Sevastopol Defensive Operation

The 'Sevastopol Defensive Operation' was the Soviet lengthy but ultimately unsuccessful undertaking to hold Sevastopol, which was the main base of the Black Sea Fleet, on the southern tip of the Crimean peninsula (30 October 1941/4 July 1942).

The campaign resulted from the desire of Germany and Romania to seize control of Sevastopol, a large port in Crimea in the northern part of the Black Sea. On 22 June 1941 Axis forces had invaded the USSR in 'Barbarossa' and a number of subsidiary operations, and within the advance to the south-east of Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt’s Heeresgruppe 'Süd', had driven through Ukraine and reached the Perekop isthmus, the narrow neck of land connecting Crimea with the Soviet mainland, by 30 September. The Axis forces then overran most of the peninsula with the exception of the area round Sevastopol. Several attempts were made during October and November to take this last Soviet bastion, but failed. Another attempt was scheduled for a time late in November, but heavy rains delayed the start of this operation until 17 December 1941. Under the command of Generaloberst Erich von Manstein, commander of the 11th Army, the Axis forces were once more unable to capture Sevastopol. Soviet forces undertook the 'Kerch-Feodosiya Landing Operation' as an amphibious assault on Kerch, at the eastern end of the Crimean peninsula, from 25 December, with the object of then undertaking an overland advance to lift the siege of Sevastopol and force the Axis forces onto the defensive. The need of the Axis forces to concentrate on the defeat of the 'Kerth-Feodosia Landing Operation' for the time being saved Sevastopol, but the Soviet beach-head in eastern Crimea had been destroyed by 19 May after the Soviet defeats in the 'Crimean Offensive Operation' of 27 January/15 April, and the battle of 'Trappenjagd' of 8/19 May,

After the failure of their first assault on Sevastopol, the Axis had opted to proceed on the basis of a siege until the middle of 1942, when they could concentrate all their forces in Crimea on the single objective, at which point they attacked the encircled Soviet forces by land, sea and air. It was on 2 June that the Axis began this 'Störfang' operation. The Soviet forces held out for weeks under intense Axis bombardment, in which German air power played a vital part. General Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen’s VIII Fliegerkorps bombed the besieged Soviet forces with impunity, flying 23,751 sorties and dropping 20,528 tons of bombs in June alone. At the end of the siege, there were only 11 undamaged buildings left in Sevastopol. German warplanes also sank or deterred most Soviet attempts to evacuate their troops by sea. The 11th Army's artillery suppressed and destroyed the defenders by firing 46,750 tons of shells on them in the course of 'Störfang'.

Finally, on 4 July, the last remaining Soviet forces surrendered and the Germans seized the port. The Soviet Separate Coastal Army had been totally destroyed, losing 118,000 men killed, wounded or taken prisoner in the final assault. In the course of the whole campaign, the Separate Coastal Army and the Black Sea Fleet had sustained 200,481 casualties. The Axis losses in 'Störfang' totalled 35,866 men, of whom 27,412 were German and 8,454 Romanian. With the Soviet forces neutralised, the Axis forces in the southern USSR were now free to refocus on the 'Blau' major summer campaign of that year, and the 'Dampfhammer' advance into the Caucasus for the attempted seizure of the region’s oilfields, which were of vital strategic importance for Germany’s continued ability to wage war.

In the late summer of 1941, the Soviet naval base at Sevastopol was one of the strongest fortifications in the world. Sited on a deeply eroded, bare limestone promontory at the south-western tip of Crimea, Sevastopol was an immensely difficult target for overland attack, and the height of the cliffs overlooking Severnaya Bay protected the anchorage, making an amphibious landing just as dangerous. The Soviet navy had developed these these natural defences as it modernised the port and its land installations, and installed heavy coastal batteries consisting of 180-mm (7.09-in) and 305-mm (12-in) repurposed battleship guns: these batteries were capable of firing inland as well as out to sea. The artillery emplacements were protected by reinforced concrete fortifications and the guns were mounted in 9.8-in (250-mm) thick armoured turrets.

For the Axis powers, the port was a valuable target, for in their hands this naval and air base would make it possible for the Axis sea and air forces to undertake far-ranging sea and air operations against Soviet targets in the Caucasian ports and mountains. This had been well illustrated in reverse by the fact that Soviet sea and air forces had used Crimea to launch attacks on targets in Romania since a time almost immediately after the start of 'Barbarossa' on 22 June 1941.

Since the beginning of 'Barbarossa', the offensive against the USSR had not really addressed Crimea as an objective. German planners assumed the area would be captured in mopping-up operations once the bulk of the Soviet forces had been destroyed in the area of Ukraine to the west of the Dniepr river. In June, however, attacks by Soviet aircraft from Crimea against Romania’s oil fields and refineries had destroyed 12,000 tons of oil. Adolf Hitler described Crimea as an 'unsinkable aircraft carrier' and ordered the conquest of Ukraine to include Crimea as vital targets in his Führerweisung Nr 33 of 23 July.

The Oberkommando des Heeres, supervising the war on the Eastern Front, issued orders that Crimea was to be seized at the earliest possible moment to prevent attacks on Romanian oil production, which was currently the largest such facility on which the Germans could draw. Impatient with obstruction to his commands to advance in the south, Hitler repeated on 12 August his desire for the earliest possible seizure of Crimea. More than one month later, during the capture of Kiev, von Manstein, then commander of the LVI Corps (mot.), was given command of the 11th Army on 17 September after its then commander, Generaloberst Eugen Ritter von Schobert, had been killed five days earlier when his light liaison/tactical reconnaissance aeroplane inadvertently landed in a minefield. After only a week in command, von Manstein launched an assault on Crimea. After severe fighting, von Manstein’s forces defeated several limited Soviet counter-offensives and destroyed two Soviet armies. By 16 November, the Germans had with Romanian support cleared the region, capturing Simferopol, its capital, on 1 November. The fall of Kerch on 16 November left in Soviet hands only Sevastopol.

By the end of October, General Major Ivan Ye. Petrov’s Independent Coastal Army of 32,000 men had reached Sevastopol by sea from Odessa, farther to the west along the northern coast of the Black Sea, after being evacuated in the aftermath of the heavy fighting for Ukraine’s primary port. Petrov quickly embarked on a programme to fortify the inland approaches to Sevastopol. Petrov’s aim was to halt any Axis drive on the port through the creation of three inland-facing defence lines, of which the outermost was 10 miles (16 km) from the port itself. Soviet forces, including General Leytenant Pavel I. Batov’s 51st Army and elements of Vitse Admiral Fillip S. Oktyabrsky’s Black Sea Fleet, were defeated in Crimea during October and were evacuated in December, leaving Petrov’s force as Sevastopol’s main defence. Having cleared the rest of Crimea between 26 September and 16 November, General de corp de armatâ Petre Dumitrescu’s Romanian 3rd Army and von Manstein’s 11th Army prepared to attack the port. The 11th Army was the weakest major German formation on the Eastern Front, initially containing only seven infantry divisions. The Romanians contributed a large force, but its formations and units were only lightly equipped and generally lacked heavy artillery.

The weather turned against the Axis forces in the middle of October, when torrential rain delayed their build-up. This gave Oktyabrsky, commander of the Black Sea Fleet and in overall command at Sevastopol, the time to bring in men and matériel from Novorossiysk on the north-western coast of the Caucasian region. By 17 December, the weather had cleared sufficiently for the Axis forces to begin a major operation.

The 11th Army now laid siege to Sevastopol. At the time of the final assault in June 1942, the 11th Army had come to comprise two corps with nine infantry divisions, and General de divizie Gheorghe Avramescu’s Romanian VII Mountain Corps of one infantry and two mountain divisions. Air support was provided by the Luftwaffe: the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe despatched a key element of Generaloberst Alexander Löhr’s Luftflotte IV in the form of von Richthofen’s VIII Fliegerkorps: this comprised of nine Geschwadern (wings) with a total of 600 aircraft. Among this contingent was a powerful concentration of medium bomber, dive-bomber, and torpedo bomber Geschwadern. Naval support came from Capitano di Fregata Francesco Mimbelli’s 101a Squadrone with four motor torpedo boats, five explosive motor boats, six 'CB' class midget submarines, and a number of 35-ton midget submarines and MAS boats. This was the only Axis naval force deployed during the siege.

Although Bulgaria was not technically at war with the USSR, it should be noted, its naval staff worked closely with the Germans, and while not committing Bulgarian vessels and craft to combat, provided bases for the Axis forces under the command of Vizeadmiral Friedrich-Wilhelm Fleischer (from May 1942 Vizeadmiral Hans-Heinrich Wurmbach), the Admiral Schwarzes Meer, operating in the Black Sea.

At its peak, the 11th Army came to comprise, in addition to the standard army-level signals, logistic, police, bridge-building, road-building, fortification-building and Flak elements, a massive concentration of heavy artillery. This latter included Generalleutnant Johannes Zuckertort’s 306th Höherer Artillerie-Kommandeur, elements the 672nd Artillerieabteilung (E) with one 800-mm (31.5-in) schwerer Gustav 'Dora' super-heavy railway gun, the 833rd schwere Artillerieabteilung with two 600-mm (23.62-in) Karl Gerät super-heavy tracked mortars, the 688th Artilleriebatterie (E) with three 280-mm (11.02-in) railway guns, the 458th schwere Artilleriebatterie with one 420-mm (16.54-in) howitzer, the 459th schwere Artilleriebatterie with one 420-mm mortar, the 741st Artillerieabteilung, 742nd Artillerieabteilung and 743rd Artillerieabteilung each with four 280-mm howitzers, the 744th Artillerieabteilung with two 280-mm coastal howitzers, the 624th schwere Artillerieabteilung with six 305-mm and nine 210-mm mortars, the 641st schwere Artillerieabteilung with four 305-mm mortars and one 355-mm (13.98-in) howitzer, and the 815th schwere Artillerieabteilung with six 305-mm mortars.

The 11th Army more conventional elements were General Erik Hansen’s LIV Corps with the 22nd Division, 24th Division, 50th Division and 132nd Division, and General Maximilian Fretter-Pico’s XXX Corps with the 28th leichte Division, 72nd Division, 170th Division and 22nd Panzerdivision.

The VIII Fliegerkorps' order of battle comprised Lehrgeschwader 1, Kampfgeschwader 26, Kampfgeschwader 51, Kampfgeschwader 55, Kampfgeschwader 76, Kampfgeschwader 100, Sturzkampfgeschwader 77, Jagdgeschwader 77, Jagdgeschwader 3 and Jagdgeschwader 52.

The Romanian VII Mountain Corps controlled the 1st Mountain Division, 4th Mountain Division and 18th Division.

The defence of Sevastopol was vested primarily in the Black Sea Fleet and the Separate Coastal Army. The Black Sea Fleet committed 49,372 men to fight as infantry. Most of these were untrained for ground combat, and thus the commitment of these naval personnel was at best and ad hoc measure. The naval brigades formed had four to six battalions of 4,000 men, allowing them to absorb significant losses. These forces were well armed, having an assortment of artillery and mortar battalions. Almost one-fifth of the Separate Coastal Army was of naval personnel. In the Separate Coastal Army, the strongest elements were the 95th Division, 109th Division, 172nd Division and 388th Division, each of which had some 7,000 men at a time when most other Soviet divisions had some 5,000 men. Some 5,000 reinforcements reached Sevastopol in May 1942. However, the Separate Coastal Army lacked both armour and and anti-aircraft artillery. The garrison was also very short of food supplies and mortar ammunition, and this factor was to exercise a severe effect in sapping Soviet strength. Another adverse situation was the poor level of communication between headquarters and the front line, so Petrov found it difficult to respond quickly to Axis attacks.

The defenders of Sevastopol had coastal artillery operated by 12 battalions and three batteries. The ground defences were organised in four sectors: Defence Sector I has the 109th Division and 388th Division, Defence Sector II the 386th Division and 7th Naval Infantry Brigade, Defence Sector III the 25th Division, 345th Division, 8th Naval Infantry Brigade and 79th Naval Infantry Brigade, and Defence Sector IV the 95th Division and 172nd Division.

The Soviet air strength comprised 3rd Special Aviation Group with the 6th Guards Naval Fighter Regiment, 9th Naval Fighter Regiment, 247th Fighter Regiment, 18th Ground Attack Regiment, 23rd Aviation Regiment, 32nd Guards Fighter Regiment and 116th Maritime Reconnaissance Regiment.

The Black Sea Fleet had one battleship, two heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, two flotilla leaders, six destroyers, nine minesweepers, one guard ship and 24 submarines.

The 11th Army's first task had been to break into Crimea. The towns of Perekop and Ishun guarded the narrow neck of land which linked Crimea with the mainland Ukraine. Hansen’s LIV Corps used Generalleutnant Fritz Schlieper’s (from 27 February 1942 Generalleutnant Fritz Kühlwein’s) 45th Division and Generalleutnant Rudolf von Bünau’s 73rd Division to break through the Soviet defence line at Perekop in an assault causing 2,641 casualties in six days of fighting. The Soviet forces launched a counterattack on the 11th Amy's flank at Melitopol, and von Manstein was compelled to withdraw his other major formation, General Hans von Salmuth’s (from 27 December Fretter-Pico’s) XXX Corps, in order to deal with it. The resulting battle ended with the destruction of two Soviet armies. By the time that the Germans had dealt with this threat, the Stavka had rushed in reinforcements and established another defence line at Ishun. Ordered to concentrate on Crimea once again, von Manstein launched the LIV Corps, this time with the support of Generalmajor Ludwig Wolff’s 22nd Division. The Soviet forces enjoyed local air superiority and reserves of armour, and also outnumbered the attacking German formations. Despite this, the 51st Army was driven back in 12 days of fighting which cost the German forces 5,376 casualties and the Soviets considerably more. By the end of October, the 51st Army had been crushed and was in full retreat deeper into Crimea.

The situation in the air had also changed as the arrival of Jagdgeschwadern (fighter wings) gave the Axis forces air superiority. On 22 and 23 October, the fighters of JG 3, JG 52 and JG 77 crippled the Soviet air strength in Crimea as, in these two days, they destroyed 33 Soviet aircraft for the loss of only one of their own number. In the six days between 18 and 24 October, the Soviets lost 140 aircraft, 124 of them to German fighters. Te Heinkel He 111 bombers of KG 26 and KG 51 and the Junkers Ju 77 dive-bombers of StG 77 were therefore free to attack Soviet ground positions, contributing to the collapse of General Leytenant Dmitri T. Kozlov’s Crimea Front on 27 October.

With the Crimea Front collapsing and Axis forces now closing in on Sevastopol, Oktyabrsky assumed command of the port on 4 November 1941. The city had a civilian population of 111,000, of which the majority were now sent to work on the three defence lines around the port, in which only the 7th Naval Infantry Brigade and 8th Naval Infantry Brigade were available for combat. More naval infantry were formed from the personnel of ships in the harbour. The 8th Naval Infantry Brigade was sent to guard the north-eastern approaches near the Mamachai-Belbek line; and the 5,200 men of the 7th Naval Infantry Brigade was deployed in the centre, near Mekenzyya. With only 20,000 men available, Oktyabrsky had therefore to rely heavily on his 12 coastal battalions for the task of impeding the Axis advance. The 62nd Fighter Brigade contributed 61 fighters, which were able to achieve air superiority, although only on a temporary basis.

On 30 October, the Soviet defences detected the spearhead of Generalleutnant Rudolf Sintzenich’s (from 11 January 1942 Generalleutnant Fritz Lindemann’s) 132nd Division and shelled it at 12.30 on 1 November using the 305-mm coastal guns of the 30th Battery. It was at about this time that the Germans designated the fort as Maksim Gorky I. At this stage of the battle, the Germans lacked sufficient air and mobile units to force a decision, so von Manstein ordered Hansen to advance his LIV Corps to the east along the railway line linking Sevastopol and Simferopol in the direction of Yalta, while Generalleutnant Philipp Müller-Gebhard’s 72nd Division headed toward Balaclava, effectively encircling Sevastopol. Once there, the division was to attack Sevastopol from the east. The 132nd Division made reasonably good progress, but was stopped on 2 November by the 8th Naval Infantry Brigade. The Germans suffered 428 casualties. von Manstein now ordered a one-week pause while he brought up reserves. Oktyabrsky used the opportunity to use his ships to ferry another 23,000 men from the Caucasus. On 9 November, the Separate Coastal Army, formed on 10 August, arrived with 19,894 men, 10 T-26 light tanks, 152 pieces of artillery and 200 mortars. The Soviet army now had 52,000 troops in the Sevastopol area. The Soviets considered the Luftwaffe’s local strength to be weak, as the bulk of German air power was currently engaged in the Battle of Moscow, so Oktyabrsky kept the heavy cruiser Krasny Kavkaz, the light cruisers Krasny Krym and Chervona Ukraina, and seven destroyers to protect the port.

The Luftwaffe did what it could to disrupt the Soviet defences. On 31 October, the destroyer Bodry shelled German positions along the coast, and in response Ju 87 dive-bombers of DtG 77 attacked the ship and wounded 50 of her crew by strafing her deck and superstructure. On 2 November Ju 88 bombers of KG 51 scored several hits on the cruiser Voroshilov, putting her out of action for some months. On 7 November He 111 bombers of KG 26 sank the liner Armeniya as she was evacuating soldiers and civilians from Sevastopol, only eight of the 5,000 passengers surviving. On 12 November, the dive-bombers of StG 77 sank the cruiser Chervona Ukraina, and the bombers of KG 26 damaged the destroyers Sovershennyi and Besposhchadny. But with Luftwaffe units now being despatched to other sectors, the Soviet air forces again achieved superiority in the air with 59 aircraft, of which 39 serviceable.

von Manstein wished to launch an attack on Sevastopol at the earliest possible moment, but his logistical lines were now severely straitened. Wanting to avoid the strong Soviet forces, including the 95th Division, protecting the north of the port, including the 95th Rifle Division, von Manstein opted to press the central and southern sectors of the Soviet defences. He ordered Generalleutnant Karl Adolf Hollidt’s 50th Division to probe the centre of the Soviet line to the east of the Chernaya river. The 132nd Division supported the probe and was able to push to a point within 2.5 miles (4 km) of Severnaya Bay. The 172nd Division, supported by coastal artillery batteries, moved in to stop the attack. Generalleutnant Philipp Müller-Gebhard’s 72nd Division continued toward Balaklava, and the 22nd Division joined the assault. Assisted by the fire of the medium-calibre guns of the two light cruisers and the large-calibre weapons of the battleship Parizhskaya Kommuna, the Soviet ground forces halted this attack, and von Manstein ended the offensive on 21 November after losing 2,000 men.

von Manstein now recognised the fact that his army could not take Sevastopol quickly, and that he therefore had to organise full set-piece offensive. With German offensive operations suspended during December, von Manstein found himself the only German commander on the Eastern Front still possessing an offensive mission. He was not ready to carry out his attack until 17 December. Meanwhile Oktyabrsky had once again exploited the lull to use his ships to deliver the 11,000 men of the 388th Division into Sevastopol between 7 and 13 December. Soviet engineers began laying extensive minefields and belts of barbed wire. By the time of the next Axis attack, Petrov’s force held a strong defensive position. Oktyabrsky demanded that Petrov hold the coast along the northern flank of Sevastopol, along the Belbek river, in order to retain the 10th Coastal Battery, an artillery complex near Mamaschai. On the other side of the wire, the LIV Corps had a mere 15,551 men in its 22nd Division, 24th Division, 50th Division and 132nd Division. At this time, more than 7,000 of the 11th Army's men were on the sick list, and the army was also short of artillery ammunition and heavy artillery. In order to commit as strong a force as possible to the forthcoming battle, von Manstein left Generalleutnant Hans Graf von Sponeck’s (from 31 December Generalleutnant Franz Mattenklott’s) comparatively newly arrived but weak XLII Corps, containing just Generalleutnant Kurt Himer’s 46th Division and two Romanian brigades, to hold the entire front from Yalta to Kerch.

The new German assault began at 06.10 on 17 December. The 22nd Division attacked the 8th Naval Infantry Brigade on the Belbek river, pushing to the west in the direction of the coast, while the 50th Division and 132nd Division delivered fixing attacks on the Soviet centre. The 22nd Division managed to roll up the flank of the 8th Naval Infantry Brigade after five days of fighting before Oktyabrsky ordered it to retire to the south toward Sevastopol, abandoning Mamaschai and forming a new front to the north of Belbek town and the Belbek river. In the south, the XXX Corps failed to break through with the 72nd Division and Generalleutnant Walter Wittke’s (from 8 January Generalleutnant Erwin Sander’s) 170th Division. The Germans achieved only small-scale gains at the expense if the 172nd Division, even with the help of General de brigadâ Gheorghe Marinescu’s Romanian 1st Mountain Brigade. The 79th Naval Infantry Brigade and 345th Division arrived by sea as reinforcements, exploiting the longer winter nights and their naval superiority. Meanwhile, the battleship Parizhskaya Kommuna shelled German forces whenever and wherever they threatened a breakthrough. The German offensive came to an abrupt end on 25 December when the Soviets launched their 'Kerch-Feodosiya Amphibious Operation' with the 'Kerch Landing Operation' and the 'Feodosiya Landing Operation'.

The 'Kerch-Feodosiya Amphibious Operation' was launched to relieve the German pressure on the Soviet forces encircled at Sevastopol, and succeeded in gaining and then holding a beach-head for five months. However, 'Trappenjagd' destroyed the beach-head and the three Soviet armies within it during May 1942. This allowed von Manstein to start the concentration of all his enlarged resources against Sevastopol for the first time even as the quiet of a stalemate came to characterise the Soviet lodgement. The Luftwaffe maintained the pressure on Soviet sea communications, and although modest quantities of supplies still reached Sevastopol, Oktyabrsky was forced to reduce the number of coastal bombardment missions undertaken by his ships.

Sevastopol was still a formidable obstacle. Its airfields were bases from which Soviet aircraft could attack the Axis-held areas of the Crimean and the Black Sea’s north-western coast, as well as Romania. It was also home to the Black Sea Fleet. Its main fortifications were aligned to the sea, while the land defences encircled the city at a radius of 9.33 to 12.5 miles (15 to 20 km), with an inner defensive belt at a radius of 3.1 miles (5 km). Enhancing the man-made defences was the terrain, which was both rugged and forested. To the north of Severnaya Bay there were 11 batteries and strongpoints, which were given morale-boosting names such as Stalin, Maksim Gorky I, Molotov and Lenin. In other areas, the Soviets had built hundreds of timber bunkers with machine-gun positions and 45-mm anti-tank guns. Along the outer belt, concrete bunkers were less common, 19 being stretched across its 23-mile (37-km) length. Soviet engineers had laid thousands of mines, including PMD-6 wooden anti-personnel mines and TMD-40 wooden anti-tank mines, and belts of barbed wire entanglements.

Petrov had at his disposal a powerful artillery arm with some 455 guns and howitzers. Among those were 34 152-mm (5.98-in) and 40 122-mm (4.8-in) howitzers, and 918 mortars. Ammunition of these calibres was sufficient for a two-week battle, but 82-mm (3.23-in) mortar ammunition was in short supply. The earlier battles had taken their toll, however, and scarcely any tank and anti-aircraft artillery support was still available. Another force, under the command of General Major Piotr A. Morgunov, was the Coastal Artillery Force, which was semi-independent for much of the siege, and had an initial strength of 12 batteries and 45 guns, although more were added during 1942. By the time of the German offensive in June, the Soviet forces had available eight 305-mm, one 188-mm, 10 152-mm, 17 130-mm, three 120-mm, eight 100-mm and four 45-mm guns.

By this time, the Axis forces were suffering from increasingly acute manpower and artillery shortages. The 11th Army's divisions, for example, possessed only something between 35% and 75% of their initial strengths. The 22nd Division was the strongest of these, being only 1,750 short of its establishment strength, while the weakest was the 132nd Division, which was short of 2,300 men. The 170th Division had to disband one of its three infantry regiments to bring the other two up to strength. In overall terms, the German infantry was a fragile force at Sevastopol, and von Manstein was acutely aware that he could not afford to squander it. German doctrine stressed the bypassing of strongpoints, but since this was not possible, the German infantry were faced with the inevitability of having to reduce one fort after another. Some 65 Sturmgeschütz III assault guns, each carrying a 75-mm (2.95-in) gun, were available to support them.

The 11th Army's assault was based on battalion-strength infantry assault groups each supported by a platoon of engineers and a few assault guns. Two pioneer battalions were attached to each division to spearhead the attack and break through fixed and fortified defences. The eight battalions of the LIV Corps' divisions each had an average strength of some 386 men, and were each allocated between 10 and 12 flamethrowers, 28 to 30 mine detectors, 6,614 lb (3000 kg) of high explosives, 2,200 hand grenades, and 500 smoke grenades. The 300th Panzerabteilung was a remote-controlled tank unit using the Goliath tracked mine, and this was available for the destruction of fortifications. The army’s total number of artillery pieces was 785 German and 112 Romanian medium and heavy guns, most of them in the LIV Corps, which was the main assault force.

To increase this basic arsenal, a number of super-heavy artillery pieces was made available. Three 600-mm Karl-Gerät self-propelled tracked mortars (Thor, Odin and one other) and one 800-mm gun (schwerer Gustav), delivering 1.4- and 7-ton shells respectively, were capable of destroying any fortification. However, the Karl-Gerät guns had a range of only between 4,375 and 6,560 yards (4000 and 6000 m), which rendered them vulnerable to counter-battery fire. Moreover, only 201 rounds of 600-mm and 48 round of 800-mm ammunition were available, and most of these rounds had been expended before the infantry assault.

More useful to the German infantry were the two 280-mm railway guns, and the two 420-mm and two 355-mm howitzers, together with four 305-mm mortars. Both of the 420-mm guns were of World War I vintage, and were essentially short-range weapons with a limited supply of ammunition. Some nine 283-mm mortars were also available, but these too were pre-World War I weapons and six had burst during firing. Artillery acquired from Czechoslovakia after the German occupation of that country in 1938 and 1939, the Skoda 305-mm Model 1911 howitzer, was also available. At the divisional level, 268 105-mm and 80 150-mm weapons were in service, including 126 Nebelwerfer infantry barrage rocket launchers. In overall terms, therefore, the 11th Army's artillery was a collection of modern, obsolete and foreign-built weapons. For the 'Störfang' offensive, 183,750 rounds of 105-mm and 47,300 rounds of 150-mm ammunition had been stockpiled, which was sufficient for 12 days of firing.

To reinforce the 11th Army, Romanian forces were committed to the assault. The Romanian 18th Division was at full strength, so a substantial number of Romanian infantrymen was available, but the division was inexperienced and its men were mostly reservists. Marinescu’s Romanian 1st Mountain Division was considered an elite formation, and its addition to von Manstein’s strength was to prove useful. The division had 112 guns, but almost no engineers. The weakness of its artillery and supporting arms made the Romanian X Corps reliant on the Germans for anything other than set-piece infantry attacks.

It fell to the Luftwaffe to compensate for the Axis limitations in artillery, and for this task a powerful air armada was assembled. Under the VIII Fliegerkorps, von Richthofen assembled six Kampfgruppen (bomber groups) originating from six Kampfgeschwadern (bomber wings): KG 51 'Edelweiss', KG 76, KG 100 and the III/LG 1 specialist training wing. Dive-bomber support by StG 77 was also allocated to von Richthofen’s grouping, which could thus call on three Gruppen of Ju 87 aircraft. Jagdgeschwadern (fighter wings) were also part of the German air strength: these were JG 3 'Udet' and JG 77 'Herz As', and were to undertake air superiority operations. The II/KG 26 'Löwe' was also available for anti-shipping operations that supplemented the air/land efforts of the VIII Fliegerkorps.

The Luftwaffe lacked the strength, however, both to support the land assault and also to maintain pressure on Soviet sea communications. With only the KG 26 engaged in anti-ship operations, the German high command looked to the Kriegsmarine to supply Schnellboot (S-boat) motor torpedo boats to help eliminate Soviet shipping taking supplies into and evacuating men out of Sevastopol. The time it took to dismantle and move the 92-ton boats by rail to Romanian ports would clearly be too long to allow the commitment of such craft in 'Störfang', however, and in a rare appeal for help, the Germans turned to the Italians, who were well known for their expertise with motor torpedo boat operations. The Regia Marina sent Mimbelli’s 101a Squadrone with nine motor torpedo boats and nine coastal submarines. The Italian boats and submarines were of only 24 and 35 ton displacements respectively, which made them easier to transport by truck and barge. The squadron was based at Feodosiya and Yalta, and was the only Axis naval force to participate in the siege.

von Manstein demanded an all-out air assault before the main ground offensive was committed. Situated only some 45 miles (70 km) from Sevastopol, the German formations had barely enough time to gain altitude before reaching their targets. The VIII Fliegerkorps began its bombing campaign against the northern and south-eastern parts of the city. At the same time, German medium bombers conducted rolling attacks on the city by all units but LG 1, which concentrated on the suppression of Soviet anti-aircraft installations. Oil, electricity, water pumps, harbour facilities and submarine bases were attacked by StG 77. von Richthofen watched the bombing from an observation post close to the front, and was able to discern that all the targets were badly damaged, and that fires broke out all over the city. The Germans flew 723 missions and dropped 525 tons of high explosive on the first day. Despite heavy anti-aircraft fire, the German losses were just a single Ju 87.

While the bulk of the Luftwaffe force was busy with the land battle, the III/KG 26 sought to break Soviet sea communications. This Gruppe's aircraft sank the tanker Mikhail Gromov, but the flotilla leader Tashkent, destroyer Bezuprechnyi and transport Abkhaziya escaped to deliver 2,785 soldiers into the fortress. German air attacks continued with 643 sorties on 3 June, 585 on 4 June and 555 on 5 June, with some German crews flying daily averages of 18 missions. By the start of the ground attack on 7 June, the Luftwaffe had flown 3,069 sorties and dropped 2,264 tons of high explosive and 23,800 incendiary bombs. Many of the bombs dropped were 2,205-lb (1000-kg) SC1000, 3,086-lb (1400-kg) SC1400, and 5,512-lb (2500-kg) SC2500 bombs. These heavyweight weapons were aimed at Soviet concrete bunkers, and Polkovnik Ivan A. Laskin, commander of the 172nd Division in the northern sector recalled that 'Bombers in groups of 20 or 30 attacked us without caring for their targets. They came in, wave after wave, and literally ploughed up the earth throughout our defence area. German aircraft were in the air above our positions all day long. The sky was clouded by smoke from explosions of thousands of bombs and shells. An enormous dark grey cloud of smoke and dust rose higher and higher and finally eclipsed the sun.' The German air campaign against Sevastopol in June 1942 surpassed by far the German bombings of Warsaw, Rotterdam and London in intensity, and between 3 and June the Luftwaffe carried out 2,355 sorties and and dropped 1,800 tons of high explosives.

On 7 June, von Manstein ordered the start of the ground assault. On this day the Luftwaffe flew 1,368 sorties and dropped 1,300 tons of bombs on the Soviet positions, but the Soviet infantry held their ground.

As noted above, it was the LIV Corps which was to strike the main blow to the south. Situated on the north-eastern edge of the city, the corps struck along the lines of least resistance, across the Belbek river, while the XXX Corps and Romanian Mountain Corps conducted holding attacks in the south and centre respectively. Both the latter corps did not start major operations until 8 June.

The German artillery bombardment used 105-mm guns to target bunkers, which usually received 10 to 25 rounds. German 37-mm Flak guns also performed effectively in the elimination of Soviet machine-gun positions. The German forces were also quick to bring up 88-mm heavier Flak guns, which were now used in both the ground/air and ground/ground roles, to fire directly into bunker apertures. Between 2 and 6 June, the 11th Army expended 9% of its munitions (42,595 rounds totalling 2,449 tons) on preparatory shelling. The railway guns also fired a few rounds at the main fortifications and rail lines, but most of their rounds missed by some distance. The closest shell landed 87.5 yards (80 m) from its intended target. Soviet ammunition dumps were also targeted by these weapons, but to no effect. The main fortifications, Forts Stalin, Molotov and Maksim Gorky, which lay in the path of the LIV Corps, remained active. It was not until the afternoon of 6 June when a single 600-mm mortar shell from the Karl-Gerät No. 3 Thor self-propelled mortar knocked out Maksim Gorky’s second turret, damaging the weapon. This was the only success of the German super-heavy guns, which did not have an impact commensurate with their expense. The Luftwaffe had a greater impact, using its Ju 87 dive-bombers to knock out the fort’s communications system.

On the morning of 7 June, the German infantry began a cautious advance, The XXX Corps attacked the southern positions held by the 7th Naval Infantry Brigade and the 388th Division. The German moved forward with air and artillery support. The infantry seemed afraid of their fire support and thus did not advance sufficiently closely behind it. The bombardment also failed to have enough of an effect. The Soviet forces held their fire until the German forces were well within range before opening fire, and little progress was made. The next few days were not significantly better for the German ground forces, despite the Luftwaffe’s commitment of 1,200 support sorties. The pace of operations exhausted the machines and their crews, and the men often did not get out of their aircraft as they were being refuelled and rearmed, and accordingly flew three or four sorties without rest.

The LIV Corps began its assault in the north on the junction of the Defence Sectors III and IV. The 'schwerer Gustav' weapon continued to fire against ammunition dumps, although once more to no effect. Nevertheless, the 132nd Division was able to work its way up to the river. The 600-mm guns concentrated on the coastal batteries and the Maksim Gorky fortress. Meanwhile, the 22nd Division attacked farther to the east. Some 200 men of the 79th Naval Infantry Brigade, protecting this sector, were lost in the bombardment, but the main defences held out. The brigade held most of its forces in reserve, while committing only a single company to cover the hilly terrain on the Belbek river front. German assault groups had breached the first and reserve lines by 08.15, but now faced the task of negotiating heavily mined areas, slowing them and allowing the Soviet forces to make a partial recovery. Supporting operations by the 50th Division and Generalmajor Hans von Tettau’s 24th Division failed, which cost the Germans 12 StuG III assault guns. The remote-control demolition units were not effective as the terrain was unsuitable.

By 17.15 the Germans had taken the town of Belbek. The 22nd Division made considerable progress in breaking through the 25th Division’s defences, and the 50th Division supported the 22nd Division's left flank. Now facing the Germans was the Haccius Ridge, on which the Maksim Gorky fortress was located. This was flanked by several smaller forts to the east.

The 132nd Division was now instructed to conduct a converging pincer movement on the Maksim Gorky fortress in conjunction with the 22nd Division and 50th Division, in order to trap the fortress’s defenders against the coast. The 132nd Division pushed into the 95th Division’s positions to the north of the fortress, while the other two divisions attacked in a flanking move. The German formations did make progress, nearing the main railway station just to the south-east of the Maksim Gorky fortress, but were prevented from achieving a full-scale breakthrough by the 172nd Division. The 22nd Division and 50th Division had been heavily punished by the mortar of the 25th Division facing them in the area to the east of the Haccius Ridge, nd this bombardment inflicted heavy losses on the Germans.The 22nd Division and 50th Division had been heavily punished by the mortar of the 25th Division facing them in the area to the east of the Haccius Ridge, and this bombardment inflicted heavy losses on the Germans. By 18.00, the German attack was spent.

The losses of the LIV Corps's four divisions on 7 June amounted to 2,357 men including 340 men killed. The corps had also expended 3,939 tons of ammunition. The 132nd Division had exhausted all of its basic munitions load by 12.00. On the other side, the formidable Soviet defence lines to the east and south-east of Belbek had been overrun, and the Germans had succeeded in advancing 1.25 miles (2 km) through dense Soviet defences. The Soviet casualties had also been severe, and it has been estimated that three battalions were effectively destroyed.

von Manstein recognised the serious nature of the failure on 8 June. He was concerned that the 132nd Division, locked in combat with the 79th Naval Infantry Brigade and the 95th and 172nd Divisions in the area to the north of the city on the Belbek river front, was 'nearing the end of its strength'. Once again, the army turned to the Luftwaffe for support, and von Richthofen responded by ordering attacks against Soviet supply lines. On this same day, German bombers, including those of the KG 100, began attacks on Soviet shipping. The German bombers sank the destroyer Sovershennyi and the survey vessel Gyuys, as well as the 4,727-ton transport Abkhaziya and destroyer Svobodnyi on 10 June.

The period between 68 and 12 June was a battle of attrition. Several Soviet counterattacks were repulsed with heavy losses. The LIV Corps extended the salient on the junction between Defence Sectors III and IV to a depth of q.85 miles (3 km) and its commander was determined to break through before Petrov could bring up reinforcements. The 132nd Division cleared the Haccius Ridge while the 22nd Division overran most of the 79th Naval Infantry Brigade. The Soviet unit tried to counterattack on 10 June but was repulsed. The Soviet unit was effectively destroyed, with the support of the Luftwaffe, which used anti-personnel bombs against Soviet infantry caught in the open. Only the 1/241st Regiment was in a position to block the Germans from encircling the Maksim Gorky fortress. Even so, on 8 June the LIV Corps lost 1,700 men. In return, the German penetration into the Soviet lines was extended to a depth of 1.85 miles (3 km) and width of 3.1 miles (5 km).

In the south, the XXX Corps made no progress in four days of attacks, and lost 496 men at the hands of the 109th Division. Generalleutnant Johann Sinnhuber’s 28th leichte Division and the 72nd Division had succeeded in puncturing the Soviet lines of the 109th Division and 388th Division. The outer defences were broken in some places, but the most of the outer defences were still in Soviet hands on 12 June. The main belt on the Sapun Ridge (Sapun-gora) was unbroken. Soviet casualties amounted to 2,500 men, including 700 men taken prisoner. By 13 June, the XXX Corps had lost 2,659 men, including 394 killed.

As the Germans made slow progress toward the main railway station, Petrov withdrew the battered 172nd Division and replaced it with the 345th Division. The 95th Division halted the 132nd Division's progress in the north. Although a relatively quiet day, 10 June saw the elimination of the 79th Naval Infantry Brigade and the loss by the LIV Corps of another 2,772 men. Counterattacks by the 345th Division aimed at the junction between the 132nd Division and the 50th Division were repulsed by the Luftwaffe. On 11/12 June, the LIV Corps lost another 1,957 men. The Soviets had by now committed all of their reserves and were stretched dangerously thin, and von Manstein knew that one more push might collapse the Soviet defence of the northern sector. But at this time, the tired German infantry were running short of reinforcements and ammunition.

In contrast, the Black Sea Fleet was running the gauntlet of German air attacks to deliver reinforcements. On 12 June, the cruiser Molotov and destroyer Bditel’nyi brought in 2,314 soldiers, 190 tons of ammunition and 28 pieces of artillery. The Luftwaffe turned its attention to these convoys. On 13 June it sank the transports Gruzyia and TSch-27, the patrol boat SKA-092, the motor boat SP-40, five barges and one floating crane. On 15 June another 3,400 soldiers, 442 tons of ammunition, 30 tons of fuel and 12 tons of provisions reinforced the Soviet positions.

The Luftwaffe had flown 1,044 sorties on 11 June, dropping 954 tons of bombs. The consumption rate of ammunition was putting von Richthofen’s logistical network under severe strain, and he was no longer able to fly massed bombing raids. On 11 June, von Richthofen came to the conclusion that there was left to him less than two days worth of munitions, and this demanded a change of tactics. Instead of carpet bombing, fewer targets would be attacked simultaneously, and aircraft would strike at designated targets in long and narrow streams. This was designed to maintain accurate pressure without wasting ordnance, but even this change failed to alleviate longer-term shortages. By 17 June, scarcity of aviation fuel meant that the Luftwaffe was able to carry and drop only 800 rather than the planned 1,000 tons of bombs. Adding to the Luftwaffe’s troubles, von Richthofen was transferred to prepare the VIII Fliegerkorps' headquarters near Kursk to support the upcoming 'Blau' strategic summer offensives in southern Russia. He retained formal command, at least until given control of Luftflotte IV, but Generalmajor Wolfgang von Wild, the Fliegerführer 'Süd', assumed responsibility for air operations over Sevastopol.

The primary objective for the 22nd Division on 13 June was the Stalin fortress, which blocked its advance to Severnaya Bay. It was a tough position, and the fortifications allowed the Soviets to concentrate artillery fire against breakthroughs, and machine gun positions protected the fortress against attacks from the south and east. However, the fortress was vulnerable to attack from the northern and, moreover, only 200 men of the 345th Division were stationed there. The Germans launched their assault on the position at 03.00 on 13 June with just 813 men. One battalion was assigned to suppress the Soviet machine gun and mortar positions located on the south-east, but this was merely a diversion. Another battalion, supported by five StuG III assault guns, two 37-mm guns and an engineer company, were to deliver the main effort. Some 200 and 110 men were committed respectively in each unit. The German bombardment began on 12 June after the fire of the Dora weapon had failed to neutralise the fort. Nevertheless, a combined-arms attack by 11 420-mm mortars and attack by Ju 87 dive-bombers of the StG 77 knocked out three of the four 76.2-mm (3-in) guns constituting the fortress’s main armament. At 19.00 the 22nd Division's artillery began to shell the fortress and Volga, its smaller supporting fortress located to the rear of the Stalin fortress, 210-mm, 280-mm and 305-mm weapons. At 03.00 the German infantry attacked. The Soviet mortar teams had not been suppressed, however, and a fierce struggle ensued up to 05.30. Supported by five assault guns and a few 37-mm weapons, the Germans silenced the fortress bunker by bunker.

As the Germans seized this vital fortress, the Volga fort realised that its larger neighbour had fallen and shelled the position. A company-sized Soviet counterattack was destroyed by German small arms fire, and the Germans were able to declare the position secured at 07.00, although some bunkers held out until 15.00. The German casualties totalled 32 dead, 126 wounded and two missing, which represented half of the force committed. Soviet casualties amounted to 20 men taken prisoner, with the others all killed. With only 91 men left near the fortress, Petrov did not order a recovery attempt, which was in all probability a major error.

The fall of the Stalin fortress meant that the Soviet defences in the north were on the verge of collapse. Hansen ordered his LIV Corps now to concentrate its efforts on the Maksim Gorky fortress and the destruction of the 95th Division. This Soviet formation had been halting the 132nd Division's progress since the start of the offensive, and the German division was now reinforced with one regiment of Generalmajor Ernst Haccius 's 46th Division currently standing idle in the Kerch area. The German 24th Division, the 50th Division and Manoliu’s Romanian 4th Mountain Division were to maintain pressure in the central sector while they pushed towards the Mekensiya and Gatani valley and the Chernaya river opening into Severnaya Bay. For the three days between 14 and 16 June, the battle continued as the Axis forces advanced toward Sevastopol in the face of strong Soviet resistance. On 15 June the 132nd Division was within 985 yards (900 m) of the Maksim Gorky fortress’s Bastion 1 outer bastion. The front opposite the 25th Division was still strong, but the northern flank was giving way. The 79th Naval Infantry Brigade now possessed only 35% of its original fighting strength. Blocking the way to the Maksim Gorky fortress were just 1,000 men of the 95th Division and 7th Naval Infantry Brigade.

In the south the 109th Division and 388th Division were driven back along the coast by the German 72nd Division and 170th Division while the Romanian 18th Division dislodged the 386th Division that was threatening the XXX Corps' right flank. The fighting ground on until 20 June. In six days, the XXX Corps had lost 2,646 men but, in exchange, the outer defences of the 388th Division had been broken and this formation effectively destroyed. Still, the German advance on Balaklava had been halted. The Germans had not yet reached the city’s outer defences, and the Sapun Ridge to the east of the town was still in Soviet hands. By 15 June, some 1,000 Soviet soldiers and 1,500 mortar bombs had been captured, indicating that the Soviet forces still possessed much ammunition even after two weeks of battle.

Despite shortages of aviation fuel and ordnance, the Luftwaffe had played a significant part in the success of the German operation up to this time. From 13 to 17 June, the German air arm flew 3,899 sorties and dropped 3,086 tons of bombs, and this average of 780 sorties per day was only a slight decline from the rate in the offensive’s first 11 days. Massed sorties were flown against the city of Sevastopol itself, where the bombing targeted hangars, port facilities, anti-aircraft and artillery batteries, barracks and supply depots. As a result, most of the city was engulfed in flame, the smoke rising to an altitude of 4,920 ft (1500 m) and stretching away downwind to Feodosiya, some 95 miles (150 km) distant.

As Hansen readied his LIV Corps for the breakthrough against the 95th Division, 27 Ju 87 dive-bombers of the II/StG 77 attacked the Maksim Gorky fortress’s main battery. The Germans believed the attack had knocked it out as it ceased firing. The artillery bombardment began on 16 June. In the morning the attack by the reinforced 132nd Division collapsed the line, and the Soviet garrison held out in tunnels before finally surrendering on 20 June.

The 22nd Division and 24th Division advanced from the north-east, and made successful use of their Goliath remote-control demolition vehicles against Soviet timber bunkers, though one of the vehicles exploded prematurely and two were knocked out by a minefield. Two PzKpfw III control vehicles were knocked out by Soviet anti-tank fire. By 19.30, the Maksim Gorky, Molotov, Schishkova, Volga and Siberia fortresses had been overrun. The 24th Division in particular made extensive use of its Nebelwerfer rockets. The Soviets had lost their 95th Division and 172nd Division, as well as the majority of their fortified defences. Only the 25th Division remained in the line. Petrov rushed into the area the 2,600man 138th Naval Infantry Brigade, which was landed on the 12/13 June, and this prevented the German forces from reaching Severnaya Bay on this day.

The Luftwaffe was also involved in exerting pressure on the Soviet naval forces. On 18 June the cruiser Kharkov was severely damaged. Attacks on 19 June by the bombers of KG 51 destroyed the anti-aircraft platform in Severnaya Bay, allowing air operations to continue unopposed, and the lack of anti-aircraft cover made it impossible for the minelayer Komintern to enter the harbour with reinforcements. On 20 June, the shortage of supplies reduced the Soviet ammunition and fuel supplies slipping to critical levels. The Luftwaffe was experiencing shortages of its own, however, and the daily average of sorties was now reduced by 40%, and as a result of the bomb shortage, all ordnance had to be dropped individually to minimise wastage. Some experienced crews had to conduct dive-bombing attacks 25 to 30 times per day, and the crews of KG 51's Ju 88 bombers in particular were feeling the strain.

On land, the German pressure took its toll, and between the 18 and 23 June, the entire Soviet defence line in the north collapsed. The remnants of the 95th Division was compressed into a small rectangle on the shore near Coastal Battery No. 12 to the north of Severnaya Bay. At 09.00 the battery and the division surrendered to the 132nd Division. Farther to the south the 24th Division took Bartenyevka on the mouth of Severnaya Bay. The 22nd Division reached the north of Severnaya Bay on the same day. The 138th Naval Infantry Brigade counterattacked, but was destroyed for lack of artillery and air support. On 20 June, the 24th Division fell on the main obstacle remaining on the northern side of Severnaya Bay. This was the Lenin anti-aircraft position protected by the North fortress, a position which had an anti-tank ditch 16/4 ft (5 ) wide, 1,000 mines, 32 concrete bunkers, seven armoured cupolas and 70 earth and timber bunkers making it a formidable defensive position. The Lenin defences surrendered, having already lost three of their four 76.2-mm weapons. The Germans tried to use remote-controlled mines to break into the North fortress, but these were all destroyed. At 11.30 on 21 June the fortress fell after a sustained infantry attack, and some 138 Soviet men were taken prisoner. The Germans were now able to begin mopping-up operations and the clearance of the northern shore. Exhausted and out of ammunition, most Soviet units surrendered quickly, while others attempted last stands. Some tried to escape across the bay to its southern side by boat, but were picked off by German artillery.

Even as the main action was playing out in the north, the XXX Corps alternated between attack and defence. The Soviet forces held the Sapun Ridge and could observe German movements, and on occasion could deliver effective counter-battery fire. Between 21 and 28 June, the Germans lost 10 pieces of artillery pieces, including five 150-mm medium howitzers. In the centre, the Romanians took up the slack. The 18th Division, 1st Mountain Division and 4th Mountain Division, supported by 100 pieces of artillery, gradually advanced down the Chernaya river toward its mouth and Severnaya Bay. With support from the LIV Corps on their their right, these Axis forces took all the Soviet defensive lines to the east of the Chernaya river.

The Luftwaffe had contributed 4,700 sorties in the seven days up to 26 June, dropping 3,984 tons of bombs. The daily average of sorties had decreased by 15% from the week before and 10% in the week before that. Despite the withdrawal of some Geschwadern for 'Blau', von Wild did succeed in bringing in much needed reinforcements to raise his forces' strength levels up to a standard not seen since the start of the offensive. The Luftwaffe continued the intense bombardment, and on 26 June its attacks in support of the XXX Corps devastated the Soviet defences on the Sapun Ridge, which was the last Soviet defence line between the Axis forces and Sevastopol.

Oktyabrsky and Petrov were flown out of Sevastopol at the last moment, whereupon General Major Piotr G. Novikov, commander of the 109th Division, took command of the city’s final defence. On 30 June, the LIV Corps launched a heavy assault, supported by a major Luftwaffe bombardment and several dozen guns. Heavy fighting raged during the next three days, but it was becoming clear that the Soviets could not hold their positions for more than another day at most. On 3 July, the last Soviet defence line was breached, and on the following day the last of the Soviet defences were overrun and all organised resistance collapsed. The few remaining Soviet units continued to put up scattered resistance to the south of the city to 9 July.

The Germans claimed the capture of more than 90,000 Soviet soldiers, and the deaths of a still greater number. This seems to have been an overstatement as, according to Soviet sources, the Soviet garrison defending Sevastopol totalled 106,000 men at the start of the siege plus 3,000 reinforcements during the Axis offensive. Furthermore, 25,157 persons were evacuated, the overwhelming majority of them either wounded soldiers or officers evacuated on Stalin’s orders.

In the period between 2 June and 3 July, the VIII Fliegerkorps had flown 23,751 sorties and dropped 20,528 tons of bombs. German artillery had fired 46,750 tons of munitions, and the total Axis munitions consumption was 67,278 tons over the course of one month. The Luftwaffe claimed to have destroyed 611 motor vehicles, 123 aircraft (18 of them on the ground), 38 pieces of artillery, 10 tanks, one locomotive and one Flak barge. Further destroyed were 48 Soviet artillery batteries, 28 barracks and industrial buildings, 20 bunkers, 11 ammunition depots, 10 fuel depots, one bridge and one observation post. Hundreds more motor vehicles had been damaged, along with seven pieces of artillery, 43 artillery batteries, two barracks and another bridge. German aerial attacks had sunk 10,800 tons of Soviet shipping including four destroyers, one submarine, three motor torpedo boats, six coastal vessels and four freighters. Another 12,000 tons of shipping had been damaged, with two destroyers, 10 coastal vessels and two freighters among the losses.

Although ultimately a Soviet failure, the 'Sevastopol Defensive Operation' had lasted much longer than the Germans had expected and the Soviets had hoped. The 'Blau' advance of Heeresgruppe 'Süd' toward Stalingrad and the Caucasus was just beginning at this time, and therefore lacked the support of the 11th Army. Thus Generaloberst Friedrich Paulus’s 6th Army lacked crucial support, and this was a factor in its ultimate defeat at Stalingrad.