103rd Guards Airborne Division

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103rd Guards Rifle Division (Jan 1944-Jun 1946)
103rd Guards Airborne Division
Russian 103th Airborne Division patch sleeve.jpg
Active 1944-1993
Country

 Soviet Union (1944-1992)

 Belarus (1993)
Branch Soviet airborne (1946-1992)
Type Infantry, Airborne
Size Division
Engagements

World War II

Operation Danube

Soviet-Afghan War
Decorations

Order of Lenin type4.jpg Order of Lenin
Order of the red Banner OBVERSE.jpgOrder of the Red Banner

OrderOfKutuzov2nd.jpgOrder of Kutuzov 2nd class
Battle honours 60th Anniversary of the Soviet Union
Commanders
Notable
commanders

Mikhail Denisenko

Pavel Grachev

The 103rd Guards Airborne Division (ru: 103-я гвардейская воздушно-десантная ордена Ленина Краснознаменная ордена Кутузова дивизия имени 60-летия СССР) was a division of the Soviet Airborne Troops. It was established in 1946 and disbanded in 1993, a year after its transfer to the Armed Forces of Belarus.

History[edit]

The original 103rd Guards Rifle Division (ru:103-я гвардейская стрелковая дивизия) was formed from the previous 13th Guards Airborne Division on 18 December 1944 in Bykhaw.[1] The 3rd Guards Airborne Brigade became the 317th Guards Rifle Regiment, the 5th Guards Airborne Brigade became the 322nd Guards Rifle Regiment and the remaining rifle units became the 324th Guards Rifle Regiment. The division became part of the 37th Guards Rifle Corps and in February were embarked on trains and moved to positions south of Budapest. Between 16 March and 1 April, the division advanced along Lake Balaton after participating in the repulse of Operation Spring Awakening. On 23 March, the division helped capture Veszprém, on 26 March Devecser, on 28 March Sárvár and finally Szombathely on 29 March. On 2 April, the division captured Gloggnitz and then fought in Vienna. After the capture of Vienna in the Vienna Offensive, the division advanced westward, pursuing retreating German units. [2]

The division was assigned to rest and resupply in Baden bei Wien on 28 April. The division was awarded the Order of the Red Banner and the Order of Kutuzov 2nd class on 1 May. On the same day, its 317th and 324th Guards Rifle Regiments were awarded the Order of Alexander Nevsky, and its 322nd Guards Rifle Regiment the Order of Kutuzov 2nd class.[1] On 6 May, the division marched in the direction of Vienna and on 8 May was concentrated near Traufeld. It entered Třeboň on 12 May. The division was then located at Szeged but was moved to Seltsy, Ryazan Oblast on 10 February 1946. [2]

In accordance with a Resolution of the Council of Ministers on 3 June 1946, the 103rd Guards Rifle Division was reorganised into the 103rd Guards Airborne Division (Red Banner, Order of Kutuzov 2nd Class), consisting of: Division Headquarters, the 317th Guards Airborne Landing Regiment (Order of Alexander Nevsky), the 322nd Guards Airlanding Regiment (Order of Kutuzov 2nd Class), the 39th Guards Airlanding Regiment (Red Banner, Order of Suvorov 2nd class), the 15th Guards Artillery Regiment and support units. The divisional staff began combat training of the Airborne Troops on 5 August 1946. The division was moved to the city of Polotsk in March 1947.[3] On 1 October 1948, the 322nd Guards Airlanding Regiment was transferred to form the 7th Guards Airborne Division and was replaced by the 39th Guards Airlanding Regiment.[4]

After Mikhail Denisenko became commander of the division in December 1948, he was killed in a parachute jump in April 1949.[5]

In 1956 the 350th and 357th Airborne Regiments joined the division from the disbanded 114th Guards Airborne Division. That same year (in June), the division was transferred to Vitebsk, still within the Belorussian Military District.[1] In 1959, division personnel helped test the Antonov An-12 transport and the new D-1/8 parachute. In 1962, the division participated in the Exercise "Vltava" with other Warsaw Pact troops and received thanks from the Czechoslovak Defence Minister. The division received thanks from Grechko in July 1967 for its performance in the Exercise "Dnieper". From 21 August to 20 October 1968, the division participated in Operation Danube, the crushing of the Prague Spring.[1]

BMPs and BTRs of the 350th Guards Airborne Regiment in a convoy in Afghanistan

The division participated in Exercise "Brotherhood in Arms" which was held in East Germany in 1970, and in 1972 it took part in Exercise "Shield-72". In 1975, it became the first Guards Division of the Airborne Troops of the USSR to make a parachute jump out of AN-22 and IL-76 aircraft. The division also participated in Exercises Spring 75 and Vanguard 76. The 103rd Guards Airborne Division participated in the combined arms exercise "Berezin" in Belarus in February 1978. From the outset, they jumped with weapons and equipment, from IL-76s. The actions of the division's personnel on maneuvers were very highly rated by Soviet military commanders.[3]

In December 1979 the division was transferred to Afghanistan. On 26 December, the division crossed the Afghan border. During the war in that country, the division was awarded the Order of Lenin and the Order of the Red Banner.[6] The 317th Guards Airborne Regiment withdrew from Afghanistan on 5 February 1989. Two days later, it was followed by the division headquarters, the 357th Guards Airborne Regiment and 1179th Artillery Regiment. On 12 February, the 350th Guards Airborne Regiment departed. A group built around the reinforced 3rd Airborne Battalion of the 357th Guards Airborne Regiment guarded the Kabul airport until 14 February.[1]

The division was transferred to the KGB Border Troops in January 1990, and renamed the 103rd Guards Airborne Division PV KGB.[4] It lost most of its support units, including the artillery regiment, but apparently the 20th Separate Equipment Maintenance and Recovery Battalion was retained. The division guarded the Soviet-Iranian border.[1] On 23 September 1991 it was transferred back to the VDV.[4]

Personnel of the 103rd Guards Separate Mobile Brigade during a demonstration

On 20 May 1992, a directive of the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Belarus № 5/0251, the 103rd Guards Airborne (Order of Lenin, the Red Banner, Order of Kutuzov) Division became part of the Armed Forces of Belarus. In 1993, the Headquarters 103rd Guards Airborne Division was established as the headquarters Mobile Forces of the Republic of Belarus. The 317th Guards Airborne Battalion was upgraded to the 317th Separate Mobile Brigade. The 350th Guards Airborne Battalion became the 350th Separate Mobile Brigade and the 357th Guards Airborne Battalion became the 357th Separate Mobile Training Battalion. The division's 1179th Artillery Regiment was disbanded. In late 2002, the 317th Separate Mobile Brigade (the former 317th Guards Airborne Battalion) was given the battle flag of the 103rd Guards Airborne Division. It then became the 103rd Separate Mobile Brigade (Belarusian: 103rd gvardzeyskaya asobnaya mabіlnaya brygada). The brigade has been part of the Special Forces of Belarus since 2007.

In 2014, the brigade participated in the Collective Security Treaty Organization exercise "Indestructible Brotherhood 2014" in Kyrgyzstan. They also were in the training exercise "Cooperation 2014", which took place in Kazakhstan. [7]

Composition[edit]

In 1947, the division was composed of the following units.[4]

  • 317th Guards Airborne Regiment
  • 322nd Guards Airlanding Regiment
  • 15th Guards Artillery Regiment
  • 572nd Separate Guards Self-Propelled Artillery Battalion
  • 105th Separate Guards Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion
  • 116th Separate Guards Antitank Artillery Battalion
  • 112th Separate Guards Reconnaissance Company
  • 13th Separate Guards Communications Company
  • 130th Separate Guards Engineering Battalion
  • 274th Separate Supply Truck Battalion
  • 6th Separate Air-Landing Security Company
  • 175th Separate Medical & Sanitary Company
  • Separate Training Battalion

Commanders[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Все о ВДВ, клубы десантников, фильмы о ВДВ, десантура, воздушно-десантные войска." [103rd Guards Airborne Division]. sdrvdv.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 2015-11-26. 
  2. ^ a b Bektasov, Kabdulov Utepovich. Записки радиста [Notes of a Radioman] (in Russian). Almaty. 
  3. ^ a b Guards Airborne Order of Lenin Red Banner Order of Kutuzov 2nd class division named after the 60th anniversary of the USSR. History (Union troopers). 
  4. ^ a b c d Michael Holm, 103rd Guards Airborne Division, accessed October 2012.
  5. ^ "Денисенко Михаил Иванович" [Mikhail Denisenko]. www.warheroes.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 2015-10-06. 
  6. ^ Feskov,, V.I.; K.A. Kalashnikov, V.I. Golikov. (2004). The Soviet Army in the Years of the 'Cold War' (1945–1991). Tomsk: Tomsk University Press. p. 101. ISBN 5-7511-1819-7. 
  7. ^ "103-я гвардейская отдельная мобильная бригада отметила свой юбилей" [103rd Guards separate mobile brigade celebrated its anniversary]. www.mil.by (in Russian). Ministry of Defence of Belarus. Retrieved 2016-01-11.