6 August 1941
Upon my arrival at Leningrad under orders of the GKO to review circumstances of the Northwestern Direction, I make this preliminary report.
State of the Northern and Northwest Fronts
German troops in the area south of Leningrad consist of 16th and 18th Armies supported by 56. Tank Corps (Manstein) 57. Tank Corps (Kuntzen) and 41. Tank Corps (Reinhardt). Part of 18th Army includes I Corps (Model). Air support provided by their 1. Air Corps.
Situation on the ground
An attack by enemy mobile forces have isolated 71.5k men of General Bobkin’s 33rd Army at Veymarn. This group includes three tank, four rifle and one mountain division. Also included in this pocket is one naval infantry brigade, 23rd Army and two NKVD border regiments.
The German motorized units participating in the encirclement appear low on fuel with the exception of their 3rd Motorized Division. This may inhibit their movement abilities for the short term, but the possibility of a crossing of the Volkhov or bridgehead over the Neva cannot be discounted in the next two weeks.
General Vostrukhov reports 22nd Army has two rifle divisions almost certain to be trapped west of the Valdai Hills.
11th Army (Eremenko) defending Leningrad, minus 2nd Tank Division. Orders of the STAVKA to appropriately defend the approach to Leningrad have not been carried out. A newly created fortified zone at coordinate 83,16 has yet to attain Level 1 state. By this point it should have been Level 3. A number of divisions of the 11th Army are People’s Militia divisions and therefore cannot be counted on to conduct a proper defense. General Leitenant Popov commanding Northern Front should be reprimanded for his failure to execute this crucial task.
The port of Osinovets on Lake Ladoga has only a single security regiment covering a Level 1 fortified level. This too should already be close to Level 3. Further, no air defense has been assigned to the port city.
27th Army (Bezarin) has only three rifle divisions. This army as such is unable to perform missions consistent with this level organization.
8th Army (Sobennikov) has one unready tank division and an anti-tank brigade. This army as such is unable to perform missions consistent with this level organization. General Sobennikov also shows few leadership traits and should be replaced at some future date.
23rd Army (Govorov) holds a most tenuous position west of the Volkhov. I am extremely doubtful as to its ability to hold the line. 23rd Tank Division southwest of Divenskaya with 110 T-34 medium tanks will almost certainly be surrounded.
33rd Army (Bobkin) has four rifle divisions in position south of the 23rd. In short order that will at best be what remains of his command. His three 100-series tank divisions will be lost. These divisions only have a handful of medium tanks remaining.
24th Army (Purkaev) Eight rifle divisions south of Lake Ilmen. German forces immediately opposing him are not an immediate danger.
20th Army (Vatutin) deployed along the Volga north of Rzhev. He has been forced to cover that location due to STAVKAs failure to adequately equip Reserve Front. The Northwestern Direction needs these troops released at the earliest opportunity.
7th Independent Army (Meretskov) holding the line against the Finns at Sortvala as ordered by the STAVKA. This army includes some of our best rifle divisions.
Enemy Air Activity
Germans are making extensive use of air recon in this area and they have bombed our airfields needlessly dispositioned too far forward. Our bases have since been withdrawn east of the Volkhov River.
Soviet Air Forces
Our own air forces consist of Northern and Northwestern Air Commands led by Generals Novikov and Ionov. General Novikov is quite capable but Ionov is borderline incompetent. Each of the two air commands muster 520 and 556 aircraft. Why is Ionov allowed to remain at his post with more assigned aircraft than an officer clearly more capable? I suggest Ionov be replaced at the earliest opportunity.
Northern Air Command (Novikov) of 7 airbases.
36 regimental air groups assigned, of which:
16 are fighter-fighter bomber
16 are level bomber
2 are tactical bomber
1 is transport
1 is reconnaissance
This command claims 24 enemy aircraft destroyed and 15 ground elements eliminated
7 IAK PVO (Danilov) defending Leningrad under Northern Air Command of 2 airbases.
8 regimental and 1 battalion air groups assigned, all of which are fighter-fighter bomber
This command claims 4 enemy aircraft destroyed
Northern Front of 1 airbase.
1 regiment and 2 bns of fighter fighter bombers. They claim 4 enemy aircraft destroyed.
Northwestern Air Command (Ionov) of 6 airbases.
36 regimental air groups assigned, of which:
18 are fighter-fighter bomber
17 are level bomber
1 is reconnaissance
This command claims 23 enemy aircraft destroyed and 47 ground elements eliminated
This totals 83 air regiments and 3 battalions of two air commands claiming 55 enemy aircraft and 62 ground elements destroyed.
The abysmal performance of our air forces can be attributed primarily to the morale of our pilots.
The morale of the pilots is low to the point that criminal negligence should be considered within the VVS and STAVKA. There are 45 air groups in the air reserve, all of which ready for combat assignment. Why are our front line pilots not being rotated out of the line and replaced by fresh air crews? I strongly recommend that 15 air regiments of the Northwestern Direction be withdrawn to the reserves and fresh crews assigned in their place. If the Western and Southwestern Directions do not need fresh crews, the Northern and Northwest commands will gladly take more. Further, 7th IAK PVO command should be disbanded and the divisions assigned to Northern Air Command. The 61st IAB of Northern Front should also be assigned to Northern Air Command.
There are insufficient number of air reconnaissance aircraft. The two regiments of SB-2R’s can count on only 18 serviceable aircraft out of 40 authorized.
The following organizational and operational changes are urged in the following week.
The 8th and 27th Armies transfer their combat formations to Bobkin’s 33rd. Support units transferred to the Northern Front. 8th and 27th Armies then sent to the rear for refitting at a later date.
STAVKA must replace 20th Army of Northern Front with an army from Reserve Front (Bogdanov). This will allow 20th Army to re-deploy where it is needed in the vicinity of the Volkhov.
7th Army of Northern Front must have freedom of action to withdraw in whole or in part should the Germans threaten to cross the Volkhov.
Boundary for Reserve Front extended north to cover an east-west line up to Torzok/Kalinin
Conduct aircrew replacement as noted above.
I await further instructions.