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415th Rifle Division (September 8, 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 Battle of Moscow
Battles of Rzhev
Battle of Smolensk (1943)
Operation Bagration
Vistula-Oder Offensive
Battle of Berlin
Decorations

Order of the red Banner OBVERSEOrder of the Red Banner

Order of suvorov medal 2nd classOrder of Suvorov 2nd class
Battle honours Mozyr
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Col. P.I. Moshchalkov

The 415th Rifle Division was formed as a standard Red Army rifle division in the late summer of 1941 in the Far Eastern Front. It was considered to be a "sister" division to the 413th, and was one of the divisions of Siberians sent west to help defend Moscow during the winter of 1941-42. It spent much of the next year in the same general area, west of the capital, taking part in the mostly futile battles against the German-held salient at Rzhev. On January 14, 1944, the division shared credit with the 55th Rifle Division for the liberation of the city of Mozyr and was given its name as an honorific. The 415th had a distinguished career as a combat unit, ending its combat path near Berlin.

FormationEdit

The 415th Rifle Division began forming on Sept. 8, 1941, at Vladivostok, in 25th Army on the Pacific coast. It appears to have begun forming as the "Voroshilov" Rifle Division before being assigned a divisional number.[1] Its order of battle was as follows:

  • 1321st Rifle Regiment
  • 1323rd Rifle Regiment
  • 1326th Rifle Regiment
  • 686th Artillery Regiment[2]
  • 292nd Antitank Battalion
  • 687th Sapper Battalion
  • 611th Signal Battalion
  • 208th Reconnaissance Company

The division was considered to be ready for combat by the end of October, and shipped out to the west to join 49th Army in Western Front in mid-November. It was one of six divisions transferred from Far Eastern Front to the fighting front from September to November. Contrary to the German understanding at the time, there were no wholesale transfers from the far east to the Moscow front.[3]

Combat serviceEdit

In December, as the Soviet winter counteroffensive was developing, the 415th was transferred to 43rd Army, where it would remain until July, 1942. While the offensive served to eliminate the immediate threat to Moscow, the cost to the Red Army was high. By January, the character of the division as a Siberian unit had changed. Due to the influx of casualty replacements the division was noted in this month as being 70% Georgian.[4]

The 415th was transferred to 20th Army, still in Western Front, in July, along the eastern face of the Rzhev Salient, then to the adjoining 29th Army in November, but in the last gasps of Operation Mars in December, the division was ordered back to the 20th to help make one last desperate attempt to break the German positions and capture Sychyovka. On Dec. 11 the relatively-fresh 415th, backed by the re-formed 6th Tank Corps, made an attack en masse alongside several other divisions, but together they made scanty gains of 500 - 1,000 metres at significant cost, and failed to capture a single German-held fortified village. Three days later, the offensive was shut down for good.[5] In the period from Nov. 25 to Dec. 18 the division lost 692 men killed and 1,865 wounded, for a total of 2,557 casualties.[6]

As the Soviet forces prepared for the 1943 summer campaign the 415th was shifted south to the 61st Army in Bryansk Front, and in 46th Rifle Corps in July, although soon reassigned to 89th Rifle Corps in August. It was also at this time that the division came under the command of Col. P.I. Moshchalkov, after having been commanded by no less than ten commanders since its formation; Moshchalkov would remain in this position for the duration. Under 61st Army the 415th fought through the liberation of Oryol, advancing on Bryansk in the late summer. On Oct. 25 it was reassigned to 13th Army in 1st Ukrainian Front, in which it crossed the Dnepr River and took part in the battles that liberated Kiev in November. As a result of this fighting the division had to be replenished with what the Germans called "booty Ukrainians"; for example, on Dec. 17 the 415th received 550 new riflemen of all ages from Kiev and Zhitomir, with less than two months training in the 21st Reserve Regiment stationed at Chernobyl.[7]

In early January, 1944, the 415th returned to 61st Army, now in Belorussian Front. The division would serve in this army for the duration. During this month, advancing through the southern fringes of the Pripet Marshes, the men and women of the division distinguished themselves in the liberation of the Belorussian town of Mozyr, and received its name as an honorific:

"MOZYR" - 415th Rifle Division (Colonel Moshchalkov, Pavel Ivanovich)... The troops who participated in the liberation of Mozyr and Kalinkovichi, by the order of the Supreme High Command of January 14, 1944, and a commendation in Moscow, are given a salute of 20 artillery salvoes from 224 guns.[8]

After a brief return to 89th Rifle Corps, the 415th was reassigned to the 9th Guards Rifle Corps, where it would remain for most of the rest of the war, but during Operation Bagration it was an independent division in 1st Belorussian Front, before being moved, with its Army, to the Reserve of the Supreme High Command, then 3rd Baltic Front and then 1st Baltic Front until nearly the end of November.[9]

Into GermanyEdit

61st Army was reassigned to 1st Belorussian Front by order of the STAVKA on Nov. 29, 1944.[10] The army would remain in this front for the duration. At the outset of the Vistula-Oder offensive, the 61st was deployed along the Vistula south of Warsaw. Once the breakthrough of the German lines had been accomplished, elements of the 415th, mounted on trucks or riding on the armored vehicles of 88th Guards Heavy Tank Regiment (IS-2 tanks) and 312nd Guards SU Regiment (SU-100s), exploited into the enemy's rear as the army's forward detachment. This detachment was credited with the liberation of Sochaczew on Jan. 18, 1945.[11] In this fashion it drove through almost to the Oder River in West Pomerania by the end of the operation.

The 415th took part in the Pomeranian and Berlin operations on the north flank of its front, tying in with 2nd Belorussian Front and so not actually participating directly in the reduction of the German capital.[12] When the shooting stopped, the men and women of the division had earned the title of 415th Rifle, Mozyr, Order of the Red Banner, Order of Suvorov Division (Russian: 415-я стрелковая Мозырьская Краснознамённая ордена Суворова дивизия).

PostwarEdit

According to STAVKA Order No. 11095 of May 29, 1945, part 6, the 415th is listed as one of the rifle divisions to be "disbanded in place".[13] It was disbanded in Germany in accordance with the directive during summer 1945.[14]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Walter S. Dunn, Stalin's Keys to Victory, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2007, p 82
  2. Charles C. Sharp, "Red Tide", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed from June to December 1941, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Nafziger, 1996, p 114
  3. Dunn, Stalin's Keys to Victory, pp 82-83
  4. David M. Glantz, Colossus Reborn, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2005, p 594
  5. Glantz, Zhukov's Greatest Defeat, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 1999, pp 253, 256, 263-64
  6. Glantz, After Stalingrad, Helion & Co., Ltd., Solihull, UK, 2009, p 90
  7. Sharp, "Red Tide", p 115
  8. http://www.soldat.ru/spravka/freedom/1-ssr-4.html
  9. Sharp, "Red Tide", p 115
  10. Soviet General Staff, Prelude to Berlin, ed. and trans. by Richard W. Harrison, Helion & Co., Ltd., Solihull, UK, 2016, p 550
  11. Sharp, "Red Hammers", Soviet Self-Propelled Artillery and Lend Lease Armor 1941 - 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, vol. XII, Nafziger, 1998, p 27
  12. Sharp, "Red Tide", p 115
  13. Stavka Order No. 11095
  14. 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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