9th Army (Soviet Union)

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The 9th Army of the Soviet Union's Red Army was a Soviet field army, active from 1939 – 43, and then after the war from 1966 to 1989.

It was active during the Winter War against Finland as part of the Leningrad Military District, beginning operations at the end of November 1939 under ComKor M.P. Duhanov with the 49th and Special Rifle Corps as well as assigned aviation units.[1] Two divisions attached to the army, the 44th and 163rd Rifle Divisions, were defeated by the Finns during the Battle of Suomussalmi.

In 1940 the Army took part in the Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. By 1941 the Army was designated the 9th Separate Army (briefly) and included the 14th, 35th and 48th Rifle Corps (the last under then General Major Rodion Malinovsky), 2nd Cavalry Corps, 2nd and 18th Mechanised Corps, 80th, 81st, 82nd, 84th, 86th Fortified Regions and a number of other units - the biggest army on the Soviet border before the German Operation Barbarossa began. However, it was more an administrative than an operational formation on 22 June 1941.[2] With General Major M.V. Zakharov in command, it was tasked to cover the Beltsa, Kishinev, and Odessa approaches as part of General Ivan Tyulenev’s Southern Front.

The first engagement came when Von Schobert’s Eleventh Army crashed into the juncture of 9th and 18th Armies. North of Jassy, the German assault fell on the 48th Rifle Corps which was covering Beltsa. Tyulenev ordered a counterattack, and soon 48th Rifle and 2nd Cavalry Corps plus 2nd Mechanised Corps from Southern Front reserve were engaged at Beltsa and Stefanesti. Tyulenev then drew off 25th, 51st, and 150th Rifle Divisions from two of Zakharov’s rifle corps to form a new ‘Coastal Group’ to cover the eastern bank of the Prut River, the northern bank of the Danube and the Black Sea coast.[3] (This group later became the Separate Coastal Army).

By early August, 9th Army was falling back to Nikolayev under repeated German blows, and by 17 August across the River Ingulets and over to the eastern bank of the Dnieper. The ‘Coastal Group’ was meanwhile falling back on Odessa. By early 9 October Army was falling back on Taganrog, after a failed attempt by Southern Front’s three armies to hold a line between Pavlograd and the Sea of Azov had been shattered by an outflanking maneuver by Von Kleist’s newly renamed First Panzer Army.[4] The resulting Battle of the Sea of Azov shattered 9th Army, virtually destroying it.

The Soviets’ next move was a planned offensive orchestrated by Timoshenko, GlavKom Southwest. After still more retreats and the loss of Rostov, 9th Army stepped off on 17 November as part of an assault by both Southern and Southwestern Fronts, and by 29 November, 9th Army in conjunction with 56th Army and other units had cleared Rostov and the city was back in Soviet hands. 9th Army then joined Timoshenko’s strategic reserve, to join the battle again when the Barvenkovo – Lozovaia offensive operation began.[5] 9th Army joined this assault in January 1942 when it broke into the German front on the northern Donets along with 6th and 57th Armies, reaching the line Balakleya-Lozovaia-Slavyansk before being halted by repeated German counterattacks.

Still with Southern Front, 9th Army was then allotted a subsidiary part in the Kharkov offensive – the Second Battle of Kharkov – which kicked off in May 1942. Along with 57th Army, 9th Army was tasked to secure the southern part of the Izyum bulge in the front. While being in a secondary sector, 9th Army took much of the force of the German response, Operation Fridericus.[6] Eight hours into the German counterstroke, at noon on 17 May, elements of the First Panzer and Seventeenth Armies were ten miles into 9th Army’s positions and threatening the neighbouring 57th Army’s rear. Commander, Southern Front, General Lieutenant R. Ya. Malinovskii, at once drew 5th Cavalry Corps, a rifle division, and a tank brigade out of reserve in an attempt to halt Von Kleist. However discussions and decisions at Stavka about breaking off the Kharkov offensive in response did not come quickly enough, and 6th and 57th Armies were surrounded in the Izyum pocket with the loss of 200,000 plus men in casualties alone.

Later, as part of the North Caucasian and Transcaucasian Fronts, the Army fought on the big bend of the river Don (in the summer of 1942), and participated in the Battle of the Caucasus.

In November 1943 the army headquarters was disbanded, and its formations and units transferred to other armies.

The Ninth Army was active after the war in the Transcaucasus Military District from 1966, with its headquarters at Kutaisi in the Georgian SSR. (The headquarters’ designation was originally been the 76th Rifle Corps, which became the 31st Army Corps in 1955). It had four motor rifle divisions: the 10th Guards, 145th, 147th, and 152nd (the former 10th Guards, 89th, 414th, and 402nd Rifle Divisions). About 1989 it was disbanded by being redesignated 31st Army Corps. In the July 1993 issue of Jane's Intelligence Review it was reported that the 31st Army Corps was to leave Kutaisi (presumably for Russia) by the end of July 1993.[7]

Commanders[edit]

  • General Major M.V. Zakharov (June 41 –) (Erickson 1975)
  • General Major Kharitonov F. (September 1941 - May 1942)
  • ? (May–June 1942), the general-major
  • Lopatin And. (June - July 1942), the general-lieutenant
  • Parkhomenko F. (July-till August, 7th 1942), the general-major
  • Марцинкевич Century (till August, 29th 1942), the general-major
  • Koroteyev To. (September 1942 11.02.1943 and March-12.05.1943), the general-major
  • Glagolev of Century (till March, 22nd 1943), the general-major
  • ? (till June, 19th 1943), the general-major
  • Grechkin A. (till November, 1st 1943), General Major, since October 1943 general-lieutenant

Order of Battle, 22 June 1941[edit]

Note: This order of battle disagrees in the matter of the 150th Rifle Division with material from David Glantz, Stumbling Colossus

1 July 1942 (Southwest Front)[edit]

  • 51st, 81st, 106th, 140th, 255th, 296th, 318th, 333rd Rifle Divisions
  • 5th Cavalry Corps (30th, 34th, 60th Cavalry Divisions)
  • 12th Tank Brigade

1 February 1943 (North Caucasus Front)[edit]

  • 9th Rifle Corps (43rd, 157th, 256th Rifle Brigades)
  • 11th Guards Rifle Corps (7th, 34th, 57th. Rifle Brigades, 8. Guards Rifle Brigade)
  • 11th Rifle Corps (19th, 84th, 131st Rifle Brigades)
  • 207th Tank Brigade

1 July 1943 (North Caucasus Front)[edit]

  • 9th Rifle Corps (34th, 43rd, 157th, 256th Rifle Brigades)
  • 11th Rifle Corps (19th, 57th, 84th, 131st Rifle Brigades)
  • 276th, 351st Rifle Divisions

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ 9th Army, Red Army, 30.11.1939
  2. ^ John Erickson (historian), The Road to Stalingrad, 2003 Cassel Military Paperbacks edition, p.141
  3. ^ Erickson, 2003, p.168
  4. ^ Erickson, 2003, p.255-6, 265
  5. ^ Erickson, 2003, p.328-9
  6. ^ Erickson, 2003, p.346-7
  7. ^ Richard Woff, 'The Armed Forces of Georgia', Jane's Intelligence Review, July 1993, p.309