The Leningrad–Novgorod strategic offensive was a strategic offensive during World War II. It was launched by the Red Army on January 14, 1944 with an attack on the German Army Group North by the Soviet Volkhov and Leningrad fronts, along with part of the 2nd Baltic Front, with a goal of fully lifting the Siege of Leningrad. Approximately two weeks later, the Red Army regained control of the Moscow–Leningrad railway, and on January 26, 1944 Joseph Stalin declared that the Siege of Leningrad was lifted, and that German forces were expelled from the Leningrad Oblast. The lifting of the 900-day-long blockade was celebrated in Leningrad on that day with a 324-gun salute. The strategic offensive ended a month later on 1 March, when Stavka ordered the troops of the Leningrad Front to a follow-on operation across the Narva River, while the 2nd Baltic was to defend the territory it gained in pursuit of the German XVI Army Corps.
The Germans had suffered nearly 72,000 casualties, lost 85 artillery pieces ranging in caliber from 15 cm to 40 cm, and were pushed back between 60 and 100 kilometers from Leningrad to the Luga River.
After Operation Barbarossa, German troops had encircled Leningrad, and the Siege of Leningrad began. Several operations had been designed by the Soviet commanders in the area to liberate the outskirts of Leningrad from the Germans. In the fall of 1943, preparations had begun to design another plan to retake the outskirts of Leningrad from the Germans, after the only partially successful Operation Iskra in January of that year which had followed the failed Sinyavino Offensive of late 1942. The first staff meeting was held on September 9, 1943, two years and a day after the beginning of the siege. Two plans, Neva I and Neva II, were conceived. Neva I was to be implemented if the Germans, pressured on different fronts, withdrew their forces from Leningrad on their own accord to reinforce the pressured areas. Both Stavka and Leningrad believed this was possible. Neva II, therefore, would be implemented if the Germans did not withdraw from Leningrad within the coming months. The offensive would be three-pronged, driving from the foothold at Oranienbaum that had been captured earlier that year, the Pulkovo Heights and from the fortifications around Novgorod. The offensive was planned to start in the winter, when sufficient numbers of troops and artillery could be moved across the ice without incident.
The Baltic Fleet had been assigned the task of transporting the Second Shock Army under the command of Ivan Fedyuninsky over Lake Ladoga to Oranienbaum. From November 5, 1943 onwards, the Fleet transported 30,000 troops, 47 tanks, 400 artillery pieces, 1,400 trucks and 10,000 tons of ammunition and supplies from the wharves at the Leningrad factories, Kanat and the naval base at Lisy Nos to Oranienbaum. After Lake Ladoga froze, another 22,000 men, 800 trucks, 140 tanks and 380 guns were sent overland to the jump-off point. When the shipments were complete, the artillery was positioned along the entire length of the Leningrad, Second Baltic and Volkhov fronts at a concentration of 200 guns per kilometer, including 21,600 standard artillery pieces, 1,500 Katyusha rocket guns, and 600 anti-aircraft guns. 1,500 planes were also obtained from the Baltic Fleet and from installations around Leningrad. The total number of Soviet personnel prepared for action was 1,241,000, against the 741,000 German troops. A final meeting took place on January 11 in Smolny. General Govorov, the top Soviet commander on the Leningrad Front, had listed his priorities. In order to open up southeastward and eastward main railroad lines from Leningrad, Soviet troops would have to occupy Gatchina, from which they could retake Mga, the minor city and rail station whose capture in 1941 had closed the last railroad route into Leningrad. Govorov positioned his troops accordingly.
The situation of the German Army Group North at the end of 1943 had deteriorated to a critical point. The Blue Division and three German divisions had been withdrawn by October, while the Army Group had acquired sixty miles of additional frontage from Army Group Center during the same period. As replacements, Field Marshal Georg von Küchler received the Spanish Blue Legion and three divisions of SS troops. In such a weakened state, the Army Group staff planned a new position to its rear that would shorten the front lines by twenty-five percent and remove the Soviet threats posed in many salients on the current lines. The plan Operation Blue called for a January withdrawal of over 150 miles to the natural defensive barrier formed by the Narva and Velikaya Rivers and Lakes Peipus and Pskov. This position, the so-called "Panther Line", was buttressed by fortifications that had been constructed since September. The retreat would be carried out in stages, using intermediate defensive positions, the most important of which was the Rollbahn Line formed on the October Railway running through Tosno, Lyuban and Chudovo. There the two most exposed Army Corps, the XXVI and XXVIII, would regroup and catch their breath before proceeding farther back to their positions in the Panther Line.
The fate of Army Group North turned for the worse in the new year, for Hitler rejected all proposals for an early withdrawal into the "Panther" position, insisting that the Soviet forces be kept as far as possible from Germany and that they be forced to pay dearly for each meter of ground. Finally, Hitler transferred three more first-rate infantry divisions out of Army Group North to reinforce Erich von Manstein's Army Group South as it reeled back from the Dnieper River under continuous Soviet assault. Field Marshal von Küchler now held an extremely precarious position, and could only await events on the Leningrad and Volkhov Fronts with great pessimism.
In the late hours of January 13, 1944, long-range bombers from the Baltic Fleet attacked the main German command points on the defensive line. On January 14, troops from both the Oranienbaum foothold and Volkhov Front attacked, followed the next day by troops of the 42nd Army under the command of Ivan Maslennikov from the Pulkovo Heights. An artillery barrage was launched all along the front, laying down 220,000 shells onto the German lines. Fog inhibited major progress for the first few days, although the Second Shock Army and 42nd Army advanced two miles on a seven-mile front while in combat with the 9th and 10th Luftwaffe Field Divisions, and the Volkhov Front pushed the Germans back about three miles. It thawed on the 16th, and the Second Shock Army managed to move forward 23 kilometers. On the 19th, the Second Shock Army captured Ropsha and the 63rd Guards Rifle Division, part of the 42nd Army, drove the Germans out of Krasnoye Selo. By January 26, German troops had been pushed 100 kilometers away from the city, and the Moscow–Leningrad Railroad line had been opened. The next day, Stalin declared the city to have been relieved, and Leningrad celebrated with a red, white and blue salute from 324 Katyusha rocket launchers and artillery pieces at 8 pm, which was inconceivable during the siege due to blackout.
On 14 January Soviet troops of the Volkhov Front launched an offensive from the Novgorod area towards Luga against a part of the 18th German Army. The aim was freeing the October Railway and encircling, together with the troops of the Leningrad Front, the main forces of the 18th Army in the Luga region.
The offensive did not develop as rapidly as planned before the operation. The German 18th Army suffered a heavy defeat, but still wasn't destroyed and retained a significant part of its combat potential, which prevented the Soviet troops in the spring of 1944 to break through the Panther–Wotan line and begin the liberation of the Baltics. One of the reasons for this development was the lack of coordination between the 2nd Baltic Front and the Volkhov Front, which allowed the German command to move significant forces from the 16th Army to the Luga area.
By February 15, the troops of the Volkhov Front, as well as the 42nd and 67th Army of the Leningrad Front, reached Lake Peipus, having pushed the enemy 50-120 kilometers to the West. In total 779 cities and settlements were liberated, including Novgorod, Luga, Batetsky, Oredezh, Mga, Tosno, Lyuban and Chudovo. The restoration of control over the strategically important railways, especially Kirov and October, was of great importance.
On 18 February, Soviet troops of the 2nd Baltic Front, carried out this operation in cooperation with part of the Leningrad Front against the German 16th Army of Army Group "North" with the aim of liberating the area southwest of Lake Ilmen and creating the conditions for further offensives. As a result of the operation, the Soviet troops, pursuing the retreating enemy, advanced up to 180 kilometers to the West, liberating many cities and towns, including Staraya Russa, Novorzhev, Dno and Putoshka.
|Position of the armies before the operation and plan of attack||Operations between 14-31 January 1944.||Operations between 1-15 February 1944|
The siege of Leningrad was a prolonged military blockade undertaken from the south by the Army Group North of Nazi Germany against the Soviet city of Leningrad on the Eastern Front in World War II. The Finnish army invaded from the north, co-operating with the Germans until Finland had recaptured territory lost in the recent Winter War, but refused to make further approaches to the city.
Leonid Aleksandrovich Govorov was a Soviet military commander. Trained as an artillery officer, he joined the Red Army in 1920. He graduated from several Soviet military academies, including the Military Academy of Red Army General Staff. He participated in the Winter War of 1939–1940 against Finland as a senior artillery officer.
Operation Iskra, a Soviet military operation in January 1943 during World War II, aimed to break the Wehrmacht's Siege of Leningrad. Planning for the operation began shortly after the failure of the Sinyavino Offensive. The German defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad in late 1942 had weakened the German front. By January 1943, Soviet forces were planning or conducting offensive operations across the entire German-Soviet front, especially in southern Russia; Iskra formed the northern part of the wider Soviet 1942–1943 winter counter-offensive.
The Volkhov Front was a major formation of the Red Army during the first period of the Second World War. It was formed as an expediency of an early attempt to halt the advance of the Wehrmacht Army Group North in its offensive thrust towards Leningrad. Initially the front operated to the south of Leningrad, with its flank on Lake Ladoga.
The 8th Army was a field army of the Soviet Red Army during the Second World War.
The Krasnoye Selo – Ropsha Offensive, also known as Operation January Thunder and Neva-2 was a campaign between the Soviet Leningrad Front and the German 18th Army fought for the western approaches of Leningrad in 14–30 January 1944.
The Sinyavino Offensive was an operation planned by the Soviet Union in the summer of 1942 with the aim of breaking the Siege of Leningrad, which had begun the previous summer, and establish a reliable supply line to Leningrad. At the same time, German forces were planning Operation Northern Light to capture the city and link up with Finnish forces. To achieve that heavy reinforcements were arriving from Sevastopol, which the German forces captured in July 1942. Both sides were unaware of the other's preparations, and this made the battle unfold in an unanticipated manner for both sides.
The 42nd Army was a field army of the Soviet Union's Red Army, created in 1941.
Leningrad Strategic Defensive Operation is the term in Soviet historiography for the defensive operations of the Red Army and Soviet Navy during World War II from 10 July to 30 September 1941. The following operations are considered as part of the strategic operation:
The 48th Army was a field army of the Soviet Red Army, active from 1941 to 1945. The army was first formed in August 1941 and fought in the Leningrad Strategic Defensive Operation. The army suffered heavy losses and was disbanded in early September. Its remnants were moved to the 54th Army. Reformed in April 1942 on the Bryansk Front, the army fought in the Maloarkhangelsk Offensive in the winter of 1943. It was sent to the Central Front in March and defended the northern face of the Kursk Bulge. During the summer, it fought in Operation Kutuzov and the Chernigov-Pripyat Offensive. From November, the army fought in the Gomel-Rechitsa Offensive. The army fought in Operation Bagration from June 1944. During the offensive, the army captured Zhlobin and Bobruisk and was on the Narew by early September. During early 1945, the army fought in the East Prussian Offensive and ended the war in East Prussia during May. The army was transferred to Poland in July 1945 and its headquarters was used to form the Kazan Military District in September.
The Battle of Demyansk was part of the Soviet offensive Operation Polar Star against Axis forces which took place in Demyansk from 15 to 28 February 1943. The Northwestern Front and Mikhail Khozin Special Group engaged the 16th Army of Army Group North in an operation for control of Demyansk and to destroy Axis forces in the region.
The Red Army's 54th Army was a Soviet field army during the Second World War. It was first formed in the Leningrad Military District in August, 1941, and continued in service in the northern sector of the Soviet-German front until the end of 1944. It spent much of the war attempting to break the German siege of Leningrad, in which it helped to achieve partial success in January, 1943, and complete success one year later. During these operations the soldiers of the 54th served under five different commanders, most notably Col. Gen. Ivan Fedyuninsky in the winter of 1941–42. After helping to drive Army Group North away from Leningrad and into the Baltic states in the first nine months of 1944, the army was deemed surplus to requirements on the narrowing front, and was officially disbanded on the last day of the year.
The 310th Rifle Division was a standard Red Army rifle division formed on July 15, 1941 in Kazakhstan before being sent to the vicinity of Leningrad, where it spent most of the war, sharing a similar combat path with its "sister", the 311th Rifle Division. The soldiers of the division fought until early 1944 to, first, hold open some sort of lifeline to the besieged city, then to break the siege and drive off the besieging German forces. They then participated in the offensive that drove Germany's Finnish allies out of the war. Finally, the division was redeployed to take the fight to the German heartland in the winter and spring of 1945. It ended the war north of Berlin with a very creditable combat record for any rifle division.
The 67th Army was a field army of the Soviet Union's Red Army. The 67th Army was formed in October 1942 on the Leningrad Front from the Neva Operational Group. It defended the right bank of the Neva River, holding the Nevsky Pyatachok and covering the Road of Life. In January 1943 the army fought in Operation Iskra. In late December, the army was combined with 55th Army. The 67th Army headquarters was disbanded and 55th Army headquarters was renamed 67th Army headquarters. Between January and March 1944 67th Army fought in the Leningrad–Novgorod Offensive, in which it captured Mga and Luga. In April the army became part of the 3rd Baltic Front and fought in the Pskov-Ostrov Offensive in July and the Tartu Offensive in August and September. The army fought in the Riga Offensive in September and October. The army then fought to eliminate the Courland Pocket. After the end of the war the army was disbanded during the summer of 1945.
The 378th Rifle Division was an infantry division of the Red Army that began forming in August 1941 in the Siberian Military District, before being sent to the vicinity of Leningrad, where it spent most of the war. The soldiers of this division fought until early 1944 to break the siege and drive off the besieging German forces, distinguishing themselves in the liberation of Novgorod. Finally, the division was redeployed to advance into the Baltic states in 1944 and into East Prussia in the winter of 1945. As the war was ending the 378th was disbanded to provide replacements for other divisions. Nevertheless, it had compiled a very creditable combat record for any rifle division.
The 364th Rifle Division was an infantry division of the Red Army during World War II.
The 374th Rifle Division was raised in 1941 as an infantry division of the Red Army, and served for the duration of the Great Patriotic War in that role. It began forming in August, 1941 in the Siberian Military District. It joined the fighting front in December with the new 59th Army along the Volkhov River and it continued to serve in the fighting near Leningrad until early 1944. The dismal fighting on this front gave little opportunity for a unit to distinguish itself, and the division did not finally earn a battle honor until late January, 1944, during the Leningrad–Novgorod Offensive. It continued to serve in the summer and autumn offensive through the Baltic States, becoming so reduced in strength that its remaining infantry was consolidated into a single understrength regiment which nevertheless won a battle honor in the liberation of Riga. The 374th ended the war in Latvia, helping to contain and reduce the German forces trapped in the Courland Pocket, and was disbanded shortly thereafter.
The 376th Rifle Division was raised in 1941 as an infantry division of the Red Army, and served for the duration of the Great Patriotic War in that role. It began forming in August, 1941 in the Siberian Military District. It followed a very similar combat path to that of the 374th Rifle Division. It joined the fighting front in December with the new 59th Army along the Volkhov River and it continued to serve in the battles near Leningrad until early 1944. The division took horrendous casualties in the combat to create and hold open a passage to the 2nd Shock Army during the Lyuban Offensive and was itself partly or fully encircled at several times during this dismal fighting. The division finally left this region as it advanced during the Leningrad–Novgorod Offensive in January 1944 and in July won a battle honor in the liberation of Pskov, while its 1250th Rifle Regiment was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. In October the 376th as a whole would also receive the Red Banner for its part in the liberation of Riga. The division ended the war in Latvia, helping to contain and reduce the German forces trapped in the Courland Pocket, and was reorganized as a rifle brigade shortly thereafter.
The 377th Rifle Division was raised in 1941 as an infantry division of the Red Army, and served for the duration of the Great Patriotic War in that role. It began forming in August, 1941 in the Urals Military District. It followed a very similar combat path to that of the 374th and 376th Rifle Divisions. It joined the fighting front in December with the 4th Army, and then briefly came under command of 2nd Shock Army, but soon moved to the 59th Army along the Volkhov River, and continued to serve in this Army's battles near Leningrad until early 1944. The division took very heavy casualties during the Lyuban Offensive in several attempts to relieve the beleaguered 2nd Shock Army. After rebuilding the division held the Army's bridgehead over the Volkhov during 1943, and finally advanced during the Leningrad–Novgorod Offensive in January, 1944, taking part in the assault that liberated Novgorod. During the spring the division saw heavy fighting in the battles for Narva before moving south for the summer offensive into the Baltic states. In September it won a battle honor in the liberation of Valga, and in October also received the Order of the Red Banner for its part in the liberation of Riga. The division ended the war in Latvia, helping to contain and reduce the German forces trapped in the Courland Pocket, and was disbanded later in 1945.
The 382nd Rifle Division was raised in 1941 as an infantry division of the Red Army, and served for the duration of the Great Patriotic War in that role. It began forming on August 10 in the Siberian Military District. It joined the fighting front in December with the new 59th Army along the Volkhov River. Apart from a few weeks in 1944 the division served in either the Volkhov Front or the Leningrad Front for the entire war. It suffered horrendous casualties after being encircled in the swamps and forests near Lyuban and was severely understrength for many months afterwards while serving on a relatively quiet front. It remained in the line in the dismal fighting near Leningrad until early 1944 with little opportunity to distinguish itself, and the division did not finally earn a battle honor until late January, 1944, during the Leningrad–Novgorod Offensive. Following this the division was moved to the Karelian Isthmus and entered the summer offensive against Finland in the reserves of Leningrad Front before being assigned to the 23rd Army. Following the Finnish surrender it was redeployed westward, helping to mop up pockets of enemy forces in the Baltic states in early 1945. The 382nd ended the war in Latvia, helping to contain and reduce the German forces trapped in the Courland Pocket, and was officially disbanded in February, 1946.