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312th Rifle Division (July 10, 1941 – December 27, 1941)
312th Rifle Division (December 25, 1941 – May 29, 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 Siege of Leningrad
Battle of Moscow
Battles of Rzhev
Battle of Smolensk (1943)
Operation Bagration
Vistula-Oder Offensive
Berlin Strategic Offensive
Decorations Order of the red Banner OBVERSEOrder of the Red Banner
Order of suvorov medal 2nd classOrder of Suvorov 2nd class
Order Kutuzov 2 Order of Kutuzov
Battle honours Smolensk
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Col. A.F. Naumov
Maj. Gen. A.G. Moiseevskii Hero of the Soviet Union medal

The 312th Rifle Division was a standard Red Army rifle division formed for the first time on July 10, 1941 in Kazakhstan before being sent to the vicinity of Leningrad, where it fought briefly before being redeployed to the front southwest of Moscow in late October, where it suffered huge losses in the wake of Operation Typhoon, and was disbanded not long after. A new 312th began forming in December in Siberia, and this second formation served again in front of Moscow, in the fighting in the area of Rzhev and Sychevka during 1942 and into 1943. In the latter year, the division distinguished itself in the liberation of Smolensk and received that city's name as an honorific. As the war concluded, the men and women of the 312th gained additional honors, and ended the war fighting near Berlin. The division was disbanded shortly after the end of the conflict.

1st FormationEdit

The 312th began forming on July 10, 1941, at Akyubinsk in the Central Asia Military District.[1] The personnel of the division were mostly Kazakhs at this time.[2] Its order of battle was as follows:

  • 1079th Rifle Regiment
  • 1081st Rifle Regiment
  • 1083rd Rifle Regiment
  • 859th Artillery Regiment[3]
  • 375th Antitank Battalion
  • 591st Antiaircraft Battalion
  • 205th Reconnaissance Battalion
  • 599th Sapper Battalion
  • 764th Signal Battalion

Colonel A.F. Naumov was in command of the first formation of 312th for its entire existence. The division was given about six weeks to form up before it was sent by rail all the way to the Northwestern Front, ending its journey in the Tikhvin area east of Leningrad. It was first assigned to the 52nd Army as that Army was forming up in August as a separate army under STAVKA control.[4] During September the 312th helped to contest the German advance towards Leningrad, but as the German Typhoon offensive developed west of Moscow, the division got orders to redeploy by rail from Valdai towards the capital, beginning on October 6. Due to the chaos of the time this redeployment went in a piecemeal fashion, and the division's rifle regiments were sent into combat right off the trains, into the forces of the Maloyaroslavets Defense Sector, which became the 43rd Army, in Western Front, by October 12. Fighting piecemeal against armored forces was a deadly business; by October 18 the 859th Artillery Regiment was manning the lines at Maloyaroslavets with 34 artillery pieces, but the rifle regiments had taken very heavy losses in less than a week and were no longer combat-effective. By the end of the month the division was effectively destroyed, and the remnants were distributed to other units in the Western Front. On December 27, the number "312" was officially made available for a new division.[5]

2nd FormationEdit

A new rifle division began forming at Altaisk in the Siberian Military District on December 25, 1941,[6] originally numbered as the 450th. In January, 1942, this division became the second formation of the 312th.[7] It acquired the same order of battle as the first formation. When the division was fully formed in April it had 12,299 officers and men assigned, and 56.6 percent of them were under 25 years of age. On the one hand, the division had a large percentage of young, presumably fit soldiers. On the other hand, none of these young men are likely to have had any military experience or much training before they joined the division. In late April the 312th moved west to the Moscow Military District, and the following month was assigned first to the 2nd Reserve, then to the 4th Reserve Army in the Reserve of the Supreme High Command. In July it went to Western Front, assigned to 20th Army, where it saw its first combat during the First Rzhev–Sychyovka Offensive Operation.[8]

On August 11, 1942, the division came under the command of Colonel (Major General as of October 16, 1943) Alexander Moiseevskii, who had previously commanded the 303rd Rifle Division. Moiseevskii would remain in command of the 312th for the duration of the war. During the Second Rzhev-Sychevka Offensive Operation the division was in the 29th Army which was supporting 20th Army's left flank with limited attacks.[9] In March, 1943, the division was transferred again, now to 5th Army, still in Western Front.[10]

On September 25, still serving in 5th Army, the 312th was granted the honorific "Smolensk" for its role in the liberation of that city:

"SMOLENSK" - 312th Rifle Division (Colonel Moiseevskii, Aleksandr Gavrilovich)... The troops who participated in the battles of Smolensk and Roslavl, by the order of the Supreme High Command of September 25, 1943, and a commendation in Moscow, are given a salute of 20 artillery salvoes from 224 guns.[11]

The following month the division became part of the 7th Guards Rifle Corps in the 10th Guards Army, which transferred to the 2nd Baltic Front in December.[12]

AdvanceEdit

In March, 1944, the 312th went into the Reserve of the Supreme High Command, where it was assigned to the 69th Army. The following month that Army went to the front in the 1st Belorussian Front. The division served the entire last year of the war in Europe, from April, 1944 to May, 1945, in the 91st Rifle Corps under those Army and Front commands.[13] During the first phase of the Soviet summer offensive, the 69th was part of the western grouping of its Front, in the vicinity of Kovel, and played little role in the initial fighting.[14]

At the start of the Vistula-Oder Offensive, 69th Army was in the second echelon of its Front's grouping in the Pulawy bridgehead, which exploited the breakthrough along with mobile forces in the general direction of Radom, and then towards Lodz. Radom was captured on January 16. On January 26, 69th Army was given orders to continue the offensive and force the line of the Oder River near Frankfurt.[15]

On April 6, 1945, for exemplary performance of his command assignments at the front and for displaying courage and heroism, Maj. Gen. Moiseevskii was made a Hero of the Soviet Union.[16] At the end of the war, the official title of the division was 312th Rifle, Smolensk, Order of the Red Banner, Order of Suvorov, Order of Kutuzov Division. (Russian: 312-я стрелковая Смоленская Краснознамённая орденов Суворова и Кутузова дивизия.)

PostwarEdit

According to STAVKA Order No. 11095 of May 29, 1945, part 6, the 312th is listed as one of the rifle divisions to be "disbanded in place".[17] It was disbanded in Germany in accordance with the directive during the summer of 1945.[18]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Walter S. Dunn, Jr., Stalin's Keys to Victory, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2006, p. 77
  2. David M. Glantz, Colossus Reborn, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2005, p. 594
  3. Charles C. Sharp, "Red Tide", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From June to December 1941, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IX, Nafziger, 1996, p. 72
  4. Glantz, The Battle for Leningrad 1941 - 1944, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2002, pp. 557-58
  5. Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 72
  6. Sharp, "Red Swarm", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From 1942 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. X, Nafziger, 1996, p. 117
  7. Dunn, Jr., Stalin's Keys, p. 100
  8. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p. 117
  9. Glantz, Zhukov's Greatest Defeat, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 1999, pp. 261, 337, 359
  10. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p. 118
  11. "Освобождение городов". http://www.soldat.ru/spravka/freedom/1-ssr-5.html. Retrieved 2016-12-13. 
  12. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p. 118
  13. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p. 118. Note that Sharp mistakenly gives 60th Army instead 69th in the last sentence of his entry.
  14. Dunn, Jr., Soviet Blitzkrieg, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2008, pp. 207-11
  15. Soviet General Staff, Prelude to Berlin, ed. and trans. by Richard W. Harrison, Helion & Co., Ltd., Solihull, UK, 2016, pp. 51-52, 74, 576, 591
  16. http://www.warheroes.ru/hero/hero.asp?Hero_id=6534 Retrieved Dec. 14, 2016.
  17. Stavka Order No. 11095
  18. Feskov et al 2013, pp. 380–381
  • Feskov, V.I.; Golikov, V.I.; Kalashnikov, K.A.; Slugin, S.A. (2013) (in Russian). Вооруженные силы СССР после Второй Мировой войны: от Красной Армии к Советской. Tomsk: Scientific and Technical Literature Publishing. ISBN 9785895035306. 

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