The 78th Rifle Division (Russian: 78-я стрелковая дивизия 78-ya strelkovaya diviziya) was an infantry division of the Red Army, formed in 1932, in Novosibirsk, in the Siberian Military District. After being used to provide cadres for new divisions, in September 1939 the division was reformed for the second time. In 1940 the division was transferred to Khabarovsk in the Far Eastern Front.
Due to distinguished service, the division was awarded Guards status and renamed as the 9th Guards Rifle Division on November 26, 1941. The 78th Division was formed again, for the third time, by renaming the 403rd Rifle Division at Samerkand, and once it had finished forming was sent west to the Moscow Military District. The division was subordinated then to the 30th Army, which fought against Army Group Center, within Operation Jupiter and Operation Mars. Due to Mars' failure, the division was once again transferred to the South Western Front and assisted 1st and 3rd Guards Armies in fighting against the Germans in Donbass region. In 1944, the unit took part in the offensives clearing Ukraine and the Balkan states, including the Battle of Debrecen and the Vienna Offensive. At the end of the war, the division was subordinated to the 3rd Ukrainian Front, within the 27th Army.
It was then withdrawn to the Carpathian Military District and reorganised into a mechanised division. According to Feskov et al.'s 'The Soviet Army in the Period of the Cold War,' circa 1957 that mechanised division was reorganised as the 17th Tank Division in 1957. In 1965 the division became the 78th Tank Division, as part of the 20-year anniversary renaming of formations back to their World War II identities. In 1991, on the fall of the Soviet Union, the 78th Tank Division was serving at Ayaguz, Kazakh SSR, in the Turkestan Military District. After 1991 it became part of the Kazakh Ground Forces.
According to Crofoot's Armies of the Bear, the 78th Rifle Division was once again formed, for the fourth time, in 1955 and was subordinated to the Volga-Ural Military District, being reorganized in 1957 into the 78th Motor Rifle Division (later motor rifle training division) which stayed at Chebarkul until it was disbanded after the fall of the Soviet Union.
The division was reduced to a base for storage of weapons and equipment, and later the 15th 'Mozyr' Guards Tank Division was withdrawn from the Central Group of Forces and relocated to Chebarkul. Later on (1990 or 1992), briefly, the 167th Motor Rifle Brigade was formed at Chebarkul also, but later disbanded, possibly after helping to collect troops to formed the 205th Motor Rifle Brigade in the North Caucasus.
Structure during 1941
- 40th Rifle Regiment (formerly the 232nd Rifle Regiment)
- 131st Rifle Regiment (formerly the 233rd Rifle Regiment)
- 258th Rifle Regiment (formerly the 234th Rifle Regiment)
- 71st Light Artillery Regiment (renamed the 159th Light Artillery Regiment on 5 November 1939)
- 210th Howitzer Artillery Regiment
- 139th Independent Anti-Tank Artillery Battalion
- 435th Independent Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion
- 60th Reconnaissance Battalion
- 89th Sapper Battalion
- 110th Independent Signals Battalion
- 104th Medical-Sanitation Battalion
- 70th Auto-Transport Battalion (reorganized into the 168th Auto-Transport Company)
- 25th Mobile Field Bakery
- 485th Field Postal Station
- 451st Field Cash Office of the State Bank
- 78th Rifle Division Order of Battle.
- Feskov et al., The Soviet Army during the Period of the Cold War, Tomsk University Press, Tomsk, 2004
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