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  • #91
    7 July

    The penciled notes on Model’s movements end on 7 July. His pattern was to generally leave HQ early in the morning and travel among the division and corps command posts. He never advised his staff on his itinerary and reappeared early evening. Newton notes the army staff could rely on Model spending most of his day somewhere in the XLVII PzK sector, and “the surviving telephone logs for the Ninth Army during the first few days of Operation Citadel suggests almost as many calls were made to track down the army commander as to inquire about conditions at the front.

    Ninth Army fighting on 7 July cost another 2,861 casualties for a three-day total of 13,080. Casualties on the Soviet side were also high. On this day two major battles were fought by XLVII PzK’s attack toward Teploye and XLI PzK ‘s. The attacks are indecisive. For Model while attacking Ponyriy was important, he focused on thrusting tanks and assault guns through the Soviet defensive line in the Teploye-Olkovatka area. He would count on his fresh, reserve 4th PzD to make the difference in a breakthrough to the south the next morning.

    To be cont'd
    Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


    • #92
      8 July

      At 0830 hrs, Model, his operations officer, cdr XLVII PzK and cdr 4th PzD in a telephone conference call reviewed the 4th PzD’s strength and axis of attack. Newton observes, “What Model—again cut off from a steady stream of information from army headquarters by his incessant travels hither and yon—did not know was that Lemelsen [cdr XLVII PzK] had his own ideas about how to use the 4th PzD. The XLVII PzK cdr detach von Saucken’s [cdr 4th PzD] entire Panzer Regiment 35 to be consolidated with the available tanks from the 2nd PzD and Tiger battalion 503 into Panzer Brigade Burmeister… subordinated directly to corps headquarters…. … Essentially, then Lemelsen had converted the 4th Panzer division into a weak, four-battalion infantry division supported by a handful of assault guns, while redirecting his main attack into the 2nd PzD’s area.”

      Model discovers this task organization change around 1230 hrs when he arrives at the 4th PzD forward command post. The assistant operations staff officer briefs Model that the division’s final reserve (a panzerjager battery) had just been thrown into the line to half a Soviet counterattack. The Pz Rgt 35 had been idle for hours in front of the Russian hill positions, and while German 4th PzD panzer grenadiers incurred hundreds of casualties in its panzergrenadiers taking the village of Teploye, but not taking the surrounding hills. No breakthrough appeared imminent or even possible.

      “Model exploded,” notes Newton. Model said, “Lemelsen usually did not have any exact picture of the situation,” while XLVII PzK staff “too often…led from the map board without any factual knowledge.” After a few telephone calls, Model determined that the 2nd PzD’s attack was not succeeding either even though supported by over two hundred tanks. Model wanted “The removal of various officers, particularly the leadership of the 2nd PzD and the brigade commander of Panzer Brigade…” He ordered all tanks returned to their parent divisions, not to be detached again without explicit permission from army headquarters.

      By evening the Ninth Army C of S briefed Model that another 3,220 German soldiers had become casualties that day. Newton cites, “Between the 2nd, 4th, and 9th Panzer divisions had lost nearly 50 per cent of their infantry, and while German total losses among AFV’s remained low, dozens if not hundreds of vehicles were under repair.”

      Model reluctantly agrees to set aside major offensive action on 9 July in favor of reorganizing the spearhead divisions in both the XLI and XLVII PzK’s sectors. He knows the decision stops the northern offensive of Operation Citadel. He contacts von Kluge at Army Group Center, who reaches the same conclusion. Von Kluge instructs Model along with the main attack corps cdrs to meet him at the XLVII PzK HQ the following morning to work out Ninth Army’s next moves.

      To be cont'd
      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


      • #93
        9 July

        In the meeting, Model’s corps cdrs had serious concerns. Cdr XLI PzK pointed out with recent reinforcements of artillery by the enemy that Ninth Army would probably run out of infantry before taking Ponyriy. Cdr XLVII PzK said he could still attack, but to take the high ground behind Teploye on 10 July would require him to create a brigade-size armored assault from by combining assets from the 2nd, 4th and 20th PzD’s.

        Model told von Kluge Ninth Army could not reasonably expect to make a breakthrough. Von Kluge offered Model the 10th PzG, 12th Pz, and 36th Mot. Inf Divisions. Model still maintained he could not create a breakthrough even with these forces. With these additional forces, Model said he would conduct a series of tactical attacks, as “a rolling battle of attrition”(rollende Materielschlacht) that could continue to draw Soviet reserves away from the southern half of the Kursk salient. Von Kluge agreed with the approach.

        Newton sums, “Given that both Model and von Kluge expected a Soviet counteroffensive any day against the weakly held northern and eastern faces of the Orel salient, there are strong indications that the two men were knowingly engaged in misleading the OKH and Hitler. No message left Army group Center for East Prussia that morning detailing the fact that the Ninth Army’s participation in Operation Citadel had effectively ended: instead von Kluge portrayed 9 July as a brief moment of respite before a renewal of the breakthrough effort.”

        Any comments on Newton’s summation on the von Kluge/Model course of action?
        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


        • #94
          Beyond the consideration that Model did not have enough forces for a successful offensive, a second consideration that intrigued me more and led me to research the operation beyond the scope of the WNG article is did Model decide to pull out of the offensive? If so, when?

          I submit Model had already planned to pull out of the offensive before the 9 July meeting with von Kluge. Major General Peter von der Groeben, then Operations Officer, Second Army in Army Group Center relates in Newton’s “Kursk: the German View” FM von Kluge and ColGen Model “agreed that the Citadel offensive constituted a definite risk in view of powerful Russian concentration opposite the northern face of the Orel salient.” In the early planning Model had offered an alternative to the offensive plan of creating a strategic reserve of the “spearhead divisions” in the center of the Orel salient to deliver a counterpunch to a Soviet offensive thrust.

          Groeben writes, “If, on the other hand, in giving up on the idea of staging the Citadel offensive OKH contemplated the withdrawal of Army Group Center’s spearhead divisions for employment elsewhere, then it was high time to prepare for the orderly evacuation of the Orel salient. Second Panzer and Ninth Armies would therefore have taken new positions behind the line Desna river-Bryansk-Kirov. Such a maneuver would have required the completion of prepared defenses on both sides of Karachev, along the eastern edge of the woods east of the Desna and along the Desna to the north.”

          Hitler vetoed these proposals and argued that this offensive would force the Soviets to abandon their own attack plans and regroup.

          Groeben notes, “This being the situation, General Model ordered that the reserve battle positions mentioned above be completed immediately. This action was taken in defiance of Hitler’s orders but with the approval of Field Marshal von Kluge.” This is not the first time Model defied Hitler’s orders. And, this action was taken before the offensive began.

          Despite the open offer of additional divisions by von Kluge, the 10th PzGD’s movement to the front proved so slow that it does not arrive until the morning of 12 July. The 12th Pz and 36th Mot. Inf Divs lagged another day behind 10th PzD.

          Newton observes, “when the Russians did attack east of Orel on 12 July, both the Ninth Army and Army Group Center reoriented themselves with suspicious rapidity.” XLI PzK was pulled out of the line immediately. The 12th Pz and 36th Mot. Inf Divs were diverted, and preplanned withdrawals were ordered for the 18th and 20th PzD’s as well as two panzerjager battalions and a heavy guns artillery battalion.

          Model flew to Orel to assume command of the 2nd PzA by 1745 hrs on 12 July.

          Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


          • #95
            In reference to the actions on 12 July, Newton cites Franz Kurowski (Operation “Zitadelle”, 2003), “Without consulting Generalfeldmarschall von Kluge, Model called a halt to all attack operations.” Kurowski echoes Werner Haupt (Army Group Center, 1997), “Generaloberst Model saw the danger that this [Soviet offensive at Orel] represented to his army. He suspended all attacks—without notifying the army group command or OKH!” In the early standby reference of Earl Ziemke (Stalingrad to Berlin, 1968) citing from the Ninth Army war Journal, “Before noon Kluge was forced to divert the 2 divisions intended for Ninth Army to Second panzer Army, and in the afternoon and evening he had to call on Ninth Army to give up 2 panzer divisions, half of its Ferdinand tanks, and substantial quantities of artillery and rocket projectors.”

            Newton notes and adds evidence Kurowski’s “interpretation is consistent with Model’s popular image for independent decision making but overlooks the dynamic of the army commander’s relationship with the field marshal. Just as when Model constructed illicit (by OKH standards) defensive fallback positions at Rzhev and Orel with Army Group Center’s tacit (though always unwritten) approval, the sheer number of telephone calls and personal meetings between Model and von Kluge makes it highly unlikely that the Ninth Army acted against the wishes of its immediate superior command.”

            What we did see with the 9 July meeting was Model’s suggesting a “rolling battle of attrition” which gave von Kluge “plausible deniability” to OKH and Hitler.

            Newton makes an observation on a ruthless aspect of Model’s command leadership which, IMO, matches Zhukov. “On 10 and 11 July German soldiers in XLI and XLVII Panzer Corps continued to fall as Model coldheartedly ordered them forward in attacks that no longer served any rational purpose beyond protective coloration.” It is possible that Model from the beginning of the operation ruthlessly committed soldiers in an offensive he believed would fail and he structure the formations for a “rolling battle of attrition from the beginning with the infantry up front, panzer units in depth and unable to quickly seize opportunities on the battlefield, placed his two weakest panzer divisions first in the main attack area, he chose of course of action that attacked at the strongest part of the enemy defense, and his ‘wayward’ movement on the battlefield with extended periods of time out of contact his staff/units and out of touch with the situation.
            Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


            • #96
              I just procured “Germany and the Second World War Volume VIII: The eastern Front 1943-1944: The War in the East and on the Neighboring Fronts”, edited by Karl-Heinz Frieser who makes the following observation:

              “Model chose not to deploy his armoured units in closed formation—a fundamental violation of Guderian’s concentration principle. … How can this contradiction be explained? An initial answer has already been given: Model had to attack the Central Front with his army in a southerly direction, but he had Bryansk Front to the north, ready to attack his units in the rear. That was why he positioned Esebeck Group so far back, so that it could be deployed not for an advance towards Kursk but as firepower against the Bryansk Front. The second reason was that he himself was clearly not convinced that the offensive would succeed.” [Footnote 9, 107 for this sentence: “This was confirmed by his son, Bundeswehr Brig-Gen (ret.) Hans Georg Model, in a personal communication to the author.”]

              To be cont'd
              Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


              • #97
                This leads us to a Monday morning quarterbacking:
                Did Model have alternative courses of action for his conduct of the offensive against the northern face of the Kursk salient?

                At this point, I would like to play with alternative COA3.

                In addition to avoiding attacking where the enemy defense was the strongest and anticipated the planned offensive in that sector, an attack with a balance of infantry and armor on the front line supported by air and artillery in the main effort in a southeasterly direction vicinity of Nikolskoe against a less reinforced enemy position on the boundary between the 13th and 48th Armies. After penetrating to the operational depth, turn towards Kursk to link up with friendly forces from the south. This course bypasses the enemy’s main buildup and reserves positioned on the most direct approach to Kursk. To ensure surprise, you move your force with radio silence at the last day under the cover of artillery fire and aerial bombings to mask the movement.

                A hypothetical Ninth Army war council’s, if Model would allow one, on the pros and cons for this alternative course of action may have considered the following [with some historical commentary]:

                1. The attack just north of Maloarkhangelsk is not only against the seam between the 48th and 63rd Armies, but also the seam between the Central and Bryansk Fronts. Unit boundaries between major units is seen as a weakness in coordination. [I recall from a modern example, an Israeli recon commander in Adan’s division in the 1973 Yom Kippur War on the Sinai sector tell me how his unit had found the unit boundary between two major units (which intel analysts later worked out to be the boundary between the 3rd and 4th Egyptian Corps) that was used to make the counterattack to the Suez canal and the crossing to the North Africa side encircling Suez city and knocking out SAM sites. The two Egyptian corps had to communicate back to the army HQ which would manage the situation without allowing direct coordination between the two corps, facilitating an advantage to a rapid effort by Adan’s division.]
                2. The disposition of the 48th Army was not as strong as the 13th and 70th Armies which were on what Rokossovsky historically anticipated correctly the most likely German approach for its directness to Kursk. [This targets a sector with less defensive capabilities. In late May 1943, Zhukov inspected the Central Front’s armies’ defenses. He reported to the Stavka, “Our 13th and 70th Armies’ defenses are correctly organized and spaced in depth. The 48th Army’s defenses are sparsely arranged and have a very weak artillery density, and, should the enemy strike at Romanenko’s (48th) Army and attempt to bypass Maloarkhangelsk from the east in order to go round the Rokossovsky main defense, Romanenko would fail to withstand a focused enemy thrust. The Front reserves are mainly deployed behind Pukhov (13th Army) and Galanin (70th Army) and would not be able to render Romanenko assistance in time.” Recommended reinforcements from the Stavka reserve was two rifle divisions, three tank regiments with T-34 tanks, two anti tank regiments and two mortar or artillery regiments. The 48th Army received the additional forces, but it did not achieve the same level of defensiveness as with 13th Army sector. [Zhukov recommended more anti-tank and artillery forces for Central Front as a whole, indicating that Rokossosky was taking some risk to achieve the highest level in 13th and 70th Armies at expense for depth in Central Front elsewhere.]
                3. A better mix in forward echelon of infantry and tanks with sufficient artillery and air for a rapid breakthrough. [This improves on Model’s historical placement of weak panzer divisions and predominate use of infantry, and the after the fact reallocation of artillery to the main effort.]
                4. A greater emphasis on deception efforts to feed the enemy expectation of the attack directly towards Kursk, and achieve surprise in speed and force as well as location of the main attack. [Studies on Red Army operational level deception revealed a rule of thumb to dedicate 10% of a unit’s resources to deception.]
                5. With this COA, panzer units in the main effort by moving around Maloarkhangelsk would gain maneuver in the operational depth with more freedom of movement to deal with any redeployment of Central Fronts’ tank reserves. The engagements would be meeting engagements versus Soviet tanks fighting around and in defensive positions. [To this point in the war, the Germans had an edge in flexibility command and control (particularly in comms) in an open, meeting engagement.] Additionally, close air support of the advancing panzers would encounter less concentrated anti-aircraft fire.
                To be cont'd with Cons
                Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


                • #98
                  Hello RNA. I'm a little late for the party, but have read your excellent descriptions. At this point I have a question, whether it is possible for me to re-arrange the COAs slightly:

                  Would it be possible in such war game to re-allocate the Tiger, assault gun, Ferdinand and 88-mm flak battalions to the infantry divisions creating the breakthrough, and then use the panzer divisions to exploit?

                  My reasoning:
                  It would appear that infantry could fare better with heavy armour and assault gun support in the initial stages so that they can support each other. Ferdinands and Tigers are slow and benefit greatly with infantry support (which also eliminates their shortcomings), combined with infantry division's AT assets (75mm AT guns), they would be ready for Soviet armoured counterattacks on their flanks, and their forward momentum could be sustained with the help of concentrated close air support, called down on Soviet artillery positions and AT strongpoints.

                  Similar to COA 1: XX Corps in the west, but with XXIII Corps in the center, reinforced as described above, and one of the panzer corps to the east (protecting the flank). Behind the XXIII Corps, one panzer corps following closely enough to swiftly exploit created gap, and another panzer corps behind that as well.


                  • #99
                    Welcome aboard Kapetan,

                    Ninth Army against Central Front is an operational level fight. Not sure rearranging the tactical force structure would alter the operational level offensive against the Central Fronts' strongest and deepest sector in COA1, nor farther west in COA2, the second strongest sector which would have a tank army and two tank corps immediately on the left flank.

                    At the operational level, the density of forces in main efforts and spatial depth for achieving an operational depth are more important than the tactical force ratio and interlocking of tactical system ranges. A study of Red Army breakthrough operations shows the significant density of forces in the main breakthrough sector (while lesser density of forces are in supporting and in dormant (at greater risks) sectors). The main sector offensive force is echeloned in depth to defeat an enemy's defensive depth in order to put mobile forces into the operational depth.

                    What do you think your reallocation would do for COA3?

                    Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


                    • In reality, any course of action will have cons for a war council’s considerations. The richness of a war council depends on the commander and how he uses/works his staff. I have observed and read a wide variety of interesting variations in the manner of different commanders and their approach. If one is not getting any cons, it has become a ‘group think’ approach in large part because of the environment created by a commander and has its risk of surprises and disaster. Newton tells us, “Model was notoriously unpopular with his own staff officers … To a man they hated him almost on sight. It was not so much his temper toward them (which was foul) or his language (which was frequently profane) that alienated them so much as it was the commander’s penchant for ignoring their schedules, disdaining their advice, and holding them accountable when his own actions had hopelessly fouled up their plans.” At the best, Model probably dominated unenriched war councils.

                      1. While the main effort starts out on the boundary seams, as it moves into the depth of the defense and operational depth it turns more into the 48th Army right flank and rear. The attacking force’s left flank, as well as rear area, would be vulnerable to counterattack. The mitigating thought for this con would be if the attack is fast enough and actually, or creates the impression that it is flanking/collapsing the Central Front it may deter a large Soviet counterattack/strike. [This con is interesting because I do not recall much discussion on chopping parts of a Front to the adjacent Front to handle such actions during the course of the fight, defense or offense. I would be grateful to any readers who can cite some examples (with source(s) citation).
                      2. This COA creates a dilemma for splitting troops for a strong supporting attack next to the main effort or a supporting/fixing attack against the 13th Army and Central Front reserves (particularly tank reserves) oriented for an anticipated direct main effort towards Kursk.
                      3. I am sure the logistical staff and support unit commanders would raise concerns and issues for supporting the roundabout attack and pace with vulnerable flank and rear.
                      4. Army level command and control issues would be more difficult. [We saw the difficulty of Army staff keeping in touch with Model and keeping Model in touch with the situation. Where should he be on the battlefield?
                      5. An air liaison officer would point out that increased use of Luftwaffe assets for close ground support would mean less aircraft for battlefield interdiction.
                      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


                      • How this alternative COA could have played out within the historical context:

                        Model and his staff studied aerial photographs over the enemy disposition looking for indicators that reveal the enemy’s anticipation of your main attack direction. They find the enemy’s 13th Army has a third defensive line and well reinforced while the 48th Army to the east has less infantry divisions, artillery guns, and tanks. The Central Front’s tank reserves placed behind the 13th and 70th Armies cannot move rapidly to the east to engage a panzer penetration until your force is into the operational depth.

                        Model organizes his corps with the XX and XXIII Corps, five infantry division and one infantry regiment, in the west facing Soviet 70th Army, XLVI Panzer Corps, in the center against 13th Army, XLI PzK in support of the main attack against the Soviet 13th Army’s right wing, and XLVII PzK with the 4th PzD the main attack against Soviet 48th Army. Once through the enemy defenses Model’s attack would be on an approach to the Kursk objective from the east. Model call the Army Group Center commander and convinces him to release the 10th PzG and 12th Pz Divisions for rapid reinforcement since they are relatively closer to a main attack in the east and expedites their movement to Ninth Army for an early exploitation of a weak sector.

                        Early morning on July 5, an enemy counter-preparation fire inflicts light casualties while units move eastward behind masking artillery fire. After Ninth Army’s artillery preparation and air strikes, the infantry supported by engineers and assault guns penetrate the Russian first defensive line. By evening Model’s main effort has penetrated through the first defensive line to the vicinity of Nikoskoe.

                        Model is unhappy with the XLVII commander’s performance. For the second day, after closely monitoring the first day’s actions, Model believes the corps command has not revised his tactical orders to the spearhead division or modified his artillery support plan. Model determines tactical success rests in the support of the Ferdinands of the Panzerjaeger regiment, massive Luftwaffe sorties, artillery fires, and reinforcing combat engineers. Panzer forces passing through the second defensive line encounter a limited 48th Army counterattack with a tanks corps which is brushed aside as Model’s force wheel the main effort southeast after bypassing Maloarkhangelsk and hit the 13th Army’s third defensive line at an oblique. During the evening the panzer divisions resupply and restore damaged tanks.

                        To be cont'd
                        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


                        • [Meant to post this sooner, but was sidetracked entertaining posters on another thread.]

                          On 7 July, lead elements slowly wedge into the third defensive line east of Maloarkhangelsk. As Model’s artillery and infantry with engineers strive to deepen the penetration, he pushes panzer divisions into the penetration and advance.

                          A Soviet tank corps arrives late on the third day. Model’s lead forces handle the tank corps in a meeting engagement until darkness stops the fight. The enemy has been slow in determining and reacting to Ninth Army’s main effort east of Maloarkhangelsk.

                          Only the 10th Panzer Grenadier Division has arrived while the 12th Panzer Division is a day’s march behind. Model brings the panzer grenadier division well forward in anticipation of commitment for the dash to Kursk.

                          Model’s infantry divisions hold his increasingly long flanks against enemy artillery and rocket salvoes support flank threats and creating a dilemma for the use of Model’s reserve. He decides to commit the reserves to the expanding the armored meeting engagement on 9 July. The swirling battles in the operational depth continue through the next day. Model’s forces need resupply and regrouping during the night of 10 July.

                          The following morning, a lead battle group consisting of reconnaissance and tanks report the enemy advance of additional counterattack forces. Model brings the Tigers forward and places them at the spearhead of a wedge formation in order to engage the advancing Soviet tanks at a longer range. This second enemy effort around the enemy’s final defensive line is ferocious as Model’s panzer forces come under heavy antitank fire, and the Red air force has gained superiority over the battlefield. His units are taking serious tank losses and require a pause through the night to resupply, repair and rearm.

                          Early the next morning, the Red Army launches a major counteroffensive against Army Group Center that threatens to cut off your army. Army Group Center has you assume command of Second Panzer and Ninth Armies to defend the Orel salient. Model employs not only the army group center’s two divisions enroute to the Ninth, but also from Ninth Army two panzer divisions and the Tiger Battalion. Model’s force is deep into the enemy defense, and he does not know whether they can respond rapidly to withdrawal orders. Ninth Army’s panzer penetration is vulnerable, and Model must withdraw immediately to designated fall back positions large for the defense.

                          The Soviet counteroffensive against the Orel salient sealed the fate Operation Citadel’s northern offensive. If the Soviets were unprepared to conduct a counteroffensive, they could have chopped the 3rd Gds Tank Army of the Bryansk Front to Rokossovsky’s Central Front for a counterstrike into the vulnerable northeastern flank of Model’s penetration, similar to the 5th Gds Tank Army of the Steppe Front was sent to the Voronezh Front creating the large tank meeting engagement around Prokhorovka against the Hoth’s southern offensive.

                          Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.


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