The Siege of Kholm

(Brief information)

UpdatedJune 28, 2003

The siege of Kholm is not very famous in the history of World War II. I have only brief information about it from two different sources [1,2]. I have much doubts in information given in [2], but I found some interesting figures there.

This operation was part of the Moscow Battle and started in Jan., 23. I have no exact information about its end, as [1] finished at April 20. It was the 3rd Shock Army (Lt. -General M.A. Purkaev) that had to capture this town. But I couldn't find much information about auxiliary troops' usage in this battle. So I'll adduce here only general information about the 3rd Shock Army and the troops which definetly took part in this siege.

Order of Battle of the 3rd Shock Army (Kalinin Front)[1]
Period Infantry & cavalry Artillery Armored Aviation Engineering troops
Feb. 1, 1942 23,33,257,391 Rfl.Div. 20,27,31,42,45,54 Rfl. Brigades, 63,65,78,79,80,220,221 Separate Ski Rfl. Battalions 429 HAR, 613 AR, 171 ATAR, 603 Mortar Regiment, 106,107,205 Separate Gds. RLB 146,170 Separate Tank Battalions 7 Mixed Aircraft Division 110 SEBn, 299,469,690,1296,1334 SFEB
Mar 1, 1942 33,130,257,391 Rfl. Div., 31,42,45,54 Rfl. Brigades, 154 Marine Rfl. Brigade, 63,65,78,79,80,154,155,157,159,226, 227,228,246,247,248,256,257,260 Separate Ski Rfl. Battalions 429 HAR, 613 AR, 171 ATAR, 603 Mortar Regiment, 106,107,205 Separate Gds. RLB 146,170 Separate Tank Battalions - 110 SEBn, 299,469,690,1296,1334 SFEB
Apr. 1, 1942 24,33,117,257,391,397 Rfl. Div. 31,45,54 Rfl. Brigades, 63,65,79,80,157,159,226,227,228,246,247 Separate Ski Rfl. Battalions 429 HAR, 613 AR, 171 ATAR, 603 Mortar Regiment, 106,107,205 Separate Gds. RLB 146,170 Separate Tank Battalions 163,195,728 FAR, 663 LBAR 299,469,690,1296,1334 SFEB

Structure of the 33rd Rifle Division (Col. Makarjev) - see HERE

Structure of the 391rd Rifle Division - N/A

Total Army equipment on the beginning of operation [2]:

Men - 51500, Tanks -35, Guns - 142, mortars - 347.

It should be noted that the 3rd Shock Army was divided into three separate groups. The central one was assaulting Kholm.

Now I'll cite [2] as in [1] the first record about the 3rd Shock Army is related only to Jan., 27.

"In the morning of Jan. 09, the armies of the left flank of the North-Western Front went to offensive. In front of the 3rd Shock Army operated the 33rd and 257th Rifle Divisions. ... Only at Jan. 12 the enemy`s defense was broken through by 20-25km in depth. ... On Jan. 14, the 33rd and 257th divisions reached Moltovitsy-Kholm road and after two days almost without resistance arrived at Krasny Klin, Volkota lake, 20-25 East to Kholm. ... At the right flank the Soviet troops were engaged into lingering fights for Vatolino and Moltovitsy settlements. ... for this task the 23rd Rfl. Division 20th, 27th, 42rd Rifle Brigades were detached. ... The 33rd Rifle Division (Col. Makarjev) was ordered to capture Kholm. The 257th Rifle Division and the 31rd Rifle Brigades were ordered to attack on the left flank to Velikiye Luki. ... In the morning Jan., 19 after a night march the regiments of the 33rd Rifle Division engaged the battle in Kholm's outskirts where met a stubborn resistance. At Jan. 21 the Soviet infantry captured the western part of Kholm, but couldn't make a force crossing of Lovat river..."

The troops of the left flank of the 3rd Shock Army were stopped in the first days of February near Velikie Luki.

The troops of the 33rd Rfl. Division assaulted Kholm for ten days. At Jan. 23, it was reinforced by the 146th Tank Battalion (2 T-34, 11 T-60, 3 Rocket Launchers*1). In spite of lack of ammunition and much casualties, assault continued in eastern part of Kholm repulsing at the same time attacks of the 386th Rfl. Regiment of the Germans 218th Rifle Division which tried to help Kholm's garrison.

Now I'll turn to [1] which is more believable as there are collected daily reports for General Staff.

If there were no changes in operational situation I omit this days. It should be noted that these are brief current reports which can be somewhat inexact due to natural mistakes.

(CR-Current Report)


CR#23 08:00 Jan. 23, 1942

...The 3rd Shock Army during Jan. 22 continues locking of Vatolino, Kushelevo, Moltovitsy settlements battled in the suburbs and center of Kholm....

CR#29 08:00 Jan. 29, 1942

...The 3rd Shock Army led stubborn fighting in Kholm vicinities and continues an offensive to Velikiye Luki.

The 42th Brigade captured region Ugryumovshchina-Novaya....

CR#31 08:00 Jan. 31, 1942

...the 33rd Rifle Division continued street fights in Kholm....


CR#33 08:00 Feb. 2, 1942

...the 31st Rifle Brigade attacked enemy`s column on march (~rifle regiment) in Svinkino-Evstjukhovo region....

CR#42 08:00 Feb. 11, 1942

...The 3rd Shock Army continued stubborn fighting with enemy defending Bel-1, Drozdy, Bekasovo (all 6-10 to North and North-East from Moltovitsy)...

CR#45 08:00 Feb. 14, 1942

... The 3rd Shock Army during Feb. 13 continued an assault of Kholm, by the troops of the 33rd and 291st*2 Divisions. Combats took place in Eastern, South-Eastern and South-Western suburbs...

CR#47 08:00 Feb. 15, 1942

...The 3rd Shock Army continued combat on Demyansk direction on previous positions by the troops of 20,27,42 Rfl. Brigades. The troops of the 33rd and 391th Divisions continued attacks to Kholm. Left flank no changes....

CR#49 08:00 Feb. 18, 1942

...the 3rd Shock Army by the troops of 75th*3 Brigade reached Kuzemkino region (3 km South-West to Kholm), by the troops of the 42th Rifle Brigade captured Ryto, Gar region and fighted for Zhirki (all settlements 40km to the West from Demyansk). The troops of the 33rd and 391st Rifle Divisions continue fighting in the central part of Kholm.

CR#51 08:00, Feb. 20, 1942

...street fights in Kholm. The 2nd Gds. Infantry Corps by the troops of the 75th Tank Brigade*4 fought vs. the enemy`s troops surrounded in Tarakanovo and with troops of the 37th Tank Brigade*4 continued combat in Northern side of Kholm.

CR#52 08:00 Feb. 21, 1942

...The 3rd Shock Army continues attacks.


The 8th Gds. Rfl. Division with one regiment has captured Glukhovka Region (18 km West to Kholm), the second regiment was attacking Mazury region, the third regiment has captured Pustynki (15km South-West to Kholm).

The 75th Rifle Brigade was cleaning Tarakanovo from enemies.

The 37th Rfl. Brigade was fighting in Northern outskirts of Kholm.

The 26th Rifle Brigade defended Fatykino*5-Gribovo-Mikhailovo-Sokolye line(34-36km North to Kholm).

CR#53 08:00 Feb. 22, 1942

...The 3rd Shock Army continues attacking.


The 27th Rfl. Brigade and 130th Rfl. Div. passed to the offensive at 10:00 am Feb.21 and at 12:00 captured Dubrovka and were attacking Kokshino-Bykovo-Pavlovo.

The 42nd Rfl. Brigade was attacking Izbitovo region.

The 154th Rfl. Brigade was attacking Khmeli region.

The 33rd,391st Rfl. Divisions and 37th Rifle Brigade was having street fights in Kholm.

The 2nd Gds. Infantry Corps continued with attacks.


The 38th Rifle Brigade reached Ratcha region.

The 8th Gds. Rfl. Division has locked enemy in Sutoki region, captured Mazury and reached with part of the troops to Pustynki-1

The 75th Rfl. Brigade continued combat in Tarakanovo region.

The 71st Tank brigade was concentrated in Novichki region (12 km North-West to Kholm)

The 26th Rfl. Brigade was placed in Fat'kino-Mikhailovo-Sokolye region.

The 45th,54th Rfl Brigades, 257th Rfl Division, 31st Rifle brigade - without changes.

The 86th Rifle Brigade was unloaded in Krasukha region (20km North-West to Peno).

CR#54 08:00 Feb. 23, 1942

...the 3rd Shock Army attacked in the previous regions.

The 130th Rfl. Division captured Novaya Russa - Bor region.

The 42nd,154th Rfl. Brigades captured Khmeli, Izbitjevo region (40 km West to Demyansk).

The 2nd Gds. Rfl. Corps with the troops of the 37th Rifle Brigade was re-deployed to Kuzemkino region.

CR#57 08:00 Feb. 26, 1942

...the troops of the 33rd and 391st Rfl divisions captured several buildings in the center of Kholm....





*1. - as in [2]. Maybe these launchers were BM-8-24, based on T-60 chassis. I have never heard of rocket launchers in tank battalions.

*2. - An error, must be 391st.

*3. - the 75th Marine Rifle Brigade on Feb.01 and Mar. 01 was in the 2nd Guards Rifle Corps directly subordinated to Front Headquarters. It could have operated together with the 3rd Shock Army or temporarily had been subordinated to it between Feb. 1 and Mar. 1.

*4. An error. Composition of 2nd Gds. Rfl. Corps on Feb.01 (8th Gds.Rfl. Div., 26th, 37th, 38th Rfl. Brigades, 75th Marine Rifle Brigade, 212nd, 213rd, 214th Separate Ski Rifle Battalions) On Mar. 1 - the same.

*5. May be a mistake as in the next report could be seen the name Fat'kino.


AR-Artillery Regiment

ATAR- Anti-Tank Artillery Regiment

Div. -Division

FAR -Fighter Aircraft Regiments

Gds. -Guards

HAR-Howitzer Artillery Regiment

LBAR - Light Bomber Aircraft Regiment

Rfl.- Rifle

RLB - Rocket Launcher Battalion

SEBn - Separate Engineer Battalion

SFEB - Separate Field Engineer Battalion (Sapper)

  1. "Bitva pod Moskvoy, Khronika, Fackty, Ljudy",M., Olma-Press, 2002, vol.1,2
  2. V.V. Beshanov "God 1942 - 'Uchebnij' ", Minsk, Harvest, 2002. - The less believable source!!!