Timeline of the 2nd Battle of Kharkov 1942

After reading David Glantz’s book on the 2nd Battle of Kharkov I started writing up some notes on the timeline.

18-31 Jan 1942: Barvenkovo Bridgehead

On 18 Jan 1942 the Soviet 6th, 57th, and 9th Armies attacked German positions alng the Northern Donets River near Izium south of Kharkov. After the infantry penetrated German lines ski troops and three cavalry corps broke into the German rear. The Soviets seized a large bridgehead on the west bank of the river including the Lozovaia and Barvenkovo rail junctions. By 31 Jan the Germans and blocked further advance.

7 Mar 1942: Staryi Saltov Bridgehead

On 7 Mar 1942 the Soviet 38th Army, spearheaded by 13th Guards Rifle Division, attacked German positions across the Northern Donets River between Staryi Saltov and Pechenegi. After 4 days of heavy fighting the Soviets had created a bridgehead 8 km deep but got no further.

22 Mar 1942

The Southwestern Direction Military Council submitted a proposal to the Stavka to conduct an operation around Kharkov in May 1942.

25 Mar 1942: Directive for Operation ‘Friderikus’

The German Army Group South issued a directive for Operation ‘Friderikus’. This was a two pronged attack to pinch off the Barvenkovo bridgehead to commence 22 Apr. Hitler and Halder rejected this plan.

The spring thaw (razputitsa) that started in mid-April flooded rivers and turned the soil into mud

16 Apr 1942

On 16 Apr 1942 Timoshenko ordered the start of a large-scale regrouping to concentrate Southwestern Front troops for the offensive. In particular the Front had to form the new 28th Army and introduce it into the line. Due to disorganisation and the spring thaw (razputitsa) that started in mid-April it took more than 30 days – much longer than planned – to regroup the necessary troops.

17 Apr 1942

The Stavka ordered the Front to from three new tank corps from the existing tank brigades.

The Germans started to notice ‘confused troop movement and radio silence’ on the Soviet side. Although this suggested an attack was coming the German staff thought it did not warrant undue concern.

28 Apr 1942: Directive No. 00275

Southwestern Direction Military Council Directive No. 00275 outlined the revised operational plan for the Kharkov offensive scheduled for 4 May. The main thrust would be from the Barvenkovo bridgehead with a secondary attack from the Staryi Saltov bridgehead. All of 28th Army would lead the northern attack from Sharyi Saltov. The attackers would converge on Kharkov.

30 Apr 1942: Directive for Operation ‘Friderikus II’

The German Army Group South issued a directive for Operation ‘Friderikus II’. In this version Sixth Army would attack east of the Northern Donets. Probable start date 18 May.

4 May 1942

The offensive was originally intended to start on 4 May 1942 but due to the delay in regrouping the necessary troops and the offensive was delayed until 12 May.

On 4 May 1942 the Stavka converted the Southwestern Direction Operational Group into a full Direction staff. Unfortunately they did not receive additional personnel to do the work.

12 May 1942

The Soviets started the Kharkov offensive from the Barvenkovo and Staryi Saltov bridgeheads.

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Glantz, D. M. (2010). Kharkov 1942: Anatomy of a Military Diaster Through Soviet Eyes. Ian Allan Publishing.

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