Battle of Sevastopol
The Siege of Sevastopol took place on the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 of the Second World War. The campaign was fought by the Axis powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 of Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 and Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 against the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 for control of Sevastopol
Sevastopol is a city on rights of administrative division of Ukraine, located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula. It has a population of 342,451 . Sevastopol is the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa....

, a port in Crimea
Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

 on the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

. On 22 June 1941 the Axis invaded the Soviet Union under Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

. The Axis land forces reached Crimea in the autumn, 1941, and overran the area. The only objective not in Axis hands was Sevastopol. Several attempts were made to secure the city in October and November 1941. A major attack was planned for late November, but bad weather and heavy rains delayed the Axis attack until 17 December 1941. Under the command of Erich von Manstein
Erich von Manstein
Erich von Manstein was a field marshal in World War II. He became one of the most prominent commanders of Germany's World War II armed forces...

, the Axis forces were unable to capture Sevastopol. The Soviets launched an amphibious landing on the Crimean peninsula at Kerch in December 1941, to relieve the siege and force the Axis to divert forces to defend their gains. The operation saved Sevastopol for the time being, but the landing was checked and repulsed in May 1942.

At Sevastopol the Axis opted to conduct a siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

 until the summer, 1942, at which point they attacked the encircled Soviet forces by land, sea and air. On 2 June 1942, the Axis began their operation, codenamed Störfang (Sturgeon Catch). The Soviet Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 and Black Sea Fleet
Black Sea Fleet
The Black Sea Fleet is a large operational-strategic sub-unit of the Russian Navy, operating in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea since the late 18th century. It is based in various harbors of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov....

 held out for weeks under intense Axis bombardment. The German Air Force (Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

) played a vital part in the siege. The Luftwaffe made up for a shortage of Axis artillery, providing highly effective aerial bombardment in support of the ground forces. Finally, on the 4 July 1942, the remaining Soviet forces surrendered and the Axis seized the port. Both sides had suffered considerable losses during the siege.

With the Soviet forces neutralised, the Axis refocused their attention on the major summer campaign of that year, Operation Blue
Operation Blue
Case Blue , later renamed Operation Braunschweig, was the German Armed Forces name for its plan for a 1942 strategic summer offensive in southern Russia between 28 June and November 1942....

 and the advance to the Caucasus oil fields.


The Soviet naval base at Sevastopol was one of the strongest fortifications in the world. Its site, on a deeply eroded, bare limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 promontory at the South-Western tip of Crimea made an approach by land forces exceedingly difficult. The high-level cliffs at Severnaya Bay protected the anchorage, making an amphibious landing just as dangerous. The Soviet Navy had built upon these natural defences by modernising the port and installing heavy coastal and artillery defences which could fire inland and out to sea. The artillery was protected by strong concrete and armoured turrets. The port was a valuable target. Its importance as a potential naval and air base would enable the Axis to conduct far ranging sea and air operations against Soviet targets into and over the Caucasus ports and mountains. The Red Air Force had been using the Crimea as a base to attack targets in Romania since the Axis invasion in June 1941, proving its use as an air base.

Since the beginning of Barbarossa, the planned offensive in the east had not really addressed Crimea as an objective. German planners assumed the area would be captured in mop-up operations once the bulk of the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 was destroyed west of the Dnieper river. But in June attacks by Soviet aircraft from Crimea against Romania's oil refineries destroyed 11,000 tons of oil. Hitler described the area as a "floating aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

" and ordered the conquest of Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 and Crimea as vital targets in the Directive 33, dated 23 July 1941.

The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht was part of the command structure of the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.- Genesis :...

(OKW) issued orders that Crimea was to be taken as soon as possible to prevent attacks on Romanian oil supplies, which fed the German military. Hitler, impatient with his commands advance in the south, repeated his desire that Crimea be taken immediately on 12 August. Over a month later, during the capture of Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, Generaloberst Erich von Manstein
Erich von Manstein
Erich von Manstein was a field marshal in World War II. He became one of the most prominent commanders of Germany's World War II armed forces...

 was given command of the German 11th Army on 17 September. After only a week in command, he launched an assault upon Crimea. After severe fighting, von Manstein defeated several Soviet counter-offensives and destroyed two Soviet armies. By 16 November, von Manstein had cleared the region, capturing its capital Simferopol
-Russian Empire and Civil War:The city was renamed Simferopol in 1784 after the annexation of the Crimean Khanate to the Russian Empire by Catherine II of Russia. The name Simferopol is derived from the Greek, Συμφερόπολις , translated as "the city of usefulness." In 1802, Simferopol became the...

, on 1 November. The fall of Kerch on 16 November left only Sevastopol in Soviet hands.

Fortunately for the Soviets, by the end of October 1941, Major-General Ivan Yefimovich Petrov's Independent Coastal Army, numbering 32,000 men, had arrived in Sevastopol by sea from Odessa
Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

, further west, having been routed in heavy fighting. Petrov set about fortifying the inland approaches to Crimea. He aimed to halt the Axis drive on the port by creating three defence lines inland, the outermost arc being 16 km (10 mi) from the port itself. Soviet forces, including the Soviet 51st Army and elements of the Black Sea Fleet, were defeated in Crimea in October and were evacuated in December leaving Petrov's force as Sevastopol's main defence force. Having cleared Crimea from 26 September–16 November, the Romanian 3rd Army
Romanian Third Army
The 3rd Army was a field army of the Romanian Land Forces active from the 19th century to the 1990s. It that fought as part of the German Army Group B during World War II, in Ukraine, Crimea, and the Caucasus...

 and German 11th Army prepared for an attack on the port. The German 11 Army was the weakest on the entire front, containing only seven divisions initially. The Romanians made up the numbers, but were poorly trained, led and only lightly equipped. The weather turned against the Axis in mid-October and torrential downpours delayed the build up. This gave time for Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...

 Filipp Oktyabrsky, commander of the Black Sea Fleet, to bring in men and ammunition from Novorossisk. By the 17 December the weather had cleared sufficiently to begin a major operation.


The German 11th Army, commanded by Erich von Manstein
Erich von Manstein
Erich von Manstein was a field marshal in World War II. He became one of the most prominent commanders of Germany's World War II armed forces...

, besieged Sevastopol
Sevastopol is a city on rights of administrative division of Ukraine, located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula. It has a population of 342,451 . Sevastopol is the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa....

. At the time of the final assault in June 1942 the army consisted of nine German infantry divisions in two Corps
A corps is either a large formation, or an administrative grouping of troops within an armed force with a common function such as Artillery or Signals representing an arm of service...

, and one Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

n Corps. Support was offered by the Luftwaffe. The Oberkommando der Luftwaffe
Oberkommando der Luftwaffe
The Oberkommando der Luftwaffe was the air force High Command of the Third Reich.Air Force Commanders-in-Chief* Reich Marshal Hermann Göring * Field Marshal Robert Ritter von Greim -History:...

dispatched Luftflotte 4
Luftflotte 4
Luftflotte 4 was one of the primary divisions of the German Luftwaffe in World War II. It was formed on March 18, 1939 from Luftwaffenkommando Österreich in Vienna. The Luftflotte was redesignated on April 21, 1945 to Luftwaffenkommando 4, and became subordinated to Luftflotte 6. It was the...

(Air Fleet 4) VIII. Fliegerkorps
8th Air Corps (Germany)
VIII. FliegerkorpsFor more details see Luftwaffe Organization was formed 19 July 1939 in Oppeln as Fliegerführer z.b.V. The abbreviation z.b.V. is German and stands for zur besonderen Verwendung . Fliegerführer z.b.V was renamed to VIII. Fliegerkorps on 10 November 1939...

(8th Air Corps) for support. It consisted of nine Geschwader (Wings) and 600 aircraft, all coming under the command of Generaloberst (General Colonel) Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen. Among this contingent was a powerful concentration of medium bomber
Medium bomber
A medium bomber is a bomber aircraft designed to operate with medium bombloads over medium distances; the name serves to distinguish them from the larger heavy bombers and smaller light bombers...

, dive bomber
Dive bomber
A dive bomber is a bomber aircraft that dives directly at its targets in order to provide greater accuracy for the bomb it drops. Diving towards the target reduces the distance the bomb has to fall, which is the primary factor in determining the accuracy of the drop...

, and torpedo bomber
Torpedo bomber
A torpedo bomber is a bomber aircraft designed primarily to attack ships with aerial torpedoes which could also carry out conventional bombings. Torpedo bombers existed almost exclusively prior to and during World War II when they were an important element in many famous battles, notably the...

 Geschwader. Naval support came from the Italian 101st Squadron under Francesco Mimbelli
Francesco Mimbelli
Francesco Mimbelli was an Italian Naval officer who fought in World War II.-Crete:Mimbelli was a commander of a Torpedo boat destroyer flotilla which fought in the Battle of Crete he was responsible for defending a convoy to Crete in the face of superior British forces.-Black Sea:He was also the...

. It consisted of four motor torpedo boats, five explosive motorboats, six CB class midget submarine
CB class midget submarine
The CB class was a group of midget submarines built for the Italian Navy during World War II.-Design:The boats were designed as coast defence units with diesel electric propulsion. There was a mini conning tower to aid navigation...

, and a number of 35-ton mini submarines and MAS
MAS (boat)
Motoscafo Armato Silurante , commonly abbreviated as MAS was a class of fast torpedo armed vessel used by the Regia Marina during World War I and World War II...

 boats. This force was the only Axis naval force deployed during the siege. Although Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 was not technically at war with the Soviet Union, its naval staff worked closely with the Germans, and despite not being committed to combat, they provided bases for the Axis naval command (Admiral Schwarzes Meer, Admiral of the Black Sea) to operate in the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...


The Axis order of battle
Order of battle
In modern use, the order of battle is the identification, command structure, strength, and disposition of personnel, equipment, and units of an armed force participating in field operations. Various abbreviations are in use, including OOB, O/B, or OB, while ORBAT remains the most common in the...


  • German 11th Army
    • 306th HARKO
      • Elements 672nd Artillery Battalion
      • 833rd Heavy Mortar Battery
      • 688th Railroad Artillery Battery
      • 458th Heavy Artillery Battery
      • 459th Heavy Artillery Battery
      • 741st Artillery Battalion
      • 742nd Artillery Battalion
      • 743rd Artillery Battalion
      • 744th Artillery Battalion

    • German LIVth Corps
      • 22nd Infantry Division
      • 24th Infantry Division
        24th Infantry Division (Germany)
        The 24th Infantry Division was a German Army infantry division in World War II.-Formation and the Polish Campaign:...

      • 50th Infantry Division
        50th Infantry Division (Germany)
        The 50th Infantry Division was a German division in World War II. It was formed on 26 August 1939 from the Grenzkommandantur Küstrin.-50. Infanterie-Division 1939:*Infanterie-Regiment 121*Infanterie-Regiment 122...

      • 132nd Infantry Division
        132nd Infantry Division (Germany)
        The 132nd Infantry Division was a German division in World War II. It was formed on 5 October 1940 in Landshut and was destroyed in the Courland Pocket in 1945.-Commanding officers:...

    • German XXX Corps
      • 28th Light Division
      • 72nd Infantry Division
        72nd Infantry Division (Germany)
        The 72nd Infantry Division was created on 19 September 1939 in Trier from Grenz-Division Trier, which was a border security unit. It was destroyed on the Eastern front 25 March 1944 and reformed June 1944.-Commanding officers:...

      • 170th Infantry Division
        170th Infantry Division (Germany)
        The 170th Infantry Division was a German division in World War II. It was formed on 1 December 1939.-170...

  • Luftwaffe
    • Luftflotte 4
      Luftflotte 4
      Luftflotte 4 was one of the primary divisions of the German Luftwaffe in World War II. It was formed on March 18, 1939 from Luftwaffenkommando Österreich in Vienna. The Luftflotte was redesignated on April 21, 1945 to Luftwaffenkommando 4, and became subordinated to Luftflotte 6. It was the...

      • VIII. Fliegerkorps
        8th Air Corps (Germany)
        VIII. FliegerkorpsFor more details see Luftwaffe Organization was formed 19 July 1939 in Oppeln as Fliegerführer z.b.V. The abbreviation z.b.V. is German and stands for zur besonderen Verwendung . Fliegerführer z.b.V was renamed to VIII. Fliegerkorps on 10 November 1939...

        • Lehrgeschwader 1
          Lehrgeschwader 1
          Lehrgeschwader 1 formerly Lehrgeschwader Greifswald was a Luftwaffe multi-purpose unit during World War II, operating fighter, bomber and dive-bomber Gruppen. The unit was formed in July 1936...

        • Kampfgeschwader 26
          Kampfgeschwader 26
          Kampfgeschwader 26 "Löwengeschwader" was a Luftwaffe bomber wing during World War II .Its units participated on all of the fronts in the European Theatre until it was disbanded in September–October 1944. It operated two of the major German bomber types; the Heinkel He 111 and the Junkers Ju 88...

        • Kampfgeschwader 51
          Kampfgeschwader 51
          Kampfgeschwader 51 "Edelweiss" was a Luftwaffe bomber unit during World War II. The unit began forming in December 1939. The unit operated the Dornier Do 17, Heinkel He 111 and Junkers Ju 88 light and medium bombers...

        • Kampfgeschwader 55
          Kampfgeschwader 55
          Kampfgeschwader 55 "Greif" was a Luftwaffe bomber unit during World War II. The unit was one of the most famous in the Luftwaffe. The Heinkel He111 medium bomber was the standard bomber for this unit from its conception through to the last days of the war.- History :On 1 April 1934 a unit called...

        • Kampfgeschwader 76
          Kampfgeschwader 76
          Kampfgeschwader 76 was a Luftwaffe bomber Group during World War II .Its units participated on all of the fronts in the European Theatre throughout the conflict, and served until the last day of the war...

        • Kampfgeschwader 100
        • Sturzkampfgeschwader 77
          Sturzkampfgeschwader 77
          Sturzkampfgeschwader 77 was a Luftwaffe Dive bomber-wing of World War II.-History:Sturzkampfgeschwader 77 was formed on 1 May 1939, I. Group in Brieg, Stab and II. Group in Breslau-Schöngarten . The III. Group was formed from II...

        • Jagdgeschwader 77
          Jagdgeschwader 77
          Jagdgeschwader 77 Herz As was a Luftwaffe fighter Geschwader during World War II. It served in all the German theaters of war, from Western Europe to the Eastern Front, and from the high north in Norway to the Mediterranean.All three gruppen within the Geschwader operated variants of the...

        • Jagdgeschwader 3
          Jagdgeschwader 3
          Jagdgeschwader 3 Udet was a Luftwaffe fighter-wing of World War II. The Geschwader operated on all the German fronts in the European Theatre of World War II. It was named after Ernst Udet in 1942.-Campaign in the West :...

        • Jagdgeschwader 52
          Jagdgeschwader 52
          Jagdgeschwader 52 of the Luftwaffe, was the most successful fighter-wing of all time, with a claimed total of more than 10,000 victories over enemy aircraft during World War II. It was the unit of the top three scoring Fighter aces of all time, Erich Hartmann, Gerhard Barkhorn and Günther Rall...

  • Romanian Army
    • Romanian Mountain Corps
      Vânatori de Munte
      The vânători de munte |Huntsmen]]) are the elite mountain troops of the Romanian Land Forces. They were first established as an independent Army Corps in 1916 during World War I, and became operational in 1917 under Corpul de Munte designation....

      • 1st Mountain Division
      • 4th Mountain Division
      • 18th Infantry Division

  • Regia Marina
    • 101st Naval Squadron


The defence of Sevastopol
Sevastopol is a city on rights of administrative division of Ukraine, located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula. It has a population of 342,451 . Sevastopol is the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa....

 was provided mainly by the Black Sea Fleet
Black Sea Fleet
The Black Sea Fleet is a large operational-strategic sub-unit of the Russian Navy, operating in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea since the late 18th century. It is based in various harbors of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov....

 and the Separate Coastal Army
Separate Coastal Army
The Separate Coastal Army was an army-level unit in the Red Army that fought in the World War II. It was ordered to be established on July 18, 1941 by the order of the Southern Front from the forces of 9th Army’s Coastal Group and was stood up on July 20, 1941....

 under Ivan Yefimovich Petrov (which had been shipped in from Siege of Odessa). The Black Sea Fleet sent 49,372 personnel to fight as infantry. Most were not trained for ground combat and the act was an ad hoc emergency measure. The naval Brigades formed had four to six battalions of 4,000 men, allowing them to absorb significant losses. These forces were well armed, having a variety of artillery and mortar battalions. Almost 20 percent of the Coastal Army were naval personnel. In the Red Army units, the strongest Divisions were the 95th, 109th, 172nd and 388th Rifle Divisions. They had around 7,000 soldiers each, the rest of the Red Army units having around 5,000 personnel. Some 5,000 reinforcements made it into Sevastopol in May 1942. However, Petrov's army lacked tanks and anti-aircraft guns. The garrison also lacked food supplies and mortar ammunition, which would severely sap Soviet strength. Poor communications between Headquarters and the front line were also an issue. Petrov found it difficult to respond to Axis attacks quickly.
Red Army:
  • Coastal Batteries
    • 12 battalions
    • 3 batteries
  • Defence Sector I
    • 109th Rifle Division
    • 388th Rifle Division
  • Defence Sector II
    • 386th Rifle Division
    • 7th Naval Infantry Brigade
  • Defence Sector III
    • 25th Rifle Division
      25th Rifle Division (Soviet Union)
      The 25th Rifle Division 'Chapayevskaya was a Russian, and later Soviet, Red Army formation formed during the Russian Civil War. It was named after its civil war commander, Vasily Chapayev...

    • 345th Rifle Division
    • 8th Naval Infantry Brigade
    • 79th Naval Infantry Brigade
  • Defence Sector IV
    • 95th Rifle Division
    • 172nd Rifle Division

Red Air Force and Soviet Naval Aviation:
  • 3rd Special Aviation Group
  • 6th Guards Naval Fighter Regiment
  • 9th Naval Fighter Regiment
  • 247th Fighter Regiment
  • 18th Ground Attack Regiment
  • 23rd Aviation Regiment
  • 32nd Guards Fighter Regiment
  • 116th Maritime Reconnaissance Regiment

Soviet Black Sea Fleet:
  • Two heavy cruisers
  • One Light Cruiser
  • Two Flotilla Leaders
  • Six Destroyers
  • Nine Minesweepers
  • One Guardship
  • 24 Submarines

First Axis offensive

The German 11th Army's first task was to breakthrough into Crimea. The cities of Perekop
Perekop is a village located at the Perekop Isthmus connecting Crimean peninsula to the Ukrainian mainland. It is known for the Fortress Or Qapi that served as the gateway to Crimea...

 and Ishun guarded the narrow corridor of land which linked Crimea to the bulk of Ukraine. Erick-Oskar Hansen
Erick-Oskar Hansen
Erick-Oskar Hansen was a highly decorated General der Kavallerie in the Wehrmacht during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership...

's LIV Corps and its 45th and 73rd Infantry Divisions broke through at Perekop at the cost of 2,641 casualties in six days of fighting. The Soviets launched a counter-offensive against the 11th Army's flank at Melitopol
Melitopol is a city in the Zaporizhia Oblast of the southeastern Ukraine. It is situated on the Molochna River that flows through the eastern edge of the city and into the Molochnyi Liman, which eventually joins the Sea of Azov....

. Von Manstein withdrew his other Corps in order to deal with it. The resulting battle ended with the destruction of two attacking Soviet armies. By the time the threat had been dealt with, the Stavka
Stavka was the term used to refer to a command element of the armed forces from the time of the Kievan Rus′, more formally during the history of Imperial Russia as administrative staff and General Headquarters during late 19th Century Imperial Russian armed forces and those of the Soviet Union...

had rushed in reinforcements and established another defence line at Ishun. Ordered to concentrate on Crimea once more, von Manstein launched his LIV Corps, this time with the support of the German 22nd Infantry Division, into the assault. The Soviets enjoyed local air superiority and armoured reserves. They also outnumbered the attacking Germans. The defending Soviet 51st Army was pushed back, in spite of this. In 12 days the Germans had suffered 5,376 causalties and the Soviets much more. By the end of October, the 51st Army was broken and was in full retreat into Crimea. The situation in the air also changed. Arriving Jagdgeschwader (Fighter Wings) won back air superiority.

On 22 and 23 October, Jagdgeschwader 3
Jagdgeschwader 3
Jagdgeschwader 3 Udet was a Luftwaffe fighter-wing of World War II. The Geschwader operated on all the German fronts in the European Theatre of World War II. It was named after Ernst Udet in 1942.-Campaign in the West :...

(JG 3), JG 52 and JG 77 crippled Soviet air strength in Crimea. Over the two days they destroyed 33 Soviet aircraft for one loss. In the six days from 18 to 24 October, 140 Soviet aircraft were lost, 124 of them to Luftwaffe fighters. Heinkel He 111
Heinkel He 111
The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter in the early 1930s in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Often described as a "Wolf in sheep's clothing", it masqueraded as a transport aircraft, but its purpose was to provide the Luftwaffe with a fast medium...

s of KG 26 and KG 51 and Junkers Ju 87
Junkers Ju 87
The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka was a two-man German ground-attack aircraft...

 Stukas of StG 77 were free to attack Soviet ground positions contributing to the collpase of the Soviet Crimean Front
Crimean Front
The Crimean Front was one of the Soviet Army fronts of World War II. It was commanded throughout its existence by Dmitr Timofeyevich Kozlov and was made up of the Soviet 44th, 47th and 51st Armies...

 on 27 October.

Initial battles

With the front collapsed and the Axis closing in on Sevastopol, Vice-Admiral Oktyabrsky assumed command of the port on 4 November 1941. The city had a population of 111,000 in 1941, and most were sent to work on the three defence lines around the port. Only the 7th and 8th Naval Infantry Brigades were available for combat in the port. More naval infantry were formed from naval ships in the harbour. The 8th Brigade was sent to guard the north eastern approach near the Mamachai-Belbek line. The 7th (5,200 men) was deployed in the centre, near Mekenzyya. With only 20,000 soldiers, Oktyabrsky relied heavily on 12 coastal batteries to slow down the Axis. The 62nd Fighter Brigade contributed 61 fighters which were able to achieve temporary air superiority.

On 30 October, the Soviet defences detected the spearhead of the German 132nd Infantry Division and shelled it at 12:30 on 1 November using Battery 30's 305mm coastal guns. This fort would later become known to the Germans as Fort Maxim Gorky I. Von Manstein lacked the air support, mobile and tank forces to force a decision. Instead, Manstein ordered Hansen's LIV Corps to head east down the Sevastopol-Simferopol rail line and towards Yalta
Yalta is a city in Crimea, southern Ukraine, on the north coast of the Black Sea.The city is located on the site of an ancient Greek colony, said to have been founded by Greek sailors who were looking for a safe shore on which to land. It is situated on a deep bay facing south towards the Black...

, while the German 72nd Division was to head to Balaklava
Balaklava is a former city on the Crimean peninsula and part of the city of Sevastopol which carries a special administrative status in Ukraine. It was a city in its own right until 1957 when it was formally incorporated into the municipal borders of Sevastopol by the Soviet government...

 effectively encircling Sevastopol. Once there, it would attack Sevastopol from the east. The 132nd made reasonable progress, but was stopped on 2 November by the 8th Naval Brigade. The Germans suffered 428 casualties. Manstein ordered a halt for a week, whilst bringing up reserves. Oktyabrsky used his fleet to bring in a further 23,000 men from the Caucacus. On 9 November, Petrov's Army was brought in, bringing 19,894 soldiers, ten T-26
The T-26 tank was a Soviet light infantry tank used during many conflicts of the 1930s as well as during World War II. It was a development of the British Vickers 6-Ton tank and is widely considered one of the most successful tank designs of the 1930s....

 tanks, 152 artillery pieces and 200 mortars. The Soviets had 52,000 troops in the city. The Luftwaffe was considered weak (the bulk of it was engaged in the Battle of Moscow
Battle of Moscow
The Battle of Moscow is the name given by Soviet historians to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942. The Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitler's attack on Moscow, capital of...

), so the Navy retained the heavy cruiser Krasny Kavkaz, light cruiser Krasny Krym
Soviet cruiser Krasnyi Krym
Krasnyi Krym was a light cruiser of the Soviet Navy. She was laid down in 1913 as Svetlana for the Imperial Russian Navy, the lead ship of the . She was built by the Russo-Baltic Yard in Tallinn, Estonia and launched in 1915. Her hull was evacuated to Petrograd when the Germans approached the port...

and Chervona Ukrania and seven destroyers to protect the port.

The Luftwaffe did what it could to disrupt Soviet defences. On 31 October the destroyer Bodryy shelled German positions along the coastline. StG 77 Ju 87s attacked and wounded 50 of its crew through machine gun fire. On 2 November Junkers Ju 88
Junkers Ju 88
The Junkers Ju 88 was a World War II German Luftwaffe twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Designed by Hugo Junkers' company through the services of two American aviation engineers in the mid-1930s, it suffered from a number of technical problems during the later stages of its development and early...

s of KG 51 scored several hits on the cruiser Voroshilov
Soviet cruiser Voroshilov
Voroshilov was a Project 26 of the Soviet Navy that served during World War II and into the Cold War. She bombarded German troops during the Siege of Odessa before being badly damaged in November 1941 by German bombers...

, and put it out of action for months. On 7 November He 111s from KG 26 sank the liner Armeniya evacuating soldiers and civilians from Sevastopol. Only eight of the 5,000 passengers survived. On 12 November StG 77 sank the cruiser Chervona Ukrania and KG 26 damaged the destroyers Sovershennyy and Besposhchadnyy. But with the Luftwaffe units being dispatched to other sectors and theatres, the Soviets again achieved air superiority with 59 aircraft (39 serviceable).

Manstein wanted to launch an attack as soon as possible, but his logistical lines were poor. Wanting to avoid strong Soviet forces protecting the north of the port, containing the 95th Rifle Division, Manstein chose to press the centre and southern Soviet defences. Instead he ordered the German 50th Infantry Division to probe the centre of the Soviet line east of the Chernaya river. The 132nd Division supported the probe and was able to push to within 4 kilometres of Severnaya Bay. The Soviets moved in the 172nd Rifle Division to stop the attack. With the support of the Coastal batteries, the attack was stopped. The German 72nd Division continued towards Balaklava
Balaklava is a former city on the Crimean peninsula and part of the city of Sevastopol which carries a special administrative status in Ukraine. It was a city in its own right until 1957 when it was formally incorporated into the municipal borders of Sevastopol by the Soviet government...

. The German 22nd Infantry Division joined the assault. Assisted by the shelling of two light cruisers and the battleship Parizhskaya Kommuna, the Soviets halted the attack and Manstein called the offensive off on 21 November having lost 2,000 men.

December offensive

Manstein recognised he could not take the port quickly, and was going to have to organise a proper set-piece offensive. With German offensive operations suspended in December, Manstein found himself the only commander on the Eastern Front with an offensive mission. He would not be ready to carry out his attack until the 17 December. In the meantime, Oktyabrsky used the interval to sail in 11,000 soldiers of the 388th Rifle Division into Sevastopol over the 7–13 December. Soviet engineers began laying extensive minefields and barbed wire belts. By the time of the Axis attack Petrov’s force held a fairly strong defensive position. Naval Commanders demanded that Petrov hold the coast along the northern flank of Sevastopol on the Belbek River in order to retain Coastal Battery 10, a complex near Mamaschai. The German situation was somewhat worse. LIV Corps had only 15,551 men in its four tired infantry divisions (22nd, 24th, 50th and 132nd). Over 7,000 soldiers in the German 11th Army were on the sick list at that time. It was also short of artillery ammunition and heavy artillery. In order to commit as many forces to the battle as possible, Manstein left the very weak XLII Corps, containing just the 46th Infantry Division and two Romanian brigades to protect the entire front form Yalta to Kerch.

The attack began at 06:10 on 17 December. The German 22nd attacked the 8th Naval Brigade on the Belbek River, pushing west towards the coast while the German 50th and 132nd Divisions conducted fixing attacks on the Soviet centre. The 22nd succeeded in rolling up the flank of the Naval Brigade after five days of fighting. However, Oktyabrsky ordered its retirement south towards Sevastopol, abandoning Mamaschai and forming a new front north of Belbek city and Belbek river. In the South German XXX Corps tried and failed to breakthrough with its 72nd and 170th Infantry Divisions. Only minor gains were made against the Soviet 172nd Division, even with help from the Romanian 1st Mountain Brigade. The Soviets brought in the 79th Naval Brigade and 345th Rifle Division as reinforcements by sea, using the long winter nights and their naval supremacy. Meanwhile the battleship Parizhskaya Kommuna shelled German forces whenever they threatened a breakthrough. The offensive came to an abrupt end, when the Red Army began an amphibious landing
Amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

 at Kerch
Kerch is a city on the Kerch Peninsula of eastern Crimea, an important industrial, transport and tourist centre of Ukraine. Kerch, founded 2600 years ago, is considered as one of the most ancient cities in Ukraine.-Ancient times:...


Kerch Campaign

On 26 and 30 December 1941 the Soviet launched an amphibious assault on the Kerch peninsula to relieve the encircled Soviet forces at Sevastopol. It succeeded in gaining and sustaining the landing for five months. However, a German counter offensive, Operation Trappenjagd (Bustard Hunt), destroyed the bridgehead and the three Soviet armies supporting the landing in May 1942. This allowed von Manstein to concentrate all his resources against Sevastopol for the first time. The front over Sevastopol grew quiet and a stalemate ensued. The Luftwaffe kept up the pressure on Soviet sea communications and although supplies still made it through, Vice Admiral Oktyabrskiy, commanding the Black Sea Fleet, was forced to reduce the number of coastal bombardment missions.

Soviet defence

Sevastopol was still a formidable obstacle. Its airfields provided a base for the Red Air Force to attack the Axis-held Soviet coastline and Romania proper. It also was home to the Black Sea Fleet. Its main fortifications were pointed seaward, while the land defences encircled the city at a distance of 15–20 km and the inner belt at a range of 5 km. Among the man-made defences was the forested, rocky and rugged terrain. To the north of Severnaya Bay there were 11 strongpoints. They were given morale boosting names, such as Stalin, Maxim Gorky I, Molotov and Lenin. It was to be defended by the First Coastal Army. Elsewhere the Soviets had constructed hundreds of timber bunkers with machine gun nests and 45 mm anti-tank artillery. Along the outer belt, concrete bunkers were less common, 19 being stretched across the 37 km along the outer belt. Soviet engineers laid thousands of mines, including PMD-6 wooden anti-personnel mines TMD 40 wooden anti-tank mines and barb-wire obstacle belts.

Petrov, commanding the Independent Coastal Army, had a powerful artillery pool. Petrov had on strength some 455 artillery pieces and howitzers. Among those were 34 152 mm and 40 122 mm Howitzers and 918 mortars. Ammunition was adequate for a battle of two weeks for these calibres, but 82 mm mortar ammunition was in short supply. The battles of the Crimean campaign had taken their toll, and scarce tank and anti-aircraft artillery support was available. A further force, under Major-General Petr Morgunov was added. The Coastal Artillery Force was a semi-independent for much of the siege and had an initial strength on 12 batteries and 45 guns, though more were added during 1942. By the time of the German June offensive, the Soviets had available eight 305 mm
305 mm howitzer M1939 (Br-18)
The 305 mm howitzer M1939 was a Czech superheavy siege howitzer used by the Soviet Union during World War II. After the Germans occupied Czechoslovakia in March 1939 they took over the Skoda Works, which had been working on this design and a companion 210 mm gun. As a result of the...

, one 188 mm, 10 152 mm and 17 130 mm, three 120 mm, eight 100 mm and four 45 mm guns.

Axis forces

The Axis were facing a manpower and artillery shortage. The German 11th Army's divisions had anywhere between 35 and 75 percent of their strength. The German 22nd Infantry Division was the strongest division, which was only short of 1,750 personnel while the weakest was the 132nd Infantry Division, which was short of 2,300 men. The 170th Infantry Division had to collapse one of its regiments to bring the others up to strength. The German infantry force was a fragile force at Sevastopol and von Manstein could not afford to squander it. German doctrine stressed bypassing strongpoints, but since this was not possible, German infantry were forced to reduce one fort after another. Some 65 Sturmgeschütz III
Sturmgeschütz III
The Sturmgeschütz III assault gun was Germany's most produced armoured fighting vehicle during World War II. It was built on the chassis of the proven Panzer III tank...

 assault gun
Assault gun
An assault gun is a gun or howitzer mounted on a motor vehicle or armored chassis, designed for use in the direct fire role in support of infantry when attacking other infantry or fortified positions....

s were available to support them.

The infantry were passed around a battalion strength; infantry assault groups supported by a platoon of engineers and a few assault guns. Two pioneer battalions were attached to each division to spearhead the attack and breakthrough fixed and fortified defences. The eight battalions in LIV Corps contained around 386 men on average and was equipped with 10–12 flame throwers, 28–30 mine detectors, 3,000 kg of high explosives, 2,200 hand grenades, and 500 smoke grenades. The 300th Panzer Battalion, a remote-controlled tank unit using the Goliath tracked mine
Goliath tracked mine
The Goliath tracked mine - complete German name: Leichter Ladungsträger Goliath - was a remote controlled German-engineered demolition vehicle, also known as the beetle tank to Allies....

, was made available for breaking open fortifications. The total number artillery pieces came to 785 German and 112 Romanian medium and heavy guns. Most of these were under the command of LIV Corps, the main assault force. To increase this arsenal, the 600mm and 800mm railway guns
Schwerer Gustav
Schwerer Gustav and Dora were the names of two massive World War II German 80 cm K railway siege guns. They were developed in the late 1930s by Krupp for the express purpose of destroying heavy fortifications, specifically those in the French Maginot Line...

 were made available. Two 600 mm guns (Thor and Odin) and one 800 mm (Dora) were capable of delivering a 2.4 ton shell and destroying any fortification. However, they had a range of only 4,000 metres which made it vulnerable to counter-battery fire. Moreover, only 122 rounds of 600 mm and 48 round of 800 mm ammunition was available. Most of it was used up before the infantry assault.
More useful to the German infantry were the two 280 mm
28 cm schwere Bruno Kanone (E)
The 28 cm schwere Bruno Kanone , often abbreviated as s.Br.K, was a German railroad gun used during World War II in the invasion of France and on coast-defense duties in Occupied Norway for the rest of the war...

 rail guns. Two 420 mm, two 355 mm howitzers were available with four 305 mortars. Both of the 420 mm guns were First World War vintage, short in range with limited ammunition. Some nine 283 mm mortars were also available, but they were pre-1914 weapons and six had burst due to firing. Some Czech-built artillery was available. At divisional level, 268 105 mm and 80 160 mm weapons were in service including 126 Nebelwerfer
The Nebelwerfer was a World War II German series of weapons originally designed to deliver chemical weapons. They were initially developed by and assigned to the Wehrmacht's so-called Chemical Troops ...

 rocket launchers. Overall the German 11th Army's artillery was a collection of modern, obsolete and foreign-built weapons. For the offensive 183,750 rounds of 105 mm and 47,300 rounds of 150 mm ammunition was stockpiled, enough for 12 days firing.

To reinforce the German army the Romanians were committed to assault. The Romanian 18th Infantry Division was at full strength and plenty of Romanian infantry were available but the 18th division was inexperienced and made up of reservists. The Romanian 1st Mountain Division was considered an elite force and its addition proved useful. They had 112 guns available, but virtually no engineers. The weakness of their artillery and supporting arms made the Romanian X Corps reliant on the Germans in anything other than set-piece attacks.

The Luftwaffe had to compensate for the Axis limitations in artillery. A powerful air corps was assembled. Under Fliegerkorps VIII, von Richthofen assembled six Kampfgruppen (Bomber Groups) from six Kampfgeschwader
Kampfgeschwader were specialized bomber units in the Luftstreitkräfte during World War I and the Luftwaffe during World War II.- In World War I :...

(Bomber Wings); KG 51, KG 76, KG 100 and III./LG 1. Dive-bomber support from StG 77 was also handed over to Richthofen. He could call upon three gruppen of Ju 87s. Jagdgeschwader (Fighter Wings) JG 3 and JG 77 were available for air superiority operations. II./KG 26 was also available for anti-shipping operations, away from the air-land effort carried out by Fliegerkorps VIII.

The Luftwaffe could not support the land assault and maintain pressure on Soviet sea communications alone. With only KG 26 engaged in anti-shipping operations against Soviet sea communications the OKW looked to the Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

to supply Schnellboot (S-Boat) motor torpedo boats to help eliminate Soviet shipping supplying and evacuating the port. The time it took to dismantle and move the 92 ton boats to Romanian ports was going to be too long. In a rare appeal for help, the Germans turned to their Italian allies, aware of their expertise with motor torpedo boat operations. The Regia Marina sent the 101st Squadron which brought nine torpedo boats and nine mini-submarines under the highly competent Capitano di Fregata Francesco Mimbelli. The Italian boats were only 24 tons and the submarines, 35 tons which made them easier to transport by truck and barge. The Squadron were based at Feodosiya and Yalta, which made it the only Axis naval force to participate in the siege.

Air offensive

Von Manstein demanded an all-out assault by the Luftwaffe before the main ground actions began. Situated only 70 km from Sevasatopol, the German formations had barely enough time to reach their altitude before reaching their targets. Fliegerkorps VIII began its bombing campaign along the north and south east of the city. At the same time, German medium bombers conducted rolling attacks on the city, which included all units bar LG 1 which suppressed anti-aircraft installations. Oil, electricity, water pumps, harbour facilities and submarine bases were attacked by StG 77 Ju 87s. Von Richthofen watched the bombing from an observation post close to the front. The targets were badly damaged, and fires broke out all over the port city. The Luftwaffe flew 723 missions and dropped 525 tons of high explosive on the first day. Despite heavy anti-aircraft fire, just one Ju 87 was lost.

While the bulk of the Luftwaffe was busy with the land battle, III./KG 26 sought to break Soviet sea communications. They sank the tanker Mikhail Gromov, but the flotilla leader Tashkent, the destroyer Bezuprechnyy and transport Abkhaziya escaped to bring in 2,785 soldiers into the fortress. The support continued with 643 sorties on 3 June, 585 on 4 June, and 555 on 5 June, with German crews flying daily averages of 18 missions. By the start of the ground attack on 7 June, the Luftwaffe had flown 3,069 sorties and 2,264 tons of explosives and 23,800 incendiary bombs were dropped. Many of the bombs dropped were 1,000 kg SC 1000, 1,400 kg SC 1400, and 2,500 kg SC 2500 bombs. The heavy calibre weapons were aimed at Soviet concrete bunkers. Ivan Laskin, commanding the 172nd Rifle Division in the northern sector recalled, "Bombers in groups of twenty to thirty attacked us without caring for their targets. They came in, wave after wave, and literally ploughed up the earth throughout our defence area". From 3 June to 6 June, the Luftwaffe carried out 2,355 operations.

On 7 June von Manstein ordered the ground assault. The Luftwaffe carried out 1,368 sorties and dropped 1,300 tons of bombs on Soviet positions, but Soviet infantry clung on.

Ground fighting: 7–10 June

LIV Corps was to strike the main blow. Situated on the north east edge of the city, they struck along the lines of least resistance, across the Belbek river while the German XXX and Romanian Mountain Corps conducted holding attacks in the south and centre respectively. Both the later Corps did not start major operations until the 8 June.

The artillery bombardment targeted bunkers with 105 mm fire; which usually received 10–25 rounds. German 36 and 37mm guns also did an effective job of eliminating machine gun nests. The Germans were also quick to bring up 88 mm artillery guns up to fire directly into bunker apertures. Between the 2 June and 6 June, the German 11th Army expended nine percent of is munitions (42,595 rounds amounting to 2,449 tons of munitions) on pre-advance shelling. The rail guns also fired a few rounds at the main fortifications and rail lines, but most missed by some distance. The closest shell landed 80 metres away from its target. Soviet ammunition dumps were also targeted by these weapons, with no effect. The main fortifications, forts Stalin, Molotov and Maxim Gorky which lay in the path of LIV Corps, remained active. It was not until the afternoon of the 6 June when one shell, from 'Thor' knocked out Maxim Gorky second turret, damaging the weapon. This was the only success of the German super-heavy guns which did not have impact commensurate with their expense. The Luftwaffe had a greater impact, using its Ju 87s to knock out the communications systems of the fort.

In the morning of 7 June 1942 the German infantry began advancing cautiously. XXX Corps attacked the southern positions held by the 7th Naval Brigade and 388th Rifle Division. The German infantry advanced behind air and artillery support. The infantry seemed afraid of their fire support and did not advance close enough behind it. The bombardment also failed to have enough of an effect. The Soviets held their fire until the Germans were in range before opening fire and little progress was made. Von Richthofen was angered by the fear of the infantry and called the day "a real disappointment". The next few days were not much better despite the Luftwaffe flying 1,200 sorties. The pace of operations exhausted the machines and men. Often crews did not get out of their aircraft and made three of four sorties without rest.

LIV Corps began its assault in the north on the seam of the Soviet defence sectors III and IV. The 'Dora' weapon continued to fire against ammunition dumps, which produced no effect. Nevertheless, the 132nd Infantry Division was able to work its way up to the river. 'Odin' and 'Thor' concentrated against the coastal batteries and Maxim Gorky fortress. Meanwhile the German 22nd Infantry Division attacked further to the east. Some 200 Soviet reinforcements of the 79th Naval Infantry Brigade, protecting the sector, was lost in the bombardment but the main defences held out. The brigade held most of its forces in reserve while committing only a single company to cover the hilly terrain on the Belbek river front. German assault groups breached the first and reserve lines by 08:15. The Germans had to negotiate heavily mined areas, slowing them down and allowing the Soviets to make a partial recovery. Supporting operations by the 50th and 24th German Infantry Divisions failed, which cost the Germans 12 StuG assault guns. The remote-control demolition units were not effective as the terrain was unsuitable.

By 17:15 the town of Belbek is secured. The German 22nd Infantry Division made considerable progress further to the breaking through the Soviet 25th Rifle Division. The German 50th Infantry Division supported the 22nds left flank. Now facing the Germans was the Haccius Ridge, on which the fortress Maxim Gorky was located. It was flanked by several smaller forts to the east.

Now the 132nd was ordered to conduct a converging pincer move on the Maxim Gorky fortress in conjunction with the 22nd and 50th Infantry Divisions, to trap it against the coast. The 132nd pushed into the 95th Rifle Divisions positions north of the fort, while the other two divisions attacked in a flanking move. While the Germans did make progress, nearing the main railway station, just south east of Maxim Gorky, they were stopped from achieving a full-scale breakthrough by the Soviet 172nd Rifle Division. The 22nd and 50th German divisions had been heavily shelled by mortar fire from the 25th Rifle Division facing them east of the Haccius Ridge, which caused heavy casualties. By 18:00 hours, the German attack was spent.

LIV Corps' losses on 7 June amounted to 2,357 casualties in four divisions, including 340 killed. It had also expended 3,939 tons of ammunition. The 132nd Division had exhausted all of its basic munition load by midday. On the other side, the formidable Soviet defence lines east and south east of Belbek had been overrun and the Germans succeeded in advancing 2 km through dense Soviet defences. The Soviet casualties had also been severe. It estimated that they lost three battalions effectively destroyed.

Von Manstein recognised the seriousness of the failure on 8 June. He was worried that the 132nd Infantry Division, locked in combat with the 79th Naval Brigade, 95th and 172nd Rifle Divisions north of the city on the Belbek river front, was "approaching the end of its strength". Once again the army turned to the Luftwaffe for support. Richthofen responded by ordering attacks against Soviet supply lines. The same day German bombers, including KG 100 began attacks on Soviet shipping. They sank the destroyer Sovershennyy and the survey vessel Gyuys with the 4,727 ton transport Abkhaziya and destroyer Svobodnyy following them on 10 June.

The period 8–12 June descended into a battle of attrition. Several Soviet counter attacks were repulsed with heavy losses. The German LIV Corps extended the salient on the seam of the III and IV sector to 3 km, determined to breakthrough before Petrov reinforce his lines. The 132nd Infantry Division cleared the Haccius Ridge while the 22nd Infantry Division overran most of the Soviet 79th Naval Infantry Brigade. The Soviet unit tried counter attacking on 10 June, but was repulsed. The Soviet formation was effectively destroyed, with the support of the Luftwaffe which used anti-personnel bombs against Soviet infantry caught in the open. Only one battalion (the Soviet 1st Batt./241st Rifle Regiment) was in a position to block the Germans from encircling the Maxim Gorky fort. Still, on 8 June LIV Corps had lost 1,700 men. In return the lodgement in Soviet lines was extended to 3 km deep and 5 km wide.

In the south, XXX Corps made no progress in four days of attacks. They suffered 496 casualties at the hands of the Soviet 109th Rifle Division. The German 28th Light and 72nd Divisions had succeeded in puncturing the Soviet lines opposite the 109th and 388th Rifle Divisions. The outer defences were broken in some parts, but the most were still in Soviet hands on 12 June. The main belt on Sapun Ridge (Sapun-gora)
Sapun-gora — is a ridge to the southeast of Sevastopol, in Crimea, Ukraine.It became the arena of fierce battle during the siege of Sevastopol , and also during its recapturing in 1944....

 was unbroken. Soviet casualties amounted to 2,500 including 700 captured. By 13 June XXX Corps had lost 2,659 men including 394 killed.

Air-land operations: 11–15 June

As the Germans made slow progress toward the main train station, Petrov pulled out the battered 172nd Rifle Division and replaced it with 345th Rifle Division. The 95th Soviet Division halted the 132nds progress in the north. Although a relatively quiet day, the 10 June saw the elimination of the Soviet 79th Naval Brigade and LIV Corps lost 2,772 men. Counter attacks by the Soviet 345th Division aimed at the hinge between the German 132nd and 50th Divisions were repulsed by the Luftwaffe. On 11–12 June, LIV Corps lost another 1,957 men. But the Soviets had now committed all of their reserves and were stretched thin. One more push might collapse the northern sector. But at this time, the tired German infantry were running out of reinforcements and ammunition.

In contrast, the Black Sea Fleet was bringing in reinforcements in spite of the threat of the Luftwaffe. On 12 June the cruiser Molotov and destroyer Bditel'nyy brought in 2,314 soldiers, 190 tons of ammunition and 28 artillery pieces. The Luftwaffe turned its attentions to the supply convoys again. On 13 June it sank the transports Gruzyia, TSch-27, patrol boat SKA-092, motor boat SP-40, five barges and a floating crane. On 15 June another 3,400 soldiers, 442 tons of ammunition, 30 tons of fuel and 12 tons of provisions were delivered. With this reinforcement, the German army was reliant more than ever upon the Luftwaffe on land.

The Luftwaffe had flown 1,044 sorties on the 11 June, dropping 954 tons of bombs. The consumption rate of ammunition was putting von Richthofen’s logistical network under pressure and he could no longer afford to fly massed bombing raids. On 11 June, he surmised there was less than two days ammunition left. It required a change of tactics. Instead of carpet bombing, fewer targets would be attacked simultaneously, and aircraft would strike at designated targets in long and narrow lines. This was designed to maintain accurate pressure without wasting ordnance. Even this failed to cure the problem in the long term. By 17 June, aviation fuel shortages meant the Luftwaffe dropped only 800 instead of the planned 1,000 tons. In the event, von Richthofen was transferred to prepare the Corps’ Headquarters near Kursk
Kursk is a city and the administrative center of Kursk Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Kur, Tuskar, and Seym Rivers. The area around Kursk was site of a turning point in the Russian-German struggle during World War II and the site of the largest tank battle in history...

 support the nearing Operation Blue. He retained formal command, at least until given control of Luftflotte 4, but Wolfgang von Wild took over air operations over Sevastopol.

The main target for the 22nd Infantry Division on 13 June was Fort Stalin, blocking the advance to Severnaya Bay. It was a tought position. Bunkers allowed the Soviets to move around artillery and machine gun posts which protected the fort from southern and eastern attacks, but it was vulnerable from a northern assault. Moreover, just 200 men from the 345th Rifle Division were stationed there. The German 22nd Division assaulted at 03:00 on 13 June. The assault was to be made by just 813 men. The 3rd Battalion would suppress Soviet machine gun and mortar positions located on the south east. The 1st Battalion, supported by five StuG assault guns, two 37mm guns and an engineer company were to make the main effort. Some 200 and 110 men were committed respectively in each unit.

The bombardment began on 12 June. Artillery fire from ‘Dora’ had failed to neutralise the fort. Nevertheless a combined arms
Combined arms
Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects...

 attack from 11 420 mm mortars and dive-bombing by Ju 87s of StG 77 knocked out the forts main armament (three of the four 76.2 mm guns). At 19:00 the 22nds divisional artillery began shelling the fort and its smaller supporting fortress, Volga, located to Stalin’s rear, with 210, 280 and 305 mm weapons. At 03:00 the German infantry attacked. The fog of war
Fog of war
The fog of war is a term used to describe the uncertainty in situation awareness experienced by participants in military operations. The term seeks to capture the uncertainty regarding own capability, adversary capability, and adversary intent during an engagement, operation, or campaign...

 intervened. The Soviet mortar teams were not suppressed, and a bloody battle developed which lasted until 05:30. The Germans, with the support of five assault guns and a few 37 mm weapons, eliminated the fort, bunker by bunker. In the heavy fighting a large number of company commanders were killed.

As the Germans seized this vital fort, the neighbouring Volga fort realised it had fallen and shelled the position. A company-sized counter attack was wiped out by German small arms fire. The Germans declared the position secured at 07:00, though some bunkers held out until 15:00. German casualties amounted to 32 dead, 126 wounded and two missing – half of the force committed. Soviet casualties amounted to 20 captured, the remainder were killed. With only 91 men in left near the fort, Petrov did not order a recovery attempt. It was a grave mistake.

The fall of Fort Stalin meant the Soviet defences in the north were on the verge of collapse. Hansen ordered LIV Corps to divert its attention to Fort Maxim Gorky and the elimination of the 95th Rifle Division defending its front. The 95th Rifle Division had been attacking the 132nd Infantry Division's progress since the start of the offensive. They were reinforced by one Regiment from the idle 46th German Infantry Division near Kerch. The German 24th, 50th and Romanian 4th Mountain Divisions were to maintain pressure in the central sector while they pushed towards the Mekensia and Gatani Valley and the Chernaya River opening at Severnaya Bay. For three days, 14–16 June, the battle continued as the Axis ground towards Sevastopol. On 15 June the 132nd was within 900 metres of the Maxim Gorky's outer bastion (Bastion I). The front opposite the 25th Soviet Rifles was still strong, but the northern flank was giving way. The 79th Naval Brigade had only 35 percent of its strength left. Blocking the way to Maxim Gorky was just 1,000 men of the 95th Rifle Division and 7th Naval Brigade.
In the south the 109th and 388th Rifle divisions were forced back along the coast by the 72nd and 170th German divisions while the Romanian Corps' 18th Mountain Division protected its flank by dislodging the Soviet 386th Rifle Division threatening XXX Corps' right flank. The battles continued to grind on until the 20 June. In six days XXX Corps had lost 2,646 men. In exchange the outer defences of the 388th Rifle division had been penetrated and the formation effectively destroyed. Still, the German advance on Balaklava
Balaklava is a former city on the Crimean peninsula and part of the city of Sevastopol which carries a special administrative status in Ukraine. It was a city in its own right until 1957 when it was formally incorporated into the municipal borders of Sevastopol by the Soviet government...

 had been halted. The Germans had not yet reached its outer defences and the Sapun Ridge to the east of the town were still in Soviet hands. Nevertheless, by the 15 June, some 1,000 Soviet soldiers and 1,500 mortar bombs had been captured indicating the Soviets had plenty of ammunition after two weeks of battle.

The Luftwaffe had played a significant part in the success the German operations. From 13 June, up until the 17 June, it had flown 3,899 sorties and dropped 3,086 tons of bombs, in spite of shortages in fuel and ordnance. This average of 780 sorties per day was only a slight drop from the opening 11 days. Mass attacks were made on the city of Sevastopol itself. Bombing targeted hangars, port facilities, flak and artillery batteries, barracks, supply depots with high explosive bombs. Most of the city was burning. The smoke rose to 1,500 metres and stretched to Feodosiya, 150 kilometres away.

Ground fighting: 16–28 June

As Hansen poised his corps for the breakthrough against the 95th Rifle Division 27 Ju 87s of II./StG 77 attacked Maxim Gorky's main battery. The Germans believed the strike had knocked it out as it stopped firing its artillery. The Soviets claimed the fort withstood the bombing, and the fort ran out of ammunition. Still, the artillery bombardment began on 16 June. In the morning the attack by the reinforced 132nd Division collapsed the line. The Soviet garrison held out in underground tunnels, capitulating only on the 20 June.

The 22nd and 24th German Divisions advanced from the north east. They employed their Gotha remote control demolition vehicles with success against timber bunkers. One exploded prematurely and two were knocked out by a minefield. Two Panzer III
Panzer III
Panzer III was the common name of a medium tank that was developed in the 1930s by Germany and was used extensively in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen III translating as "armoured battle vehicle". It was intended to fight other armoured fighting vehicles and...

 control vehicles were knocked out by Soviet anti-tank fire. By 19:30, Forts Maxim Gorky, Molotov, Schishkova, Volga and Siberia were overrun. The 24th Infantry Division in particular made extensive use of its Nebelwerfer rockets. The 95th and 172nd Rifle Divisions had been lost, as well as the majority of the fortifies defences. Only the 25th Rifle remained in the line. Petrov rushed up the 138th Naval Brigade with an extra 2,600 men, which was landed on the 12–13 June. It prevented German forces reaching Severnaya Bay that day.

The Luftwaffe was also busy applying pressure to Soviet naval forces. On 18 June the cruiser Kharkov was severely damaged. Attacks on 19 June by KG 51 destroyed the anti-aircraft platform in Severnaya Bay, allowing air operations to continue unheeded. The lack of ant-aircraft cover made it impossible for the minelayer Komintern to enter the harbour with reinforcements. The lack of supplies ensured Soviet ammunition and fuel supplies to slip to critical levels on 20 June. The Luftwaffe was experiencing shortages of its own. The daily average of sources was now reduced by 40 percent. Due to the shortages of bombs, all ordnance had to be dropped individually to minimise wastage. Some experienced crews had to conduct dive-bombing attacks 25-30 times a day. KG 51's Ju 88 crews in particular had felt the strain.

The pressure tolled, and between the 18–23 June, the entire Soviet defence line in the north collapsed. The remnants of the 95th Soviet Rifle Division was huddled into a 2 km square portion of coast line near Coastal Battery 12, north of the Bay. At 09:00 the battery and the division surrendered to the 132nd Infantry Division. Further south the German 24th Infantry Division captured Bartenyevka, on the mouth of the Bay. The 22nd Infantry had reached the north of the Bay on the same day. The Soviet 138th Naval Brigade counter attacked, but it was destroyed without artillery and air air support. On 20 June, the 24th Infantry Division tackled the main obstacle remaining on the north side of the Bay. The Lenin anti-aircraft position protected by the Northern Fort, a position which had 5 metres wide anti-tank ditched, 1,000 mines, 32 concrete bunkers, seven armoured cupolas, and 70 earth-and-timber bunkers making it a formidable defensive position. The Lenin defences surrendered, having already lost three of their four 76 mm weapons. The Germans tried to use the remote-controlled mines to break into the North Fort, but they were knocked out. At 11:30 on the 21 June the Fort fell after a sustained infantry attack. Around 182 Soviet prisoners were taken. The Germans began mopping up operations and clearing the northern shore. Most Soviet units were exhausted and out of ammunition, surrendering quickly. Others made attempts at a last stand. Some tried to evacuate across to the southern side by boat, but they were picked off by German artillery.

While the main actions were playing out in the north XXX Corps alternated between attack and defence. The Soviets held the Sapun Ridge and could observe German movements. On occasion they could deliver effective counter battery fire. Between the 21–28 June, the Germans lost 10 artillery pieces, including five 150 mm s.FH 18 medium howitzers. In the centre, the Romanians took up the slack. The 18th Infantry, 1st and 4th Mountain division, supported by 100 guns, advanced gradually up the Chernaya River towards the mouth of the river and Severnaya Bay. With support from LIV Corps on its left, the Axis captured all the Soviet defensive lines east of the Chernaya River.

The Luftwaffe had contributed 4,700 sorties in seven days up until 26 June. They dropped 3,984 tons of bombs. The daily average sorties had decreased 15 percent from the week before and 10 percent the week before that. The increasing operational readiness (49.8 to 64.5 percent) revealed the severity of bomb and fuel shortages. Von Wild, despite the withdrawal of some Geschwader for Operation Blue, did succeeded in bring in much needed reinforcements to bring the strength levels up to a standard not seen since the start of the offensive. The Luftwaffe continued the intense bombardment. On 26 June, its attacks supporting XXX Corps, devastated Soviet defences on the Sapun Ridge. It was the last Soviet defensive line between the Axis and Sevastopol.

Fall of Sevastopol: 30 June-4 July

As the German 11th Army closed in, Stalin himself made it categorically clear that top commanders, Party and administrative officials be brought out by submarine. Oktyabrskii and Petrov were flown out at the last moment.


The Germans claimed over 90,000 Red Army soldiers had been taken prisoner, and an even greater number killed. However these claims seems an overstatement, as according to Soviet sources the Soviet garrison defending Sevastopol totaled 106,000 men beforehand, and received only 3,000 in reinforcements during the attack, while it is known that 25,157 persons were evacuated, the overwhelming majority being either wounded soldiers or officers evacuated on Stalin's orders.

Soviet accounts claim that there were very few Soviet troops who survived the German onslaught; Von Manstein himself records that the Soviets preferred to blow themselves up along with the German soldiers closing in on their positions rather than surrender. Von Manstein ascribed this behavior to the ruthlessness of the "commissars" and to the basic "contempt for human life of this Asiatic power". Another explanation for the Soviet unwillingness to surrender, was the fear Soviet servicemen had for their treatment if they were taken prisoners of war by the Wehrmacht.

Von Manstein put his own losses at 24,000, a claim that may seem low. This figure excludes all Romanian losses, though the Romanians fought well and hard in Sevastopol, rendering an indispensable contribution to the victory. It also excludes all German losses sustained during the "mopping up" fighting after the capture of Cape Khersones. The fall of Sevastopol resulted in Von Manstein's promotion to Generalfeldmarschall, as promised. Hitler and others were deeply impressed by what they perceived as his hardness.

Although a success in the end, the operation had taken much longer than the Germans had imagined. Operation Blau, Army Group South
Army Group South
Army Group South was the name of a number of German Army Groups during World War II.- Poland campaign :Germany used two army groups to invade Poland in 1939: Army Group North and Army Group South...

's advance towards Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

 and Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 was just beginning, and the German offensive would not have the 11th Army to support them. Instead of having the 11th Army to help it on its quest to capture Stalingrad, the German 6th Army under Paulus would be without crucial support that ultimately resulted in its defeat.

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