The siege of Sevastopol (October 1941-July 1942) was one of the longer sieges of the Second World War, lasting for nine key months, and pinning down a large number of German troops and Erich von Manstein, one of Hitler’s most able commanders at a period when they were both really needed elsewhere along the vast Eastern Front.
The fact that Sevastopol was besieged at all is a sign of the truly catastrophic nature of the Soviet defeats in 1941. The Germans had advanced vast distances across the Ukraine to reach the northern entrances to the Crimea, then overcome the strong natural defences of the peninsula to reach the city. Before the war hardly anyone on the Soviet side have believed that Sevastopol would ever be attacked by an army that had come by land, so most of the defences were based on the assumption that any attack would be amphibious. However the terrain surrounding the city was ideal for the defence, with rocky mountains and deep valleys that made it very difficult for the Germans to use their normal blitzkrieg tactics. It too the Germans three goes to finally take the city, with a six month gap between the second and third assaults, and it cost them most of an army, troops who might have made a crucial difference to the fighting around Stalingrad.
This is a well researched account of the siege, with an emphasis on the Soviet side of the lines, but not exclusively, so we do get enough information about the German side to keep the text balanced. The narrative is well supported with eye witness accounts, useful maps and pictures, making it easy to follow the events of the siege. The reasons for the early Soviet successes, and the eventual German victory are clearly explained, and the siege’s place in the overall war is made clear. This is a good account of a key but often under-appreciated battle of the Second World War.
1 - The Descent into Crimea - September to October 1941
2 - The Fortress of Sevastopol
3 - The First Assault - October to November 1941
4 - The Second Assault - 17 December 1941 to 1 January 1942
5 - January to June 1942
6 - The Third Assault (1) - The Bombardment of 2 to 6 June 1942
7 - The Third Assault (2) - 7 to 16 June 1942
8 - The Third Assault (3) - 17 to 23 June 1942 - Fall of the North
9 - The Third Assault (4) - 24 June to 16 July 1942 - The End of the Road
10 - Conclusions
Author: Clayton Donnell
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military