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317th Rifle Division (July 25, 1941 – May 30, 1942)
317th Rifle Division (August 2, 1942 – 1946)
File:Soviet Junior Political Officer Sergei Vasilevich Vavilov.jpg
Junior Political Officer S.V. Vavilov, 606th Rifle Regiment (1st Formation), Hero of the Soviet Union
Active 1941–1946
Country  Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag.svg Red Army
Type Division
Role Infantry
Engagements Battle of Rostov (1941)
Second Battle of Kharkov
Battle of the Caucasus
Taman Peninsula
Siege of Budapesht
Manchurian Operation
Decorations Order of the red Banner OBVERSE.jpgOrder of the Red Banner (2nd formation)
Battle honours Budapesht (2nd formation)
Colonel B.V. Gushchin

The 317th Rifle Division was an infantry division of the Soviet Army. It was formed in July, 1941, in the Transcaucasus Military District, as a standard Red Army rifle division. It was designated as an "Azerbaidzhani National" ethnic division, based on Azeri reservists, and may have carried the honorific name "Baku" (Russian: Бакинская). This first formation distinguished itself during the first liberation of Rostov in November, but was trapped and effectively destroyed in the Izyum Salient in May, 1942. A second division began forming, also in the vicinity of Baku, in the summer of that year and served in the offensives that drove the Axis forces out of the Caucasus. Following this, the division was transferred to Ukraine, eventually making its way into the Balkans and winning an honorific for its role in the siege of Budapesht. In the final weeks of the war against Germany, the 317th was alerted for a major transfer to the Far East, where it was present for the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in August, 1945, although it seems to have seen little if any combat in that brief campaign.

1st Formation

The division started forming for the first time on July 25, 1941, in the Transcaucasus Military District.[1] at Baku. Its order of battle was as follows:

  • 571st Rifle Regiment
  • 606th Rifle Regiment
  • 761st Rifle Regiment
  • 773rd Artillery Regiment[2]
  • 361st Sapper Battalion
  • 311th Signal Battalion
  • 251st Reconnaissance Company
  • 157th Antiaircraft Battery

The division remained in the Caucasus, well away from the fighting, until October, when it was assigned to the 56th Army, then forming south of Rostov-na-Donu. In this army it took part in the counteroffensive that drove Army Group South out of that city. During this fighting, the junior political officer (politruk) of the regimental battery of the 606th Rifle Regiment, S.V. Vavilov, distinguished himself while directing the fire of the battery's 76mm guns, knocking out 22 German armored vehicles and earning a posthumous award as a Hero of the Soviet Union[3] In December it was transferred to 9th Army, in Southern Front, where it remained until February, 1942, fighting along the Mius River. In February, the 317th was reassigned to 57th Army, still in Southern Front. Unfortunately, that Army was among the Soviet forces encircled in the Izyum Salient when the Germans launched the Second Battle of Kharkov in May. The division was able to get some men out of the pocket in late May, but the division's command staff and organization disintegrated in the process, and on the 30th the unit was officially disbanded.[4]

2nd Formation

A new division began forming from July to August 2, 1942, at Makhachkala in the North Caucasus Military District. Its order of battle remained the same as that of the first formation.[5] With German panzers driving towards the Prokhladnyi and Mozdok regions, the STAVKA ordered the formation of a new 24th Army to defend the Makhachkala region. The 317th was assigned to this new Army, but on August 28 the order was countermanded, re-designating the new Army as the 58th.[6]

As German Army Group A continued its drive to capture the Caucasian oil fields, on September 29, Lt. Gen. I.I. Maslennikov, commander of the Transcausasus Front's Northern Group of Forces, received orders for defense of the region from the STAVKA, including the following:

"...5. For the immediate defense of the city of Groznyi, besides the NKVD Division, occupy the Groznyi defensive line with the 317th Rifle Division..."

By October 23 the division was in 44th Army. It appeared to Maslennikov that, although the Germans had taken Mozdok and some territory to its south, they were a spent force and he was proposing a counterattack with a group that would include the 317th. In the event this was forestalled two days later when the "spent" Germans launched a renewed drive to the southwest and then to the east; this attack was halted at the gates of Ordzhonikidze on November 5, at which time the division was serving in 9th Army.[7]

At the end of the year the 317th went back into 58th Army, now part of the North Caucasus Front. In April, 1943, it was moved to the 56th Army in the same Front, where it served throughout the fighting to liberate the Taman Peninsula until September, when the Germans evacuated to Crimea.[8] In August and September it was assigned to 22nd Rifle Corps, and it remained there when the corps was transferred to 18th Army in 1st Ukrainian Front.[9]

Into the Balkans

In August, 1944, the 317th went into the reserves of 4th Ukrainian Front, and in the following month was assigned to the 18th Guards Rifle Corps, back in the 18th Army, but this time under 4th Ukrainian Front command. In November the 18th Guards was reassigned to the reserves of 2nd Ukrainian Front,[10] and the division took part in the Siege of Budapesht. At the conclusion of the siege the division was one of many formations of 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts given the name of the city as an honorific:

"BUDAPESHT" - ...317th Rifle Division (Colonel Gushchin, Boris Vladimirovich)... The troops who participated in the battles for the conquest of Budapesht, by the order of the Supreme High Command of 13 February 1945, and a commendation in Moscow, are given a salute 24 artillery salvoes from 324 guns. By decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on June 9, 1945, the medal "For the Capture of Budapesht" was established.[11]

In March, 1945, the 18th Guards Corps was transferred once again, now to 46th Army. In the last weeks of the war in Europe, the 317th and its Corps were finally transferred to the 53rd Army in 2nd Ukrainian Front, which was alerted for transfer to the Far East, to prepare for the Manchurian Campaign.[12]

Manchurian Campaign and Postwar

By August 1 the 317th was a separate division in the reserves of the Transbaikal Front in Mongolia. It remained in reserve during the offensive, and did not see any significant combat action.[13] By the conclusion of hostilities, the division had been awarded the full title of 317th Rifle, Budapesht, Order of the Red Banner Division (Russian: 317-я стрелковая Будапештская Краснознамённая дивизия). The division was based in Achinsk with the 49th Rifle Corps, and was disbanded there in 1946.[14]


  1. Walter S. Dunn, Jr., Stalin's Keys to Victory, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2006, p 77
  2. Charles C. Sharp, "Red Tide", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From June to December 1941, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IX, Nafziger, 1996, p. 74
  4. Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 74
  5. Sharp, "Red Swarm", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From 1942 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. X, Nafziger, 1996, p. 119
  6. David M. Glantz, To the Gates of Stalingrad, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2009, p. 437
  7. Glantz, Armageddon in Stalingrad, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2009, pp. 559, 577, 580, 601-05
  8. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p. 119, states the division was awarded the honorific "Taman" at this time, but there is no such listing at
  9. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p. 119
  10. Sharp, "Red Swarm", p. 119
  11. "Освобождение городов". Retrieved 2016-12-28. 
  12. Sharp, "Red Swarm", pp. 119-20
  13. Sharp, "Red Swarm", pp. 120
  14. Feskov et al 2013, p. 557.
  • Feskov, V.I.; Golikov, V.I.; Kalashnikov, K.A.; Slugin, S.A. (2013) (in Russian). Вооруженные силы СССР после Второй Мировой войны: от Красной Армии к Советской. Tomsk: Scientific and Technical Literature Publishing. ISBN 9785895035306. 

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