Targul Frumos 1
Intro Sonja & Katja
Diary Iasi 1
Diary Iasi 2
Diary Iasi 3

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The Dnestr bridgeheads of the 3rd Ukrainian Front

The river Dnestr is a pretty big stream on the last 60 kilometers between Grigoriopol and its mouth into the Black Sea west of Odessa. It presented a major natural obstacle and was ideally suited as base for a defensive line for the Wehrmacht. Nevertheless, during its fast advance in March and April 1944, the Red Armies 3rd Ukrainian Front was able to establish several bridgeheads over the river, here listed from North to South:

a) The Butor bridgehead
 Also called Tashlyk or Pugaceny/Pugatscheny. This bridgehead was established in late March by the 2nd Ukrainian Front's 5th Guards Army and up to 15km wide and deep. Later, this Front concentrated on breaking through the german defenses at Iasi and Targul Frumos, and so the bridgehead was handed over to the 3rd Ukrainian Front's 8th Guards Army in late April. That lead to a clear division of tasks: One Front's objective was to advance over the Dnestr while the other targeted through Iasi & Targul Frumos. It is important that the german 6. Armee always held a bridgehead on the East bank of the Dnestr directly North of Butor which was well-suited for artillery emplacements shelling Pugaceny.

b) The Krasnaya Gorka bridgehead
 In March, units of the 57th Army crossed the Dnestr near Krasnaya Gorka. This bridgehead was relatively small. Additionally, its elevation was below the adjacent german-held area. That meant it could easily be monitored and shelled by the Wehrmacht.

c) The Tiraspol/Bendery bridgehead
 Two important bridges cross the Dnestr between Tiraspol and Bendery, with no other opportunity downstream or upstream the next 50 kilometers. Logically, they were a major target for the Red Army, but it did not succeed in conquering them intact.
Nevertheless, in the swamps South of Bendery, a rather big area was occupied by the soviet 37th Army in the North and the 46th Army in the South. It was ca. 20km long and up to 10km deep. Later, between 19 and 25 April, also elements of the 5th Shock and 6th Army moved into this bridgehead. In August 1944, this area would be the jumpoff-point for one of the two pincers which encircled and then destroyed big parts of Heeresgruppe Südukraine incl. the complete german 6. Armee

Bendery still in german hands on 29.03.1944

Bendery still in german hands (detail)

Bendery in soviet hands on 14.04.1944 (bridges destroyed)

Luftwaffe Reconnaissance photographs of Bendery incl. the bridges and old fortress (click on pics for larger view)

d) A bridgehead over the Dnestr Liman
 Already while the main part of the 2nd Ukrainian Front was still cleaning Odessa from axis forces, the 8th Guards Army crossed the stream directly North of the Dnestr Liman on 25 April. But during the next two days, bad weather like heavy rains and an onshore wind lead to a flood in the area and finally on 27 April, this bridgehead had to be abandoned.

Frontline in late April 1944, after first consolidation of bridgeheads and the first battle of Targul-Frumos.


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Last update 03.03.11