65th Army (Soviet Union)

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65th Army
Col. Gen. Pavel Ivanovich Batov in 1945.jpg
Col. Gen. Pavel Batov in 1945, Red Square
Active October 1942 - August 1945
Country  Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag.svg Red Army
Type Infantry
Part of Don Front
Central Front
1st Belorussian Front
2nd Belorussian Front
Engagements Operation Uranus
Operation Ring
Battle of Kursk
Lower Dnieper Offensive
Operation Bagration
Lublin-Brest Offensive
East Pomeranian Offensive
Berlin Strategic Offensive
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Colonel General Pavel Batov

The Red Army's 65th Army was a Soviet field army during the Second World War. It was formed from rebuilding elements of the first formation of the 4th Tank Army on the Don Front in October, 1942. The 65th Army was commanded by Gen. Pavel Ivanovich Batov until after the fall of Berlin, and served in the various Fronts commanded by Gen. Konstantin K. Rokossovsky for the duration of the war.

Initial Operations[edit]

4th Tank Army, under command of Maj. Gen. Kryuchenkin, launched numerous counterattacks against the German corridor to Stalingrad from Aug. to Oct., 1942, until it was severely depleted in strength. (It was derisively known for a time as the "four-tank army" due to the few vehicles still operational.)[1] Batov, who had previously commanded the 51st Army and the 3rd Army, assumed command on Oct. 22, with orders to rebuild the Army as a combined-arms army, the 65th, as part of Rokossovsky's new Don Front. This was accomplished by mid-November, and at this time the Army consisted of:

  • 3 Guards Rifle Divisions (4th, 27th, 40th)
  • 6 Rifle Divisions (23rd, 24th, 252nd, 258th, 304th, 321st)
  • 2 Separate Tank Brigades (91st, 121st)
  • 3 Army Artillery Regiments, 1 Howitzer Regiment, 5 Guards Mortar Regiments, and supporting units.[2]

65th Army played leading roles in both Operation Uranus, attacking out of the Kremenskoya bridgehead on the south bank of the Don, the encirclement of German forces at Stalingrad, and their reduction and surrender in Operation Ring. Rokossovsky later wrote in reference to Batov and his army:

[He] displayed fine initiative with an improvised mobile task force... By striking at the enemy's flank and rear, the task force ensured the swift advance of the other units.[3]

Redeployment to Central Front[edit]

Following the German surrender at Stalingrad, Rokossovsky's forces were redeployed northwest to become the new Central Front in the region around Kursk. 65th Army exploited a gap between the weak Second German Army and the Second Panzer Army, but was brought to a halt by the spring rasputitsa, German reserves released by their evacuation of the Rzhev Salient, and the German counter-offensive to the south of Kursk. 65th Army then dug in during the three-month lull in operations, towards the northwestern sector of the Kursk salient.

At this time the order of battle of the 65th Army was as follows:

  • 18th Rifle Corps (69th, 149th and 246th Rifle Divisions)
  • 27th Rifle Corps (60th and 193rd Rifle Divisions and 115th Rifle Brigade)
  • 37th Guards, 181st, 194th and 354th Rifle Divisions
  • 4 Separate Tank Regiments, 2 Antitank Regiments, 2 Mortar Regiments, 2 Guards Mortar Regiments, and other support units

Army strength: 100,000, 1,837 guns and mortars, 124 tanks and self-propelled guns.[4]

Due to its position in the western sector of the salient, the 65th emerged mostly unscathed from the Battle of Kursk, and was well-equipped to exploit the German defeat. In late July and August the Army joined in the pursuit of German forces to the Dnepr River. On 15 Oct., with divisional and army artillery firing 1,000 shells per minute in support, the 193rd Rifle Division forced a crossing of the Dnepr.[5] From this point on, the 65th Army began earning a well-deserved reputation for its abilities in river-crossing and bridgehead operations.[6]

Operation Bagration[edit]

Rokossovski's command was renamed 1st Belorussian Front, and in June, 1944, 65th Army took part in major strategic operations in Belorussia. The Army's order of battle at this time was as follows:

  • 18th Rifle Corps (37th Guards, 44th Guards and 69th Rifle Divisions)
  • 105th Rifle Corps (75th Guards, 193rd and 354th Rifle Divisions)
  • 15th and 356th Rifle Divisions, and 115th Rifle Brigade
  • 1st Guards Tank Corps (15th, 16th, 17th Guards Tank Brigades, and 1st Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade)
  • 1 Separate Tank Regiment and 4 Separate Self-propelled Artillery Regiments, and other support units.[7]

In a well-known confrontation at the planning stage, Rokossovski convinced Stalin that, given the terrain, it was better to strike two strong blows against the German forces than just one.[8] He was counting on Batov's ability to lead his Army across swampy regions south of Bobruisk, using corduroy roads, swamp shoes, and other means. 65th Army did not disappoint, and within a few days the German Ninth Army was encircled and mostly destroyed. For his performance, Batov was promoted to Colonel General.[9]

65th Army crossed the Bug River on July 22, and pushed on to cross the Narev River, north of Warsaw, by Sept. 4. Operation Bagration had run out of steam, but Batov's army held off strong German counterattacks against the Narev bridgehead for more than two months.[10] Following this, Rokossovski's command was renamed 2nd Belorussian Front, and forces were built up in the bridgehead for an offensive to be launched in January.

Into Germany[edit]

During the new offensive, 65th Army forced a crossing of the Vistula River in early February. Rokossovski later noted:

I had been with 65th Army since Stalingrad and had had ample opportunity to observe the splendid combat qualities of its men, commanders, and, of course, Pavel Batov, a brave and talented soldier.[11]

In March, 1945, the order of battle of 65th Army was as follows:

  • 18th Rifle Corps (37th Guards, 44th Guards, 15th and 69th Rifle Divisions)
  • 46th Rifle Corps (108th, 186th and 191st Rifle Divisions)
  • 105th Rifle Corps (193rd, 354th and 413th Rifle Divisions)
  • 1 Separate Tank Regiment and 1 Separate Self-propelled Artillery Regiment, and other support units.[12]

The offensive propelled 65th Army into eastern Germany, finally to the Oder River, near Stettin-an-Oder, where it once again forced a difficult river crossing in Apr. 1945. Officials of the city surrendered to Colonel A. G. Frolenkov's 193rd Rifle Division on Apr. 26.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ David Glantz, "Pavel Ivanovich Batov", in Stalin's Generals, (Harold Shukman, Ed.), Phoenix Press, 2001, p. 39
  2. ^ [1] pp 9 - 10
  3. ^ Glantz, p 39
  4. ^ [2] pp 21 - 22
  5. ^ Charles C. Sharp, "Red Swarm", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From 1942 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. X, 1996, p 75.
  6. ^ Glantz, p 40
  7. ^ [3] pp 31 - 33
  8. ^ Earl F. Ziemke, The Soviet Juggernaut, Time-Life Books, Chicago, 1980, pp 127 - 29
  9. ^ Glantz, p 41
  10. ^ Glantz, p 41
  11. ^ Glantz, p 41
  12. ^ [4] pp 1 - 2
  13. ^ Nikolai Litvin, 800 Days on the Eastern Front, University Press of Kansas, 2007, p 104

External links[edit]