284th Rifle Division (Soviet Union)

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284th Rifle Division (10 July 1941 - 27 Dec. 1941)
284th Rifle Division (Jan. 1942 - 1 Mar. 1943)
284th Rifle Division (15 July 1943 - 1945)
Active 1941 - 1945
Country  Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag.svg Red Army
Type Division
Role Infantry
Engagements Operation Barbarossa
Operation Blue
Battle of Stalingrad
Soviet invasion of Manchuria
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Col. N.F. Batyuk

The 284th Rifle Division began service as a standard Red Army rifle division shortly after the German invasion, but was soon destroyed in the encirclement of Kiev. A new division was formed in early 1942, and played a leading role in defending the central city and Mamayev Kurgan hill in the Battle of Stalingrad, for which it was raised to Guards status as the 79th Guards Rifle Division. A third 284th was raised a few months later and fought briefly against the Japanese in Manchuria in August 1945.

1st Formation[edit]

The division began forming on July 10, 1941 at Romny in the Kharkov Military District. Its order of battle was as follows:

  • 1043rd Rifle Regiment
  • 1045th Rifle Regiment
  • 1047th Rifle Regiment
  • 820th Artillery Regiment.[1]

Just three weeks after forming the 284th was railed to the Kiev Defense Sector. By Aug. 12 it was assigned to 37th Army of Southwestern Front, and helped to defend the direct approaches to the city for the next month, but this left it hopelessly trapped when the German forces linked up far east of Kiev in September. The division was effectively destroyed later that month, although it was not officially removed from the Soviet Order of Battle until Dec. 27.[2]

2nd Formation[edit]

In December a new rifle division, the 443rd, began forming at Tomsk in the Siberian Military District. In January, 1942 it was re-designated as the new 284th Rifle Division. With most of its personnel of Siberian origin, it became known unofficially as the “Tomsk” division. Its order of battle remained the same as the 1st formation.

The unit spent about three months in training in Siberia before being sent to the front, as part of the new 48th Army in Bryansk Front. When Operation Blue began, the Stavka believed the German thrust would push northeastwards towards Moscow, and ordered the Front to deflect the Germans by counterattacking. The 284th, among other Soviet forces, took heavy losses, and was withdrawn to Sverdlovsk in August for rebuilding.[3]

On Sept. 17, under command of Colonel N.F. Batyuk, the division was assigned to 62nd Army and began arriving in Stalingrad, its first elements crossing the Volga River in the early morning of the 23rd. The 284th's main assignment would be the defense of Mamayev Kurgan, alongside the 13th Guards. Other elements helped defend the city center, also with the 13th Guards.

During October, a senior sergeant of the 2nd Battalion, 1047th Rifle Regiment, V.G. Zaitsev, was brought to Batyuk's attention; Zaitsev was gaining a reputation as a highly effective sharpshooter with the standard Mosin-Nagant rifle.[4] Batyuk recommended him for sniper training, and later ordered him to set up a sniper training school of his own. Before being wounded in January, 1943, Zaitsev was credited with an estimated 400 kills, and became a Hero of the Soviet Union in March.

In that same month, in recognition of the division's prowess both on the defense and during the offensive that crushed the trapped German Sixth Army, it became the 79th Guards Rifle Division.[5]

3rd Formation[edit]

The final 284th Rifle Division was one of six new divisions formed in the Transbaikal in July, 1943. Its order of battle remained the same as the first two formations. It served in the Transbaikal Front, in 17th Army, for the duration. When the Soviet Union declared war on Japan on Aug. 9, 1945, the division joined in the advance into Manchuria. This advance was mostly unopposed, and this formation of the 284th saw very little, if any, combat.[6] It was disbanded later that year.

In Popular Culture[edit]

  • Col. Batyuk, Senior Sgt. Zaitsev, and several other men of the 284th appear briefly (Part One, Chapter 55) in Vasily Grossman's novel Life and Fate. Grossman had actually interviewed Zaitsev during the Battle of Stalingrad.[7]
  • Viktor Nekrasov's novel Front-Line Stalingrad (Harvill Press, 1962) is based on his experiences fighting as a junior officer in the 284th at Stalingrad.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Charles C. Sharp, "Red Tide", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From June to December, 1941, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IX, 1996, p 61
  2. ^ Sharp, Red Tide, p 61
  3. ^ Charles C. Sharp, "Red Swarm", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From 1942 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. X, 1996, p 108
  4. ^ Frank Ellis, The Stalingrad Cauldron: Inside the Encirclement and Destruction of the 6th Army, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2013, p 272
  5. ^ Sharp, Red Swarm, p 108
  6. ^ Sharp, Red Swarm, p 108
  7. ^ Ellis, The Stalingrad Cauldron, p 283

Further reading[edit]

  • Goff, James F., The mysterious high-numbered Red Army rifle divisions, Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Vol. 11, No.4, December 1998, pp. 195–202