Klin-Solnechnogorsk Offensive Operation

The 'Klin-Solnechnogorsk Offensive Operation' was the Soviet second of six sub-operations together constituting the 'Moscow Strategic Offensive Operation' that followed the 'Moscow Strategic Defensive Operation' which had halted the German 'Taifun' (i) and 'Wotan' offensives to take Moscow in the last stages of 'Barbarossa' (6/26 December 1941).

It was on 6 December, one day after the start of the 'Kalinin Offensive Operation', that the 'Klin-Solnechnogorsk Offensive Operation' was launched as the Soviets sought to destroy the main strength of Generaloberst Georg-Hans Reinhardt’s 3rd Panzergruppe and Generaloberst Erich Hoepner’s 4th Panzergruppe of Generalfeldmarschall Fedor von Bock’s (from 19 December Generalfeldmarschall GŁnther von Kluge’s) Heeresgruppe 'Mitte' in the area of Klin, Istra and Solnechnogorsk. The Soviet attacking forces provided by General Georgi K. Zhukov’s West Front in the form of General Major Dmitri D. Lelyushenko’s 30th Army from the north and General Leytenant Vasili I. Kuznetsov’s 1st Shock Army, General Leytenant Andrei A. Vlasov’s 20th Army and General Leytenant Konstantin K. Rokossovsky’s 16th Army from the east. The Soviet objectives also included the creation of conditions favourable to the further development of the offensive to the west.

The offensive by the Soviet right-wing armies was schemed in the basis of two stages: the first stage from 6 to 16 December was the transition from the defensive to the offensive, the defeat of the German forces and the recapture of Klin, Solnechnogorsk, the Istra river reservoir and Istra; and the second stage from 17 to 25 December was the launch of offensive battles to the west of Klin, Solnechnogorsk and Istra, followed by continued pursuit of the German forces to the line of the Lama and Ruza rivers.

The offensive by these Soviet armies developed mainly in three operational directions: the 30th Army and 1st Shock Army struck at Klin and then at Teryayeva Sloboda; the 20th Army advanced in the general direction of Solnechnogorsk and Volokolamsk; and the 16th Army, advancing on Istra and to the north, destroyed the opposing German forces.

The 30th Army’s allotted task was to co-operate with the 1st Shock Army in the infliction of a deep strike on the Germans' lines of communication, cut the road to Leningrad as well as all other routes by which the German forces in the Rogachev area might undertake a retirement, and defeat the German forces in the area of Klin and Teryayev Sloboda. The task of the 1st Shock Army, in co-operation with the 30th Army, was to defeat the German forces in the Klin area and develop the offensive to the west. The 20th Army was to destroy the German forces in the Solnechnogorsk area and, developing its offensive to the south-west, retake Volokolamsk. The task of the 16th Army, in co-operation with the 20th Army and 5th Army, the latter its left-flank neighbour, was to defeat the German forces opposing it, capture the Istra river reservoir and the city of Istra, and develop an offensive to the south-west.

Lelyushenko’s 30th Army launched its offensive on 6 December and rapidly broke through the front held by a pair of German motorised divisions. By the end of 7 December, the 30th Army had advanced 15.5 miles (25 km). Kuznetsov’s 1st Shock Army concentrated its main weight in its centre and right flank in the Yakhroma area. The most difficult that of effecting the transition from the defensive to the offensive allocated to Vlasov’s 20th Army and Rokossovsky’s 16th Army, and it was only on 9 December that Generaloberst Ernst Busch’s 16th Army began to retreat toward the north-west and west.

On 7 December the Soviet offensive had liberated villages of Krasny Holm, Golyadi and Bely Rast, and on 8 December Polushkino and Tiliktino. In the afternoon of 8 December, Yakhroma, Stepanov, Zhukov and Vladychino were also retaken, and in the evening of the same day the front was between 3.1 and 6.2 miles (5 to 10 km) from the offensive’s start line. On 9 December, the Soviet forces retook Maleyevka, Baklanovo and Kolosovo.

Between 10 and 15 December, the pace of the Soviet progress was slowed by the highly adverse nature of the deep winter weather and conditions, which included extreme cold, heavy falls of snow, and strong winds that further increased the chill factor. On 10 December, the village of Turkmen was liberated, and on the night of 10/11 December, Parfenki was liberated.

On 11 December, the town of Istra and the village of Chudtsevo were liberated. By the end of the same day, Soviet forces had reached Koromyslovo, Star, Melkovo, Varakseno, Vysokovo, Zhukovo, the south-eastern part of Reshetnikov, Yamuga, Golyadi, Pershutino, the western and northern outskirts of Klin, Maidanovo, Bol, Shchapovo and Spas-Korkodino. On 11 December, the 1st Shock Army reached the line connecting Zolino, Borozda, Vorobyevo, Tolstyakovo (6.2 miles/10 km to the north of Solnechnogorsk), Zagoriye to the north of Lake Senezhskoye), Rekintsy and Dubinino, thereby cutting the Leningrad road at Borozda and Dubinino, and in the area of Solnechnogorsk establishing physical contact with units of the 20th army.

On the morning of 12 December, German forces began a counterattack to the north of the village of Denisovo, but were driven back by the defensive effort of five Soviet divisions. On the same day, the town of Solnechnogorsk was liberated by Podpolkovnik Piotr K. Budykhin’s 35th Brigade and Polkovnik Andrei G. Kravchenko’s 31st Tank Brigade of the 20th Army, and Polkovnik Georgi A. Latyshev’s 55th Shock Brigade of the 1st Shock Army.

On 13 December, the Soviet forces defended the village of Petrovskoye against a German counterattack, and then attempted their own counterattack, but this latter was not successful. On the night of 13/14 December, Soviet militia forces liberated the village of Savelyevo. On the next day Soviet troops recaptured the village of Borikhino.

The weather was clear on 15 December, and Soviet troops liberated Yelgozino, Knyaginino and Vygol, and elements of the 30th Army entered Klin. On the next day Boriskovo and Denkovo ​​were retaken from the Germans.

On 17 December, German troops launched another counterattack at Dyatlovo and Boldyrikha, but were driven back. On the following day Soviet militias forces liberated Shablykino and Kutino, following this on 19 December with the liberation of Kozlovo, in which there had been fighting for three days, and Dorino. On 20 December, Volokolamsk, Kitenevo and Taksino were liberated.

By the following day, the Soviet forces had reached the line of the Lama and Ruza rivers, and here encountered German resistance in prepared positions. As a result, 22 December saw no movement in this sector.

Between 23 and 25 December, Chismena, Balobanova, Tatischevo, Ednevo, Fadeyevo and Valuyki were rstored to Soviet rule, and on the next day so too were Teryayevo and Shishkino.

In its 'Klin-Solnechnogorsk Offensive Operation', the right wing of the West Front encompassed the defeat of the 3rd Panzergruppe and 4th Panzergruppe, whose forces were driven back between 43.5 and 62 miles (70 and 100 km); destroyed or captured a large number of guns and tanks, as well as masses of other military equipment and ammunition; and eliminated the threat of a German envelopment of Moscow round the Soviet capital’s northern side. Moreover, during the 20 days for which the offensive lasted, factories were repaired in Moscow and also in Solnechnogorsk and Klin after the latter’s liberations, and after a mere five days were able to resume manufacture and/or repaired. The former included 150 tanks, 100 pieces of artillery, 1,000 small arms and 300 machine guns, and the latter 100 tanks, 50 pieces of artillery and 100 machine guns.