Case Blue was the German Offensive starting on 28th June 1942 to cut off and surround Soviet Armies in the Don Bend, capture vital oil supplies in the Caucasus around the city of Baku, and capture Stalingrad on the Volga. After the objectives of Operation Barbarossa had not been met the year before, Hitler was looking for a new thrust for his armies in the South. If he could reach and capture the oil fields around Baku this would be a major blow to Russia and maybe even complete Barbarossa. By cutting off Soviet Armies in the Don Bend and between the Don & the Volga he was hoping that this might be enough to bring Russia at last to her knees. Virtually cutting the country in 2. The Plan The plan called for 4th Panzer Army and 2nd Army supported by 2nd Hungarian Army to attack from Kursk to Voronezh and anchor their position on the left wing of the Volga River. 6th Army would attack from Kharkov in parallel with 4th Panzer Army to the Volga. 1st Panzer Army, flanked by 17th Army on the right would strike towards the Lower Don & the Don/Volga Isthmus. It was hoped that these movements would result in a series of huge encirclements of Soviet Armies. Stalin was not sure of German intentions in the Summer of 1942 although he was certain that the main push would be towards Moscow. 50 % of all Russian Troops were stationed in this region with only 10 % stationed in the South. The Attack The attack opened on 28th June 1942. The Russians fell back everywhere as the Germans sliced through defensive positions. However unlike previous German advances the Russians were withdrawing in good order rather than trying to hold indefensible positions on open ground. The only prisoners taken were rear guards & administrative troops. This led Hitler to believe that the Russians were down to their last reserves. By 5th July 4th Panzer Army had reached Voronezh on the Don and were embroiled in a bitter fight to take the city. By tying down 4th Panzer Army at Voronezh the Russians were able to gain valuable time to fortify their positions elsewhere along the front. Angered by the delays Hitler further changed the plan. He split Army Group South in to 2 smaller Army Groups - A & B. Army Group A consisted of 17th Army & 1st Panzer Army and was tasked with the advance in to the Caucasus and taking Baku. Army Group B consisted of 2nd Army, 6th Army, 4th Panzer Army & 2 Italian & Hungarian Armies. This was tasked with the advance to the Volga & Stalingrad. 6th Army's initial success resulted in Hitler transfering 4th Panzer Army to help 1st Army in order to force a crossing of the Don. The resulting chaos in moving an entire Army from one place to another caused yet more delay to both Army Groups and because of the poor road system in Southern Russia, logistics were a nightmare. This allowed the Russians to consolidate their positions further. On 23rd July Army Group A captured Rostov, although the Russians made the Germans fight a costly Urban Battle and again they fell back in good order and avoided encirclement. With the Don Crossing now secured Hitler ordered 4th Panzer Army to join back up with 6th Army with it's flagging push to the Volga. 6th Army resumed it's offensive in late July and by 10th August had cleared most of the remaining Russian Forces from the west bank of the Don although some resistance still remained which further delayed 6th Army's push eastwards. Meanwhile Army Group A was fairing better and after it's crossing of the Don had pushed east & south east towards the Caucasus & the Black Sea through territory largely abandoned by the Russians. 1st Panzer Army had advanced nearly 300 miles to the Foothills of the Caucasus. 6th Army crossed the Don on 21st August allowing Army Group B to secure a defensive position on the Don Bend with 2 Hungarian, 2 Italian and 1 Romanian armies. The Germans now pushed on towards Stalingrad. With forward Luftwaffe bases now in range, bombing of the city began and over 40,000 civilians were killed as Stalingrad was pounded mercilessly from the air turning much of the city in to rubble. The Ground Attack on Stalingrad was 2 pronged. 6th Army attacking from the North & 4th Panzer Army attacking from the South. A salient had been created in the Don/Volga Isthmus in which 2 Russian Armies were still fighting. On 29th August 4th Panzer Army mounted an attack towards this salient with 6th Army ordered to do the same, but a strong Soviet Counter-Offensive from the North delayed 6th Army by 3 vital days allowing the 2 armies in the salient to pull back in to the Stalingrad area. By this time Georgi Zhukov had taken command of the Stalingrad Front and he sent more Counter-Attacks from the North to further delay the Germans from capturing Stalingrad. He had also bolstered the defensive forces in & around the city to meet the German onslought. On 13th September 6th Army & 4th Panzer Army had finally repulsed these Counter-Attacks and were now on the outskirts of the city. This began the Battle of Stalingrad. WORK IN PROGRESS German advances in Southern Russia from June to November 1942. Aftermath of fighting in Rostov. Stalingrad after a visit from the Luftwaffe.