Monthly Report: October 1941
Frontline 6th November 1941
After more than three months of continuous advance the German offensive was stopped in October by the infamous rasputitsa. Formerly traversable roads turned into muddy quagmires, not only limiting the mobility of the forces, but also severely restricting logistics. Relief came only in the form of a temperature drop with corresponding snowfall, the first of which fell in the Central Soviet Zone on 30th October.
While combat was forced to a halt by the weather, the Germans undertook administrative reorganisations. On 19th October the chaos atop the OKH was finally cleared when Hitler appointed Generalfeldmarschall Günther von Kluge to succeed the killed Franz Halder. His post as head of 4th Army was inherited by XXXXIII. AK's Gotthard Heinrici, who in turn was replaced by Lothar Rendulic. Two weeks later another major rushuffling occured in the area of Army Group Centre, when Generaloberst Erich Hoepner took over 17th Army in the South. He was succeeded by Hermann Hoth as commander of 4th Panzer Group. The reorganisation was completed when LVI. AK's commanding general Erich von Manstein was called upon to lead 3rd Panzer Group.
During the same stretch the Luftwaffe also used the time to recuperate its tired bomber force. With the exception of a couple of groups, the bombers were pulled from the frontlines and refitted. Furthermore the aircraft of select squadrons were upgraded, namely from Ju-87 B to D and Bf-109 F2 to F4.
When the first snow fell in late October / early November, the German High Command was finally confronted with the prospect they least wanted - a campaign going into the harsh Russian winter. More daunting than the coming winter, however, were the reports delivered by signal intelligence and aerial reconnaissance. Behind Moscow and Tula the Red Army was massing reserve forces in a scale not anticipated by previous German estimates. Dozens of rifle divisions were waiting to get thrown into battle. Even more ominous was the amount of cavalry divisions stationed between Tula and Kolomna. On 3rd November 1941 Army Group Centre's commander von Bock wrote in his diary:
Newest reports show minimum of 20 cavalry divisions behind Soviet lines opposite 4th Army. Signs point to preparations for a general counterattack. Heinrici very worried about ability of divisions to withstand a major Soviet offensive.
As a consequence Heinrici bombarded Army Group command and OKH with reinforcement requests, pointing out the low combat readiness of the divisions mauled by the Soviet counterattack in late September. 6 of his 12 divisions possessed less than 60 percent of their authorised infantry strength. 7th and 137th Infantry Division were even below 50 percent. Aside from LIII. AK none of 4th Army's corps were capable of conducting offensive operations. Realising the importance of the area held by 4th Army, von Kluge - its former commander - immediately ordered the replacement of two divisions by fresh units arriving from the West in the hope of securing the lines before the Soviets were ready.
Similar news arrived from Army Group South, where cavalry divisions were reported to mass around Levaya Rossosh, Svoboda and Stanichno-Luganskoe. In contrast to 4th Army, however, 6th and 17th Army were in a far better state and possessed enough room to maneuver for times of crisis.
With combat intensity dropping the losses also bottomed out. In the four October weeks the German forces suffered only 26.000 permanent losses, down from close to 60.000 in September. Artillery losses amounted to 708, while 383 AFVs were written off. The Luftwaffe registered 49 fighters and fighter bombers, 38 Stukas and 66 level bombers as lost. Additionally 56 reconnaissance craft and 7 transports failed to returns from their missions.
Soviet losses in October amounted to 29.879 killed in action with another 127.441 captured. 3.383 artillery pieces and 198 AFVs were also lost. The VVS meanwhile lost 370 fighters, 91 tactical bombers and 190 level bombers.
On 6th November 1941 the German forces in the East numbered 3.414.928 men, 34.906 guns, 2.687 AFVs (1.970 in panzer divisions) and 3.286 aircraft. Red Army strength on the other hand spiked with the lack of losses. By the first November week the Soviets had 4.956.962 men under arms, supported by 43.847 guns, 3.423 AFVs and 6.795 aircraft.
Heeresgruppe Nord (v. Leeb)
16. Armee (Busch) - 204.407 men, 2.130 guns, 0 AFVs
II. AK (v. Brockdorff-Ahlefeldt) - 4 infantry divisions
X. AK (Hansen) - 4 infantry divisions
LI. AK (Reinhard) - 4 infantry divisions
18. Armee (v. Küchler) - 224.221 men, 2.482 guns, 0 AFVs
VI. AK (Laux) - 3 infantry divisions
XXVI. AK (Wodrig) - 3 infantry divisions
XXVIII. AK (v. Wiktorin) - 3 infantry divisions
L. AK (Lindemann) - 3 infantry divisions
Panzergruppe 4 (Hoth) - 236.501 men, 2.464 guns, 732 AFVs
V. AK (Ruoff) - 4 infantry divisions
XXXX. AK (mot.) (Stumme) - 2 panzer divisions, 1 SS motorized brigade
XXXXI. AK (mot.) (Reinhardt) - 2 panzer divisions, 1 motorized division
LVI. AK (mot.) (Kirchner) - 1 panzer division, 1 motorized division, 1 SS division
Heeresgruppe Mitte (v. Bock)
2. Armee (v. Weichs) - 200.554 men, 2.228 guns, 34 AFVs
XII. AK (Marcks) - 4 infantry divisions
XIII. AK (Angelis) - 3 infantry divisions
XXXV. AK (Kämpfe) - 4 infantry divisions
4. Armee (Heinrici) - 207.068 men, 2.585 guns, 29 AFVs
VII. AK (Fahrmbacher) - 3 infantry divisions
IX. AK (Hell) - 3 infantry divisions
XXXXIII. AK (Rendulic) - 3 infantry divisions
LIII. AK (Weisenberger) - 3 infantry divisions
9. Armee (Strauss) - 241.112 men, 2.749 guns, 51 AFVs
VIII. AK (Heitz) - 3 infantry divisions
XX. AK (Materna) - 4 infantry divisions
XXIII. AK (Stemmermann) - 3 infantry divisions
XXXXII. AK (Mieth) - 3 infantry divisions
Panzergruppe 2 (Guderian) - 191.988 men, 2.032 guns, 666 AFVs
III. AK (mot.) (v. Mackensen) - 2 panzer divisions, 1 motorized division
XXIV. AK (mot.) (v. Schweppenburg) - 2 panzer divisions, 2 motorized divisions
XXXXVII. AK (mot.) (Lemelsen) - 2 panzer divisions, 1 motorized division
Panzergruppe 3 (v. Manstein) - 248.120 men, 2.614 guns, 613 AFVs
I. AK (Model) - 3 infantry divisions
XXXVIII. AK (v. Chappuis) - 3 infantry divisions
XXXIX. AK (mot.) (Schmidt) - 2 panzer divisions, 2 motorized divisions
LVII. AK (mot.) (v. Arnim) - 2 panzer divisions, 1 motorized division, 1 motorized brigade
Heeresgruppe Süd (v. Rundstedt)
6. Armee (v. Reichenau) - 245.667 men, 2.703 guns, 0 AFVs
XVII. AK (Schmidt) - 4 infantry divisions
XXIX. AK (v. Obstfelder) - 3 infantry divisions
XXXXIV. AK (v. d. Chevallerie) - 3 infantry divisions
LV. AK (Vierow) - 2 infantry divisions, 1 Slovakian division
11. Armee (v. Schobert) - 265.624 men, 2.701 guns, 21 AFVs
XI. AK (v. Kortzfleisch) - 3 infantry divisions
XXX. AK (v. Salmuth) - 2 infantry divisions, 1 airlanding division
XXXIV. AK (Hollidt) - 3 infantry divisions
LIV. AK (Hansen) - 3 infantry divisions
17. Armee (Hoepner) - 226.326 men, 2.598 guns, 76 AFVs
IV. AK (v. Schwedler) - 4 infantry divisions
XXXXIX. GK (Kübler) - 4 infantry divisions
LII. AK (v. Briesen) - 4 infantry divisions
Panzergruppe 1 (v. Kleist) - 196.405 men, 2.367 guns, 409 AFVs
XIV. AK (mot.) (v. Knobelsdorff) - 1 panzer division, 1 SS division, 1 SS motorized brigade, Großdeutschland, 1 Slovakian mobile division
XXXXVI. AK (mot.) (v. Vietinghoff) - 1 panzer division, 2 SS divisions
XXXXVIII. AK (mot). (Kempf) - 2 panzer divisions, 1 motorized division
Armata 3 (Dumitrescu) - 237.620 men, 2.118 guns, 110 AFVs
Corp. 1 (Ionescu) - 4 infantry divisions
Corp. 4 (Sanatescu) - 4 infantry divisions
Corp. de Munte (Avramescu) - 3 mountain brigades
Corp. de Cav. (Racovita) - 1 armoured division, 3 cavalry brigades
Armata 4 (Ciuperca) - 233.973 men, 1.905 guns, 4 AFVs
Corp. 2 (Macici) - 3 infantry divisions
Corp. 3 (Atanasiu) - 3 infantry divisions, 1 cavalry brigade
Corp. 5 (Levanti) - 3 infantry divisions
Corp. 11 (Constantinescu-Claps) - 1 infantry division, 2 infantry brigades
Gyorshadtest (Miklos) - 2 motorized brigades, 1 cavalry brigade
CSIR (Messe) - 2 infantry divisions, 1 cavalry division
On 6th November 1941 the Germans had 76.770 men available, in addition to 148.717 units of armaments. More worrisome was the drop in vehicles due to the rasputitsa. For the first time in the war the Motor Pool dropped below its requirements with 168.000 compared to a need of 169.000. Vehicles in units were also nearly 4.000 short of the need.