Operation Blücher II

(Napoleonic era Prussian field marshal)

This was the German scaled-down landing on the Taman peninsula first posited as ‘Blücher’ (ii) (2 September 1942).

In this undertaking, with was the responsibility of Generalfeldmarshall Wilhelm List’s Heeresgruppe ‘A’, Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein’s 11th Army crossed the Strait of Kerch from the eastern tip of Crimea into the Kuban region as support for the effort of Generaloberst Richard Ruoff’s 17th Army to take the oilfields of Maykop and the port of Batumi on the Black Sea coast near the frontier with Turkey against the Soviet defences of General Leytenant Ivan V. Tyulenev’s Trans-Caucasus Front.

The breakthrough of a Romanian cavalry division of the 17th Army to Anapa, on the south coast of the Taman peninsula, on 31 August prevented major parts of General Leytenant Fyedor V. Kamkov’s 47th Army from withdrawing from the peninsula, into which Colonel Vasile Mainescu’s Romanian 5th Cavalry Division and General de brigadâ Corneliu Teodorini’s Romanian 6th Cavalry Division now penetrated.

On 2 September Generalmajor Ernst Haccius’s 46th Division of General Rudolf Konrad’s XLIX Gebirgskorps within the 17th Army was landed on the northern and western sides of the Taman peninsula in ‘Blücher II’ by 24 Marinefährprahme (naval landing ferries) of Korvettenkapitän Max Giele’s 1st Landungs-Flottille, Siebel ferries and engineer landing and assault boats under the protection of Korvettenkapitän Arnulf Hölzerkopf’s 3rd Räumboots-Flottille and the Luftwaffe. General de divizie Ion Boiteanu’s Romanian 3rd Division followed.

From 2 to 5 September Soviet warships and transports of Kontr Admiral Sergei G. Gorchakov’s Azov Flotilla, including the patrol ship Shtorm and the gunboats Oktyabr and Rostov-na-Donu, evacuated most of the Soviet army and naval forces from the south coast of the Taman peninsula to Novorossiysk, but on 2 September the gunboats were lost. During the nights of 2, 3 and 5 September Korvettenkapitän Georg-Stuhr Christiansen’s 1st Schnellboots-Flottille attacked the Soviet loading points and reported 19 successes for the loss of one vessel, which was sunk by its own torpedo.

There followed the battle for Novorossiysk, which was defended against General Wilhelm Wetzel’s V Corps (Generalleutnant Willi Schneckenberger’s 125th Division, Generalleutnant Rudolf von Bünau’s 73rd Division and Generalleutnant Siegmund Freiherr von Schleinitz’s 9th Division) of the 17th Army by the 77th Division and the 14th, 142nd, 83rd and 2nd Naval Infantry Brigades under Rear Admiral Kholostyakov. Despite fire support by the Soviet flotilla leader Kharkov and destroyer Soobrazitelny on 1, 2 and 4 September, German units entered the outskirts of Novorossiysk on 5 September, captured the centre of the city on 6 September and occupied the harbour on 9 September.

The elements of the Soviet forces driven to the west were evacuated to Gelendzhik by sea. This marked the limit of the German advance to the south-east along the Kuban coast of the Black Sea.