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307th Rifle Division
Active 12 July 1941 – 1945
Country Flag of the Soviet Union (1924–1955).svg Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag Red Army
Type Division
Role Infantry
Engagements Battle of Smolensk
Battle of Moscow
Battle of Kursk
Operation Kutuzov
Battle of the Dniepr
Operation Bagration
Battle of Königsberg
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Mjr. Gen. G.S.Laz'ko
Mjr. Gen. M.A. Enshin
Mjr. Gen. V.N. Dalmatov

The 307th Rifle Division was raised in 1941 as a standard Red Army rifle division, and served for the duration of the Great Patriotic War in that role. The division distinguished itself in the intense defensive fighting around the village of Ponyri during the Battle of Kursk. It was credited with the liberation of the town of Novozybkov on Sept. 25, 1943. After battling its way through Belorussia during Operation Bagration, it was moved to East Prussia, where it took part in the Battle of Königsberg in the spring of 1945, ending the war on the Baltic coast near the Zemland Peninsula.

FormationEdit

The division began organizing at Ivanovo in the Moscow Military District on July 12, 1941, and was at the front by the middle of the next month. Its order of battle was as follows:

  • 1019th Rifle Regiment
  • 1021st Rifle Regiment
  • 1023rd Rifle Regiment
  • 837th Artillery Regiment
  • 365th Antitank Battalion
  • 580th Sapper Battalion
  • 733rd Signal Battalion
  • 301st Medical Battalion
  • 384th Reconnaissance Company[1]

Col. V.G. Terent'ev was the first divisional commander assigned. The 307th was very quickly moved to the front, arriving in 13th Army of Bryansk Front at Starodub by Aug. 15. The division would remain in that Front, apart from one month, until March, 1943, and in that Army until July of the same year. During this entire period the division remained in the same general part of the front, between Voronezh and Tula-Oryol.[2] When it first arrived at the front, the division operated as a separate formation, but by Sept. 1 it had been subordinated to 45th Rifle Corps.[3]

Gen. A.I. Yeryomenko, the Army commander, began ordering counterstrokes on Aug. 27 against German forces of Second Panzer Group that had recently captured Starodub. Over the following weeks the rifle divisions of 13th Army launched numerous attacks with limited armor support against the German flank in what was clearly an uneven contest to try to disrupt the enemy armored drive south to encircle the Red Army forces defending Kiev. In these actions the 45th Rifle Corps made little progress while suffering significant losses, and on Sept. 7 Yeryomenko wrote:

"At that time, the [enemy] units conducting the offensive along the Starodub axis began a meeting engagement with 269th, 282nd, 155th, and 307th Rifle Divisions along the Sudost' River line. Unable to withstand the attack by the motorized corps, these divisions began withdrawing in disorder behind the Desna River, while suffering heavy losses."[4]

13th Army was too far south to be caught up in Operation Typhoon, but instead was gradually pushed eastward during October and November by the south flank forces of Army Group Center until it reached the area of Yelets. After the German advance was halted at Moscow, Marshal S.K. Timoshenko led a counteroffensive by 3rd and 13th Armies against those same forces, driving them westward during December.[5] During 1942 the front in this sector was stable, with both sides committing their major forces elsewhere. This changed in the aftermath of Stalingrad. Soviet formations on the southern half of the front exploited the victory by thrusting westward, and on Feb. 12, 1943, the 307th was pushing northwards from the area of Kursk in the general direction of Oryol, but a week later had been brought to a halt.[6]

As was the case with many other successful Red Army formations during this period, the division was considered for elevation to Guards status, but the following report from the chief of the 13th Army's political department dashed that chance:

"In connection with the proposed award of a guards banner to the 307th Rifle Division... I consider it my duty to report to you that, in my opinion, the state of affairs in the division and the course of its combat operations at present do not provide a sufficient basis for the award of that high status, since, from 13 to 21 February... the division has not fulfilled even one of its assigned missions... The required organization, precision, and vigilance is absent in the division's headquarters, units, and subunits... The division inadequately displays concern about the skillful fulfillment of combat missions... and, as a result... units are suffering excessive personnel losses... The division commander, Comrade Laz'ko, displays considerable conceit, [excessive] self-confidence, and unnecessary arrogance; he keeps distant from his units and the command cadre, he always "leads" from his office... Military discipline is not at the required level. There have been instances of drunkenness and dissipation among the command cadre... The division's rear services function exceptionally poorly. The soldiers in a number of subunits have not received bread or sugar in several days... They have not changed their underclothing for a long time, many are lice-ridden, and recently 16 instances of typhus were registered. The division commander displays complete indifference to all these outrages and deficiencies." - Major General Popov[7]

Even this scathing report did not prevent Laz'ko from being promoted to the rank of Major General on Feb. 22. The division would miss out on the distinction of Guard status, but would compile a worthy record nevertheless, beginning with its next battle.

Battle of KurskEdit

The 307th's February advance came to a halt several kilometres north of the village of Ponyri. During the following months the division fortified its positions, first as a matter of course, then more intensively as STAVKA began to expect a German summer offensive against the Kursk salient. STAVKA was entirely correct.[8] In March, 13th Army was transferred to Gen K.K. Rokossovsky's Central Front. Just days before the battle began, the division became part of the second echelon of the 29th Rifle Corps.[9] As the battle began on July 5, the 307th strongly contested elements of the German 9th Army, particularly the 9th and 18th Panzer Divisions, both in the village and Hill 253.5 on its outskirts in what was described as the "Stalingrad of the Kursk Salient". The highest ground was denied to the Germans by the 1023rd Rifle Regiment. Back-and-forth fighting went on for several days, and while the Soviet forces were not able to immediately retake the village, the German thrust had been stymied far short of its goal, with significant losses, giving the Red Army, and the 307th, the victory, also at a large cost.[10]

AdvanceEdit

Following the German defeat at Kursk, Central Front began advancing westward out of the salient. On July 21, the 307th was transferred to the 70th Army, and about a month later to the 48th Army, moving to the 42nd Rifle Corps.[11] During the Front's advance westwards towards the Dniepr, on Sept. 25 the division distinguished itself in the liberation of the city of Novozybkov and was given its name as an honorific.

In February, 1944, the division was rebuilding with infantry replacements from the Far East, including 1,500 admitted on the 5th and 6th of that month. In March the division was transferred to 50th Army, still in the 1st Belorussian (former Central) Front, but in April the 50th Army was itself transferred to 2nd Belorussian Front in the buildup to Operation Bagration. The 307th would remain in that Army for the duration, for most of that time in the 81st Rifle Corps. In February, 1945, 50th Army was shifted to 3rd Belorussian Front as the war was grinding to a halt in East Prussia. The division would take part in the Siege of Königsberg, and would later join the Zemland Group, clearing the remaining German forces from the Baltic coast.[12] When the war ended, the men and women of the division carried a title to rival most Guards divisions: 307th Rifle, Novozybkov, Order of the Red Banner, Order of Suvorov, Order of Kutuzov Division. (Russian: 307-я стрелковая Новозыбковская Краснознамённая орденов Суворова и Кутузова дивизия.)

ReferencesEdit

  1. Charles C. Sharp, "Red Tide", Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IX, Nafziger, 1996, p 70, and Russian Wikipedia
  2. Sharp, p 70
  3. David M. Glantz, Barbarossa Derailed, Vol. 2, Helion & Co., Ltd., Solihull, UK, 2012, pp 116, 406
  4. Glantz, Barbarossa Derailed, Vol. 2, p 485
  5. Michael Jones, The Retreat: Hitler's First Defeat, John Murray (Publishers), London, 2009, pp 142, 175
  6. Glantz, After Stalingrad, Helion & Co., Ltd., Solihull, UK, 2009, pp 249, 270
  7. Glantz, After Stalingrad, pp 272-73
  8. Robin Cross, The Battle of Kursk, Penguin Books, London, 1993, p 91
  9. Sharp, p 70
  10. Cross, pp 187-88. Note that Cross misnames the 1023rd Rifle Regiment as the 1032nd. The latter regiment was in the 293rd Rifle Division.
  11. Sharp, p 70
  12. Sharp, p 70



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