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Western Rifle Division (Polish language: Zachodnia Dywizja Strzelców ) was one of the Bolsheviks military formations during the Russian Civil War.[1][2]

It was formed in summer 1918 from the initiative of Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL) and Polish Socialist Party-Left (PPS-Lewica). The division was created on the basis of a Polish communist regiment, the Red Regiment of Revolutionary Warsaw (Czerwony Pułk Rewolucyjnej Warszawy) and in the beginning it was mostly composed of Polish volunteers.[2]

First it fought on the Southern Front against the White Cossacks of Pyotr Krasnov; later against the forces of Anton Denikin and Pyotr Wrangel. During the Polish-Soviet War it was part of the Western Army, it fought against the Lithuanian and Belarusian Self-Defence units and later Polish Army of the newly created Second Polish Republic in the opening phase of the Polish-Soviet War. Spearheading the Russian westward offensive of 1918-1919 ('Target Vistula') it took Wilno in January 1919; it sustained heavy losses during the fights at Baranowicze against forces of general Stanisław Szeptycki (part of Operation Wilno, a Polish counteroffensive).[2]

After losses of 1918 and mid-1919, in June 1919 it was heavily reinforced with Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians and lost its Polish character; it was then (9 June) renamed to 52nd Rifle Division of the Red Army.[2]

Commanders of the division were commissairs Stanisław Bobiński and Stefan Żbikowski.[2]

Organization:

  • I Brygada Strzelców – Rewolucyjny Czerwony Pułk Warszawski, 3 Rewolucyjny Pułk Siedlecki, Warszawski Pułk Huzarów and I dywizjon artylerii lekkiej
  • II Brygada Strzelców – 2 Rewolucyjny Pułk Lubelski, 4 Rewolucyjny Pułk Warszawski, Mazowiecki Pułk Ułanów, II dywizjon artylerii lekkiej
  • III Brygada Strzelców - 5 Rewolucyjny Pułk Wileński, 6 Rewolucyjny Pułk Grodzieński, Warszawski Pułk Huzarów, III dywizjon artylerii.[3]

The division also comprised various support units. Dziewanowski notes it had 5 regiments.[1]

After the end of the Russian Civil War, the 52nd Rifle Division took part in the invasion of Poland in 1939 and the Winter War with Finland.[4] Renamed 10th Guards Rifle Division December 1941. Recreated Kolomna 1.42, fought in the Ukraine and Hungary. With 53rd Army of the 2nd Ukrainian Front in May 1945.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 M. K. Dziewanowski, The Foundation of the Communist Party of Poland, American Slavic and East European Review, Vol. 11, No. 2. (Apr., 1952), pp. 106-122. p.115 JSTOR
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 (Polish) Zachodnia Dywizja Strzelców. WIEM Encyklopedia. Last accessed on 9 April 2007
  3. Polskie formacje wojskowe podczas I wojny światowej. Last accessed on 9 April 2007.
  4. Poirer and Connor, Red Army Order of Battle

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