6th Rifle Division (Soviet Union)

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The 6th Rifle Division was a Soviet military unit. It participated in several battles, most notably the Soviet westward offensive of 1918–1919 and Estonian War of Independence. From their inception the unit saw combat and had three periods of active service. It was also awarded the Order of the Red Banner for combat valor.[1]

First formation[edit]

The Division was first formed May 3, 1918 in the city of Gdov. It was made up of volunteers from East Dybenko, Petrograd, Red Guards from the regular Army, and workers from the city of Narva who formed the original unit. Its official designation upon activation was the Gatchina Infantry Division. From May into November 1918, the division was deployed in the vicinity of Ivangorod.[citation needed] In November 1919 the Division attacked Narva with the Red Army, starting the Estonian War of Independence. This was part of the Soviet westward offensive, a campaign to conquer the Baltic states and Belarus. The unit was redesignated twice during this campaign. First on July 24, 1918 to the 3rd Petrograd Infantry Division and then again on November 2, 1918 to the 6th Rifle Division.

The Division defended Petrograd alongside the Red Army. In May and June 1919, with forces under the command of Nikolay Yudenich, the first assault was repelled. Forces were then consolidated in preparation for a second wave of attacks. Defense of the Yamburg area was abandoned on August 5, 1919, favoring defense of the Petrograd. In autumn 1919, the rifle division repelled the Krasnaya Gorka offensive of the Estonian 1st division.[2] The target of the operation serves as a fort for the Russian Army to this day.

The 6th Rifle Division then saw action in the campaign to conquer the city of Narva. This was a homecoming of sorts for the Division, as many of its members were workers from the city. The operation lasted from November through December 1919. The Estonian 1st Division and the White Russian Northwestern Division were pushed beyond the border between the Soviet Republic and Estonia, and the Division actively guarded the border from January until May 1920.

In May and June the Division was called to participate in an offensive against Poland. By July and August the fighting was intensifying in the Dokshitsy region. By September the offensive was deep into Poland around the Warsaw region. The battle had now moved to areas around the city of Grodno. On July 22, 1920 the division took part in forcing the Niemen River during the First Battle of the Niemen River. The division pushed back the Polish-led 1st Lithuanian-Belarusian Infantry Division in the vicinity of Mosty[disambiguation needed]. Although ultimately stopped by the Polish 81st Grodno Rifles Infantry Regiment, the Russian unit forced the Poles to retreat and abandon their lines.[3]

Following the Polish summer retreat towards Vistula, the division was in pursuit of the Polish forces. On August 9 it captured Wyszków and then advanced north of Bug, Narew and Vistula towards Łomża. The town fell to the Russians, but a successful counter-attack on Łomża carried out by Polish 59th Greater Polish Infantry Regiment recaptured the town. The Russian division lost many of their prisoners of war. Following the battle of Warsaw the 6th Rifle Division was defeated. Recreated as part of the Russian defences along the Niemen river, it took part in the Second Battle of the Niemen River. Defeated east of Wilejka by Polish cavalry, it was surrounded and completely eliminated. The Poles captured its headquarters, tabor, 13 field kitchens and the remaining two pieces of artillery, as well as all commanding officers of the division's regiments.[3]

The unit was later re-created behind the front. On December 6, 1921 the official designation for this unit became the 6th Oryol Rifle Division. They were recognized for their combat success and were awarded the Order of the Red Banner. This award is for Russian citizens who exhibit heroism in combat or other extraordinary accomplishments of military valor during combat operations. In 1939 the Division assumed a trainer status and split into separate cadres. They were responsible for training the 122nd and the 180th Rifle Divisions.

Second formation[edit]

The Second Formation of the 6th Rifle Division, probably formed from the 16th Rifle Regiment of the original division, took part in the Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939. As of September 17, 1939, was a part of 11th Rifle Corps of 10th Army of the Belarus front. As of October 2, 1939, was a part of 24th Rifle Corps of Fourth Army of the Belarus Front.

After clearing the Western Belarus since October, 1939 the Division joined the Belorussian Special Military District's 6th Rifle Corps, 4th Army. Almost the entire division (except for its howitzer regiment) was deployed within the Brest Fortress in the Western Special Military District. On the night of June, 14th the division was raised to combat alert. The division comprised the 84th, 125th, and 333rd Rifle Regiments, the 131st Artillery Regiment, and the 204th Howitzer Artillery Regiment. It began operations against the Germans with 13,700 personnel.[4] However, Glantz writing in Colossus Reborn in 2005, says division strength on 22 June 1941 was 11,592.[5]

The German attack, Operation Barbarossa, launched on June 22, 1941, to find much of the 6th Rifle Division forming part of the garrison of the Brest fortress. At that time many natives of the Voronezh area (an appeal that took place in 1940 and spring 1941) served in the division's units. The defenders of the fortress during the Siege of Brest set an example of the highest courage and heroism.

On August 1, to the north from Кричева (Kricheva) in a strip of defense of 148th Rifle Division the Germans struck massed blows by aircraft, and then forces of 24th Motorized Corps has gone over to the offensive. On the highway Krichev - Roslavl (Рославль) 4th tank division has moved, and from Мстиславля aside Smolensk armies of XLVI Motorized Corps have directed. 6th Rifle Division, which was on the right flank of the 13th Army, deployed, and its 84th Rifle Regiment was cut off from the main forces of the division. The communistic battalion of volunteers-ленинградцев given to a division has rendered помщь surrounded a regiment. Fighters-communists under command of item of the lieutenant And. Pryanishnikov's Item have rushed to resolute attack and on shoulders of fascists have rushed(have rushed into) in Ганновку (to the north Милославичей), have destroyed up to a battalion of alive force of the opponent and have captured a staff of a battalion. On the night of August, 4th the division has broken from enemy rear and regained the main Soviet defence line.

In the fierce fights for settlements Zamoste, Гута-Сенска the division rendered sensitive losses to parts of the German 258th Infantry Division. The Germans left on the battlefield a hundred corpses, 30 motor vehicles, 45 motorcycles and large numbers of weapons. As of September 1, 1941, the Division was a part of 45th Rifle Corps of the 13th Army of the Bryansk Front. On the night of September 2, 1941, the 29th Motorized Division of 47th Motorized Corps forced Desna at the railway bridge to the south from White Berezki (Березки) and has grasped jumping-off place северо-to(North of?) the west stations Znob. 13th Army headquarters took urgent measures to not allow expansion of the German jumping-off place. Fight was entered with 50th tank and both 307th and 6th shooting divisions.

As of October 1, 1941 was a part of 13th Army of the Bryansk Front. On September 30 and on October 1, the division defended earlier taken positions. On October 2, one of the division's regiments continued to defend a boundary from a mouth of the river Znobovka up to (the claim.) area Krenidovka, other parts in movement in area Suzemka with the task of mastering by it. The Division took part in defensive fights near Bryansk, the Eagle and Kursk. The division was in the end of the first year of war among those formations which stopped the Germans on a boundary of the river Tima. At the city of Shchigry it strongly held positions during half a year.

In the end of June 1942, the division has appeared on a direction of the main impact of the German forces who have started the approach aside of Voronezh. For eight days of fighting, from June 28 until July 6, the division destroyed 53 tanks, 64 motor vehicles, 4 planes, plus a lot of other enemy equipment, and many soldiers and officers.[6] During this week parts of a division have strongly thinned also. However they have kept forces that right after deviation for Don, without rest and поплнения, to take defensive positions on the left-bank part of Voronezh and to repulse the pressed enemy.

And hardly the Germans have been stopped in a right-bank part of city as 6th division has successfully lead individual offensive operation and has begun jumping-off place Chizhovskomu.

After the battle in Voronezh, the division took part in the clearing of Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. In August 1945, the Division distinguished itself in Soviet invasion of Manchuria, fighting as part of the 53rd Army of the Transbaikal Front. The division has received for services in battle (September 1945) the honourable name "Хинганская (Khiganskaya)" and was awarded another Order of the Red Banner and an Order of Suvorov. After the war it was briefly made part of the Fifth Army before being disbanded by being redesignated the 6th Rifle Brigade in November or December 1945.

Third formation[edit]

6th Rifle Division was briefly reformed for the third time in 1955–57 in the Transcaucasian Military District from the 406th Rifle Division, assigned to the 4th Army.[7] However, it was reorganised as the 60th Motor Rifle Division in 1957. The famous combat history of the division and the feats of arms of its soldiers in the protection of Voronezh and in other battles are told in the exhibits of the museum of Boarding School No.4 on Leninsk prospeckt in Voronezh.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Original Russian text of article source.". 
  2. ^ Jaan Maide (1933) [www.ksk.edu.ee/file.php?ID=1208 Ülevaade Eesti vabadussõjast] Kaitseliit publishers, Tartu
  3. ^ a b (Polish) Grzegorz Łukomski, Bogusław Polak, Mieczysław Wrzosek, Wojna polsko-bolszewicka 1919-1920, Koszalin 1990.
  4. ^ (Simonov. 100 days of war. Smolensk, “Rusich”, 1999, p.348 (document provided)) via Lenskii, 2001.
  5. ^ Colossus Reborn, 2005, 201.
  6. ^ Central Archive of the Russian Ministry of Defence (ЦАМО the USSR), ф. 203, оп. 2848, л. 27/
  7. ^ Michael Avanzini, Craig Crofoot, Armies Of The Bear

Sources[edit]