This was a German artillery bombardment of the Soviet shore positions flanking the Strait of Kerch between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov in support of the crossing of elements of Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein’s 11th Army across the strait eastward from the Kerch peninsula to the Taman peninsula of the Kuban region of the southern USSR (2 August 1942).
The crossing was made by one German and five Romanian divisions under the protection of German air power and a naval force of U-boats and S-boote which had reached the Black Sea from the North Sea via the Elbe and Danube rivers.
The land forces which made the crossing were intended to drive south-eastward and effect a junction with the advance of the southern elements of Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm List’s Heeresgruppe ‘A’. Advancing across the lower reaches of the Don river, these elements were Generaloberst Richard Ruoff’s Armeegruppe ‘Ruoff’, comprising the five infantry divisions of Ruoff’s own 17th Army and the one infantry and three cavalry divisions of General de armatâ Petre Dumitrescu’s Romanian 3rd Army. The juncture of the two formations was intended to trap sizeable elements of General Leytenant Yakov T. Cherevichenko’s Coast Group of Marshal Sovetskogo Soyuza Semyon M. Budyonny’s North Caucasus Front, including parts of General Major F. V. Kamkov’s 18th Army, General Major Aleksandr I. Ryzhov’s 56th Army, General Major Grigori P. Kotov’s 47th Army, the XVII Cossack Cavalry Corps and an independent infantry corps, and thereby prevent their escape to the south-east.
The two formations met near Novorossiysk on the north-east coast of the Black Sea, but by this time most of the Soviet formations had managed to fall back and thereby evade encirclement.