344th Rifle Division

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58th Motor Rifle Division
(1957–1990s)

58th Rifle Division
(1955–57)


344th Rifle Division
(1941–55)
Active1941–1990s
Country Soviet Union
 Turkmenistan
Branch Soviet Army
 Turkmen Ground Forces
TypeDivision
RoleMotor rifle
DecorationsOrder of the Red Banner Order of the Red Banner
Battle honoursRoslavl

The 344th Rifle Division (Russian: 344-я стрелковая дивизия) was an infantry division of the Red Army and the Soviet Army during World War II and the early part of the Cold War.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

The division was formed in the Baryshsky and Kuzovatovsky Districts of Ulyanovsk Oblast between August and October 1941 in accordance with an 11 August decree of the State Defense Committee. It was part of the operational army from 2 December of that year to the end of the war on 9 May 1945. Its basic order of battle was as follows:

  • 1152nd Rifle Regiment
  • 1154th Rifle Regiment
  • 1156th Rifle Regiment
  • 913th Artillery Regiment[1]

In November 1941, in accordance with Direction number 55 of the Stavka and commander of the 26th Army Reserve op/2999 number from November 25, 1941, the division was loaded onto trains at Cheboksary and shipped to Noginsk, and then to Lyubertsy where it was manned and received weapons.

In December the 344th was assigned to the Moscow Defense Zone as part of the last-ditch defenses of the capital. It first went into combat in January 1942, in the 50th Army of Western Front. It remained in this Army until April 1943, when it was moved to the 49th Army in the same Front.[2] It took part in Operation Suvorov under this command, and on August 28 made probing attacks against the German Gruppe Harpe to prevent the transfer of reserves; by three days later the division had suffered 2,000 casualties, about one-third of its strength.[3] On September 25 it was awarded the battle honor Roslavl in recognition of its part in the liberation of that city.[4] On September 29 the division recaptured Mstsislaw.[5] In April 1944 it was again reassigned, this time to the 62nd Rifle Corps of 33rd Army in 2nd Belorussian Front, and fought under these headquarters during Operation Bagration. It was awarded the Order of the Red Banner on July 10, 1944, for its role in the forcing of the Pronya and Dniepr Rivers and the liberation of the cities of Mogilev, Shklov and Bykhov in the first phase of Operation Bagration.[6] In August it went into the reserves of 1st Baltic Front, and from September 1944 until February 1945 it served in the 19th Rifle Corps of 43rd Army in that Front, along the coast of Lithuania. From at least October 1944, it had attached the 18th SU Battalion of SU-76s in addition to its organic battalion of towed anti-tank guns. During the last months of the war the 344th was part of the force containing the German forces trapped in the Courland Pocket, and it ended the war in the 1st Rifle Corps of the 1st Shock Army in the Kurland Group of Leningrad Front.[7] On April 5, 1945, the 1154th Rifle Regiment was separately awarded the Red Banner for its role in the capture of Klaipėda (Memel).[8]

Divisional commanders[edit]

Major General Georgy Druzhinin

The following officers commanded the division during World War II:[9]

  • Colonel Mikhail Pudofeyevich Glushkov (September 7, 1941 – February 24, 1942)
  • Colonel Pyotr Kirillovich Zhivalev (February 26, 1942 – February 21, 1943)
  • Colonel Mikhail Trofimovich Ilyin (February 28 – June 5, 1943)
  • Major General Mikhail Andreyevich Pronin (June 8, 1943 – August 5, 1943)
  • Colonel Vitaly Kuzmich Strakhov (August 6, 1943 – April 12, 1944)
  • Colonel (promoted to Major General April 20, 1945) Georgy Ivanovich Druzhinin (April 13, 1944 - after May 9, 1945)

Postwar[edit]

During September and October 1945, the 344th was relocated to Kushka in the Turkestan Military District with the 1st Shock Army's 1st Rifle Corps. The division was later moved to Kyzyl-Arvat. In April 1955, it was renumbered as the 58th Rifle Division. On 25 June 1957, it became the 58th Motor Rifle Division,[10][11] and around the same time the 1st Rifle Corps became the 1st Army Corps. The 58th was directly subordinated to the district in 1970 when the corps transferred to Kazakhstan.[12] Michael Holm's research indicates the division comprised the 160th Motor Rifle Regiment (73806) - Kazandzhike (BMP-1), the 161st Motor Rifle Regiment (73884) - Kyzyl-Arvat (BTR-60), the 162nd Motor Rifle Regiment (14142) - Nebit-Dag (trucks), and the 231st Tank Regiment (61631) - Kazandzhike (T-55), plus artillery and the other normal units of a motor rifle division.[13] In the spring of 1982, the division became part of the new 36th Army Corps.[14] Carey Schofield's Inside the Soviet Army, Headline, 1991, p.117, says the division's regiments in 1989 were 254 strong (MRR BTR), 256 strong (MRR BMP) and 210 (tank regiment), and was under the command of Acting Commander Colonel Mishin. In June 1992 the division became part of the Military of Turkmenistan.[13]

By the early 2000s the 58th had become the 11th Motor Rifle Division named for Atamyrat Niyazov.[15]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Charles C. Sharp, "Red Tide", Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IX, Nafziger, 1996, p. 85
  2. ^ Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 85
  3. ^ Robert Forczyk, Smolensk 1943: The Red Army's Relentless Advance, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, UK, 2019, Kindle ed.
  4. ^ http://www.soldat.ru/spravka/freedom/1-ssr-5.html. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  5. ^ Megargee 2009, p. 1707.
  6. ^ Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union 1967a, p. 385.
  7. ^ Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 85
  8. ^ Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union 1967b, p. 38.
  9. ^ Main Personnel Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union 1964, p. 271.
  10. ^ Feskov et al 2013, p. 151.
  11. ^ Feskov et al 2013, pp. 537–538.
  12. ^ Feskov et al 2013, p. 554.
  13. ^ a b Michael Holm. "58th Motorised Rifle Division". www.ww2.dk. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  14. ^ Feskov et al 2013, pp. 549–550.
  15. ^ "Вооруженные силы Туркмении" [Army of Turkemenistan] (in Russian). Vad777. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2017.

References[edit]