The 'Ukrainian Border Defensive Operation' was the Russian series of battles within the 'L’vov-Chernovitsy Strategic Defensive Operation' fought unsuccessfully by Soviet forces in their attempts to check the German advance into Ukraine during the first days of 'Barbarossa' (22/27 June 1941).
One of the most important of these border battles was the Battle of Brody (otherwise the Battle of Dubna, Battle of Dubno, Battle of Rovne and Battle of Rovne-Brody) was an armoured battle fought between Generaloberst Ewald von Kleist’s 1st Panzergruppe, in the form of General Eberhard Mackensen’s III Corps and General Werner Kempf’s XLVIII Corps (mot)., and five mechanised corps of General Major Mikhail I. Potapov’s Soviet 5th Army and General Leytenant Ivan N. Muzychenko’s Soviet 6th Army in the triangle formed by the towns of Dubno, Lutsk and Brody between 23 and 30 June 1941. In overall terms, the Soviet formations inflicted heavy losses on the German forces, but were outmanoeuvred and suffered enormous losses in tanks. Wholly inadequate Soviet logistics, German air supremacy and a total breakdown in the Soviets' command and control arrangements made a German victory all but inevitable despite the Soviets' numerically and technologically superior armoured forces.
The Battle of Brody was one of the severest armoured battles in the opening phase of 'Barbarossa', and some historians have averred that it possibly surpassed the more famous Battle of Prokhorovka in 'Zitadelle'.
The 1st Panzergruppe was a component of Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt’s Heeresgruppe 'Süd', and had as its initial task within the primary objective of taking Kiev, capital of Ukraine, the seizure and retention of crossings over the Bug river and the advance to Rovno and Korosten. The 1st Panzergruppe deployed two corps forward and advanced between Lwów (L’viv) and Rovno in an attempt to cut the rail line inking Lwów and Kiev, thus punching a gap into the Soviet line at the junction of the Soviet 5th and 6th Armies.
Kirponos’s South-West Front had been created out of the Kiev Special Military District only on 22 June, and had received incomplete intelligence on the strength and axis of the German offensive. The front was surprised when the Stavka ordered a general counter-offensive, under the title of 'Directive No. 3' on the authority of the chief-of-staff, General Georgi K. Zhukov. Most of the front’s senior staff officers had been sure that the strategy would be to remain on the defensive until the situation had become clarified. Later, Polkovnik Hovhannes Kh. Bagramian, the front’s deputy chief-of-staff, who wrote the initial report to Moscow, said that 'our first combat report to Moscow was full of generalities and unclear instructions.'
By the end of 22 June, Zhukov was on his way to the headquarters of the South-West Front at Tarnopol along with Nikita S. Khrushchev, the former head of the Organisational Department of the Ukrainian Communist Party’s Central Committee, to ensure that the orders were implemented.
Six Soviet mechanised corps, with more than 2,500 tanks, were grouped as the strength of the planned Soviet concentric counter-offensive through the flanks of the 1st Panzergruppe as the first step in the overall scheme to take the entire Panzergruppe in a pincer movement by the 5th Army from the north and the 6th Army from the south to meet in the area to the west of Dubno in order to trap formations of Generalfeldmarschall Walter von Reichenau’s 6th Army and General Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel’s 17th Army on the German army group’s northern flank. To achieve this objective, General Leytenant Dmitri I. Ryabyshev’s VIII Mechanised Corps was transferred from General Leytenant Fedor Ya. Kostenko’s 26th Army, positioned to the south of the 6th Army to come under the command of Muzychenko’s 6th Army. This brought nearly all of the South-West Front’s mobile forces to bear against the base of von Kleist’s drive toward Kiev. The primary German infantry formation operating on this sector of the front, General Vikton von Schwedler’s IV Corps of Stülpnagel’s 17th Army was advancing to the south-east with the task of severing the railway link between Lwów and Kiev.
At the start of 'Barbarossa', the German armour composed of a mix of German and Czechoslovak, together with a small number of captured French and British tanks. Furthermore, nearly half of the tanks deployed by the German army were the PzKpfw I and PzKpfw II light tanks. Of the 4,000 armoured vehicles available to the Germany army, only 1,400 were the new PzKpfw III medium and PzKpfw IV heavy tanks. In the first few hours of the invasion, German commanders were shocked to find that some Soviet tanks were immune to all of the anti-tank weapons in German service.
During exercises before the start of World War II Heinz Guderian, who had risen to the rank of general and become the head of Germany’s armoured forces, had noted that on its own armour was vulnerable to infantry. He also added that tanks lacked the large-calibre weapons needed to destroy reinforced concrete bunkers and heavily fortified positions, a role that could only be performed by heavy artillery or air attack. While the distribution of tanks among infantry formations mitigated many of the tank’s weaknesses, it also exacerbated some of their strengths. Thus German military theorists concluded that to reach their full potential, armoured units required concentration in their own formations and integrated with mobile artillery, mobile infantry and close air support. Finally, Guderian opined that in order for tanks to be most effective, all armoured vehicles had to be outfitted with radio equipment so that each tank commander could hear instructions from his unit commander, thereby making it possible for each tank to co-operate with all others in an organised fashion.
At the beginning of June 1941, the Soviet army included more than 19,000 tanks. Most of these were light tanks such as the T-26 and BT-7: the frontal armour of the T-26 was just 15 mm thick, and of the BT-7 only 22 mm, offering virtually no protection against any anti-tank weapon at any range. Furthermore, the poor design of Soviet shells meant that most rounds shattered rather than penetrated on impact. More modern tanks, such as the KV-1 heavy and the T-34 medium types, were only beginning to reach service, and were not available in the quantities needed to defeat the German advance.
During the years before World War II, Soviet military theorists such as Marshal Sovetskogo Soyuza Mikhail N. Tukhachevsky came to much the same conclusions as Guderian about armour in modern warfare. During Iosif Stalin’s 'great purge' of the late 1930s Tukhachevsky was executed. As a result, during the 1930s Soviet tanks were dispersed widely to infantry divisions. Then, with the German defeat of France in May and June 1940, surviving armoured warfare theorists such as General Major Konstantin K. Rokossovsky were quickly and quietly reinstated in their positions and quickly began the process of grouping tanks into concentrated armoured formations. By June 1941 and the start of 'Barbarossa', however, this process had been about half completed, so many of the 19,000 Soviet tanks were still dispersed among infantry divisions. This made it inevitable that even if the Soviet army had a unified command, many of its armoured units would be committed piecemeal.
At full strength, a Panzer division was a balanced formation with between 150 and 200 tanks, motorised infantry, motorised artillery and motorised engineers. To support its logistical needs, each Panzer division included some 2,000 trucks. Moreover, each Panzer division had its own integrated artillery and infantry support, which meant that rather than providing support for the infantry, the Panzer divisions undertook a spearhead role, with infantry providing support for them. Furthermore, German doctrine stressed the importance of training soldiers in roles performed by other men: tank crews were trained in artillery roles, infantry trained as tank crews etc. Most importantly, tank crews were also trained as mechanics, giving them the knowledge to undertake field repair of broken equipment.
In the immediate pre-war period, the Soviet army had made few logistical preparations and was therefore at a low level of readiness: units were not concentrated, and ammunition and other supply dumps were neither concealed nor quickly available to combat units. Compounding the problem was that Stalin strictly forbade any Soviet unit from opening fire on German reconnaissance patrols, a fact which allowed these patrols readily to identify all major targets in frontier regions.
Adding to the problems which the Soviets were about to face, tank crews were not trained on their machines' mechanical details: this meant that simple mechanical problems resulted in the abandonment of many hundreds of tanks on the side of roads en route to the battle. Those units that did managed to reach their jumping-off points then discovered that the supplies on which they were reliant had either been destroyed or moved to another location without any update about their current locations. After receiving orders to attack and lacking fuel or ammunition, many crews destroyed their tanks and retreated: many more hundreds of tanks were lost in this way.
Compounding these logistical difficulties was the fact that each Soviet tank division had 300 to 400 tanks, but were supported by only 1,500 trucks, contrasting with a Panzer division which had only half the number of tanks, but 33% more trucks. Experience would prove that the ratio of trucks to tanks favoured by the Germans was by far the more effective.
On 22 June 1941, the balance of tanks over the entire area of Heeresgruppe 'Süd' and the South-West Front was as follows: the two Panzer divisions of the III Panzerkorps had 296 tanks, of which 42 had a 37-mm main gun and 140 a 50-mm main gun; the two Panzer divisions of the XLVIII Corps (mot.) had 289 tanks, of which 47 had a 37-mm main gun and 135 a 50-mm main guns; and the one Panzer division of the XIV Panzerkorps had 143 tanks, including 11 with a 37-mm main gun and 80 with a 50-mm main gun. The three German corps therefore mustered 728 tanks, of which 100 carried a 37-mm main gun and 355 a 50-mm main gun.
On the other side of the front, the IV Mechanised Corps had 300 tanks including 100 T-34 and KV modern machines; the VIII Mechanised Corps had 899 tanks including 171 T-34 and KV machines; the IX Mechanised Corps had 316 tanks but no T-34 and KV machines; the XV Mechanised Corps had 749 tanks including 136 T-34 and KV machines; the XIX Mechanised Corps had 453 tanks including a mere five T-34 and KV machines; and the XXII Mechanised Corps had 712 tanks including just 31 T-34 and KV machines. This gave the mechanised corps a total of 3,429 tanks including 443 T-34 and KV machines.
The Soviet figures reflect overall totals but not operational vehicle numbers. Even these apparently impressive on-hand numbers are not close to the formations' authorised strengths because those formations were still being formed and equipped at the time of the 'Barbarossa' invasion. The XV, XIX and XXII Mechanised Corps had come into existence only a few months before the start of the 'Great Patriotic War', which meant that they were unprepared, lacked co-ordination, were poorly trained on wholly untrained, and were not ready for effective operational service. Even the IV, VIII and IX Mechanised Corps had been in existence for fewer than 12 months. The Soviet combination of unpreparedness, lack of training and lack of fuel, ammunition, and spare parts made it inevitable that the operation-capable vehicles were significantly fewer in number. The main guns of even those that were operational had often not been bore-sighted and thus could not fire accurately, even when ammunition was available.
The German armoured formations had seen two successful campaigns and three years of war before being committed to 'Barbarossa', though some loss of of unit cohesion and efficiency had inevitably been occasioned by the doubling of the number of Panzer divisions, but this disruption was relatively small. German armoured units with effective command, control, communication and plentiful supplies, in combination with considerable combat experience and extensive training, were more combat-effective than their opponents.
The condition of the Soviet air forces operating in support of the South-West Front followed a basically similar pattern inasmuch as most of their aircraft had been destroyed on the ground on the first few days of 'Barbarossa' as a result of Stalin’s refusal to accept intelligence that a German attack was imminent and this his refusal to put Soviet forces on alert. Even so, the Soviets committed their surviving aircraft to support the 'Ukrainian Border Defensive Operation'.
The air battle resulted in more heavy losses for the attacking Soviets. The fighters of Oberleutnant Günther Lützow’s Jagdegeschwader 3 in General Kurt Pflugbeil’s IV Fliegerkorps shot down 24 Tupolev SB bombers on the first day, leaving one formation with just 20 of the initial 251 SB bombers with which it had started the war. The German losses were also heavy, with 28 aircraft destroyed and 23 damaged aircraft. The efforts of the Soviet air forces were not without effect, for the South-West Front’s air force flew 523 sorties between 22 June and 24 June, dropping 2,500 bombs. Almost total German air superiority was to continued as a major factor in breaking up the Soviet counter-offensive.
The Soviet counter-attack combined six mechanised corps under the command the 5th Army in the north and the 6th Army in the south under the command of Kirponos. Within the 5th Army, Rokossovsky’s IX Mechanised Corps and General Major Nikolai V. Feklenko’s XIX Mechanised Corps were to be deployed to the north-west of Rovno, while the XIX Mechanised Corps was to assemble to the north-east of Lutsk. To the south, in the 6th Army, Ryabyshev’s VIII Mechanised Corps and General Major Ignati I. Karpezo’s XV Mechanised Corps were to be deployed to the south-west and north-east of Brody, while General Major Andrei A. Vlasov’s IV Mechanised Corps was to be deployed between Sokal and Radekhov, on the left flank of XV Mechanised Corps. The Soviet plan called for these forces to assemble and begin offensive operations at 22.00 on 23 June, 36 hours after the initial German onslaught, in an attempt to catch the Germans off guard, and before they could solidify their position by bringing up reinforcements from the rear in support of Generalmajor Ludwig Crüwell’s fast-advancing 11th Panzerdivision.
The operational situation was notably difficult for the Soviet corps commanders: loss of communications, constant harassment from the air, lack of transportation and the chaotic movement of large numbers of refugees and retreating soldiers on the roads made it difficult for the counter-attacking forces to assemble at their jumping off points. While communication between the front headquarters and the individual army commands was generally good, communication to the front-line units was singularly difficult as depended on the civilian telephone and telegraph network. German sappers, German air attacks and Ukrainian nationalist guerrillas had targeted these systems with great aggression. Many Soviet front-line commanders were left to their own devices, and this disrupted the efficiency of Soviet command and control: the commander of the XXII Mechanised Corps' 41st Tank Division, for example, received no new orders and therefore moved his division to the assembly point designated for his corps at Kovel in the pre-war plan, and thus shifted his division away from the fighting. Another intractable problem was the lack of transport for the mechanised corps' infantry elements: though supposedly motorised, many of these divisions had only part of their full transport establishment. Thus corps commanders had to improvise solutions on an individual basis to their formations' full complement of men to their assembly points.
In these circumstances, Rokossovsky opted to commandeer 200 trucks from the district reserve at Shepetovka, but this was not sufficient for the task in hand, and Rokossovsky had therefore to mount much of his infantry on tanks. Even so, many soldiers had to walk as the trucks were carrying essential munitions and supplies. In one case, some of the XXII Mechanised Corps' heavy artillery had to be left behind for want of tractors to pull them. The commander of the XIX Mechanised Corps marched his formation forward in two echelons with the tank divisions far in advance of the ever-slower infantry, which meant that his armoured units reached the battlefield without infantry support. Commander of the VIII Mechanised Corps, Ryabyshev reported similar problems. His artillery was towed by tractors so slow that they delayed the progress of the entire column.
These complications were exacerbated by the Soviet commanders' inability to assess an appropriate axis of attack within the rapidly enlarging German salient, and therefore fix the location of the point(s) at which the counter-offensive should be focused. Between 22 June and 24 June, the VIII Mechanised Corps received three different locations for its assembly point: the original order was provided by the front command but then came a second from the commander of the 6th Army, and on 24 June a third from the front command. The corps crossed its own path and backtracked several times before finally arriving at Brody after a 310-mile (500-km) march in which it lost up to half of its older tanks and a substantial portion of its artillery and anti-tank guns to a combination of mechanical defects and German air attack. All of the tanks still left to the corps needed varying degrees of maintenance, and were incapable of operating over substantial distances. Even before the start of the counter-offensive, therefore, the corps was in a drastically weakened condition.
As a result of these and other problems in assembling the forces for the planned counterattack, the operation’s scheduled time was set back six hours to 04.00 on 24 June. By the time this decision was made on the evening 23 June, barely 48 hours since the war had begun, the 11th Panzerdivision, with Generalleutnant Hans-Valentin Hube’s 16th Panzerdivision following it, had already driven some 40 miles (65 km) into Soviet territory. Generalleutnant Friedrich-Wilhelm von Rotkirch und Panthen’s (from 25 June Generalmajor Walther Düvert’s 13th Panzerdivision and Generalmajor Friedrich Kühn’s 14th Panzerdivision had also advanced, in this instance along the road to Lutsk with the objective of reaching the Styr river on the 24th, and Generalleutnant Heinrich Deboi’s 44th Division, Generalleutnant Walther Grässner’s 298th Division and Generalleutnant Willi Moser’s 299th Division were moving up to consolidate in the wake of the Panzer divisions.
Even after the forced delay, the Soviet counter-attack began only on a piecemeal basis as the full complement of forces could not be assembled in the right place until two days later. The IV, VIII, IX and XIX Mechanised Corps were still on the march and supporting infantry corps were still farther away. Kirponos’s chief-of-staff, General Leytenant Maksim A. Purkayev, argued against the political officer attached to the South-West Front, Commissar Nikolai Vashugin, on this point, but the latter and Zhukov prevailed: the counter-attack was to be launched without further delay. Thus only two tank divisions of the XV Mechanised Corps in the south and a single tank division of the XXII Mechanised Corps in the north were in position to begin the counter-attack on 24 June.
The IV, VIII and XV Mechanised Corps nonetheless deployed a potent armoured strength in the form of modern T-34 and KV tanks. The 717 such tanks comprised almost a half of the USSR’s 1,600 manufacture of these two types. Throughout the battles, the scale of the intended operations and the precise role of each corps were communicated poorly or not at all. Ryabyshev noted that 'the corps' battle orders referred only to its own mission objectives', and thus there was little or even no communication between the individual corps to ensure co-ordination.
The 10th Tank Division was part of the XV Mechanised Corps. On 22 June its forward battalions captured Radekhov from German infantry, losing two tanks, and on the following day faced the 11th Panzerdivision in the same area, destroying 20 German tanks and losing six T-34 tanks and 20 BT tanks in the process. Lacking ammunition, the division then withdrew in an orderly fashion. On 26 June, the division destroyed 23 German tanks and an infantry battalion near Radekhov, losing 13 KV and 12 BT-7 tanks.
As a whole, the XV Mechanised Corps had possessed a total of 749 tanks, including 136 T-34 and KV machines, on 21 June. As a result of a series of inconsistent orders, the corps spent the battle moving without real purpose in the triangle bounded by Radekhov, Brody and Busk. Except for the two engagements involving the 10th Tank Division, the corps' forces were not in combat, and on 7 July it reported in Berezovka, some 185 miles (300 km) from the former border with a mere 9% of its tanks.
On 24 June the XXII Mechanised Corps attacked in the direction of Voinitsa, and by 29 June it had left only 19% of its original tank number. On 1 July one regiment unsuccessfully attacked toward Dubno, but by 15 July the corps had just 4% its tanks left to it.
On 26 June the XIX Mechanised Corps attacked toward Dubno from the north, but failed to reach it by just a short distance. On 29 June the corps had 32 tanks remaining out of its original total of 453.
The VIII Mechanised Corps finally arrived on the scene on the 25th. On 26 June 1941, the 8th Mechanised Corps attacked success in the direction of Brody and Berestechko against elements of the 11th Panzerdivision. Despite a number of difficulties and haphazard arrangements, the corps' attack met with a measure of initial success, catching the Germans on the move and outside their prepared positions, the Soviet tanks sweeping aside hastily arranged German anti-tank positions manned by motorcycle troops attached to the XLVIII Panzerkorps. Later the VIII Mechanised Corps divided, some of its formations and units amalgamating into the group led by Brigade Commissar Nikolai K. Popel, the military commissar of the VIII Mechanised Corps, and the others remaining under Ryabyshev’s command.
Some 56 KV and 100 T-34 tanks of the 12th Tank Division ran out of fuel and ammunition while attacking near Dubno, and the division had therefore to end its combat operation.
Popel’s group had about 300 tanks, including no fewer than 100 T-34 and KV tanks. On 27 June the group surprised and defeated the rear of the 11th Panzerdivision and took Dubno, a road crossing of strategic importance. This was the most successful Soviet action of the battle, as it cut the 11th Panzerdivision's line of communication and supply. However, this success was not exploited by the Soviet command, which did not communicate with Popel and provided neither supplies nor reinforcements. The group waited in Dubno and prepared to hold the town, thereby losing the operational initiative.
The situation was considered 'serious' by the German high command, and by 28 June the Germans had built up their strength in the area, and Popel’s group came under attack by elements of four infantry divisions (including Generalleutnant Sigfrid Henrici’s 16th Division (mot.) and Generalleutnant Ernst Hammer’s 75th Division) and the 16th Panzerdivision. Encircled in Dubno, Popel held the town until until 1 July, when the surviving elements broke out of the encirclement and retreated.
Ryabyshev’s group had 303 tanks, including 49 T-34 and 46 KV machines, and on 28 June, in an attempt to follow Popel, attacked Generalleutnant Oskar Blümm’s 57th Division and Hammer’s 75th Division, as well as elements of the 16th Panzerdivision. The attack was unsuccessful and the Soviets quickly retreated. On 1 July the remnants of Ryabyshev’s group reported in Tarnopol with 207 tanks, including 31 T-34 and 43 KV machines. With no further combat, the VIII Mechanised Corps then moved to Koziatyn, where on 7 July it had 43 tanks, representing just 5% of its strength on 21 June.
Vlasov’s IV Mechanised Corps was the strongest of the Soviet armoured formations in Ukraine as it numbered 313 T-34 and 101 KV tanks among its total of 979 armoured fighting vehicles. The corps reacted only slowly to the orders it received, and failed to assemble for the counter-attack. The most it achieved was on 28 June, when it secured the retreat of the XV Mechanised Corps when the latter was under severe German infantry pressure. Having neither attacked nor come under attack, the corps reported on 12 July that it had no more than 6% of its KV heavy tanks, 12% of its T-34 medium tanks and 4% of its light tanks .
Other than these, there were no more notable Soviet counter-attacks in the Battle of Brody.
The 41st Tank Division of the XXII Mechanised Corps suffered a severe loss when 31 of its KV tanks, its most effective fighting element, blundered into swampy terrain and were lost.
The effect of Soviet hesitation and command confusion on 27 June on the outcome of the battle and the German attack into Ukraine is hard to determine.
When the Soviet forces retook Dubno and cut off the head of the Germans' main drive, Kirponos thought that the same German attack threatened to outflank and encircle the Soviet forces attacking from the south. This persuaded him to order a halt to the offensive and a general retreat with the object of shortening his front 'so as to prevent the enemy tank groupings from penetrating into the rear of the 6th and 26th Armies'.
After a debate with Kirponos and his staff, Zhukov quickly countermanded these orders, and two hours later the order for a renewal of the attack were issued. This led to even more of the confusion with which the Soviet command was beset in the Battle of Brody. Rokossovsky, commanding the IX Mechanised Corps attacking from the north, ignored the order on the grounds that 'we had once again received an order to counter-attack. However, the enemy outnumbered us to such a degree, that I took on the personal responsibility of ordering a halt to the counteroffensive and to meet the enemy in prepared defences.' But Ryabyshev, commanding the VIII Mechanised Corps to the south, complied with the order and relaunched the attack, probably because he believed in Zhukov’s position that if the attack continued swiftly and aggressively, the Soviets might be successful.
Events were to indicate the correctness of Kirponos’s position, which was that the attack was premature and would destabilise the integrity of the entire front.
Shortly after the Soviet counter-offensive had been destroyed, Marshal Sovetskogo Soyuza Semyon M. Budyonny became overall command of the combined South-West Front and South Front as the South-West Direction. Disaster followed in the Battle of Uman, in which 100,000 Soviet troops were killed or captured and another 100,000 wounded when the 26th, 12th and 18th Armies were encircled after Heeresgruppe 'Süd' had renewed its offensive as it wheeled to the south from the positions it had achieved during the Battle of Dubno. This was precisely what Kirponos had foreseen in his arguments with Zhukov about the wisdom of the counter-attack at Dubno.
The confrontation between Kirponos and Zhukov led the latter to tell Khrushchev, the South-West Front’s political officer, 'I am afraid your commander [Kirponos] here is pretty weak', a charge that Kirponos would never be able to argue as he died in the Battle of Kiev after the Ukrainian capital had been surrounded.
Lasting four days, the battle between the 1st Panzergruppe and the Soviet mechanised corps was the fiercest of the whole invasion. The Soviets fought with great determination, and the crews of German tank and anti-tank guns found to their great dismay that the new T-34 tanks were almost immune to their weapons. The new KV-1 and KV-2 heavy tanks were impervious to virtually all German anti-tank weapons, but the Soviets' already chaotic logistic system had broken completely as a result of German air attacks.
Throughout this period, the German bomber wings, namely Major Hans Bruno Schulz-Heyn’s Kampfgeschwader 51, Oberstleutnant Otto Höhne’s KG 54 and Oberstleutnant Benno Kosch’s KG 55, contributed a series of heavy low-level attacks against Soviet ground targets, including the headquarters of the XV Mechanised Corps, which was destroyed, and German air attacks also destroyed about 201 Soviet tanks in this area.
The five Soviet corps were mishandled while being concentrated into large powerful groups. The German troops sought to isolate individual units and destroy them. Meanwhile, the Luftwaffe ranging over the battlefields was able to separate the supporting infantry and deny them resupply of fuel and ammunition.
After the end of the Soviet counter-offensive, the 1st Panzergruppe suffered heavily in the battles around Dubno, losing many of its tanks, but survived as a major formation still capable of operations. The Soviet forces took severe casualties, rendering most of its forces non-operational. This defensive success enabled the Germans to press forward with their offensive, even if it had been delayed substantially. The VIII Mechanised Corps was so badly depleted that the Stavka disbanded its headquarters and reallocated its remaining elements to other formations of the South-West Direction.