9th Mechanized Corps (Soviet Union)

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9th Mechanized Corps (1st Formation 1940-1941)
9th Mechanized Corps (2nd Formation 1943-1945)
9th Mechanized Division (1945-1957)
82nd Motor Rifle Division (1957-1958)
Active 1940-41 (1st Formation)
1943-1958 (2nd formation)
Country Soviet Union
Allegiance Red Army
Branch Infantry
Size Corp/Division

The 9th Mechanized Corps was a mechanized corps of the Soviet Red Army. It was formed in November of 1940 in the Kiev Military District with the 19th and 20th Tank Divisions, and the 131st Motorized Division. In March 1941, the 19th Tank Division was transferred to the 22nd Mechanized Corps and was replaced by the 35th Tank Division. [1]

The first formation of the mechanized corps[edit]

On June 22nd, 1941, the first day of the German invasion, orders went out from headquarters Southwestern Front under Mikhail Kirponos to the mechanized corps to deploy forward as quickly as possible. The 9th Mechanized Corps moved its units towards the town of Irkutsk, into the path of the advancing 14th Panzer Division, which pushed the 131st Motorized Division out of the town. Meanwhile, south of Irkutsk, the 11th Panzer Division secured Dubno, a vital road hub, against minimal resistance, and Kirponos ordered an immediate counter-attacked to retake it. Although still in the process of moving forward towards the battle zone, both the 20th and 35th assembled forward detachments of between 30-40 tanks together with what infantry was to hand, and launched them forward, cutting the Irkutsk-Dubno road.[2]

At the same time, elements of 19th Mechanized Corps' 43rd Tank Division recaptured Dubno. The German reaction was swift; the next day, June 26th, the 13th Panzer Division struck down from Irkutsk, catching the 9th Mechanized forward detachments in the flank, rolling them up and sending then reeling back, whilst German infantry opened up the 11th Panzer supply rout by recapturing Dunbo. The 13th Panzer turned east, and along secondary roads, took Rovno in the 9th's Mechanized rear.[3]

However, on June 29th, the 14th Panzer, attempting to advance eastward along the main tank highway, was stopped cold by the 20th Tank Division, and was just able to hold Lutsh against "massive attacks".[4] The corps commander, Konstantin Rokossovsky, later wrote of this engagement in his memoirs, "The terrain off road was wooded and swampy, keeping the German advance to the road. The artillery Regiment of the 20th Tank Division deployed its newly issued 85mm Guns to cover the road and with direct fire repulsed the advancing Panzers". The 14th Panzer abandoned this route and followed the 13th Panzer Division. Both Panzer divisions of III Panzer Corps pushed on, leaving 25th Panzergrenadier Division to protect their rear against repeated attacks by 9th Mechanized Corps to drive into Rovno. The 25th Panzergrenadier Division reported extreme difficulty in holding back the attacks and suffered "serious losses" in the process.[5]

By the beginning of July, German armor had smashed a hole in the center of the Russian line, and the 13th Panzer stood at the edge of the Kiev fortified district. In another attempt to restore the front, Kirponos ordered attacks from the 5th Army in the north and 6th Army in the south to accomplish this aim. The army still had three mechanized corps under command: the 9th, the 19th, and the 22nd.[6] The 5th Army forces lunged southward and managed to cut the Zhitomir - Kiev highway, blocking III Panzer Corps' supply lines. The Germans reacted by assigning infantry to clear the road and push the Russians back to the north. On the 9th of July, the corps was still in the Kiev Special Military District as part of the General reserve.[7]

The second formation[edit]

The 9th Mechanized Corps formed again in August 1943 at Tula. Its main sub units were the 69th, 70th, and 71st mechanized brigades. The new corps advanced to the Dnieper River and then fought at Fastov and around Kiev in November 1943, and Zhitomer in January 1944.

The corps now formed a component of 3rd Guards Tank Army, and fought under its command for the remainder of the war. In April, it was withdrawn for three months rest and retraining before attacking again in the Soviet push to capture Lviv. In January 1945, the corps fought in the Vistula and Oder battles in eastern Germany, and finally in the Battle of Berlin in May 1945.[8]

It later became 9th Mechanised Division, then 82nd Motor Rifle Division, before being disbanded in 1958 in the GSFG, still with 3 GTA.[9]

Composition[edit]

BT-7 tanks on parade

The early war corps tank component was massive on paper, but the 9th Mechanized was well below its authorized strength and lacked the latest modern designs that some of the other mechanized units had began to receive. The 20th Tank Division in particular had only 32 tanks instead of 375, and the corps as a whole 300 instead of 1031. Its most common equipment was the T26 and the BT models.[10] In terms of command and control, personnel training, communications and logistical support, the mechanized corps were not suited to conduct, sustain or survive in the high intensity combat operations of the early conflict [11] The Wehrmacht decimated the mechanized corps in the first month of the war, destroying over 1000 tanks, so that by mid August the Stavka abolished the remaining corps.[12]

Equipment on 22 June 1941
Corps as a whole T-37 T-26 BT-5 & BT-7 other
Corps 300
20 Tank Div. 36 0 3 30 3
35 Tank Div. 142 0 141 0 1
131 Mot, Div. 122 18 0 104 0

Awards and honorary titles[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Colossus Reborn: The Red Army at War, 1941-1943, p 265
  2. ^ The Initial Period of War on the Eastern Front p 272
  3. ^ The Initial Period of War on the Eastern Front p 276
  4. ^ The Initial Period of War on the Eastern Front
  5. ^ The Initial Period of War on the Eastern Front. p 311
  6. ^ The road to Stalingrad p 170
  7. ^ Red Army Order of Battle p 132
  8. ^ Red Army Order of Battle p 132
  9. ^ V.I. Feskov et al. 2004.
  10. ^ Colossus Reborn: The Red Army at War, 1941-1943, p 267
  11. ^ Colossus Reborn: The Red Army at War, 1941-1943, p 216
  12. ^ Colossus Reborn: The Red Army at War, 1941-1943, p 217