Petsamo-Kirkenes Operation of 1944

Petsamo-Kirkenes Operation of 1944

 

combat actions of the forces of General of the Army K. A. Meretskov’s Karelian Front and Admiral A. G. Golovko’s Northern Fleet from October 7 to November 1 in the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) in order to liberate the region of Petsamo (present-day Pechenga).

The German XIX Mountain Jaeger Corps (three mountain divisions and four brigades, 53,000 men, 753 guns and mortars, and 160 airplanes from the Fifth Air Army), which was part of the Twentieth Mountain Army, held a deeply echeloned defense position on difficult terrain—rocky knolls, lakes, and fjords.

Lieutenant General V. I. Shcherbakov’s Fourteenth Army was composed of eight rifle divisions, five rifle brigades, and one tank brigade (97,000 men, 2,103 guns and mortars, 126 tanks and self-propelled guns). It was supported by the Seventh Air Army, with about 700 airplanes. The Northern Fleet participated in the operation with the forces of two naval infantry brigades, several detachments of ships, and 276 naval aircraft.

The main strike was delivered from the region of Lake Chapr at the right flank of the German XIX Corps along the Luostari-Petsamo axis. On October 7 the 131st and 99th rifle corps broke through the enemy’s defense and forced the Titovka River, while the 126th and 127th light infantry corps enveloped the enemy’s open right flank on difficult terrain and reached the Luostari region late on October 9. Faced with the threat of encirclement, the fascist German command began withdrawing its troops from the line of the Bol’shaia Zapadnaia Litsa River. On the night of October 9 the Northern Fleet disembarked a landing party of the 63rd Naval Infantry Brigade on the southern shore of Malaia Volkovaia Bay. By morning the brigade reached the flank and rear of the enemy, who was defending on the Srednii Peninsula along the Musta Tunturi Range. In coordination with the 12th Naval Infantry Brigade, the 63rd Brigade broke the enemy’s resistance in the region.

On the evening of October 12, torpedo boats broke into Petsamo Bay and disembarked in the port of Liinakhamari an amphibious detachment, which on October 13 joined with the 63rd Brigade and liberated Liinakhamari. Petsamo was liberated on the night of October 14 and Nikel’ on October 22. The forces of the Fourteenth Army, assisted by landing parties, mounted a pursuit of the retreating enemy and crossed the Norwegian border on October 22. On October 25 the Norwegian city of Kir-kenes was liberated after a fierce battle, and by November the Petsamo region was completely liberated.

The fleet supported the offensive of the army’s coastal flank with artillery fire and air strikes along the entire depth of the operation and disembarked landing parties in coastal areas difficult to negotiate by land. Submarines, torpedo boats, and aviation of the Northern Fleet operated on sea communication lines, disrupting the supply and evacuation of the enemy troops. During the Petsamo-Kirkenes operation of 1944, the Soviet troops routed the fascist German troops north of the arctic circle and initiated the liberation of Norway.

A. V. BASOV

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