8th Rifle Division (Soviet Union)

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8th Rifle Division
Active First Formation September 1918 - July 1941
Second Formation effective July 1941 - October 1941
Third Formation 1941 - 1945
Fourth Formation 1955 - 1957
Country Soviet Union
Branch Rifle
Engagements Western fighting Belarus (1941), Battle of Moscow, others

The 8th Rifle Division was a military formation of the Soviet Union's Red Army in the Winter War, the Soviet invasion of Poland, and World War II. It was formed four times, the latest was in the 1950s.

First Formation 1918–1941[edit]

The division was formed by executive order of the Moscow district military office and was based on the 5th Moscow Infantry Division, 1st Infantry Division in Tula, 2nd Infantry Division, Tambov and Kaluga Infantry Division. On September 1918 it was named the 8th Infantry Division.

The division was given a number of awards between the 1920s and 1930s. On 8 December 1921 it was given the name "Minsk." On 29 February 1928 it was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. On 26 July 1926 it was named "Dzerzhinsky," and in 1932 it was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labour. A reference to being 'formed at Semipalatinsk prior to 1936' in Poirer and Connor's Red Army Order of Battle is not confirmed by Russian sources and appears to be incorrect. Its full title appears to have become the 8th Minsk Red Banner Order of Red Banner of Labor Dzerzhinsky Rifle Division.

Brigade Commander Vladimir Yakovlevich Kolpakchi took command in 1937. The division took part in the Polish Campaign as part of the 16th Rifle Corps, 11th Army. Brigade Commander Fursin(?) held command from December 1940 (1939?) to 4 February 1940. On 22 January 1940, it was part of the 13th Rifle Corps of the Northwestern Front during the Winter War, but had been shifted to the 23rd Rifle Corps by 31 January 1940. On 5 February 1940 Brigade Commander Fedor Dmitrievich Rubtsov took command. On 8 March 1940 it was part of the Northwestern Front's 15th Rifle Corps. On 27 April 1940 Colonel Nicholas I. Fomin took command from Rubtsov.

On 22 June 1941, it was part of the 1st Rifle Corps, 10th Army, itself part of the Western Front. Major components at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa seem to have included the 151st, 229th, and 310th Rifle Regiments, the 62nd Light Artillery Regiment, the 117th Howitzer Artillery Regiment, and the 2nd Reconnaissance Company.

During the Second World War it was part of the 'Operational Army' from 22 June 1941 to 4 July 1941.

It was stationed at Łomża. In accordance with the Western Special Military District covering plan, the division was to take up positions in the Osovetsky Fortified Region and along the 1939 state border with German-occupied Poland in the areas of Shchuchin, Brzozowo, Ptak, and Servatki.

On the first day of the war the Division HQ came under aerial bombardment. On 23 June 1941 the Division held the front in the Ščučyn region as well. On 25 June 1941 the division conduct a withdrawal while the Białystok and, because the prisoners were rounded up. On 27 June 1941, at the headquarters of the front had no information not only about the division, but also on 10th Army, which included the division.

According to the Russian Wikipedia entry, by 1 July 1941 the division was still part of 1st Rifle Corps, but 1st Rifle Corps had been resubordinated directly to Western Front. In early July, the division was destroyed in the Białystok area, as part of the German encirclement west of Minsk[1] but separate groups of unorganised resistance continued until the end of July. The division was officially disbanded on 19 September 1941.

Second Formation 1941[edit]

The division was ordered to reform in 1941.[2] On 2 July 1941 the division reformed in the Krasnopresnensky Raion of Moscow, as the 8th Krasnopresnenskaya Peoples' Militia Rifle Division under the command of the Moscow Military District. By 10 July 1941, the regiments of the division had been moved to the forest near Nicholas Urupino and Buzlanova. In late July, the division engaged in the construction of defensive lines on the Mojaisk line of defense.

From at least 1 August 1941 to its destruction, the division was part of the 32nd Army, itself part of the Reserve Front. On 4 August 1941 the division took positions on the Rzhev-Vyazma line of defence, and from 30 August 1941, in positions on the eastern shore of the Dnieper River as well. On 24 August 1941 the formation was formally renamed the 8th Rifle Division. It included the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th Rifle Regiments.

In October, in connection with the beginning of the German Operation Typhoon it moved to the east of Yelnya. The division entered combat on 4 October 1941, the next day, 5 October 1941, losing more than half of its personnel. On 6 October 1941 it was cut off from the main body. Some of the division's surviving fighters were able to join partisan units.

While the division was effectively destroyed on 6–7 October 1941 it was not formally disbanded until 30 November 1941.

Third Formation[edit]

The Third Formation of the 8th Rifle Division traces its origins to the 458th Rifle Division, which was formed in Semipalatinsk and Ayaguz in the Central Asian Military District on 25 December 1941. In early 1942 it was redesignated as the 8th Rifle Division.[3] Its rifle regiments, inherited from the original division, were the 151st, 229th, and 310th. Its full name became the 8 Rifle Yampol'skaya Red Banner Order of Suvorov Division, after winning the honorific 'Yampol'.

On 1 April 1942 the division was part of the Stavka Reserve. By 1 July 1942 it had been assigned to the Bryansk Front's 42nd Army. By 1 October it was part of 13th Army, and stayed assigned to that formation until at least July 1943. On 1 July 1943 it was assigned to the Soviet Central Front's 13th Army, as part of the 15th Rifle Corps. It participated in the Voronezh-Kastornoye, Eastern Carpathians, and the Prague offensives, the Battle of Kursk, the crossing of the Dnieper and the Desna and Pripyat Rivers. It defended Mtsensk, participated in the liberation of Kromy, Nevel, Novgorod-Seversky, and Chernigov.

Subordination 1944-1945[edit]

The division was part of the 18th Army of the 4th Ukrainian Front in May 1945. Third Formation ordered to disband in May 1945 by Stavka Order 11095 (GSVOG) but did not actually disband until July 1945.

Fourth Formation[edit]

The division's fourth formation was created in the Kiev Military District in 1955, reporting directly to district or to the 1st Guards Army. In 1957 it was reorganised as the 153rd Motor Rifle Division and moved to the Carpathian Military District. (Armies of the Bear)

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