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Prelude to Breakout
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After Soviet tank armies sealed the pocket at Korsun on 28 January 1944, the Germans immediately began supply operations by air to sustain their troops surrounded in the encirclement. But a counterattack by German panzers to rescue the trapped men was the only way to avoid their eventual surrender. Field Marshal Erich von Monstein, commander of Army Group South, assembled an armored force a to prepare the way for a breakout by the two surrounded corps. On 4 February, elements of the 17th Panzer Division and an independent panzer regiment equipped with heavy Panther and Tiger tanks advanced. Their goal: reach and hold crossings over the Gniloi Yikich River to establish a secure corridor for the second part of the breakout oper'ation.
28 Jan 1944
Battle of the Korsun–Cherkassy Pocket
The Battle of the Korsun–Cherkasy Pocket was a World War II battle fought from 24 January to 16 February 1944 in the course of the Soviet Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive in Ukraine following the Korsun-Shevchenkovsky Offensive. In the battle, the 1st and 2nd Ukrainian Fronts, commanded, respectively, by Nikolai Vatutin and Ivan Konev, encircled German forces of Army Group South in a pocket near the Dnieper River. During weeks of fighting, the two Red Army Fronts tried to eradicate the pocket. The encircled German units attempted a breakout in coordination with a relief attempt by other German forces, resulting in heavy casualties, estimates of which vary.
Introduction to Wikipedia Article
Wikipedia: Battle of the Korsun–Cherkassy Pocket