Cherkassy Pocket (AKA Korsun Pocket)

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Cherkassy Pocket (AKA Korsun Pocket)

Background

In December 1943 the situation on the Dneiper front of the Southern section of the Eastern front had reached a critical juncture. This had come about because the Soviet offensive launched against Army Group South on 24th December 1943 had resulted German forces being forced back except for an area between Kanev and Cherkassy, this resulted in a salient projecting into the Russian lines.

During the last days of December 1943 Soviet armoured forces, moving south from Belaya Tserkov and east from Kirovograd broke through the 8th Army front. The Russian forces completed the encirclement by coming together at Zvenigorodka on 28th and 29th December 1943.

As a result of this approximately six and a half German divisions[1] were caught in the pocket effectively XI and XXXXII Armee Korps[2] – something in the region of 56,000 personnel.


Following the disaster at Stalingrad a decision was made to relieve the encircled forces – the encircled units were commanded by Generals Stemmermann and Lieb and the encircled forces were refered to as the Stemmermann Group.

3 Feb 1944 – 3rd Pz Korps, 1st Pz Armee began its relief operations.

18 and 19 Feb 1944 – Stemmermann Group succeeded in breaking out of the encirclement and met the advanced forces of the armoured wedge that had fought its way through to them – 30,000 out of the 56,000 who had formed the original force in the encirclement.


Air Supply Operations


During late December 1943 the air supply operations for the 8th Armee in the Cherkassy area had seen a significant increase in activity and scope.

Initially the daily delivery goal was set at 70 tons[3] of ammunition, fuel, armoured vehicle spares, weapons, food, other supplies and medical personnel.

Immediately following the encirclement re-supply flights took place on an ad hoc basis with aircraft from maj Schmidt's 1./TG 3 flying from the temporary airfield at Korsun to Uman exchanging wounded personnel for ammunition.[4]

At the start, the supply operation was managed by the commander of 3./ TG 3, Maj. Riesch, from the unit's current base at Uman.[5]

Right at the start of the air supply operation a light Flak battery and ground personnel were flown into the landing field at Korsun-Schevchenkovskiy to provide for its defence and manage its operation.

29 Jan 1944 – Gen. Leib recorded that over 2000 wounded personnel were waiting for evacuation.[6]

31 Jan 1944 – Air supply operations into the pocket commence. Operations were under the control of Maj. Ernst Knapp (Luftflotte4/VIII Fliegerkorps)[7]


2 Feb 1944 – 2./TG 3 under Maj. Baumann arrived to assist in the relief effort, flying in from Golta.[8]

References

  1. This number is from Transporter v2 – Martin Pegg. However, Morzik “german Airforce Airlift Operations indicates a higher number of eight divisions.
  2. Nash – Hells gate – The battle of the Cherkassy Pocket Jan – Feb 1944
  3. Nash – Hells gate – indicates that this was set at 150 tons but then indicates that this was mitigated by the fact that the two Armee Korps had collected all of the food stocks in the hands of the german Agricultural administrators and transported them to the vicinity of Korsun.
  4. Nash – Hells gate – The battle of the Cherkassy Pocket Jan – Feb 1944
  5. Nash – Hells gate – The battle of the Cherkassy Pocket Jan – Feb 1944
  6. Nash – Hells gate – The battle of the Cherkassy Pocket Jan – Feb 1944
  7. Morzik – states Maj Knapp – Larry de Zeng/Douglas Stankey show the only likely candidate as Maj. Ernst Knapp.(see http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showthread.php?t=35619 )
  8. Nash – Hells gate – The battle of the Cherkassy Pocket Jan – Feb 1944

Morzik, Fritz - German Air Force Airlift Operations, ARNO Press

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