From: Cologne, Germany
ORIGINAL: 06 Maestro
In view of Germany's limited resources, it was wasteful to build the huge guns, but... Sevastopol was the most heavily fortified naval base on earth and required an extra punch in view of some. It was captured with relatively small Axis casualties due to the concentrated artillery and air bombardment-of which Gustav was no small part.
Actually, the Axis losses were relatively high, if you consider the entire siege period where German and Rumanian losses are estimated to amount to several 10,000 troops killed, while the Russian losses (troops killed) just among the defenders amounted to a bit more than 10,000 troops, a bad ratio for the Germans, I'd say. 97,000 Russians became POW. The Russians claimed that German and Rumanian casualties amounted to 300,000 troops, a wild exaggeration since the Axis fielded only 7 1/2 German Divisions and 1 1/2 Rumanian division.
German losses just during the 2nd assault on Sevastopol in June 1942:
- 22nd, 24th, 50th, 132nd and 170th Infantry Division:
1,099 missing in action
In turn, the Russian counteroffensive (Dec 1941 - Jan 1942, to relief the defenders) was a disaster, even though the units from the Caucasian front, which were inserted by the Asow-Flotilla (at Feodossija, Russian marines were the spearheading units) and through airborne operations, managed to buy the defenders of Sevastopol some time, as some German units had to be pulled away from Sevastopol.
The main incident here was the failure of communication on the German side, resulting in the 46th Infantry-Division missing an order and subsequently being pulled back to the Isthmus of Parpatsch by its commander (General von Sponeck) - they completely evacuated from the Krim. This unit was projected to disrupt the landings, but the order did not reach them, so they left all heavy equipment behind, basically because General von Sponeck wanted to avoid being cut off (he got courtmartialed and sentenced to death - where Hitler then changed the sentence to 6 years of imprisonment, but von Sponeck was shot in 1944, by direct order of from Himmler). Current and future recommendations of the 46th Inf Div's personnel were suspended for the remainder of the operation.
For this counteroffensive, the Russians had landed 62,000 troops from the Caucasian front (1 Army, consisting of 6 Divisions), and 20,500 troops from the Asow-Flotilla (probably mostly Russian marines and some Marine commandos), Russian casualties at the end of the operation amounted to 42,000 (32,500 killed). The Russians recaptured the Kertsch peninsula and also reinforced the defenders of Sevastopol, but had failed to destroy the German 46th Inf.-Division and they did not manage to push to Dschankoi (at the Krim channel), which was the main hub and lifeline for the German 11th Army's supplies.
The Germans had to cancel a second attack on Sevastopol scheduled for January 1942, due to the counteroffensive. A bold landing of Russian Marines in Eupatoria's harbor on the 5th of January was pushed back by the Germans within 2 days.
Feodossija was recaptured by the Germans on the 18th of January, after 3 days of fighting. The Germans did not manage to recapture the Kertsch peninsula until May 1942, though.
This Russian counteroffensive was the biggest amphibious operation conducted by the Red Army in WW2.
The game "Men of War" covers these events, in a glorifying and exaggeratory way, though. Oh well, Russian developers.
The Gustav gun helped to bring down the morale of the Russian defenders, but it was rather a psychological weapon than anything else, and the preparatory aerial and "low" calibre arty bombardments did the actual job. Some sources state that only 9 buildings were found to be undamaged in Sevastopol, after the operation.
I've seen an interview with a Russian vet on tv who happened to be in one of the bunkers that got hit by the Gustav shells. He stated that quite some of his comrades went nuts, the whole place was shaking and felt like a giant earthquake, and blowing up that ammunition dump terryfied even the die-hard soldiers. He described that some apocalyptic sentiment was pretty common during the Gustav bombardments, as they used to think that the Fortress was a safe place, before .... His sub-unit surrendered several days later, IIRC, as they ran out of ammunition and supplies. That collection of fortresses and bunker installations was believed to be the toughest fortification in existance, well until Gustav scored some hits.
My 2 cents
< Message edited by GoodGuy -- 2/16/2010 12:11:15 PM >
General Anthony McAuliffe
December 22nd, 1944
"I've always felt that the AA (Alied Assault engine) had the potential to be [....] big."
8th of August, 2006