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|Part of Dnepr-Carpathian Strategic Offensive|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Ivan Konev||Erich von Manstein|
2nd Ukrainian Front|
670 tanks and assault guns
8,890 artillery pieces
German 8th Army|
450 tanks and assault guns
3,500 artillery pieces
|Casualties and losses|
45,000 Germans killed|
25,000 Germans captured
130,000 total German casualties excluding Romanians
The Uman–Botoşani Offensive or Uman-Botoshany Offensive (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
The operation was conducted by the forces of the 2nd Ukrainian Front during World War II, from March 5 to 17 April in 1944. 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. 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.
The Stavka concept of the operation was to destroy the 8th Army, bisect the front 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, Zvenyhorodka, 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 operation began on 5 March on a 175 km sector of the front between Dnipropetrovsk (Dnepropetrovsk) and Bila Tserkva (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 a river crossing of Hirsky Tikych (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 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 Mohyliv-Podilsky (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 Kamianets-Podilskyi (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 (Ungen).
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 Botoşani (Botoshany), and with the central forces they approached Iaşi (Jassy) from the north while the left wing advanced to the approaches to Chişinău (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 Dubăsari (Dubossary), north of Iaşi, and some 60 km south of Botoşani.
As a result of 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 much 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.
During the offensive, the towns of Uman, Vapniarka, Pervomaisk, Novoukrainka were liberated. 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, all while being conducted under the conditions of spring floods and rasputitsa ("roadlessness"). Soviet units had moreover conducted consecutive assault crossings over six major rivers without pausing fully at any of them: Gorniy Tikach, Southern Bug, Dniester, Reut, Prut, and Siret, harassing and on occasion routing the German withdrawal from eastern and central Ukraine.
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, the quick response of command to changes in the situation and by the clear organisation of cooperation between the armies and the aviation of a front. Soviet troops showed they had gained a high degree of military skill in the conduct of operations, particularly in assault river crossings.
- Tsouras, p. 244
- Glantz, p.7
- Crofoot, p. 151
- Glantz, David M. (2007). Red Storm Over the Balkans: The Failed Soviet Invasion of Romania, Spring 1944. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1465-6.