Rifle corps (Soviet)

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A rifle corps (Russian: стрелковый корпус, strelkovyy korpus) was a Soviet corps-level military formation during the mid-twentieth century. Rifle corps were made up of a varying number of rifle divisions, although the allocation of three rifle divisions to a rifle corps was common during the latter part of World War II.

Unlike army corps formed by Germany and the Western Allies, Soviet rifle corps were composed primarily of combat troops and had only a small logistical component. Because the rifle divisions themselves were also primarily made up of combat troops, the rifle corps were numerically smaller than corps of other nations. The Soviets also formed Guards rifle corps during World War II, although these were often assigned control of regular rifle divisions and sometimes controlled no Guards rifle divisions.

The Red Army as a whole had 27 rifle corps headquarters in its order of battle on 1 June 1938; this had been expanded to 62 by June 1941.[1] When Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the Red Army initially had some 32 rifle corps headquarters as part of their order of battle in action against the Germans. Because Joseph Stalin's prewar purge of the Red Army had removed so many experienced leaders, the rifle corps echelon of command in Soviet forces engaged against the Germans dwindled in the face of massive Red Army losses of 1941. The stark shortage of experienced leaders forced the Red Army to have rifle army headquarters directly supervising rifle divisions without the assistance of intervening rifle corps headquarters.[2] The use of rifle corps headquarters never disappeared entirely from the Red Army during World War II, as rifle armies in areas not fighting the Germans (such as the Far Eastern military region) maintained their use of rifle corps headquarters during the entire war.

An example of wartime rifle corps organization is that of the 8th Estonian Rifle Corps in 1942:[3]

  • 8th Rifle Corps
    • 7th Rifle Division
    • 249th Rifle Division
    • 85th Corps Artillery Regiment
    • 36th Sapper Battalion
    • 86th Medical Battalion
    • 482nd Reconnaissance Company
    • 162nd Machine Gun Battalion

Of the 8th Rifle Corps' 1942 strength of 26,466 men, only 2,599 (less than 10 per cent) made up the corps headquarters and corps assets, the remainder being assigned to the two rifle divisions.

By November 1941, the Soviet order of battle showed only one rifle corps headquarters still active among the forces fighting the German invasion. By early 1942, however, the Soviets began to reactivate rifle corps headquarters for use as an intermediate command echelon between the rifle armies and rifle divisions. Doubtlessly, the direct command of divisions by army headquarters resulted in too-large spans of control for army commanders and the Red Army desired to reintroduce the rifle corps headquarters once enough experienced commanders and staff officers were available. By the end of 1942, 21 rifle corps headquarters were in action with Soviet forces engaging the Germans. This grew to over 100 by the end of 1943, and reached a peak of 174 either in action against the Germans or as part of the strategic reserve of the Stavka by the end of the war with Germany in May 1945.

Circa September 1945, the 11, 15, 16, 21, 22, 25, 28, 36, 42, 43, 44, 47, 51, 52, 55, 61, 62, 64, 67, 68, 70, 71, 74, 77, 80, 89, 91, 93, 95, 96, 98, 100, 106, 115, 117, 118, 120, 121, 133, and 135th Rifle Corps were disbanded.[4]

A limited number of Rifle Corps remained as part of the Ground Forces post 1945. They were slowly converted to 'Army Corps' though they still mostly consisted of Rifle and then Motor Rifle Divisions.

List of Soviet Rifle Corps 22 June 1941[edit]

1-10 Corps[edit]

10-11 Corps[edit]

21-30 Corps[edit]

31-40 Corps[edit]

41-50 Corps[edit]

51-60 Corps[edit]

75th Rifle Division, 89th Rifle Brigade, and 90th Rifle Brigade with 4th Army.[39]

61-70 Corps[edit]

List of Soviet Rifle Corps formed during World War II[edit]

Almost all Soviet Rifle Corps were disbanded in the first several months of the war and reformed as the Soviet High Command gained experience in commanding large numbers of forces.

1-70 Corps[edit]

  • 38th Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet Order of Battle (OOB) 1 June 1943, as part of the 50th Army, Western Front. Subordinate divisions at this date were the 17th, 326th, and 413th Rifle Divisions.
  • 43rd Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 June 1943, as part of the 2nd Shock Army, Leningrad Front. Subordinate divisions at this date were the 11th, 128th, and 314th Rifle Divisions.
  • 46th Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 August 1943, as part of the 61st Army, Bryansk Front. Subordinate divisions at this time were the 356th and 415th Rifle Divisions.
  • 54th Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 June 1943, as part of the 51st Army, Southern Front. Subordinate divisions at this time were the 87th, 99th, and 302nd Rifle Divisions.
  • 56th Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 August 1943, as part of the 16th Army, Far Eastern Front. Subordinate divisions at this time were the 79th and 101st Rifle Divisions. Assignment of numeric designation to the Special Rifle Corps that disappears from the Soviet OOB on the same date.
  • 57th Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 September 1943, as part of the 37th Army, STAVKA Reserve. Subordinate divisions at this time were the 62nd Guards, 92nd Guards, 110th Guards, and 53rd Rifle Divisions. In early October 1943 the corps, forcing the Dnieper, seized and held a bridgehead on the west bank of the river. On 06.03.1944 elements of the corps, participating in the Odessa Offensive (part of the Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive), parts of the corps breached the German defenses on the western bank of the Igulets River (I believe it's a typo; it's likely they mean the Ingulets River) and moved forward. Having stormed the inhabited locality of Lozovatka and after slight regrouping, the corps began the pursuit of the enemy. On March 16, 1944, the corps deterred the counterattacks by the enemy, who was attempting to force back our units from the Ingul River and to hold the river crossings near Sofiyevka with 35–40 tanks and several infantry battalions. On March 22, the units of the corps reached the Southern Bug River. On the night of March 27, (two divisions of) the corps, having crossed the Southern Bug, moved forward under the enemy's heavy fire and captured the large inhabited locality of Akmechet. On April 1, 1944, parts of the corps, acting as a part of the 37th Army, captured the inhabited localities of Stryukovo, Shvartsevo, Korneyevka, and the Tiligul River crossing. On April 5, the divisions of the corps fought a battle for the station of Migayevo. On April 11, 1944, the corps, having been reinforced from the reserve with the 15th Guards Rifle Division and with the support of the 23rd Tank Corps, liberated Tiraspol, forced the Dniester River, and stormed into Varnitsa. Commander: Major General AI Petrakovskii (- 18/01/1944 ) Major General FA Ostashenko (01.19.1944 - military commissar, deputy political commissar Colonel IN Karasev Chief of Staff : V.I. Mineev. On 9 August 1945 the corps, now part of the Soviet Far East command, comprised 52nd and 203rd Rifle Divisions under General Major A.A. Dakonov.[43]
  • 68th Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 August 1943, as part of the 57th Army, Southwestern Front. Subordinate divisions at this time were the 19th, 52nd, and 303rd Rifle Divisions.
  • 70th Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 August 1943, as a headquarters with no troops assigned and part of the Western Front.

71-80 Corps[edit]

  • 71st Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 August 1943, as a headquarters with no troops assigned and as part of the 31st Army, Western Front.
  • 72nd Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 August 1943, as a headquarters with no troops assigned and part of the 68th Army, Western Front. Part of 5th Army, 3rd Belorussian Front, on 1 November 1944. Part of 5th Army, 1st Far East Front, on 3 September 1945, comprising 63rd, 215th, and 277th Rifle Divisions. (BSSA via http://www.tashv.nm.ru)
  • 73rd Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 August 1943, as a headquarters with no troops assigned and as part of the 52nd Army, STAVKA Reserve.
  • 74th Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 August 1943, as a headquarters with no troops assigned and as part of the Moscow Military District.
  • 75th Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 August 1943, as a headquarters with no troops assigned and as part of the Moscow Military District.
  • 76th Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 August 1943, as a headquarters with no troops assigned and as part of the Moscow Military District. In Transcaucasus Military District postwar, until it became the 31st Army Corps in 1955.
  • 77th Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 August 1943, as a headquarters with no troops assigned and as part of the Moscow Military District.
  • 78th Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 August 1943, as a headquarters with no troops assigned and part of the Ural Military District.
  • 79th Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 August 1943, as a headquarters with no troops assigned and part of the Ural Military District. This corps commanded units that stormed the Reichstag on 2 May 1945. (150th, 171st, 207th Rifle Divisions on July 9, 1945, on formation of Group of Soviet Forces in Germany). Disbanded by being redesignated 2nd Rifle Corps in 1957 in Sakhalin.[44]
  • 80th Rifle Corps - first appears in Soviet OOB 1 August 1943, as a headquarters with no troops assigned and part of the Trans-Volga Military District.

81-90 Corps[edit]

91-100 Corps[edit]

101-110 Corps[edit]

111-120 Corps[edit]

121-130 Corps[edit]

131-140 Corps[edit]

Guards Rifle Corps[edit]

1st - 40th Guards Rifle Corps formed after June 22, 1941:

1-10 Guards Rifle Corps[edit]

11-20 Guards Rifle Corps[edit]

21-30 Guards Rifle Corps[edit]

31-41 Guards Rifle Corps[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Glantz, Colossus, p. 107
  2. ^ Stavka Circular 01 of July 15, 1941 directed several changes to Red Army force structure, the elimination of rifle corps headquarters and subordination of rifle divisions directly to rifle army headquarters among them. Glantz and House, p. 65.
  3. ^ historycommission.ee
  4. ^ Feskov et al 2004, 77.
  5. ^ V.I. Feskov et al 2004, 45
  6. ^ Minsk Minsk fortified region - general information
  7. ^ Battle of Minsk
  8. ^ a b c Leo Niehorster, Transcaucasus Military District, Red Army, 22.06.41
  9. ^ Bonn, 324.
  10. ^ 3rd Army, Western Special Military District, Red Army, 22.06.41
  11. ^ Odessa Military District, Red Army, 22.06.41
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, pg. 265
  13. ^ a b c Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, pg. 261
  14. ^ a b Feskov et al 2004, 46.
  15. ^ Feskov et al
  16. ^ a b c d Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, pg. 262
  17. ^ niehorster.orbat.com
  18. ^ a b c Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, pg. 264
  19. ^ a b c [1]
  20. ^ Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, pg 263.
  21. ^ 27th Army, Baltic Special Military District, Red Army, 22.06.41
  22. ^ a b c Nigel Thomas, Germany's Eastern Front Allies (2): Baltic Forces, Osprey, 5.
  23. ^ 'Tartu in the 1941 Summer War,' Baltic Defence College.
  24. ^ Bleiere, Daina; Ilgvars Butulis; Antonijs Zunda; Aivars Stranga; Inesis Feldmanis (2006). History of Latvia : the 20th century. Riga: Jumava. p. 327. ISBN 9984-38-038-6. OCLC 70240317. 
  25. ^ a b [2]
  26. ^ Leo Niehorster, Orel Military District, Red Army, 22.06.41
  27. ^ Восточно-Карпатская наступательная операция
  28. ^ [3]
  29. ^ For the January-February 1945 period, see also 'Breakthrough [of] prepared defenses [by] infantry units (according to experience of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.). Collection of articles. - Moscow: Military Publishing, 1957. - 376 p., / Military Academy named for MV Frunze, chapter 9.
  30. ^ [4]
  31. ^ Moscow Military District, Red Army, 22.06.41
  32. ^ Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, pg 261
  33. ^ Soviet General Staff, Perechen No.4 Headquarters of Corps, Moscow, 1956, p.23.
  34. ^ Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, pg. 263
  35. ^ Glatz, Stumbling Colossus, pg. 261
  36. ^ a b Leo Niehorster
  37. ^ a b Leo Niehorster
  38. ^ niehorster.orbat.com
  39. ^ Source Combat composition of the Soviet Army
  40. ^ a b Leo Niehorster, 21st Army, 22 June 1941
  41. ^ tashv.nm.ru
  42. ^ a b Crofoot, Craig. Armies of the Bear. 
  43. ^ http://niehorster.orbat.com/012_ussr/45-08-08/corps_057-rifle.htm
  44. ^ V.I. Feskov et al 2004, 45.
  45. ^ Niehorster, http://www.orbat.com/site/ww2/drleo/012_ussr/45-08-08/corps_087-rifle.htm
  46. ^ a b tashv.nm.ru, Combat composition of the Soviet Army, 1 May 1945, accessed October 2011
  47. ^ Sharp, p 76
  48. ^ Glantz, David (2002). The Battle for Leningrad 1941-1944. Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press. p. 360. ISBN 0-7006-1208-4. 
  49. ^ LATVIAN UNITS IN THE RED ARMY.
  50. ^ Scott Hegerty, The Latvian Legion.
  51. ^ V.I. Feskov et al 2004, 46.
  52. ^ V.I. Feskov et al 2004, 46.
  53. ^ a b Keith E. Bonn, Slaughterhouse: the Handbook of the Eastern Front, Aberjona Press, Bedford, PA, 2005, 345.
  54. ^ Feskov et al 2004, 46.
  55. ^ http://www.uvao.ru/uvao/ru/pages/print/o_105604
  56. ^ Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1 May 1945
  57. ^ Keith E. Bonn, Slaughterhouse: the Handbook of the Eastern Front, Aberjona Press, Bedford, PA, 2005, 345-6.
  58. ^ Michael Holm, 49th Guards Rocket Division, and Feskov et al 2004, 46, 133.
  59. ^ Marchand, Jean-Luc (2011). Order of Battle Soviet Army World War 2 1945 March and April Berlin: The Final Battle. West Chester, OH: The Nafziger Collection. pp. 85–86. ISBN 1-58545-331-5. 
  60. ^ Журнал Санкт-Петербургский университет ISSN 1681-1941 / № 1-2 (3657-3658), 19 January 2004 года
  61. ^ Andrew Duncan, article in Jane's Intelligence Review, 1998
  62. ^ Clark 2012, p. 230, 399–402.
  63. ^ Feskov et al 2004, 45.

Sources[edit]

  • БОЕВОЙ СОСТАВ СОВЕТСКОЙ АРМИИ 1941 - 1945 (Official Soviet Army Order of Battle from General Staff Archives).
  • V.I. Feskov, et al. The Soviet Army in the Years of the Cold War: 1945-91, Tomsk: Tomsk University Publishing House, 2004.
  • David M. Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998. ISBN 0-7006-0879-6.
  • David M. Glantz and Jonathan House, When Titans Clashed, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995. ISBN 0-7006-0899-0.
  • Robert G. Poirier and Albert Z. Conner, The Red Army Order of Battle in the Great Patriotic War, Novato: Presidio Press, 1985. ISBN 0-89141-237-9.