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Baltic Operation

Baltic Operation (1941)
Part of The Eastern Front of World War II
Прибалтийская операция.gif
Execution of operation 22.06.1941 - 10.07.1941
Date22 June – 9 July 1941
Location
Result

German victory

  • Successful German Offensive
Belligerents
 Germany  Soviet Union
Commanders and leaders
Nazi Germany Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb Soviet Union Fyodor Isodorovich Kuznetsov
Strength
655,000
1,389 tanks
7,673 artillery pieces
1,070 aircraft
498,000[1]
1,393 tanks
5,573 artillery pieces
1,210 aircraft
Casualties and losses
unknown 75,202 killed
13,284 wounded
2,523 tanks & SPGs destroyed[2]
990 aircraft destroyed[2]
Total:
88,486 casualties[1]

The Baltic Operation, also known as the Defensive operation in Lithuania and Latvia encompassed the operations of the Red Army from 22 June to 9 July 1941 conducted over the territories of the occupied Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in response to an offensive launched by the German army.

Operational parts

The operation consisted of three distinct smaller operations

Border Defensive Battles (22–24 June 1941)
Battle of Raseiniai also known as the 'Kaunas Counterattack'
Šiauliai Counter-Offensive Operation (24–27 June 1941)
Defense of the Hanko Naval Base (22 June–2 December 1941)

Execution

The principal Red Army formations of the operation were the Northwestern Front and the Baltic Fleet, with the major ground forces consisting of the 8th (commander General Major P.P. Sobennikov), 11th (commander General Lieutenant Morozov) and later 27th Armies.

The operation was conducted after the forces of the Baltic Special Military District were alerted in the morning of 22 June 1941 following a surprise attack by the German Wehrmacht's Army Group North which consisted of the 18th, 16th Field Armies and the 4th Panzer Group, and elements of the 3rd Panzer Group, supported by the Luftflotte 1.[3]

On 22 June, the Soviet 8th Army was positioned in northern Lithuania opposed by the German 18th Army. The Soviet 11th Army defended the rest of the Lithuanian border with East Prussia and sought to contain the attacks of the German 16th Army and the 4th Panzer Group.

While the Soviet 8th Army retreated along the JelgavaRigaTartuNarvaPskov direction, the Soviet 11th Army sought to initially hold the KaunasVilnius sector of the front, but was forced to retreat along the Daugavpils–Pskov–Novgorod direction. These withdrawals, although costly in losses of personnel and materiel, avoided major encirclements experienced by the Fronts to the south, and succeeded in delaying the Army Group North sufficiently to allow preparation for the defence of Leningrad.

The operation was not a single continuous withdrawal, but was punctuated by short-lived counterattacks, counterstrokes or counteroffensives.[4]

Subordinate Red Army formations

The subordinate formations and units of the Armies were:

Front Subordination

  • 65th Rifle Corps
  • 5th Airborne Corps (2nd, 10th and 201st Airborne Brigades)
  • Northwestern Front Air Force (commanded by L.P. Ionov)[5]
    • 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 57th Mixed Aviation Divisions
  • 10th Anti-Tank Artillery Brigade
  • 10th, 12th and 14th Air Defence Brigades
  • 110th, 402nd and 429th High Power Artillery Regiments
  • units and subunits of support troops
  • 1st Long Range Bomber Corps of the Reserve of the Supreme High Command (Stavka Reserve)

Aftermath

The Soviet forces were defeated and forced to fall back. The next operation, according to the Soviet official history, was the Leningrad Strategic Defensive Operation (10 July-30 September 1941), which attempted to establish a stable front along the Narva–Novgorod line.

References

  1. ^ a b Krivosheev 1997, p. 111.
  2. ^ a b Krivosheev 1997, p. 260.
  3. ^ Bishop 2005, p. 69.
  4. ^ Glantz 2005, p. 70.
  5. ^ Wagner 1973, p. 36.

Sources

  • Bishop, Chris (2005). The Military Atlas of World War II. London: Igloo Books. ISBN 1-904687-53-9.
  • Glantz, David M. (2005). Colossus reborn: The Red Army at war 1941-1943. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1353-6.
  • Krivosheev, Grigori F. (1997). Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-280-7.
  • Wagner, Ray (1973). The Soviet Air Force in World War II: the official history. Melbourne: Wren Publishing. ISBN 0-85885-194-6.