69th Rifle Division (Soviet Union)

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69th Motorized Rifle Division (1930s - 1941)
107 Tank Division (17 July '41 - Oct. '41)
69th Rifle Division (Dec. 1941 - 1945)
Active 1930s - ca.1945
Country  Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag.svg Red Army
Type Division
Role Infantry
Engagements Operation Barbarossa
Battle of Kursk
Lower Dnieper Offensive
Operation Bagration
Lublin-Brest Offensive
East Pomeranian Offensive
Berlin Strategic Offensive
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Mjr. Gen. M.A. Bogdanov
Mjr. Gen. I.A. Kuzovkov, Hero of the Soviet Union
Maj. Gen. I.I. Sankovski
Mjr. Gen. F.A. Makarov

The 69th Rifle Division was originally a Red Army motorised infantry and, briefly, a tank division that was reorganised in 1941 - 42 as a standard rifle division. The division distinguished itself in at least two battles. It was credited with the liberation of the town of Sevsk on 26 August 1943. On 15 October 1943 it made a successful assault crossing of the Dnepr River south of Gomel; 21 officers and men of the division were decorated as Heroes of the Soviet Union for this action.

1st Formation[edit]

The division was first organized as the 69th Motorized Rifle Division and was established at Kuibyshev in the Russian SFSR sometime in the early 1930s.[1]

However, Crofoot and Avanziani write that the division was established at Khabarovsk, RSFSR, in early 1936 from a cadre provided by the 3rd Rifle Division (Soviet Union).[2] It seems much more likely that Crofoot and Avanzani are correct, given their utilisation of original Russian source documentation rather than the Foreign Armies East data at the heart of Poirer and Connor's work.

69th Motorized was included in the 28th Army when it was formed in Arkhangelsk Military District in June, 1941, before being shipped south after the start of hostilities.

Shortly after the start of Operation Barbarossa, it appears that (citing Soviet documents) 69th Motorized Division became 107th Tank Division on 17 July 1941.[3] The division was destroyed near Bryansk in October 1941 and disbanded.

Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, appears to indicate that the division was split into both the 107th and 108th Tank Divisions.[4] Endnotes to Glantz's 1998 book indicate the 108th Tank division was in combat with the Bryansk Front circa 28 August 1941 to 4 September 1941, and on 28 August it had a strength of 62 tanks (5 KVs, 32 T-34s, and 25 T-40s).[5]

2nd Formation[edit]

The division was reformed at Tashkent, in the Central Asia Military District, from December 1941 to 14 February 1942. For the duration of the war it comprised the following major units:

  • 120th Rifle Regiment
  • 237th Rifle Regiment
  • 303rd Rifle Regiment
  • 118th Artillery Regiment
  • 99th Sapper Battalion
  • 20th Reconnaissance Company.[6]

On 14 February, when Col. (later, Mjr. Gen.) M.A. Bogdanov was assigned as divisional commander, the division went to the STAVKA reserves, then in March to the Western Front reserves, and finally in April to 50th Army of Western Front, remaining there until February 1943. This sector was mostly quiet during this period.[7]

By 1 March the 69th Rifle Division had been transferred south to the 65th Army of Gen. K.K. Rokossovsky's Central Front. Apart from a brief transfer to the 52nd Army in July 1944, it remained in this Army, commanded by Gen. Pavel Batov, and under Rokossovsky's overall command, for the duration of the war.[8] By June the division had been assigned to the 18th Rifle Corps, where it also remained for the duration.[9] Central Front became Belorussian Front in October, then 1st Belorussian Front in February 1944.

At this point it was necessary to rebuild the division, as casualties from the summer and autumn offensives had reduced the rifle regiments to the effective strength of just two battalions each. At this time, and during the following summer, the division was receiving replacements from the 218th Reserve Rifle Regiment.[10] In November the 69th, along with the rest of 65th Army, transferred to Rokossovsky's 2nd Belorussian Front.

Division honorifics were - Russian: Севская краснознаменная, Орден Красного Знамени, Суворова, Кутузова. (English: Sevsk, Red Banner, Order of Suvorov, Order of Kutuzov.)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Poirer and Connor
  2. ^ Crofoot, Avanzani, Armies of the Bear, Vol. I, Part 2, p.113
  3. ^ http://www.rkka.ru/handbook/reg/69md41.htm, accessed July 2011
  4. ^ Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, University Press of Kansas, 1998, 222, 231, and associated endnotes at 324-325 (notes 47-49).
  5. ^ Glantz 1998, page 325, note 49.
  6. ^ Charles C. Sharp, "Red Swarm", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From 1942 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. X, 1996, p 23
  7. ^ David Glantz, "Ivan Vasilievich Boldin", in Stalin's Generals, (Harold Shukman, Ed.), Phoenix Press, 2001, p 51
  8. ^ Sharp, p 23
  9. ^ Sharp, p 24
  10. ^ Sharp, p 24