Uman–Botoşani Offensive

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Uman-Botoshany Offensive
Part of Dnepr-Carpathian Strategic Offensive
Uman–Botoşani Offensive (Уманско-Ботошанская операция).svg
Date 5 March – 17 April 1944
Location 175 km sector of the front between Uman and Kirovograd in western Ukraine
Result Soviet victory
Belligerents
 Soviet Union  Germany
 Romania
Commanders and leaders
Soviet Union Ivan Konev Germany Erich von Manstein
Strength
2nd Ukrainian Front

691,000 men
670 tanks and assault guns
8,890 artillery pieces
German 8th Army

400,000 men
450 tanks and assault guns
3,500 artillery pieces
Casualties and losses
70,000 killed
200,000 wounded
45,000 Germans killed
25,000 Germans captured

130,000 total German casualties excluding Romanians

The Uman–Botoşani Offensive[1] or Uman-Botoshany Offensive[2] (Уманско-ботошанская наступательная операция) was a part of the Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive, carried out by the Red Army in western Ukrainian SSR against the German Army Group South. The operation was successful, splitting the opposing Army Group in two and allowing the Soviet army to advance to the Dniester and Prut rivers in eastern Romania.

Operational scope and goals[edit]

The offensive operation was conducted by the forces of the 2nd Ukrainian Front during World War II, from March 5 to 17 April in 1944.[1] The purpose of the operation was to inflict a crushing defeat on the German "Uman group", split the troops of Army Group South, and capture southwestern Ukraine.[3] After the completion of the Korsun–Shevchenkovsky Offensive, the main forces of 2nd Ukrainian Front (Marshal Konev) were opposed by the 8th Army of Army Group South (Gen.-Feldm. Manstein). At the start of the operation, Soviet troops had achieved a 1.5 to 1 numerical superiority in personnel and armor and 2.5 to 1 in artillery, while maintaining parity in aviation forces against their German adversaries.

Planning[edit]

The Stavka concept of the operation was to destroy the 8th Army, bisect the front of the of Army Group South, and cut off withdrawal routes of the 1st Panzer Army in the southern direction, contributing to 1st Ukrainian Front's objective of its defeat.

The main offensive effort was to be delivered from the staging areas at Vinograd, Zvenigorodok, and Shpola in the direction of Uman by forces of the 27th, 52nd, 4th Guard all arms, 2nd, 5th Guard and 6th Tank armies (415 tanks and 147 SPAs), supported by the 5th Air Army. The 7th and 5th Guard armies delivered supporting attacks from the region of Kirovograd in the direction of Novoukrainka. During preparation for the operation, the military councils of the Front and armies gave considerable attention the mobilisation of personnel and unit composition for overcoming of the difficulties due to rasputitsa, the generally poor weather conditions, and the need for conducting numerous assault river crossings that were expected to hinder operational mobility.

The offensive[edit]

Panzer IVs in the wide spaces of the Ukraine, January 1944
Soviet T-34/85s pause during an advance, 1944

The operation began on 5 March on a 175 km sector of the front between Dnepropetrovsk and Belaya Tserkov after a powerful artillery barrage and developed successfully. In order to increase the force of impact, develop the offensive in the main direction, 2nd and 5th Guards Tank Armies were introduced into the offensive on the first day. Already on the third day of the offensive they conducted an river crossing of Gorny Tikach River without pausing, overcame the last defensive line manned by German troops on the way to the Southern Bug river, and began to pursue the retreating German forces. The 6th Tank Army advanced following the 2nd and 5th Guard Tank armies. After Uman was taken on 10 March, the advance detachments of the armies reached the river Southern Bug. Crossing the river was accomplished on a 100 km front, again, without pausing, via seized crossings, and also on pontoon bridges, boats and other improvised means.

In order to maintain a high rate of advance during the offensive, the Soviet 6th Tank Army was introduced after the Southern Bug crossing. At this point, the tank armies continued to advance towards the Dniester. On 17 March, advance units of the right wing of the Front took bridgeheads on the right bank south of Mogilev-Podolskiy area.

Soviet units had then entered the territory of the Moldavian SSR. As a result of the offensive, the 1st and 2nd Ukrainian Fronts, split the German Army Group South in two. The 8th German Army was cut off from the 1st Panzer Army and was assigned to Army Group A. The main effort of the 2nd Ukrainian Front was now transferred against this army group, which Soviet troops deeply enveloped from the south. An opportunity arose for the 2nd Ukrainian Front to attack in the southern direction to cut off withdrawal routes of the German army group beyond the Dniester and destroy it in cooperation with the 3rd Ukrainian Front.

The 40th Army of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, that advanced along the east bank of the Dniester, was given the task of cutting off withdrawal routes to the south to the 1st Panzer Army, by collaborating with troops of the 1st Ukrainian Front in eliminating 1st Ukrainian Front encirclement of German troops at Kamenets-Podolsk (see Proskurov-Chernovtsy Offensive operation). Deflecting an attempted German counter-attack at Khotyn, they pressed home the attack from the bridgehead to Dniester, the 27th and 52nd armies together with detachments of the 2nd and 6th tank armies advanced to the river Prut, and on 26 March reached the State border of the USSR on an 85 km front north of Ungheni.

On the night of 28 March the Front's forces, while pursuing the retreating enemy, conducted another assault river crossing on the move of river Prut, transferring combat actions onto Romanian territory. Towards the middle of April their right wing reached the Carpathian mountains, after taking Botoshany, and with the central forces they approached Jassy from the north while the left wing advanced to the approaches to Kishinev.

Hoping to save the southern wing of its front from complete disintegration, the German command, moved 18 divisions and 3 brigades, its last strategic reserve in the southern sector, to this part of the front. Troops of the 2nd Ukrainian Front, encountering increasing resistance, in the middle of April was forced to go on the defensive at the reached positions of Dubossary, north of Jassy, and some 60 km south of Botoshany.

Outcome[edit]

As a result the Uman-Botoshany Offensive Army Group South was split in two. The northern portion was regrouped as Army Group North Ukraine and placed under the command of Field Marshal Walter Model. The southern portion became Army Group South Ukraine under command of General Ferdinand Schörner. Ten Axis divisions suffered 50-75% losses in personnel, and a great deal of their heavy equipment was lost on the retreat. In the course of the offensive Soviet forces advanced some 200–250 km, taking significant parts of western Ukraine and Moldavia, and entered northeastern regions of Romania.

The Soviet advance was stopped with the Battle of Târgu Frumos, which stabilized the region until August, when the Soviets renewed their efforts with the Jassy–Kishinev Offensive and resumed their drive to the west.

The offensive was the first in which three tank armies were used simultaneously as the main breakthrough force on a narrow sector of the front. The offensive was conducted under the conditions of spring floods and rasputitsa. Soviet units have conducted consecutive assault crossings of six rivers, without pausing at any of them: Gorniy Tikach, Southern Bug, Dniester, Reut, Prut, and Siret. They entered Uman, Vapniarka, Pervomaisk, Novoukrainka and other towns.

Analysis[edit]

The operation demonstrated increased mobility of Soviet arms, and a clear desire to drive deep into enemy rear areas to create disruption and envelopment of German forces. The operation was characterised by flexible control, quick response of command to changes in the situation and by the clear organisation of interaction between the armies and the aviation of front. Soviet troops showed they had gained a high degree of military skill in the conduct of operations, particularly in assault river crossings.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Tsouras, p. 244
  2. ^ Glantz, p.7
  3. ^ Crofoot, p. 151

References[edit]