7

In the operation Fall Blau (Case Blue) the German Wehrmacht advanced towards the Don river, and then sent Army Group A into the Caucasus region to take the oil fields in the region.

They managed to take Maikop, yet the Soviets destroyed the production facilities.

If we look at the map below, we see the successive stages of the operation. However, I am asking myself whether it would have been possible to land forces on the eastern coast of the Sea of Azov? This would have given the defenders much less time to destroy oil production facilities.

Has there been any discussion in the German Wehrmacht leadership about an amphibious component for the Fall Blau?
Taking a port at the coast of the Sea of Azov may even helped the dire logistical situation of Army Groups A and B, or was the Black Sea off-limits for German shipping?

A map of Fall Blau Source: Wikipedia

| improve this question | | | | |
9

German Plans for amphibious landings in the Black Sea at Taman and Tuapse in support of Fall Blau in 1942.

Kriegsmarine Marinefährprahme (MFP) in the Black Sea.
(from Kriegsmarine: The Forgotten Service) enter image description here

Fuhrer Directive 43, issued on 11th July 1942, which detailed Plan BLUCHER, the proposed operations of the German 11th Army in crossing the Kerch Strait from the Crimea into the Caucasus, contains some information about proposed German landings and naval activity along the Black Sea coast.

The Army

The operation will be executed on the following lines:

In accordance with the proposals of 11th Army, the crossing is to be planned so that the strongest possible forces are landed in the rear of enemy coast defenses.

The high ground north of Novorossiysk will then be captured. The ports of Anapa and Novorossiysk will be occupied, thereby eliminating bases for the enemy fleet.

After that, the operation will continue to the north of the Caucasus, its main thrust in a general easterly direction. In this connection it is especially important that the Maykop area be quickly occupied.

The decision whether small forces should also be landed on the coast road along the Black Sea in the Tuapse area can only later be taken.

...

The Navy

The Navy will take immediate steps to secure the necessary shipping for the crossing, in accordance with detailed Army requirements.

To meet this need , suitable shipping, apart from vessels already available in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and those which may be brought in for the operation, will be chartered or bought from the Bulgarians and Rumanians.

During the actual operation, the Navy will support the landing forces during the crossing, and protect them with all available means against action by enemy sea forces.

Naval units detailed to cover the crossing of the landing forces will come under command of 11th Army during the operation.

...

The Airforce

The task of the airforce in preparing the operation is the overall elimination of enemy naval forces and harbours in the Black Sea.

During the operation its task, apart from immediate support of the landing forces, will be be to prevent enemy naval forces from interfering with the crossing.

Preparations are to be made so that the Army forces landed on the Temryuk Peninsula may be supplied for several days by air.

The possibility of using parachute and airborne troops is to be investigated. If possible, the 7th Airborne Division will not be involved in these operations, or at least only in small part. It may be advantageous to employ units of 22nd Infantry Division as airborne troops.


Other Fuhrer Directives from that year also offer some insight into planned German naval activity in association with the 1942 Fall Blau offensive:

Fuhrer Directive 41, issued 5th April 1942:

...

IV. Navy.

In the Black Sea it is the principle duty of the Navy, in so far as our combat and escort forces and our tonnage allow, to assist in supplying the Army and Airforce by sea.

Because the battle potential of the Russian Black Sea fleet is still unbroken it is particularly important that the light naval forces to be moved to the Black Sea should be ready for action there as soon as possible.

...

Fuhrer Directive 45, issued 23rd July 1942:

...

C. Navy.

It will be the task of the Navy, besides giving direct support to the Army in the crossing of the Kerch Straits, to harass enemy sea action against our coastal operations with all the forces available in the Black Sea.

To facilitate Army supply, some naval ferries will be brought through the Kerch Straits to the Don, as soon as possible.

In addition, Commander-in-Chief Navy will make preparation for transferring light forces to the Caspian Sea to harass enemy shipping (oil tankers and communications with the Anglo-Saxons in Iran).

The above is sourced from: Hitler's War Directives 1939-1945, edited by H.R. Trevor-Roper (1964)


From We March Against England: Operation Sea Lion, 1940–41, by Robert Forczyk, Chapter 11: Hidden Benefits of Sea Lion: Germany Gains an Amphibious Capability for other Theatres, we can see that Operation BLUCHER was executed in a limited form, known as Operation BLUCHER II, on the night of 1/2 September 1942. The other proposed amphibious landing around Tuapse was never deemed viable under the prevailing operational circumstances.

"As German forces surged across the Ukraine in 1941, the Kriegsmarine realized that they needed an amphibious capability in the Black Sea as well. In November 1941, the 1. Landungs-Flottille was formed at the port of Varna in Bulgaria. A facility was established in Vienna to fabricate MFP components and they were sent down the River Danube to be assembled at Varna. By the time that the German 11. Armee began its final offensive to reduce the Soviet fortress of Sevastopol in the Crimea in June 1942, the Kriegsmarine had enough MFPs available in the Black Sea to provide logistical support to the army. After the fall of Sevastopol, the Kriegsmarine began planning an amphibious operation known as Operation BLUCHER II to cross the Kerch Straits and thereby support the invasion of the Caucasus. On the night of the 1/2 September 1942, the 1. Landungs-Flottille, equipped with 24 MFPs, carried a kampfgruppe from the 46. Infanterie-Division across the straits to the Taman Peninsula. Operation BLUCHER II was a low-key success, which helped to accelerate the German drive into the Kuban." (pp. 295-296)

The Germans continued to increase their amphibious capabilities in the Black Sea throughout 1942-43 up to a total of four amphibious flotillas consisting of 70 MFPs and several Siebel ferries, which successfully evacuated over 200,000 men from the Kuban to the Crimea in September 1943.

Map showing the progress of Fall Blau in the Caucasus and Black Sea region. enter image description here

| improve this answer | | | | |
8

If this was considered, it has left no trace in written history.

It is not mentioned in the relevant volume of Germany and the Second World War (Volume VI/II, pp. 843-863, "The Decision for Operation Blue"), nor in Warlimont's memoirs (pp. 226-233 of Inside Hitler's Headquarters, 1939-45) or Doenitz's (Searched the whole electronic text, no mention of amphibious landings, nor anything related in the sections on early 1942).

There was, of course, a crossing of the Kerch Strait, but that was a fairly small operation. A major landing to seize the Caucasus by landing there would have been a completely different matter. It seems unlikely that the idea was considered seriously. The Germany Army had been educated in the preparations needed to stage a large seaborne invasion in summer 1940, in the preparations for invading Great Britain. It's a chancy business and requires a lot of resources. It also requires huge numbers of ships, and the Romanian Navy was much smaller and weaker than the Soviet Black Sea Fleet.

| improve this answer | | | | |
7

No, except across narrow Kerch strait

  • First, Axis forces in Black Sea were relatively small, and mainly consisted of Romanian navy (with few destroyers) with some German light naval units (Type II coastal submarines, some torpedo and patrol boats, armed barges etc ...) . Or in other words, units designed more for sea denial then for sea control . Romanians could escort some convoys near their coast, but that was about it. On the other hand, Soviet Black Sea Fleet did suffer heavy losses, but they still had one battleship, few cruisers and remaining destroyers, plus more numerous small units including subs. Therefore, in case of any Axis attempt they were bound to react, attacking both troop and supply convoys .

  • Second, Axis really didn't have troops or ships suitable for amphibious operations. Germans didn't have naval infantry in WW2 (until late in the war when they started organizing excess Kriegsmarine personnel into infantry naval divisions), and same goes for Romanians. Therefore they would have to use either regular infantry or more valuable and rare paratroopers. Neither of these was actually prepared for this kind of warfare, and what makes things worse is lack of dedicated landing craft. Germans could emulate Soviet methods of using whatever craft available (like for example in Kerch landing) but these Soviet methods as a rule produced chaotic and slow landings, with high number of casualties .

  • Third, aerial superiority was not a sure thing. Amphibious operations usually require aerial superiority, especially if the enemy has strong naval forces that could endanger landings. Germans did have upper hand in the air in the summer of 1942, but the problem is that Luftwaffe (specifically Luftflotte 4) had to be practically everywhere, supporting advance from Black Sea coast to Stalingrad, including raids on Grozny. In case of larger scale amphibious operation, lots of that strength would be tied up in protecting beachheads, thus slowing advance in other sectors. Overall, net effect would be negative - what was gained by landings would be lost by reduced speed of advance on ground.

  • Fourth, there were no suitable targets for amphibious landings. If we talk about southern part of the front (Army Group A), Germans were advancing pretty much rapidly roughly until late August, early September 1942. On the coast they did capture Novorosyisk on Septeber 10, 1942. However, they could not advance much further down the coast and front stalled there, creating huge open right flank on their drive to Grozny. Therefore, they did try several times to break out southwards trough Caucasus mountains towards the sea, and cut of Soviet coastal forces. Theoretically, this would be a good time to conduct amphibious operation (for example in Tuapse area), however at that time fighting in Stalingrad started in earnest, weather was turning to worse, and aforementioned difficulties (naval superiority, lack of suitable ships and troops) precluded any planning in this regard.

Considering all of this, Germans did not plan or execute amphibious operations except on a very small scale. During Operation Bustard Hunt in Kerch peninsula in May of 1942, Germans did some landings behind Soviet lines, which helped them to collapse Crimean Front. However , these were mostly company sized units, landings were few dozen kilometers behind front lines, and lasted only few days before they rejoined main German forces advancing from the west. This was realistically limit of German potential to conduct amphibious operations in this theater.

Second proposed operation was across Kerch Strait, which itself is not very large (3-15 km) . This happened in summer of 1942, with Germans occupying Crimea, and Soviets still holding Taman Peninsula on the other side of the strait. In this case, artillery from one side could support landing on other side, so it was not proper naval landing in strictest sense. Operation code name was Blücher, but even that was postponed because according to Soviet sources, aviation of Black Sea Fleet managed to destroy prepared landing craft and pontoon bridges . Germans finally managed to land some forces only in September of 1942, with loss of Novorossiysk already looming as land forces of Army Group A came from the north (from direction of Rostov).

| improve this answer | | | | |
  • 2
    Good answer. One might possibly mention the Dieppe Raid as an example of the difficulties, logistical and otherwise, of launching an amphibious raid against a defended port. Despite outnumbering the defenders roughly 7:1 (10,500 to 1,500) and supported by 247 naval vessels with substantial air support, the raiders at Dieppe were soundly repulsed at great loss (roughly 65% killed, wounded, and captured for the Canadian brigade for example). – Pieter Geerkens Feb 6 at 19:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.