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300th Rifle Division (10 July 1941 - 16 Apr. 1943)
300th Rifle Division (9 Aug. 1943 - 1945)
Active 1941 - 1945
Country Flag of the Soviet Union (1924–1955).svg Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag Red Army
Type Division
Role Infantry
Engagements Operation Barbarossa
Operation Blue
Operation Uranus
Soviet invasion of Manchuria
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Col. S.P. Merkulov
Col. I.M. Afonin

The 300th Rifle Division began service as a standard Red Army rifle division shortly after the German invasion, and fought in the southwestern part of the Soviet-German front for nearly two years following. The division did not distinguish itself until Operation Uranus in late 1942, when it helped defeat the German attempt to relieve Sixth Army and later in the pursuit of the defeated Axis forces and the recapture of Rostov-na-Donu. In recognition of these successes it was raised to Guards status as the 87th Guards Rifle Division. A second 300th was raised a few months later and fought briefly but very successfully against the Japanese in Manchuria in August 1945.

1st FormationEdit

The division began forming on July 10, 1941 at Krasnograd in the Kharkov Military District. Its order of battle was as follows:

  • 1049th Rifle Regiment
  • 1051st Rifle Regiment
  • 1053rd Rifle Regiment
  • 822nd Artillery Regiment
  • 591st Sapper Battalion
  • 756th Signal Battalion
  • 336th Antitank Battalion (from Dec. 1941)[1]

Just a month after forming, the 300th was assigned to 38th Army of Southwestern Front, just as that Army was itself forming up. It first began to reach the front on Aug. 12 and remained in that Army and that Front until May, 1942. It held its positions on the east bank of the Northern Donets River during the Soviet offensive phase of the Second Battle of Kharkov, forming the link to the 28th Army to its north. In early June the division was transferred to that army. Prior to the start of Operation Blue, German Sixth Army launched a preliminary attack, Operation Wilhelm, against the 28th Army bridgehead over the Donets at and south of Volchansk, from June 10–15. The 300th was caught up in this and was largely encircled in spite of beginning to retreat almost immediately; on the 13th Marshal Semyon Timoshenko reported it was "seriously battered".[2]

As the German offensive pressed on, the division was transferred again to the 21st Army of Stalingrad Front. In the process of fighting in these unequal circumstances the division took heavy losses, and was withdrawn into the Reserve of the Supreme High Command at Tuymazy[3] in August for rebuilding.[4]

The rebuilt 300th, back in Stalingrad Front, on the left bank of the Volga, next saw action in late October, when two rifle battalions of the 1049th Regiment attempted an assault amphibious landing across the river aimed at the village of Latashanka, in an attempt to relieve German pressure on the defenders of Rynok and the northern factory districts of the besieged city. The effort failed, at a cost of at least 900 men killed, wounded or captured.[5][6]

The division next saw action with the beginning of the operation to encircle the German/Romanian forces at Stalingrad. The 300th, now in 51st Army[7] crossed to the right bank of the Volga by a pontoon bridge downstream from the city, and formed part of the second echelon of the southern pincer. On Dec. 21 elements of the division helped stop one of the last attempts of Army Group Don to break the encirclement.[8]

A few days later the 300th was transferred to 2nd Guards Army of South Front and spent the next two months exploiting the Soviet victory along the Don River towards Rostov-na-Donu, finally coming to a halt along the Mius River. On Feb. 21, South Front reported to STAVKA that:

The 300th Rifle Division is fighting on the southeastern outskirts of Novaia Nadezhda, Alekseevka, and Aleksandrovka (I repeat, on the southeast outskirts of these points)...[9]
All of these points were on the left bank of the Mius, as the overstretched Soviet forces were unable to penetrate the German defenses on the right bank, based on fortifications they had built a year earlier.

On Apr. 16, 1943, in recognition of the division's prowess both on the defense and during the offensive that crushed the trapped German Sixth Army and threw their forces out of the Caucasus, it became the 87th Guards Rifle Division.[10]

2nd FormationEdit

The second 300th Rifle Division was formed, along with the 87th Rifle Corps, in the 1st Red Banner Army on Aug. 9, 1943. Its order of battle remained the same as the first formation, with the addition of a Divisional Training Battalion. It served in the Maritime Group of Forces, in 1st Army or in Far Eastern Front reserves, for the duration.

When the Soviet Union declared war on Japan on Aug. 9, 1945, the division, now in 26th Rifle Corps, joined in the advance into Manchuria. This Corps had to take a route through mountainous terrain towards the city of Mutanchiang; the advance was expected to take 18 days, but after just eight days the 300th was across the Mutan River and was clearing the city. It accomplished this by creating a forward detachment consisting of the 1049th Rifle Regiment, loaded in all the truck-drawn support that could be found. This was the first infantry able to reinforce the 257th Tank Brigade and the divisional SU-76 battalions at the river-crossing sites.[11] In recognition of this feat, the division was given the honorific Harbin (Russian: Харбинская).[12]

On 14 April 1946 at Pokrovka in Primorsky Krai the division became the 3rd Tank Division (3-я танковая Харбинская дивизия) (1946–57). After a brief period as the 46th Tank Division (1957–59) the division was disbanded, still located at Pokrovka.[13]

Later the Strategic Rocket Forces' 4th Harbin Rocket Division was given the name 'Harbin' in succession to the 46th Tank Division.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Charles C. Sharp, "Red Tide", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From June to December, 1941, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IX, 1996, p 68
  2. David M. Glantz, To the Gates of Stalingrad, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2009, pp 90-97
  3. Isaak Kobylyanskiy, From Stalingrad to Pillau, trans. S. Britton, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2008, pp 60-61
  4. Sharp, "Red Tide", p 68
  5. Kobylyanskiy, pp 69-70
  6. This operation is detailed in Jochen Hellbeck, Stalingrad - The City that Defeated the Third Reich, trans. C. Tauchen and D. Bonfiglio, Perseus Books Group, New York, 2015, pp 203-22. Kobylyanskiy is quoted on p 207. In this account the name of the village is transliterated as "Latoshinka".
  7. Sharp, "Red Tide", p 68
  8. Kobylyanskiy, p 73
  9. David M. Glantz, After Stalingrad, Helion & Company, Ltd., Solihull, UK, 2011, p 214
  10. Sharp, "Red Tide", p 68
  11. Sharp, "Red Swarm", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From 1942 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. X, 1996, p 112
  12. Russian Wikipedia
  13. Holm 2015, http://www.ww2.dk/new/army/td/3td.htm

Further readingEdit

  • Гладков Н. Н. "В упорных и оборонительных боях" в книге "В боях за Харьковщину", Харьков, 3-е изд., 1973, с.37-42.

External linksEdit



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