From the book:
Osprey - Campaign 189 - Sevastopol 1942
The Soviets quickly raised six battalions of naval infantry from ships' crews at Sevastopol In early November 1941 in order to fend off the approaching German divisions. This group of naval infantry are a mixed group from the heavy cruiser Krasny Kavkaz and the destroyer Smyshlonyi
The light cruiser Krasny Krym under attack from Stukas on 12 November 1941 This ship was ordered to stay behind as part of a small naval gunfire support group that provided artillery fire for the hard-pressed defenders In November-December 1941. During 1942. Krasny Krym made repeated runs into Sevastopol, carrying in troops and evacuating wounded back to Novorossiysk
A Soviet infantry unit in an assembly area near Sevastopol, summer 1942. Note the mix of SVT-40 automatic rifles, Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifles and PPSh submachine-guns, as well as the presence of several females. This is probably a unit from the 172nd Rifle Division, which had a large contingent of locally raised militia in its ranks
A well-camouflaged Soviet earth and timber gun bunker at Sevastopol. Inside this position, a 76mm gun was protected by up to 2m of timber and stone. Over 3,000 bunkers protected Sevastopol
GeneraI-Major Ivan Efimovich Petrov (at far right), commander of the Coastal Army and Polkovnik Nikolai Gus, commander of the 345th Rifle Division. Petrov spent much of the campaign in his underground headquarters, and his ability to command was hindered by poor communications with front-line units under constant air and artillery attacks
General-Major Petr Novikov, commander of the 109th Rifle Division and Defensive Sector I near Balaklava. Novikov was the most experienced Soviet infantry commander at Sevastopol, having fought in Spain in 1937-38 and then Odessa in 1941. He was left 'holding the bag' at Sevastopol after Petrov and Oktyabrsky had fled and was captured, later being executed by the SS In 1944
Polkovnik Aleksandr Kapitokhin, commander of the 95th Rifle Division and Defensive Sector IV. Kapitokhin survived the destruction of his division at Sevastopol and went on to command Soviet airborne forces in 1943-44
Polkovnik N.F. Skutel'nik, commander of the 386th Rifle Division and Defensive Sector II. He faced the main weight of the German XXX Corps attack and he was wounded by German artillery in the decisive fight for the Sapun Ridge
There were over 12,000 naval infantry in Sevastopol in the spring of 1942, comprising 14 per cent of the garrison. Note that this is a mixed unit, with both troops from a naval rifle brigade wearing steel helmets and sailors from an ad hoc battalion wearing soft caps. Also note the barrel of a 130mm naval gun in the background; a number of these weapons were taken from damaged warships and put in extemporized ground mounts
Soviet naval infantry with a 120mm mortar. The 79th Naval Infantry Brigade had a battery of eight 120mm mortars and they could engage targets out to 5,700m. Typically, these mortar batteries occupied reverse slope positions in ravines and were difficult for the Germans to pinpoint
The Soviet flotilla leader Tashkent, which made repeated supply runs into Sevastopol in 1941-42. This ship was built in Italy and delivered in February 1939 with three single 130mm guns but was upgraded with three twin turrets by the start of the war. Known as the 'Blue Cruiser' because of her unusual sky blue paint
The Soviet Black Sea Fleet had one battalion with 18 Maxim quadruple 7.62mm anti-aircraft machine guns for air defence. This weapon was too short ranged and could only provide limited protection for some of the coastal batteries
The flotilla leader Tashkent carrying another load of troops into Sevastopol. The vessel had six 45mm anti-aircraft guns, which here are manned and ready, but its main defence against air attack was its capability to make high-speed dashes at up to 39 knots
A Soviet anti-aircraft crew loads a round into an 85mm KS-12 AA gun as the gun leader points at an aerial target. About 160 76mm and 85mm guns protected Sevastopol. After most of the guns in open mounts such as this one were destroyed by German artillery fire, the Soviets began hiding the remaining guns in fake warehouses near the bay and other concealed positions
COUNTERATTACK BY THE SOVIET 79TH NAVAL INFANTRY BRIGADE AGAINST THE GERMAN 50TH INFANTRY DIVISION NEAR THE FORSTHAUS, 11 JUNE 1942
On 10 June 1942, the German LIV Corps was able to capture the Mekenziyevy Mountain train station and a nearby road junction known as the Forsthaus (Mekenzei No. 1 to the Soviets), thereby pushing a dangerous salient between the Soviet Defensive Sectors III and IV. However, the left flank of the salient, held by the German 50th Infantry Division, appeared to be thinly held. On the morning of 11 June, Polkovnik A. S. Potapov's 79th Naval Infantry Brigade was ordered to launch a counterattack into the flank of the 50th Infantry Division, in order to weaken the German hold on the Forsthaus. The counterattack was spearheaded by the 1st and 2nd Battalions, each down to about 50 per cent strength in their infantry companies. Although Petrov attempted to provide for extensive fire support from the 134th and 265th Artillery Regiments, the destroyer Bditelny and the armoured train 'Zhelezniakov', the plan fell apart because of the 79th Naval Infantry Brigade's last-minute efforts to coordinate with limited means of communication. Nevertheless, the black-clad sailors advanced toward the German outpost line, which proved to be thinly held in this area.
The Germans usually posted MG34 teams in hastily fortified shell craters or captured Soviet trenches, backed up by an infantry squad, to serve as their forward combat outposts.
This tactic allowed most of their infantry to rest and reorganize for the next assault, but left the front line vulnerable to sudden Soviet counterattacks.
In this scene, a platoon of naval infantrymen has eliminated a German MG34 position with hand grenades and is advancing past it. Many of the naval infantrymen are armed with the excellent SVT-40 semi-automatic rifle (1), which is far superior to the German bolt-action K98k rifle. Each squad has a 7.62mm DP light machine gun (2) and about 15 per cent of the troops are armed with the superb PPSh-41 sub-machine gun (3). Although the Soviets took some German prisoners (4) on the battlefield at Sevastopol, most were probably shot soon after interrogation. The 79th Naval Infantry Brigade was able to penetrate the German outpost line and advance 600m, but once it reached the main line of resistance of the 50th Division it was stopped cold by massed artillery fires and the StuG IIIs of the 190th Assault Gun Battalion. Stukas were also called in and they began to drop anti-personnel bombs on the exposed Soviet attackers. Caught in the open, the sailors suffered heavy losses and were forced back to their start line. Despite the lack of success, the morale of the Soviet naval infantrymen never cracked and they continued to counterattack until their units were completely burnt out
Soviet naval infantry counterattacking across rocky ground. Note the mix of weapons: the sailor in the foreground is armed with an SVT-40 semi-automatic rifle, the one behind him has a DP light machine gun, while others have Mosin-Nagant bolt action rifles and PPSh-41 sub-machine guns. The Soviets tended to attack in larger groups, often resulting in heavier casualties
A Soviet rifle battalion moves up through one of the ravines. At Sevastopol, the Soviets placed most of their reserves, artillery and supply depots in such ravines, in order to conceal them from German observation
Captain Georg Aleksandr, commander of Coastal Battery 30 (known to the Germans as Fort Maxim Gorky I). Aleksandr conducted a stubborn defence of the battery even after it was disabled and he was able to escape after most of the garrison surrendered via an underground drainage duct. He and five other gunners attempted to flee eastwards but were captured on 26 June. After being interrogated, Aleksandr was shot by the SS. Von Manstein later claimed that Aleksandr was 'shot while trying to escape' in order to cover up his culpability in a war crime
A fresh Soviet Infantry unit moves up to the front under the cover of cliffs along the edge of Severnaya Bay. Soviet units were most vulnerable when moving into the line, when they were outside their trenches and bunkers
Happy Victory Day!