I hope you all have had a wonderful 4th of July. This is two years in a row that ours has been atypical (at least for July). Last year, it was really cool. This year was a bit warmer, but it basically rained all day. Most of the fireworks displays around the area have been postponed until tomorrow, but the forecast calls for a bunch of rain tomorrow evening as well. I guess we’ll see what happens.
Speaking of fireworks, the fight for Sevastopol in 1942 provided plenty of fireworks of its own. The final assault, begun in June, was actually the culmination of a larger siege begun by German forces late in the preceding year. In those heady early days of Barbarossa (heady at least for the Germans), the Wehrmacht had stormed into the Crimean Peninsula and (excepting the part that was bordered by the Black Sea) surrounded Sevastopol. Then the super-cold winter of 1941 gave way to spring and the fight was on again.
As we discussed a month ago, this final battle also featured the largest guns ever used in conflict. Massive 600mm and 800mm siege cannon may not have fired a bundle of shells, but the ones that were fired made huge explosions, like on June 6th when a series of projectiles from the 800mm Schwerer Gustav blew up an ammunition magazine. But this was no ordinary ammo dump…it was the White Cliff and it was submerged in nearly 100 feet of water and protected by 30 feet of concrete.
Despite being heavily outnumbered (by better than 3-to-1), the Soviet forces resisted this final assault for nearly a month before finally collapsing. On July 4, 1942, organized fighting in Sevastopol ended. Isolated resistance and skirmishes would continue for a week, but General (soon-to-be Field Marshal) Erich von Manstein’s forces had seized the port.
Recommended Reading: Barbarossa