April 27, 2017

1943. Axis Forces Encircled Near Rostov

Nazis Face Another Stalingrad-Like Disaster
"Disaster Threatens Nazis in Donets: Sweeping gains for the Russian armies north of Rostov, threatening a Stalingrad-like disaster for 500,000 Nazis in the Donets area, were reported yesterday as the Reds captured rail junctions cutting off main avenues of retreat. As Soviets (1) menaced Kharkov, other Slavic forces in the Caucasus (2) pushed on after seizing Krasnodar. Ponyri (A) was captured and the Soviets pushed on toward Orel. The lined area is Russian-held and the black line represents the approximate battle front"
Distributed by the International News Service and printed in The Charleston Gazette, February 14, 1943, pp. 1-2:
Soviets Win Major Railways, Cut Retreat of 500,0000 Nazis
Foe Said Putting Torch to Rostov
Disaster Akin to Stalingrad Threatening Germans In Donets Area

MOSCOW, Feb. 13 (INS) — Soviet troops today captured Novocherkassk to drive within 20 miles northeast of Rostov, and simultaneously occupied Zolochev, 20 miles northwest of Kharkov, where they cut another major railway leading to central Russia.

A special communiqué tonight also disclosed occupation of the key junction of Likhaya, 62 miles north of Rostov where the Voronezh-Rostov railway crosses both the northern crook of the Donets river bend and the Stalingrad-Donets rail line.

Rostov Reported Afire

Driving down the railway from Voronezh, the same Russian column overran Zverevo, five miles below Likhaya and 57 north of Rostov around which an arc was rapidly closing the north, northeast and south.

(Bill Downs, CBS correspondent at Moscow, broadcast unconfirmed reports in the Soviet capital that the Germans are setting the "entire city" of Rostov afire. A London broadcast heard by CBS said the Nazi garrison at the Caucasian gateway city was being shelled from three sides and that the Germans had "already lost their advance fortifications, but their defense is most stubborn.")

The special bulletin also announced the capture of Novo-Shakhty, 15 miles northwest of Shakhty, which is 10 miles above Novocherkassk. Shakhty was occupied Friday and the Red Army now controls the entire railway from Voronezh through that town down to Novocherkassk.

Some 125 miles northwest of Novocherkassk, Gen. Nikolai F. Vatutin's army was declared earlier to have overrun another 45 enemy strong-points south of the vital junction of Krasnoarmeisk, occupied Friday. This push came to within 70 miles above the northern Azov seacoast and 25 miles north of Stalino, controlling the last rail line of retreat left to an estimated half million German troops in the Donets-Rostov region.

Rout Like Stalingrad Looms

A disaster akin to that of Stalingrad threatened hourly to overtake the latter enemy forces.

Russian capture of Zolochev, announced in the special communiqué, cut the sixth of eight railways radiating out of Kharkov. Zolochev lies 20 miles northwest of the Ukrainian industrial capital on the line to Bryansk, 200 miles southwest of Moscow.

Its capture meant that one of at least four Russian armies, which have converged to within 18 miles of Kharkov, by-passed the queen city of the Ukraine on the north in a westward overland advance of some 20 miles from the Belgorod-Kharkov rail line.

Only 2 Rails Open

Only two of the eight trunk railways leading out of Kharkov remain available for the escape of the huge German garrison now threatened with complete encirclement. One leads due west to the Ukrainian administrative capital of Kiev, 160 miles away, with a branch threading northwest to Konotop and the western Russian rail system. The other runs 130 miles southwest to the German base of Dniepropetrovsk on the Dnieper river bend, already menaced by a Soviet column that captured Lozovaya, 65 miles to the northeast.

The closest Russian spearhead aimed at Kharkov was last reported striking beyond Chuguyev to a point less than 18 miles east-southeast of the "Russian Pittsburgh."

"On Feb. 13," said the special Soviet bulletin, "our forces as the result of a determined attack captured the town of Novocherkassk. Units under the command of Maj. Gen. Lutvenko were the first to break into the town. Troops of Maj. Gen. Shlemin, continuing the offensive, captured the town and large railway junction of Likhaya and the town and railway station of Zverevo.

"Our troops also captured the town of Novo-Shakhty.

"In the Ukraine as a result of stubborn fighting our troops occupied the town and railway station of Zolochev."

Likhaya, one of the most bitterly defended German strongholds in the south, already had been bypassed on the east by Soviet columns which had fought their way across the Donets bend to break the main German defense line shielding Rostov from the north.