Wrangels Amphibious Assault
<text>Unlike Denikin, who was an officer of the old school, Wrangel was progressive and innovative. Realizing that his small Crimea base was insufficient, he planned and executed a daring amphibious assault across the Sea of Azov on August 15, 1920.
<text>This invasion of the Kuban peninsula was no small feat or force and consisted of over 11,000 men , 26 artillery guns and around 275 machine guns. Further, it was supported by 10 armor cars and 8 DH9 bombers. Wrangel planned for a three prong attack:
<text>General Ulagai with 4000 infantry, 4000 cavalry, 17 guns, 10 armor cars, 243 MG (these were in the 1st and 2nd Kuban Cavalry, and Svodno Infantry divisions) would invade at Aktaria on the 15th. A smaller force under Gen. Cherepov consisting of 1500 men, 15 MG and 2 guns would land near Anapa on the 17th. The last force, under General Kharlamovaz, would cross from the Taman peninsula with 3000 men, 6 guns and 25 MGs on the 23rd.
<text>The Red forces had heard about this invasion of the Kuban and knew Wrangel had wanted to re-establish his army in the Ekaterinodar region. The Reds, themselves, had had their hands full with White forces in this area under Gen. Maiora who commanded some 5550 men, 10 guns and 35 MG. The Red 9th Army was ineffective in dealing with them and Wrangel counted on Maiora to conduct guerilla warfare in the Red rear during the invasion.
<text>Defending the invasion area were very weak Red forces consisting of two infantry companies at Aktaria, while the rest of 9th Army (some 30,000 men, 4000 Cav., 157 guns and 711 MG) covered a vast area from Novoroissk to Eiska. Since the 9th Army had received information regarding the invasion, it cancelled the transfer of the 9th and 2nd divisions.
<text>On the 15th, Ulagai?s forces steamed into Aktaria and easily pushed aside the opposing Red forces. Between the 15th and 18th, the Reds tossed in its 1st Cavalry division(1000 men, 2 guns) which suffered high losses and retreated. Becoming more concerned, the Reds then tossed in the 14th Cavalry brigade on the 18th, with the same results. Nothing seemed to be slowing the White advance. Thus, the Red 2nd brigade (some 3500 men) was thrown in. All these measures were defensive, trading lives for time while giving up the least amount of ground.
<text>By the 18th, the situation was dangerous. Ulagai?s forces had penetrated some 90 km deep and held a front that was 80 km wide. His forces that had landed at Anapa had caused the Red 22nd division to be diverted away from Ulagai, as Wrangel had planned. It looked as if the objective, Ekaterinodar, would be achieved.
The White forces had seized Timashev, Smodno, Brichobe and approached Slavinska.
<text>On the 19th, for some unknown reason, General Ulagai suddenly halted the advance! Just when the White forces were on the verge of breaking through the thin delaying screeen the Reds had put up, the forces halt. Fot the next day, nothing happened and a lull set in. It was during this time the Reds rapidly gathered forces from the surrounding areas (which they had been trying to do since the 15th). On the 20th, nothing happened. The White forces seemed to have simply dug in awaiting for the order to continue the advance.
<text>On the 21st, the Red Azov naval flotilla conducted a surprise attacked with shore bombardment upon the port at Aktaria. This was a coup and created a huge panic in the rear of Ulagai, which diverted his attention. This created a logistical problem for Ulagai since many had fled.
<text>By the 22nd, the Reds had gathered the 9th and 2nd divisions, the 33rd Cav. Brigade and the Morska Cadet brigade, all total, some 16,000 infantry, 2500 cavalry and 64 guns. Preparations were being made to coordinate a counterattack.
<text>The White forces resumed their attack but the tone had changed. Now, bitter fighting began and every foot of ground contested. The Cherepov force had been contained and many were now retreating to evacuate from Anapa.
On the 24th, the Reds conducted their own amphibious assault across the Azov. Some 1200 men, 15 MG and 4 guns aboard three steamers and four barges landed near Aktaria and again, created a huge panic in the White rear forces. All of the rearguard White units fled at the shock and the Reds walked into Aktaria. Now Ulagai had to change gears from offensive to a defensive withdrawal and evacuation from the only other port located at Achuea.
<text>The Guerilla forces operating in the Red rear were squelched and executed. Wrangel?s third prong now attacked across the Taman peninsula and easily took Taman. This forced the Red 22nd division to divert additional forces.
<text>The grinding defensive withdrawal continued. The circle slowly grew smaller until by Aug. 31st, the area around Achuea was all that Ulagai controlled. The Reds did not press their attacks as the threat was gone. However, the third prong continued to advance and now approached Temrik and the Kuban river by Sept. 2nd.
<text>The Ulagai and Cherepov forces completed their evacuation by Sept.7th. It was a daring operation and had it not been for the sudden, mysterious halt order, might have been a success. Wrangel noted that perhaps because of a lack of local support (as was hoped for) from the Kubans had convinced Ulagai that the effort had failed by the 19th. A local uprising did not occur on the scale that had been expected and counted on. But the failure of Maiora and his guerillas perhaps really had thrown water on the initial success, and when this was found out, Ulagai lost enthusiasm.
The map below is a Russian map of the Orel battle between Denikin and Red forces, Oct. 12, 1919.
This brief paragraph below reveals the extent of US participation in South Russia in the end days, March 25, 1920
The US Whipple (DD217) arrived at Sevastopol on the morning of 14 November and reported to Vice Admiral Newton McCully for orders. Hundreds of boats scurried about the harbor, often crammed to the gunwales with fleeing White Russians. In addition to Whipple, cruiser St. Louis and two destroyers -- Overton (DD-239) and Humphreys (DD-236) -- stood by to evacuate selected individuals bearing passes from Admiral McCully. During the entire time Whipple remained at the doomed port, her main battery was trained out and manned. Armed boat crews carried evacuees out to the ship while her landing force stood in readiness. As her last boatload pushed off from shore, Bolshevik troops reached the main square and began firing on the fleeing White Russians; Whipple had been just a step ahead of the Reds. Whipple then towed a barge loaded with wounded White Russian troops out of range of the Bolshevik guns and then turned the tow over to Humphreys. As Whipple passed Overton, Vice Admiral McCully, on the latter's bridge, called out by megaphone: "Well done, Whipple." The last American vessel out of Sevastopol, the destroyer headed for Constantinople with her passengers, both topside and below decks. Each carried pitifully few belongings, had no food and possessed very little money. Many were sick or wounded.
An excerpt about the German forces in the Russian Civil War:
<indnt>No book on the events taking place in Russia during the Russian Civil war would be complete without some mention of the Germans.
On November 11th, 1918 , Marshal Foch?s staff signed the instrument of Germany?s surrender. By November 13, the Soviet Government declared the Brest Peace Agreement with Germany was no longer valid.
German and Austrian troops then retreated hastily from the territory of the former Russian Empire over a two-day period. On November 15, a Ukrainian Insurgent Division was created and moved on the retreating German units. The German puppet in the Ukraine, Hetman Skoropadsky, handed down power to a new Nationalist-Democratic Government proclaiming the creation of an independent Ukrainian People's Republic. This caught the Bolshevik leaders by complete surprise.
On the 30th, a Ukrainian Soviet Army was created. In December, it also advanced on the heels of the German Armies and occupied Novozybkovs, Shostky, Belgorod, Chotoevs and the outskirts of Kharkov. At the close of November the allied powers suddenly occupied Novorossik, Odessa, Sevastopol and in December, Nikolaev, Feodosiya and Kherson. From the Macedonian Front, the French 504th and 509th Escadrilles (Br-14) flew into Odessa. The Allies declared their backing of the White Movement of the General Denikin?s Volunteer Army. Within the first days of 1919 Denikin's airmen arrived in Odessa from Novorossik and started to form the 3rd Air Division of the Volunteer army. The Air Division was under the command of Captain Gartman and comprised three detachments, 7th, 8th and 9th(1st and 2nd Divisions already existed with Dets. 1-6). On January 25, the 7th Detachment (commander is Lieutenant Legat) had six Kodronovs with 80-hp motors and a Nieuport-23. In the 8th and 9th detachments (the commanders were Junior Lieutenant Zhovnep and Rotmister Shirkovs) they had time only to hand down a few Nieuports, two Anades and three Anasals.
On January 1919, Soviet troops with minimum losses occupied half of the Ukraine and by February 5th, was assaulting Kiev. The Petlyurov group fled in disorder retreating in all directions. Units of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Soviet Armies, united on the Ukrainian Front and forced the Dnieper and went on with the offensive.
Much further north, the Reds occupied almost all Latvia and eastern parts of Lithuania and Byelorussia. Their goal was Riga, which was defended by the ?White Latvians? (detachments of Ulmanis? Latvian National Government) and units of the so called ?Baltic Landesver? volunteer formations made up mainly from local Germans and former soldiers of the German Army. They quickly created a covering force, but the Reds were able to take Riga.
At the end of January 1919, the Latvians and Germans were able to establish a foothold on the Venty river (Vindavy). The Landesver was made up of former units from the German army and volunteers. The German 1st Guard's Reserve Division had an aviation unit attached to it called the Kampfgeschwader Sachsenberg. This regiment was formed on the basis of a demobilized field regiment of marine aviation (Marinefeldjagdgeschwader). It contained three squadrons: FA 413 (reconnaissance), FA 416 (fighter) and FA 417 (assault).
Lieutenant Gottshard Sachenburg, was a former naval pilot of the Kaiser's army and had shot down in 1917-1918 more than 30 British aircraft, this regiment also had such celebrated aces as Joseph Jacobs (47 aerial victories) and Teodor Osterkamp. The ?Sachenburg? command counted upwards of 50 experienced pilots and observers. Its 30 crews flew the newest all-metal monoplanes of the Junkers D-1 and CL-1 types. These machines were produced for the German Air Force at the close of the World War . The regiment also had the very well proven wooden biplanes, like the ?Halberstadt?, ?DFW?, ?LVG? , ?Rumpler? ?Fokker? D-VII and D-VIII types!
Sachenberg later wrote, ?that thanks to the endurance of the phenomenal ?Junkers? his regiment worked without interruption or breakdowns during their few months in the Baltic. The all metal ?Junkers? were exclusive to the Germans , the Reds, Whites or even the Anglo-French Interventionist force had nothing comparable. The Sachenburg regiment contained the best pilots and aircraft in the Civil war. Because of this ,they had no rivals to confront. After eight months on the front, February to September 1919, they had not been in one air battle! By March 1919, their central base was an airfield in Vaynode (more west of Libau), where during the WW1 the enormous hangars for zeppelins were built. Sachenburg made use of them as airplane hangars. From there the German air unit moved to Alt-Auts and Petersfeld (more south river Dobel). Here, the Germans flew reconnaissance and bombardment sorties on the Red forces. As far as it is known, they lost at least two ?Junkers?, one of which force landed in a village behind enemy lines due to engine trouble and the other (faulty and worn) was simply abandoned during the retreat to the airfield at Alt-Auts. The Reds took both aircraft to Moscow for careful study.
Other than the Sachenburg regiment during the winter of 1918, there were based other German air units: Squadrons FA 408, FA 409, FA 424, FA 425, FA 426, FA 427, FA 429 and air-detachments of the Memel?s* Volunteer Corps. These squadrons counted more than 150 aircraft. At close of 1918, German volunteer air-detachments defended the eastern borders of the former empire. Attempting to regulate this process, the German command founded official numeration for the field detachments (Flieger Abteilung - FA) from No.400 to 433. Flying artillery detachments started with No.100. A staffel (Abteilung) during the last year of the war counted 9 aircraft. In the post-war period they included 20 aircraft in a Staffel of three six aircraft flights. These reinforced squadrons (equal to a Red air-division) could be formed into a three squadron or Staffel air regiment (Geschwader), which was a powerful air combination and mass application which could influence strategic ground operations. The majority of them were based on Lithuanian airfields at Kovno (Kaunas), Shavli (Shyaul) and Mariyampol. In the air, the Germans battled the Red Latvian Air Division formed in April 1918, near Moscow above the village of Podosinki.
This air division contained three detachments under the Command of Rudolf Stukalis and arrived on the front in January 1919. After three months, the 1st Detachment equipped with ?Nieuports" flew 14 combat sorties, the 2nd less than 10, and 3rd did only three reconnaissance flights. German aircraft also regularly appeared over Riga, but did not bomb the city, limiting flights to reconnaissance only. The pilots of the 1st Latvian Detachment, commanded by flier Veynberg, were on duty to fly aerial cover over the city, however they failed to intercept the enemy reconnaissance patrols. The Germans, in turn, did not attempt to attack the Latvian?s airfield. How odd. This continued until May 9th, when a reconnaissance ?Rumpler?, was intercepted by three Red ?Nieuports?. The fighters pursued the German to his airfield, but did not fire on it.
On May 22nd, the Germans in a suddenly captured Riga. The Red Latvians were forced to quickly evacuate the staff of the 1st Latvian detachment. In June, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd the Latvian Air Detachments were renamed to the 44th, 45th and 46th Reconnaissance. By August, 1919, the Air Regiment Veinshenk (FA424 and FA 426) had 32 aircraft and was based in Radzvilishkakh, Lithuania. The Air Regiment Sachenburg with 32 aircraft in Petersfeld. Aviation of the German Iron Division (FA427, FA429 and artillery detachment 101) were 28 aircraft located in Elgave were manned almost completely by Germans. Thus, the Bermont-Avalova Air Fleet counted 140 aircraft. Due to lack of benzene and the little desire to fight, the crews mainly sat around the airfields. The Western Army, which was created to oppose the Bolsheviks fought not against the Red army but the Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians, who saw them as a tool of German Baltic colonization.
The pro-German Bermont-Avalov air group made an effort to improve relations with Denikin. To do so, H a two-engine ?Fridrikhskhafen? G.llla with a military delegation flew to the Ukraine near the end of October. A 1200-kilometer flight from Mitau to Kiev., but the aircraft was forced to land just outside Kiev in a nearby village. The ?Fridrikhskafen? landed in a field and the aircraft was instantaneously attacked ransacked then burned by one of the local bandit groups. The fliers and the delegation members by a miracle were able to escape. However, the mission totally failed.
By May, 1919, Denikin had received. Camels, "RE8s? and ?DH9s?) in Novorossiisk. This total came to 50 aircraft, 18 DH9s, 16 Camels and 16 RE8s. They were distributed in the following manner: six DH9s to the 1st, 2nd and 5th Detachements, eight Camels to the 6th and 3rd Don air force detachments and 16 RE8s to training.