Smolensk 1943

Smolensk 1943

The Red Army's Relentless Advance

Campaign 331
  • Author: Robert Forczyk
  • Illustrator: Adam Hook
  • Short code: CAM 331
  • Publication Date: 24 Jan 2019
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About this Product

With the German defeat at Kursk, the Soviet Stavka (high command) ordered the Western and Kalinin Fronts to launch Operation Suvorov in order to liberate the city of Smolensk. The Germans had held this city for two years and Heeresgruppe Mitte's (Army Group Centre) 4. Armee had heavily fortified the region. The Soviet offensive began in August 1943 and they quickly realized that the German defences were exceedingly tough and that the Western Front had not prepared adequately for an extended offensive. Consequently, the Soviets were forced to pause their offensive after only two weeks, in order to replenish their combat forces and then begin again.

The German 4. Armee was commanded by Generaloberst Gotthard Heinrici, one of the Wehrmacht's top defensive experts. Although badly outnumbered, Heinrici's army gamely held off two Soviet fronts for seven weeks. Eventually, the 4. Armee's front was finally broken and Smolensk was liberated on 25 September 1943. However, the Western Front was too exhausted to pursue Heinrici's defeated army, which retreated to the fortified cities of Vitebsk, Orsha and Mogilev; the 4. Armee would hold these cities until the destruction of Army Group Centre in June 1944. Operation Suvorov focuses on a major offensive that is virtually unknown in the West and which set the stage for the decisive defeat of Heeresgruppe Mitte in the next summer offensive.

Biographical Note

Robert Forczyk has a PhD in International Relations and National Security from the University of Maryland and a strong background in European and Asian military history. He retired as a lieutenant colonel from the US Army Reserves having served 18 years as an armour officer in the US 2nd and 4th infantry divisions and as an intelligence officer in the 29th Infantry Division (Light). Dr Forczyk is currently a consultant in the Washington, DC area.Adam Hook studied graphic design, and began his work as an illustrator in 1983. He specializes in detailed historical reconstructions, and has illustrated Osprey titles on subjects as diverse as the Aztecs, the Ancient Greeks, Roman battle tactics, several 19th century American subjects, the modern Chinese Army, and a number of books in the Fortress series. His work features in exhibitions and publications throughout the world.

Contents

Origins of the campaign
Chronology
Opposing commanders
Opposing armies
Orders of battle
Opposing plans
The campaign
Aftermath
The battlefields today
Further reading
Index
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