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304th Rifle Division (12 July 1941 – 21 Jan. 1943)
304th Rifle Division (1 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
Battle of Kiev
Operation Blue
Battle of Stalingrad
Operation Ring
Taman Peninsula Offensive
Zhitomir–Berdichev Offensive
Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive
Vistula–Oder Offensive
Prague Offensive
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Col. N.I. Sidorenko
Col. M.M. Muzikin

The 304th Rifle Division began service before the Great Patriotic War, as a standard Red Army rifle division before being reorganized as a mechanised division a few months later. Soon after the German invasion it was once again reorganized as a standard rifle division and renumbered as the 304th. It fought in the southwestern part of the Soviet-German front for more than a year and a half following. The division did not distinguish itself until Operation Uranus in late 1942 and the subsequent Operation Ring, in which it helped defeat the encircled German Sixth Army. In recognition of these successes, even before the German surrender at Stalingrad, it was raised to Guards status as the 67th Guards Rifle Division. A second 304th was raised six months later and continued in combat through Ukraine and Poland before ending the war near Prague.

1st FormationEdit

The 109th Mechanised Division, 5th Mechanised Corps, (formed from the 109th Rifle Division, first formed April 15, 1939, at Tatarsk) began moving to Zolotonosha, east of the Dniepr River, to reform as the 304th Rifle Division on July 12, 1941. Its order of battle was revised to the following:

  • 807th Rifle Regiment newly formed from reserves and added to replace the 16th Tank Regiment
  • 809th Rifle Regiment from 381st Motorized Rifle Regiment
  • 812th Rifle Regiment from 602nd Motorized Rifle Regiment
  • 560th Artillery Regiment from 404th Motorized Artillery Regiment
  • 602nd Sapper Battalion
  • 635th Signal Battalion
  • 378th Antitank Battalion
  • 318th Reconnaissance Company[1]

After several weeks in Southwestern Front reserves, the 304th was assigned to 38th Army in early August, just as that Army was itself forming up. The division remained in that Army until July, 1942. It was able to avoid encirclement near Kiev as it was located just east of the point where 1st Panzer Group broke through the Soviet front, and was able to retreat through Poltava.[2] The division also managed to stay clear of the debacle at Kharkov in May of 1942.[3]

Shortly after Operation Blue began, the 304th was moved to the 21st Army, first under Stalingrad Front, and in September in Don Front. In October the division was reassigned to 65th Army as that Army was being organized, and it was part of the northern prong of Operation Uranus, driving southwards to isolate and encircle the German 6th Army in and around Stalingrad. During the subsequent Operation Ring the division pressed on against the German forces trapped in the cauldron, and in recognition of these accomplishments, on Jan. 21, 1943, the 304th Rifle Division became the 67th Guards Rifle Division.[4]

2nd FormationEdit

The second 304th Rifle Division was formed from the 43rd Rifle Brigade and the 256th Rifle Brigade of 9th Rifle Corps,[5] on Aug. 1, 1943 in 9th Army on the North Caucasus Front. Its order of battle remained as previous.[6][7] After just over one month of forming up, the division was assigned to the 11th Rifle Corps of that Army.[8]

On Sept. 19 the 304th began operations in the Taman Peninsula as part of the final offensive to drive German forces from their last foothold in the Kuban. It formed part of a strike group attacking the village of Kurchanskaya, which was taken. On the 25th, in concert with the 316th Rifle Division and following a powerful artillery and air attack, it stormed the city of Temryuk, which was taken two days later after heavy street fighting. The surviving Germans fled to the village of Golubitskaya; the 304th, crossing the Kuban River using improvised means, pursued. On Oct. 9 the entire peninsula was cleared of Axis troops.[9]

In November 9th Army was disbanded, and its forces were redeployed to other Fronts and Armies. 11th Rifle Corps was railed northwestward, joining 38th Army in 1st Ukrainian Front west of Kiev in December. The 304th would remain in this Front until the last few weeks of the war. During the Zhitomir–Berdichev Offensive, the division played an important role in the second liberation of Zhitomir on the last day of 1943, and was awarded the name of that city as an honorific.[10]

On July 21, 1944, the 304th was shifted to 52nd Rifle Corps, still in 38th Army, and then in October to 106th Rifle Corps of 60th Army.[11] The division remained in that Corps and that Army for the duration. In the final weeks of the war the 60th Army was transferred to 4th Ukrainian Front, and the 304th ended hostilities in the vicinity of Prague.[12] The division ended the war with the official name: 304th Rifle, Zhitomir, Order of the Red Banner Division. (Russian: 304-я стрелковая Житомирская Краснознамённая дивизия.)[13]

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 69 and Russian Wikipedia.
  2. David Stahel, Kiev 1941, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2012, map on pp 262–63
  3. Sharp, "Red Tide", p 69
  4. Sharp, "Red Tide", p 69
  5. http://www.cgsc.edu/CARL/nafziger/943RGCC.PDF, p 67
  6. Sharp, "Red Swarm", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From 1942 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. X, 1996, p 114
  7. Sharp gives 560th as the number of the artillery regiment, but the 304th R.D. 2nd Formation page on Russian Wikipedia gives it as 566th.
  8. Russian Wikipedia
  9. Russian Wikipedia
  10. Russian Wikipedia
  11. http://www.cgsc.edu/CARL/nafziger/944RLAA.pdf, p 1-2
  12. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p 114
  13. Russian Wikipedia



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