Operation Battle of Auvere

The 'Battle of Auvere' was fought between Soviet and German forces in Estonia within the context of the Soviet 'Narva Offensive Operation' (20/25 July 1944).

General Leytenant Filipp N. Starikov’s Soviet 8th Army started itsa attack to take the Auvere Station on 20 July with an artillery bombardment, and the defenders, who included large number of Estonian conscripts and volunteers of SS-Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner’s III SS Panzerkorps (germanisches), suffered some losses. The Estonian and German troops of Generalleutnant Hellmuth Reymann’s 11th Division had built trenches and dug foxholes. During the morning of 24 July, the Soviet main assault began with between 30 and 50 batteries of artillery firing 17,000 rounds onto the defenders, inflicting significant casualties on the Estonian-manned 45th Infanterieregiment in Auvere and the 44th Infanterieregiment in neighbouring Sirgala.

After two hours of preparatory artillery fire, the two regiments were attacked in an air battle which cost the Germans three aircraft and the Soviets eght bombers. Under artillery cover, the Soviet CXXII Corps and one tank brigade pierced to the German positions, while the CXVII Corps encircled the Estonian regiment, which quickly adopted an all-round defence.

Relieved by SS-ObersturmbannführerPaul-Albert Kausch’s SS Kampfgruppe 'Kausch', based on the Paul Albert Kausch’s Kampfgruppe (one SS tank battalion with additional units) and three rocket artillery launchers, the Estonians counterattacked. The 44th Infanterieregiment was saved by the swift movement of artillery behind them to clear their previous positions of Soviet troops. The CXVII Corps reached the headquarters of one Estonian battalion, which resisted with heavy machine gun fire. The support provided by anti-tank weapons and the SS Kampfgruppe 'Kausch' was instrumental in retaking the main section of the front line.

The attempts by the CXVII and XCCII Corps to break through were repelled in a similar way, causing the two Soviet formations to lose 3,000 men, 29 tanks and 17 aircraft by comparison with the loss of only 800 men by General Anton Grasser’s Armeeabteilung 'Narwa'. On the following day the 8th Army once again attempted to take the German positions, but was repelled by machine gun fire.