Andrei Ivanovich Yeremenko (1892 - 1970)

Yeremenko was born in Markovka (near Kharkov) to a peasant family. He was drafted into the Imperial Army in 1913, serving on the Southwest and Romanian Fronts during World War I. He joined the Red Army in 1918, where he served in the legendary 'Budyonny Cavalry' unit, after which he attended the Leningrad Cavalry School and then the Frunze Military Academy, which he graduated from in 1935.

In 1940, Yeremenko was placed in command of the 6th Cavalry Corps, which was part of the Soviet Forces that invaded Eastern Poland, as part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (Second World War). The operation was characterized by poor organization and command. Yeremenko had to request an emergency airlift of fuel so as to continue his advance. Afterwards, he held a number of commands, ending up in control of the Transbaikal Military District, the post he held when Operation Barbarossa began on 22 June 1941.

Eight days after the invasion began, Yeremenko was recalled to Moscow where he was made the Commander of the Western Front, two days after its original commander was executed for incompetence. Yeremenko was thrust into a very precarious position as Western Front had been all but destroyed in the fighting, but Yeremenko was able patch together what remaining forces he had, and was able to halt the German offensive just outside of Smolensk. During this vicious defensive battle, Yeremenko was wounded and as a result, he was transferred to the newly created Bryansk Front. In August 1941, Yeremenko was ordered to launch an offensive using Bryansk Front, despite the obvious superiority of German forces, but the offensive failed.

In October the Germans launched Operation Tyfun (Typhoon), which was an offensive operation aimed at capturing Moscow. Yeremenko’s forces were pushed back, but eventually were able to halt the German attack. On 13 October, Yeremenko was once again wounded, this time severely. He was evacuated to a military hospital in Moscow, where he spent several weeks recovering. In January 1942, he was appointed commander of 4th Shock Army, which was apart of North Western Front. During the Soviet Winter counteroffensive, Yeremenko was again wounded on 20 January, when German planes launched a bombing raid on his headquarters. He refused to go to a hospital until the fighting around him abated.

He was then transferred to South Eastern Front, where in August 1942 he launched a number of counterattacks against the Wehrmacht during Operation Blau (Blue), which was the German offensive into the Caucasus. On 28 September, South Eastern Front was renamed Stalingrad Front. During Operation Uranus in November 1942, Yeremenko’s forces helped surround the German 6th Army under General Friedrich Paulus, which eventually surrendered on 3 February 1943. After Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein attempted to counterattack and break through the blockade, Yeremenko counterattacked and was able to halt his push.

On 1 January 1943, the Stalingrad Front was renamed the Southern Front. After the end of the winter offensive in March 1943, Yeremenko was transferred north to the Kalinin Front, which remained relatively quiet until September, when he launched a small, but successful offensive. In December, Yeremenko was once again sent south, this time to take command of the Separate Maritime Army, which was a motley force put together so as to retake the Crimea, which was accomplished in conjunction with Fyodor Tolbukhin's 4th Ukrainian Front. In April, he was once again sent north, to command 2nd Baltic Front. During the summer campaign, 2nd Baltic advanced westwards and was able to capture Riga, helping to bottle up some 30 German divisions in Latvia. On 26 March 1945, Yeremenko was transferred to the command of the 4th Ukrainian Front, the unit he controlled until the end of the war. 4th Ukrainian was deployed in Eastern Hungary at the time and his subsequent offensive helped capture the rest of Hungary, and paved the way for the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

After the war, Yeremenko had three major commands. Between 1945 and 1946, he was the Commander in Chief of the Carpathian Military District, from 1946 to 1952 he was the Commander in Chief of the West Siberian Military District, and from 1953 to 1958 he was the Commander in Chief of the North Caucasus Military District. On 11 March 1955, Yeremenko, along with five other noteworthy commanders, was given the rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union. He was made Inspector General for the Ministry of Defence in 1958, a largely ceremonial role that allowed Yeremenko to retire that same year. He died on 19 November 1970.

How to cite this article: Antill, Peter, (2 April 2006), Andrei Ivanovich Yeremenko, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_yeremenko.html


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