Vyazma defence operation 2-13.10.1941.
On September 10, Soviet High Command ordered the Western Front going in strong defence. In the same instruction it was specified, that the structure of defence formations should be active, in view of creation of a powerful mobile grouping for offensive in future. German forces before Western Front take to defense and the main German panzer forces acted actively only in a strip of Southwest Front. The offensive of Western Front on Yartsev direction has stopped. But it proceeded in a strip of 24th and 43rd armies till September 15. Moreover, September 16, Stavka has approved preparation for offensive on Roslavle direction for 43rd Army. But conditions in strip of 22nd Soviet Army was worsened. September 14, weak on the structure 256th Rifle Division conducted the intense battles and gradually retreated and naked flank and rear of 22nd Army. Counter-attacks in flank of German forces by regiment of 139th Rifle Division has not helped. On September 17 in strip of 256th Rifle Division for deduction of a defense was used 126th Tank Brigade and cavalry.
Thus Soviet troops of Western and Reserve Front was involved in battles proceeding up to second half of September. 22nd Army weakened by battles on breaking out from the encirclement, 29th Army weakened by offensive battles under Il'ino, 19th,16th,20th Armies - in offensive battles in region Dukhovshino- Yartsevo, Reserve Front by battles for Yelnya and Roslavle. Number of divisions of 22nd and 29th Armies were about 3000 soldiers.
On September 18, the Chief of Red Army Staff informs commanding of Western Front about concentration of German forces mainly on yartsevo and yelnya directions.
By way of defensive operations forces of Western Front on a direction of probable enemy actions from September 20, Chief of Western Front Staff the Lieutenant-General Sokolovskiy has considered some probable variants of a defense of Soviet forces. In zone of defense of 22nd Army on andreapole direction was supposed not only to defend, but also active actions of the right flank to take out a defense on a boundary of lakes Istoshnoye, Dolgoye, Vit'bino. In zone of defense of 29th Army was supposed to cover Nelidovo-Rzhev direction, and also by active actions keep bridgehead on the Western Dvina river. 30th Army covered Belsk and Kanyutinsk operational direction, 19th Army - Vyazma, 16th-Yartsevo, 20th Army - region Solov'evo ferries. The structure of defence forces of Western Front was two echelon. In the second echelon one rifle division and one tank brigade usually placed. These forces were supposed to be used for counterattack of the opponent who has broken through tactical zone of defense of the Soviet armies. At deep break of the opponent it was supposed to use bilaterial flank attacks, mobile forces of adjacent armies. The mobile forces of the second echelons of Soviet armies of Western Front totaled 1-2 rifle division and 1-2 tank brigade. It turns out, that for undertaken counterattack on the broken opponent the Soviet shock grouping would total about 30.000 soldiers and about 60 tanks. Hence, the prospective German shock grouping, should not exceed number of Soviet counterattack's group.
September 26 from the report of a military council of Western Front follows, that German forces creates a shock grouping on Yartsevo direction against Western Front and in region Roslavle in a direction of Spas-Demensk against Reserve Front. Due to defeat of the Soviet forces under Kiev and probable impact of German 2nd Panzer Group on Orel or Kursk, and because of concentration of German forces on Yartsevo direction, on September 27, Stavka has given the order to a Western Front armies on defence on all strip of front.
28 September Konev and Chief of Western Front Staff- Sokolovskiy have presented to the Chief of a General Army Staff the plan of defensive actions at German offensive on Smolensk-Vyazma and Rzhev directions. In this plan prospective German main impact was on Vyazma direction and auxiliary on Rzhev direction. On Vyazma direction in Valino region have concentrated new Soviet 143rd and 147th Tank Brigades for strengthening counterattack group. To the end of September Soviet counter group on Rzhev direction have 107th Motorized Division, 251st and 243rd Rifle Divisions. On Vyazma in Vadino and Izdeshkovo areas: 134th,152nd Rifle Divisions, 101st Motorized Division, 126th, 128th, 143rd, 147th Tank Brigade and 45th Cavalry Division.
These Soviet defensive plans and arrangement of counterattack groupings show erroneous conclusions Soviet Staff about German forces formations, there numbered and directions of probable German offensive. The Soviet Command did not assume, actions of new panzer forces in zone of Western Front defence. The Soviet investigation and Commander of Leningrad Front (Zhukov) have not noticed regroup of 4th Panzer Group. Soviet High Command think that Germans have use before Western and Reserve Front only two Panzer Groups, thus two offensive directions. Before Western Front - one Panzer Group, so one main offensive direction with one probable auxiliary direction.
September 30, 1941,German 2nd Panzer Group begun offensive from line Gadyach-Putivle-Glukhov-Novgorod Severskiy on Orel and Bryansk. This forces were supported by all 2nd Air Fleet of group Centre. The Soviet command on this direction after the intense battles and defeat of Southwest Front still had weak forces, there were no operative reserves. Due to on October 1, Soviet Command has given order on redeployment 49th Army divisions from second echelon of Western Front's "not main probable German offensive direction" on "main now dangerous defence line".
October 2, 3rd and 4th Germans Panzer Groups, 9th and 4th Field Armies began offensive from areas Roslavle and Dukhovshina against Western and Reserve Soviet Fronts. German command concentrated the main impact on a direction of cities Beley, Sychevka and along a highway Roslavl-Moscow. Having closed on October 6 to the west of Vyazma, Germans encirclemented 16th, 19th and 20th Soviet Armies of Western Front, both 24th and 32th Armies of Reserve Front. On a boundary Ostashkovo-Sechevka 22th, 29th and 31th Soviet Armies were pushed aside. Soviet forces which were in encirclement fiercely resisted. The failure which has overtaken Soviet under Vyazma, appreciably was in wrong definition a direction of the main Germans impact and wrong construction of defense. Instead allocating for Western and Reserve Fronts independent defense line, with complete responsibility for these line in depth, 24th and 43th Armies of Reserve Front, to the beginning of Germans offensive, defense in the first echelon. This armies were between lest-wing of Western and right-wing of Bryansk Fronts. Other three armies of the Reserve Front, which has been stretched in one line on a wide front, were on positions in direct depth of a defense of Western Front on a line Ostashkovo- Olenino-Yelny. The operative construction extremely complicated management of Soviet forces and front's formations. Even in good result, correctly organized defense on the direction of the main enemy's impacts, Western Front had no the superiority.
The strongest German impacts were between 30th and 19th Armies formations of Western Front, where four Soviet divisions were attacked by twelve German divisions, including three Panzer Divisions (415 tanks). 19th Army during day conducted fierce battle. On sites 91st, 89th and 50th Rifle Divisions in separate places the German troops managed to press Soviet formations and wedge in its tactical zone. But up to the main defence line the enemy was not admitted, only right wing of 244th Rifle Division in night on October 3 has retreated on the main boundary, having bent the right flank on the north, and it 913th Rifle Regiment has appeared cut off from the main forces. Helping it, 907th Rifle Regiment of the same division under command of the colonel M.Y.Usanov was distinguished. Reflecting attacks of superior German forces of infantry with tanks at continuous influence of enemy aircraft, it repeatedly counterattack. Thus, 913th Rifle Regiment was deblocked and has incorporated to other Soviet formations.
"Under attack of superior forces of the opponent, maintained by tanks and aircrafts, Soviet formations of 19th Army retreated. A withdrawal on a new boundary 244th and 91th Rifle Divisions have lead organized. The German offensive restrained by our units. Formations of 89th Rifle Division and 127th Tank Brigade conduct counter-attack. The personal structure of 19th Army combat courageous, some units were cut off, have got in an encirclement, but there was no panic and confusion... Bravely battled soldiers of 561st and 913th Rifle Regiment (244th Rifle Divisions). They covered a withdrawal of Soviet divisions and constrained German offensive, while all Soviet formations have not occupied a new boundary... Together with it, cause of a disorganization and the defaults of the order in units of army were available vain victims; it has enabled the opponent to breakon a joint of 19th and 30th Armies. Making a withdrawal, the units of 91st and 89th Rifle Divisions have not warned about it commander of artillery formations, which, having remained without covering infantry, have carried the large losses. The commander of 45th Cavalry Divisions, the general-major Dreer has not executed an order of Commander of 19th Army, has left occupied positions, weak a joint between 19th and 30th Soviet Armies, and on this site German tanks has filtered, which came in Badino area.
On the other site of break, there was a following: " The main impact was put between Soviet 162th and 242th Rifle Divisions. Only on a site of 162th Division acted about two hundred German tanks and hundred aircrafts, 162th rendered persistent resistance. The commander of this Soviet division the colonel Holziner was lost. Having broken through front of 162th Rifle Division, the opponent has fallen on 1st Battalion of 897th Rifle Regiment of 242th Rifle Division, on which site there came still more than 70 tanks and fielf regiment, 1st battalion fight heroically, it in complete structure was lost, but occupied boundaries has not left".
By huge losses Germans managed to break through Soviet front and to outcome of October 2, advance in depth on 10-12 km. Since morning on October 3, 30th, 19th Soviet Armies and forces of front reserve incorporated in group under command of the general I.V.Boldin counter-attacted with the purpose to stop the broken Germans and to restore situation. The opponent take possession of Holm-Zhirkovski, directed to Dnieper river and left in region to the south of Bulyshovo, where defended 32nd Army of Reserve Front. In result the break to Vyazma from north was designated. The reason of this break, partly, was redeployment of 49th Army. October 1, Soviet Stavka has given order to 49th Army on redeployment of divisions: 194th Rifle Division from Semlevo steatio - on Kharkov; 248th Rifle Division from Kasny station - on Gotny; 303rd Rifle Division from Spas-Demensk - on D'yakonovo station; 220th Rifle Division from Sychevka region - on Komarichi station. But change of situation has forced to change places of expansion of 49th Army. October 3, 194th and 303rd Rifle Division should move in Karachev region and 220th Rifle Division in Belev region.
Soviet counter-attack, in a strip of Western Front was put during October 3-5, by forces of front operative group under commander of the general V.I.Boldin, which structure included two rifle, two tank (107th and 101th) divisions and two tank brigades (126th and 128th), all about 300 tanks. The group has received a task to put impact on the broken opponent in a joint of 30th and 19th Armies and in interaction with 31st Army to restore defensive on the Dnieper river. During three days, Soviet group beat off numerous attacks of German infantry and tanks, repeatedly were exposed impacts from air. Counter-offensive wasn't success. Germans taken Holm and has left in area to the south of Bulyshovo, where 32th Soviet Army of Reserve Front was defended. In result, the break to Vyazma from the north was designated. Communications 19th Army with 30th Army has interrupted, with commanding of Front it supported through the officers of communication and till radio.
The second impact Germans has put on Spas-Demensk direction against the left wing of Reserve Front (43th Army), where against five Soviet divisions were seventeen German divisions.
On the eve of German offensive, Soviet 113rd Rifle Division under command of the Major-General I.A.Presnyakov was included in structure of 43rd Army and has held a defense in the second echelon on east bank of the Shuitsa river and west of Spas-Demensk, in Zhorelevo region. Earlier occupying here defense 149th Rifle Division was put forward, closer to the battle formations of the first echelon of Reserve Front. In result on this site in the second echelon of 43rd Army there were two formations arranged each other in a nape and to hold a new defence line 149th Rifle Division had not time. October 3 the division conducted battle with motorized German formations on a boundary 1st Kozlovka, Yamnaya Polyanka and in region of the Shuitsa river. Forced of Dnieper river when retreated.
" Germans at 6:30, October 2, by six infantry divisions with tanks on all front line of 43rd Army passed in offensive and broken through forward edge on all front of 211th and 53rd Rifle Division, by 14:00 wedged in tactical depth on 4-6 kms. At 15:00 column up to hundred German tanks broken in region Lipchaty, Mamonovka- 17 kms to the south of Shui, continuing movement on northeast.... For liquidation of the opponent at the front of 43rd Army, I believe expediently to remove 2nd, 8th and 29th Rifle Division of 32nd Army from defence line boundary, 106th Rifle Division and 144th Tank Brigade from 24th Army which is taking place in an army reserve, and concentrate in region Barsuki, Babichi, Hoteevka, Shirkovo, Kamenets with task, according to conditions, strike in direction Ivanovka, Novo-Sloveni and further on the south lengthways of Desna river, or Hoteevka, Lezhnevka and further lengthways Shuitsa river. 148th Tank Brigade and 149th Rifle Division strike from a southeast or south on conditions. Association actions of 2nd, 8th, 29th, 106th Rifle Division and 144th Tank Brigade assign to the commander of 32nd Army... The regrouping at use of a motor-vehicle transport and movement in the afternoon will demand 2-2.5 day... I ask to approve a prospective measure. ... October 3, 16:00. The opponent, pressing attack on all front line of 43rd Army, by forces of seven infantry divisions, one panzer and one motorized renders the main impact along a highway on Dudar' and to the south. Its forward formations at 12:00 filtered in region Mamonovka and at 14:00 up to 500 men of mechanized infantry and 30 armour vehicles - in region Pogrebki (7 kms west of Kirov).... 43rd Army by all divisions continues withdrawaling in north-east and east directions.... 43rd Army (without 222nd Rifle Division) hold and defend on a boundary of the rivers Shuitsa and Snop' at the front Gavrinka, Gar', Voskresensk not admit German offensive east of this line. All weak German groupings, wedged to the east bank of Shuitsa rivers - destroy. For liquidation attempts of the opponent, break through defense of army, have mobile reserve - 148th Tank Brigade, one rifle regiment on motor vehicles and two batteries of antitank guns. Marshal-of-the-Soviet-Union K.E.Budenny"
October 3, 17th Rifle Division held a defense west of Spas-Demensk on width of 28 kms front. Having passed through itself the rests, retreated on east, of three Soviet divisions and hold bombardment, the next day it has appeared at forward edge, was subjected to more powerful German air strike and tank attack. Germans have used in total up to two hundred tanks supported more than two divisions of infantry and also armour vehicles. The Soviet artillerymen make fire on coming tanks in an emphasis and perished under crawler bands of the broken machines together with guns. Despite of persistent resistance, to 17:00 of October 4, 17th Rifle Division was practically was encirclemented and with approach of darkness the situation became menacing. Two batallions of 17th RD have begun to recede without order, breaking front. The communication with 33rd Army was lost, but the telephone communication with neighbouring 60th Rifle Division has escaped. The commander of 60th RD Major-General Kotel'nikov has given order about breaking out from encirclement. Acted together with with one regiment 60 Rifle Division and covered by 1314th Regiment of 17th RD this Soviet forces retreated and removed from a boundary of a defense at 2:30 night of October 5. To led rests of 17th Rifle Division of rallied weight were not meaningful - they would be destroyed by the first met regular German formation. The Commander of 17th RD has made a decision to leave from encirclement by groups till 150-200 men, whenever possible keeping connection between them.
Forces of 4th German Panzer Group and 4th Field Army, restricting from the east and north by Soviet formations of 43rd and 33rd Armies, to October 4, came in area Spas-Demensk-Yelny. On this line, where the attacks of Wehrmacht were reflected, Germans tanks bypassed positions of Soviet divisions, covering their flanks. The broken front in this direction has created extremely difficult conditions for 24th and 43rd Armies of Reserve Front, and for Western Front. 20th,16th,19th Armies have appeared under threat of scope from both flanks. 32th Army of Reserve Front was also in the same situation. The threat of output a large German Panzer Group from the south of Reserve Front line in Vyazma area was designated and in rear armies of Western Front from the north of Holm area.
October 5, the broken German tanks moves free on the Warsaw highway to the Uhnov city. At 15 o'clock the city was seized. The avant guarde of the opponent has grasped the important bridge on the Ugra river. For liquidation German bridgehead was made Soviet air-landing in Uhnov area. Six days battled the cadets of a Podolsk military school and soldiers of air-landing group between Ugra and Mozhaysk defensives. October 12, they wihtdrawel on the main line of a defense, with honour having executed the task - has lingered over of the opponent up to the approach of reserves. For this time the Soviet High Command has managed to move 312th, 316th and 32th Rifle Divisions from Leningrad direction
In the night of October 6, Soviet forces on the line Ostashkovo-Olenino-Buleshovo were withdrawed. 31th and 32th Armies subordinated to Western Front. 19th and 20th Armies, not having strong pressing of the coming Germans, covering the flanks, begun consistently remove from a boundary to a boundary. The first intermediate boundary was nominated on the river Dnieper, where was the positions of Reserve Front. At the approach to Dnieper river forces of 19th Army it became known, that the opponent straight off has broken through front of 32nd Army and 220th and 18th Rifle Divisions of a national home guard, has rejected them on east, rests of Soviet formations going accordingly on Sychevka and to Gzhatsk. The boundary of Vyazma had the advanced defense system prepared by formations of 32nd Army of Reserve Front. The bridge, on a highway and railway line had sea guns on the concreted platforms. They were covered with group of the seamen (up to 800 men). But Germans have broken through a defense to the north. Thus, any more there was no sense to stop on this boundary of a defense, as the opponent has closed encirclement east of Vyazma by 3rd Panzer Group from Dukhovshina and 4th Panzer Group from Roslavl'.
October 7, Germans tanks came to Vyazma: 56th Panzer Corps from the north in the direction Holm - Girkovsky, and 46th and 40th Corpa from the south direction from Spas- Demensk. In this complex conditions, execute Soviet withdrawal was very difficultly. October 7, 16 divisions of 19th, 20th, 32th Soviet Armies of Western Front were encircled. Soviet 30th Army, incurred heavy losses, departed to the east through woods to the Volokolamsk derection. October 8, the order make the way from encirclement was acted. 19th and 32th Soviet Armies make the way, depending on conditions, either on Sechevka, or on Gzhatsk, and 20th Army should make the way in the southwest direction.
October 7, 194th Rifle Division of 49th Army arrived in Kaluga and further have proceeded on Karachev. During two days constrained attacks of two German divisions 47th Panzer Corps. The division has got in an encirclement. To shock group of break (increased by 405th Rifle Regiment) under command of the lieutenant-colonel F.Sazhine was necessary to leave an encirclement.
October 9, Gzhatsk was fallen, on October 13-Kaluga. Germans advanced to Tarusa, having created threat of Serpukhov. October 12, Soviet forces encirclemented on Vyazma came in break. In break has gone 2nd Rifle Division of the general Vashkevitch and 91th Rifle Division of 19th Army. The break was carried out in Gzhatsk direction. At village Bogoroditskoe the ring of an encirclement temporarily was broken through. 19000 Soviet soldiers were died near this village. From an encirclement came out: 107th Motorifle Division of the colonel Chyabanidze, 2nd R.D. and 45th Cavalry Division of the colonel Stuchenko. October 14, German 3rd Panzer Group have rushed in Kalinin and continued offensive on the Leningrad highway. It threatened to rears of Northwest Front and opened to an enemy an opportunity to bypass Moscow from the north.
OOB of 5 Army on the Mozhaisk defense line on 11 October:
West of Uvarovo: 18 and 19 Tank Bde's
Romantsevo: 305 Machine Gun Btn and 767 Anti-Aircraft Rgt
Koloch: 467 Engineer Btn and 421 Anti-Tank Rgt
Fomkino: 59 Anti-Aircraft Rgt
Yelnya: 230 Rif Rgt and 367 Anti-Tank Rgt
Yudinki: 36 Motorcycle Rgt and 121 Anti-Tank Rgt
South of Yudinki: Lenin Cadet Btn
Borodino: Mozhaisk Rifle Btn (I think it was a Militia unit)
The units were supported by several Guards Rocket battalions.
The 32 Rifle Division was unloaded at Mozhaisk from 11-13 October.
The 133 Rifle Division was defending the line from Bolychevo to the Moskva