5th Army (Russia) - Moscow


The 5th Army was re-raised for the second time in October 1941, under the command of Dmitri Lelyushenko, as part of the Soviet Western Front. Recent sources give the actual re-raising date as 11 October 1941. It included two rifle divisions and three tank brigades. At the Battle at Borodino Field, on a former Napoleonic battlefield, the first elements of the reforming Army to arrive at the front—two regiments of the Soviet 32nd Rifle Division and the 18th and 19th Tank Brigades—attempted to halt the German 10th Panzer Division and Das Reich divisions which were striking for Mozhaisk. Lelyuschenko was wounded and General L.A. Govorov took over. What thin reserves there were ran out, and Mozhaisk fell on 18 October. Later that year the Army took part in the Klin-Solnechogorsk offensive operation.

On 15 November, another German strike toward Moscow opened, but while the flanks saw heavy fighting, up until 28 November, the 5th Army along with the two other Armies forming Western Front’s centre, 33rd and 43rd, were holding quite firmly, despite some attacks on the right-most sector of their line. On 1 December, a last effort by the German XX Corps to reach Moscow saw a furious attack directed near the junction of the 5th Army and 33rd Army, which led to the Moscow-Minsk highway, the most direct route to the Soviet capital. Despite breaking through 33rd Army defences around Naro-Fominsk, after all available reserves were directed by Zhukov toward the breach, by 4 December the situation had been restored and the Soviet command could resume its planning to take the offensive.

As part of the Soviet winter counteroffensive from Moscow, the 5th Army was instructed to commence its offensive actions from 11 December, pushing for Ruza-Kolyubakovo, while right flank units joined the 16th Army in hitting Istra. Eventually the 5th Army defeated the Germans near Zvenigorod, and the 2nd Guards Cavalry Corps forced itself into the German rear in a daring raid, making further advances possible. In Western Front directives of 6 and 8 January 1942, the 5th Army received orders to first outflank, and then to retake, Mozhaisk by 16 January. The 5th Army, now boasting seven rifle divisions, 82nd Motorised Rifle Division, three independent rifle brigades and 20th Tank Brigade, was on the move by mid January, and on 20 January took the town. However his rifle divisions were falling to below 2,500 each, and the Army ‘started to run out of steam.’

On 20 March a Stavka directive gave new instructions to the Western and Kalinin Fronts, and among these, the 5th Army was ordered, when the offensive kicked off, to take Gzhatsk by 1 April, after which it was to capture Vyazma in conjunction with the 43rd, 49th, and 50th Armies. In April 1942 Govorov was posted to command the Leningrad Front, and apparently General Ivan Fedyuninsky took over. Some time after that, Y.T. Cherevichenko took command.

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