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The Defence of Sevastopol 1941-1942 (Hardback)

The Soviet Perspective

Military WWII > Battles & Campaigns > Russia & the Eastern Front

By Clayton Donnell
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 50
ISBN: 9781783463916
Published: 2nd February 2016



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In December 1941, while America was reeling from the attack on Pearl Harbor and the offensives of the German Army Groups North and Centre were stalled in the mud and cold of the Russian winter, the German Eleventh Army encircled the vast fortress of Sevastopol in the Crimea, launching massive combined air, artillery and land attacks against the heavily defended positions. One of the most remarkable campaigns in the history of modern warfare had begun, and this is the subject of Clayton Donnell’s graphic and highly readable new study. Drawing on his expert knowledge of the history of modern fortifications, he describes the design and development of the Red Army’s formidable base at Sevastopol. But he concentrates on the sequence of attacks mounted by the Wehrmacht on the strongpoints protecting the city. The forts and bunkers had to be taken one by one after devastating artillery and air attacks, the casualties on both sides were severe, and this brutal struggle went on for over six months. Using documentary records and a range of personal accounts, Clayton Donnell reconstructs the events and experience of the campaign in vivid detail.

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.

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History of War

Review featured here.


As featured in

VaeVictis, November – December 2016

... The book devotes one chapter to the German breakthrough into the Crimea and another chapter to a detailed description of "fortress Sevastopol." After that, Donnell is all about the siege. Successive chapters cover the first assault in October and November 1941, the second assault at the end of the year, and events through the end of May 1942. Four chapters cover the third and final assault in June and July. All these chapters are packed with hard facts including OBs, dispositions, numbers of guns, casualties, etc. In particular, the author has made use of aerial photographs and modern mapping technology to illustrate positions and operations.

Ultimately, the author declares Sevastopol no feather in Manstein's cap, but a strategic victory for the Soviets, a victory that tied up an entire German army for months, rendered its divisions nearly toothless, and deprived Paulus' Sixth Army of much-needed reinforcements at Stalingrad.

A book of unexpectedly high quality

Stone & Stone - Bill Stone
 Clayton Donnell

About Clayton Donnell

Clayton Donnell is a US Air Force Veteran. He has a degree in history and has passionately studied military history and fortress engineering for over thirty years. Clayton lived in Europe for many years and studied the architecture and archaeology of the most renowned fortress systems of Belgium, France and Germany. He created the first internet site in the world in English about the Maginot Line, and another on the fortress and Battle of Liège, Belgium. His publications include Modern European Military Fortifications, 1870-1950: A Selected Annotated Bibliography (edited with J.E. Kaufmann), The Forts of the Meuse in World War I, The German Fortress of Metz, Fortifications of Verdun 1874-1917, Shenandoah Valley 1862, Breaking the Fortress Line 1914, The Defence of Sevastopol 1941-1942: The Soviet Perspective, Maginot Line Gun Turrets and The Battle for the Maginot Line, 1940.

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