32nd Rifle Division (Soviet Union)

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32nd Rifle Division (1934-42)
29th Guards Rifle Division (1942-postwar)
?th Mechanised Division (postwar-1965)
144th Guards Motor Rifle Division (1965-c.1997?)
4944th Base for Storage of Weapons and Equipment (c.1997?-present)
Active 1934 - Present
Country Soviet Union, Russia
Branch Soviet Army, Russian Ground Forces
Type Division
Role Rifle
Engagements Battle of Moscow, others

The 32nd Rifle Division was first raised in 1934 at Vladivostok and organized as a Siberian Rifle Division. The division initially served Far Eastern Military District as part of the 39th Rifle Corps. It took part in a number of border skirmishes on the Manchurian border near Lake Khasan. By 1941 it consisted of the 17th, 113th, and 322nd Rifle Regiments and the 133rd and 154th Artillery Regiments.

Operation Typhoon[edit]

While the 32nd Rifle Division was serving in the 25th Army of the Far East Military District, the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in Europe on June 22, 1941. The German Army Group Center in September paused near Smolensk because Hitler had ordered the capture of Kiev to secure the southern flank. This allowed the Soviets some time to prepare the defenses west of Moscow, but by the beginning of October the offensive toward the capital began again and was called Operation Typhoon by the Germans. The 32nd Rifle Division was ordered west and was rapidly transported by train to the Mozhaisk Defense Line, then manned by Dmitri Danilovich Lelyushenko's 5th Army. By October 10, the forward elements had arrived and dug in on the old Borodino battlefield, where the Russians had bled white Napoleon's Army in 1812. The best the division could hope for was to delay the German advance long enough to form a new line of defense further east. The Germans attacked with two veteran divisions, the 10th Panzer Division and the 2nd SS Division Das Reich on the 32nd's line of defense. On October 13 the fighting began in the Yelnya area (defended by the 17th Regiment). The battle continued for five more days until the exhausted Russians fell back further to the east and Mozhaisk fell on the 18th. The 32nd Rifle Division had traded its blood for time and had inflicted heavy losses on the Germans. It stayed on the front lines through November and took part in the Battle of Moscow.

Reformed as 29th Guards Rifle Division[edit]

The 32nd Division part in the battle of Moscow did not escape the notice of the Soviet high command and it was given the title 29th Guards Rifle Division and the 17th Rifle Regiment received the Order of the Red Banner. The next appearance of the division in battle was in the Ukraine in January 1944 with the 37th Army. Later that year it was moved to the Baltic area and was the first Soviet division into Riga. It ended the war as part of 10th Guards Army still in the Baltic region.

Postwar, the Division was reformed as a Mechanised Division and then circa 1965 became the 144th Guards Motor Rifle Division, based in Tallinn and part of the Baltic Military District. After the fall of the Soviet Union it was withdrawn to Yelnya in the Moscow Military District and was reorganised as the 4944th Base for Storage of Weapons and Equipment. It was planned that in a crisis it would be capable of being brought back to up to full division strength. However by the time of the 2008 Russian military reform, it appears the unit disbanded.

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