6 – Siege of Odessa (8 August – 16 October 1941)
This siege involved the Romanian 4th Army and part of the German 11th Army as they looked to seize control of the Ukrainian port city of Odessa. The city had already been heavily bombarded by German aircraft since June 1941. On 8 August, the Romanian General Staff issued Directive No.31 which involved capturing Odessa. As the city was surrounded on three sides, the Axis forces believed an early victory was inevitable. However, they did not count on the bravery of the Soviet 9th Independent Army.
The initial Axis force of 160,000 (a total of 340,000 men had been involved by the end) faced off against approximately 34,500 Soviets initially (although their numbers increased to 120,000 at the end). Hopes of a quick win were dashed because the Soviet Black Sea Fleet managed to transport supplies and reinforcements into Odessa.
After initial success, General Ion Antonescu decided to temporarily halt the Romanian 4th Army on 13 August in order to strengthen the Hadjibey Bank. The second offensive began 3 days later and once again, the Romanians had some early success. However, their advance slowed to a crawl by 24 August as the stubborn Soviet forces refused to yield. By now, over 5,300 Romanian soldiers had been killed from a total of over 27,000 casualties. Yet another offensive was launched by the 4th Army on 28 August but once again, no breakthrough could be made.
By early September, the 4th Army was in bad shape and the defenders received a boost as 15,000 men arrived. Yet another Romanian offensive took place on 12 September but it was halted within 2 days. The fighting continued into October until the Soviets decided to evacuate the defenders of Odessa as they needed the troops to help fight the Nazi invasion. An estimated 350,000 soldiers and civilians were evacuated by October 15. Unfortunately, many of the soldiers saved from Odessa ended up dying in the siege of Sevastopol. An estimated 34,000 men died in total with another 80,000 wounded and over 11,000 missing. Other historians claim the Soviets alone lost over 60,000 men.