Wehrmacht takes Kandalaksha

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Max Sinister
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Wehrmacht takes Kandalaksha

Post by Max Sinister » 16 Sep 2023 22:49

Cutting off Murmansk, or even taking it, would hamper the logistics of the convoys from the WAllies for the SU pretty much. If you can't take the city itself, you could cut the railway at any point in between - like at Kandalaksha, or Byelomorsk.

Of course, there are several problems to solve:
  • The terrain in question (esp. close to Murmansk) is about the hardest there is on Earth. Hell, even general Eduard Dietl dared to tell the "führer" that it looks like after the creation of the world.
  • The Finns wanted to conquer the lost territory back, but only a minority wanted more than that. That's why their troops didn't like to advance further.
  • German troops weren't that well prepared for the winter. But you know that.

I've read some books about the OTL background, "Finland in the Second World War: Between Germany and Russia" by Olli Vehviläinen, and Earl F. Ziemke's "German Northern Theater of Operations 1940–1945".

In the Lapland theater, the Axis had five divisions (but keep in mind that the German mountaineer division were somewhat smaller than usual divisions), the Soviets six incl. one reserve division. This should be changed if you want to succeed there.

Some ideas which might help:
  • With the BEF defeated at Dunkirk, the "führer" might decide to move some divisions from France and Norway esp. to the East. This might help in this theater too - originally, Dietl had demanded four divisions for striking at Murmansk, but only got two.
  • Concentrate on cutting off the railway instead of trying to advance through the horrible terrain between Petsamo and Murmansk
  • An uncommon solution: Make Mannerheim the supreme commander of this theater. Maybe this'll motivate him to advance farther, or teach the German soldiers how to fight a winter war.

Then again: Since I think that the Nazis would better win their war (against the Soviets) in 1941, Murmansk will matter just for a few months. Esp. since the harbor's facilities were dismantled (Murmansk was considered to be too close to the fighting lines, 40 miles only) and had to be brought back and reconstructed later, after the WAllies promised to support the SU.


I've checked a certain other AH forum for ideas re: an attack on Kandalaksha (Kantalahti)/Belomorsk, but didn't find anything. Well, this nice map of the Soviet rail system in 1941, but I hadn't looked for that.

But also another problem: The US had threatened to declare war on Finland if they took Murmansk or Belomorsk (Sorokka in Finnish). Under this condition, it's not surprising that the Finns will only attack Soviet cities which don't matter much in the whole situation.

This book about the Continuation War/German-Finnish Coalition looks interesting, but I don't want to spend 15 hours on a single audiobook.

But this one was helpful, and had many good photographies: Hitler's Arctic War by Dr. Chris Mann.

Now I can give it a try: How do we strike at the Murmansk railroad in a way that is realistic and works?

Probably won't work:
- Making Mannerheim supreme commander of the theater: Dietl actually suggested this to him in 1942, but he declined. (As if he didn't want the nazis to win...)
- Making Dietl supreme commander: Suggested to him, he declined too. And admittedly, leading an army split into three groups far apart from each other is no easy task. Even if he's better than Falkenhorst.
- Using wide, removable tracks for their panzers. In OTL they started this in 1942 only.

What might work:
- Moving some troops from Norway to Karelia. The Wehrmacht had nine to twelve divisions there. We know, the "führer" was paranoid about a British invasion. But with a victory Dunkirk, he might agree to give one or two of them for Barbarossa. Of course, they'll need more supplies for that too, but at least they'll have more engineers to build roads. Because there were practically no west-east roads in Karelia.
- Avoiding to split the party (er, troops). In OTL, they were supposed to strike at Murmansk, Kandalaksha, and Lou(k)hi. Maybe in this ATL the "führer"'s mood is better, and he allows them to unite, or strike in only two places, leaving the defense to the Finns. - Of course, they're still in a terrain where it's hard to advance. So the Soviets might find out what they're up to and move troops accordingly.
- An attack on Belomorsk, which was almost undefended (read that in a book about Andropov - hm, if this works, I might kill him at this opportunity). Of course, unless the Soviets do the sensible thing and move troops there.

But yes, blitzkrieg in this terrain is pretty much impossible. So there doesn't seem to make sense to think about making a faint here and then to quickly strike somewhere else... yeah, if the Soviets didn't have the only railroad... OK, now there's a railroad Laurila–Kandalaksha, but it was finished in 1942 only...


Here are two more texts which were helpful about the Karelian theater, both by General der Infanterie Waldemar Erfurth who served as O Qu V (having the job of the military historian) under Franz Halder:

Warfare in the Far North

The Last Finnish War

What won't work (at least not well enough): Airstrikes, special commands, paratroopers. They managed to cause damage at the railroad, but in each case, it could be repaired by the Soviets in a few hours. So we need the Heer to strike there.

This thread suggests that Mannerheim is incapacitated, and general Aalto (who doesn't know or care that the US threatened to declare war if the Murman railroad was destroyed) attacks Belomorsk successfully, given that he has 27300 Finns against 12000 Soviets, and it's "just" 60 kilometers. But that would be in December, which might be too late already.

Some more ideas what might work:

- Finland attacks during Barbarossa from the very first day, instead of waiting some days as IOTL. Under these circumstances, you don't have the element of surprise.
- Mannerheim suggested during winter 1941/42 to attack Belomorsk/Sarokka. Would this have been the best place to strike at the railroad? It's relatively far in the south - but also quite far from the border. Good idea, or him playing another trick on the nazis?
- If Kandalaksha is the optimal place, it'd help if the Finns attacked there on June 23rd (or whichever is the day after Barbarossa starts ITTL), as Falkenhorst wanted. Maybe a Soviet airstrike on Helsinki causes big damage, so Mannerheim'll want retaliation? - And of course, the "führer" shouldn't make a decree to stop attacking there, as he did on August 2nd.
- The Finns allowed the Soviets in Hangö to hang (pun not intended) around there until november/december. If they were defeated earlier (if necessary, by Germans), that'd free two Finnish divisions for the East.
- A railroad built from Rovaniemi to the East would also help. Even if the Germans had to do it alone.
- And since I already stated (elsewhere) that Barbarossa will start 10-14 days earlier, that'll help too until the winter comes. Although Erfurth says that the winter is the optimal fighting time in this theater. (But only if your soldiers are trained appropriately, like the Finns and later the Soviets too.)

What to do about it now? My original idea was: Dietl makes a feint in some place, while planning to make the real attack at Kandalaksha. His Soviet opponent has to make an important decision, decides in the wrong way, and when he wakes up to reality, the Wehrmacht has taken Kandalaksha and destroyed several miles of railroad. (They make take a page from the Yankees in "Gone with the Wind", make a fire from the railway sleepers/railroad ties, or trees [there are enough of them], heat the tracks in it, and twist them into circles to make repair even harder. GWTW wasn't verboten in Nazi Germany...)

Do you think this is realistic enough?

(About distances: It's about 300 km from Murmansk to Kandalaksha, 170 from Kandalaksha to Lou(k)hi, 220 from there to Belomorsk. In 1941, the railroad was still single-track, the trains on it ran on bituminous coal, made 20-25 mph, and there were 10-15 trains driving per day, both directions, and it was estimated that the track might handle up to 40.)

One more detail: During their retreat, the Wehrmacht used a machine called "Schienenwolf", a kind of railroad plough, to destroy railroad tracks efficiently. They didn't invent it, though - so it might be in use in 1941 already. Here's a short video - seems it could move about as fast as an average walker, so you might indeed destroy several miles of tracks during a few hours. And if the Red Army will have to transport them by steam rail from 300+ kilometers, the wehrmacht will have some hours.

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: Wehrmacht takes Kandalaksha

Post by T. A. Gardner » 16 Sep 2023 23:58

Of the three Lend-Lease routes into Russia, Murmansk was likely the least important. The Pacific route was completely unimpeded. The Persian route, once opened, was likewise unimpeded. Of the three, Germany could only try to do something about the Murmansk route.

Simply damaging the rail line wasn't going to do much. Rail systems could be repaired relatively easily. Taking out bridges and yards had more effect, but even those were temporary measures.

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Re: Wehrmacht takes Kandalaksha

Post by Peter89 » 17 Sep 2023 19:32

Max Sinister wrote:
16 Sep 2023 22:49
Cutting off Murmansk, or even taking it, would hamper the logistics of the convoys from the WAllies for the SU pretty much. If you can't take the city itself, you could cut the railway at any point in between - like at Kandalaksha, or Byelomorsk.

Of course, there are several problems to solve:
  • The terrain in question (esp. close to Murmansk) is about the hardest there is on Earth. Hell, even general Eduard Dietl dared to tell the "führer" that it looks like after the creation of the world.
  • The Finns wanted to conquer the lost territory back, but only a minority wanted more than that. That's why their troops didn't like to advance further.
  • German troops weren't that well prepared for the winter. But you know that.

I've read some books about the OTL background, "Finland in the Second World War: Between Germany and Russia" by Olli Vehviläinen, and Earl F. Ziemke's "German Northern Theater of Operations 1940–1945".

In the Lapland theater, the Axis had five divisions (but keep in mind that the German mountaineer division were somewhat smaller than usual divisions), the Soviets six incl. one reserve division. This should be changed if you want to succeed there.

Some ideas which might help:
  • With the BEF defeated at Dunkirk, the "führer" might decide to move some divisions from France and Norway esp. to the East. This might help in this theater too - originally, Dietl had demanded four divisions for striking at Murmansk, but only got two.
  • Concentrate on cutting off the railway instead of trying to advance through the horrible terrain between Petsamo and Murmansk
  • An uncommon solution: Make Mannerheim the supreme commander of this theater. Maybe this'll motivate him to advance farther, or teach the German soldiers how to fight a winter war.

Then again: Since I think that the Nazis would better win their war (against the Soviets) in 1941, Murmansk will matter just for a few months. Esp. since the harbor's facilities were dismantled (Murmansk was considered to be too close to the fighting lines, 40 miles only) and had to be brought back and reconstructed later, after the WAllies promised to support the SU.


I've checked a certain other AH forum for ideas re: an attack on Kandalaksha (Kantalahti)/Belomorsk, but didn't find anything. Well, this nice map of the Soviet rail system in 1941, but I hadn't looked for that.

But also another problem: The US had threatened to declare war on Finland if they took Murmansk or Belomorsk (Sorokka in Finnish). Under this condition, it's not surprising that the Finns will only attack Soviet cities which don't matter much in the whole situation.

This book about the Continuation War/German-Finnish Coalition looks interesting, but I don't want to spend 15 hours on a single audiobook.

But this one was helpful, and had many good photographies: Hitler's Arctic War by Dr. Chris Mann.

Now I can give it a try: How do we strike at the Murmansk railroad in a way that is realistic and works?

Probably won't work:
- Making Mannerheim supreme commander of the theater: Dietl actually suggested this to him in 1942, but he declined. (As if he didn't want the nazis to win...)
- Making Dietl supreme commander: Suggested to him, he declined too. And admittedly, leading an army split into three groups far apart from each other is no easy task. Even if he's better than Falkenhorst.
- Using wide, removable tracks for their panzers. In OTL they started this in 1942 only.

What might work:
- Moving some troops from Norway to Karelia. The Wehrmacht had nine to twelve divisions there. We know, the "führer" was paranoid about a British invasion. But with a victory Dunkirk, he might agree to give one or two of them for Barbarossa. Of course, they'll need more supplies for that too, but at least they'll have more engineers to build roads. Because there were practically no west-east roads in Karelia.
- Avoiding to split the party (er, troops). In OTL, they were supposed to strike at Murmansk, Kandalaksha, and Lou(k)hi. Maybe in this ATL the "führer"'s mood is better, and he allows them to unite, or strike in only two places, leaving the defense to the Finns. - Of course, they're still in a terrain where it's hard to advance. So the Soviets might find out what they're up to and move troops accordingly.
- An attack on Belomorsk, which was almost undefended (read that in a book about Andropov - hm, if this works, I might kill him at this opportunity). Of course, unless the Soviets do the sensible thing and move troops there.

But yes, blitzkrieg in this terrain is pretty much impossible. So there doesn't seem to make sense to think about making a faint here and then to quickly strike somewhere else... yeah, if the Soviets didn't have the only railroad... OK, now there's a railroad Laurila–Kandalaksha, but it was finished in 1942 only...


Here are two more texts which were helpful about the Karelian theater, both by General der Infanterie Waldemar Erfurth who served as O Qu V (having the job of the military historian) under Franz Halder:

Warfare in the Far North

The Last Finnish War

What won't work (at least not well enough): Airstrikes, special commands, paratroopers. They managed to cause damage at the railroad, but in each case, it could be repaired by the Soviets in a few hours. So we need the Heer to strike there.

This thread suggests that Mannerheim is incapacitated, and general Aalto (who doesn't know or care that the US threatened to declare war if the Murman railroad was destroyed) attacks Belomorsk successfully, given that he has 27300 Finns against 12000 Soviets, and it's "just" 60 kilometers. But that would be in December, which might be too late already.

Some more ideas what might work:

- Finland attacks during Barbarossa from the very first day, instead of waiting some days as IOTL. Under these circumstances, you don't have the element of surprise.
- Mannerheim suggested during winter 1941/42 to attack Belomorsk/Sarokka. Would this have been the best place to strike at the railroad? It's relatively far in the south - but also quite far from the border. Good idea, or him playing another trick on the nazis?
- If Kandalaksha is the optimal place, it'd help if the Finns attacked there on June 23rd (or whichever is the day after Barbarossa starts ITTL), as Falkenhorst wanted. Maybe a Soviet airstrike on Helsinki causes big damage, so Mannerheim'll want retaliation? - And of course, the "führer" shouldn't make a decree to stop attacking there, as he did on August 2nd.
- The Finns allowed the Soviets in Hangö to hang (pun not intended) around there until november/december. If they were defeated earlier (if necessary, by Germans), that'd free two Finnish divisions for the East.
- A railroad built from Rovaniemi to the East would also help. Even if the Germans had to do it alone.
- And since I already stated (elsewhere) that Barbarossa will start 10-14 days earlier, that'll help too until the winter comes. Although Erfurth says that the winter is the optimal fighting time in this theater. (But only if your soldiers are trained appropriately, like the Finns and later the Soviets too.)

What to do about it now? My original idea was: Dietl makes a feint in some place, while planning to make the real attack at Kandalaksha. His Soviet opponent has to make an important decision, decides in the wrong way, and when he wakes up to reality, the Wehrmacht has taken Kandalaksha and destroyed several miles of railroad. (They make take a page from the Yankees in "Gone with the Wind", make a fire from the railway sleepers/railroad ties, or trees [there are enough of them], heat the tracks in it, and twist them into circles to make repair even harder. GWTW wasn't verboten in Nazi Germany...)

Do you think this is realistic enough?

(About distances: It's about 300 km from Murmansk to Kandalaksha, 170 from Kandalaksha to Lou(k)hi, 220 from there to Belomorsk. In 1941, the railroad was still single-track, the trains on it ran on bituminous coal, made 20-25 mph, and there were 10-15 trains driving per day, both directions, and it was estimated that the track might handle up to 40.)

One more detail: During their retreat, the Wehrmacht used a machine called "Schienenwolf", a kind of railroad plough, to destroy railroad tracks efficiently. They didn't invent it, though - so it might be in use in 1941 already. Here's a short video - seems it could move about as fast as an average walker, so you might indeed destroy several miles of tracks during a few hours. And if the Red Army will have to transport them by steam rail from 300+ kilometers, the wehrmacht will have some hours.
The problem with the "Arctic strategy" is relatively simple. The Germans didn't need to achieve victory here, if the main battles are won. And the Germans expected that the main battles will be won in 1941. By 1942, the Axis Arctic troops barely survived the Soviet counterattack. As Mannerheim pointed out, there were simply not enough force to do an effective attack here, unless Leningrad was taken. The Germans tried, the Germans failed; not because of the lack of plans or offensive spirit, but because of the lack of men, matériel and logistics.

In 1942 the Northern Route was the most important LL route, but its significance diminished, and the railway was never really in any real danger.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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Re: Wehrmacht takes Kandalaksha

Post by KDF33 » 17 Sep 2023 19:59

Peter89 wrote:
17 Sep 2023 19:32
By 1942, the Axis Arctic troops barely survived the Soviet counterattack.
What counterattack is this referring to?

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Re: Wehrmacht takes Kandalaksha

Post by Peter89 » 18 Sep 2023 06:16

KDF33 wrote:
17 Sep 2023 19:59
Peter89 wrote:
17 Sep 2023 19:32
By 1942, the Axis Arctic troops barely survived the Soviet counterattack.
What counterattack is this referring to?
The one that was taking place between 23 April 1942 and 23 May 1942. Kestenga Offensive Operation and its tributaries.

If the weather did not blunt the edge of the surprise of the Soviet landing, the 6th GJD might be in huge trouble on the Zapadnaya Litsa front.

If Siilasvuo retreats from Kestenga to a line between Pya Lake and Top Lake, or defies Dietl's direct order (as he had done a few days later), the Soviets would score a major victory (of Arctic warfare proportions).

Even though the fortunes of war favoured the Axis side here, the Germans became depleted, and remained passive afterwards.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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Re: Wehrmacht takes Kandalaksha

Post by Avalancheon » 19 Sep 2023 12:39

Max Sinister wrote:
16 Sep 2023 22:49
Cutting off Murmansk, or even taking it, would hamper the logistics of the convoys from the WAllies for the SU pretty much. If you can't take the city itself, you could cut the railway at any point in between - like at Kandalaksha, or Byelomorsk.

Of course, there are several problems to solve:
  • The terrain in question (esp. close to Murmansk) is about the hardest there is on Earth. Hell, even general Eduard Dietl dared to tell the "führer" that it looks like after the creation of the world.
  • The Finns wanted to conquer the lost territory back, but only a minority wanted more than that. That's why their troops didn't like to advance further.
  • German troops weren't that well prepared for the winter. But you know that.
I've read some books about the OTL background, "Finland in the Second World War: Between Germany and Russia" by Olli Vehviläinen, and Earl F. Ziemke's "German Northern Theater of Operations 1940–1945".
Max, your thread would be better served by explaining the objectives of Operation SilverFox, and the strategic relevance of both Murmansk and Kandalaksha. These are important considerations in the OP (original post). Some maps would also be appropriate.

We need to go into the rationale behind this whole episode. It must be said that although Russia was the largest country on Earth, with one of the longest shorelines of any country, it had a limited access to the open ocean. Much of its coast was along the Arctic which was covered by ice packs for most of the year, limiting sea traffic. From a geographic perspective, Russias constricted path to the ocean was its greatest limitation. Throughout much of its history, the nations greatest priority was obtaining access to the high seas. European Russia had only two warmwater ports: Leningrad, and Murmansk. All their other ports would freeze over in the winter, making them unusable without icebreakers. The Soviets sought to overcome this handicap by annexing the Baltic states in 1940, but these ports were soon lost when the Germans invaded in 1941.

This left them with only Leningrad and Murmansk as their main ports, back at their original dillemma. When Britain concluded an alliance with the Soviet Union, their options for intervening in the conflict were limited. No British fleet would dare sail through the Baltic sea to Leningrad, which would be a suicidal undertaking. So that left only Murmansk as a potential flashpoint. The port was extremely isolated, located at the northernmost tip of the Kola peninsula, over 500 kilometers away from the mainland. The objective of Operation SilverFox was to (among other things) deny the British an opportunity to make a naval landing at Murmansk and turn it into a fortress against the Germans. The operational plan involved a direct attack against Murmansk itself, and two separate attacks on the Murmansk railway connecting it to the mainland.

The two supporting attacks against the railway were even more important than the main attack itself, since if either of them succeeded in cutting the railway, the port would be left isolated. There would arguably be no need for a direct attack against Murmansk itself, since the port city would wither on the vine. Although the distance from Petsamo to Murmansk was only 50 miles, the region that the German troops would have to advance through was some of the most inhospitable terrain in the world. Marches could only be made at a crawling pace, and even the slightest enemy resistance would bring it to a halt. In contrast, the two supporting attacks would be made through less intimidating (but still formidable) terrain. The first arm of attack was directed against the city of Kandalaksha, while the second arm of attack was against Loukhi.

finland3.png

The German plan to capture Kandalaksha was actually quite complicated. The first phase of the operation was the attack on Salla, along the Finnish-Soviet border. The region consisted of dense forests, with the town of Salla as a chokepoint: To the north was the Kuola river, to the south was the Salla mountains. The Soviets had the 122nd rifle division, and the 104th rifle division in reserve. The Germans had the 169th infantry division, and the SS Nord division. They planned to capture Salla in a shallow envelopment, with the 169th marching down the main road, and Nord cutting in behind Salla. The second phase of the operation involved a regiment from the 169th sent on a flanking maneuver north of the river. They would link up with a Finnish regiment and effect a deep envelopment of Kayrala. This was a very ambitious plan that would, they hoped, destroy all Soviet forces in the region and give them a clear path to Kandalaksha. If they could pull off both of the encircling maneuvers, then the Germans would be able to march down the highway at their leisure. But it was not to be, due to the tactical ineptitude of the SS Nord division.

finland7.jpeg

''The training of the Nord Division was still a laughable affair; its officers had received a few lectures on military affairs the previous winter, the attached artillery unit had fired only once, and on the way to Rovaniemi provision had to be made for target practice for Nord, so bad was their marksmanship.
On 1 July 1941, more than a week after the main German invasion of Russia, the attack on Salla began. The plan called for a double envelopment of the town, with the 169th Infantry Division as the northern prong, and Nord in the south. Feige had expressed grave concern over the abilities of Nord, while Demelhuber himself stated that he could not be held responsible for sending his troops into battle. Nevertheless, no other troops were available, so Nord was thrown into the fray.
The results were predictable. Nord attacked the positions of the Russian 122nd Rifle Division three times and were thrown back in each instance with heavy losses. The third attempt resulted in a small Russian counterattack which completely routed Nord, forcing them to flee far to the rear of XXXVI Corps, in one instance clogging up the corps artillery pits. The division was then rounded up and given an easily defended sector along the border.
A new disaster arose when the Russians 'attacked.' On 4 July 1941, tanks were heard rumbling behind the Russian lines. This led to a German shelling of the Russian posiotions. The Russians in turn began trading artillery rounds with Nord. Demelhuber, fearing this to be preliminary to a Russian attack, knew his troops capabilits and ordered them to fall back. The retreat soon became a rout, with SS men fleeing toward the rear as quickly as possible. Feige himself and other XXXVI Corps headquarters personnel managed to rally some of the Nord Division and sent them back to the front. A few SS men fled as far as Kemiyarvi, a full fifty miles to the rear. There an SS man urged the local commander to blow up the bridge, since he believed that swarms of Russian tanks were right on his heels.'' -Waffen-SS, by Ray Merriam


Due to the deplorable lack of training and leadership of the SS Nord division, the entire operation was thrown into jeopardy. The Germans were forced to alter their plans, ordering the two regiments sent on flanking maneuvers to turn towards Salla instead of Kayrala. This shallow envelopment was able to squeeze the Soviets out of Salla, but they fell back in good order to Kayrala. This town was located in the narrows between two lakes, which made it very hard to attack, and difficult to outflank. To make matters worse, the 104th rifle division was now fighting alongside the 122nd rifle division. This led to major delays in the progress of the German attack. While they were eventually able to outflank Kayrala, the Soviets simply fell back to Alakurti. This town was also located in the narrows between two tivers, and the process repeated itself. For this reason, the advance stalled out in September, not far beyond Alakurti.

In order for the attack on Kandalaksha to succeed, the SS Nord division must be replaced by a more reliable formation that can perform its duties in battle. If the 163rd infantry division had been sent in place of the SS Nord, then the initial attack on Salla would have went much better, and Operation SilverFox would have had a chance of success.
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Re: Wehrmacht takes Kandalaksha

Post by Aida1 » 19 Sep 2023 14:52

Avalancheon wrote:
19 Sep 2023 12:39

''The training of the Nord Division was still a laughable affair; its officers had received a few lectures on military affairs the previous winter, the attached artillery unit had fired only once, and on the way to Rovaniemi provision had to be made for target practice for Nord, so bad was their marksmanship.
On 1 July 1941, more than a week after the main German invasion of Russia, the attack on Salla began. The plan called for a double envelopment of the town, with the 169th Infantry Division as the northern prong, and Nord in the south. Feige had expressed grave concern over the abilities of Nord, while Demelhuber himself stated that he could not be held responsible for sending his troops into battle. Nevertheless, no other troops were available, so Nord was thrown into the fray.
The results were predictable. Nord attacked the positions of the Russian 122nd Rifle Division three times and were thrown back in each instance with heavy losses. The third attempt resulted in a small Russian counterattack which completely routed Nord, forcing them to flee far to the rear of XXXVI Corps, in one instance clogging up the corps artillery pits. The division was then rounded up and given an easily defended sector along the border.
A new disaster arose when the Russians 'attacked.' On 4 July 1941, tanks were heard rumbling behind the Russian lines. This led to a German shelling of the Russian posiotions. The Russians in turn began trading artillery rounds with Nord. Demelhuber, fearing this to be preliminary to a Russian attack, knew his troops capabilits and ordered them to fall back. The retreat soon became a rout, with SS men fleeing toward the rear as quickly as possible. Feige himself and other XXXVI Corps headquarters personnel managed to rally some of the Nord Division and sent them back to the front. A few SS men fled as far as Kemiyarvi, a full fifty miles to the rear. There an SS man urged the local commander to blow up the bridge, since he believed that swarms of Russian tanks were right on his heels.'' -Waffen-SS, by Ray Merriam
This description of events is seriously exaggerated and factually not always correct. Obviously the newly set up SS division should have been given a few months of unit training before being put into battle( see detailed judgment of the division by the division commander in Kampf unter den Nordlicht Franz Schreiber Munin Verlag 1969 38-40) but the whole division being routed durig the orginal attack is not correct. Tha attack failed and here and there men fell back in the starting positions in shock but nothing worse than that. On july 4 one batl, of the div , the I/rgt 7 got into a panick because of a tank scaare and infected some rear supply troops but the div commander restored order(Kampf under dem Nordlicht pp 52--53).

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Re: Wehrmacht takes Kandalaksha

Post by Max Sinister » 21 Sep 2023 01:44

@T. A. Gardner: That's technically true, but it wasn't far behind the Vladivostok route. And it took some time until the railroad through Iran was of high enough capacity.

@Peter89: "if the main battles are won". What do you mean, at Moscow? Some alt-historians have suggested it, but somehow I can't imagine that the Russians would give up their capital just like that. I'd rather expect a house-fight like in Stalingrad, in Russian winter. Sounds like horror. Yes, I've considered it, but I simply can't see it happen.

@Avalancheon: I didn't write about the importance of Murmansk for the WAllied (esp. British) convoys, being the only remaining warm water harbor in the North, because I expected that anyone knew that already. I am wondering whether a victory of the Reich might have been possible - but I think I'd have to tweak some rarely used scenarios to achieve this. This might be one of them.

And yes, the SS troops used there weren't really that great. Most of the men were in their 30s already - and they originally were supposed to be a police troop. (Sayeth "Hitler's Arctic War", by Dr. Chris Mann.)

Thanks very much for the map. Unfortunately maps aren't my strength.

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