Formation of the South Front. Attempts of General Wrangel to make his way to western Ukraine in the Autumn. Political and Strategic objectives. March of Makhno's forces in the Northeastern parts of the Ukraine. Agreement with Makhno. Makhno's forces on the South Front. Forcing of the Dnieper river by Wrangel's Second Army between Alexandrovsk and Nikopol. Successful counter-maneuver of the Red forces. Retreat of the enemy to the left bank of the Dnieper. Strength of opposing forces before the beginning of the decisive operations in Northern Taurida. Disposition of these forces. Frunze's plans of operation. Beginning of the advance of the Soviet armies. Division of the forces of the First Cavalry Army; effects of the same. Retreat of the enemy. New disposition of hostile forces on the Crimean isthmuses. Nature of the fortifications of the Crimean isthmuses. Relative strength of opposing forces. Decision of General Wrangel to defend the isthmuses; disposition of his forces with this in view. Plans of the Soviet high command concerning the attack on the Crimean isthmuses. Distribution of forces and means. Forcing of the Sivash by the Soviet forces and their consolidation on Crimean territory. Battle incident to the extension of the base of operations on the peninsula. Counterattacks of the enemy. Withdrawal of the enemy to the Ushunsk position during the night of the 8- 9 November, 1920. New hostile dispositions. Ushunsk engagement, November 10-11. Assault, capture of the Ushunsk position by the Sixth Army. Importance of this event. Issue of the main forces of the Sixth Army. Importance of this event. Issue of the main forces of the Sixth Army from the gorges of the Perekop isthmus. Pursuit of the enemy and capture by the Red army of the entire Crimean territory. General conclusions. (See map pertaining to Chapters XIX, XX and XXI - original text. - Tr.)
The decision with respect to the shifting of the center of gravity in our efforts to the Taurida sector of the Southwest Front increased the importance of this sector, raising it to the status of an independent Front. The organization of the separate Front, furthermore, became necessary owing to the considerable forces concentrated at this time in the Taurida sector. This Front, now designated as the South Front, was organized on the 21st of September, 1920, with N. V. Frunze in command. The forces assigned to the new Front included the Sixth and Thirteenth armies and the Second Cavalry Army. At the same time the Twelfth Army and the First Cavalry Army were assigned to the Southwest Front, with the latter preparing for a transfer to the South Front.
The appointment of a single, experienced commander for the South Front (group of armies) had come just in time. In anticipation of a further concentration of large Red forces in the Taurida sector, the enemy was preparing for a final attempt to reach western Ukraine. Wrangel was attracted here by political considerations which were also not destined to be successful, as in the case of his hopes with respect to the Don and the Kuban. Overestimating the political importance of the petit bourgeois parties of the Ukrainian federalists, after his successful attempts to reach an understanding with Petlura and Makhno, Wrangel came to an agreement with them whereby the Ukraine was to be afforded autonomous rights similar to those existing in the Cossack districts. On the basis of this he hoped to gain the support of the wide masses of the Ukrainian population. Undoubtedly Wrangel's expectations were encouraged by the information reaching him of an uprising of Ukrainian farmers in Western Ukraine. The latter, however, was of an economic rather than political nature. The framers were dissatisfied by the fact that they were being deprived of all surplus products. With the Petlura movement at Podolia and Kiev, Wrangel found impossible to establish any contact, both owing to the basic difference in the objectives involved ( single, indivisible Russia and independent Ukraine) and the vast distances separating them.
By the month of October, 1920, most of Makhno's favorite territory was under General Wrangel's control. Leaving in the occupied regions concealed elements, Makhno with his more efficiently organized units continued to raid the communications of the southwest Front, and later also of the South Front. Complemented with poorly equipped and trained reserve elements and with troops from the interior guards, the army communications troops put up but slight resistance against Makhno' forces. During the summer and autumn Makhno from time to time went so far as to seize even large towns; he plundered the supply trains and supply depots of the armies in the field, and demolished railways. Because this the Soviet government, mindful of the importance, in 1920, of the proper protection of the communications in the Ukraine, found it necessary to place F.E. Dzerzhinsky at the head of forces designated to combat the hostile elements involved in the early part of the summer. Declaring himself an enemy of Wrangel, Makhno was at the same time greatly facilitating Wrangel's action against the Red forces. The political situation of the leader of the Kulak (wealthy peasant. - Tr.) Third Revolution became more difficult than ever. The struggle of the Soviet government with the counter-revolution of the landowners and generals headed by Wrangel attracted the sympathies and friendly feeling of the peasant masses, who had experienced the effects of the Denikin regime. Makhno was facing the danger of being regarded by the peasantry as a political ally of General Wrangel. Both the political situation and the difficult material condition of the forces involved impelled Makhno to offer his services to the Soviet government.
With the conclusion of the Starobielsk agreement, by reason of which Makhno gained certain internal autonomous rights and freedom of recruiting men for his own organizations Makhno placed himself and his forces at the disposal of the South Front. This greatly calmed the situation behind the lines of this front (group of armies), which was so vital in the preparations for a successful, decisive operation against Wrangel's forces. In response to expressed doubts concerning the propriety of such steps in the premises on the part of the commander of the South Front, who was ere long called upon once more to use force in curbing his temporary ally, we wish merely to stress the tactical and strategic importance of the agreement in question at the time in question, which should be obvious to every historian.
The latter part of October passed in comparative quiet. Only on the boundaries of the donets Basin did the Red forces of the Thirteenth Army and of the newly organized Fourth Army continue their movement in the wake of the enemy who was withdrawing, in order to straighten out his lines. The enemy effected a partial regrouping of his forces with a view to the restoration of his units that had been disorganized during the Nikopol operation. As a result of this regrouping the enemy now left in the Melitopol and Oriekhov areas only his Don corps. In the Alexandrovsk area there was to be employed the newly organized III Corps comprising the 6th and 7th Infantry Divisions with certain minor attached organizations. In the Nikopol area was being concentrated the I Corps commanded by Kutepov; in the Kakhovka area there continued to operate the II Corps. The Cavalry Corps under Barabovich, constituting the general White G.H.Q. reserve, was concentrating in the Rubanovka - N. Sierogoza - Kalga area. The regrouping of the above forces was just about being completed.
The 6th Infantry Division was arriving at Mikhailovka, while Markov's division, proceeding to the area where its corps was being disposed, was at the Balka village (Sketch 21 - original text).
The general outline of the White front resembled an irregular trapezium the lower base of which consisted of the Black Sea coast, where the hostile navy was in control.
The Red forces covered these hostile dispositions in a semicircle, and during the latter part of October had completed their concentration. The Red Fourth Army, operating in the Alexandrovsk area, was considerable dispersed in depth extending from Alexandrovsk to the Yekaterinoslav - Sinelnikovo line. The I Cavalry Army had reached with advance units the Ingulets river west of the town of Berislava.
On the completion of the concentration of all Red forces, accomplished at the close of October, the Red forces enjoyed a numerical superiority. However, a comparison of the tables presented below fall short of providing definite conclusions, inasmuch as the Red forces are shown by our field headquarters by the number of "men in the field," while the enemy lists his forces by "effectives."
Strength of Red Forces on South Front Nov. 8. 1920 page 761 is omitted. and part of page 762 Table 2*
Taking into consideration the advantage involved in the relative strength of the opposing forces and the existing envelopment of the hostile forces, the commander of the Red front gave his armies the decisive mission of "crushing Wrangel's forces without permitting them to withdraw to the Crimea peninsula, and to seize the isthmuses.
In the execution of these missions, the Red Sixth Army (Kork) was directed against Perekop and Salkovo from the Kakhovka fortified base. The First Cavalry Army, effecting a crossing at Kakhovka, was swiftly to reach the northern extremity of Lake Molochoye - Fedorovka railway station, crush the hostile reserves, cut off their line of retreat to the Crimea and pursue the enemy until he was completely destroyed.*
Table 2* Frunze Military Academy, Doc. 30, pp. 53 and 54. According to the data contained in Doc. 28, p. 52, same sources, the hostile forces in question consisted of 57,8l5 infantry and cavalry.
* The First Cavalry Army command (Budienny, Voroshilow) at a conference held at Kharkov, in the month of October, suggested to the commander of the South Front (group of armies) and the commander-in-chief, who was present at the conference, a more decisive plan for the strategic employment of the First Cavalry Army. In accordance with these suggestions, the Cavalry Army was to penetrate through the Salkov isthmus into the Crimea and cut the line of retreat of Wrangel's forces in the south. This plan was rejected both by the commander of the South Front and by the commander-in-chief. At the present time, when the historian is in possession of the data depicting the state of the communications of the White forces and the disposition of the hostile forces at the beginning of the decisive operations of the Red forces, we cannot help recognizing the fact that the bold and hazardous plan of the Cavalry Army command under the conditions existing at the time might well have afforded exceptional results. Here is what General Wrangel himself has to say in his notes concerning the situation at Salkov on the night of the 29-30 October, when the movement of the south group of the Cavalry Army to the Salkov isthmus was already under way.
"The Red First Cavalry Army was advancing with its main forces against the rear of our armies, endeavoring to cut them of from the Crimea. Meanwhile, General Kutepov was slow in his movements. During the entire day of the 29th he continued to remain in the vicinity of Sieragoz. I issued orders to him by radio to move promptly on Salkov and to endeavor to drive the penetrating enemy against the Sivash. It was quite clear, however, that the enemy would be able to reach the isthmus before General Kutepov's units could get there. The enemy advanced without any interference, and he could be expected in the Salkov area by the evening of the 30th. The fortified position covering the exit from the Crimea had been held only by weak guard detachments. The Red forces could easily seize the Salkov defile by a mere raid, and sever all communications between the Crimea and the army. It was essential to occupy the defile promptly with larger forces. I sent orders to General Abramov on the night of the 29-30 requiring him to direct to Salkov, under the protection of armored trains, the 7th Infantry Division that had been concentrated at Melitopol. During the night troops proceeded by rail there. But, owing to the congested condition of the railway, the movement was at an extremely slow pace. It was cold, frost reaching 20 degrees below zero. Not being properly equipped for such cold weather, the railway water towers froze up. The troop trains were stalled on route. Frightful hours approached. I had Thirteenth Army had been formed into a special group which, moving on the Fedorovka railway station, was to meet the advancing two cavalry armies.ring the night troops proceeded by rail there. But, owing to the congested condition of the railway, the movement was at an extremely slow pace. It was cold, frost reaching 20 degrees below zero. Not being properly equipped for such cold weather, the railway water towers froze up. The troop trains were stalled on route. Frightful hours approached. I had no troops under my immediate control, and the path to the Crimea was open to the enemy. Throughout the 30, everything that could possibly be gathered from among those capable of bearing arms was sent to Salkov. The cadets from the school at Simferopol, students from the artillery school, my own convoy; there were called out from Feodosia Kuban units under General Fostikov that were still in the process of organization. At dusk the advance units of the Red cavalry approached Salkov and exchanged fire with our weak forces there."
This testimony of General Wrangel himself seems to leave no doubt of the fact that a swift advance on the Salkov isthmus by the Red cavalry might easily anticipate the White forces and penetrate into the Crimea.
The Second Cavalry Army, after crossing the Dnieper at Nikopol and V.Rogachik, was to advance southeastward, against the Fedorovka-Mikhailovka front and, establishing contact with the First Cavalry Army, attack the rear of the Alexandrovsk and Pologa groups of the enemy. The fourth and Thirteenth armies immobilized the hostile forces, endeavoring to defeat them and to drive them against our cavalry armies. In addition, the cavalry of the Thirteenth Army had been formed into a special group which, moving on the Fedorovka railway station, was to meet the advancing two cavalry armies.
This Frunze plan pursued the objective of the "battle of annihilation," aimed primarily at the destruction of the hostile manpower. The bold nature of the plan was fully in accordance with the requirements of the situation, as regards the relative strength of forces and advantages incident to the initial disposition of forces which greatly facilitated the a launching of a concentric advance with all available Red forces. All matters affecting material, strategic and political aspects of the situation, had been carefully thought out and provided for* by the political situation. The crushing blow against Wrangel's forces afforded Soviet diplomacy a great advantage with respect to the successful conclusion of the protracted peace negotiations at Riga with the Poles.
*The reader may find many interesting items bearing on this in Volume III of the Collected Works of M. V. Frunze.
Moreover, the establishment of trade relations with the Allied powers depended to a considerable extent on a prompt successful conclusion of the campaign on the Crimean front. Thus the plan and objectives of the operation had been in full accord with the entire situation and were the outgrowth of the same. Consequently, the operation of the southern Red armies in Northern Taurida constituted also one of the rare undertakings in military history as regards unity and singleness of purpose. But here also, as in the case of the operations on the Vistula, distinction must be made between the plans adopted and their execution. In the former case we were dealing with the single will of the commander, reacting on the influences of his surroundings, seeking means to overcome the trials and tribulations produced by these surroundings. In the latter case there appeared on the scene individual commanders responsible for the execution of the plans involved. The functions and creative efforts of these commanders were being affected by new developments which in some cases facilitated and in others complicated the functions of the commander-in-chief by the appearance of unforeseen difficulties.
The commander-in-chief could not be held responsible for the appearance of these difficulties, not being always in a position to remove these in time, in view of the rapidly changing situation and the vastness of the modern theater of war. Thus, the execution of a military undertaking depends on the collective efforts of the commander and his immediate subordinates, and, therefore, the Historian in analyzing this must once more stress the part of G.H.Q.the appropriate planning of the operation and the role of those responsible for its proper execution, determining the objective and subjective reasons affecting the particular outcome of an operation.
As regards the plans of the enemy, from the incomplete data at our disposal, we may conclude that these involved the gradual evacuation of Northern Taurida or a considerable contraction of his front there with the delivery of frequent thrusts against the Red forces. With the above in view the enemy apparently maintained the strong Barabovich cavalry group in the N. Sieragz area along with one division of his I Corps.
Owing to some delay on the part of the First Cavalry Army,* the decisive advance to be launched by all Red armies of the South front was ordered for October 28. By that time the armies were to take up their lines of departure. The Sixth Army, especially, with its left flank (52d Infantry Division) was to occupy the base on the left bank of the Dnieper in the Nizhne (Lower) Rogachik area. The Second Cavalry Army was to cross the Dnieper and take up position at the base on the left bank of the river south of the town of Nikopol. The Fourth and Thirteenth armies were ordered to occupy their line of departure at the close of the 27th of October as follows: Fourth Army, on the line Yanchakrak, Shcherbakovka, Oriekhov, inclusive; the Thirteenth Army - the line Oriekhov - Pologa - Vierkhn, Tokmak -Nogaisk.
On the 26th of October the commander of the South Front ( group of
armies) introduced certain changes in his original plan. These changes were as
follows: The Second Cavalry Army was given the direction due south on Sieragoz;
the First Cavalry Army was first to reach the Askania-Nova - Gromovka area, and
thence attack the rear of the main hostile forces. The Sixth Army was now given
the mission of defeating the hostile II Corps, maintaining a screening force in
the north of not less than one division; it was to leave one division in
reserve, while leaving one division in the Kherson area; its left-flank
division (52d) was to launch a vigorous attack on Rubanovka Sieragoz in
conjunction with the Second Cavalry Army, on the 29th of October.
On the night of the 25-26 October the Sixth, and Second Cavalry armies proceeded with the occupation of their line of departure on the left bank of the Dnieper. The Sixth Army crossed with the two brigades of its left-flank division (52d Infantry Division) to the left bank of the Dnieper in the vicinity of Nizhn. Rogachik with the object of occupying the Nizhn, Rogachik - Karadubin base of operations.
At the same time, the 46th Infantry Division, attached to the Second Cavalry Army, and the 16th Cavalry Division of the same army started crossing to the left bank of the Dnieper in the vicinity of Kikopol and Vierkhne- Tarasovskoye.
These actions of the Red forces compelled the enemy to adopt measures with a view to the restoration of his situation on the line of the Dnieper river. He committed to action against the 52d Infantry Division his Kornilov division. The fighting here was protracted, with alternating tactical successes and failures on both sides without, however, any decisive results. Nizhn, Rogachik was the main center of the fighting, which point changed hands several times. But the Red forces made no progress in extending their base of operations; nor did the White forces succeed in driving the Red forces beyond the Dnieper. This indecisive action had been due to the fact that both sides had committed to action here nearly equal forces.
More serious for the enemy was the Nikopol center of the fighting. Here the pressure of the Red forces from behind the extremely cautious Second Cavalry Army, which became quite extended during the crossing by the units of this army to the left bank of the Dnieper, was developing rather slowly, but inexorably. During the first day of the crossing i.e., on the 26th of October, the enemy was compelled to commit to action the Markov division of his forces, which happened to be near at hand. The Markov division, however, did not suffice for the purpose of repelling the Red forces on the right bank of the Dnieper. And the commander-in-chief of the White forces was gradually moving up to the Nikopol center of resistance from the Alexandrovsk and Pologai sectors first the 1st Brigade of the 1st Kuban Cavalry Division from the Oriekhov area, and then the lst and 2nd Don Cavalry divisions from his eastern sector of the front. By the evening of the 27th of October the latter were already situated in the vicinity of the Nikopol base of operations, though they had not yet entered the battle. At the same time the enemy hastened to strengthen his mobile reserve (Barbovich cavalry corps ), moving up to this reserve the 2nd Brigade of the same Kuban Cavalry Division.
Thus, the first result of the crossing by the Second Cavalry Army and of the left flank of the Sixth Army (52d Inf. Div.) was the considerable weakening of the entire eastern group of the hostile Don Corps that had been greatly extended. This rendered the situation of this corps most difficult, inasmuch as the II Army Corps operating in the Alexandrovsk area had not yet been reinforced by the 6th Infantry Division that was being transferred to it from the Rubanovka area. This caused the enemy to seek the strengthening of his forces in the Alexandrovsk and Pologai areas by contracting his front by means of a withdrawal. And this enabled the Red Fourth and Thirteenth armies to reach in time their line of departure as ordered, by the close of the 27th of October.
Certain writers assume that at this time the enemy already decided to abandon the fight in Northern Taurida and to slip out from under the blows that were being aimed against him. This may be seen from the fact that the II hostile Corps in the Perekop area during the night of the 27-28 of October, covered by rear guards, began withdrawing on Perekop. At the same time, there suggests itself the belief that, deciding on a general withdrawal in the Crimea, the enemy had hoped of combining it with isolated victories over one of our pursuing groups, swooping down upon it with Barabovich's cavalry. More than likely, this assault, as in the month of August, 1920, was to strike our Kakhovka group while the latter was engaged in the pursuit of the White II Corps. It would appear to us that the enemy plans involved were more extensive. It is possible that the II corps was simply being removed by the enemy from under the assault of our First Cavalry Army and that he was hoping in this manner to draw the cavalry army in its entirety to the Perekop area, with a view to subjecting it there to attack with strong cavalry reserves that were situated in the Sieragoz area at the moment when this cavalry army, turning toward the Perekop area, would expose its flank for the assault. The First Cavalry Army represented the most serious threat to the enemy. Once it could be successfully dealt with, it would have been possible, without being in any way hampered, by means of a series of successive assault to restore the situation in other sectors of the front. The success of such a maneuver, however, was contingent upon the extent to which the situation could be maintained in the Nikopol, Alexandrovsk and Polagai areas. The days preceding the fighting here permitted General Wrangel to learn that the Red forces in the Nikopol area were quite strongly entrenched there. The whole question was a as to whether the screening forces could maintain themselves in the Alexandrovsk and Pologai areas. There was reason for apprehension concerning the latter area, whence there were gradually withdrawn the best troops ( three Cossack Cavalry divisions.), But here in the rear of the Don Corps there was the fortified Melitopol position, upon which the enemy, apparently, had placed much hopes. Only by these considerations is it possible to explain the enemy's delay of his general withdrawal, which he might have started and continued under comparatively calm conditions as far back as the close of the 26th of October, upon learning of the slow crossings of the Second Cavalry Army. The decision for the general withdrawal in no way called for the transfer of the 3d Cavalry Division from Pologai to Nikopol.
The delay on the part of the enemy in the beginning his withdrawal created favorable conditions for the execution of the plan of comrade Frunze. By the close of the 27th of October the interval of space between the Second Cavalry Army and the Thirteenth Army was beginning to be filled in by the two leading divisions of the Fourth Army 30th and 23d infantry divisions) and the advance guards of the 30th infantry Division established contact with the leading units of the Infantry Division of the Whites. Further in the southeast the right-flank units of the Red Thirteenth Army came into close contact with units of the Don III corps, while the 42d Infantry Division waded in considerable depth within the White dispositions, capturing the important communications center of Bol. Tokmak. Our Azov group (Don 2nd Division with attached organizations) had still been somewhat behind the main forces of the Thirteenth Army, crowded in the center (9th Infantry Division with Kashirin's cavalry group: 5th and 9th cavalry divisions) with main cavalry forces behind the infantry (9th and 5th cavalry divisions). In the Nikopol area the Second Cavalry Army had on the left bank of the Dnieper its infantry (3d and 46th infantry divisions), and of its cavalry only the independent cavalry brigade and 16th Cavalry Division. The 2d and 2lst cavalry divisions and the cavalry brigade commanded by Kitsiuk still remained on the right bank of the Dnieper. The enemy, however, was no longer pursuing any decisive objectives in this area, notwithstanding the fact that he had at his disposal the newly arrived two fresh Con cavalry divisions. In the vicinity of Nizhn. (Lower) Rogachik the protracted battle between the Kornilov division and the 52d Infantry Division was of purely local importance. Finally, in the Kakhovka base area, there were concentrated, preparatory to an advance, three Red divisions ( the Latvian, 15th and 51st infantry divisions), and the First Cavalry Army was also moved up here under cover of darkness. Such was the situation on the night before the beginning of the decisive advance of the Red armies of the South Front.
The subsequent stages of the battle gradually shifted the center of gravity on both sides from the Nikopol area to newly developed centers of action.
At daybreak of the 28th of October there began a wide fan like movement from the Kakhovka area of the Red divisions of the Sixth Army, followed by the leading divisions of the First Cavalry Army that had already effected the crossing of the Dnieper The 51st Infantry Division with its four brigades proceeded directly against Perekop; here also was advancing the 44th Infantry Brigade of the 15th Infantry Division, accompanied by the Sablin cavalry brigade and the cavalry group commanded by Yushkevich (Latvian cavalry regiment and 15th Cavalry Regiment). To the north thereof, for purposes of security, on the line: Dmitrievka, Konstantinovka, Gornostayevka, there was moved up the Latvian division. Two brigades of the 15th Infantry Division secured the Kakhovka base, which had just been skirted by the 4th and 14th cavalry division of the First Cavalry Army. The remainder were still delayed by the crossing of the Dnieper at Kakhovka.
To the south the main firces of the Sixth Army in the Kherson area were effecting the crosing of the 1st Infantry Division over the Dnieper, which was moved up to the Black Sea coast. The movements of all of these forces so far were carried out without any interference. During the night (27-38 October) the enemy had already succeeded in effecting his withdrawal, and the main forces of the II Corps of the Whites already in the Chaplinka area, covered by rearguards which were being maintained on the line: Chernaya Dolina - Natalino. On the tip of the left flank of the Sixth Army the enemy, on the night of the 27-28, also withdrew (Kornilov division) before the 52d Infantry Division, declining any attempts at driving it back of the Dnieper. The 52d Infantry Division was concentrating in the Nizhn. Rogachik area, preparing to continue its advance in the direction of Olgofeld - Rubanovka.
The Second Cavalry Army utilized the night of the 27---28 October for a continuation of its concentration and the deployment of its forces on the left bank of the Dnieper. Here there arrived from Nikopol at Vodyanoye the 2nd Cavalry Division; the 7th Infantry Brigade was completing its crossing and the 21st Cavalry Division moved into position after having left during the night its extensive lines on the right bank of the Dnieper. Notwithstanding the arrival of reinforcements (Don 1st and 2nd Divisions), the enemy here also declined to make any efforts at repulsing the units of the Second Cavalry Army or to drive them back across the Dnieper. Henceforth the enemy was to endeavor by means of an active defense to merely prevent a further advance on the Second Cavalry Army. In this connection the enemy on the night of the 27-28 withdrew his units to the line of Olgofeld - Vierkhn (Upper) Rogachik - Bol. and Mal. Bielozerka - Orlyansk (See Sketch 21 - original text.)
In general, the 28th of October was marked by a lull in the fighting in the Nikopol area. The Red forces had to overcome the distance that was separating them from the enemy in order to re-establish contact with the enemy. So far, this was being accomplished only be the 16th Cavalry Division, which on the morning of the 28th October began advancing on Orlyansk - Mal. (Little) Bielozerka from Balka.
Matters were different in the Alexandrovsk and Pologai areas, Here on the evening of the 27th of October the enemy halted his withdrawal, intending to put up a strong resistance on the line occupied by him against any further advance of the Red forces. Hence on the morning of the 28th of October there was vigorous fighting between the advance units of the opposing forces. The front of the Red forces was straightened out during the night. The 42d Infantry Division, occupying on the previous day Bol. Tokmak, abandoned it on the night of the 27-28 because of the fact, apparently, that the salient formed by it proved vulnerable, and the 6th Infantry Division was making its way toward it. Preparing for a decisive attack, the Red forces were concentrating their frontal forces and moving up their cavalry. Meanwhile in the gap between the 30th Infantry Division and the 42d Infantry Division there were inserted the 23d Infantry Division and Makhno's forces. In the Tokmak area, reinforcing the 7th Cavalry Division that was engaged in action here, was the 9th Infantry Division, while in the gap between the main forces of the Thirteenth Army and the Azov group (Don 2nd Division) there was being inserted the cavalry group of the Thirteenth Army (Kashirin - 5th and 9th cavalry divisions). The enemy, too,adopted measures for the reinforcement of his units. He concentrated his Don 3d Division in the Lindenau - Astrakhanka area, and he shifted to this right flank from the interior (apparently from the Genichesk area) the Independent Dolgopyatov Cavalry Brigade. These measures adopted by both sides resulted in the considerable crowding of forces, especially in the case of the Reds, in the Bol. Tokmak area, and the establishment of close contact between the opposing forces, which, in view of the objectives which both sides had assumed for the 28th of October,converted the Bol. Tokmak area into the second important battle area on this day.
In the Sixth Army sector, only the 51st Infantry Division engaged in any action with hostile rear guards at the Chernaya Dolina and Natalino villages on this day; it defeated these and by the close of the 28th of October was approaching the Chaplinka village. All of the remaining units of the army effected the changes in their disposition as ordered without any encounters with the enemy.
The 52d Infantry Division was effecting the regrouping of its forces and had not advanced any. This enabled its fore, the White Kornilov division, to withdraw to the Zielyenaya area and to prepare for defense there.
The First Cavalry Army, on the 28th of October, was still unable to exert its influence on the development of the operation. Being delayed by the crossing of the Dnieper, this army continued its development and had not yet gotten beyond the line of the infantry units of the Sixth Army.
The Second Cavalry Army, on the 28th of October, completely concentrated on the left bank of the Dnieper, though it committed to action only two cavalry divisions. Of these, the 21st Cavalry Division, after a successful action, dislodged the rear guard of the Kornilov division from the Vierkhny (Upper) Rogachik village, while the 16th Cavalry Division, employing its brigades on two separate attacks on Mal. Bielozerka and Orlyansk, was repulsed by the Markov divisions at both of these points. Thus the Nikopol combat area did not provide the intensive fighting that might have been expected here on this day, considering the large forces that had been concentrated in this area, by both sides.
As was to be expected, considering the disposition of the forces, the center of gravity on the 28th of October had been shifted eastward - to the Alexeyevsk and Pologai areas. Here, notwithstanding the fact that the territorial gains of the Fourth and Thirteenth armies amounted to an advance of only 5 to 15 kilometers, the tactical gains were considerable. These were as follows: (1) The enemy was defeated and compelled to withdraw, in view of the general situation, from that line of the front where he had prepared to put up an organized resistance, and (2) Between the inner flanks of the Red Second Cavalry Army and the Fourth Army there was established tactical cooperation. Thus, by the close of the 28th of October, there was closing in of the Red forces which was beginning to be tightened around the White forces.
With the arrival of the First Cavalry Army at its designated positions this semi-circle was threatening to be converted into a full strategic and then tactical envelopment.
Under the existing situation, the Sixth Army and the First Cavalry Army on the one hand and the Thirteenth Army on the other, served as the prongs of the pincers with which comrade Frunze was preparing to cleanly cut off the enemy from the Crimean isthmuses. One of the these prongs, that of the Sixth and First Cavalry armies, was particularly strong and menacing to the enemy. Already at the close of the 28th of October the advance infantry units of this prong were 25 to 30 kilometers from the disposition of the main hostile reserves (the Barabovich cavalry corps) which had as yet enjoyed freedom of action. The other prong- the Thirteenth Army, would likewise have been menacing to the enemy had the center of gravity in the concentration of its forces been shifted back in the direction of its left flank, of the Azov group, instead of the right. In that event, the Azov group would not have been ayt first driven back of the general line of the front - which afforded the enemy the advantage of protection by the distances involved. Even though the hostile eastern screening force was already not have been at first driven back of the general line of the front - which afforded the enemy the advantage of protection by the distances involved. Even though the hostile eastern screening force was already defeated, the enemy could still count upon the fact that this screening force,maintaining itself on a narrower front behind the Melitopol fortified position, would gain the necessary time for it. The time involved had been necessary in order to attempt to defeat the more threatening Red Kakhovka group of forces.
This is why on the 29th of October the enemy intended, by containing the Red northern group of forces (52d Division, Second Cavalry Army and the Red Fourth Army) with those forces which had already been operating against this group, to further weaken his eastern screening force by detaching therefrom two infantry divisions and to move the screening force to an even more contracted front at the Melitopol fortified positions. The detached divisions were sent to reinforce the group of forces that was already situated in the N. Sieragoz area. ( Sketch 22 - original text).
The group of forces thus strengthened was to attack the Kakhovka group of the Red forces threatening the Perekop isthmus and crush that group. The hostile plan involved might have been disrupted if the hostile Melitopol screening force would have failed in maintaining its positions and opened the path for the Red forces to the Chongar peninsula before the White mobile group of forces could defeat our Kakhovka group. As a safeguard against such an eventuality, the enemy did not hesitate to further weaken his forces in the Melitopol area. He decided to detach from the III Army Corps here the 7th Infantry Division, and to transfer it partly by armored train and partly by marching to the Salkovo area. In the latter area there was organized a special group under command of General Kantserov made up of this division and certain reserve formations, and maintained under the immediate control of General Wrangel himself, the mission of which was the protection of the Chongar isthmus. This the enemy detached three more infantry divisions from his III Army Corps and the Don Corps. Some compensation, though far from sufficient for such a weakening of the Don Corps, was to be found in the attachment to the Don Corps of the regular Don training brigade which apparently was sent to the tip of the right flank of this corps on October 29th.
During the night of the 28-29 October units of the III Corps and of the Don Corps once more succeeded in effecting their withdrawal from the Red advance guards. These hostile corps crowded toward their inner flanks, and on their relatively narrow front covered the sector of the Alexandrovsk - Melitopol railway. The 7th Infantry Division, upon the extension of their right flank of the Markov division, was moved to the rear and stationed, in the vicinity of the Fedorovka railway station, where it was to entrain under cover of the 6th Infantry Division and the Don 1st Division. On the line of these two divisions, taking up positions along side of them in the south, were the Don 2nd Division and the Dolgopyatov cavalry brigade, pursued by the Red 5th Cavalry Division, which had gotten considerably in advance of the Azov group of the Red forces (Don 2nd division). This group was in a position to play a decisive role in the capture of the Melitopol fortified position, inasmuch as it was only a small distance from it. To overcome this distance, however, amounting to about 45 kilometers, time was needed, which the Red forces were lacking, since the White Don 3d Division that had been ordered directly to the Melitopol positions, was practically there.
Now let us examine the situation on both sides in the Kakhovka- Perekop area. The most important matters deserving our attention are the following: (1) That the First Cavalry Army had already deployed and was beginning to overtake the infantry columns; (2) That the combat formation of this army was split up into two groups which began moving in divergent directions. The northern group (6th and llth cavalry divisions) advanced directly against Agaiman - Sieragoz, where an encounter with hostile strategic reserves that had been completing their concentration on the Rubanovka - Nizhne Sieragoza line was unavoidable. The other group of the First Cavalry Army, of equal strength (4th and 14th Cavalry divisions), on the other hand, began an abrupt turn due south, against the Gromovka area; (3) Finally, let us turn our attention to the fact that already on the morning of the 29th October the opposing forces in the Agaiman area were separated by a distance of only 35 kilometers.
Thus, on the 29th of October, the center of gravity in the strategic operation was to be shifted further to the ends of our enveloping horseshoe. At the same time, the Second Cavalry Army was now the connecting link between the eastern and western branches of this strategic horseshoe and provided for their cooperation. Here,on the morning of the 29th October both sides were situated in close contact with one another. The two brigades of the 52d Infantry Division became involved in combat with the Kornilov division in the vicinity of Zielyenaya. Farther, the 2nd Cavalry Division advanced on Bol. Bielozerovka. To the east thereof, on the Mal. Bielozerka - Orlyansk line, there were advancing the 16th Infantry Division, the 8th Infantry Brigade and the Kitsiuk cavalry brigade. The remaining infantry of the Second Cavalry Army (46th Infantry Brigade and a brigade of the 3d Infantry Division) and the independent cavalry brigade, however, were left in the Nikopol area about 15 kilometers from the line of the White front. In rear thereof, at the Vierkhny) Upper) Rogachik village, was also the 21st Cavalry Division, before which the 52d Infantry Division had already gone into action. On this day only half of the forces of the Second Cavalry Army was actively engaged, while the other half stood idly by without fighting. This was all the more unusual because of,the fact that the right flank of the Fourth Army - the 30th Infantry Division - was already practically on top of the right flank of the Markov division, and by engaging actively in action, might well have assisted the Second Cavalry Army by immobilizing the Markov division.
In the Melitopol area the enemy had already concentrated at Melitopol the Don 3d Division and extended the 1st and 2nd Don divisions preparatory to their transfer for employment against our Kakhovka group. Simultaneously there was being transferred the 7th Infantry Division to the Salkov area. This regrouping of forces was executed under cover of the 6th Infantry Division and rear guards of the Don 1st and 2nd divisions. The Azov group of Red forces ( Don 2nd Division) and the cavalry group of the Thirteenth Army (Kashirin) succeeded in advancing a considerable distance, and were hard on the heels of the White forces at Melitopol. Somewhat slower was the progress of the infantry divisions of the Thirteenth Army. These were engaged only by the White covering units of the 6th Infantry Division.
In the Perekop area the White rear guards successfully withdrew beyond the Turkish wall, where the enemy was consolidating the positions of the main forces of his II Corps. In the Salkov area the south group of the First Cavalry Army ( 4th and 14th Cavalry divisions), at 2:P.M. reached the Gromovka - Novo- Nikolayevka area, where it halted. The advance of the northern group of the First Cavalry Army (5th and 11th Cavalry Divisions) proceeded at a slow pace, in anticipation of a possible encounter with the enemy. Its 11th Cavalry Division, however,was already in the vicinity of Agaiman, while the 6th Cavalry Division, in conjunction with the Latvian division, reched the line: Novo-Repyevka - Voznesenska.
The enemy meanwhile was completing the concentration of his assault detachment on the line Rubanovka - Nizhne (Lower) Sieragoza, which point was reached by the 2nd Cavalry Division from the Nikopol area. The Kornilov division also withdrew to the Rubanovka village, leaving a rear guard detachment in the Zielyenana farm area, which the 52d Infantry Divison continued to engage in action.
The weakening of the enemy in the Nikopol area immediately affected the course of action in this combat area. The Red 2nd Cavalry Division seized the Bol. Bielozerka village. All efforts of the Whites were now concentrated on the active defense of the sector M. Bielozerka - Orlyansk - Mikhailovka. The purpose of the enemy was to delay at all cost the advance of the Second Cavalry Army on this day. With the fall of Bol. Bielozerka the Red front line in the Nikopol area came 30 kilometers nearer to the Sieragoz area. Further extension of the Second Cavalry Army southward presented a direct threat to the communications of the hostile assault group concentrated in the Sieragoz area, and upset all hostile counter-maneuvers.
The Second Cavalry Army, however, once more overlooked a favorable opportunity of throwing its full weight into the balance of the entire operations, and left half of its forces idle. As a consequence, the enemy was aided in intensifying his defensive efforts and he descended from behind the left flank of the Markov division against the outer flank of the 16th Cavalry Division. After repelling it, he attacked the exposed flank of the 8th Infantry Brigade and, capturing two regiments, he reached Balka. Here, however, the cooperation of the Red units produced proper results. The 264th Infantry (of the 30th Infantry Division) ordered to Balka from Skelka, in turn attacked the flank of the overextended hostile cavalry and forced it back, while the 16th Cavalry Division together with the remainder of the 8th Infantry Brigade, once more established itself at the Balka village. The Fourth Army,resembling the shape of a wedge, extended to a depth of 65 to 70 kilometers, and operated frontally with only one of its divisions. The independent divisions forming this army (23d Infantry Division and composite division) were echeloned in considerable depth.
This particular aspect in the disposition of this army had been due to the fact that by a straight forward movement of the Thirteenth Army in the west the corridor was being ever contracted that had been left for the action of the Fourth Army, between the bend of the Dnieper river and the right flank of the Thirteenth Army. This same situation existed during the subsequent days of the operations, and as we shall see later, certain units of the Fourth Army, until the very end of the operation, could not arrive in time to enter the action (international cavalry brigade, composite division). The disposition of the Fourth Army stressed the imperative demand for a shifting of the center of gravity in the concentration of the forces at the thirteenth Army toward its left flank, rather than its right flank, which would afford the Fourth Army freedom of action.
In the Sieragoz and Melitopol areas by the end of the 29th of October, the advance units of both sides were already in contact with one another. Now it was already quite clear that the Don 1st and 2nd divisions of the Whites that had just been directed toward Sieragoz and were now separated from the latter point by about 55 kilometers, would be late in entering into action there. The threat created on the flanks of the arched front of the enemy at Sierag and Melitopol compelled the White forces to undertake a gradual clearing of the Nikopol sector. This was greatly facilitated by the vigorous advance of the 30th Infantry Division. The Markov division of the enemy, under cover to the attacks of the Don 1st and 2nd Cavalry Divisions, withdrew from action and proceeded toward the left flank of the Melitopol fortified position, on Vtorokonstatinovka. Thus, against the Second Cavalry Army and the 30th Infantry Division there had been left only the two Don cavalry divisions. The Second Cavalry Army, after the failure of the 16th Cavalry Division, was endeavoring to concentrate a powerful cavalry assault detachment in the vicinity of Bol. Bielozerka, rather than to develop active undertakings. There was moved up to this point from Vierkhny (Upper) Rogachik the 21st Cavalry Division, and the Independent cavalry brigade was also heading toward this point. But the main infantry forces of the Second Cavalry Army (46th Infantry Division and the 7th Infantry Brigade) remained in place, as heretofore.
The, in the execution of this operation there gradually developed
some difficulties that had been due not so much to the efforts of the enemy as
to the action of individual unit commanders. The First Cavalry Army no longer
constituted a single compact mass of forces, and was functioning in two
different groups separated from one another by an entire day's march. In the
circumstances, there would have been no danger, had the vigor and initiative of
the First Cavalry Army command found a sympathetic response on the part of the
Second Cavalry Army command. In that event, a perilous situation would have
been created for the mobile group of the White cavalry in the Sieragoz area.
The latter might then have been taken in a pincer movement in the north by the
Second Cavalry Army, from which it was separated by one day's march, and in the
south, by the northern group of the First Cavalry Army. This, however, called
for a vigorous advance by the Second Cavalry Army against that screening force
which the enemy had left in its sector for the time being consisting of his two
Don Cavalry Divisions.
And so, the 30th of October was a day full of both strategic and tactical developments. The strategic results of the day were due wholly to Soviet strategy, testifying to the soundness of the Red plans of action. Some tactical failures or neglected favorable opportunities are unavoidable in any military undertaking. Special attention is due to both the maneuver and combat undertakings that developed during the phase when we locked our strategic horseshoe around the enemy.
The action of the Red forces in the encirclement of the enemy and the latter's movements in an effort to break through the ring of envelopment are of especial interest. In the background of this, however, there developed events of local importance, which followed as a consequence of the individual missions and objectives of separate groups. And for an understanding of the operations as a whole it is essential that we present these local events. Thus considering the entire events of the 30th of October, we find it necessary to divide them into two categories: (1) Events connected with the operations involved in the envelopment of the main hostile forces and which are therefore of considerable strategic importance, and (2) Events that may, perhaps be of importance by themselves, but whose outcome was not of any particular significance as regards the fate of the operation as a whole.
To the events of the first category we transfer: a. The completion by the south group of the First Cavalry Army of the strategic envelopment of the enemy by the capture of Salkov and Genichesk: b. The capture of the Melitopol fortified positions by the Red forces; c. The raid of the hostile cavalry on Bol. Bielozerka, which brought about the complete inactivity of the Second Cavalry Army on the 30th of October.
Among the events of the second category we may list: a. The unsuccessful attack of the 51st Infantry Division on the Turkish wall: b. The repulse by the enemy of the northern group of forces of the First Cavalry Army that had been concentrating in the N. Sieragoz area, along with the units of the Latvian division from the line of his withdrawal southward (Sketch 23 - original text).
The events listed above took place in reverse order, and the first thing that comes to our attention is the battle in the vicinity of Agaiman between two Red cavalry divisions (6th and 11th cavalry divisions) and one infantry division (Latvian) and the hostile reserve forces moving southward consisting of two infantry and three and one-half cavalry divisions. In the north this hostile group of forces, commanded by General Kutepov, was covered by rear guards left about 15 to 20 kilometers behind, one of which became involved in action with the 1st Brigade of the 52d Infantry Division. About 30 to 35 kilometers away, i.e., the distance that may be covered by the cavalry in one day's march, from these rear guards, in the vicinity of the Bol. Bielozerka village, was situated a powerful cavalry group of forces of the Second Cavalry Army, consisting of slightly over two cavalry divisions ( 2nd and 21st Cavalry Divisions, and Independent Cavalry Brigade). The other strong group of the Second Cavalry Army (16th Cavalry Division, and Kitsiuk's cavalry brigade ) together with the ?? Infantry Brigade of the ?? Infantry Division, occupied the Mal. Bielozerka village and Orlyansk. Facing these two groups of the Second Cavalry Army were only two Don cavalry divisions. groups of the enemy there was a gap of about 35 kilometers. In this gap could be inserted the cavalry group of the Second Cavalry Army from Bol. Bielozerka. Moving up only 20 to 25 kilometers to the south, which required only five or six hours, this group, wedging in between the two hostile groups and attacking the rear of one of these groups while striking at the flank of the other, might have placed the enemy in a precarious situation. But the enemy, having no actual means for averting this, placed his hopes on psychological effect. The attack of two cavalry regiments on Bol. Bielozerka, even though it was repulsed nevertheless produced its effect, containing the entire forces of the Second Cavalry Army a full day, a day abounding in strategic opportunities. This is why this event with its insignificant relative tactical effort has to be regarded as a factor to be considered among the more important strategic undertakings that proved unfavorable for the Red forces involved.
Proceeding further with our consideration of the course of events, we shall turn our attention to two circumstances: l. During the night the hostile infantry in the Melitopol area succeeded in withdrawing a considerable distance from our Fourth Army and the right flank of our Thirteenth Army ( some 20 to 25 km.), leaving between themselves and the Red forces only units of the same Don cavalry; this was doubtless an important tactical accomplishment. The unfavorable results accruing to us as a consequence thereof consisted in the fact that on this day neither the Fourth Army nor a considerable part of the Thirteenth Army participated effectively or decisively in the combat activity. Hence our overwhelming superiority in forces was of no avail here. 2. The unfavorable disposition of the forces of our Fourth Army on its march, assuming the shape of a reentrant, had been due to the same reasons as on the day before. Now this unfavorable situation was aggravated by the overlapping of the flanks of the Fourth and Thirteenth armies over one another. However, in so far as the enemy was concerned, the 30th of October also contained some surprises. The Melitopol fortified position failed to justify the hopes that had been placed upon it. The cavalry of the Thirteenth Army already on the 30th of October started infiltrating the fortified zone, which brought about the premature withdrawal of the White 6th Infantry Division. Actually, already at 10:00 A.M. the Red cavalry penetrated Melitopol. Apparently, the morale of the forces of the Don III Corps was completely crushed, while their material means were exhausted by a detachment of three infantry divisions on the day before.
The fall of the Melitopol fortified position was an event of vital strategic significance. It showed that the eastern screening force of the enemy had been crushed and that henceforth the enemy could not regard it as a pivotal point for his maneuver combinations. Actually, as we shall see later, the divisions of the III Corps and of the Don Corps, becoming intermingled, were endeavoring merely to avoid the assaults of the Red forces by the line of least resistance, and to lean on the Kutepov group of forces. In the circumstances, all tactical successes of the latter were of rather limited importance. Regardless of the nature of these, the enemy did not have the necessary time or opportunities for their development to the end. But in connection with the fall of the Melitopol fortified position, which was extremely important from the Red standpoint and capable of proving disastrous to the enemy, one thing appears which upsets the basic plans of comrade Frunze in their essential outline. This matter, explained apparently by the anticipation of vigorous resistance in the Melitopol area, consisted of the fact that the Red Thirteenth Army was greatly crowding toward its right flank, pulling its Azov group of forces to the heights of Melitopol. The right flank of the army for its part turned to the right. There was thus brought about the practical relief of the eastern enveloping branch in our pincer movement. The principal mass of the forces of the Fourth and Thirteenth armies were now practically arrayed not alongthe flank, but rather parallel to the front of the rear guards of the III and Don corps of the enemy. What were the strategic results of such a disposition? they were unfavorable for us. The enemy received an opportunity to slip out from under the blows aimed at him and to once more place considerable distance between himself and the units of the Fourth and Thirteenth armies pursuing him, while the inner flanks of the latter armies, changing the direction of their movement, could not avoid becoming intermingled. However, the main disadvantage in so far as the Red forces were concerned, was the fact that the burden of the fighting was unequally distributed over all our units, and was imposed on the minor forces thereof.*
* This circumstance was noted by the commander-in-chief in his telegram to the commander of the South Front (group of armies), No. 640/op, pointing out that during the most decisive moments in the operation only the Latvian Division and the First Cavalry Army were actually engaged in fighting, without any assistance whatever of the remainder units of the front. (Frunze Academy Document No. 28,p.56).
Thus, the execution of the plan of the commander of the South Front (group of armies) was beginning to become complicated by difficulties that could not have been avoided owing to the great speed with which the events were developing. All this is mong the objective reasons which exercised a negative effect on ythe execution of the brilliantly conceived plan of action. But while these events developed and took on form, the South group of the First Cavalry Army, still enjoying strategic freedom of action, continued on the execution of its mission. It devolved upon this group, on the 30th of October, to close the strategic ring of envelopment of the enemy and to proceed with the execution of the plan adopted by comrade Frunze. Early in the morning on October 30th this group was already on the march on Salkov. Its advance so far was unenventful. If it could anticipate the White 7th Infantry Division at Salkov the bottleneck in the last path open to the enemy leading to the Crimea would be closed.
Now let us summarize the strategic and tactical results of the 30th of October. Strategic results of the day were favorable for the Red forces.
The plan of the commander of the South Front in connection with the complete envelopment of the enemy received its actual realization with the occupation by the South group of the First Cavalry Army of Salkov and Genichesk before the White forces could get there from the Melitopol area. Now the principal mass of the hostile forces was situated within the circle, more properly, the ellipse, the large and small axes of which were about 100 and 85 kilometers, respectively, in extent. The ellipsoidal aspect of the envelopment had been due to the fact that the Second Cavalry Army remained throughout the 30th of October in position, and also to the general shift of the front of the Fourth and Thirteenth armies northwestward. Hence by the close of the 30th of October the intermingled forces of the III and Don corps of the enemy once more got away from our pursuing Fourth and Thirteenth armies and inclined with their principal mass of forces toward the Kutepov group, from which they were now separated by only 30 kilometers.
The Kutepov group of forces during the 30th of October enjoyed a tactical victory. Not being disturbed in the rear by the Second Cavalry Army, delaying the 52d Infantry Division of the Red forces with its rear guards, this group, with the main forces of its two infantry divisions and 3 1/2 cavalry divisions ( Kornilov, Drozdovsky divisions, and 1st, 2d cavalry divisions, 1st Kuban Cavalry Division, and the Terek-Astrakhan cavalry brigade) attacked the two cavalry divisions (6th and 11th of the First Cavalry Army and two brigades of the Latvian division. After vigorous fighting throughout the day, Kutepov repulsed these forces westward, which had been endeavoring to block his route south, and he established himself at Agaiman. The local victory of the Whites was at hand, though the situation prevented the enemy from deriving any great advantages therefrom.
The "defection" of the Melitopol screening force and the hastened withdrawal of the same toward the Kutepov group, caused the White command on the evening of the 30th of October to abandon its original plan for the destruction of the Red Kakhovka group of forces. The thing now to be considered was only the withdrawal of the remnants of the army to the Crimea. Consequently, the White command merely assumed this limited objective, and all its efforts were henceforth directed toward breaking through the chain of the Red forces which had closed in behind the Wrangel forces at Salkov. This new situation was to bring about the establishment of two new focal points at Salkov and Rozhdestvenskoye. The limitation of the objectives in the contracted space also caused the Red forces to shift the center of their attention from the sphere strategy to that of tactics.
In the background of the large strategic developments that were taking place on the 30th of October, one of a purely local nature and of tactical significance was the repulse of the 52st Infantry Division by the Shite forces, which had attmpted to storm the Turkish wall. The center of gravity of the events henceforth was shifted definitely to the Chongar isthmus. In the area adjacent to this isthmus there were beginning to develop two new combat areas, one at Rozhdestvenskoye and another at Otrada, where the dense formations of Kutepov's group now proceeded in order to clear a route for itself southward through the second bottleneck that had been formed in its path by the First Cavalry Army.
The better preserved White group was just now, in turn, beginning to arrive from the Melitopol area at Salkov with the object of driving through the third bottleneck in the road leading to the Crimea that had been formed by the South group of the First Cavalry Army.
The better preserved White group was just now, in turn, beginning to arrive from the Melitopol area at Salkov with the object of driving through the third bottleneck in the road leading to the Crimea that had been formed by the South group of the First Cavalry Army.
On the night of the 30-31 October the strategic situation of the enemy had improved, while our own became somewhat worse, not as a result of the tactical victories gained by Kutepov but rather due to the fact that essential links in our chain of envelopment, consisting of the Second Cavalry, the Fourth and Thirteenth armies, although closely tied in with one another, had the latter two armies too far to the right. As a consequence, the hostile III and Don corps were afforded an opportunity to proceed unimpeded and to join Kutepov's forces.
Such was the general nature of those difficulties that were encountered in the execution of the plan of comrade Frunze in the course of its final stages. The difficulties in question spring up, as we have seen, back on October 30th. The most important of these, and one which the commander of the South Front could in no way anticipate, was the arbitrary falling out of the strategic game on the 30th October on the forces of the Thirteenth Army along its front, which brought about a practical halt in the forward movement or advance of this army, and the tardy advance of the head of the wedge formed by the Fourth Armybrought about by the contraction of its zone of action by a crowding of the inner flanks of all three armies (Second Cavalry, Fourth and Thirteenth armies ). Behind all these major difficulties, were others, such as the splitting up by the First Cavalry Army of its forces into two equal detachments with, originally, 40 kilometers of space between the detachmentws, which, while not altering decisively the form of the execution of the plan, nevertheless exercised an adverse effect up it. Even if the First Cavalry Army had operated with undivided forces against the hostile Kutepov and Kantserov forces, the latter would still have enjoyed a superiority over it.
True, the Sixth Army, as regards the elements of time and space, was in a position to assist the First Cavalry Army only with its Latvian divisions: but this demanded a more vigorous advance on the part of the 52d and 15th infantry divisions, which were particularly tardy on this day: the 15th Infantry Division advancing with its three brigades on Donrburg - Kruglaya - Novo-Riepyevka, and the 52d Infantry Division in the Uspenskoye - Maltsev - Agaiman area. This is why on the 3lst of October the Kutepov group of forces succeeded in effecting a penetration in the Rozhdestvenskoye area ( see Sketch 23), covering itself with rear guards in the direction of Agaiman against the northern group of the First Cavalry Army and the Latvian division, which had also changed their direction of advance about 90 degrees and were now advancing from north to south, i.e., they too began exerting pressure on the enemy. On the other hand, the Kutepov group of forces in the Salkov area was dislodging the 4th Cavalry Division of the First Cavalry Army from that area and from Genichesk. The situation of the 4th Cavalry Division was extremely difficult. Threatened to be driven against the Zivash, it had to hasten joining the main forces of the First Cavalry Army.
The Second Cavalry Army finally stirred. But this was already too late. It was engaging in action only one Don cavalry division that had been left as a rear guard. Pursuing this division, which was retreating directly south, the Second Cavalry Army advanced due east with its main forces.
As a consequence of these strategic endeavors and, apparently, having stumbled upon the front of the infantry divisions of the Fourth and Thirteenth armies, the Second Cavalry Army wedged in between them,changed the line of its advance 180 degrees and was now advancing on the same line with these armies. Hence the unified front of our armies in the north was broken up arbitrarily, rather than by any hostile pressure, and now formed two groups - the smaller western group comprising the units of the Sixth Army and First Cavalry Army, and the larger eastern group, made up of the Fourth, Second Cavalry and Thirteenth armies. Between these two groups was formed a corridor about 45 kilometers in width through which, covered by rear guards and flank detachments in three directions, withdrew to the south, nearing the Kutepov group, a group comprising the III and Don corps of the enemy. The distance between the two groups of the enemy was not over 10 kilometers. The disruption of the front, the arrival of the two groups facing one another, has once more to attributed to the difficulties created by the commander of the Second Cavalry Army.
As a consewuence of the preculiar movements of the Second Cavalry Army, the already crowded forces of the inner flanks of the Fourth and Thirteenth armies became even more congested, and this against a space that was entirely free of hostile forces. Another thing attracting our attention, is the piling up of reserves behind the Fourth Army that had resulted on the one hand, from the original disposition of this army in depth, and on the other, from the narrowness of the front of this army, upon which it could not deploy all of its available forces.
An equally peculiar and original situation had developed also in the Otrada and Rozhdestvenskoye area.
The Kutepov group (strongest numerically ) was tactically in a bad situation, hemmed in on both sides by units of the Red First Cavalry Army. The peril of this group was somewhat ameliorated by the particular strength of the group. On the other hand, the Red 4th and 14th cavalry divisions were in grave danger inthe Rozhdestvenskoye area, i.e., the south enveloping group of the First Cavalry Army. Frontally these divisions were faced by the Kutepov group of forces while 10 or 12 kilometers in their rear was situated a hostile group consisting of the III and the Don Corps. This group, on the 31st of October, failed to establish contact with the Kutepov group, but its position and that of Kutepov had already improved somewhat owing to the failure of our Fourth and Thirteenth armies to arrive at the focal points within the combat area. The III and the Don corps of the Whites were relieved of their anxiety over the Chongar isthmus, inasmuch as the Kantzerov group had already established itself at the exits of the isthmus at the Salkov fortifications.
In order to secure the withdrawal of the remnants of the III and the Don corps, the Kantserov group of forces moved up considerably in advance, against our Azov group and the left flank of the Thirteenth Army, which were beginning to move along the axis of the railway on Salkov, its cavalry forces, supported by five armored trains.
The situation now imposed new missions upon the White forces, which were a purely tactical nature on the 1st of November. These consisted of the following: (1) The destruction of the Red obstruction force situated at Rozhdestvenskoye which had been impeding the junction of the two White groups; (2) The maintenance of their extended positions in the Salkovo area in order to insure the junction of the two White groups and the orderly withdrawal of these to the Crimea over the Chongar isthmus and the Arabat line. These two missions determined the establishment on the 1st of November of new tactical combat area: in the Rozhdestvenskoye area and in the vicinity of the Sokologornoye railway station.
Actually, on the night of the 3l October - 1 November Kutepov dislodged the Red cavalry divisions (4th and 14th ) at Rozhdestvenskoye, and he joined the remnants of the III and the Don corps. Now his situation at the Rozhdestvenskoye village was considerably improved. Against him there were to operate on the 1st of November primarily only those units with which he had been engaged on the day before, i.e., the First Cavalry Army and the Latvian Division.
All other Red divisions had still remained 30 to 35 kilometers away from this point. The only relative threat provided now was that of the part of the Thirteenth Army that was advancing along the railway on Salkov (Don 2d Infantry Division and part of the cavalry). The later had succeeded in seizing the Sokologornoye railway station, and it began a rapid advance toward Salkov.
A shifting of the line of combat to the immediate approaches to Genichesk and Salkov, however, might have upset the orderly withdrawal of the White forces through the narrow passages of the Chongar crossings and the Arabat line.
The White command had yet to gain at least one more day in order to move over the Crimea its heavy equipment, military and otherwise. Owing to this fact, both White groups of forces that had joined at Rozhdestyenskove did not continue their withdrawal and, delivering a number of brief thrusts against our advance units, halted and, practically restoring their front lines, secured for themselves two exists to the Crimea, namely: via the Chongar isthmus, and via Arabat.
The hostile naval fleet, appearing on the morning of thelst of November off Genichesk also secured for the White forces that use of the Arabat passage in effecting their withdrawal. The support of the hostile naval forces alone in utilizing the Arabat passage as a line of retreat would not have sufficed. It was essential to have facing this passage a sufficiently established base, and the White command, with this in view, ordered toward Salkov, to the Rykovo and Sokologornoye railway stations, two Don cavalry divisions that had previously been employed in covering the withdrawal of the III and the Don corps.
These two divisions liquidated the successes of the Red cavalry that had penetrated into Salkov and failed to receive the timely support of its slowly advancing infantry forces.
From the standpoint of the enemy we may observe here the coordinated action of the cavalry and naval forces, which is so rarely to be found in military annals, inasmuch as the navy with its artillery drove off from Genichesk the Red cavalry forces that had been rushed there.
Let us now see how events developed in the Rozhdestvenskoye area. The First Cavalry Army and the Latvian Division engaged in action for the possession of this settlement early in the morning. Around them began forming a second semi-circle of the Red forces at a distance of 5 to 10 kilometers from the point of the action. The first link in this semi-circle, formed by the Second Cavalry Army in its entirety had already taken shape at Petrovskoye. Here also were sent the Makhno forces, the 7th Cavalry Division and units of the 30th Infantry Division. For the second time, as on October 30th, the Second Cavalry Army had an opportunity to assume not only a decisive tactical but strategic role. It should have attacked the Don cavalry group of forces that was operating in the Salkov area, assisted the left flank of the Thirteenth Army, and, proceeding with the aid of the latter, disrupted the orderly withdrawal of the enemy to the Crimea. But also on this day, it remained in complete idleness and overlooked another opportunity for a disruption of the withdrawal of the White forces. By the close of the 1st of November there concentrated at Petrovskoye considerable forces of three ed armies (Second Cavalry Army, units of the 30th Infantry Division of the Fourth Army, 7th Cavalry Division of the Thirteenth Army, and Makhno's forces ), which had participated in the fighting at Rozhdestvenskoye
In this battle, Kutepov had enjoyed some measure of a tactical victory, forcing back to the north the 2nd Latvian brigade, as a result of which the general outline of his front assumed the shape of a wedge, extending due north.
However, the continued concentration of Red forces in the vicinity of the Petrovskoye village, which, notwithstanding the retarded advance of the two infantry divisions of the Thirteenth Army (9th Infantry Division and 2nd Don Division) in the Salkov area, immediately threatened the Kutepov group of forces, in the event that it remained in the Rozhdestvenskoye area, compelled Kutepov to begin withdrawing on the Chongar isthmus and the Arabat passage.
Kutepov's withdrawal had been covered by the Markov division, by one of the Don divisions, together with the naval vessels at Genichesk.
It is important to note that the withdrawal of the Kutepov group of forces had been effected without any interference whatever, since our forces situated at Petrovskoye had permitted the enemy to carry out a flanking march past them during the night.
November 2d and 3d were the days on which the operation was carried to its conclusion. The tactical nature of the same was quite simple. The enemy proceeded into the Crimea by two groups via the Chongar peninsula and the Arabat passage. Here our attention might be directed to the vigorous action of the 30th Infantry Division and cavalry of the 69th Infantry Brigade of the 23d Infantry Division that had arrived on the scene.
On the 2nd of November these units defeated the rear guards of the enemy situated at the Salkov fortified position, and penetrated into the Chongar isthmus on the heels of these rear guard units, seizing the Chongar isthmus on the 3d of November and halting only before the remnants of the strongly defended Chongar and Sivash bridges; they drove the enemy covering the fortified bridgeheads into the Crimea.
Notwithstanding the great results achieved and the complete success gained, this operation was more simple in its outline than the preceding one. This was due to the nature of the terrain involved which had determined the course of the entire events in the Perekop isthmus from beginning to end. This also determined the somewhat limited number of the troops involved which had taken an active part in the operation.
The commander of the South Front, duly considering the nature of the terrain involved, decided on making the main effort against Perekop. He designated the Sixth Army for the delivery of the attack. The commander of the Sixth Army selected two areas for his actions. One, directly against the fortified position of the enemy, on the Turkish Wall, and the second, in the nature of a turning movement against the Lithuanian peninsula, taking advantage of the fords that were open on this peninsula from the continent during favorable winds and dry weather. In the attack on the Turkish Wall there was assigned the strong 51st Infantry Division, and against the Lithuanian peninsula, the 15th and 52d Infantry divisions, the 153d Infantry Brigade (5lst Infantry Division) and the independent cavalry brigade.
The enemy, fully realizing the importance of the Perekop peninsula, hastened to occupy it with reliable forces. With this in view, for the relief of the units of the II corps operating there, the Drozdovsky division was ordered to the Perekop peninsula; it reached the Turkish wall on the night of the 8th of November. The Lithuanian peninsula was at this time being occupied by the 1st Brigade of the Kuban 2nd Cavalry Division, which had but recently arrived inthe Crimea from Georgia (Gruzia). By the close of the 7th of November our Red units had occupied their line of departure preliminary to the attack: The 52d Infantry Division was disposed in the Chakrak -Pervo - Konstantinovka - Kol. Vladimirovka area; the 153d Infantry Brigade, in the Stroganovka area; the 15th Infantry Division occupied the Ivanovka -Stroganovka area; the independent cavalry brigade was situated at the Stroganovka village. (See Sketch 24 - original text).
The actual operation developed as follows: On the night of the 7-8 of November the Drozdovsky division of the White forces relieved the 13th Infantry Division at the Turkish Wall, while the 34th Infantry Division, which had been in reserve of the II corps of the White forces, began its withdrawal to the rear. almost simultaneously, the 15th and 52d infantry divisions and the 153 Infantry Brigade of the Red forces forced the Sivash by fording the same and reached the Lithuanian peninsula, defeated the 1st Brigade of the Kuban 2nd Cavalry Division and were proceeding toward the exits of the Lithuanian peninsula. The enemy immediately went to the assistance of his brigade here with his 34th Infantry Division and, having relieved the 13th Infantry Division with only two regiments of the Drozdovsky Division, launched a counterattack against the Red forces in the general direction of Karadzhanai with the remaining two regiments of the Drozdovsky division.
By morning of the 8th of November a vigorous battle developed at the exits of the Lithuanian peninsula. At the same time, the 51st Infantry Division delivered an artillery preparation preparatory to the storming of the Turkish wall.
The attack of the 51st Infantry Division on the Turkish wall was repulsed. The attack was resumed once more around noon time preceded by 15 armored cars which, at about ll:00 A.M. advanced to the attack from the Preobrazhenka village against the gates of the Turkish wall. This attack was to pave the way for the infantry of the 51st Infantry Division, which had established itself about 400 paces from the wall.The infantry, however, on rushing forward, was nailed to the ground by the hostile artillery fire And the counterattack of the two regiments of the Drozdovsky division in the Karadzhanai area likewise failed. After gaining a minor local victory, these regiments finally laid down their arms and surrendered to the 153d and 155th infantry brigades, not-withstanding the fact that the attack was supported by armored cars.
The penetration of the Red forces into the Crimea brought the general reserves of the enemy into action. The enemy turned back the 6th Infantry Division to Dzhankoi from Simferopol, and moved toward the Perekop area units of the Markov division, the Kornilov Division and the cavalry corps under Barabovich from the Dzhankoi area. By the end of the 8th of November units of the Markov and Kornilov divisions were already approaching the rear Ushun positions. The Barabovich cavalry corps was approaching the exits of the Lithuanian peninsula. Notwithstanding the repulse of the attack of the Red forces at the Turkish wall, the tactical success of the 8th of November was on the side of the Red forces, inasmuch as the White forces not only failed to dislodge them from the Lithuanian peninsula but also failed in preventing them from extending their forces to the rear of the Turkish wall in the direction of the Armenian market place. The situation of the brigade of the Drozdovsky division at the Turkish wall, in this connection, became dangerous, and because of this fact, during the night of the 8-9 of November, the enemy endeavored to clear the Turkish wall of Red forces. He now had at his disposal the rear Ushun position; utilizing this as a pivot, the enemy decided on making a final effort toward liquidating the penetration of the Red forces in the Lithuanian peninsula. This led to intensive fighting for the possession of the Lithuanian peninsula on the 9th of November, both sides consolidating their forces during the night.
The Red forces on the Lithuanian peninsula had the Makhno detachments transferred there. On the side of the White forces the Kornilov and Markov divisions were already establishing themselves on the Ushun positions, while at the exits of the Lithuanian peninsula there arrived the leading elements of Barabovich's cavalry corps. The 9th of November was noted, on the one hand, for the vigorous fighting at the outlets of the Lithuanian peninsula, with the attack of Barabovich's corps being repulsed at 5:00 P,M.; and on the other hand, by the slow approach of the 51st Infantry Division to the Ushun positions of the enemy, while the hostile Drozdovsky division was withdrawing under the pressure of Red forces into the gap between the Staroye and Krasnoye lakes..
With this there ended the events of the 9th of November.
During the night of the 9-10 November both sides were consolidating their positions on the Perekop isthmus. All advantages in this respect were on the side of the Red forces: On the Lithuanian peninsula they moved up the 16th Cavalry Division of the Second Cavalry Army, which already succeeded in effecting its concentration in the vicinity of Stroganovka, and for the reinforcement of the 51st Infantry Division there was moved up from the reserve the Latvian division. The enemy was able to reinforce his positions only with a few student detachments. The units of the Markov division were relieving the Drozdovsky division on the on the isthmus between lakes Staroye and Krasnoye. The latter, upon being relieved, was transferred to the area occupied by the Adaman patrol for the purpose of reinforcing the White elements that had accumulated there. The enemy hazarded no further shifting of his forces in the Dzhankoi area owing to the fact that he feared an assault of the 30th Infantry Division through the narrow Sivash gulf in the Dzhankoi area. The consolidation of their positions by the Red forces on the Lithuanian peninsula amounted to the winning of the battle by them. The Red forces gained an opportunity of conduction the fighting at a tempo of gradually increasing intensity, committing to action their extensive reserves, whereas the White forces in the battle fought for the purpose of effecting their departure from the Perekop isthmus and the Lithuanian peninsula, had already spent all their reserves. The 10th of November began with the initiative of the attack on the side of the Red forces both in the Ushun and Adaman areas
At the former the 51st Infantry Division, without awaiting the actual arrival of the Latvian Division, already at daybreak captured two lines of advance enemy treenches. In the Adaman area the 52d and 15th infantry divisions attacled the White forces, gaining a number of tactical successes, though as a result of White counterattacks were compelled not only to withdraw to their original lines of departure, but to yield some of their ground. With this there ended the fighting of the 10th of November.
The 11th of November was marked by the last desperate effort of the
enemy to restore his situation on the Lithuanian peninsula and to gain the rear
of the Red forces in the Armenian market place. The enemy formed on the
Lithuanian peninsula against our units an assault detachment made up of the II
Army Corps, the Barabovich corps and remnants of his Fostikov brigade and
At daybreak this assault detachment attacked our forces on the Lithuanian peninsula, drove them back to the very end of the peninsula, and the cavalry corps under Barabovich was approaching the Armenian market place, thus gaining the rear of the Ushun group of the Red forces. The latter group, however, by a surprise attack, penetrated the last line of the Ushun positions and was beginning to reach the rear of the White group of forces on the Lithuanian peninsula, thus compelling the White forces to institute a hasty withdrawal, under the protection of a screening force made up of the Terek-Astrakhan cavalry brigade.
The penetration of the Ushun position was more than of purely tactical importance: it signified the liquidation of the final organized resistance of the White forces and the reaching by the Red forces of the wide expanses of the Crimean steppes from the narrow Perekop passages. The importance of the penetration was further enhanced by the fact that it coincided with the penetration by the Red 30th Infantry Division in the Dzhankoi area, which the White forces also failed to liquidate.*
* On the night of the 10-11 November, after considerable efforts, we succeeded in erecting a foot bridge about 200 meters long across the Sivash. Over this frail crossing the 266th Infantry (30th Infantry Division) was the first to cross the Sivash unobserved by the enemy. This regiment, under strong hostile fire, then attacked the enemy position on the Crimean shore and, notwithstanding the heavy losses suffered in the process, established itself on the first line of the hostile trenches. The rest of the regiments of the 30th Division followed the 266th Infantry. The fighting was most sanguinary here. The losses of certain units (89th Infantry Brigade ) were as high as 75 per cent. At the close of the 11th of November the 30th Infantry Division seized the Tiun-Dzhankoi area and reached the Taganash railway station. (See sketch on page 535 - original text).
There was no longer anything left for Wrangel to do but to begin withdrawing to his ports of embarkation, and this he hastened to do.
A swift pursuit of the enemy should now have been instituted. However, the commander of the Sixth Army ordered a day of rest for the 12th of November. On November 13th the Fourth and Second Cavalry armies were ordered to pursue the enemy toward Feodosia and Kerch, while the Sixth and First Cavalry armies launched their pursuit on Simferopol and Sevastopol.
Notwithstanding the swiftness of the pursuit, Wrangel's retreating armies had succeeded in withdrawing a considerable distance from the Red forces and when, on the 15th of November, the advance guards of the Sixth Army entered Sevastopol they already found there the local revolutionary military committee, since the last vessels of the enemy had departed from Sevastopol on the 14th of November.
Distributing his embarkation efforts over all available Crimean ports, Wrangel in the course of five days, November 10 to 15, already effected the evacuation of his main forces and refugees. On November 16th, 1920,the Red forces spread out throughout the Crimea.
The fighting in Northern Taurida, with the considerable numerical superiority of the Red forces, doubtlessly had an adverse effect upon Wrangel's forces. This fighting completely undermined his military strength and affected the efficiency of his troops during the fighting on the Crimean isthmuses. The defense of the isthmuses might have been carried on for some time had the nature of the terrain been properly considered and the forces disposed in accordance with the requirements of the same.
Apparently, Wrangel had no plan of evacuation worked out in advance, as was the case with General Denikin. Wrangel's success in effecting his evacuation, compared with that of Denikin, had been due to the fact that Wrangel had at his disposal a number of seaports, where as Denikin had to effect his evacuation through the one port of Novorossiisk.
The success gained here was not obtained cheaply. The fighting for the possession of the Crimean narrows involved considerable sacrifices,but therefore the results accomplished were quite considerable both as regards the domestic and the foreign situations. The collapse of the internal counter-revolution was brought about on the bloody fields of the Perekop and Crimea. Exile and miserable intrigue hence forth were the fate of those who had attempted to halt the course of history. There opened before the Soviets wide perspectives of peaceful economic construction. The Soviet government, in the general European setting, became the only legal representative of the interests of the republic of workers and peasants. The Perekop events had repercussions in the distant city of Riga, which affected the pliability of the Polish diplomats in formulating the final conditions governing our peace with Poland.
Thus, from the political standpoint, the liquidation of Wrangel's forces is inseparable connected with the name of the late M. V. Frunze, involving one of the largest campaigns in our of 1918 - 1921,
With the collapse of the Wrangel front our major civil war campaigns came to an end, excepting for the operations in the FarEast, which were not brought to a complete conclusion until 1922, with the liberation of Vladivostok. Having been defeated in open, regular conflict, the counter-revolutionaries endeavored to continue to struggle with the Soviet government by the methods of guerilla warfare. n this struggle they endeavored to exploit the disgruntled peasant masses who had been dissatisfied with the protracted requisitioning of their products. The hopes placed on the kulak (wealthy peasant) counter-revolution caused the bourgeois-landowner counter-revolutionaries to alter and to democratize their political slogans. Slogans such as the restoration of "One, indivisible Russia," and that of the gentry landownership were temporarily abandoned (in the days of the Kronstadt revolt, Miliukov was quite ready to join the political bloc of the kulak "free soviets").
The incidents in Turkestan (1921-1923), Makhno's doings in the Ukraine (1920-1921),the Tambov insurrection (Antonov, 1921), the kulak-social revolutionary uprising in Siberia (1921),the White Karelia movement (1921-1922 ), the Tiutiunnik foray (autumn of 1921), from the military standpoint, as distinguished from the regular civil war, were marked by the absence of any continuous fronts and involved predominantly partisan methods of fighting.
On the other hand, in this minor civil war there were also present the elements of foreign intervention. Finland and Poland, after concluding a peace treaty with us, shamelessly sent into our territory armed bands (White Finnish bands in Karelia; the Tiutiunnik foray organized by Poland). along with arms and equipment. One of the basic reasons for the protracted interferences is to be found in the direct and indirect support which British imperialism afforded the miscreant elements in the struggle against our Soviet government.
Both from the political and from the military standpoints the minor civil war is of much interest for the military historian. The tactician will find here a wealth of material in the study of partisan operations.
The guerilla warfare, as the inevitable accompaniment of regular civil strife, demands the closest attention of the military historian. The scope of our present effort, however, the object of which is only to provide a study of the strategic military operations of our main civil war, precludes a thorough presentation of this.
Over the Crimea, having become Soviet territory, there fluttered freely and proudly the banner of the victorious proletarian revolution, while in the hazy distance of the autumn sea there were floating away the wretched demoralized remnants of Wrangel's army.