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.
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).
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.
- 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.
The division also comprised various support units. Dziewanowski notes it had 5 regiments.
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. 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.
- 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
- (Polish) Zachodnia Dywizja Strzelców. WIEM Encyklopedia. Last accessed on 9 April 2007
- Polskie formacje wojskowe podczas I wojny światowej. Last accessed on 9 April 2007.
- Poirer and Connor, Red Army Order of Battle
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