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17th Guards Rifle Division
Country Flag of the Soviet Union (1924–1955).svg Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag Red Army
Service history
Active 1942 - 1955
Role Infantry
Battles Battle of Smolensk (1943)
Operation Bagration
East Prussian Offensive
Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation
Commanders
Commanders Mjr. Gen. A.D. Berezin
Hero of the Soviet Union medal Mjr. Gen. A.P. Kvashnin
Insignia

The 17th Guards Rifle Division was created on March 17, 1942 from the first formation of the 119th Rifle Division, in recognition of that division's stalwart defense against German Army Group Center in the Battle of Moscow, and in the subsequent strategic offensive that threw the German forces back from the capital. The 17th Guards continued a record of distinguished service through the rest of the Great Patriotic War.

FormationEdit

The 17th Guards was one of four Guards rifle divisions created in Kalinin Front on the same date (along with 20th, 21st and 22nd Guards) in recognition of their role in driving in the left flank of Army Group Center during the winter of 1941-42. When formed, its order of battle was as follows:

  • 45th Guards Rifle Regiment from 365th Rifle Regiment
  • 48th Guards Rifle Regiment from 421st Rifle Regiment
  • 52nd Guards Rifle Regiment from 634th Rifle Regiment
  • 26th Guards Artillery Regiment from 349th Artillery Regiment
  • 22nd Guards Antitank Battalion from 230th Antitank Battalion
  • 16th Guards Sapper Battalion from 224th Sapper Battalion.[1]

The division was part of 22nd Army when it was formed, and remained in Kalinin Front, in either that army or the 41st Army for the next year. In early 1943 it was transferred to 5th Guards Rifle Corps in 39th Army, and remained under those commands for the duration.[2]

In late 1943 the division, along with the rest of 39th Army, was transferred to Western Front, and took part in the campaign to liberate Smolensk. The division was credited with the liberation of the town of Dukhovshchina on Sept. 19 and received its name as an honorific.[3]

During Operation Bagration the 17th Guards, now under 3rd Belorussian Front, advanced into the southern Baltic States. At the time of the German surrender the division was in East Prussia, near Konigsberg. In the following months the entire 39th Army was shipped east across Siberia, and in August, 1945, participated in the invasion of Japanese-occupied Manchuria as part of Transbaikal Front. By this time its towed anti-tank battalion had been replaced with a battalion of SU-76 self-propelled guns, but the divisional artillery had not been augmented as per the December, 1944, Guards Rifle Division table of organization.[4] During this campaign the division received a second honorific, Khinganskaya, for its efforts in driving through the Khingan Range.[5]

When the war ended the division honorifics were – Russian: Духовщинско-Хинганская Краснознамённая ордена Суворова дивизия (English: Dukhovshchina, Khingan, Order of the Red Banner, Order of Suvorov), and five of its men had been named as Heroes of the Soviet Union.

The division remained in service in 39th Army near the border with China until May, 1955.[6]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Charles C. Sharp, "Red Guards", Soviet Guards Rifle and Airborne Units 1941 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IV, 1995, pp 49 - 51. Note that Sharp gives "249th" as the number of the artillery regiment from the 119th Rifle Div., but is given as "349th" in his other works.
  2. Sharp, "Red Guards", p 49
  3. Russian Wikipedia
  4. Sharp, "Red Guards", p 49
  5. Russian Wikipedia
  6. Russian Wikipedia



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