Spring thaw delays Russian offensive

The spring thaw in Russia saw a return to the thick muddy conditions which had brought a pause to the fighting in late 1941.

The Eastern front covered vast distances with huge differences in climatic conditions, there was still snow in the northern sector although the arctic weather had abated.

Just as the autumn rasputitsa had brought delays to the final German thrusts of 1941 so now the spring rasputitsa – time without roads or seasonal quagmire – brought a relative lull in the offensive operations on the Eastern front.

MILITARY SITUATION.

Russo-German Campaign.

Leningrad Sector.

The Russians claim, unofficially, to have cut the Leningrad-Dno railway. The operation is believed to have been carried out by strong raiding parties. Otherwise there has been no activity and there is no further information regarding the beleaguered 16th German Army.

Central Sector.
The German claim to have annihilated four divisions of the Russian 33rd Army refers to operations lasting over some three months. Confirmation is still lacking and the claim is probably exaggerated. It is probable that the Germans have reduced some of the advanced positions which the Russians hare established behind the German forward defences. The German claim illustrates the extent of the Russian penetrations and the large number of troops involved.

Ukraine.
Activity has been on a very small scale, due to thaw conditions.

Crimea.
Both sides are preparing for an offensive, and the weather is now suitable for operations.

Summary.

Thaw conditions, which are unusually severe, continue to limit opera­tions. All indications point to mid-May as the earliest date for a German offensive, although a local one in the Crimea might be staged sooner if the Germans can establish air superiority there. The number of German divisions on the Russian Front is 179, including 5 in Finland.

From the Military Situation Report for the week, as reported to the British War Cabinet, see TNA CAB 66/24/6

The floods that accompanied the thaw in many areas meant that even horse drawn transport was affected.

The Russian term 'time without roads ' was very apt for the conditions which brought a relative lull in the fighting.

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