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54th Guards Rifle Division (Dec. 16 1942 - May 1955)
Active 1942 - 1955
Country Flag of the Soviet Union (1924–1955).svg Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag Red Army
Type Division
Role Infantry
Engagements Operation Ring
Operation Gallop
Donbass Strategic Offensive (August 1943)
Lower Dnieper Offensive
Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive
Prague Offensive

The 54th Guards Rifle Division was created on Dec. 16, 1942 from the second formation of the 119th Rifle Division, in recognition of that division's leading role in Operation Uranus, the breakthrough that led to the encirclement of the German/Rumanian forces at Stalingrad, and the subsequent elimination of the 3rd Rumanian Army. The 54th Guards continued a record of distinguished service through the rest of the Great Patriotic War.

FormationEdit

The 54th Guards was one of the first of many Guards rifle divisions created from the divisions that fought in the Battle of Stalingrad. When formed, its order of battle was as follows:

  • 160th Guards Rifle Regiment from 365th Rifle Regiment
  • 162nd Guards Rifle Regiment from 421st Rifle Regiment
  • 163rd Guards Rifle Regiment from 634th Rifle Regiment
  • 125th Guards Artillery Regiment from 349th Artillery Regiment
  • Guards Sapper Battalion from 224th Sapper Battalion.[1]

At the time of its formation the division it was serving in 5th Tank Army of Don Front. Later in the Stalingrad campaign it was transferred to various armies in Southwestern Front. In February, 1943 it was in 18th Rifle Corps of 3rd Guards Army[2] and in the spring was reassigned to the 3rd Guards Rifle Corps, where it remained for the duration.[3]

The 54th Guards, along this its corps, was soon reassigned to South Front (renamed 4th Ukrainian Front on Oct. 20, 1943) and served there for the next 12 months, mostly as part of 5th Shock Army. It campaigned through the Donbas, south Ukraine, and finally across the Dnepr River in October, 1943. During this time the division was credited with the liberation of the town of Makeevka, in eastern Ukraine, and was given its name as an honorific. After the advance ground to a halt along the Dniester River in the spring of 1944, the division was withdrawn into STAVKA reserves, and after rebuilding was re-assigned to 28th Army in 1st Ukrainian Front. During this rebuilding, the division became one of the first rifle divisions to have its towed anti-tank gun battalion replaced with a battalion of SU-76 self-propelled guns.[4]

With its Army, the 54th Guards drove into central Poland in the summer, and in early 1945 moved into Latvia to help mop up the German forces there. Following this, the 28th Army was shifted back across Poland, to join 1st Ukrainian Front's offensive into Czechoslovakia in early May. The division ended the war near Prague. By this time the division had the following honorifics: – Russian: Макеевская ордена Ленина Краснознамённая орденов Суворова и Кутузова дивизия (English: Makeevka, Order of Lenin, Order of the Red Banner, Order of Suvorov, Order of Kutuzov).[5]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Charles C. Sharp, "Red Guards", Soviet Guards Rifle and Airborne Units 1941 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IV, 1995, p 66
  2. David M. Glantz, After Stalingrad, Helion and Company, Ltd., Solihull, UK, 2009, p 162
  3. Sharp, "Red Guards", p 66
  4. Sharp, "Red Guards", p 66
  5. Sharp, "Red Guards", p 66



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