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Western Front (Soviet Union)

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Dec 16, 2021

The Western Front was a front of the Red Army, one of the Red Army Fronts during World War II.

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Western Front
Active June 22, 1941 – March, 1944
Country  Soviet Union
Allegiance Soviet Red Army
Role Organize strategic operations
Size Frontal area
Engagements Battle of Białystok–Minsk,
Battle of Smolensk (1941),
Battle of Moscow,
Rzhev-Sychyovka-Vyazma Front,
Battle of Smolensk (1943)
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Dmitry Pavlov,
Andrey Yeryomenko,
Semyon Timoshenko,
Ivan Konev,
Georgy Zhukov,
Vasily Sokolovsky
Military unit
World War II Eastern Front at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa

The Western Front was created on 22 June 1941 from the Western Special Military District (which before July 1940 was known as Belorussian Special Military District). The first Front Commander was Dmitry Pavlov (continuing from his position as District Commander since June 1940).

The western boundary of the Front in June 1941 was 470 km (290 mi) long, from the southern border of Lithuania to the Pripyat River and the town of Włodawa. It connected with the adjacent North-Western Front, which extended from the Lithuanian border to the Baltic Sea, and the Southwestern Front in Ukraine.

. . . Western Front (Soviet Union) . . .

The 1939 partition of Poland according to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact established a new western border with no permanent defense installations, and the army deployment within the Front created weak flanks.

At the outbreak of war with Germany, the Western Special Military District was, in accordance with Soviet pre-war planning, immediately converted into the Western Front, under the District’s commander, Army General Dmitry Pavlov. The main forces of the Western Front were concentrated forward along the frontier, organized in three armies. To defend the Białystok salient, the front fielded the 10th Army, under Lieutenant General Konstantin Golubev, supported by the 6th Mechanized Corps and 13th Mechanized Corps, under Major Generals Mikhail Khatskilevich and Pyotr Akhliustin. On the 10th Army’s left flank was 4th Army, under Lieutenant General Aleksandr Korobkov, supported by the 14th Mechanized Corps, under Major General Stepan Oborin; and on the right the 3rd Army, under Lieutenant General Vasily Kuznetsov supported by the 11th Mechanized Corps, under Major General Dmitry Karpovich Mostovenko. To the rear was the 13th Army, under Lieutenant General Pyotr Filatov.[1] This army initially existed as a headquarters unit only, with no assigned combat forces.

Among forces of Frontal designation were the 2nd Rifle Corps (100th, 161st Rifle Divisions), 21st Rifle Corps (17th, 24th, 37th Rifle Division), 44th Rifle Corps (64th, 108th Rifle Divisions), 47th Rifle Corps (55th, 121st, 143rd Rifle Divisions), 50th Rifle Division, 4th Airborne Corps (7th, 8th, 214th Airborne Brigades) commanded by Alexey Zhadov at Minsk, and the 58th (Sebezh), 61st (Polotsk), 63rd (Minsk-Slutsky), 64th (Zambrow) and 65th (Mozyr) Fortified Regions.[2] Mechanised forces in reserve included the 20th Mechanized Corps under Major General Andrey Nikitin at Minsk and the 17th Mechanized Corps, under Major General Mikhail Petrov, slightly further forward at Slonim. Altogether, on 22 June the Western Special Military District fielded 671,165 men, 14,171 guns and mortars, 2,900 tanks and 1,812 combat aircraft.[3]

The Western Front was on the main axis of attack by the German Army Group Centre, commanded by Field Marshal Fedor von Bock. German plans for Operation Barbarossa called for the Army Group Centre’s Second Panzer Group, under Colonel General Heinz Guderian, to attack south of Brest, advance through Slonim and Baranovichi, turning north-east towards Minsk where it would be met by Colonel General Hermann Hoth‘s Third Panzer Group, which would attack Vilnius, to the north of the Białystok salient, and then turn south-east. In addition to the two panzer groups. The Army Group Centre also included Field Marshal Günther von Kluge‘s Fourth Army and Colonel General Adolf StraussNinth Army. Air support was provided by Field Marshal Albert Kesselring‘s Luftflotte 2 which contained more than half the German aircraft committed to the attack on the Soviet Union.[4]

. . . Western Front (Soviet Union) . . .

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. . . Western Front (Soviet Union) . . .