21st Army (Soviet Union)

21st Army (Soviet Union)

= Operational History =

21st Army was a part of the Second Operational Echelon of the RKKA. On 27th June it was proposed to Stalin that the Soviet armies (13th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd) would defend the line going through River Dvina-Polotsk-Vitebsk-Orsha-Mogilev-Mozyr. [Fugate Bryan , Dvoriecki Lev Blitzkrieg nad Dnieperm Warszawa 2001 page 130] On 1st July units from the 21st Army under command of general Fiodor Kuznetsov crossed the Dnepr at Zhlobin south of Rogachev and attacked in direction of Bobruisk. The Soviet attack was repelled by german 10th Motorised Division with help from 3rd Panzer Division. [ Fugate Bryan, Dvoriecki Lev page 131] On 4th July german 3rd Panzer Division crossed the Dniepr and won a bridgehead on the eastbank near Rogachev. Relentless assaults made by 63rd Soviet Infantry Corps from 21st Army forced the Germans to evacuate the bridgehead. [Fugate Bryan , Dvoriecki Lev page 133] On 13th July 21st Army went on the offensive again. Its 6th Infantry Corps crossed Dnepr on pontoon bridges and recaptured Rogachev and Zhlobin. 232nd Division from 66th Infantry Corps under cover of woods gained 80 kilometres due west and took a bridgehead on Berezina river. [Fugate Bryan, Dvoriecki Lev page 176] When on 12th August Krichev was taken by Germans the 21st Army with its right flank severed beagan to withdraw to the east. New defensive position was to be on the line of river Desna.0n 26th August German 2nd Panzer Group won a bridgehead on Desna's eastern bank near Novgorod Seversky which threatened eastern flank of 21st Army. Kuznetsov ordered to continue withdrawalover river Desna. Sadly Kuznetsov did not informed about his decision the neighbouring soviet units. because of that 40th Army was forced to abort its attack on German bridgehead near Novgorod Seversky. 40th Army commander Kuzma Podlas ordered retreat to the south-east. Thus 21st Army was cut off from forces of the Briansk Front. Kuznetsov can't be blamed for that decision because his army was at that point already beaten by Germans and in the full retreat.In this situation on 26th September Kuznietsov's army was placed under command of the South Western Front also between the two fronts a gap was created. [Fugate Bryan, Dvoriecki Lev page 213] 21st Army was now encircled in the Kiev Pocket. Couple of thousands soldiers from 21st Army and 5th Army together with 500 men strong Kuznetsov staff escaped from the trap. [Fugate Bryan, Dvoriecki Lev page 226]

21st Army composition on 22nd June

Commander: General Lieutenant Fiodor Kuznetsov

Infantry Troops:

63rd Rifle Corps:

53rd Rifle Division

148th Rifle Division

167th Rifle Division

66th Rifle Corps:-General Rubtsev

61st Rifle Corps

117th Rifle Corps

154th Rifle Corps- Colonel Jakov Fokanov


387th Howitzer Regiment of the Highest Command Reserve (RGK)

420th Corps Artillery Regiment

546th Corps Artillery Regiment

Armour Troops:

25th Mechanized Corps

50th Tank Division

55th Tank Division

219th Mechanized Division

12th Motorcycle Regiment


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