Ust-Tosno Landing Operation

The 'Ust-Tosno Landing Operation' was the part played in the 'Ust-Tosno Offensive Operation' by Vitse Admiral Vladimir F. Tributs’s Baltic Fleet in the form of a tactical landing by craft of the Leningrad Naval Base (19 August 1942).

The landing was planned for the day on which the ground forces of General Leytenant Leonid A. Govorov’s Leningrad Front advancing to the east from the Tosna river achieved initial success. The landing force was to come ashore on the southern bank of the Neva river in the Ivanovskaya area in the rear of the defending German forces and contribute to its defeat.

The landing was entrusted to Kontr Admiral I. D. Kuleshov’s Leningrad Naval Base, and comprised 38 small craft assigned to landing additional land forces and to the suppression of German artillery fire on the landing area. Also allocated was a separate artillery support force of three destroyers, three gunboats and armoured gunfire vessels operating on a part of the Neva river downstream of the landing at a point where both banks of the Neva river were still in Soviet hands/ The Baltic Fleet’s 301st Artillery Division was additionally allocated to support the landing, and this formation could contribute 15 130-mm (5.12-in) and four 180-mm (7.09-in) guns. Also used were 13 railway batteries of the Baltic Fleet. The landing detachment was commanded by Kapitan 2-ro ranga A. M. Bogdanovich under the overall supervision of Tributs, and had the task of landing 280 men of the 268th Division’s 942th Regiment under the command of Podpolkovnik V. V. Kozino, as well as 50 sailors of the Leningrad Naval Base.

It was on 19 August that the forces of the 55th Army went over to the offensive, the main blow being struck by the 268th Division, which broke into Ust-Tosno on the western side of the Tosno river’s mouth into the southern side of the Neva river. The division then forced the Tosna river and seized a bridgehead on the eastern side of its mouth.

At about 13.00 six armoured boats and 23 patrol boats departed the northern bank of the Neva river, and under German fire reached the village of Ivanovskaya on the right bank of the Tosna river where it flows into the Neva river, and landed the first echelon of the assault force. About one hour later, the second echelon came ashore. The Germans had not expected any such assault, and with potently effective artillery support, the landed assault force drove the Germans out of their riverside defences and advanced about 1,315 yards (1200 m) toward the ground forces advancing from the bridgehead. German troops with driven out of, or otherwise abandoned, a number of fortified defensive positions, and this paved the way to the complete liberation of Ivanovskaya and Ust-Tosno. The naval force lost none of its boats.

However, the lack of co-ordination between the military and naval elements of the undertaking now began to have a negative effect of the Soviet operation. The assault force found itself in the heart of the German defensive complex, while the men of the 55th Army were brought to a halt by the Germans' stubborn resistance. The battle thus took on a protracted nature and, under these conditions, the commander of the landing decided to break through in order to link with the forward elements of the 55th Army, and this had been achieved by the end of the same day. However, the inconsistency of the various elements of this combined operation had a negative impact on the next phase of the undertaking. Even so, Soviet troops still held Ust-Tosno and part of Ivanovskaya, which created an important bridgehead on the southern bank of the Neva river. In the days which followed, the operation was reduced to battles and actions to hold the bridgehead, which was achieved, and to expand it, which was not achieved.

For lack of any direct communication between the bridgehead at Ivanovskaya and the main forces of the 55th Army, supply for the bridgehead was entrusted to the Leningrad Naval Base which, on an almost daily basis, used its craft for the delivery of reinforcements and the evacuation of the wounded. This whole transport effort was carried out under German fire at close range, and therefore suffered significant losses. To cover the craft and suppress German artillery fire, the fleet command deployed several artillery batteries on the northern bank of the Neva river, but even so the movement of boats to and from the bridgehead was very risky.

The data for the activities of the Leningrad Naval Base in supplying the troops in the Ivanovskaya bridgehead included: on 20 August five armoured boats reached the bridgehead, and two of these were damaged; on 21 August there was a significant reinforcement of the bridgehead in which 839 men were delivered and another 106 men were mistakenly landed at the location of the 55th Army, while the Germans sank six boats and damaged one more; on 22 August 220 men were people were delivered, and one boat was damaged; on 23 August one boat was sunk in a resupply mission; 24 August 13 boats delivered 210 men, and suffered the loss of two boats sunk; on 25 August eight boats delivered 240 men and evacuated wounded personnel; and on 26 August 224 men were delivered and 76 wounded were evacuated for the loss of boats sunk.