaced opposite the right sector of the 17th Infantry Division near Ryazhanaya.

The carelessness of the lower-echelon Red Army commanders provided us with many clues. Examples of this carelessness included the II Guards Mechanized Corps driving into the Nagolnaya Valley with their headlights turned on; artillery moving and infantry arriving at the front in broad dayligh. Our combat patrols suddenly encountered no opposition: Russian front-line trenches were either empty or the men had been withdrawn as our patrols approached, in order to keep prisoners or deserters from betrayingany information. Finally, our listening posts reported tank noises on the last day of the concentration.

From division headquarters down, Russian radio discipline was poor. Radio direction-finding allowed us to pinpoint key Red Army headquarters, discovering, for example, that the Second Guards Army had been brought up immediately behind the Fifth Shock Army.

Radio intercepts also provided Sixth Army with an increasingly accurate order of battle for the Soviet forces arrayed against it. We first identified the XLI Rifle Corps and 221st Rifle Division as belonging to the Fifth Shock Army on 11 July. Two days later it became possible to assign the 347th and 271st Rifle Divisions to the Second Guards Army. On 14 July Russian traffic revealed that the II Guards Mechanized Corps, 34th Guards Rifle Division, and 13th Guards Mortar Brigade had appeared east of Dmitrievka. Our operators on 15 July intercepted the first orders requiring the II Guards Mechanized Corps to reconnoiter in the direction of Dmitrievka, Stepanovka, and Artemovka (the presumable direction of its subsequent attack).

When effective Luftwaffe reconnaissance flights resumed on 15 July, our pilots reported the Kuibyshevo-Dyakovo-Dmitrievka sectors as the main concentration centers for Soviet mechanized forces (including tanks).

The Soviet Southern Front headquarters transferred forward from Novochaktinsk to the northern edge of Darievka on 16 July. Simultaneously, II Guards Mechanized Corps completed its concentration northwest of Dubrovsky (in other words, closer to Dmitrievka), and those elements already near Kuibyshevo moved closer to the front. The results of our long-range aerial reconnaissance, taken together with deserter statements, fixed 17 July as the first day of the attack.

General of Infantry Karl Hollidt, commander of Sixth Army, effectively countered these enemy concentrations through artillery interdiction fire, air strikes, and his own regrouping of forces between 11 and 16 July as we became more certain of Soviet intentions. The 16th Panzergrenadier Division, from Army Group South's reserve, received orders for an increased state of readiness on 11 July. During the night of 15-16 July, after having been formally attached to Sixth Army, this division moved into the assembly area around Malo-Christyakovo at the center of the XVII Corps sector. By the morning of 12 July XXIX and IV Corps each had been required to detach and place at the disposal of army headquarters one motorized regimental Kampfgruppe consisting of one artillery battalion, one engineer battalion, and one antitank company.
Sixth Army also reinforced General Schneckenburger's XVII Corps with heavy antitank, artillery, and assault-gun battalions. On 15 July General Hollidt wentforward not only to the XVII Corps command post but also to Major General Johannes Block's 294th Infantry Division and the front-line regiments of the 294th and 336th Infantry Divisions on the boundary betweenXVII and XXIX Corps. At 2235 hours, 16 July, Army Group South authorized General Hollidt to alert Lieutenant General Nikolaus von Vormann's 23rd Panzer Division (currently in reserve behind First Panzer Army on our left) to be prepared to serve again as Sixth Army reserve and to expect early commitment in the sector of Major General Carl Casper's 335th InfantryDivision. General Hollidt and Major General Max Bork, Sixth Army's chief of staff, personally supervised a final map exercise at theheadquarters of General of Infantry Friedrich Mieth's IV Corps.

The hour of decision for both the commanders and their troops had arrived.

Source: Excerpts taken from "KURSK: THE GERMAN VIEW". Eyewitness Reports of Operation Citadel by the German Commanders. Chap 11.

Cheers. Tigre.
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Postby Alex Yeliseenko on 25 Nov 2006 15:02

Battle on Mius-front has come to the end with defeat of Germans. Fights have revealed the main problems German troops - lack of tanks and infantry. Break Mius-Front has provided Red army of an opportunity for victories over Ukraine in 1943.
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Re: The Mius River Front

Postby Andreas on 25 Nov 2006 15:12

tigre wrote:The carelessness of the lower-echelon Red Army commanders provided us with many clues. Examples of this carelessness included the II Guards Mechanized Corps driving into the Nagolnaya Valley with their headlights turned on; artillery moving and infantry arriving at the front in broad dayligh. Our combat patrols suddenly encountered no opposition: Russian front-line trenches were either empty or the men had been withdrawn as our patrols approached, in order to keep prisoners or deserters from betrayingany information. Finally, our listening posts reported tank noises on the last day of the concentration.

From division headquarters down, Russian radio discipline was poor. Radio direction-finding allowed us to pinpoint key Red Army headquarters, discovering, for example, that the Second Guards Army had been brought up immediately behind the Fifth Shock Army.

Radio intercepts also provided Sixth Army with an increasingly accurate order of battle for the Soviet forces arrayed against it. We first identified the XLI Rifle Corps and 221st Rifle Division as belonging to the Fifth Shock Army on 11 July. Two days later it became possible to assign the 347th and 271st Rifle Divisions to the Second Guards Army. On 14 July Russian traffic revealed that the II Guards Mechanized Corps, 34th Guards Rifle Division, and 13th Guards Mortar Brigade had appeared east of Dmitrievka. Our operators on 15 July intercepted the first orders requiring the II Guards Mechanized Corps to reconnoiter in the direction of Dmitrievka, Stepanovka, and Artemovka (the presumable direction of its subsequent attack).


This is an interesting perspective - elsewhere I have read that the Soviet command intentionally let security lapse, to ensure that the Germans would move formations from the southern pincer at Kursk to shore up their defenses on the Mius.

If that was really the intent, it appears to have worked, since SS-T and Das Reich were quickly moved there, taking them away from the southern shoulder of the Kursk salient, where they could have interfered with the 'Polokovodets Rumyantsev' offensive operation.

All the best

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Postby Qvist on 25 Nov 2006 15:44

Hi Alex

Battle on Mius-front has come to the end with defeat of Germans. Fights have revealed the main problems German troops - lack of tanks and infantry. Break Mius-Front has provided Red army of an opportunity for victories over Ukraine in 1943.


The second Mius offensive in August, yes. The July offensive was however defeated, with Soviet forces stopped and then rolled back to their startline, the only notable operational victory the Germans achieved in the summer of 1943. But of course, it still fulfilled it's fundamental aim, which as Andreas notes was to divert German forces from the Zitadelle offensive.

Incidentally, T and DR were still heavily involved in the fighting against "Rumyantsev", from mid-august on.

As we know, Zitadelle begun on 5 July, absorbing the efforts of a large proportion of HG Süd's resources. The Mius offensive was begun on the 17th, while Zitadelle was still in progress. By the 18th, they had broken through in the centre of AOK 6's positions, and an afternoon counterattack by 16.Pz.Gren.D. failed to restore the situation, as did a renewed counterattack on the 19th by 23.PzD, which had arrived late on the 18th. 5th Shock Army continued the advance Eastwards on the 20th and 21st, before being stopped and held on the 22nd.

Das Reich and Totenkopf received orders already on the 17th July - the day the Mius offensive started - to prepare for redeployment south. However, the basic decision to cancel Zitadelle appears to have been formed earlier, already on the 13th. In this context it is an issue of considerable importance that the Germans were expecting a Soviet offensive, because to the extent that the Mius operation had any direct impact on the decision to cancel Zitadelle, that impact would have needed to come before the operation actually started. But at any rate, the inception of another major Soviet offensive on the 17th must at the very least have lent increased urgency to the desire to disengage forces from Zitadelle in order to shore up other sectors in the East (as well as to deal with the situation in Italy).

At the Mius, the situation remained one of stalemate until II SS-Panzerkorps (with "Reich", "Totenkopf" and 3.PzD) had completed their redeployment on 27 July and was ready to attack on the 30th. It took the Germans until 1 August to achieve any decisive success, when "Reich" broke through the Soviet center after "Totenkopf" and 3.PzD had failed to make headway egainst the Soviet right flank. "Reich", 16.Pz.Gren.D. and 23.PzD then regained the Western bank of the Mius, splitting the Soviet bulge in two and forcing a general Soviet withdrawal back across the river. By 2 August, the first Mius battle was essentially over, though the full recapture of the West bank was only accomplished by the 10th.

Which was just as well for the Germans, because on 3 August Rumyantsev broke loose to the North. Within a few days, all 3 divisions of II-SS PzK was on its way north, while the Corps HQ was ordered to Italy to join Leibstandarte, with III Panzerkorps assuming command of the divisions. They were assembling in the Kharkov area on 5 August, and were first in action on the 6th, though elements were continuing to arrive by rail over the following days. The Corps formed the nucleus of the German side in what may be considered the centrepiece of Rumyantsev, ie the fighting in around Bogodukhov during which the Germans attempted to cut off the Soviet spearheads by a counterthrust from the South. By the end of the month, the Germans had conceded defeat at Kharkov and was in retreat to the Dnepr.

On the 18th, while the Bogodukhov battle was at its height, the second Mius offensive was begun. It quickly achieved important breakthroughs, and this time there were no German reserves at hand with which the offensive could be quickly contained. By the end of August, AOK 6 was in an untenable position, and with the permission to retreat coming far too late, it resulted not only in the loss of the Mius line but also in AOK 6 being quite badly gutted as a force.

So, how important were the Mius offensives? If we accept that the decision to cancel Zitadelle was fundamentally made by the 13th of July (when Hitler informed Manstein of his intention to do just that), then there are obviously limits to the importance that can be ascribed to it in effecting that decision, as the offensive did not actually begin in earnest until the 17th. Also, given that it had essentially run its course when Rumyantsev begun, it did not prevent the Germans from shifting the forces that had ensured victory on the Mius northwards to counter Rumyantsev. But I think it seems probable that the expectation of a Mius offensive played some part in the initial decision to cancel Zitadelle, and also that its actual outbreak played an important role in the abrupt termination of it on the 17th. Furthermore, while the three Panzer Divisions were able to shift quickly north to engage Rumyantsev, they had suffered very serious losses during the Mius fighting, and were as a consequence considerably weakened. Except for the ten-day period during which they disengaged from the Prokhorovka sector and moved to the Mius, they had been in more or less continuous action since 5 July.

cheers
Last edited by Qvist on 25 Nov 2006 16:36, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Alex Yeliseenko on 25 Nov 2006 15:56

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Postby AMVAS on 25 Nov 2006 16:02

Losses of the Soviet armored forces in the battles on Mius-front on July 17-27 and their state on July 28'43
Image

Columns:
1 - Operable
2 - in repair
3 - Losses
4 - Total

Rows

6th Gds. Tank Bde
32nd Gds. Tank Bde
22nd Seprate Tank Rgt
7th Gds. Separate Tank Rgt.
2nd Gds. Mechanised Corps
4th Gds. Mechanised Corps
33rd Gds. Tank Bde.
1st Gds. Separate Heavy Tank Rgt.
140th Tank Bde.
Total
Last edited by AMVAS on 27 Nov 2006 10:28, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Qvist on 25 Nov 2006 16:39

Thanks Amvas, but which period does this refer to, for those of us who does not read Russian? If 17-27 July, they cover only the first phase of the first Mius offensive, if 17-27 August they refer only to the second Mius offensive.

cheers
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Postby AMVAS on 25 Nov 2006 16:52

Qvist wrote:Thanks Amvas, but which period does this refer to, for those of us who does not read Russian? If 17-27 July, they cover only the first phase of the first Mius offensive, if 17-27 August they refer only to the second Mius offensive.

cheers


It covers July 17-27

I think you'd better treat Panzeralex.
If I'm right, he must obtain much more data just about this operation
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Postby Benoit Douville on 25 Nov 2006 17:23

Hi everybody,

All those info about the Miust River line front are really appreciated, it really help to understand the situation.

Regards
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Postby Michate on 25 Nov 2006 18:17

The Citadel offensive in its large form was cancelled at the meeting of Kluge and Manstein with Hitler on July 13, Hitler however allowed von Manstein a continuation of limited attacks of the southern attack wing.
On July 15, after AG Kempf had united with 4th army, von Manstein counseled with Hoth and Kempf, and they decided to attack with 4th army in a northwestern direction (against 2nd army), while AG Kempf was to cover the right flank (codenamed "Roland").
The next two days were spent with regrouping of the divisions (Panzer divisons west, infantry divisions east, it seems), but on July 17th before the attack had materialised, it was cancelled due to the attacks at the Mius and at the Donez against 1. Panzer army.
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Postby Alex Yeliseenko on 25 Nov 2006 18:45

Mius-front. August-43/

Image

suitable for loading
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Postby Michate on 27 Nov 2006 09:50

For those of us who cannot read Russian, how are the column headers labelled (the last column figures being obviously the sums of those in the three previous columns)?
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Postby AMVAS on 27 Nov 2006 10:16

Michate wrote:For those of us who cannot read Russian, how are the column headers labelled (the last column figures being obviously the sums of those in the three previous columns)?


I added translations for them
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