The CRIMEAN CAMPAIGNS 1941 – 1944 describes the battles for the Crimea during World War Two on two levels: tactical and strategic. The many excellent accounts of small actions are nicely woven into the overall description of the intense fighting for the Black Sea peninsula. All important phases of that unique battle front are covered, including the penetration through the Isthmus of Perekop in 1941, the combat on the Tschatyrlyk, and the pursuit to Sevastopol, where the Germans were halted by the city’s powerful defenses. Following the drive to Kerch and some setbacks, after a 4 week brutal siege Sevastopol was captured on 1 July 1942. The uneasy German occupation lasted until 1944 when the Soviet army recaptured Crimea in early May 1944. The final chapter was once again written in Sevastopol, when the remnants of the German defenders attempted to leave by sea transport. Thanks to Hitler’s intransigence, the evacuation was a disaster and a large portion of the fighting troops wound up in Russian captivity, many never to see their homeland again.
Feldmarshall Erich von Manstein led the German forces during the battles for the Crimea. Transferred from the Leningrad Front in northern Russia, he provided brilliant leadership. Hampered by a lack of sufficient forces and equipment, he got everything that he could from a handful of German infantry divisions and some smaller formations, and the allied Romanian units.
The German siege of Sevastopol in 1942 and the Soviet one in 1944 were the two focal points of the Crimean campaigns, pointing out the importance of the Crimea and Sevastopol for the Russians and any possible invaders.