Moonsund Operation of 1944
Moonsund Operation of 1944
an operation of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet and troops of the Leningrad Front for the liberation of the islands of the Moonsund Archipelago carried out from September 27 to November 24 in the Great Patriotic War (1941–45).
The fascist German troops stationed on the islands (11,500 men) and the light naval forces based there (two torpedo boats, 22 infantry-landing and artillery-landing barges, 14 minesweepers, and two torpedo cutters) posed a threat to the flank and rear of the Soviet troops that were advancing on Riga and prevented the use of the Gulf of Riga. The operation commenced immediately after Soviet troops reached the western coast of Estonia (September 25). Assigned to the operation were the Estonian 109th and the VIII Rifle Corps of the Eighth Army and light naval forces consisting of 55 torpedo cutters, 23 patrol cutters, 13 mine sweeper-cutters, eight armored cutters, 40 tenders, and the 260th Naval Rifle Brigade. The actions on land were directed by Lieutenant General F. N. Starikov, commander of the Eighth Army, and on the sea by Rear Admiral I. G. Sviatov, squadron chief of staff of the Baltic Fleet. Air support was provided by the Thirteenth Air Army under Lieutenant General S. D. Rybal’-chenko.
On September 27 a naval infantry battalion landed from torpedo cutters on Vormsi Island. An advance detachment of the landing force (1,150 men) was ferried to Kuivaste on Muhu Island on September 29; on September 30 it covered the landing of the first echelon of the landing force. In one day torpedo cutters made 181 trips and ferried over 5,600 men to the island. By the morning of October 1, Muhu Island was liberated, and on October 2 a landing force disembarked on the island of Hiiumaa, which was liberated by the evening of October 3. The enemy reinforced the garrison on the island of Saaremaa with the 218th Infantry Division from Riga. On October 5 units of the VIII Rifle Corps seized the Orissaare causeway (between Muhu and Saaremaa), and on the same day, unexpectedly for the enemy, a landing force debarked in the region of Taaliku.
Soviet troops developed a swift offensive and by the morning of October 10 reached the enemy defensive line on Sorve Peninsula. The attempts on October 10–14 to break through the enemy defense without halting were unsuccessful. On the isthmus of Sorve Peninsula, which is from 3 to 3.5 km wide, the enemy created a deep-echelon defense, which was supported by aviation and ships (heavy cruisers and destroyers). The Baltic Fleet could not give much help to the ground troops; the waters were so heavily mined that big ships were prohibited from leaving the Gulf of Finland. On November 18, after much artillery and aviation preparation, the Soviet troops passed to the offensive and by the morning of November 24 completely cleared Sorve Peninsula of the enemy, thereby completing the liberation of the Estonian SSR.
REFERENCESMatveev, A. I. V boiakh za Moonzund. Moscow, 1957.
Achkasov, V. I., and B. A. Vainer. Krasnoznamennyi Baltiiskii flot v Velikoi Otechestvennoi voine. Moscow, 1957.
V. I. ACHKASOV and IU. G. PERECHNEV