Perm Operations of 1918–19
Perm’ Operations of 1918–19
(1) Defensive actions of the Third Army from November 29 to January 6 and an offensive of the Second and Third armies of the Eastern Front from January 19 to 28 against the Ekaterinburg group of Kolchak’s forces (from late December, General R. Gaida’s Siberian Army) in the Civil War of 1918–20.
In November 1918, in accordance with a decision of the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik) and a directive of the High Command, the troops of the Eastern Front passed to the offensive against Admiral Kolchak’s troops. The First and Fifth armies were advancing along the Ufa axis. The Third Army, commanded by M. M. Lashevich, with 36,000 infantry and cavalry troops, was advancing on Kungur-Krasnoufimsk-Ekaterin-burg (present-day Sverdlovsk). V. I. Shorin’s Second Army was advancing farther south. The Ekaterinburg group of the Whites, with more than 45,000 infantry and cavalry troops, was assigned the mission of defeating the Third Army, capturing Perm’, and reaching the Kama River for a flank attack on the rear of the troops of the Eastern Front that were advancing on Ufa.
On November 29 the Whites, with two or three times as many men along the axis of the attacks, passed to the offensive. The Soviet troops of the Third Army offered fierce resistance, but they were forced to retreat because of great losses of up to 50 percent, an overextended front of about 400 km, and the instability of several units. The numerically weak Second Army, which had only 9,000 infantry and cavalry troops, had fallen 150 km behind the Third Army and could offer it no help. Perm’ was abandoned on December 24. But Kolchak’s troops, who had suffered heavy losses, could not continue the offensive either.
On January 5–6 a party investigation commission of the Central Committee of the RCP(B), headed by F. E. Dzerzhinskii and J. V. Stalin, arrived in Viatka to investigate the causes of the fall of Perm’. The commission played a great role in restoring the fighting capability of the Third Army and reinforcing the Second Army. However, the commission’s conclusion that Kolchak’s main efforts were concentrated along the Perm’ axis was not correct. In view of the successful advance of the Soviet troops along the Ufa axis (Ufa was liberated on December 31), Kolchak ordered the Siberian Army on Jan. 6, 1919, to pass to the defensive and regroup its forces along the Ufa axis.
In the literature of the 1930’s the fall of Perm’ was unjustifiably called the Perm’ catastrophe of the entire Eastern Front. In fact, the success gained by the Siberian Army had only limited significance. The fall of Perm’ revealed important shortcomings in the manning and organization of units, training of reserves, and work of staffs and political organs. The report of the commission of the Central Committee of the RCP(B) on the causes of the fall of Perm’ was taken into consideration by the Eighth Congress of the Party when making decisions on military affairs and played a considerable role in strengthening the Red Army.
The command of the Eastern Front prepared an offensive for the recapture of Perm’. The Third Army, with 20,600 infantry and cavalry soldiers, delivered a frontal attack from the west. The Second Army, with 18,500 infantry and cavalry troops, developed a flanking attack from the south. The main attack force of the Fifth Army, numbering 4,000 men, had the mission of mounting a holding attack on Krasnoufimsk. A lack of the necessary superiority in men and a hastiness in preparing the offensive, which started from January 19 to 21, did not permit the Soviet armies to carry out their mission. By January 28 the Second Army had advanced 20–40 km, the Third Army 10–20 km, and the main attack force of the Fifth Army 35–40 km. The offensive delayed the regrouping of the White Guard troops along the Ufa axis.
(2) An offensive operation of the Third and Second armies, with the support of the Volga Military Flotilla, from June 20 to July 1, 1919, against General Gaida’s Siberian Army, in order to liberate Perm’.
By June 20, during the counteroffensive of the Eastern Front of 1919, the Second and Third armies, with 48,000 infantry and cavalry soldiers, repulsed Gaida’s army, with 44,000 infantry and cavalry soldiers, from the Viatka River lines to the Kama River and reached the distant approaches to Perm’. According to the plan of the operation, the troops of the Third Army, commanded by S. A. Mezheninov, were to strike Perm’ from the west and northwest and the troops of the Second Army were to deliver a secondary strike on Kungur. The Second Army, supported by ships of the flotilla, forced the Kama River at the city of Osa on June 20–21, reached the approaches to Kungur on June 29, and created a threat to the communications between the Whites’ Perm’ grouping and Ekaterinburg. With the help of the flotilla, the 30th Division and then the 29th Division of the Third Army crossed the Kama on June 30. On July 1 the Second Army liberated Kungur and the 29th Division of the Third Army liberated Perm’ by a wide envelopment from the north. As a result, the Soviet republic regained important industrial regions in the Western Urals.
REFERENCESAndreev, K. N. Razgrom belogvardeitsev i interventov na Urale. Perm’, 1969.
Spirin, L. M. Razgrom armii Kolchaka. Moscow, 1957.
Eikhe, G. Kh. Ufimskaia avantiura Kolchaka (mart-aprel’ 1919). Moscow, 1960.
A. M. AGEEV