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337th Rifle Division (August 22, 1941 – May 25, 1942)
337th Rifle Division (July, 1942 – May, 1946)
Maj. Gen. G.O. Lyaskin
Maj. Gen. G.O. Lyaskin
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 Second Battle of Kharkov
Battle of the Caucasus
Belgorod-Khar'kov Offensive Operation
Battle of the Dniepr
Battle of Kiev (1943)
Battle of the Korsun–Cherkassy Pocket
Jassy–Kishinev Offensive
Battle of Debrecen
Vienna Offensive
Decorations Order of the red Banner OBVERSEOrder of the Red Banner 2nd Formation
Order of suvorov medal 2nd classOrder of Suvorov 2nd Formation
OrderKhmelnitsky2ndClass Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky 2nd Formation
Battle honours Lubny
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Maj. Gen. I. V. Vasilev
Maj. Gen. G. O. Lyaskin

The 337th Rifle Division was first formed in August 1941, as a standard Red Army rifle division, at Astrakhan. Like the 335th Rifle Division, this formation was assigned to the southern sector of the Soviet-German front during the winter counteroffensive, but was encircled and destroyed during the German spring offensive that formed the Izium Pocket. The division was formed again from July until August 13, 1942, serving in the Caucasus and along the coast of the Black Sea before being moved to the central part of the front to take part in the Soviet counteroffensive following the Battle of Kursk. As the front advanced towards the Dniepr River the 337th was recognized for its role in the liberation of the Ukrainian city of Lubny and was granted its name as an honorific. As the division continued to advance through northern and western Ukraine and into Hungary, it earned further honors before ending its combat path in western Austria.

1st FormationEdit

The division first began forming on August 22, 1941 at Astrakhan in the North Caucasus Military District.[1] Its basic order of battle was as follows:

  • 1127th Rifle Regiment
  • 1129th Rifle Regiment
  • 1131st Rifle Regiment
  • 899th Artillery Regiment
  • 616th Sapper Battalion[2]

In October, while still barely formed, the division was assigned to 57th Army, which was also just in the process of forming-up in the Reserve of the Supreme High Command at Stalingrad. In January, 1942 the division went into combat with its Army in Southwestern Front, taking part in the winter counter-offensive which led to the creation of the Izium salient south of Kharkov. By the end of January, 1942, the 337th was reassigned to 6th Army, still in Southwestern Front, deep in the northwestern sector of the salient.[3]

Maj. Gen. I.V. Vasilev took command of the division on February 26. It was still holding this position in late May, when the 1st Panzer Army cut through the base of the salient to form the Izium Pocket. The 337th was deeply encircled, and on May 23 the 3rd Panzer Division drove into its positions, causing havoc. On May 25, while directing breakout efforts, General Vasilev was severely wounded in the chest, and died later that day near the village of Kamenka.[4] On the same date the division headquarters disintegrated and the division was officially disbanded.[5]

2nd FormationEdit

A new 337th Rifle Division was formed in the high summer of 1942, once again in the North Caucasus Military District. Its order of battle remained the same as that of the first formation, with the addition of the 889th Antitank Battalion.[6] With German panzers driving towards the Prokhladnyi and Mozdok regions, on August 23 the STAVKA ordered the formation of a new 24th Army to defend the Makhachkala region. The 337th was assigned to this new Army, but on August 28 the order was countermanded, re-designating the new Army as the 58th.[7]

As German Army Group A continued its drive to capture the Caucasian oil fields, on September 29, Lt. Gen. I.I. Maslennikov, commander of the Transcausasus Front's Northern Group of Forces, received orders for defense of the region from the STAVKA, including the following:

"...2. To secure this defense... concentrate: a) The 337th Rifle Division, 256th Rifle and 9th and 10th Guards Rifle Brigades, and 52nd Tank Brigade in the Kalaus, Voznesenskaia, and Balashov regions..."

By October 23 the division was in 44th Army. It appeared to Maslennikov that, although the Germans had taken Mozdok and some territory to its south, they were a spent force and he was proposing a counterattack with a group that would include the 337th. In the event this was forestalled two days later when the "spent" Germans launched a renewed drive to the southwest and then to the east; this attack was halted at the gates of Ordzhonikidze on November 5, at which time the division was serving in 9th Army.[8]

In January, 1943 the division was moved to the 47th Army in the Black Sea Group of Forces of the Transcaucasus Front, which became the North Caucasus Front the next month. Colonel G.O. Lyaskin was appointed to command of the division on March 8, 1943; on April 28 he was promoted to Major General. He would remain in command until February 12, 1944. Also in April the combat path of the 337th veered sharply northwards as it and its Army were transferred to the Steppe Military District in the Reserve of the Supreme High Command, backing up the Soviet forces deployed in the Kursk salient. Following the Battle of Kursk the division re-entered the fighting front in late July in the Voronezh Front to take part in the Belgorod-Khar'kov Offensive Operation.[9]

As the offensive expanded into eastern Ukraine, on September 18, the division was recognized for its role in the liberation of Lubny as follows:

"LUBNY" - 337 Rifle Division (Major General Lyaskin, Gregorii Osipovich)... by the order of the Supreme High Command the 337th Rifle Division is awarded the name Lubny.[10]

In the same month Voronezh Front assigned the division to the 47th Rifle Corps of 40th Army, and in November the division, still in 47th Corps, joined the 27th Army in 1st Ukrainian Front (former Voronezh Front). The 337th would remain in 27th Army for the duration, moving to 2nd Ukrainian Front in March, 1944. From that month, and for most of the rest of the war, the division was in the 33rd Rifle Corps.[11]

PostwarEdit

In the last weeks of the war 27th Army was reassigned to 3rd Ukrainian Front, and the division ended the war in western Austria having earned the full title of 337th Rifle, Lubny, Order of the Red Banner, Order of Suvorov, Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky Division (Russian: 337-я стрелковая Лубненская Краснознамённая орденов Суворова и Богдана Хмельницкого дивизия). The division was initially part of the Southern Group of Forces with the 27th Army, but was later transferred to Vinnytsia in the Carpathian Military District and disbanded by May 1946 as part of 33rd Rifle Corps.[12]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Walter S. Dunn, Jr., Stalin's Keys to Victory, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2006, p. 79
  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. 82
  3. Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 82
  4. Aleksander A. Maslov, Fallen Soviet Generals, trans. & ed. by D.M. Glantz, Frank Cass Publishers, London, 1998, p. 57
  5. Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 82
  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
  7. David M. Glantz, To the Gates of Stalingrad, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2009, p. 437
  8. Glantz, Armageddon in Stalingrad, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2009, pp. 559, 577, 580, 601-05
  9. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p. 125
  10. http://www.soldat.ru/spravka/freedom/1-ssr-3.html. Retrieved March 23, 2017
  11. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p. 125
  12. Feskov et al 2013, p. 463.
  • 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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