Petropavlovsk Operation of 1919

Petropavlovsk Operation of 1919

 

or Tobol’sk-Petropavlovsk Operation, combat actions of the forces of the Eastern Front, conducted against Kolchak’s armies from August 20 to October 31 in the Civil War of 1918-20, aimed at liberating Western Siberia.

In pursuing Admiral A. V. Kolchak’s forces, which were retreating from the Urals, the Third and Fifth armies of the Eastern Front (commanded by V. A. Ol’derogge; member of the Revolutionary Military Council V. P. Pozern; 60,000 infantrymen and 7,000 cavalrymen) reached the Tobol River in mid-August 1919 and consolidated their positions there. With the support of the interventionists, Kolchak reorganized his forces of 50,000 infantry and 11,000 cavalry troops and began preparing a counteroffensive. General V. A. Sakharov’s White Third Army and the Siberian Cossack Corps, with about 29,000 infantry and cavalry troops and more than 100 guns, covered the Petropavlovsk axis against the Soviet Fifth Army, commanded by M. N. Tukhachevskii, with 24,000 infantry and cavalry soldiers and 84 guns. The White First and Second armies covered the Ishim axis against the Soviet Third Army, commanded by S. A. Mezheninov. A strong White reserve of about 10,000 men was deployed near Petropavlovsk.

The Soviet command planned to rout the White Guard forces with two strikes. The Fifth Army was to deliver the main attack along the Trans-Siberian Railroad on Petropavlovsk, and the Third Army a secondary attack along the Ialutorovsk-Ishim railroad. The Soviet armies forced the Tobol River on August 20. By late August they had advanced 130 to 180 km and joined battle on the approaches to Petropavlovsk. The Whites passed to the counteroffensive in early September. The Soviet troops, defending stubbornly for a whole month between the Ishim and Tobol rivers, foiled the enemy’s attempt to encircle and destroy the main forces of the Fifth Army and then withdrew beyond the Tobol River.

The troops of the Eastern Front regrouped their forces and opened an offensive on October 14 with 67,000 infantry and cavalry forces against 61,000 of the enemy. The main strike was delivered by the Fifth Army (about 35,000 infantry and cavalry troops and 99 guns), which was assigned to envelop from the south the flank of the White Third Army (about 27,000 infantry and cavalry troops and 153 guns). The 30th Rifle Division of the Soviet Third Army attacked to envelop the flank of the White Third Army from the north. Counterattacks of the units of the White Third Army were repulsed from October 17 to 21, and the offensive on Ishim mounted by the main forces of the Soviet Third Army on October 18 forced Kolchak’s troops to begin a retreat all along the front. Petropavlovsk was liberated on October 31 after three days of stubborn fighting, and Ishim was liberated on November 4. Having lost up to 50 percent of their men from the attacks of the Soviet armies and Siberian partisans, Kolchak’s demoralized troops withdrew to Omsk.

The Petropavlovsk Operation of 1919 was conducted on a front of more than 400 km, at a depth of up to 250-280 km, and at a rate of advance of up to 16-18 km a day. It was characterized by highly mobile and resourceful actions of the Soviet troops on the offensive and defensive.

REFERENCES

Vorob’ev, V. F. Tobol’sko-Petropavlovskaia operatsiia. Moscow, 1939.
Spirin, L. M. Razgrom armii Kolchaka. Moscow, 1957.

A. M. AGEEV

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