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The Caucasus July 1942- Jan 1943

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  • #31
    brief description of mountain infantry skills (osprey booklet). 1.GB and 4.GB was assigned to the Caucasus. Then there were 2 x Romanian mountain divisions and 2 x Jager divisions. Correction on the earlier statement- Tieke's sloppy handwriting on his bad maps caused me to confuse "ID with JD". :

    In addition to the basic infantry training, or
    what might be considered the ‘basic military
    syllabus’, Gebirgsjäger were trained in mountaineering
    skills such as rock climbing, abseiling,
    skiing, map reading and, most importantly, in safety
    and survival skills for existing in the high peaks,
    where temperatures could drop rapidly to well
    below freezing and shelter was at a premium.
    Above all else Gebirgsjäger were expected to
    maintain their already high standards of physical
    fitness at all times, without which, of course,
    operating in such circumstances would be
    difficult, if not impossible. This too added to the
    elite status accorded to these first-class soldiers.
    Given the restrictive type of terrain in which
    they were intended to operate, mountain troops
    rarely worked at much more than battalion
    strength in any one area. Men were trained to be
    aware of and recognise indications of imminent
    changes in weather patterns and alert to the
    possibility of avalanche conditions arising as they
    passed through an area. Mountain troops were
    trained to move in zigzag fashion, in single file
    column and well spaced out to minimise losses if
    an avalanche did occur.

    One major attribute that was essential to a mountain trooper was
    flexibility: the ability to adapt quickly to changing conditions and to make
    use of local indigenous pack animals. The reindeer used by some
    Gebirgsjäger in Lapland, the dog-sleds used on the Murmansk front and
    the Bactrian camels which were often used in the Caucasus, were far more
    suitable to the local terrain than the Gebirgsjägers’ own horses and
    ponies, and a major factor in the successful deployment of these troops.
    Gebirgsjäger were also trained in specialist pioneer skills. The
    Gebirgspioniere (mountain sappers) might be expected to blast away a
    rock fall that blocked a pathway, create new paths and roads, rig rope
    bridges over chasms, larger pontoon bridges over fast-flowing mountain
    rivers or construct bunkers and other defensive works.
    Mountain troop medical personnel were trained to use special
    stretchers allowing injured or wounded personnel to be safely lowered
    down rock faces, and were also skilled in the treatment of frostbite,
    temporary snow blindness, rope burns and other typical climbing injuries.
    Dog teams, usually St. Bernards, were also occasionally used by
    Gebirgsjäger together with mini-pack animals, carrying medical supplies.
    Gebirgsjäger also required better than average skills in their
    communications personnel. Radio sets were often found to be almost
    useless in the high mountain valleys because the terrain blocked signals.
    Gebirgsjäger were adept at rigging aerials up in the highest branches of
    trees in the mountain areas to improve reception, as well as in the use
    of multiple relay stations, and even the use of semaphore flags.
    Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
    Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
    Barbarossa Derailed I & II
    Battle of Kalinin October 1941

    Comment


    • #32
      I'm up to Sept/Oct 1942. It is a very unusual theater. It reads like more like a series of disconnected, small battles.

      A lot of the axis attacks are very spread apart (1-2 KM covered by each combat group of a division and divisions 10-20 KM apart) but eventually these disparate maneuvers converge onto a target that they are trying to take.

      In Sept, mountain division "Lanz" is shipped to the theater while the Italian mountain corps is re-assigned to Stalingrad.
      Last edited by Cult Icon; 06 Dec 15, 20:16.
      Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
      Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
      Barbarossa Derailed I & II
      Battle of Kalinin October 1941

      Comment


      • #33
        A documentary on that campaign written from a Russian POV.

        Credo quia absurdum.


        Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

        Comment


        • #34
          The final 1/3rd of the book is about the retreat from the Caucasus. The sudden encirclement of the 13.Pz's attacking forward detachment (~80 armor lost, 1,080 vehicles lost) is the final straw that causes Kleist to order a defensive. This occurs in Nov 1942 and around the same time Uranus is initiated up north.

          When the general retreat is given, particularily important is the mobile defense of LVII PzK (16.ID (Mot.), 23.Pz, SS-W, 17.Pz) that shields Rostov (from primarily 2.Guards Army and elements of 51st and 28th Army) and allows the 1.Panzer Army to evacuate from the caucasus in Jan 1943. These units are left in a weak state afterwards.
          Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
          Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
          Barbarossa Derailed I & II
          Battle of Kalinin October 1941

          Comment


          • #35
            The book concludes with discussion of 17.Army combat in the Kuban bridgehead, and then its final evacuation (~260,000 soldiers) in fall 1943.

            This is in fact, the context for the book and movie "Cross of Iron"- Steiner is in the Kuban.
            Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
            Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
            Barbarossa Derailed I & II
            Battle of Kalinin October 1941

            Comment


            • #36
              I recently got a copy of "At War's Summit: The Red Army and the Struggle for the Caucasus Mountains in World War II (Cambridge Military Histories) by Alexander Statiev"

              A new book!

              https://www.amazon.com/Wars-Summit-M.../dp/1108424627
              Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
              Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
              Barbarossa Derailed I & II
              Battle of Kalinin October 1941

              Comment


              • #37
                Seems like a very good book! Thanks for the info!

                About the caucasus campaign, there are any informations about the italians in the caucasus? The Alpini where initially intended to be sended over the caucasus mountains...

                Comment


                • #38
                  There were no Italians in the Caucasus.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                    There were no Italians in the Caucasus.
                    Absurd to call in Russia the Alpini Corps and let them fought in the plains of the Don!!

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                      This thread is about the military aspects of the campaign in the Caucasus, which cost 628,000 casualties combined.

                      It has been neglected compared to Stalingrad even though it was the original primary goal of the summer 1942 offensive.
                      I never saw this thread until now. I see you started it 3 years ago. Great topic but I guess it went unnoticed. I have At Wars Summit on my Amazon U.S. wish list for a few months now it still says available for pre order. Did you get yours someplace else? The Free Corps Walloon played a small part in the Caucuses during Fall Blue. Interesting quote here:

                      During Fall Blau offensive into the Caucasus , the Walloons were positioned to guard the supply lines of the assault, seeing little action. In early August, the Walloons were called upon to clear a small village. During this battle, Degrelle was awarded the Iron Cross second class. In late August, the Battalion was pulled out of action and posted to flank security. During this time it came into contact with Felix Steiner's SS-Division
                      Wiking
                      . Degrelle and Steiner got along well, and Degrelle was impressed by the ethos of the Waffen-SS . In December, Degrelle was ordered to Berlin to coordinate the formation of a second Walloon Battalion, but Degrelle had already decided to take his Walloons to the Waffen-SS.
                      See:
                      http://www.waffen-ss.no/28.SS-Freiwi...0Wallonien.htm

                      On another note I wonder if Hitler would or could have (if it was feasible with logistics support), not divide Army Group South into 2 separate groups A and B, with A wheeling south towards the Caucuses and B east toward Stalingrad, but instead sent the whole of AGS towards the Caucuses and the much needed oil fields. Maybe leaving just 1 corps near the key routes into the Caucuses as a "rear guard" force to protect against supply routes and a Soviet advance (which surely the Soviets would have done to try and cut off supply and isolate the AGS.




                      Our world at Khe Sanh was blood, death, and filth with deafening gunfire and blinding explosions as a constant soundtrack...Barry Fixler
                      http://sempercool.com/

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Darren Marshall View Post

                        Absurd to call in Russia the Alpini Corps and let them fought in the plains of the Don!!
                        Indeed Darren, and they suffered greatly. If you have not read this book already I highly recommend it: https://www.amazon.com/Few-Returned-...sian-1942-1943

                        Quote from the Amazon blurb:

                        Why is it that Corti's book, which was first published in 1947, continues after fifty years to be reprinted in Italy? Because, as Mario Apollonio of the University of Milan said, when the book first appeared: "It is a chronicle . . . but it is much more than that: behind the physical reality, there is the truth" about man at his most tragic hour. Apollonio adds: "The power of the writing immediately transforms the document into drama"; the result is a "novel-poem-drama-history." The philosopher Benedetto Croce found in Corti's book "the not infrequent gleam of human goodness and nobility."
                        Few Returned
                        is a classic of war literature that succeeds in bringing home the full hatefulness of war.


                        I also recommend this book:

                        https://www.amazon.com/Sacrifice-Ste...aign-1942-1943

                        Our world at Khe Sanh was blood, death, and filth with deafening gunfire and blinding explosions as a constant soundtrack...Barry Fixler
                        http://sempercool.com/

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Hi Kurt,

                          I have the digital copy. It looks good and focuses on tactical and operational aspects.

                          With Unit histories, the 5.SS Wiking played a major role (Unit history: European Volunteers). As did 3.Panzer and 23.Panzer (Unit histories can be consulted here as well).
                          Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                          Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                          Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                          Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post


                            On another note I wonder if Hitler would or could have (if it was feasible with logistics support), not divide Army Group South into 2 separate groups A and B, with A wheeling south towards the Caucuses and B east toward Stalingrad, but instead sent the whole of AGS towards the Caucuses and the much needed oil fields. Maybe leaving just 1 corps near the key routes into the Caucuses as a "rear guard" force to protect against supply routes and a Soviet advance (which surely the Soviets would have done to try and cut off supply and isolate the AGS.
                            Yes, Stalingrad was not the priority target- it was the Caucasus. This was a major blunder as the Germans ended up expending more resources for the Stalingrad region.

                            From reading Stalingrad Trilogy, however, the Soviets were strong enough to contest the Axis lines of communication with major offensives so there would be battles to cut off the spearhead. However, it would be battles that the Wehrmacht at the time could more easily win (mobile defense/counteroffensive) and inflict high losses.

                            To continue, Glantz released "Operation Don", which is a tome about the Soviet pursuit and Axis retreat from the Caucasus.

                            Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                            Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                            Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                            Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              [QUOTE=Cult Icon;n5054102]

                              Yes, Stalingrad was not the priority target- it was the Caucasus. This was a major blunder as the Germans ended up expending more resources for the Stalingrad region.

                              From reading Stalingrad Trilogy, however, the Soviets were strong enough to contest the Axis lines of communication with major offensives so there would be battles to cut off the spearhead. However, it would be battles that the Wehrmacht at the time could more easily win (mobile defense/counteroffensive) and inflict high losses.

                              To continue, Glantz released "Operation Don", which is a tome about the Soviet pursuit and Axis retreat from the Caucasus.


                              I believe they could have succeeded in taking the oil fields with the whole of AGS attacking. Holding on to them is another thing entirely though. This would have been near impossible I think. Unless we go down the rabbit hole of "what if" as in "what if" the Germans did not need to bail out the Italians in North Africa freeing up a corps with Rommel leading it into Russia?

                              I read part one the trilogy To The Gates of Stalingrad and was able to get through it but will probably re-read it before I move on to part 2. I am still having problems with Glantzs' style of "lossless" historical writing as compared to compressed "lossy" used by most other military historical authors. His narrative (or lack of?) is difficult for me.

                              My use of computer file formats as a comparison is not to confuse just to clarify. When ripping a music file from a CD to your PC you can use a variety of formats most popular is 192 kbps which compresses the music so it take up less space on your hard drive but in return quality of sound is compromised. I always rip in FLAC format (lossless) which is 450-900 kbps and retains the original CD quality. Glantzs' writing style is most definitely "lossless" as he leaves nothing out!!
                              Our world at Khe Sanh was blood, death, and filth with deafening gunfire and blinding explosions as a constant soundtrack...Barry Fixler
                              http://sempercool.com/

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Darren Marshall View Post
                                Absurd to call in Russia the Alpini Corps and let them fought in the plains of the Don!!
                                German "mountain" divisions in steppes of Ukraine or swamps near Leningrad don't make you surprised? Looks like the brief campaign in the Caucasus was the only instance on the EF when two of them fought in the type of terrain they were meant for.

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