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22nd Guards Rifle Division (March 17, 1942 – November 16, 1942)
22nd Guards Rifle Division (April 19, 1943 - 1946)
File:Soviet Lieutenant General Karp Vasilevich Sviridov.jpg
Postwar photo of then-Lt. Gen. K. V. Sviridov
Active 1942–1946
Country  Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag.svg Red Army
Type Division
Role Infantry
Engagements Battles of Rzhev
Battle of Smolensk (1943)
Pskov-Ostrov Offensive
Baltic Offensive
Riga Offensive (1944)
Courland Pocket
Battle honours Riga
Maj. Gen. Karp Vasilevich Sviridov
Col. Nikolai Olimpievich Ruz
Col. Grigorii Ivanovich Panishev
Col. Vasilii Ivanovich Morozov

The 22nd Guards Rifle Division was unique in being the only Guards rifle division formed twice during the Great Patriotic War. It was first formed from the 363rd Rifle Division in March, 1942. Soon after forming it provided a command cadre for the second formation of the 53rd Army in Kalinin Front. Later, in the fall of that year, the division provided most of its personnel and equipment to form the new 2nd Guards Mechanized Corps, and was then disbanded. In April, 1943, a new 22nd Guards was formed from the second formation of the 150th Rifle Division in the Moscow Military District, and went on to serve for the duration in 10th Guards Army, winning a battle honor for its part in the liberation of Riga, before ending the war in Lithuania, helping to contain the German forces trapped in the Courland Pocket.

1st Formation

The 363rd Rifle Division became the 22nd Guards on March 17, 1942, the same day its "sister" division, the 361st, became the 21st Guards Rifle Division, both in Kalinin Front. Its basic order of battle was as follows:

  • 62nd Guards Rifle Regiment (from 1205th Rifle Regiment)
  • 65th Guards Rifle Regiment (from 1207th Rifle Regiment)
  • 67th Guards Rifle Regiment (from 1209th Rifle Regiment)
  • 48th Guards Artillery Regiment (from 926th Artillery Regiment)[1]

Col. Karp Vasilevich Sviridov remained in command from the 363rd, and would hold this position throughout the first formation, being promoted to major general on October 1. It was part of Kalinin Front during its entire first formation, beginning in 30th Army before being moved to 11th Army. In April the division supplied the officers and men to form a new headquarters for the re-formed 53rd Army. Beginning on October 15 the 22nd Guards, over the course of the next four weeks, had most of its men and equipment used to create the 2nd Guards Mechanized Corps, and when this was completed on November 16, the division was disbanded.[2]

2nd Formation

On April 19, 1943, a new 22nd Guards Rifle Division was formed, based on the second formation of the 150th Rifle Division, in accordance with a decree of the STAVKA dated April 16. At the time, the division was in the Reserve of the Supreme High Command in the Moscow Military District. Its basic order of battle was as follows:

  • 62nd Guards Rifle Regiment (from 469th Rifle Regiment)
  • 65th Guards Rifle Regiment (from 647th Rifle Regiment)
  • 67th Guards Rifle Regiment (from 756th Rifle Regiment)
  • 48th Guards Artillery Regiment (from 328th Artillery Regiment)[3]

The division inherited the "Siberian" (sometimes "Siberian Volunteer") honorific from the 150th, but not the "Stalin" title. It was under the command of Col. Nikolai Olimpievich Ruz from the day of its conversion. By June 1 the division was in 19th Guards Rifle Corps of the 10th Guards Army.[4] It would remain in this Army, mostly under command of this Corps, for the duration of the war.[5] On August 17 Guards Colonel Ruz was replaced in command by Col. Grigorii Ivanovich Panishev.

Battles for Orsha

By October 2, 10th Guards Army had reached a line from Liady southwards along the Mereia River to the town of Baevo. Early on October 3 the Army launched an assault as part of Western Front's offensive on Orsha; 22nd Guards was in the first echelon of 19th Guards Corps with 65th Guards Rifle Division, prepared to attack across the river between Kiseli and Kovshichi, facing the boundary of 18th and 25th Panzer Grenadier Divisions. Fierce fighting developed for the crossing site at Kiseli, which was not overcome until 30th Guards Rifle Division finally took Liady on October 8 and 15th Guards Rifle Corps was able to commit 85th Guards Rifle Division from reserve to unhinge the river line. At this point the 19th Guards Corps finally crossed the river and joined the pursuit, which led to the eastern approaches to Dubrovno, 15km east of Orsha, by the end of October 11. After a fast regrouping by 10th Guards Army the offensive was resumed the next day with the 22nd Guards leading its Corps on the left flank. Following an 85-minute artillery preparation the division stepped off, but almost immediately stalled due to the ineffectiveness of the artillery and armor. Ongoing assaults up to the 18th produced meager advances at considerable cost.[6]

This was followed by another regrouping, which was recorded in the 22nd Guards divisional history:

"After turning its defensive sector over to 29th Guards Rifle Division, the division marched from Zverovichi through Krasnyi to Varechki on the night of 20 October, and concentrated west of Iurevka. At that time, our forces began an offensive along the Orsha axis. Our division was deployed in the corps' second echelon during the initial days of the offensive, but on 5 November it replaced units of 65th Guards Rifle Division and fought to penetrate the enemy's heavily fortified defensive belt along the approaches to Orsha."[7]

This renewal of the offensive began early on October 21 after a two-hour-and-ten-minute artillery preparation which struck the first defensive line of the German 197th Infantry Division. The divisions of 31st Army in the first echelon punched through, advancing as much as 4km deep, and were reinforced on the right the next day by 65th Guards. However, the advance that day was considerably less, in part due to heavy German artillery fire and an inability to reply due to shell shortages on the Soviet side. While the remainder of 10th Guards Army cleared German defenders from the bogs south of the Verkhita River, this was also at considerable cost, and a halt was called once again at the end of October 26.[8] After replacing 65th Guards on November 5 (above), 22nd Guards continued intense fighting along the Orsha axis through most of the rest of the month.

"The Hitlerites launched 20 counterattacks against the division's units during just the three days from 14 through 16 November. The strongest counterattack struck 65th Regiment. Three ranks of up to 2,000 Hitlerites attacked the positions of the regiment, whose rifle companies at that time numbered 35 men each. At the critical moment, Guards Lieutenant Colonel M. A. Anikin, the regimental commander, made a singularly correct decision: to cover the enemy ranks with machine gun fire and then conduct a counterattack. Inspired by their commander and Guards Major Moskvin, his assistant for political affairs, the regiment rushed at the enemy, and the Germans, not able to withstand the hand-to-hand combat, ran back to their foxholes."[9]

Despite these heroics the depleted Soviet divisions did not break through the German defenses, and finally went over to the defense before month's end.

Baltic Campaign

File:Soviet Major General Vasilii Ivanovich Morozov.jpg

Col. V. I. Morozov after promotion to major general

On December 8, the STAVKA ordered that the 10th Guards Army be redeployed from Western Front to the 2nd Baltic Front, well to the north. It was intended to spearhead, along with the 3rd Guards Cavalry Corps, a new offensive northward from the Nevel salient towards Idritsa, beginning on January 10, 1944. In the event, 10th Guards required considerable replenishment of personnel, equipment and supplies and was not ready for that date. 19th and 7th Guards Rifle Corps shared a total of 10,500 personnel replacements during the move, which was finally completed on January 14.[10]

As of July 1, prior to start of the summer campaign, the 22nd Guards was still in 19th Guards Corps of 10th Guards Army in 2nd Baltic Front.[11] It was located just north of Novorzhev, facing the German Panther Line defenses. By one month later it had crossed the border into Latvia at Kārsava.[12] On August 5 Guards Colonel Panishev left command of the division; he was replaced four days later by Col. Vasilii Ivanovich Morozov, who would hold this position until the end of the war.

Over the next six weeks the division made steady but unremarkable progress through eastern Latvia, reaching the vicinity of Lubāna by mid-September. By the first week in October it was on the approaches to Riga, southwest of Ogre.[13] One week later the division received its only battle honor:

"RIGA"... 22nd Guards Rifle Division (Colonel Morozov, Vasilii Ivanovich)... The troops who participated in the liberation of Riga, by the order of the Supreme High Command of October 13, 1944, and a commendation in Moscow, are given a salute of 24 artillery salvoes from 324 guns.[14]

According to Glantz, by the time of this battle, the 22nd was one of four Guards rifle divisions on this sector of the front that "were made up of Latvians."[15] The division remained in Latvia and Lithuania for the duration. As of May 1, 1945, it was in the Kurland Group of Leningrad Front, helping to maintain the encirclement of the German forces in the Courland Pocket.[16] For a Guards division, it held the rather meager title of 22nd Guards Rifle, Siberian, Riga Division (Russian: 22-я гвардейская стрелковая Сибирско-Рижская дивизия). Guards Colonel Morozov was promoted to major general on July 11.

Postwar, it was withdrawn to Võru in Estonia by October 1, 1945 as part of the 19th Guards Rifle Corps. It was disbanded there between 1 August 1946 and 1947.[17]



  1. Charles C. Sharp, "Red Guards", Soviet Guards Rifle and Airborne Units 1941 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IV, Nafziger, 1995, p. 51. Note that Sharp mistakenly gives the regimental numbers of the 150th Division, not the 363rd Division.
  2. Sharp, "Red Guards", p. 51
  3. Sharp, "Red Guards", p. 51. Note that Sharp mis-numbers the 756th Rifle Regiment as the 674th.
  4. Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1943, p. 133
  5. Sharp, "Red Guards", p. 51
  6. David M. Glantz, Battle for Belorussia, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2016, pp. 67-68, 71, 73-75
  7. S. N. Portnov et al., Rizhskie gvardeiskie [Riga guards], quoted in Glantz, Belorussia, pp. 80-81
  8. Glantz, Belorussia, pp. 85-87
  9. Portnov et al., Rizhskie gvardeiskie, quoted in Glantz, Belorussia, p. 161
  10. Glantz, Belorussia, pp. 304, 691
  11. Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1944, p. 148
  12. Multi-Man Publishing, Inc., Baltic Gap, Millersville, MD, 2009, pp. 10, 22
  13. Baltic Gap, pp. 29, 36
  14. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  15. Glantz, Belorussia, p. 675
  16. Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1945, p. 148
  17. Feskov et al 2013, pp. 430–431.


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