Soviet 2nd Shock Army

Soviet infantry

Second Shock Army – 1944-45
by Van Nortan

Shock Armies were originally intended break defensive positions to enable the breakthrough of more mobile formations, however the realities of the Great Patriotic War saw Shock Armies assuming the same role as other front line Soviet formations. The Second Shock Army was formed in December 1941. Its first commander was General Lieutenant Sokolov a former NKVD commissar who was found to be absolutely incompetent and was relieved of command in January 1942.

On January 7, 1942, the Second Shock Army spearheaded the Lubanskaya Offensive to relieve the siege of Leningrad. Under a new commander, Lieutenant General Vlasov, the army crossed the Volkhov River and broke through the German 18th Armies lines.  

Vlasov’s units drove some 70km into the German rear area, however, the supporting Red Army formations became bogged down. Vlasov requested permission to retreat which was denied and his troops became encircled behind German lines. The Second Shock Army continually lost strength until May 1942 when the German counter-offensive began. When finally allowed to retreat, Vlasov’s army was essentially destroyed during the breakout attempt. Lt. Gen. Vlasov was captured by the Wehrmacht in early July.

In 1943 the army was rebuilt and again used to attempt to lift the siege of Leningrad. In September of 1943, Stavka (Main Command of the Armed Forces of the Union of SSR) took a direct hand in planning the operations to lift the siege. The 2nd Shock Army was ordered to move by naval transport to the Oranienbaum bridgehead via the Gulf of Finland, west of Leningrad. This move was carried out in secret.

In January the 2nd Shock Army, under a new commander General Ivan I. Fedyuninsky, crushed two Luftwaffe field divisions breaking the German lines.

 Russian 152mm Artillery
Soviet T-34 Tanks in Kiev

Combined with attacks by other Soviet formations, the siege was finally lifted. In February the Wehrmacht retreated to Estonia to the safety of the Panther Line of defenses.

The 2nd Shock Army was then ordered to take Narva, a critical city in Estonia. The German army held fast against the Soviet army through September 1944 until it was forced to retreat by breakthroughs to the south. As a result of the strategic Soviet victory in this region, the 2nd Shock Army was moved south and assigned to the 2nd Belorussian Front and fought across Poland and northeastern Germany staying near the Baltic coast. On May 1, 1945, the 2nd Shock Army took Stralsund, Germany and ended the war there.

The Army

The 2nd Shock Army was primarily an infantry formation with a large contingent of attached artillery. The composition of the army changed depending on the availability of troops and equipment as well as its role on the front. While breaking the siege of Leningrad was a priority of the Stavka, both the Russians and the Germans were reluctant to place their main efforts so far north.

Generally speaking, the 2nd Shock Army did not have access to newer equipment or extensive reserves of trained men. For example, in early 1944 no heavy tanks saw service with the 2nd Shock Army, nor did it have any T34-85 medium tanks. It had to rely on anti-tank guns and artillery to defeat the heavily armoured Panthers and Tigers it faced at Narva.

Soviet soldier
The troops ranged from experienced veterans to conscripts, and because of manpower shortages, new replacement troops were often older or younger than the preferred fighting age. Political officers insure a minimum level of morale among the troops, but the fighting spirit of 1942 and 1943 had faded to a more fatalist, yet determined approach.
Soviet HMG

General Fedyuninsky greatest difficulty was getting the various units under his command to cooperate. The Germans defending the Narva River had a mobile reserve of tanks and the ability to call in artillery as needed to break up Soviet attacks. On the other hand, Fedyuninsky’s units would only act under direct orders from the chain of command.

This inflexibility resulted in successful attacks going unsupported by available units or units continuing to assault or fire upon targets which were no longer important. Front Commander General Govorov noted this short coming, and while it was not uncommon in the Red Army, he felt it important enough to comment on it to Fedyuninsky in his review of the unit.

Order of Battle

The Second Shock Army in 1944-45 consisted of the following units:

34 Rifle Corps
109 Rifle Corps
122 Rifle Corps
13 Rifle Division
50 Rifle Brigade
48 Naval Rifle Brigade
71 Naval Rifle Brigade
16 Fortified Region

18 Breakthrough Artillery Division
81 Gun Artillery Brigade
116 Corps Artillery Regiment
154 Corps Artillery Regiment
1106 Gun Artillery Regiment
754 Howitzer Artillery Regiment
760 Antitank Artillery Regiment
882 Antitank Artillery Regiment
533 Separate Heavy Artillery Battalion
535 Separate Heavy Artillery Battalion
144 Mortar Regiment
174 Mortar Regiment
184 Mortar Regiment
281 Mortar Regiment
567 Mortar Regiment

30 Destroyer Brigade
38 Destroyer Brigade
318 Destroyer Brigade
322 Guards Mortar Regiment (Rockets)
43 Antiaircraft Artillery Division
92 Separate Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion
116 Separate Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion

30 Guards Tank Brigade
46 Guards Heavy Tank Brigade
222 Separate Tank Regiment
1439 Self Propelled Gun Regiment
1495 Self Propelled Gun Regiment
1811 Self Propelled Gun Regiment
4 Separate Armored Battalion
17 Separate Snowmobile Battalion
42 Separate Snowmobile Battalion

295 Separate Engineer Battalion
447 Separate Engineer Battalion
734 Separate Engineer Battalion 

Bagration: Soviet

Fielding the 2nd Shock Army in Flames Of War

To field a Shock Strelkovy battalion from the 2nd Shock army, use the use the Hro Shock Rifle Battalion on page 33 of Soviet Bagration. While not Guards, the Shock troops were still highly trained and motivated, despite an overall pragmatic attitude.


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Last Updated On Thursday, March 4, 2021 by Wayne at Battlefront