70th Guards Rifle Division

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70th Guards Rifle Division (Feb. 1943 - ca. 1957)
70th Guards Motor Rifle Division (ca. 1957 - 1991)
Active 1943 - 1991
Country  Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag.svg Red Army
Type Division
Role Infantry
Engagements Battle of Kursk
Operation Kutuzov
Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Mjr. Gen. I.I. Lyudnikov
Mjr. Gen. I.A. Gusev

The 70th Guards Rifle Division was created on Feb. 6, 1943 from the remnants of the 138th Rifle Division, in recognition of that division's stalwart defense against the German Sixth Army in the Battle of Stalingrad, in particular the Red Barricades (Krasny Barrikady) ordnance factory. The 70th Guards continued a record of distinguished service through the rest of the Great Patriotic War, and continued to serve postwar, as a motor rifle division, until being finally disbanded in 1991.

Formation[edit]

The 70th Guards was one of several Guards rifle divisions created in the aftermath of the fighting for Stalingrad. When formed, its order of battle was as follows:

  • 203rd Guards Rifle Regiment from 344th Rifle Regiment
  • 205th Guards Rifle Regiment from 650th Rifle Regiment
  • 207th Guards Rifle Regiment from 768th Rifle Regiment
  • 137th Guards Artillery Regiment from 295th Artillery Regiment
  • 74th Guards Antitank Battalion from 230th Antitank Battalion
  • 77th Guards Sapper Battalion from 179th Sapper Battalion.[1]

The division spent February and March rebuilding, before being sent north in April to 17th Guards Rifle Corps in Central Front reserves north of Kursk.

Battle of Kursk[edit]

The 70th Guards was soon moved into 13th Army which held most of the north shoulder of the Kursk salient. When the Germans launched Operation Citadel on July 5, the division faced elements of two panzer corps of German Ninth Army. Reinforced with over 50 tanks and self-propelled guns, 72 antitank guns, and 80 heavy guns, mortars and rocket launchers, the division stopped the German attacks literally in their tracks, with German losses of up to 50 tanks a day. On July 21 the division was awarded the Order of Lenin. Five gunners or battery commanders of the 137th Guards Artillery Reg't., who fought off German tanks over open sights at point-blank range, became Heroes of the Soviet Union, and the regiment as a whole was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.[2]

Operation Kutuzov[edit]

Following the German defeat, the 70th Guards joined in the advance out of the Kursk salient. On Aug. 30 the division, backed by the 23rd and 95th Tank Brigades and the 1454th Self-propelled Artillery Regiment,[3] was credited with the liberation of the Ukrainian town of Glukhov (Hlukhiv, in Ukrainian) and got the town's name as an honorific. In October the division was reassigned to the 38th Army for the rest of the war, first in the 1st Ukrainian and later the 4th Ukrainian Front.[4]

Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive[edit]

During the Lvov-Sandomierz operation in July, 1944, the 70th Guards was temporarily motorized with the 26th Truck Brigade to exploit the breakthrough of the German lines. It was one of the first rifle divisions to have its towed antitank battalion replaced with a battalion of 12 SU-76 assault guns, becoming the 74th Guards SU Battalion, in late 1944. 38th Army was moved to 4th Ukrainian Front, and in 101st Rifle Corps the 70th Guards fought through the Carpathian Mountains into Czechoslovakia in early 1945. The division ended the war near Prague. Its full title at this time was 70th Guards Rifle Glukhov, Order of Lenin, twice Order of the Red Banner, Order of Suvorov, Order of Kutuzov, Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky Division. (Russian: Глухов, орденом Ленина, дважды орденом Красного Знамени, орденом Суворова, орденом Кутузова, орденом Богдана Хмельницкого.)[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Charles C. Sharp, "Red Guards", Soviet Guards Rifle and Airborne Units 1941 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IV, 1995, p 73
  2. ^ Sharp, p 73
  3. ^ Vasiliy Krysov, Panzer Destroyer - Memoirs of a Red Army Tank Commander, Pen & Sword Military, Barnsley, UK, 2010, p 63
  4. ^ Sharp, p 73
  5. ^ Sharp, p 73