|306th Rifle Division (September 1941 - ?)|
306th Rifle Division (16 June 1942 – 1945)
Battle of Smolensk|
Col. S. I. Chernyak|
Mjr. Gen. M.I. Kucheryavenko
The 306th Rifle Division (Russian: 306-я стрелковая Рибшевская Краснознамённая дивизия) began its combat path under unusual circumstances. It was partly formed for the first time as a standard Red Army rifle division a few months after the German invasion, but the formation process appears to have been abandoned and the unit was never assigned to the front. A second formation began in April, 1942 and was completed on June 16, after which it was sent to the Kalinin Front. Assigned to 43rd Army, it remained in that Army until November, 1944, and in that Front (renamed 1st Baltic Front) until March, 1945. It ended the war in Leningrad Front, helping to contain the German forces trapped in the Courland Pocket.
The 306th Rifle Division began forming in September, 1941 in the Moscow Military District. Very little is known about this formation:
"Twenty other divisions were formed in September 1941 in various locations (table 5.21). Very few data have been found on the last seven divisions [including the 306th] formed in September. These divisions were never assigned to a frontline unit. They may have been used on the Turkish border, in Iran, or in the Far East."
- 935th Rifle Regiment
- 938th Rifle Regiment
- 992nd Rifle Regiment
- 1043rd Artillery Regiment
- 429th Antitank Battalion
- 342nd Sapper Battalion
- 915th Signal Battalion
- 210th Reconnaissance Company
The division spent an unusually long time in the process of forming up. At the end of June it was assigned to 10th Reserve Army, but instead of being shipped south along with the rest of what became the 5th Shock Army, it was moved in August to join 43rd Army, still in the Reserve of the Supreme High Command. In September, that Army was assigned to Kalinin Front. The 306th remained in that Army and Front for an unusually long time. During October, 1942 the division, along with several others of its Army, was on notice to prepare to join in the planned second stage of Operation Mars; in the event this did not take place because the first stage was unsuccessful. In September, 1943, it was assigned to the 91st Rifle Corps.
In that same month the division was participating in the offensive to liberate Smolensk. In recognition of its success in the recapture of the fortified village of Ribshevo, north of Smolensk, on Sept. 19, the 306th Rifle Division was granted that name as an honorific. In February, 1944, it was reassigned to 1st Rifle Corps, and it was in this Corps at the start of Operation Bagration. Following a very heavy artillery barrage lasting 20 minutes at dawn on June 22, assault companies of the division, in concert with those of six other divisions, attacked the positions of the German 252nd Infantry Division and Corps Detachment D on a 20 km front, breaking through to the second defense line by noon. By evening an armored group supported by the 306th and two other rifle divisions had crossed the Obol River and were pushing southwest towards the Vitebsk - Polotsk rail line, having advanced 7 km during the day. The following day the division assisted in the envelopment of Corps Detachment D's positions in Shumilino and forced a crossing of the Dvina River by evening. From here, 1st Rifle Corps was ordered westward, and reached Beshenkovichi by the end of June 25. By the 27th it had reached Lepel, against scattered German resistance.
Along with its Army, in the following months the 306th advanced into the "Baltic Gap" between Army Groups North and Center, driving towards Riga and the Baltic coast and trapping the remains of Army Group North in the Courland Pocket. In November it was moved, with its Corps, briefly into 2nd Guards Army, then to the 4th Shock Army, then again to the 51st Army. 51st Army was reassigned to the 2nd Baltic Front in February, 1945, but in March and for the duration the division was in the 1st Shock Army of the Courland Group. The men of the 306th Rifle Division ended the war with the official title of 306th Rifle, Ribshevo, Order of the Red Banner Division. (Russian: 306-я стрелковая Рибшевская Краснознамённая дивизия.)
- ↑ Walter S. Dunn, Jr., Stalin's Keys to Victory, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2006, pp 81-82
- ↑ Dunn, Stalin's Keys to Victory, p 111
- ↑ Charles C. Sharp, "Red Swarm", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From 1942 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. X, 1996, p 115. Sharp states that an unknown rifle brigade was used as a cadre, while Dunn states that no cadre was used.
- ↑ Sharp, p 115, and Russian Wikipedia
- ↑ David M. Glantz, After Stalingrad, Helion & Co., Ltd., Solihull, UK, 2009, pp 51, 53, 473n.18
- ↑ Sharp, p 115
- ↑ Dunn, Soviet Blitzkrieg, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2008, pp 95, 100, 102, 104, 106, 109
- ↑ http://www.cgsc.edu/CARL/nafziger/944RLAA.pdf, p 18
- ↑ Sharp, p 115
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