The Defense of Sevastopol

The defenses of Sevastopol consisted of three lines. The first line, one and a half to three kilometers deep, was made up of trenches, tank obstacles, and mine fields. The second line was a kilometer and a half deep north of the city. Maxim Gorki I, north of the city near the Belbek River, was 300 meters long, 40 meters deep and held 300 millimeter guns.

South of the city a second line, the Zapun line, on the Zapun heights included thirteen fortresses or strong points. Maxim Gorki II, located six and a half kilometers south of the city was similar to Maxim Gorki I.

It took the Germans two days to break through the first line of defenses. They then concentrated on reducing Fortress Stalin several kilometers behind the line of defenses. They captured that fortress on 13 June.

The battle for Maxim Gorki I continued. This fortress controlled the Belbek River down to the Black Sea more than five and a half kilometers away. Barrages of one ton shells opened the gun emplacements. Once the Germans infiltrated the fortress the battles continued underground until 17 June when the fortress was taken. Four other fortresses fell the same day.

During the fighting both sides took heavy losses. XLVI Infantry Division reinforced the German attackers. In the second half of June units from XVII Army, operating in the Donbass region, were sent. The Soviets received no replacements and suffered shortages of ammunition. By the end of June artillery fired only at short range targets. There was much hand-to-hand combat.

The Germans reached Severnaya Bay north of Sevastopol city on 18 June. This bay, 970 meters wide, separated the Germans from the city. On 20 June they infiltrated North Fortress, located in the German rear, from the sea. That gone, the Soviets retreated to the south shore of Severnaya Bay on 23 June.

South of the Sevastopol City the Germans elected to outflank the Zapun defense lines on the Zapun Heights by attacking the Inkerman highway beside the Chernaya River. Inside the mountain was a Soviet armaments factory. On 28 June the Germans crossed the Chernaya River to attack the arms factory. The Soviets elected to blow up the factory and themselves.

On the night of 28/29 June the Germans launched an attack across Severnaya Bay in assault boats.  In the south they launched an attack from the Fedyukhim Heights southeast of Sevastopol toward Zapun Mountain. The Soviet defenses were broken and the Soviet began evacuation to Cape Khersones on the western end of the Crimea by water. Some escaped into the mountains. Military leaders and some of the wounded were evacuated by submarine. Aircraft of the Sevastopol Defense Force were moved to airfields in the Caucasus.

The inner city was bombarded by the Germans on 1 July. The remaining Soviets surrendered on 3 July. The Germans took more than 100,000 prisoners.

Sources: ‘The Siege of Savastopol,’ Colonel Vasili Morozov, History of the Second World War Magazine, 1970s

Red Army Resurgent, John Shaw and the Editors of Time-Life Books, Time-Life Books, Inc., Chicago, IL, 1979


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.