4th Airborne Corps (Soviet Union)

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4th Airborne Corps was an airborne military formation of the Red Army in World War II.

Fighting history[edit]

The corps was formed in the spring of 1941 in the Western Special Military District based on the personnel of the 214th Airborne Brigade.

On 22 June 1941 in the second echelon of the Western Front, stationed in Pukhovichi, Minsk region. In late June 1941, 214th Airborne Brigade body was redeployed using trucks to the area Glusha, Stariye Dorogi, Glusk for advancing into the rear of the Bobruisk German group (which then operated separately).

The main forces of the body (7th and 8th Airborne Brigade) went into action at the beginning of July 1941 at the bend of the Berezina River in the Berezina and Svisloch, then retreated to the East in the area of Mahilyow and on July 10 taken out of the line for refitting in the rear.

At the new offensive of the enemy forced the 4th Airborne Corps (7th and 8th Airborne Brigades) to gain engage in combat at Krichev on 16 July 1941 . On July 17 the enemy captured Krichev, and on the night of July 18 secured it completely, crossed the Sozh River and seized a bridgehead. On the 19 July 1941 the 4th Airborne Corps tried to restore the situation in the Krichev, and on July 29, its operational detachment burst into the city, but the next day was destroyed, and the enemy reoccupied the city.

In August 1941, as a result of a new attack of the enemy the corps was surrounded, and attempted to break out in the region of Unecha, Pogar, Starodub, and some personnel also made their way out of the encirclement in the area Trubchevsk. In September 1941, the corps was sent to be reformed beyond the Volga River in Povolzhye. In December 1941, after training, it was relocated to the Kaluga area, now composed of the 8th, 9th and 214th airborne brigades.

On 15 December 1941, to the west of the city Klin one battalion of the 214th Airborne Brigade (415 personnel) was paradropped to straddle and cut the only road at Teryaevo Sloboda and prevent enemy departure to Volokolamsk.

15 January 1942, it was decided to air-drop the corps in the Ozerechnya village 35 km south-west of Vyazma. The 8th Airborne Brigade was airlifted, however, due to the overall change in the situation, it was not considered unnecessary to carry out dropping the whole corps, and the rest of the corps was withdrawn to the original position at the Lyubertsy.

During the Rzhev-Vyazma operation in 1942, from 18 to 23 February 1942, the corps was dropped behind the enemy lines in the Yukhnov direction 25 kilometers south of Vyazma, with release of 7,373 parachutists and 1,524 bales with ammunition and equipment. In March 1942, the Corps occupied area Kluchy, Tynovka, Yurkino, Petrishchevo, Novaya, and station Verterhovo. On the 18 March 1942, in heavy defensive fighting the corps was practically split in two. On 11 April 1942 the corps was subordinated to the 1st Guards Cavalry Corps. The corps operated behind enemy lines in total isolation from the main forces until June 1942, when ordered to break out of the encirclement, achieved on the 28 June 1942.

Actions by the corps in the winter-spring of 1942 went down in history as the Vyazma airborne operation.

In August 1942, the corps was re-formed as the 38th Guards Rifle Division.

In the second half of 1942, the corps was formed again, but was not involved in the fighting, and in December 1942 on its basis was created the 1st Guards Airborne Division.

Subordination[edit]

Composition[edit]

  • 214th Airborne Brigade- was formed in 1938 in the city of Marina Gorka on the basis of the 47th Special Purpose Airborne Brigade. Participated in the Polish Campaign, The Winter War and entry to Bessarabia. Since fighting with Germany began mostly fought in isolation from the main forces. 28.06.1941 was subordinated to the 210 Motorized Division. Brigade was tasked to conduct a motorised raid in the rear of the enemy in the Staraya Doroga, Glusk (west of Slutsk), which was successful, however, due to the retreat of the 210 Motorized Division, the brigade was isolated, and within two months conducted combat operations in the rear of the enemy forces in the Minsk area. In late August, the brigade made its way to the front lines and joined the location of 21st Army. 8/28/1941, the brigade concentrated on the south-western outskirts of Mena. 05.09.1941 the brigade defended on the south bank of the river Desna River at the Butovka station, after being replaced in line it was put in the reserve army headquartered in Shapovalovki. During the December 1941 air drop by a battalion of the brigade for 9 days it attacked enemy columns, destroyed a small garrison, blew up bridges, set fire to gasoline tank trucks. In total the commandos blew up 29 bridges, burned 48 tankers, knocked out 2 tanks, and killed at least 400 enemy soldiers. Operating in small groups to sabotage enemy communications in a large area, paratroopers forced the enemy to abandon heavy weapons.
  • 7th Airborne Brigade- formed in the spring of 1941, based on the fighting strength of the 201st Infantry Division. 01.07.1941 transferred to the defense, the crossing over the river Berezina in the village of Berezino, arrived 03.07.1941, but was dropped from the shore, tried unsuccessfully to eliminate the bridgehead, blew up the bridge, then retreated in the general direction of the retreating corps. During the reformation joined the 5th Airborne Corps
  • 8th Airborne Brigade- formed in the spring of 1941, based on the fighting strength of 231st Infantry Division. 30.06.1941 transferred to the line, at the river Svisloch, led the fight to the enemy in small groups. Retreated in the general direction of the retreat corps. In the period from 27.01.1942 to 01.02.1942, 3,062 troops of the 8th Airborne Brigade had parachuted behind enemy lines in the area Ozerechni, including 2,081 paratroopers, 120 light machineguns, 72 anti-tank guns and 20 82-mm and 30 other mortars. In addition, together with the brigade 76 troops from the 214th Airborne Brigade were also airlifted. However, the landing was not completed well, and personnel were scattered on the ground. By 02/01/1942, the place of gathering (Androsova) was reached by only 746 soldiers. The remainder of the drop was killed or captured or joined the partisans. From 01 to 02/07/1942, the brigade conducted a series of battles, the brigade 07.02.1942 established a link with the 41st Cavalry Division of the 1st Guards Cavalry Corps, and 12/02/1942, the brigade was subordinated to the corps. Acting with the corps until 04/07/1942, the brigade reunited with the main body of the airborne corps.
  • 9th Airborne Brigade - formed in the spring of 1941, the personnel of the 203rd Infantry Division, was part of the 5th Airborne Corps but after reorganization became part of the 4th Airborne Corps instead of the 7th Airborne Brigade.

Commanders[edit]

Source:[1]

  • Colonel Aleksandr Fyodorovich Kazankin (May - June 1941)
  • Major General Aleksei Semyonovich Zhadov (June - August 1941)
  • Colonel Aleksandr Fedorovich Kazankin (August - November 1941)
  • Major General Aleksei Fyodorovich Levashev (November 1941 - February 1942) (died while in a transport aircraft attacked by German fighters)
  • Major General Aleksandr Fedorovich Kazankin (February - August 1942)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zhukov, A.E., Forum at www.soldat.ru

Bibliography[edit]

This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the Russian Wikipedia.