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42 Second Retreat from Russia by Drawings by Norman Neasom (1915 - 2010)

42 Second Retreat from Russia by Drawings by Norman Neasom (1915 - 2010)

Second Retreat from Russia

Signed Dated and Inscribed

Image area 15ins x 22ins

Although the Wehrmacht's offensive had been stopped, German intelligence estimated that Soviet forces had no more reserves left and thus would be unable to stage a counteroffensive

This estimate proved wrong, as Stalin transferred fresh divisions from Siberia and the Far East, relying on intelligence from his spy, Richard Sorge, which indicated that Japan would not attack the Soviet Union. The Red Army had accumulated a 58-division reserve by early December, when the offensive proposed by Zhukov and Vasilevsky was finally approved by Stalin.

However, even with these new reserves, Soviet forces committed to the operation numbered only 1,100,000 men, only slightly outnumbering the Wehrmacht. Nevertheless, with careful troop deployment, a ratio of two-to-one was reached at some critical points. On December 5, 1941, the counteroffensive started on the Kalinin Front. After two days of little progress, Soviet armies retook Krasnaya Polyana and several other cities in the immediate vicinity of Moscow.

The same day, Hitler signed his directive number 39, ordering the Wehrmacht to assume a defensive stance on the whole front, however German troops were unable to organize a solid defense at their present locations and were forced to pull back to the west of the Oka river.

Meanwhile, the Soviet offensive continued; in the north, Klin and Kalinin were liberated on December 15 and December 16, as the Kalinin Front drove west. In the south, the offensive went equally well, with Southwestern Front forces relieving Tula on December 16, 1941.

Despite the Luftwaffe's best efforts Soviet air superiority had contributed enormously to the Red Army's victory at Moscow. Between the 17 December and 22 December the Luftwaffe destroyed 299 motor vehicles and 23 tanks around Tula, hampering the Red Army's pursuit of the German Army.

Soviet troops liberated Naro-Fominsk only on December 26, Kaluga on December 28, and Maloyaroslavets on January 2, after ten days of violent action. The offensive halted on January 7, 1942 after having pushed the exhausted and freezing German armies back 100 to 250 km (60 to 150 mi) from Moscow. This victory provided an important boost for Soviet morale, with the Wehrmacht suffering its first defeat.

Another of Norman's wartime drawings which shows the German army in full retreat. Unlike a lot of Norman's work this shows the dramatic atmosphere and the horror of war of a fleeing army. Although in the drawings section there is a small amount of colour in the drawing but not enough to be included under the watercolours

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