Ostfront January to June 1944
Ostfront January to June 1944
While the United States, Britain and their allies were fighting their way up Italy the struggle between the Germany, her allies and the Soviet Union continued on unabated.
The following is a brief day-by-day break down of the events of the Eastern Front from January to the start of Operation Bagration in June 1944.
By the close of 1943 Soviet forces had already advanced to the Dnepr River and were poised to continue their advance through the winter.
January 2, 1944
The 1st Ukrainian Front captures Radovel.
January 3, 1944
The Soviet Winter offensive continues to close on the old Polish border capturing Olevsk and Novograd-Volynski.
January 5, 1944
As temperatures plunge well below freezing, Konev’s 2nd Ukrainian Front opens it’s offensive toward Kirovograd. The massive attack, from 6 armies, hits the weakened German 8th Army. The initial attacks rip massive holes in the German lines. Meanwhile, 1st Ukrainian Front captures Berdichev and Tarascha.
The Soviet 2nd Ukrainian Front (Konev) launches an offensive directed along a southwest axis toward Kirovograd in thick fog. Soviet 53rd Army (Galanin) and 5th Guards Tank Army (Rotmistrov) carry out the main attack while flanking attacks are carried out by the Soviet 4th Guards Army (Ryzhov), 5th Guards Army (Zhadov), 7th Guards Army (Shumilov) and 52nd Army (Koroteev). The attack falls on over-extended forces of the German 8th Army (Wohler), part of German Army Group South (Manstein). The 1st Ukrainian Front (Vatutin) captures Berdichev and Tarascha, southwest and south of Kiev.
Map from: Wikipedia.org...
January 6, 1944
The Red Army offensive rolls forward capturing Rakitino, inside the 1939 Polish border, after a 170-mile advance in just two weeks.
January 7, 1944
The 2nd Ukrainian Front begins meeting serious opposition as its spearheads begin to surround Kirovograd.
January 8, 1944
Three German divisions are surrounded by Konev’s 2nd Ukrainian Front at Kirovograd. They begin an immediate breakout and abandon the city to the Red Army. The Soviet 67th Tank Brigade scored a substantial victory when it overran the headquarters of the German 47th Panzer Corps.
January 9, 1944
The Soviet offensive continues to roll forward as the Red Army captures Polonnoye and Aleksandrovka.
January 10, 1944
Vatutin's 2nd Ukrainian Front continues its attacks cutting the Smela-Kristinovka railroad and threatening to isolate the German forces north of Kirovograd. They capture Lyudvipol, 2-3 miles across the Polish border.
January 12, 1944
Red Army forces capture Sarny in Poland.
January 13, 1944
Soviet forces take Korets.
January 14, 1944
The long awaited attacks by the Leningrad and Volkov Fronts to relieve Leningrad begins. The attack is supported by a major offensive against Novgorod. The operation is intended in destroying Army Group North.
January 15 1944
A mid-winter thaw brings drastically slows the Red Army operations in the Ukraine.
January 17, 1944
Trudging through deep mud Soviet forces capture Slavuta.
January 18, 1944
Soviet attacks in the Vitebsk area are met by stiff resistance and generally fail to make an impression. Further to the north, Red Army forces are completing the encirclement of Novgorod, south of Leningrad.
January 19, 1944
The Soviet attacks around Leningrad intensify as 42nd Army attacking out of the city links up with 2nd Shock Army attacking toward the city. Elements of the Volkhov Front surround German forces at Novgorod who begin a break out attack.
January 20, 1944
Soviet forces recaptures Novgorod.
January 21, 1944
The key communications and supply centre at Mga is captured by advancing Soviet forces in the Leningrad area.
|January 24, 1944
The Red Army attacks in the north gather momentum as Pushkin and Pashovsk are captured and the important rail line between Narva and Krasnogvardeisk is cut.
The Soviets, having regrouped and replenished supplies open a fresh set of attacks south of Kiev. 1st Ukrainian Front launches a major attack on the left wing of the German 1st Panzer Army positions near Korsun. Later in the day, similar attacks begin by the 2nd Ukrainian Front to the south.
Zhukov is coordinating the two offensives in the hope that the Germans will be trapped in their desperate and seemingly meaningless desire to hold some part of the Dnepr River.
January 25, 1944
The attacks by Soviet forces around Korsun meet serious resistance. The 1st Ukrainian Front meets heavy resistance but continues to move toward Zvenigorodka. The 4th Guards and 5th Guards Tank Armies (2nd Ukrainian Front) are met with very serious resistance and suffer heavy casualties from concentrated German artillery support.
January 26, 1944
The attack at Leningrad continues to move forward as Krasnogvardeisk is captured. The Germans are show signs of collapse on this front. Slightly to the south, the Red Army opens an offensive to clear the Moscow-Leningrad rail line. Heavy fighting flares up at Tosno and Lyuban.
January 27, 1944
Leningrad Freed: After 900-days under the guns of the Germans, the siege of Leningrad Officially ends. The Germans are beginning to collapse as Tosno and Valosovo both fall to Red Army advances. Von Küchler orders the 18th Army to pull back to the river Luga
The battle around Korsun (100 miles southeast of Kiev) continues to rage as the 2nd Ukrainian Front captures the important road junction at Shpola. Fighting on the northern side of the bulge is heavy and 1st Ukrainian front makes limited advances against Luzk and Rovno.
||January 28, 1944
Korsun-Cherkassy Pocket Formed: The spearheads of the Soviet 1st and 2nd Ukrainian Fronts link up as forward elements of the 6th Tank Army and 5th Guards Tank Army enter Zvenigorodka. 56,000 Germans from the 11th and 42nd Corps (8th Army) are trapped in the salient at Korsun. Hitler insists that the now surrounded positions on the Dnepr River be held and forbids a breakout attempt. Von Manstein, commanding Army Group South, begins to assemble an armoured force to break into the encircled troops.
Red Army attacks in the north gain momentum as the German 18th Army is ordered to abandon positions held since the fall of 1941 and retreat to the Luga River line. Soviet forces take Lyugan.
January 29, 1944
Hitler, incensed over Kuchler's orders allowing 18th Army to retreat from the vicinity of Leningrad before it was surrounded, replaces the commander of Army Group North with General Model. Model's new command continues to collapse as the Volkhov Front takes Chudovo and 2nd Baltic Front overruns Novosokolniki.
January 31, 1944
The Soviet's open a new offensive against Nikopol. 3rd Ukrainian Front spearheads the attack along the lower Dnepr aimed at the industrial and transportation hub.
The attacks around Leningrad continue as Red Army forces reach Kingisepp.
|February 1, 1944
The Polish underground assassinates Major Fritz Kurschera, chief of the Gestapo in Poland.
The Red Army continues to attack on the eastern front. Kingisepp falls in the north and spearheads are at the Estonian border. Model attempts to launch counterattacks at Luga and Utorgosh, but they fail to make an impression.
February 2, 1944
In the north, Red Army forces enter Estonia and capture Vanakula. To the South, 4th Ukrainian Front joins the offensive against Nikopol, threatening to surround the German 6th Army defending the area. The 1st Ukrainian Front takes Luzk and Rovno.
February 4, 1944
Von Manstein masses four panzer divisions and an ad hoc heavy tank brigade under Bake (one battalion of Tigers and one of Panthers) and opens his counterattack to relieve their comrades at Korsun. The forces was denuded of the full strength 24th Panzer division at the last minute as Hitler personally intervened and sent it south to help at Nikopol. In the end the 24th Panzer would waste it's fuel and supplies struggling through mud and not arriving in time to make a difference.
February 5 1944
As the German counterattack to relieve the Korsun pocket continues, 1st Ukrainian Front continues to drive west against the greatly depleted 4th Panzer Army, capturing Rovno and Lutsk. The German forces inside the pocket are designated Group Stemmermann (after the senior commander). The Germans begin air re-supply missions to their trapped forces and have limited success. Soviet attacks begin to reduce the pocket. To compound difficulties for both sides, the temperature plummets to well below zero throughout the battle area.
||February 6, 1944
The attacks by 3rd Ukrainian Front capture Manganets and Apostolovo east and west of Nikopol, threatening to cut off the Germans there.
February 7, 1944
Group Stemmermann, under continuous pressure from Soviet attacks, contracts its perimeter, abandoning Gorodische and Yanovka, and prepares for a breakout attack. Meanwhile, the break-in attack continues against very heavy resistance.
|February 8, 1944
At Korsun, the Soviets offer Group Stemmermann the opportunity to surrender. It is refused. To the south, 3rd Ukrainian Front captures Nikopol as the Germans beat a hasty retreat from the trap.
February 9, 1944
The Germans redouble their efforts to fly supplies into the Korsum Pocket, delivering about half the daily requirement the trapped forces needed. Exit flights were able to evacuate some of the seriously wounded.
February 10, 1944
The ring around the trapped German forces at Korsun tightens, and they launch a massive artillery bombardment against the pocket in an attempt to force the Germans inside to surrender. The 1st Ukrainian Front continues its offensive capturing Shepetovka.
February 11, 1944
Having finally assembled an effective force, 3rd Panzer Corps begins its attacks to relieve the German forces trapped at Korsun. They are just 10 miles from the pocket.
February 12, 1944
Red Army forces capture the important communications centre of Luga, 100 miles southwest of Leningrad as their offensive continues to drive Army Group North west. In the south, The German relief force heading toward Korsun meets ever-stiffening resistance.
February 13, 1944
Soviet forces continue their offensive out of the Leningrad area capturing Polna and Lyady. To the south, the trapped Germans at Korsun contract their perimeter and concentrate forces for a breakout attempt. The break-in force meets heavy resistance and makes little headway
February 14, 1944
Heavy fighting continues at Korsun as the relief force meets ever stiffening resistance and makes little headway. The perimeter of the pocket continues to shrink as the Soviet forces capture Kosun-Sevchenkosky against the determined resistance of the SS Walloon Brigade.
|February 15, 1944
As the situation in the north and south continues to deteriorate, Hitler allows Army Group Centre to withdraw to the Panther Line. He also, grudgingly gives permission to attempt a breakout from the Korsun pocket.
February 16, 1944
Finnish and Soviet authorities meet in Stockholm, Sweden to discuss terms for an armistice.
Elements of the German 3rd Panzer Corp are stopped 12 miles from the perimeter of the Korsun Pocket They have captured a bridge over the Gniloy Tikich River but, are exhausted and conclude that any further action would be fruitless. The 56,000 men of Group Stemmermann inside the pocket are ordered to prepare for a breakout attempt.
February 17, 1944
The End At Korsun: Lead by the remnants of the elite 5th SS Panzer Division, Group Stemmermann launches their attempt to break out of the Korsun Pocket. In a blinding snowstorm they manage to find a seam in the Soviet defences. At dawn, the weather clears and the Soviet cavalry and aircraft pounce on the columns of fleeing Germans. Having abandoned their heavy equipment, the breakout turns into a rout as desperate men flee from the carnage. General Stemmermann was killed in action along with many of his men. The Russian attacks force many of the refugees away from the bridge over the Gniloy Tikich River. When the fugitives reached the bank, many chose to swim the near freezing river rather than be captured. In the end, some did escape. Estimates vary greatly. Around 35,000 men escaped. They had little other than their personal weapons and often not even that. In the final analysis, the escapees were badly shaken and any semblance of organization had evaporated. The Germans had lost 10 divisions for some time to come.
||February 18, 1944
Attacks in the north continue to make progress as the Soviet 2nd Baltic Front captures Staraya-Russa and the Volkhov Front takes Shimsk. In the south, 1st and 2nd Ukrainian Fronts begin regrouping for fresh offensives as the Germans pull away from their exposed positions created from the break-in attempt.
February 19, 1944
German counterattacks end as both sides regroup and refit.
February 20, 1944
The Soviet 2nd Baltic Front launches a fresh set of attacks against the much-diminished German 16th Army around Kholm. The Soviet 22nd Army makes good progress in the initial assault.
|February 21, 1944
2nd Baltic Front continues its attacks capturing Soltsy and Kholm. To the south, 3rd Ukrainian Front continues its offensive threatening to surround Krivoi Rog.
February 22, 1944
German forces avoid the fate of their comrades at Korsun as they make a hasty retreat from Krivoi Rog before the Red Army pincers could slam shut. 3rd Ukrainian Front enters the city.
February 23, 1944
The 2nd Baltic and Volkhov Fronts continue their offensive in northern Russia capturing Strugi Krasneyye and 1st Belarus Front drives toward Dno.
February 24, 1944
1st Belarus Front captures Dno while 2nd Belarus Front took Rogachev.
February 25, 1944
The Artic convoys from Britain to Russia begin to dominate their German adversaries as the latest convoy (JW-57 with 43 merchants) comes through with no merchant losses. The only loss was the destroyer Mahratta sunk by U-956.
February 26 1944
In a rare event, the Red Air force sends 600 bombers over Helsinki, Finland. Massive fires break out destroying large sections of the city. The Soviets loose only 3 aircraft.
The Soviet offensive continues in northern Russia as the Red Army takes Rorkhov.
February 29, 1944
One of the finest commanders in the Red Army, Marshal Nikolai Vatutin, is killed in an ambush by Ukrainian nationalist partisans while en route to the Soviet 60th Army. Stalin appointed Marshall Gregori Zhukov as the new commander of the 1st Ukrainian Front.
|March 1, 1944
The Soviet attacks in northern Russia begins to slow, but the Red Army was still able to capture Russaki.
March 3, 1944
Under Allied pressure Franco is forced to order the withdrawal of the Spanish “Blue’ Division from the Eastern Front. His government outlaws Spanish service in the Axis forces. However small groups of Spaniards stay on the front and volunteer for the Waffen-SS, fighting on until the bitter end.
March 4, 1944
The 1st Ukrainian Front launches a new set of attacks driving toward Tarnopol.
March 5, 1944
Zhukov's 1st Ukrainian Front offensive shatters the lines of Army Group South driving deep into the German rear capturing Izyaslav, Yampol and Ostropol. Meanwhile, Koniev's 2nd Ukrainian Front opens its attacks further south toward Uman.
March 6, 1944
Malinovski's 3rd Ukrainian Front opens. 1st Ukrainian Front continues to make impressive gains cutting the Odessa-Lvov rail line and capturing Volvchisk.
March 8, 1943
The Finnish government replies to the Soviet terms for an armistice. The sticking point in the negotiations is the Communist demand that German military personnel be interned, a demand well beyond the capabilities of the Finnish Army.
March 9, 1942
Zhukov's 1st Ukrainian Front continues to drive west capturing Starokonstantinov near Shepetovka and reaching the city of Tarnopol.
||March 10, 1943
Konev's 2nd Ukrainian Front opens a fresh offensive utterly destroying the German defensive positions along a front of 100 miles. Uman falls in the attacks and some of the mobile formations drive 40 miles into the German rear. Meanwhile, Zhukov's 1st Ukrainian Front captures Proskurov to the north.
March 11, 1944
Malinovski's 3rd Ukrainian Front opens a fresh offensive capturing Berislav and Kherson. Meanwhile, Zhukov's forces drive to the Bug River.
March 12, 1944
Konev's 2nd Ukrainian Front takes Gayvoron on the Bug River.
March 13, 1944
Malinovski’s 3rd Ukrainian Front captures Kherson.
March 14, 1944
3rd Ukrainian Front traps about 20,000 German soldiers north of Kherson.
March 15, 1944
The headlong advance in the Ukraine continues as Zhukov's 1st Ukrainian Front captures Kalinkova and approaches Vinnitsa. Konev's 2nd Ukrainian Front crosses the Bug River and captures Vapnyarka cutting the main rail line to Odessa.
March 17, 1944
Zhukov's 1st Ukrainian Front takes Dubno and continues to drive south and west.
|March 18, 1944
Zhukov's 1st Ukrainian Front captures Zhmerinka.
As Red Army forces near the border with Hungary, Hitler summons Admiral Horthy, Regent of Hungary, to Berlin for a conference. He is subsequently arrested and held in Germany.
March 19, 1944
German forces launch Operation Margaret, the military occupation of Hungary. This forces Hungary to stay in the field fighting for the Axis as well as securing oil for the Reich.
The advance of the Red Army continues unabated as Konev's 2nd Ukrainian Front crosses the Dnepr River west of Yampol and captures Soroki. To the north and west, Zhukov's 1st Ukrainian Front takes Krzemienic.
March 20, 1944
Soviet forces of the 1st Ukrainian Front capture Vinnitsa (Hitler’s HQ during 1943) and Mogilev Podolsky
March 21, 1944
As Konev's forces press the attack against Hube's 1st Panzer Army from the east. Zhukov turns his forces south ripping a massive hole between the 4th and 1st Panzer Armies and driving behind 1st Panzer Army in an attempt to force them to withdraw into Romania.
March 22, 1944
The 2nd Ukrainian Front offensive continues as Pervomaysk is captured.
March 24, 1944
The Red Army offensive in the Ukraine continues as Zhukov's forces take Chertkov and Zaleschik southeast of Tarnopol and Malinovski's 3rd Ukrainian Front takes Voznesensk.
March 25 1944
Zhukov continues his drive between 1st and 4th Panzer Armies taking Proskurov and throwing a Tank Army across the Dnepr River. Hube’s 1st Panzer Army is now facing Red Army forces to the west, north and east and his back is against the Dnepr River already breached by enemy forces. Manstein, after confronting Hitler in person and threatening to resign, received permission to move this army to the west, against Zhukov’s forces.
March 26, 1944
Red Army forces press hard against the pocketed German 1st Panzer Army, capturing Kamentets-Podolski and closing with the Pruth River.
March 27, 1944
General Hube finishes preparations for his attack west into Zhukov's flank as the noose around his trapped forces continues to tighten. It would take two weeks of heavy fighting, but Hube's pocket would move west, through Zhukov's rear area and regain its freedom of action.
March 28, 1944
As 3rd Ukrainian Front continues its advance (capturing Nikolayev and entering Romania), the Germans and Romanians begin the naval evacuation of Odessa.
March 30, 1944
After being summoned to Hitler's HQ, Manstein awarded a Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Germany's highest decoration, and summarily relieved of command of Army Group South and dismissed from further service to the Reich. Kleist, commander of Army Group 'A' was similarly dismissed. Two of Germany's best Generals would see no further action in this war. They are replaced by Model and Schorner.
March 31, 1944
Malinovski's 3rd Ukrainian Front captures Ochakov.
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