History Goes On
Logistics of a Combined-Arms Army of the Red Army
HGW Davie | @HGWdavie
University of Wolverhampton
While there is a considerable body of work on the structure and organisation of the Red Army during the Second World War, its mobility and the supply of its front-line units has been neglected in both Soviet era and modern Russian and English historical examinations. The reasons behind this lie in Soviet era attempts to portray the Soviet Union as a technologically modern and advanced nation, when in reality there were considerable gaps in its industrialisation programme of the 1930s. This particularly affected transport which continued to rely heavily on horse-drawn wagons and railways right up until the end of the war.
While modern trucks were given to Tank Armies and RVGK artillery units, the Combined-Arms Armies were left with a small fleet of older and captured trucks, supplemented in the Riffle Divisions by thousands of horses. Yet the Combined-Arms Armies especially the Guards units, remained the main breakthrough assault force for all offensives right up until the end of the war. Soviet era historians avoided this conundrum, as the only paper to discuss it only used examples from 1941 and 1945 and avoided the entire period 1942-1945 when the transport fleet was at its lowest ebb. This paper shows how the Combined-arms Armies managed to overcome their weakness in transportation to both fulfil their assault role and their part in "deep operations" using a combination of railways, a small motor vehicle fleet and large numbers of horses. It uses examples from Operation Polkovedets Rumyantsev in 1943 and the Vistula-Oder Operation in 1945.
HGW Davie is a mature scholar, studying the MA Second World War course at the University of Wolverhampton. He used to work in academic publishing for Frank Cass Publishers, whose authors include many well-known authors on the Red Army. During those years, he spent his spare time studying the place of the Red Army in the Soviet-German War which ignited a life long interest.
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