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Liveblogging World War II: November 18, 1942

David Glantz, Armageddon in Stalingrad, p. 714 ff.:

The [Russian] Briansk, Southweter, and Southern Fronts began their defense against Operation Blau on 28 June 1942 with… 1,310,000 men… suffered 568,347 casualties during the Voronezh-Voroshiovgrad defensive operation (28 June-24 July 1942), including 370,522 killed, mortally wounded, captured, or missing in action….

Thereafter the Stalingrad Front and Volga Flotilla began operations with a force of 447,600 men on 7 July… during the Stalingrad defensive operation (25 July-18 November 942) it and the Southeastern and Don Fronts lost another 643,842 men, including 323,586 killed, mortally wounded, captured, or missing in action…. [T]he Southern and North Caucasus Fronts and the Black Sea Fleet began operations along the Rostov and Caucasus axis on 25 July with… 603,200 men… suffered 373,911 casualties during the North Caucasus defensive operation… including 192,791 killed, mortally wounded, captured, or missing in action…. a total of 1,586,100 losses, including 886,889 killed, mortally wounded, captured, or missing in action….

Yet… the Southwestern, Don, and Stalingrad Fronts mustered a total strength of 1,143,500 men… at day's end on 18 November 1942….

Officially the Briansk and Southwestern Fronts lost 2436 tanks, 1376 guns and mortars, and 783 combat aircraft during Blau I and II…. Stalingrad, Southeastern, and Don Fronts lost 1426 tanks, 12137 guns, and 2063 combat aircraft during the Stalingrad defensive operation…. Southern, North Caucasus, and Trans-Caucasus Fronts lost another 990 tanks, 5049 guns and mortars, and 644 combat aircraft…. Thus the Red Army lost at least 4852 tanks during the five months… four times more than the 1260 tanks the Germans were able to field in Army Group South at the start of Operation Blau.

While the precise personnel losses of the German Army during Operation Blau remain relatively opaque… Sixth Army suffered 40068 casualties, including 1068 officers… from 21 August through 17 October…. Sixth Army probably suffered more than 100,000 casualties during Operation Blau even before the Soviet counteroffensive of November…. [T]he smaller Fourth Panzer Army suffered about 30,000 casualties during the advance on Stalingrad…. Romanian forces suffered 39,089 losses between 1 July and 31 October….

In regard to armor losses, because of the German effective evacuation and repair system it is virtually impossible to determine actual losses…. Overall figures indicate that the German Army lost a total of 1613 tanks during the period from 1 July to 30 November 1942… at least 1000 of them by the forces conducting Operation Blau (700 along the Veronezh and Stalingrad axes and 300 in the Caucasus)…. [By] early September the panzer and motorized divisions participating in Operation Blau were fortunate to muster as many as 30-40 operational tanks each, and frequently far fewer on any given day.

Thus, comparing these gross and often imprecise figures, the Soviets suffered at least 1.2 million casualties in the fighting along the Veronezh and Stalingrad axes from 28 June through 17 November 1942 compared with rough axis casualty total of 200,000…. the Soviets lost in excess of 4862 tanks as opposed to German losses of fewer than 700…. [T]he Caucasus… loss ratios… probably replicated the pattern… roughly 5:1 or 6:1 in the Germans' favor in personnel and a ratio of roughly 5:1 in the Germans' favor in armor.

However, given the Soviets' immense manpower bar and productive rate (about 2000 tanks per month as compared with the far more limited German resources in both respects), the Red Army could endure such losses far more readily than could the Germans…. [T]he Soviets would win any war of attrition, particularly if and when they learned to exploit their resources more effectively.

Hitler… must bear a large measure of responsibility for the dispersal of effort the constant shifting of air and ground assets between the Crimea, Stalingrad, and the Caucasus not to mention Western Europe and Leningrad…. Germany, if Hitler had concentrated his forces and resources, might have taken either Stalingrad or the Caucasus oil fields in 1942 but was incapable of capturing both. The latter goal appears especially possible in retrospect given that the Red Army had its own logistical difficulties in the Caucasus region. Instead, however, each of the two German army groups found its advance dependent on a handful of inadequately supplied mechanized divisions, supported by perhaps a dozen infantry or mountain divisions, while the remaining German and satellite troops had to defend their long open flanks. Stuck at the end of two long and diverging logistical chains, Army Groups B and A suffered separate and nearly simultaneous failures.

Operation Hubertus:

November 18, 1942: After a short barrage (the Germans lacked artillery ammunition after days of fighting) groups Scheele and Seydel attacked. They encircled the forces of 95th Rifle Division in the leather factory and eliminate all but 2 men. Otherwise… the weak, but determined, Soviet defenders were able to pin the attackers by carefully placed machine-gun posts and mobile defences. Houses could no longer be defended as stubbornly as the days before, so the responsible commanders abandoned them instead, retreated to safe positions, and counterattacked the Germans’ exposed flanks….

Ljudnikov’s defenders saw that the Germans were moving reinforcements, drawn from rear area service units, forward to their front lines…. Ljudnikov… [was] sure that the Germans would renew their attacks the next day. His soldiers held a few hundred square metres and his division was down to a couple of hundred men…. Polkovnik Ljudnikow knew that the next day might be his last, but he was not willing to give up. After ordering all possible preparations for the next day, he retired to the quiet of his command post and contemplated the coming day.