1944 - The fightings East of the Dnestr
Less then two and a half years after
Odessa was evacuated
by the Russians in October 1941,
the Axis forces were already pushed back into what was then called Transnistria, the area
East of the Dnestr around Odessa. After the Red Army had already overcome the Dnepr stream in October 1943
and taken Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, the pace of operations in the
area of Heeresgruppe Süd &
6.Armee and the 2nd & 3rd Ukrainian Front stayed
- Soviet push from Kiev and the widening of the bridgeheads between
Kremenchug & Dnepropetrowsk
- Battle for Kirovograd (05.-09.1.44)
- Battle for the pocket of Cherkassy (actually
Korsun-Shevchenkovsky) (28.1.-24.2.44) with its Luftbrücke,
- Battles towards and around the Bug river (18.-27.3.44)
and the simultaneous
- Encirclement of the 1. Panzerarmee at Kamenez-Podolsky
and a lot of smaller, not
mentioned battles, which altogether formed the great german retreat.
Parts of Panzergrenadier-Division "GD" cross the Dnestr
near Dubossary in March 1944
Heeresgruppe Süd was finally able to stop the soviet
steamroller aided by the natural obstacles Dnestr river and the
Carpathian mountains in April 1944. Nevertheless, the Heeresgruppe was
cut in two pieces due to the difficult traffic through the Carpathian
Mountains. Therefore, it was later divided organisationally into Heeresgruppen
Nordukraine and Südukraine.
The last stages of this development were partly taking place in
Bessarabia and can be retraced in the maps below.
Some comments to these maps:
- It can be clearly seen that Heeresgruppe Süd's northern parts
were not able to withstand the Red Armys onslaught as 8.Armee and
6.Armee did. Due to this development, the 2nd Ukrainian Front was
moving over the Dnestr (Jampol and other brideheads) west- and
southwards. The latter push was directed to Kishinev and Iasi.
- Due to these dramatic developments in the North,
6.Armee already had abandoned its positions at Nikopol in early February. Again in March,
6. and also 8.
Armee retreated further in order avoid
being cut off.
- As both Armeen withdrew from the line behind the river Bug, a
mechanised shock group from 3rd Ukrainian Front was able to break through
and seize the important railway and road junction Razdelnaya, see map
- That lead to an even faster pulling back of both Armeen. Nevertheless,
a group of several German and Romanian troops was encircled and later
destroyed near Razdelnaya.
- Odessa was seized by several Russian armies on 10.4., anyway the
Axis was able to evacuate a lot of men and material.
- On 12.4., Tiraspol was captured by the 46th Army, on the 13th
Ovidiopol is seized by the 8th Guards Army.
Lage Ost, 1.4.44
Lage Ost, 4.4.44
Lage Ost, 8.4.44
Lage Ost, 12.4.44
Involved in the Air war were Luftflotte 4's I. Fliegerkorps
and some Romanian units, fighting versus the 5th and 17th VA
A comparison of the strength figures surprisingly shows that the
Axis was numerically superior in the air, see table on this page.
2, 5 & 17 VA
LF4 (FK I &VIII)
Strengths comparison between Soviet and Axis Air
Forces in the Southern Ukraine, January 1944
(* without units on the Crimea; ** >50% night bombers -
type Po-2; *** without Nachschlacht = night ground attack)
During early April, the weather often prevented flying in Bessarabia
and Moldavia. Although normally the climate is quite mild there, in that
particular month, it was very humid, even some snowstorms occured, i.e.
on 3rd and 4th. For the time between first and 20th of April, here a chronology of
the air actions in the area:
||- Luftwaffe units successfully supports the Heer SE of
Rybnitsa and S of Balti, i.e.:
- II./SG 2 (based in Rauchovka) attacks soviet tanks near Parliti.
During these attacks, Gruppenkommandeur Hptm. Alwin Börst is reportedly shot
down by Flak and dies in his Ju-87G. This was his first flight
in such a machine.
Archipenko (129 GIAP, Airacobra, then based in Jampol) claims a Ju-87
near Pyrlitsa. Maybe Börst was shot down by Archipenko: Pyrlitsa
is also called
- Soviet ground attack planes again attack the bridge and roads
near Dubossary and adjacent roads
- 24 IL-2 attack positions and the quarters of German Gruppe
Mieth near Calarasi Targ
- Paul-Heinrich Dähne (2./JG52, Tiraspol / Absprunghafen?) claims a Jak-7 South of Botosani (location
68 473: 500m)
||- Soviet bombers constantly attack the bridge near Dubossary
||- Near Anatolyevka (40km N of Odessa), Romanian ground attack planes
(presumably Hs-129 from the Grupul 8 asalt) set on fire several T-34
loaded with fuel barrels; the Grupul retreats to Tecuci
later that day.
- Again, Soviet bombers bomb and strafe the bridge near
||- Snowstorm the whole day, no air actions.
||- Archipenko (129 GIAP) claims a
Fw-190 near Pyrlitsa
||- At 17:11, Manfred Eberwein (1./JG52) claims a Boston over
the Dnestr (location 92 422:
3500m, looks like typo 97...)
- Around 17:35, ten Soviet bombers attack the railway station
near Leipzig, where the HQ-train of German 8.Armee is located;
only minor damage on train.
A Romanian Henschel 129 shares its airfield with several
Junkers 88, winter 43/44 in the Ukraine (probably Dnepropetrovsk) .
||- Luftwaffe Schlachtflieger relieve German bridgehead Orhei,
which was under heavy pressure with three attacks
- Similarly, Soviet air activity is concentrated around Orhei
- Other german Air support for ground forces N of Iasi
- Balthasar Trä (1./JG52) claims a Boston (location 97 441:
||- Luftwaffe again supports 11. Panzerdivision around Orhei "with good
results", II./SG2 looses 2 planes (reported as "without
enemy action on operational flight")
- VVS shows only weak action
||- Odessa is finally liberated by the Red Army.
- I. Fliegerkorps and I. Romanian Air Corps heavily support the
German counterattack at Targul-Frumos by PzGrDiv GD and other
units; after night fighting, the village is retaken by the Axis
troops. One Hs129 (12./SG9) and one Fw190 (I./SG10) are lost due
to enemy ground fire.
- VVS damages bridges in Dubossary and Koshnitsa
||- Despite the weather-conditions, 190 Axis planes
support the counterattack at Targul Frumos. SG2 looses 2 planes
"on the ground by gunfire from enemy ground forces", two more
are damaged by anit aircraft ground fire.
- VVS concentrates on bridges over the Dnestr
||- The Prut-bridge between Iasi and Ungeni is destroyed by
a low-level attack of three Pe-2 from 2 GBAKwithout fighter
cover, but is replaced the next evening with a
60tons-bridge. Soviets report two destroyed bridges (?)
- In Harlau, a fuel depot of th Red Army explodes after an Axis
air attack with a "200m high darting flame". SG9
looses seven Hs129, two by ground fire and three on the ground
- Tiraspol is retaken by Red Army, while the...
- VVS supports the fightings East of the Dnestr with bombers and
- German 42.Infanteriedivision is flown from Kishinev to Roman
with Me-323 Giganten
||- Between Targul Frumos and Harlau, a Soviet courier plane
with important documents and a staff officer is captured by the
- A case of friendly fire occurs: Stukas destroy a bridge over
the Dnestr NE of Kishinev
||- Franz Woidich (Stab I./JG52, base Zilistea, Absprunghafen
Roman, Husi, Iasi?) claims two R-5 between Falesti & Scumpia, 25km
North of Iasi
- In the morning, the Luftwaffe bombs enemy troops SE of Orhei
- near Todiresti (20km NE Iasi), Schlachtflieger destroy nine tanks and two
assault guns during the day; 14./SG9 looses one Henschel in
- German recconaissance counts 28 planes on airfield Balti
||- Karl-Heinz Plücker (1./JG52) claims an IL-2 near Iasi
- Pe-2 of 81 GBAP bomb the railway station of Targul Frumos; At
Pe-2 on a reccon mission is attacked by three Bf109 and
crashlands 20km (N?) of Iasi; one Bf109 claimed by gunner
- Six claims by german fighters are reported to the Heer (which
- I./SG2 looses a Stuka to Flak, II./SG10 one Fw190 "on
||- Karl Hiller (1./JG52) claims a P-39 near Butor bridgehead / Dnestr (location
97 122: 3000m)
Jürgen Nordmann (1./JG52) claims a R-5 near Selzy airfield (location
97 434: tiefst.)
- Franz Woidich (3./JG52) claims a P-39, a B-25 and two IL-2 ca.
35km NW of Iasi (location
97 7xx), apparently during two missions around noon [comment: a
VVS-B-25 operating in daytime is highly unlikely, this seems to
be a misidentification]
- I./JG52 looses one Messerschmitt 109 in aerial combat
(pilot?), II./SG10 looses one Fw190 "on the ground"
- Archipenko (129 GIAP, Airacobra) claims a PZL-24 near Harlau N of Targul Frumos
- Soviet Army attacks NE of Vultur with support by IL-2,
additionally five air attacks on Iasi and constant attacks on the
city of Bacau from 14:00 to 17:00, while
- Stukas bomb bridges near Sculeni (altogether 60 Axis combat
flights in that area)
||- Archipenko (129 GIAP) claims a Bf-109 near Pyrlitsa / Iasi,
other source says S of Iasi (no german loss report for plane
matches; maybe this is the 109 which I./JG52
lost the day before or the 190 from I./SG10?)
- Luftwaffe and Romanian ARR send 140 planes to attack bridges N
of Iasi and near Harlau and Lespezi. Tank hunters fly missions
N of Iasi; A Fw190 of I./SG10 goes missing
- parts of PzDiv 23 defending Vulturul N of Ias, are under
pressure by "rolling" attacks from IL-2
||- Manfred Eberwein (1./JG52) claims a P-39 over soviet Butor
bridghead (location 98 782: 300m)
- Paul-Heinrich Dähne (2./JG52) claims a P-39 30km E of
Dubossary (location 98 61: 300m)
- IL2 put constant pressure on axis positions N of Iasi and also
attack the city itself
- Luftwaffe Aufklärer count 57 planes on the airfield Balti and
circa 900 cars between Balti and Sculeni; there is "strong fighter
- 100 Luftwaffe combat missions, II./SG10 reports one Fw190
"missing due to enemy action".
||- Werner Schaldt (Stab I./JG52) claims a Pe-2 South of
(location 98 712: 6000m)
- Franz Schall (3./JG52) claims a Pe-2 over Stanca, 10km
North of Iasi
(location 78 674: 4500m)
- The Romainan 7 Grupul vanatoare with its Bf109s moves to
- Strong, nearly constant axis air attacks with 250 planes stop
russian ground troops in the Iasi area (seven attacks on
Moinesti & heights near Stanca by Stuka-groups according to
||- Herbert Planer (2./JG52) claims a Pe-2 near Leipzig
(location 97 543: 4000m)
- Five pilots of 1./NAGr.2 (based in Iasi) claim 5xIL-2, 2xP-39,
2xLaGG-3 and one R-5 between Balti and Kishinev
- A Stuka of I./SG2 is "destroyed without enemy action on
The next articles will deal with the battles for the Dnestr
bridgeheads and the first battle of Targul-Frumos.
Home | Introduction | Targul Frumos 1 | Bridgeheads | Intro Sonja & Katja | Diary Iasi 1 | Diary Iasi 2 | Diary Iasi 3 | Analysis Iasi