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329th Rifle Division (September 1, 1941 – August 22, 1942)
329th Rifle Division (May 4, 1944 - 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 Battle of Moscow
Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive
Vistula-Oder Offensive
Silesian Offensives
Battle of Berlin
Battle of Halbe
Prague Offensive
Decorations Order of the red Banner OBVERSEOrder of the Red Banner
Order of suvorov medal 2nd classOrder of Suvorov
Order Kutuzov 2 Order of Kutuzov
Battle honours Kielce
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Colonel K.M. Andrusenko
Colonel A.A. Shikita

The 329th Rifle Division was first formed in September 1941, as a standard Red Army rifle division, at Voronezh. This formation was assigned to the Western Front in mid-December as the Soviet winter counter-offensive west of Moscow was developing, but had the misfortune to be cut off and destroyed behind German lines. The division was formed again nearly two years later, this time in 1st Ukrainian Front, and served with distinction with this Front during the final twelve months of the war.

1st FormationEdit

The division first formed on September 1, 1941 in the Oryol Military District[1] at Voronezh, right alongside the 327th Rifle Division. Its basic order of battle was as follows:

  • 1110th Rifle Regiment
  • 1112th Rifle Regiment
  • 1114th Rifle Regiment
  • 895th Artillery Regiment[2]

In late October the division was assigned to 26th (Reserve) Army, which was forming up in the Reserve of the Supreme High Command. While that army was moving north, the 329th was reassigned to 5th Army in Western Front in mid-December; at about the same time the division came under the command of Colonel K.M. Andrusenko. In January, 1942, the division formed part of the assault group of 33rd Army, which was driving through the lines of Army Group Center towards Vyasma. This objective was not quite reached, and the army was cut off behind German lines by counterattacks in early February. By the beginning of May, Western Front was developing a plan to break through to these isolated pockets with major forces and to hold them as staging areas for further operations. On May 20, by Front order, the "Special Group of General Belov" was created and consisted of Lt. Gen. P.A. Belov's 1st Guards Cavalry Corps, the 329th Rifle Division, units of the 4th Airborne Corps, and several large partisan detachments. However, the plan was never implemented, due to renewed German offensive action and the poor organization of the airlift operations that were intended to support Group Belov.[3] Late winter snow and early spring mud had delayed the inevitable, but by the end of the month the Germans had reduced the remaining men of the 329th to small, barely organized groups. The division was carried under the Western Front reserves until June, but by then it was clear that not enough of these men would slip out of the forests and back to Soviet lines, and on August 22 the unit was officially disbanded.[4]

File:Soviet Colonel Kornei Mikhailovich Andrusenko.jpg
Colonel Andrusenko was one of those fortunate enough to escape, but his story nearly ended tragically as he was put on trial before the military tribunal of Western Front "for criminal inaction" during the encirclement battle. On April 6 he was deprived of his military rank and sentenced to death. He applied to the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR for a pardon, and on May 4 his sentence was reduced to 10 years in the Gulag without full loss of rank, although he was demoted to Major. The sentence was also deferred until after the end of the war, so he continued to serve at the front. While Andrusenko had a further run-in with the military authorities later that year, he went on to regain his rank, be awarded the Gold Star Hero of the Soviet Union for his leadership in crossing the Dniepr, and take command of the 55th Rifle Division.[5]

2nd FormationEdit

After an effective absence of more than two years from the Red Army order of battle, a new 329th Rifle Division was formed on May 4, 1944, in the 3rd Guards Army of 1st Ukrainian Front, near Lutzk in the Kiev Military District.[6] This division remained in the same army and Front for the duration. For most of 1944 it was in either 21st or 22nd Rifle Corps, but during the last weeks of the war it was in 120th Rifle Corps.[7]

During the Vistula-Oder Offensive, on January 15, 1945 the division was recognized for its role in the liberation of the Polish city of Kielce:

"KELETZ" [KIELCE]... 329th Rifle Division (Colonel Aleksandr Andreevich Shikita)... The troops who participated in the battles for the liberation of Kielce, by the order of the Supreme High Command, and a commendation in Moscow, are given a salute of 20 artillery salvoes from 224 guns.[8]

When the division completed its combat path in Czechoslovakia in May, it carried the full title of 329th Rifle, Keletz, Order of the Red Banner, Order of Suvorov, Order of Kutuzov Division. (Russian: 329-я стрелковая Келецкая Краснознамённая орденов Суворова и Кутузова дивизия.)

PostwarEdit

The division was disbanded "in place" with the Central Group of Forces in the summer of 1945.[9]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Walter S. Dunn, Jr., Stalin's Keys to Victory, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2006, p. 78
  2. 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. 78
  3. Svetlana Gerasimova, The Rzhev Slaughterhouse, Helion & Co., Ltd., Solihull, UK, 2013, p. 55
  4. Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 78
  5. http://www.warheroes.ru/hero/hero.asp?Hero_id=4530. Retrieved Jan. 6, 2017
  6. Sharp, "Red Swarm", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From 1942 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. X, Nafziger, 1996, p 125. Sharp states that the OoB of this formation was likely different from the 1st Formation, because many late-war divisions used lower regimental numbers made available by the conversion of rifle divisions into Guards units in 1942-43.
  7. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p 125
  8. http://www.soldat.ru/spravka/freedom/9-poland.html Retrieved Jan. 6, 2017
  9. Feskov et al 2013, p. 413.
  • Feskov, V.I.; Golikov, V.I.; Kalashnikov, K.A.; Slugin, S.A. (2013) (in Russian). Tomsk: Scientific and Technical Literature Publishing. ISBN 9785895035306. 

External linksEdit



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