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422nd Rifle Division (25 December 1941 - 14 January 1942)
422nd Rifle Division (4 March 1942 – 1 March 1943)
Active 1941–1943
Country  Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag.svg Red Army
Type Division
Role Infantry
Engagements Battle of Stalingrad
Operation Uranus
Operation Ring
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Mjr. Gen. Ivan Konstantinovich Morozov

The 422nd Rifle Division was formed for the first time as a standard Red Army rifle division late in 1941, after the Soviet winter counteroffensive had begun, but was soon re-designated. A second formation began in March, 1942, again in the far east of Siberia, until July, after which it was moved west to join the reserves of Stalingrad Front in August. It was the highest-numbered rifle division to see active service in the front lines during the Great Patriotic War. Over the course of the next six months, the division distinguished itself in both defensive and offensive fighting and earned its re-designation as the 81st Guards Rifle Division on the first day of March, 1943. The 422nd was never reformed.

1st Formation[edit | edit source]

The early history of the 422nd Rifle Division is a convoluted tale. A new rifle division began forming on Dec. 1, 1941, in the Far Eastern Front. It was originally designated as the 397th Rifle Division, but was only partly formed[1] when it was re-designated as the 422nd on Dec. 25. Most 400-series rifle divisions ended up being re-designated prior to reaching the front,[2] and in this case the division was re-re-designated while still forming up on Jan. 14, 1942, now as the 2nd formation of the 397th Rifle Division.[3]

2nd Formation[edit | edit source]

The second 422nd Rifle Division began forming on Mar. 4, 1942, at Bikin in the Far Eastern Front, primarily from reservists in the Maritime and Ussuri regions of the Far East, near Vladivostok. It was assigned to 35th Army as it continued to form up until July. The division's primary order of battle was as follows:

  • 1326th Rifle Regiment
  • 1334th Rifle Regiment
  • 1392nd Rifle Regiment
  • 1061st Artillery Regiment[4]

The new division began moving west by rail in July, assigned to the reserves of Stalingrad Front by Aug. 1.[5] By Aug. 15 it arrived on the Don River at Tundutovo, assigned to 57th Army south of Stalingrad.[6] As a fresh division it was badly needed in the face of the offensive drive from the south by XXXXVIII Panzer Corps of 4th Panzer Army. On Aug. 21, that army tried to renew its offensive by driving a wedge between the 57th and the adjoining 64th Army. 15th Guards Rifle Division, holding the 57th Army flank, was reinforced by the 422nd, and between them fought the 24th Panzer Division to a standstill short of Tundutovo Station; the Red Army General Staff report claimed 60 enemy tanks destroyed by units of the 57th that day. On Aug. 23-24, 4th Panzer Army again regrouped, lunging northwards early on the 25th along the boundary of the 422nd and the 244th Rifle Divisions and advancing 8 kilometres to the Chervlennaia River. Once there, however, concentrated artillery and mortar fire of the two divisions, joined by 15th Guards, separated the German tanks from their infantry, while heavy antitank fire and counterattacks by 6th Tank Brigade destroyed or damaged many panzers. The remainder had no choice but to fall back to their jumping-off positions by the end of Aug. 26.[7]

After 62nd Army was cut off in Stalingrad in early September, the 422nd remained in the so-called Beketovka bridgehead on the west bank of the Volga, south of the city. In the middle of the month the division was transferred from 57th to 64th Army to take part in a second offensive towards Kotluban; on Sept. 19 it was reported (less the 1334th Rifle Regiment) as "fighting along the southern outskirts of Kuporosnoe and the southeastern edge of Quadrilateral Grove."[8] A further effort was made overnight on Oct. 1-2 with five rifle divisions and a naval rifle brigade against the German 371st Infantry Division; the results were described by Col. Morozov of the division as follows:

"Day and night, the divisions of 64th Army fought their way to the north to link up with 62nd Army, but the distance between the armies scarcely diminished."[9]

While gaining little ground, these attacks distracted German Sixth Army from the battle in Stalingrad itself.

Meanwhile, the detached 1334th Rifle Regiment was in 57th Army as part of a composite detachment with 115th Rifle Regiment and 155th Tank Brigade, supported by 1188th Antitank Artillery Regiment plus 18th and 76th Guards Mortar Regiments. Under instructions from Gen. A.M. Vasilevsky this detachment assaulted the positions of the Romanian 1st Infantry Division south of Lake Sarpa overnight on Sept. 28-29. The attack achieved almost immediate success, penetrating the Romanian defenses, advancing roughly 5 kilometres, and liberating the villages of Tsatsa and Semkin by 1400 hours on Oct. 1. As a result of this attack, as well as a similar one by 51st Army, the Romanian VI Army Corps was badly damaged and forced back to even less defensible positions. The German 14th Panzer Division was ordered to intervene, and while it stabilized the situation, it was unable to retake the lost ground and was deflected from its planned missions to either advance towards Astrakhan or to reinforce the battle in Stalingrad. The German high command was also given dire warning of the weakness of its Romanian allies holding the flanks of Sixth Army.[10]

The full 422nd made second effort to break through to Stalingrad on Oct. 25 at 0900 hours, and over the course of the day the division gained a foothold in the southern half of Kuporosnoe, but despite a renewal of the fighting on the 27th, the attack stalled there.[11]

Operation Uranus and Operation Ring[edit | edit source]

In preparation for the strategic counteroffensive called Operation Uranus, the 422nd was transferred back to 57th Army in early November and moved southwards, once again to the vicinity of Tundutovo, and reinforced. For the offensive it was supported by 235th Tank Brigade and 176th Separate Tank Regiment, and made up about half of 57th Army's shock group, with the 169th Rifle Division and more armor making up the other half. After a 75-minute artillery preparation the division stepped off at 1115 hours on Nov. 20 and easily penetrated the defenses of the under-strength Romanian 2nd Infantry Division, which suffered "tank fright" and was virtually routed in the first hour. By mid-afternoon the shock group had advanced 6 to 8 kilometres and had captured 54-km Station on the rail line from Abganerovo. Continuing to advance to the village of Koshary, the supporting 176th Tank Regiment stumbled into a Romanian mine field and had 24 of its 28 tanks knocked out. In the evening the division came under attack by the German 29th Motorized Division, which drove it back from the town of Nariman. 13th Tank Corps soon entered this seesaw battle through the night and next day, until the German division was ordered northward towards Stalingrad, after which the 422nd and its supporting tanks continued to exploit their penetration westwards. Within days the shock group ran up against the 29th Motorized once again, now defending the strongpoints of Tsybenko and Kravtsov, and the advance became a siege.[12]

By February, 1943, the 422nd was in 64th Army of Don Front,[13] participating in Operation Ring, the destruction of the encircled Axis forces at Stalingrad. In recognition of their prowess both on the defense and on the attack, on Mar. 1 the men and women of the division were raised to Guards status as the 81st Guards Rifle Division.[14] On the same date, divisional commander Colonel Morozov was promoted to the rank of Major General.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 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 110
  2. Walter S. Dunn, Stalin's Keys to Victory, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2006, pp 99-100
  3. Sharp, "Red Tide", p 115
  4. Sharp, "Red Swarm", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From 1942 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, vol. X, Nafziger, 1996, p 134
  5. David M. Glantz, To the Gates of Stalingrad, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2009, p 276
  6. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p 134
  7. Glantz, Gates of Stalingrad, pp 365-69
  8. Glantz, Armageddon in Stalingrad, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2009, pp 104, 169, 189
  9. Glantz, Armageddon, p 346. Glantz mistakenly gives Morozov's rank as Major General in this text.
  10. Glantz, Armageddon, p 342-46.
  11. Glantz, Armageddon, pp 536-38
  12. Glantz, Endgame at Stalingrad, Book One, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2014, pp 253-58, 363, 406, 453-55
  13. Combat composition of the Soviet Army (БОЕВОЙ СОСТАВ СОВЕТСКОЙ АРМИИ), ЧАСТЬ III, (Январь – декабрь 1943 г.), p 41
  14. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p 134

External links[edit | edit source]



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