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119th Rifle Division (1939 - Mar. 17, 1942)
119th Rifle Division (Apr. 21, 1942 - Dec. 16, 1942)
119th Rifle Division (March 1943 - 1946)
Active 1939 – 1946
Country  Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag.svg Red Army
Type Division
Role Infantry
Engagements Battle of Moscow
Operation Blue
Battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Smolensk (1943)
Operation Bagration
Kurland Pocket
Mjr. Gen. A.D. Berezin

The 119th Rifle Division was originally raised in 1939 as a standard Red Army rifle division, and served for the duration of the Great Patriotic War in that role. The first two formations of the division distinguished themselves on the battlefield, and were raised to the status of Guards Rifle divisions: the 17th Guards following the Battle of Moscow, and the 54th Guards following the Battle of Stalingrad. The division was formed for a third time in early 1943 and served for the duration of the war, in the north-central sectors of the front.

1st Formation

The division was organized at Krasnoyarsk in the Siberian Military District in 1939,[1] as part of the pre-war expansion of the Red Army. It comprised:

  • 365th Rifle Regiment
  • 421st Rifle Regiment
  • 634th Rifle Regiment
  • 349th Light Artillery Regiment
  • 510th Howitzer Artillery Regiment (until Sept. 21, 1941)
  • 216th Anti-tank Battalion
  • 224th Sapper Battalion
  • 143rd Reconnaissance Company
  • 137th Medical-Sanitary Battalion[2][3]

Mjr. Gen. Aleksandr Dmitrievich Berezin commanded the division during its entire 1st Formation. The division remained in Siberia, forming and training, until after the onset of the German invasion, when it was rushed to the front, being assigned to 24th Army and then 31st Army in Reserve Front in August, 1941. Unlike the newer divisions being formed at that time, the 119th had the pre-war organization and as of Sept. 20 was actually overstrength, with 1,142 officers, 14,804 NCOs and men, 13 tankettes, 4 armored cars, 166 heavy machine guns, 408 light machine guns, 54 45mm antitank guns, 85 artillery pieces, 109 mortars and 4 antiaircraft guns.[4]

With the launch of the German Operation Typhoon, the division was involved in heavy fighting west of Rzhev in the first week of October. On Oct. 6 the 365th Rifle Regiment was transferred to the 18th Rifle Division, which had escaped from encirclement with significant casualties. In exchange the 119th received the 920th Rifle Regiment from the 247th Rifle Division, a unit made up from a cadre of NKVD troops. At about this time the division was transferred to 29th Army, and after the battle for Kalinin, back to 31st Army.[5] The men and women of the division fought well during the rest of the Battle of Moscow, and in the following counteroffensive. On Mar. 17, 1942, now in 22nd Army of Kalinin Front, the 119th Rifle Division was reformed as the 17th Guards Rifle Division.[6]

2nd Formation

A new 119th Rifle Division was formed on Apr. 21, 1942 in the Kalinin Oblast of the Moscow Military District, based on the 51st Rifle Brigade. The order of battle remained the same as that of the first formation (less the heavy artillery regiment, and with a standard artillery regiment in place of the light artillery regiment). The 51st was a well-experienced unit so the new division needed only about three months to form up and train. It remained in the Moscow defenses until July when it was moved south to join 3rd Tank Army in the STAVKA reserves. In August, still in reserve, it was reassigned to 5th Tank Army, fighting on Bryansk Front during the autumn.[7]

Along with its Army, the 119th was moved to Don Front, commanded by Gen. K. K. Rokossovski. On the opening day of Operation Uranus, the division helped to crack open the lines held by 3rd Rumanian Army north of Stalingrad, creating a gap for the armor of the 5th Tank Army to exploit. By late November the Rumanians were encircled, and the 119th kept up the pressure on the surrounded German and Rumanian armies until their final surrender at the end of January, 1943.[8] As a result, this division was one of the first of the Stalingrad divisions raised to Guards status, becoming the 54th Guards Rifle Division on Dec. 16, 1942.[9]

3rd Formation

The final 119th Rifle Division began forming at Aleksin in the Moscow Military District, based on the 161st Rifle Brigade, in March, 1943, completing on Apr. 19, when it was assigned to 3rd Reserve Army in STAVKA reserves. The order of battle remained the same as that of the second formation. It was assigned to 21st Army in Western Front before the Smolensk Offensive Operation in August, and two months later reassigned to 60th Rifle Corps in Kalinin Front reserves. Shortly thereafter this Front was renamed 1st Baltic, and the division and its corps became part of 4th Shock Army.[10]

In February, 1944, the 119th was moved to 83rd Rifle Corps, where it remained for the duration. Apart from a short reassignment to 1st Shock Army in March, the division was in 4th Shock Army until January, 1945, when it and its corps were shifted to 42nd Army in 2nd Baltic Front, then to 10th Guards Army on the coast of the Baltic in March, guarding the cut-off German forces in the Kurland Peninsula. In mid-April the 83rd Corps went into STAVKA reserves in the 22nd Army, ending the war out of the front lines.[11]

The third formation of the 119th Rifle Division was awarded the Order of Suvorov for its services.[12]


  1. Jack Radey and Charles Sharp, The Defense of Moscow 1941 - The Northern Flank, Pen & Sword Books Ltd., Barnsley, UK, 2012, p 17
  2. Charles C. Sharp, "Red Swarm", Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. X, Nafziger, 1996, p 44
  3. Russian Wikipedia
  4. Radey and Sharp, p 17
  5. Radey and Sharp, p 17
  6. Charles C. Sharp, "Red Guards", Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IV, Nafziger, 1995, p 49
  7. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p 44
  8. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p 44
  9. Sharp, "Red Guards", p 66
  10. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p 45
  11. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p 45
  12. Russian Wikipedia

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