5th Mechanised Corps (Soviet Union)

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5th Mechanised Corps
Active

I Formation: 1934–38
II Formation: 1940–41

III Formation: 1942–44
Country Soviet Union
Branch Red Army
Type Mechanised corps
Engagements

World War II

Battle honours

named for Kalinowski (1st formation)
Dniester (3rd formation)

Rymnik (3rd formation)
Commanders
Notable
commanders

Mikhail Petrov
Makar Terekhin

Ilya Alekseyenko

The 5th Mechanised Corps was a mechanised corps of the Red Army, formed three times. The corps was first formed in 1934 and was converted into a tank corps in 1938. It was reformed in the Far East in 1940 and moved west before the German invasion of the Soviet Union. It fought in the Battle of Smolensk (1941), losing large numbers of tanks in the Lepel counterattack. The corps was encircled in the Smolensk pocket and after breaking out was disbanded in late August. Its third formation was formed in September 1942 from the 22nd Tank Corps. The corps fought in Operation Little Saturn, Operation Gallop, the Battle of Smolensk (1943), the Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive, and the Jassy–Kishinev Offensive. In September 1944 it became the 9th Guards Mechanised Corps.

First formation[edit]

The 5th Mechanised Corps was formed in 1934 at Naro-Fominsk from the 1st Mechanised Brigade and 50th Rifle Division in the Moscow Military District, commanded by Colonel Nikolai Rakitin. On 11 June 1934 the corps was given the honorific "named for Kalinowski". The corps included the 13th Mechanised Brigade at Kaluga,[1] the 14th Mechanised Brigade at Naro-Fominsk,[2] and the 50th Rifle and Machine Gun Brigade at Stalinogorsk.[3] On 15 December 1934, the corps had 525 tanks, including 159 BT tanks, 181 T-26s, 57 T-37/41, and 6 Vickers 12-ton tanks. The remainder were command or chemical tanks. On 1 January 1936, the corps had 436 tanks. Around this time, Kombrig Alexander Grechanik became the corps commander. In June 1937, Komdiv Mikhail Petrovich Petrov became corps commander. In September 1937 the 13th Mechanised Brigade was transferred to the 11th Mechanised Corps in the Transbaikal Military District. In October, a new 13th Mechanised Brigade was formed in Kaluga. In 1938, the corps was converted into the 15th Tank Corps.[4]

Second formation[edit]

The 5th Mechanised Corps (Military Unit Number 4664) began forming on 1 July 1940, part of the 16th Army in the Transbaikal Military District. The headquarters of the corps and the 17th Tank Division were formed at Crossing 77, and the 13th Tank Division at Crossing 76. The corps was commanded by Lieutenant General Makar Terekhin. The corps headquarters was formed from the headquarters of the 51st Rifle Corps. The 13th Tank Division was formed from the 15th Light Tank Brigade. The 17th Tank Division was formed from the 37th Light Tank Brigade and also included the 199th Flamethrower and 526th Transport Battalions. The 109th Motorised Division, formerly of the 12th Rifle Corps, joined the corps at Kharanor. On 1 March 1941, Major General Ilya Alekseyenko, the 17th Tank Division commander, became the corps commander.[5] The corps was ordered to redeploy west with the 16th Army on 25 May. The corps was loaded onto trains and moved west, along with the 57th Tank Division. On 12 June the corps arrived in the Kiev Military District and was unloaded from the trains. Corps headquarters, the 13th Tank Division, and the 109th Motorised Division were located at Berdichev. The 17th Tank Division was located at Isyaslav.[6]

When the German invasion of the Soviet Union began on 22 June, the corps was equipped with 1,070 tanks, including 59 flamethrower tanks and 10 BT-2 tanks, and at least 493 BT-7s. On 26 June, the corps was ordered to move with the 16th Army to the Orsha and Smolensk area. On 1 July, the corps was still with the 16th Army and consisted of the 13th and 17th Tank Divisions and the 109th Motorised Division.[7] After reaching Smolensk, the corps was subordinated to the 20th Army on 4 July[8] for a counterattack to recapture Senno and Lepel in conjunction with the 7th Mechanised Corps.[6] On 6 July, the corps had 974 tanks, including 7 KV tanks, 10 T-34 tanks, 595 BT tanks, 242 T-26 tanks, 61 flamethrower tanks, and 59 T-37/38 amphibious tanks.[9] The corps was to advance 135 kilometers, reaching Lepel through Senno.[10]

Burning T-34 tank of the type used by the corps

By the time it went into battle, the corps was at two-thirds of its strength due to breakdowns. The corps also attacked without air support and with a shortage of anti-aircraft guns, fuel, and ammunition. Alekseyenko deployed the corps in two echelons: the 13th and 17th Tank Divisions attacked first, with the 109th Motorised Division in the second echelon.[10] The 17th Tank Division ran into the 17th Panzer Division at Senno on 6 July at the beginning of the counterattack.[11] The 13th Tank Division was attacked on its left flank by the 18th Panzer Division after advancing farther west than the 17th Tank Division. By 10 July, the corps had been mostly destroyed. In the Orsha area the retreating corps was given replacement tanks and ordered to resume the attack the next day.[12] The corps counterattacked toward Vitebsk from the south in conjunction with the 7th Mechanised Corps. Running into the 7th Panzer Division and 12th Panzer Division, the combined losses of both corps totaled 100 tanks.[13]

By the end of 15 July, the corps was in the Smolensk pocket.[14] From 17 July, the remnants of the corps fought against the 12th Panzer Division and the 35th Infantry Division northeast of Orsha until forced to retreat by lack of ammunition to the Liubovichi area. From 17 July, a detachment of remnants of the corps led by Colonel Alexander Lizyukov enabled elements of the 16th and 20th Armies to escape the Smolensk Pocket by defending the Solovevo gap in the German encirclement line.[15] On 18 July, the corps was ordered to attack German troops in the Krasny region. On the same day, the corps was reported to be fighting in the Liady and Syrokorenye region, 60 kilometers west of Smolensk. It was reported to be retreating to the Gusino crossing, 45 kilometers west of the city.[16] On 19 July, the 109th Motorised Division became the 109th Rifle Division.[8] The 13th and 17th Tank Divisions fought against the 17th and 18th Panzer Divisions in the southern part of the pocket.[17] The corps was moved to the northeastern sector of the pocket to attack towards Dukhovshchina and keep the Solovevo corridor open.[18] On 26 July, it was reported to have 58 tanks left.[19] The 1st Motor Rifle Division was attached to the corps in the Smolensk Pocket.[20] On the night of 31 July to 1 August, the corps escaped the Smolensk Pocket through a gap in the German encirclement line. Corps deputy commander Major General Yevgeny Zhuravlev[21] took command after Alekseyenko died of wounds[5] on 2 August.[22]

On 5 August, the corps was ordered to concentrate southeast of Yartsevo.[23] On 7 August, the corps was ordered to concentrate southeast of Gzhatsk with the 57th Tank Division.[24] On the night of 7 to 8 August, the corps was ordered to move southeast of Gzhatsk in front reserve.[25] On 10 August, the 13th Tank Division was disbanded as a result of heavy losses.[8] The corps was disbanded on or around 24 August 1941.[26]

Third formation[edit]

The 5th Mechanised Corps was formed on 8 September 1942 on the basis of the 22nd Tank Corps. It was formed in the Moscow Military District under command of Major General Mikhail Volkov.[27] It included the 45th, 49th, and 50th Mechanised Brigades, and the 188th Separate Tank Brigade on 1 November. At the time it was part of the Bryansk Front.[28] By December it was part of the Southwestern Front. From 6 December, the corps was part of the 5th Tank Army. At the time it had a strength of 193 tanks.[29] The corps was to exploit the breakthrough in Operation Little Saturn.[30] From 12 to 18 December, the corps and the 321st Rifle Division crossed the Chir River against strong resistance from the 11th Panzer Division and 336th Infantry Division of XXXXVIII Panzer Corps. The corps captured a bridgehead 15 kilometers wide and 5 kilometers in depth near Dalnepodgorovsky, but could not advance further.[31] On 28 December, the corps attacked towards Chernyshkovsky with the army, pushing Group Stahel back to the city outskirts. The corps was thrown back by German reinforcements.[32] The corps fought in Operation Gallop from 1 January to 22 February. After the operation it was withdrawn to the Volga Military District with only the 45th Mechanised Brigade assigned on 1 March. By 1 April the 49th Mechanised Brigade was re-subordinated to the corps. On 1 May the corps was part of the Steppe Military District with the 2nd, 9th, and 45th Mechanised Brigades assigned. The 233rd Tank Brigade joined the corps at this time. On 1 June the corps was in the Reserve of the Supreme High Command. By 1 August it was part of the Western Front.[27]

The corps fought in the Battle of Smolensk (1943). The corps fought in the Spas-Demensk Offensive of the battle to exploit the Soviet breakthrough on 13 August. It was relocated from Kirov to the 10th Army's sector of the breakthrough towards Vorontsovo. The corps became part of the 10th Army. By the time the corps attacked, the resistance of the German troops had stiffened. The corps fought in heavy fighting in the Tyagaevo area, subject to air attacks which destroyed many of its Lend-Lease tanks. Until 16 August, the corps advanced five to ten kilometers. On that day there was a heavy air raid which caused significant losses, resulting in the transfer of the corps to front reserve.[33] The corps was returned to the front for the Yelnya-Dorogobuzh Offensive. The corps became part of the 33rd Army on 20 August. The offensive began on 28 August, and the corps was committed to exploit the breakthrough. The corps advanced a further six to ten kilometers on that day. The offensive resulted in the capture of Yelnya.[34] The corps fought in the last stage of the battle, the Smolensk-Roslavl Offensive.[27]

Destroyed Sherman of the type used by the corps

On 1 October the corps was part of the Western Front, and by 1 November it was back in the Reserve of the Supreme High Command. On 1 January 1944 it was part of the Moscow Military District.[27] The corps was moved back to Ukraine after being replenished from Naro-Fominsk in December 1943. Between 1 and 12 January 1944 the corps was sent forward by rail to the Fastiv and Kazantin area. Marching 60 kilometers, the corps concentrated 60 kilometers south of Bila Tserkva. The 233rd Tank Brigade and 45th Mechanised Brigade were sent into combat after the march and lost a number of tanks. At this time most of the corps' tanks were American M4 Sherman medium tanks.[35] On 21 January the corps became part of the new 6th Tank Army.[36] The corps fought in the Korsun-Shevchenkovsky Offensive from 26 January. At the beginning of the offensive, the corps had 106 tanks and 46 self-propelled guns and was almost at full strength. It was to break through south of Tinovka in conjunction with the 104th Rifle Corps, then advance towards Shubennyi Stav, which was to be taken on 26 January, and Zvenigorodka. The Shpola region was to be reached on 27 January. For the attack, a tank brigade and a self-propelled gun regiment were held in the 6th Tank Army reserve. The advance of the corps and the 104th Rifle Corps bogged down and made little progress, capturing the first German line.[37] On 28 January the corps, without the 233rd Tank Brigade, was attached to the 40th Army and moved west as a result of a German counterattack.[38] The corps marched from Malyi Vinograd to Staryi Zhibotin to repulse predicted German counterattacks. The German counterattacks did not eventuate and the corps achieved "limited success" in its own attacks. Three days later, the corps was ordered to march back to Malyi Vinograd. By the end of 31 January, it held positions in the Vinograd region.[39] In early February, the corps attacked from the east towards Lysianka, Bosovka, and Malyi Vinograd against counterattacking German troops, pushing them back. On the evening of 3 February the corps was in positions between Zhabinka and Yablonovka.[40] On 13 February the German troops captured Malyi Vinograd, pushing back the corps and other units. The front stabilized and the corps with the 6th Tank Army was moved back to the second echelon of the front.[41]

In March and April 1944, the corps fought in the Uman–Botoșani Offensive. A tank regiment from the corps reached Mohyliv-Podilskyi on the morning of 19 March and by the end of the day the city had been captured. On the next night the Dniester had been crossed and by 21 March the corps was on the west bank of the river.[42] On 4 August, the corps was awarded the honorific "Dniester" for its actions in crossing the Dniester and capturing Bălți during the Uman–Botoșani Offensive. In August and September, the corps fought in the Jassy–Kishinev Offensive. In accordance with Stavka order number 0306 from the 5th Mechanised Corps was transformed into the 9th Guards Mechanised Corps on 12 September for its actions.[27] On the same day the corps was awarded the honorific "Rymnik" for its actions in the capture of Rymnik.[43]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Drig, Yevgeny (15 April 2006). "13 механизированная бригада" [13th Mechanized Brigade]. mechcorps.rkka.ru (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  2. ^ Drig, Yevgeny (2 January 2006). "14 механизированая бригада" [14th Mechanized Brigade]. mechcorps.rkka.ru (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  3. ^ Drig, Yevgeny (2 October 2007). "50 стрелково-пулеметная бригада" [50th Rifle and Machine Gun Brigade]. mechcorps.rkka.ru (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  4. ^ Drig, Yevgeny. "5 механизированный корпус имени т.Калиновского" [5th Mechanized Corps named for Kalinowsky]. mechcorps.rkka.ru (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  5. ^ a b "Biography of Major-General of Tank Troops Ilia Prokofevich Alekseenko – (Илья Прокофьевич Алексеенко) (1899–1941), Soviet Union". www.generals.dk. Retrieved 2016-09-05. 
  6. ^ a b Drig, Yevgeny (12 March 2007). "5 механизированный корпус" [5th Mechanized Corps]. mechcorps.rkka.ru (in Russian). Archived from the original on 28 June 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2016. 
  7. ^ Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1 July 1941
  8. ^ a b c Glantz 2010, p. 590.
  9. ^ Glantz 2010, p. 72.
  10. ^ a b Glantz 2010, p. 74.
  11. ^ Glantz 2010, p. 73.
  12. ^ Glantz 2010, p. 75.
  13. ^ Glantz 2010, p. 79.
  14. ^ Glantz 2010, p. 121.
  15. ^ Glantz 2010, p. 166.
  16. ^ Glantz 2010, pp. 171–173.
  17. ^ Glantz 2010, p. 186.
  18. ^ Glantz 2010, p. 226.
  19. ^ Glantz 2010, p. 229.
  20. ^ Glantz 2010, p. 154.
  21. ^ "Biography of Lieutenant-General Evgenii Petrovich Zhuravlev – (Евгений Петрович Журавлев) (1896–1983), Soviet Union". www.generals.dk. Retrieved 2016-09-05. 
  22. ^ Maslov 1998, pp. 16–17.
  23. ^ Glantz 2010, p. 354.
  24. ^ Glantz 2010, p. 356.
  25. ^ Glantz 2010, pp. 358–359.
  26. ^ Perechen No. 4 Part III
  27. ^ a b c d e "5-й механизированный корпус" [5th Mechanized Corps]. tankfront.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 5 September 2016. 
  28. ^ Combat composition of the Soviet Army, 1 November 1942
  29. ^ Glantz 2014, p. 400n8.
  30. ^ Glantz 2014, p. 35.
  31. ^ Glantz 2014, p. 53.
  32. ^ Glantz 2014, p. 73.
  33. ^ Istomin 1975, pp. 93–95.
  34. ^ Istomin 1975, pp. 105, 110–116.
  35. ^ Glantz & Orenstein 2003, p. 106n1.
  36. ^ Glantz & Orenstein 2003, p. 8.
  37. ^ Zetterling & Frankson 2011, pp. 97–98.
  38. ^ Zetterling & Frankson 2011, pp. 101, 117–118.
  39. ^ Glantz & Orenstein 2003, p. 21.
  40. ^ Zetterling & Frankson 2011, p. 154.
  41. ^ Glantz & Orenstein 2003, pp. 93–104.
  42. ^ Erickson 1999, p. 184.
  43. ^ "9-й гвардейский механизированный корпус" [9th Guards Mechanised Corps]. tankfront.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 8 September 2016. 

References[edit]