The Battle of Sevastopol was a battle which took place in the Eastern Front at the strategically important Black Sea port of Sevastopol in the Crimea. The battle lasted from October 30, 1941 to July 4, 1942. The participants of the battle were the German Wehrmacht, the Romanian Land Forces, the Royal Italian Army, and the Soviet Red Army.
Originally, when Operation Barbarossa began it was judged that once Moscow fell, the whole of the Soviet Union would capitulate, but after a costly air raid on a Romanian oil field that originated from Sevastopol, plans were immediately drawn to conquer the Crimean peninsula. These plans were also given high priority. The battle began with early failures for the attacking Axis forces but ended with an Axis victory over the Soviets.
In total, about 4,000 German soldiers died in the fighting with approximately 20,000 wounded. Romanian casualties killed number about 2,500. Italian casualties are unknown, but it is estimated that in total, Axis losses number about 35,000. Soviet casualties number about 18,000 killed and 95,000 captured.
Planning and Preparation
For the battle, German forces had brought up the 11th Field Army commanded by general Erich Von Manstein. The 11th Field Army was a part of the German Army Group South. The Romanians brought up their 1st and 4th Mountain Divisions along with their 18th Infantry Division. These Romanian troops were commanded by lieutenant general Gheorghe Avramescu Italy supported the main land forces with naval ships and Bulgaria provided its harbors to get the troops into the Black Sea. Additionally, the Luftwaffe provided extensive support with its bomber and fighter wings. In preparation for any attack, Sevastopol was defended by coastal units and the Soviet Black Sea fleet. Many of the troops sent in were naval personnel. Soviet troops during the battle were commanded by general Ivan Petrov.
Axis forces began their attack on October 30, 1941 when the German 132nd Infanterie Division attempted to attack the city from the North. However, this thrust into the city was quickly repulsed by soviet counterattacks. After the temporary retreat, German forces then encircled the city preparing for their next offensive. Meanwhile, Soviet forces received reinforcements from troops fleeing from the Siege of Odessa. Again on November 11, 1941, over 60,000 German and Romanian troops attempted to push their way through the city of Sevastopol. This second attack was once more repulsed after ten days.
After these two unconclusive attacks, the Germans resorted to an artillery barrage. Notably, the Germans used the 800mm K. (E) Rail gun along with their other heavy artillery for a five-day bombardment. The purpose of the bombardment was to destroy the Soviet bunkers and make the Soviet forces flee their bunkers. Following the bombardment, German and Romanian forces launched another attack this time under the cover of aircraft into Sevastopol. By late December, the German forces were only about 2 kilometers from capturing the harbor, but were pushed back by more Soviet counterattacks. German forces then diverted their efforts to driving the Soviets out of the Kerch area until the Soviets in the area capitulated and when they finally surrendered, there were about 170,000 prisoners. Once this was finished with, Manstein again focused on the siege of Sevastopol. In June of 1942, most of the Soviet defensive lines were finally breached leaving only small pockets of resistance left. However, some defenses still remained, particularly the "Sapun" line. To counteract this problem, Manstein launched an amphibious assault into the bay to skip past the line. The line was soon broken and on July 4, 1942 the city finally was in German hands, however small pockets of Soviet troops still fought in caves until July 9, 1942.
- Forcyzk, Robert. Sevastopol 1942: Von Manstein's Triumph. Osprey Publishing (2008), Page 90