324th Rifle Division (Soviet Union)
|324th Rifle Division (August, 1941 - 6 May 1946)|
Major General N.I. Kiryukhin, ca. 1943-45
|Decorations||Order of the Red Banner|
|Battle honours||Upper Dnieper|
The 324th Rifle Division was a standard Soviet infantry division of the Red Army during World War II. It was formed as part of the massive mobilization of August, 1941, and first saw action in early December in the counteroffensive west of Moscow. During 1942 and into 1943 it saw limited action on a relatively quiet sector of the front north of Bryansk, before joining a limited offensive in February. During the general offensives of that summer, the division fought in the drive past Smolensk, and made a forced crossing of the upper Dniepr River. The 324th played a limited role in Operation Bagration, but distinguished itself in the fighting in East Prussia in 1945, sufficiently to be awarded the Order of the Red Banner.
- 1091st Rifle Regiment
- 1093rd Rifle Regiment
- 1095th Rifle Regiment
- 887th Artillery Regiment
- 299th Antitank Battalion
- 604th Sapper Battalion
- 775th Signal Battalion
- 386th Reconnaissance Company
While still just partially complete, the 324th was reassigned to the Volga Military District in October. At this time its personnel were noted as being 90 percent Russian nationality. It was assigned to 10th (Reserve) Army in the Reserve of the Supreme High Command. It would go into its first action in this Army in Western Front in December.
At the end of January, 1942, the 324th was reassigned to 16th Army, still in Western Front. After the winter fighting ended, this sector, north of Bryansk, remained relatively inactive for the balance of the year. Following the Soviet victory at Stalingrad in early 1943, the STAVKA made every effort to make the local success more general, and 16th Army was ordered to attack the German defenses north of Zhizdra on Feb. 22, 1943, in conjunction with other attacks by 61st and 3rd Armies, attempting to capture the salient around Oryol held by 2nd Panzer Army. The 324th, on the far left, was one of six rifle divisions of its Army that made up a shock group backed by three tank brigades, with 9th Tank Corps in reserve. In the event, rain, mud-clogged roads and skillful German resistance brought the advance to a halt after gains of 7km at most, and the tank corps was never committed.
In April, 16th Army became the 11th Guards Army, and the 324th was moved to 50th Army on Apr. 19, where it would remain for the duration; this army was also in Western Front. In August, 50th Army was transferred to Bryansk Front, and when that Front was dissolved in October, joined Belorussian (former Central) Front. During the latter stages of the Battle of the Dniepr, the division made a forced crossing of the river at the Belorussian town of Bykhov on Nov. 25, and later received the battle honor Upper Dniepr for this accomplishment. Belorussian became 1st Belorussian Front in February, 1944, and the 324th was assigned to 121st Rifle Corps. 50th Army remained in this Front until April, when it was transferred to 2nd Belorussian Front, and the division was reassigned to 19th Rifle Corps, where it served in the opening stages of Operation Bagration. The 50th was holding a wide sector, but also had orders to assist the much stronger 49th Army in its assaults on the German-held city of Mogilev. On the morning of June 24, 19th Rifle Corps penetrated the German 267th Infantry Division's line at Ludchitsa, but this attack was contained by 1100 hrs. After the liberation of Mogilev, on July 1, 19th Rifle Corps crossed the Berezina River north of Brodets; following this, 50th Army cut off the escape of the broken German 4th Army between Berezino and Chervin, and then headed for Minsk.
East Prussian Campaign
At the outset of the Vistula-Oder Offensive the 324th was part of 69th Rifle Corps, where it would remain for the duration. 50th Army was reassigned to 3rd Belorussian Front in February, and would remain in that Front for the duration. On Apr. 5, 1945, the division was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for its record of service. On the following day it was one of the divisions in the encirclement around Königsberg (the Battle of Königsberg), located at the northwest sector. The division to the right was the 110th Rifle Division, and to the left the 153rd. They attacked German positions and broke through the second defense line.
When the fighting ended, the soldiers of the division shared the full title of 324th Rifle, Upper Dniepr, Order of the Red Banner Division (Russian: 324-я стрелковая Верхнеднепровская Краснознамённая дивизия), and three of its former commanders had become Heroes of the Soviet Union.
Sources and references
- Walter S. Dunn, Jr., Stalin's Keys to Victory, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2006, p 78
- Charles C. Sharp, "Red Tide", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From June to December 1941, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, vol. IX, Nafziger, 1996, p 76
- David M. Glantz, Colossus Reborn, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2005, p 594
- Glantz, After Stalingrad, Helion & Co., Inc., Solihull, UK, 2009, pp 291-95
- Sharp, "Red Tide", p 76
- Dunn, Jr., Soviet Blitzkrieg, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2000, pp 164, 168, 176
- Sharp, "Red Tide", p 76
- Feskov et al 2013, p. 477
- Feskov, V.I.; Golikov, V.I.; Kalashnikov, K.A.; Slugin, S.A. (2013). Вооруженные силы СССР после Второй Мировой войны: от Красной Армии к Советской [The Armed Forces of the USSR after World War II: From the Red Army to the Soviet: Part 1 Land Forces] (in Russian). Tomsk: Scientific and Technical Literature Publishing. ISBN 9785895035306.
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