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341st Rifle Division (September 1, 1941 – May 19, 1942)
341st Rifle Division (May 1, 1944 - 1955)
Active 1941–1955
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
Continuation War
Lapland War
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Col. A.I. Shchagin
Maj. Gen. I.V. Terentev

The 341st Rifle Division was first formed in September 1941, as a standard Red Army rifle division, at Stalingrad. It was a "sister" unit to the 335th Rifle Division, which was formed at about the same time and place and shared a very similar combat path in its first formation. It was assigned to the southern sector of the Soviet-German front during the winter counteroffensive, but was effectively destroyed during the German spring offensive that formed the Izium Pocket, and was soon disbanded. The division was formed again almost exactly two years later, this time in the Karelian Front, facing Finland, and saw only limited action in the Continuation War before being assigned to coastal defense duties during 1945. While the 341st had one of the shortest and least distinguished careers of any Soviet division in the Soviet-German War, it continued to serve well into the Cold War, eventually being re-designated and becoming a motorized rifle division.

1st FormationEdit

The division first formed on September 1, 1941 in the North Caucasus Military District[1] at Stalingrad. Its basic order of battle was as follows:

  • 1139th Rifle Regiment
  • 1141st Rifle Regiment
  • 1143rd Rifle Regiment
  • 901st Artillery Regiment[2]

Colonel A.I. Shchagin was assigned to command of the division on the day it began forming, and he continued in command throughout the existence of this formation. The division's personnel contained a significant number of non-Russian nationality. 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. In December the division and its Army moved to join 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 341st had been transferred to 9th Army in Southern Front, on the southern flank of the salient.[3] It was still holding this position on May 17, while Southwestern Front was attacking northwards from the salient towards Kharkov, when the 14th Panzer Division of 1st Panzer Army smashed through the division's flank, driving its remnants north and west into what became the Izium Pocket. While 9th Army continued to carry the 341st in its order of battle until June 1, in fact it had broken up within 48 hours of the German attack; while Col. Shchagin and many other personnel managed to escape, the division was effectively disbanded on May 19.[4]

2nd FormationEdit

About two years later, almost to the day, a new 341st Rifle Division began forming on May 1, 1944, in the Karelian Front, based on the 77th Naval Rifle Brigade in 19th Army.[5] The order of battle of this formation was mostly based on lower regimental numbers made available by the conversion of rifle divisions into Guards units in 1942-43, as follows:

  • 251st Rifle Regiment
  • 279th Rifle Regiment
  • 281st Rifle Regiment
  • 1017th Artillery Regiment
  • 48th Antitank Battalion
  • 299th Sapper Battalion
  • 789th Signal Battalion
  • 93rd Reconnaissance Company

Colonel I.V. Obidenkin commanded the reformed division until mid-October. This division served directly under 19th Army on the Finnish front through September, taking part in the limited fighting that pushed Finnish forces back from the Kandalaksha area towards Alakurtti. In November the 341st moved even farther north, to the 131st Rifle Corps in 14th Army, which by then was simply a garrison force in northern Finland. In January, 1945, the division left the active forces completely, assigned to the Belomorsky Military District on coastal defense duties.[6]

PostwarEdit

The 341st ended the war without any battle honors or unit decorations. In July 1945, when the 14th Army was disbanded, the division, still with the 131st Rifle Corps, was stationed at Alakurtti in the Belomorsky Military District.[7] It was under the command of Maj. Gen. Ivan Terentev from January, 1947 to February, 1951.[8]

The division was eventually transferred to the 6th Army of the Leningrad Military District, and in March 1955, it was redesignated the 54th Rifle Division. On 4 June 1957, it was converted into the 54th Motor Rifle Division.[9] In July 1970, the 54th's 279th Motor Rifle Regiment was used to form the new 91st Motor Rifle Division, and was replaced by the 221st Guards Motor Rifle Regiment. In 1976, the division participated in Exercise Sever, during which it was recognized as one of the best. Between January and February 1980, it sent troops to fight in the Soviet–Afghan War.[10]

In 1987, its 338th Guards Tank Regiment was downsized into the 82nd Separate Tank Battalion. On 19 November 1990, according to Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe data, the 54th had 40 T-80 main battle tanks, 39 PT-76 amphibious tanks, 125 BTR and MT-LB armored personnel carriers, 60 D-30 howitzers, and 12 BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher systems. During the Cold War, the division was maintained at 68% strength as a Ready Division - Reduced Strength I (US Category II) division.[11]

In 1997, the division was downsized into the 62nd Separate Motor Rifle Brigade, but a year later was converted into the 35th Weapons and Equipment Storage Base. The base continued as part of the Leningrad Military District until its 2007 disbandment.[11]

ReferencesEdit

CitationsEdit

  1. Dunn states the division was formed in the Central Asia Military District; Walter S. Dunn, Jr., Stalin's Keys to Victory, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2006, p. 81
  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. 84
  3. David M. Glantz, Kharkov 1942, Ian Allan Publishing, Hersham, Surrey, UK, 1998/2010, p. 142
  4. Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 84
  5. Sharp, "Red Swarm", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From 1942 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. X, Nafziger, 1996, p. 126.
  6. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p. 126
  7. Feskov et al 2013, p. 429.
  8. "Terentev, Ivan Vasilevich" (in en). http://www.generals.dk/general/Terentev/Ivan_Vasilevich/Soviet_Union.html. 
  9. Feskov et al 2013, p. 435.
  10. Boyko, Vladimir (April 2002). "6-й Краснознаменной армии - полвека" (in Russian). Karelia. http://www.gov.karelia.ru/Karelia/883/45.html. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Holm, Michael. "54th Red Banner Motorised Rifle Division". http://www.ww2.dk/new/army/msd/54msd.htm. 

BibliographyEdit

  • 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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