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332nd Rifle Division (August 20, 1941 – 1946)
Major General T.F. Yegoshin, KIA August 1, 1944
Major General T.F. Yegoshin, KIA August 1, 1944
Active 1941–1946
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
Toropets-Kholm Offensive
Battle of Smolensk (1943)
Battle of Nevel (1943)
Baltic Offensive
Riga Offensive
Battle of Memel
Courland Pocket
Decorations Order of suvorov medal 2nd classOrder of Suvorov 2nd class
Battle honours Ivanovo
Polotsk
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Col. S.A. Knyazkov
Maj. Gen. T.F. Yegoshin
Col. S.S. Ivanov

The 332nd Rifle Division was formed in August, 1941, as a standard Red Army rifle division, based on a militia division that had started forming about two weeks earlier; as a result it was known throughout the war as a "volunteer" division and carried the name "Ivanovo" after its place of formation. It served in the Battle of Moscow and during the winter counteroffensive was assigned to 4th Shock Army, where it would remain, apart from one brief reassignment, until the beginning of 1945, a remarkably long time under a single army's command. During this offensive it helped carve out the Toropets Salient, where it would remain until late in 1943 when it made a limited breakthrough to the west, with its army, in the area of Nevel. Throughout this period it shared a similar combat path with the 334th Rifle Division. Near the start of the 1944 summer offensive the 332nd was given credit for its role in the liberation of Polotsk and got its name as an honorific. The unit continued to give very creditable service for the duration of the war, distinguishing itself in the fighting through the Baltic states, and completing its combat path there. It continued to serve briefly into the postwar period.

FormationEdit

The division began forming as the Ivanovo Militia Division on August 8, 1941, in the city of that name in the Moscow Military District. On August 20 it was re-designated as a regular army unit,[1] but it retained the honorific title "Ivanovo, in the name of M.V. Frunze". Its order of battle was as follows:

  • 1115th Rifle Regiment
  • 1117th Rifle Regiment
  • 1119th Rifle Regiment
  • 891st Artillery Regiment
  • 268th Antitank Battalion[2]
  • 608th Sapper Battalion
  • 779th Signal Battalion
  • 330th Antiaircraft Battery
  • 390th Reconnaissance Company

Since the militia division was supposed to include both a self-propelled artillery and a tank company, it's possible it inherited some non-standard weaponry. The division included some 2,700 Communist Party members and Komsomols, giving it a good cadre of determined, if not trained, personnel.[3] These men were also noted at the time as being 100% Russian nationals.[4] On August 28 Colonel S.A. Knyazkov was appointed to command the division, a position he would hold until April 8, 1942.

Combat serviceEdit

The 332nd was first assigned to 10th Army in the Western Front in December.[5] Later that month it was moved north by rail and assigned to the newly formed 4th Shock Army in Northwestern Front. When 4th Shock attacked in January, 1942, the division was noted as being at full strength for the tables of organization, but attacking in winter with marginal supplies, artillery and armor support soon changed that.[6] The German forces in this sector were in even more dire straits, and the 332nd helped 4th Shock, and its running mate, 3rd Shock Army, drive deep into the left flank of Army Group Center, liberating Toropets and advancing almost to Velikiye Luki before finally running out of steam. 4th Shock would remain in this general area, just north of Velizh, until November, 1943, in Kalinin Front. Had Operation Mars in November, 1942, fared better, the 332nd would likely have taken part in an operation code-named either Jupiter or Neptune to destroy all of Army Group Center east of Smolensk.[7]

On October 1, 1943, the division was in the 92nd Rifle Corps in 4th Shock Army. Following the liberation of Smolensk on September 25, the commander of Kalinin Front, Gen. A.I. Yeryomenko, planned a renewed drive toward Vitebsk, with a supporting operation toward Nevel, primarily by 3rd Shock with the support of 4th Shock. 3rd Shock gained success east of Nevel that was surprising to both sides on October 6. After a 90-minute artillery preparation with airstrikes, the German 2nd Luftwaffe Field Division, on the northernmost flank of Army Group Center, was routed; 263rd Infantry Division of Army Group North was also badly damaged and 3rd Shock Army poured into the gap. By October 10, Nevel had been liberated. Meanwhile, 4th Shock made significantly less progress towards Vitebsk. 92nd Rifle Corps, with the 332nd and 358th Rifle Divisions, a rifle brigade, a tank battalion, and at least four penal companies, directed towards Velizh, made very little progress in this direction before the offensive was shut down.[8] Later in October the Kalinin Front was renamed as the Baltic Front, and 10 days later as the 1st Baltic Front.

Late that month the division was transferred, with its corps, to 43rd Army, as Yeryomenko prepared for another offensive on the axis Gorodok - Vitebsk. The task of 92nd Corps was to protect the army's right flank to the boundary of 4th Shock Army, as the rest of the army attacked to the west. The offensive began on November 8, and although it made a few tactical penetrations of the German lines and gained ground to within 10 km east of Vitebsk by November 17, it stalled there. Not long afterwards, the 332nd was transferred back to 4th Shock, now in 91st Rifle Corps,[9] where it remained briefly until transferred to 60th Rifle Corps in February, 1944, then to 83rd Rifle Corps before the summer offensive.

At the start of the Baltic Campaign in early July, 1944, the 332nd was holding a sector of the Drissa River, facing the German Panther Line defenses about 25 km northeast of Polotsk.[10] On July 4, the division was recognized for its role in liberating the city of Polotsk, and was given that name as an honorific:

"POLOTSK" - ...332nd Rifle Division (Colonel Yegoshin, Tikhon Fyodorovich)... The troops who participated in the liberation of Polotsk, by the order of the Supreme High Command of 4 July 1944 and a commendation in Moscow are given a salute of 20 artillery salvoes from 224 guns.[11]

By the end of the month the 332nd had reached the vicinity of Daugavpils, which was liberated on the 27th.[12]

On August 1, the division's commander, Maj. Gen. Tikhon Fyodorovich Yegoshin, died of wounds received from enemy shellfire. On that date the division was conducting an assault crossing of the Western Dvina River when German forces launched a counterattack against the 1119th Rifle Regiment, which cost the regiment seven men killed and 27 wounded. Yegoshin was mortally wounded at 1330 hrs. while directing the defense from the midst of his deployed regiment.[13]

By mid-September the formations of 4th Shock had advanced as far west as Birzhai, in northern Lithuania, as the Riga Offensive was beginning. Three weeks later a further advance had brought it to the Zhagare area, and while the Courland Pocket was being formed,[14] the 332nd, with its army, was taking part in the Battle of Memel and cutting off Army Group North for good.

Operations in 1945Edit

In January, 1945, the 332nd finally left 4th Shock, and was reassigned to 6th Guards Army, still in 1st Baltic Front. In 1945 the Soviet commands in the southern Baltic States were in constant flux, as both the assault on Königsberg and the reduction or containment of the Courland Pocket were attempted simultaneously. In March the division was moved to 42nd Army, facing the Courland group. In the last month of the war the division was in 23rd Guards Rifle Corps, in 67th Army of Leningrad Front on the Gulf of Riga.[15]

PostwarEdit

By the conclusion of hostilities, the division had been awarded the full title of 332nd Rifle, Volunteer, Ivanovo-Polotsk, Order of Suvorov, Division, in the name of M.V. Frunze (Russian: 332-я стрелковая Добровольческая Иваново-Полоцкая ордена Суворова дивизия имени М. В. Фрунзе). The division transferred to the 22nd Guards Rifle Corps, which became part of the 6th Guards Army of the Baltic Military District in the summer of 1945. The division was based at Telšiai. The division was disbanded there in 1946.[16]

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. 79
  3. Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 79
  4. David M. Glantz, Colossus Reborn, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2005, p. 594
  5. Dunn, Jr., Stalin's Keys, p. 78
  6. Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 79
  7. Glantz, After Stalingrad, Helion & Co., Ltd., Solihull, UK, 2009, pp. 41-42, 473
  8. Glantz, Battle for Belorussia, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2016, pp. 26, 36-50
  9. Glantz, Belorussia, pp. 135-42, 335
  10. Baltic Gap, Multi-Man Publishing, Inc., Millersville, MD, 2009, p. 9
  11. "Освобождение городов". http://www.soldat.ru/spravka/freedom/1-ssr-5.html. Retrieved 2017-01-18. 
  12. Baltic Gap, p. 22
  13. Aleksander A. Maslov, Fallen Soviet Generals, ed. and trans. D.M. Glantz, Frank Cass Publishers, London, 1998, pp. 154-55
  14. Baltic Gap, pp. 29, 35
  15. Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 80
  16. Feskov et al 2013, p. 440–441.
  • 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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