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A rifle corps (Russian: стрелковый корпус, strelkovyy korpus) was a Soviet corps-level military formation during the mid-twentieth century. Rifle corps were made up of a varying number of rifle divisions, although the allocation of three rifle divisions to a rifle corps was common during the latter part of World War II.

Unlike army corps formed by Germany and the Western Allies, Soviet rifle corps were composed primarily of combat troops and had only a small logistical component. Because the rifle divisions themselves were also primarily made up of combat troops, the rifle corps were numerically smaller than corps of other nations. The Soviets also formed Guards rifle corps during World War II, although these were often assigned control of regular rifle divisions and sometimes controlled no Guards rifle divisions. The Red Army as a whole had 27 rifle corps headquarters in its order of battle on 1 June 1938; this had been expanded to 62 by June 1941.[1] When Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the Red Army initially had some 32 rifle corps headquarters as part of their order of battle in action against the Germans. Because Joseph Stalin's prewar purge of the Red Army had removed so many experienced leaders, the rifle corps echelon of command in Soviet forces engaged against the Germans dwindled in the face of massive Red Army losses of 1941. The stark shortage of experienced leaders forced the Red Army to have rifle army headquarters directly supervising rifle divisions without the assistance of intervening rifle corps headquarters.[2] The use of rifle corps headquarters never disappeared entirely from the Red Army during World War II, as rifle armies in areas not fighting the Germans (such as the Far Eastern military region) maintained their use of rifle corps headquarters during the entire war.

An example of wartime rifle corps organization is that of the 8th Estonian Rifle Corps in 1942:[3]

  • 8th Rifle Corps
    • 7th Rifle Division
    • 249th Rifle Division
    • 85th Corps Artillery Regiment
    • 36th Sapper Battalion
    • 86th Medical Battalion
    • 482nd Reconnaissance Company
    • 162nd Machine Gun Battalion

Of the 8th Rifle Corps' 1942 strength of 26,466 men, only 2,599 (less than 10 per cent) made up the corps headquarters and corps assets, the remainder being assigned to the two rifle divisions.

By November 1941, the Soviet order of battle showed only one rifle corps headquarters still active among the forces fighting the German invasion. By early 1942, however, the Soviets began to reactivate rifle corps headquarters for use as an intermediate command echelon between the rifle armies and rifle divisions. Doubtlessly, the direct command of divisions by army headquarters resulted in too-large spans of control for army commanders and the Red Army desired to reintroduce the rifle corps headquarters once enough experienced commanders and staff officers were available. By the end of 1942, 21 rifle corps headquarters were in action with Soviet forces engaging the Germans. This grew to over 100 by the end of 1943, and reached a peak of 174 either in action against the Germans or as part of the strategic reserve of the Stavka by the end of the war with Germany in May 1945.

A limited number of Rifle Corps remained as part of the Ground Forces post 1945. They were slowly converted to 'Army Corps' though they still mostly consisted of Rifle and then Motor Rifle Divisions.

List of Soviet Rifle Corps 22 June 1941[edit | edit source]

List of Soviet Rifle Corps formed during World War II[edit | edit source]

Almost all Soviet Rifle Corps were disbanded in the first several months of the war and reformed as the Soviet High Command gained experience in commanding large numbers of forces.

Guards Rifle Corps[edit | edit source]

1st - 40th Guards Rifle Corps formed after June 22, 1941:

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Glantz, Colossus, p. 107
  2. Stavka Circular 01 of July 15, 1941 directed several changes to Red Army force structure, the elimination of rifle corps headquarters and subordination of rifle divisions directly to rifle army headquarters among them. Glantz and House, p. 65.
  3. historycommission.ee
  4. V.I. Feskov et al 2004, 45
  5. Minsk Minsk fortified region - general information
  6. Battle of Minsk
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Leo Niehorster, Transcaucasus Military District, Red Army, 22.06.41
  8. Bonn, 324.
  9. 3rd Army, Western Special Military District, Red Army, 22.06.41
  10. 6th Army, Kiev Special Military District, Red Army, 22.06.41
  11. Feskov et al 2004, 49.
  12. Odessa Military District, Red Army, 22.06.41
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, pg. 265
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, pg. 261
  15. 15.0 15.1 Feskov et al 2004, 46.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, pg. 262
  17. niehorster.orbat.com
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, pg. 264
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 [1]
  20. Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, pg 263.
  21. 27th Army, Baltic Special Military District, Red Army, 22.06.41
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Nigel Thomas, Germany's Eastern Front Allies (2): Baltic Forces, Osprey, 5.
  23. 'Tartu in the 1941 Summer War,' Baltic Defence College.
  24. 24.0 24.1 [2]
  25. Leo Niehorster, Orel Military District, Red Army, 22.06.41
  26. Восточно-Карпатская наступательная операция
  27. [3]
  28. [4]
  29. Moscow Military District, Red Army, 22.06.41
  30. Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, pg 261
  31. p.23, Perechen No.4 Headquarters of Corps, Soviet General Staff, Moscow, 1956
  32. Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, pg. 263
  33. Glatz, Stumbling Colossus, pg. 261
  34. 34.0 34.1 Leo Niehorster
  35. 35.0 35.1 Leo Niehorster
  36. niehorster.orbat.com
  37. 37.0 37.1 Leo Niehorster, 21st Army, 22 June 1941 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Niehorster21" defined multiple times with different content
  38. Niehorster, http://www.orbat.com/site/ww2/drleo/012_ussr/45-08-08/corps_087-rifle.htm
  39. 39.0 39.1 tashv.nm.ru, Combat composition of the Soviet Army, 1 May 1945, accessed October 2011
  40. 40.0 40.1 Keith E. Bonn, Slaughterhouse: the Handbook of the Eastern Front, Aberjona Press, Bedford, PA, 2005, 345.
  41. http://www.uvao.ru/uvao/ru/pages/print/o_105604
  42. Keith E. Bonn, Slaughterhouse: the Handbook of the Eastern Front, Aberjona Press, Bedford, PA, 2005, 345-6.
  43. Michael Holm, 49th Guards Rocket Division, and Feskov et al 2004, 46, 133.
  44. Журнал Санкт-Петербургский университет ISSN 1681-1941 / № 1-2 (3657-3658), 19 January 2004 года
  45. Andrew Duncan, article in Jane's Intelligence Review, 1998
  46. Clark 2012, p. 230, 399–402.

Sources[edit | edit source]

  • БОЕВОЙ СОСТАВ СОВЕТСКОЙ АРМИИ 1941 - 1945 (Official Soviet Army Order of Battle from General Staff Archives).
  • V.I. Feskov, et al. The Soviet Army in the Years of the Cold War: 1945-91, Tomsk: Tomsk University Publishing House, 2004.
  • David M. Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998. ISBN 0-7006-0879-6.
  • David M. Glantz and Jonathan House, When Titans Clashed, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995. ISBN 0-7006-0899-0.
  • Robert G. Poirier and Albert Z. Conner, The Red Army Order of Battle in the Great Patriotic War, Novato: Presidio Press, 1985. ISBN 0-89141-237-9.

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