Volkhov Front

The Volkhov Front (Russian: Волховский фронт) was a major formation of the Red Army during the first period of the Second World War. It was formed as an expediency of an early attempt to halt the advance of the Wehrmacht Army Group North in its offensive thrust towards Leningrad. Initially the front operated to the south of Leningrad, with its flank on Lake Ladoga.

Volkhov Front (1st formation)
Active17 December 1941 – 23 April 1942
Country Soviet Union
BranchRed Army flag.svg Red Army
RoleShock army group
SizeSix combined arms armies, one air army, three corps
EngagementsRelief of the Siege of Leningrad
1941 Summer-Autumn Campaign
1941–1942 Winter Campaign
Marshal of the Soviet Union Kirill Meretskov

First formationEdit

The Volkhov Front was formed on 17 December 1941 from the left wing of the Leningrad Front and elements of the Reserve of the Supreme High Command (Stavka Reserve) during the conduct of the Tikhvin Offensive operation under the command of the Army General Kirill Meretskov, with General Grigory Stelmakh (former commander of the 4th Army) as Chief of Staff and Army Commissar of 1st rank A.I.Zaporozhets.[1]

Initially Sokolov's 26th Army (later 2nd Shock Army) and Galanin's 59th Armies were allocated to the Front's formation. The Front also included Meretskov's 4th Army[2] and Klykov's 52nd Army. The Front's air support was provided by the 14th Air Army (Russian: 14-я воздушная армия) of General-Major I.P. Zhuravlev.[3] The 8th Army that was formed in early January was also added to the Front.[4] Initially the Front held a frontage of 250 km. The Front's neighbouring formations were the 54th Army of the Leningrad Front (later incorporated into the Volkhov Front) and the 11th Army of the North-Western Front.[1]

Volkhov Front's goal was to move westward, pushing towards the Leningrad Front.[5] In order to do this, it had to deceive the German army in several respects. This was carried out, for instance, by attacking the enemy in a swampy region, the least trafficable area where the German weakness compensated for the difficulty in movement.[6] This constituted a deception because the Soviets have been focusing their attacks on a very narrow attack sector (16 kilometers).[6] Secondly, Meretskov also directed a series of false and diversionary maneuvers. There was the case of tactical strategy that made the Germans believe the troops were amassing in the Malaya Vishera, which is located east of the Volkhov region.[6] This gave the impression that the Volkov Front's target was Novgorod while the attack took place elsewhere. Meretskov's front's aimed to inflict the main blow south to Chudovo[7] while the 8th army's main target was north of Mga.[6]

2nd Shock Army and VlasovEdit

Andrey Vlasov was named Deputy Commander under Meretskov and in charge of the 2nd Shock Army (Russian: 2-ая Ударная Армия). On January 7, 1942, he spearheaded the Lyuban Offensive Operation to break the Leningrad encirclement. Planned as a combined operation between the Volkhov and Leningrad Fronts on a 30 km frontage, other armies of the Leningrad Front (including the 54th) were supposed to participate at scheduled intervals in this operation. Crossing the Volkhov River Vlasov's army was successful in breaking through the German Eighteenth Army lines and penetrated 70–74 km deep inside the German rear area.[1] The other armies (Volkhov Front's 4th, 52nd, and 59th Armies, 13th Cavalry Corps, and 4th and 6th Guards Rifle Corps), however, failed to provide the required support, and Vlasov's army became stranded. Permission to retreat was refused. With the counter-offensive in May 1942, the Second Shock Army was finally allowed to retreat, but by now, too weakened, it was annihilated. Vlasov was taken prisoner by the Wehrmacht troops on July 6, 1942.[8]

Volkhov Operational GroupEdit

The Front was disbanded and its elements reorganised as the Volkhov Operational Group and incorporated into the Leningrad Front on 23 April 1942.[9]

Strategic operationsEdit

Front and Army operationsEdit

Second formationEdit

Volkhov Front (2nd formation)
Active9.6.42 – 15.2.44
BranchCombined arms
Sizesix Combined arms armies, one air army, three corps
EngagementsRelief of the Siege of Leningrad
Winter campaign on 1942-43
Summer-autumn campaign of 1943
Marshal of the Soviet Union K. A. Meretskov

The Front was reformed on the 9 June 1942 from the Volkhov Operational Group of the Leningrad Front and served until 15 February 1944, participating in the relief of the Siege of Leningrad and taking part in other operations including:


The strategic operationsEdit

Front and army operationsEdit


  1. ^ a b c Meretskov, On the service of the nation, Ch.6
  2. ^ (Second Formation) Archived 2012-03-20 at the Wayback Machine. ВОВ-60 - (4-я Отдельная армия) 4th Independent Army (1st Formation) was a part of the Western Front.
  3. ^ 14-я воздушная армия 14-я воздушная армия with permission from Aviators of the Second World War site (research by V.V.Kharin)
  4. ^ Meretskov, On the service of the nation, Ch.6. The Front's order of battle on January 1, 1942 can be found here
  5. ^ Chaney, Otto Preston (1996). Zhukov. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 257. ISBN 0806128070.
  6. ^ a b c d Glantz, David (2005). Soviet Military Deception in the Second World War. New York: Franc Cass and Company, Ltd. p. 96. ISBN 9781136287657.
  7. ^ Kleinfield, Gerald; Tambs, Lewis (2014). Hitler's Spanish Legion: The Blue Division in Russia in WWII. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books. p. 155. ISBN 9780811713917.
  8. ^ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The Gulag Archipelago. Harper & Row Publ., New York (1973), p 252, 253.
  9. ^ Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation


  • Meretskov, K.A., On the service of the nation. Moscow, Politizdat, 1968 (Russian: Мерецков К.А. На службе народу. — М.: Политиздат, 1968.)
  • Bonn/Glantz, Slaughterhouse: Handbook of the Eastern Front, Aberjona Press, Bedford, PA, 2005
  • John Erickson, The Road to Stalingrad, 1975, p. 278, 332
  • Lubbeck, William and David B. Hurt. At Leningrad's Gates: The Story of a Soldier with Army Group North, Philadelphia, PA: Casemate, 2006 (ISBN 1-932033-55-6).