Osovets Offensive

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Osovets Offensive
Part of Operation Bagration / Eastern Front
Date August 6, 1944 – August 14, 1944
Location Poland
Belligerents
Flag of German Reich (1935–1945).svg Nazi Germany Soviet Union Soviet Union
Commanders and leaders
Flag of German Reich (1935–1945).svgHelmuth Weidling,
Friedrich Herrlein
Soviet Union Gyorgy Zakharov
(2nd Belorussian Front)
Strength
? ?
Casualties and losses
? ?

The Osovets Offensive (Russian: Осовецкая наступательная операция) was part of the third and final phase of Operation Bagration, the Belorussian Strategic Offensive of the Red Army in summer 1944.

Osovets is the Russianised version of the Polish name Osowiec / Ossowiec / Ossowitz.

Operational goals[edit]

The offensive commenced after the 2nd Belorussian Front had successfully taken Grodno and Białystok in the Belostock Offensive. The Front was issued with new objectives at the end of July, being ordered to move on Łomża (German: Lomscha) and Ostrołęka (German: Scharfenwiese) and to enlarge bridgeheads over the Narew river in preparation for a further advance into East Prussia.

The defenders were somewhat aided by fortifications from previous eras, including a major Imperial Russian-era fortress complex at Osowiec on the Biebrza River that was a scene of a siege in 1915 (February to August) during the First World War, and which was partly demolished by Wehrmacht troops in 1939 before its hand-over to the Red Army. There were also substantial Soviet border fortifications remaining from the Molotov Line located 20 km west of the old fortress.

Deployments[edit]

Wehrmacht[edit]

The above units were under the overall command of Army Group Centre (Field-Marshal Walter Model).

Red Army[edit]

Below is a list of units credited with participation in the liberation of Osovets, and not those participating in the operation as a whole.[1]

87th NKVD Border Guard Regiment (Major Aleksander Olschuk)
343rd Rifle Division (Major-General Iakimovich)
121st Rifle Corps (General-Major Dmytry Smirnov
238th Rifle Division (General-Major Ivan Krasnoshtanov)
385th Rifle Division (General-Major Mitrofan Suprunov)
23rd Guards Tank Brigade (Colonel Sergey Kozikov)
81st Rifle Corps (General-Major Fedor Zakharov)
369th Rifle Division (Colonel Aleksandr Fedotov)
324th Rifle Division (Colonel Ivan Kazak)
1434 self-propelled artillery regiment (Sub-Colonel Boris Kopylov)
1444 self-propelled artillery regiment (Colonel Fedor Myachev)
27 anti-tank destroyer artillery brigade (Sub-Colonel Kriskent Semyanov)
230th Assault Air Division (General-Major of Aviation Semyon Get'man) (part only)
233rd Assault Air Division (Colonel Valentin Smolovik) (part only)
229th Fighter Air Division (Colonel Mikhail Volkov) (part only)
309th Fighter Air Division (Colonel Vasily Buss) (part only)
325th Night Bombing Air Division (Colonel Grigory Pokoyevoy)
8th Fighter Air Corps (General-Major of Aviation Fedor Zherebchenko) (from 16th Air Army)
215th Fighter Air Division (Colonel Mikhail Yakushin)
4th Assault Air Corps (General-Major of Aviation Georgiy Baidukov)
199th Assault Air Division (Colonel Nikolay Vinogradov)

The offensive[edit]

The offensive began on August 6 with further penetrations by the 2nd Belorussian Front west of Byalistok.

The approaches to Osowiec were heavily defended; the 1st Guards Assault Engineer Brigade was required to establish river crossings under fire.[2] Units of the Front stormed and took the fortress, after a heavy air bombardment by Major-General Georgiy Baidukov's 4th Strike Aviation Corps, on August 14.[3] Joseph Stalin's Order no. 166 for that day noted the capture of the fortress and congratulated the units and commanders involved.

August 14 is noted as the end of the offensive in official Soviet historiography, but in fact attempts continued to seize bridgeheads over the Narew throughout the remainder of August. The 49th Army, however, found that the German defences on the approaches to Lomza were difficult to overcome, sustaining many casualties (even losing a divisional commander, Major-General Iakimovich of the 343rd Rifle Division, in their attempt to force the defensive lines).[4]

Lomza itself was not taken until mid-September; there were intense battles along the Narew as Second Army was progressively reinforced and attempted to crush the bridgeheads.

Aftermath[edit]

Although there were many local actions (including attacks by Polish partisans, who had a strong presence in the area) the German defence line on the Narew held through the remainder of 1944, until the 2nd Belorussian Front's advance in the East Prussian Operation of January 1945.

References[edit]

  • Aleksander A. Maslov (1998). Fallen Soviet Generals: Soviet General Officers Killed in Battle, 1941-1945. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-7146-4790-6. 

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Liberation of cities - Poland - Osovets http://www.soldat.ru/spravka/freedom/9-poland.html
  2. ^ Biography of Aslan Verizov
  3. ^ See RIA Novosti Archive
  4. ^ Maslov, p.155