This was a Soviet offensive designed to lift the siege of Leningrad and allow the forces in Leningrad to link with those of the Coastal Command in General Leytenant Vladimir Z. Romanovsky’s beleaguered Oranienbaum beach-head to the west of the city on the southern side of the Gulf of Finland (7 January/late March 1942).
At this time Leningrad was invested on its Karelian (northern) side by Kenraaliluutnantti Harald Öhquist’s Finnish IV Corps of Kenraaliluutnantti Karl Lennart Oesch’s Army of Karelia within Sotamarsalkka Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim’s Finnish Army Group, and on its southern side by Generaloberst Georg von Küchler’s (from 18 January General Georg Lindemann’s) 18th Army of Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb’s (from 18 January Generaloberst Georg von Küchler’s) Heeresgruppe ‘Nord’, which had driven General Georg Kleffel’s (from 3 March General Herbert von Böckmann’s) L Corps through to Petrokrepost (Schlüsselburg in German) on the southern shore of Lake Ladoga in the area to the east of Leningrad, and General Albert Wodrig’s XXVI Corps through to Peterhof on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland to the west of Leningrad.
In Leningrad were trapped both a very large civil population and General Leytenant Mikhail S. Khozin’s Leningrad Front (in the north-west General Major Aleksandr I. Cherepanov’s 23rd Army facing the Finns, and in the south General Leytenant Fyedor S. Ivanov’s 42nd Army checking General Herbert Loch’s XXVIII Corps, and General Leytenant Vladimir P. Sviridov’s 55th Army plus the Neva Operational Group checking the L Corps). The Leningrad Front also commanded one formation outside the Leningrad pocket, namely the 54th Army holding the area from the southern shore of Lake Ladoga at Lipka to Kirishi on the Volkhov river against the L Corps and General Kuno von Both’s (from 3 March General Phillip Kleffel’s) I Corps.
In the Oranienbaum beach-head was the Coastal Command, which also came under the control of Govorov, and this was contained by the XXVI Corps. To the south-east of the beleaguered city, between General Leytenant Ivan I. Fedyuninsky’s 54th Army at Kirishi and Novgorod on the northern shore of Lake Ilmen, was General Kirill A. Meretskov’s Volkhov Front (2nd Shock, 4th, 52nd and 59th Armies) opposite General Erich von Manstein’s (from 15 March General Friedrich-Wilhelm von Chappuis’s) XXXVIII Corps and the right wing of the I Corps.
The overall Soviet plan called for a deep westward thrust between Gruzino and Novgorod by the Volkhov Front’s 2nd Shock Army (under General Leytenant Grigori G. Sokolov, later General Major Andrei A. Vlasov) before it wheeled to the north to link with Fedyuninsky’s 54th Army advancing during the second week in March from a point just to the north of Kirishi, so trapping the I Corps. The two armies were then to drive to the north to link with the 55th Army advancing to the south from Leningrad. As the two forces met the L Corps would be trapped in the Petrokrepost corridor.
The operation began on 7 January, and was defeated by the 18th Army’s ‘Raubtier’ operation. At the same time the 42nd Army attempted to drive across the Peterhof corridor to relieve the Coastal Command, but was halted in its tracks by the XXVIII Corps with support from the XXVI Corps. Fighting continued to the end of March without much movement.