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252nd Rifle Division (Soviet Union)
Country Flag of the Soviet Union (1924–1955).svg Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag Red Army
Service history
Active June 26, 1941 – 1946
Role Infantry
Battles Battle of Smolensk (1941)
Operation Typhoon
Battle of Moscow
Battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Kursk
Belgorod-Khar'kov Offensive Operation
Lower Dnieper Offensive
First Jassy–Kishinev Offensive
Jassy–Kishinev Offensive
Siege of Budapest
Lake Balaton Offensive
Commanders
Commanders Col. A.A. Zabaluev
Insignia

The 252nd Rifle Division was raised in 1941, within days of the German invasion, as a standard Red Army rifle division, and served for the duration of the Great Patriotic War in that role. After helping to defeat an offensive by Third Panzer Group at Kalinin in October, and serving through the winter counteroffensive west of Moscow, the division was sent south where it participated in the Battle of Stalingrad. In the summer of 1943 the 252nd distinguished itself in the final liberation of Kharkov, and again near the end of the war for assisting in the liberation of Bratislava.

FormationEdit

The division began organizing on June 26, 1941 at Serpukhov in the Moscow Military District. It was one of a series of rifle divisions numbered in the 240 - 260 range that were built on cadres taken from the NKVD. Its order of battle was as follows:

  • 924th Rifle Regiment
  • 928th Rifle Regiment
  • 932nd Rifle Regiment
  • 277th Artillery Regiment
  • 270th Howitzer Regiment
  • 309th Antitank Battalion
  • 420th Sapper Battalion
  • 332nd Reconnaissance Company
  • 176th Signal Company
  • 270th Medical/Sanitation Battalion
  • 303rd Field Bakery[1][2]

Col. Alexandr Alekseyevich Zabaluev was named divisional commander, and the division was assigned to 29th Army of Western Front by July 13, less than three weeks after beginning to be formed. The NKVD cadre consisted of 1,500 border guards and internal security troops, providing a solid, well-motivated core. During the fighting around Smolensk the 29th Army was deployed north of the city, and at the end of August the 252nd had to make a hasty retreat eastwards after the German XL Motorized Corps broke through 22nd Army and advanced towards Toropets.[3]

On Oct. 2 the Germans launched their Operation Typhoon. 29th Army was too far north to be immediately affected, but in mid-month was transferred to the new Kalinin Front in the vicinity of that city. The 252nd was transferred to the newly-arriving 31st Army, and on Oct. 19 - 20 participated in the counterattacks that defeated the XXXXI Motorized Corps along the Torzhok road northwest of Kalinin.[4] When the Soviet counter-offensive against Army Group Center began in early December, the division was reporting a strength of 5,800 officers and men, about 50% of authorized strength, but relatively good given four months of fighting, mostly on retreat. During the winter the 309th Antitank Battalion was removed to Army control (the Howitzer Regiment had been removed earlier) but was replaced by the 110th Antitank Battalion when the division was reformed in the spring of 1942. The division remained in Kalinin Front, mostly in 39th Army, until August.[5]

Battles of Stalingrad and KurskEdit

The 252nd went into STAVKA reserves in August, 1942, assigned to the 10th Reserve Army. It returned to the front deep in the south, as part of Don Front through the Stalingrad Campaign. The German Sixth Army surrendered in February, 1943, and the units of Don Front went, or returned, to STAVKA reserves. The division was now assigned to 53rd Army of Steppe Front and returned to the fighting during the Battle of Kursk when that Army was transferred to Voronezh Front. The 252nd was in second echelon when the Army began its offensive towards Kharkov on Aug. 3, and so distinguished itself in the fighting for that city that it was awarded the Order of the Red Banner and the honorific "Kharkov", one of the first such honorifics awarded.[6]

AdvanceEdit

The division remained in 53rd Army for the rest of the year, then transferred to 4th Guards Army in 2nd Ukrainian Front in January, 1944. It remained in this Front through the spring and summer, in either 4th Guards or 52nd Army. In September it was once again withdrawn to STAVKA reserves for rebuilding. As part of this, the 110th Antitank Battalion was re-equipped with 12 SU-76 self-propelled guns.[7]

The 252nd returned to the front in December, in 4th Guards Army which was now in 3rd Ukrainian Front, near Budapest in Hungary. In February, 1945 it was transferred back to 2nd Ukrainian Front, in 46th Army, and took part in the defeat of the German Lake Balaton Offensive in March. It began its final advance with its Front into Austria on Mar. 30, first in 46th Army, then finally in 7th Guards Army;[8] the men and women of the division made a major contribution to the liberation of the Czech city of Bratislava, and got its name as their second honorific.

The division ended the war as the 252nd Rifle Kharkov, Bratislava, Order of the Red Banner, Order of Suvorov, Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky Division. (Russian: 252-я стрелковая Харьковско-Братиславская Краснознамённая орденов Суворова и Богдана Хмельницкого дивизия).[9]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Jack Radey and Charles Sharp, The Defense of Moscow 1941 - The Northern Flank, Pen & Sword Books Ltd., Barnsley, UK, 2012, pp 220 - 21
  2. Charles C. Sharp, "Red Tide", Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IX, Nafziger, 1996, p 46
  3. David M. Glantz, Barbarossa Derailed, Vol. 2, Helion and Company, Solihull, UK, 2012, pp 146 - 48
  4. Radey and Sharp, pp 137 - 39
  5. Sharp, p 46
  6. Sharp, pp 46 - 47
  7. Sharp, p 47
  8. Sharp, p 47
  9. Russian Wikipedia



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