Tikhvin Offensive Operation of 1941

Tikhvin Offensive Operation of 1941

 

a Soviet counteroffensive near Tikhvin from November 12 to December 30, during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45.

The General Headquarters of the Supreme Command had brought up reserves to reinforce the Fifty-fourth Army on the Leningrad Front and the Fourth and Fifty-second armies directly subordinate to General Headquarters as early as the Tikhvin Defensive Operation of 1941. At that time the position of blockaded Leningrad became exceptionally grave, and the armies were ordered to launch a counteroffensive. By mid-November, the enemy had ten infantry divisions, two armored divisions, and two motorized divisions, constituting approximately 130,000 men, 1,000 guns and mortars, and 200 tanks, on a front stretching from Lake Il’men’ to Lake Ladoga. Soviet troops possessed an insignificant advantage in men and artillery but had fewer tanks.

The Soviet shift to a counteroffensive did not take place all at once. Forces of the Fifty-second Army, commanded by Lieutenant General N. K. Klykov, launched an offensive on November 12 in the vicinity of Malaia Vishera and, after hard fighting, took the town on November 20. The Fourth Army, under the command of General of the Army K. A. Meretskov (replaced by Lieutenant General P. A. Ivanov on December 16), whose mission was to deliver the main thrust, began an offensive on November 19 in the vicinity of Tikhvin. The enemy’s stiff resistance was broken only in early December, when the German grouping in the vicinity of Tikhvin came under the threat of encirclement as a result of a thrust by Soviet forces toward Sitomlia. Tikhvin was taken by storm on the night of December 8. The enemy, incurring heavy losses, began withdrawing to the west. Soviet troops liberated Sitomlia on December 15 and Bol’shaia Vishera on December 16.

Forces of the Fifty-fourth Army, commanded by Major General I. I. Fediuninskii, were on the defensive until November 25. On November 26 they launched a counterthrust, driving the enemy back from the Tikhvin-Volkhov railroad, and in December they launched an offensive toward Kirishi. The Volkhov Front, constituting the Fourth, Fifty-second, Fifty-ninth, and Twenty-sixth armies under the command of General of the Army K. A. Meretskov, was formed on December 17. Its troops liberated Budogoshch’ on December 21 and reached the Volkhov River in the Kirishi-Gruzino sector by December 27. There they joined with forces of the Fifty-fourth Army of the Leningrad Front, which had reached the Mga-Kirishi railroad by December 28.

As a result of the counteroffensive, conducted under the adverse conditions of a severe winter and wooded and swampy terrain, the enemy was thrown back to its initial position before the offensive of October 16. Soviet troops advanced 100–120 km and inflicted heavy losses on ten enemy divisions. The plan for the complete encirclement of Leningrad was foiled, and the enemy’s forces were tied down in the north, which kept some of them from being redeployed in the Moscow area.

REFERENCES

Barbashin, I. P., and A. D. Kharitonov. Boevye deistviia Sovetskoi Armii pod Tikhvinom v 1941 g. Moscow, 1958.
Bitva za Leningrad 1941–1944. Moscow, 1964.
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