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25th Cavalry Division (July 9, 1941 – July 15, 1942)
File:Soviet Lieutenant General David Markovich Barinov.jpg
Then-Lt. Gen. D. M. Barinov, Hero of the Soviet Union, ca. 1957
Active 1941–1942
Country  Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag.svg Red Army
Type Division
Role Cavalry
Engagements Leningrad Strategic Defensive
Siege of Leningrad
Lyuban Offensive Operation
Maj. Gen. Nikolai Ivanovich Gusev
Lt. Col. David Markovich Barinov Hero of the Soviet Union medal.png

The 25th Cavalry Division was a mounted division of the Red Army that served for just over a year in the Great Patriotic War. It was formed in the summer of 1941 and served in the region south and west of Leningrad during the following months against the advance of Army Group North during Operation Barbarossa. It survived a German armored counterattack before being pulled back into the reserves in September. In January, 1942, it was assigned to the Mobile Group of 2nd Shock Army to take part in the Lyuban Offensive Operation. This offensive aimed to encircle and destroy the German forces besieging Leningrad; in the event, 2nd Shock was itself encircled and forced to break out as individuals and small groups from May into July. The 25th Cavalry was disbanded, and its survivors were used to help rebuild the badly depleted 19th Guards Rifle Division, while the 25th's commanding officer took over the latter division.


The 25th Cavalry Division began forming on July 9, 1941 at Pskov in the Leningrad Military District. It was given the number of a pre-war cavalry division that had been disbanded in the same District in 1940. When formed, its basic order of battle was as follows:

  • 98th Cavalry Regiment
  • 100th Cavalry Regiment
  • 104th Cavalry Regiment[1]

The division was commanded by Kombrig Nikolai Ivanovich Gusev. This officer would have his rank modernized as Major General on November 9 and would remain in command until January 20, 1942. Gusev would go on to command several Soviet armies during the remainder of the War, rising to the rank of Colonel General on May 5, 1945.

The 25th was almost immediately assigned to the 34th (Reserve) Army.[2] When Army Group North paused in its advance on Leningrad in early August, Northwestern Front was ordered by the STAVKA to mount a counterstroke to retake the city of Staraya Russa which would be led primarily by 34th Army. The orders included the following:

"6. Simultaneously with the 34th Army's assault from the Lovat River line, dispatch the 25th Cavalry Division along the Dedovichi and Dno axis to operate in separate squadrons against the enemy rear area."

This attack was planned for August 12, but was preempted by the renewal of the German drive on August 10, and so achieved mixed results. The 25th, operating in a mobile group with the 163rd and 202nd Motorized Divisions, advanced 40km westward through the German defenses and reached the Dno - Staraya Russa rail line by August 14. This enveloped the German X Army Corps in the latter city and threatened the rear of the panzer group advancing on Novgorod. 16th Army was forced to intervene with the LVI Panzer Corps, which by August 25 had driven 34th Army back to the Lovat line with 30 percent losses. However, this also delayed the German advance on Leningrad by ten days.[3]

Later Service and Disbandment

In September the division was moved to the reserves of Northwestern Front for rebuilding, where it would remain into December.[4] In that month it was briefly assigned to 52nd Army in Volkhov Front.[5] On January 20, 1942, General Gusev was assigned to take command of 2nd Shock Army's 13th Cavalry Corps,[6] to which the 25th was soon subordinated. Lt. Col. David Markovich Barinov, Gusev's chief of staff, took command of the division the next day, and he would remain in this post until it was disbanded.

Meanwhile, Volkhov Front began its Lyuban Offensive across the Volkhov River on January 6, before its full forces, most importantly its artillery, was fully in place. As a result the attackers were slow to make gains, at heavy cost. It was not until the night of January 23–24 that the Front commander, Gen. K. A. Meretskov, was able to convince himself that 2nd Shock Army had torn enough of a hole in the German defenses that he could commit the 13th Corps, plus a rifle division of 59th Army, into the gap. German counterattacks at once began trying to close it, and while on the one hand the mobile group was in a position to do harm in the German rear, its 30,000 troops also represented a target for destruction should the gap be closed.[7]

Over the following weeks more Soviet forces were fed into the pocket, but a counterattack by German 18th Army succeeded in closing the gap on March 20. A week later a new gap was opened near the village of Miasnoi Bor, but it was only 3-5 km wide. The Red Army forces in the salient continued to operate under these circumstances through April and into May. On May 12, Soviet intelligence indicated that 18th Army was about to attack again to cut the corridor. In light of this, orders came from the STAVKA to begin a phased withdrawal from the salient on May 14; when this proved impossible due to the depleted state of its forces, a full breakout and withdrawal was ordered on May 21.[8] During June and July individual men and small parties of the 25th Cavalry, by now entirely dismounted, made their way through the thinly-held German lines. The division was officially disbanded on July 15, and its survivors were combined with those of the 19th Guards Rifle Division to begin that division's rebuilding.[9] On July 27, Lt. Col. Barinov was promoted to colonel and took command of 19th Guards, whose commander had been officially listed as missing in action two days earlier.



  1. Charles C. Sharp, "Red Sabers", Soviet Cavalry Corps, Divisions, and Brigades 1941 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. V, 1995, p. 46
  2. Sharp, "Red Sabers", p. 46
  3. David M. Glantz, The Battle for Leningrad 1941 - 1944, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2002, pp. 54-57
  4. Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1941, pp. 50, 61, 72
  5. Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1942, p. 8
  6. Glantz, Leningrad, p. xviii
  7. Glantz, Leningrad, pp. 158-58, 165
  8. Glantz, Leningrad, pp. 176-79, 196-99
  9. Sharp, "Red Sabers", p. 46


  • Main Personnel Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union (1964) (in Russian). Командование корпусного и дивизионного звена советских вооруженных сил периода Великой Отечественной войны 1941 – 1945 гг.. Moscow: Frunze Military Academy.  pp. 306, 354

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