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395th Rifle Division (October 6, 1941 – 1945)
Active 1941 - 1945
Country  Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag.svg Red Army
Type Division
Role Infantry
Engagements Battle of Rostov (1941)
Mius-Front
Battle of the Caucasus
Novorossiysk-Taman Operation
Battle of the Dniepr
Battle of Kiev (1943)
Dnieper–Carpathian Offensive
Zhitomir–Berdichev Offensive
Kamenets-Podolsky Pocket
Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive
Vistula-Oder Offensive
Lower Silesian Offensive
Battle of the Oder–Neisse
Berlin Strategic Offensive
Prague Offensive
Decorations Order of the Red Banner Order of the Red Banner
Order of Suvorov 2nd Class Order of Suvorov
Battle honours Taman
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Maj. Gen. Anatolii Yosifovich Petrakovskii
Maj. Gen. Sabir Umar-Ogly Rakhimov Hero of the Soviet Union medal.png
Maj. Gen. Adam Petrovich Turchinskii Hero of the Soviet Union medal.png
Maj. Gen. Aleksandr Vasilevich Vorozhishchev
Maj. Gen. Pavel Fedoseevich Ilinykh
Col. Fyodor Aleksandrovich Afanasev

The 395th Rifle Division was converted from a militia division to a regular infantry division of the Red Army in October 1941, and served during the Great Patriotic War in that role. As a militia unit it was under command of the Kharkov Military District and designated as the Voroshilovgrad Militia Division, although it was unofficially known as the 395th before it was converted. It took part in the fighting near Rostov-on-Don during the winter of 1941-42 in the 18th Army, and retreated with that Army into the northern Caucasus mountains in the face of the German summer offensive, fighting under the command of the 18th and 12th Armies, then in the 56th Army in October. As the Axis forces retreated from the Caucasus in early 1943 it was sent to the 46th and later to the 37th Army of North Caucasus Front. During the battles that cleared the German forces from the Taman peninsula from August to October the 395th was back in 56th Army and was awarded a battle honor for its part in the campaign. By the end of 1943 it had returned to 18th Army, now under 1st Ukrainian Front near Kiev. In January, 1944 the division was decorated with both the Order of the Red Banner and the Order of Suvorov. With its Front it advanced through western Ukraine, Poland and eastern Germany, finally taking part in the Lower Silesian, Berlin, and Prague offensives in early 1945 as part of 13th Army.

Voroshilovgrad Militia Division[]

This unit formed in July, 1941 in the Voroshilovgrad oblast from volunteer workers' battalions. The city and its surrounding areas mobilized 148,000 men into the militia in July - August, forming three divisions, 30 regiments and 59 separate battalions. Most of this manpower went into the Red Army as individual replacements but by the end of August one division was transferred to Kharkov Military District control, where it was unofficially redesignated as the 395th Rifle Division as early as September 1.[1]

Formation[]

The 395th was officially converted from the Voroshilovgrad Division on October 6 in the Kharkov District.[2] Its order of battle, based on the first wartime shtat (table of organization and equipment) for rifle divisions, was as follows:

  • 714th Rifle Regiment
  • 723rd Rifle Regiment
  • 726th Rifle Regiment
  • 968th Artillery Regiment
  • 692nd Antiaircraft Battalion[3]
  • 29th Antitank Battalion (from January 15, 1942)
  • 576th Mortar Battalion (until November 5, 1942)
  • 467th Reconnaissance Company
  • 686thth Sapper Battalion
  • 856th Signal Battalion (later 1441st Signal Company)
  • 490th Medical/Sanitation Battalion
  • 483rd Chemical Protection (Anti-gas) Company
  • 306th Motor Transport Company
  • 259th Field Bakery
  • 829th Divisional Veterinary Hospital
  • 1416th Field Postal Station
  • 763rd Field Office of the State Bank

The division's first official commander, Col. Anatolii Yosifovich Petrakovskii, was not appointed until April 1, 1942. By October 11, 1941, the second formation of the 18th Army had been destroyed in the Battle of the Sea of Azov. The 395th became part of its third formation, moving into Southern Front by October 18.[4]

Battle of Rostov[]

In the subsequent Battle of Rostov both the Soviet and German forces moved simultaneously on November 17. The right-flank divisions of 18th Army covered against a German drive on Voroshilovgrad while those on the left flank, including the 395th, failed to gain any success; the remainder of the battle would primarily involve the 9th, 37th and 56th Armies on the Soviet side.[5] Following the German retreat to the Mius River the division moved up to that line with its Army and remained there through the winter and spring.

Battle of the Caucasus[]

When the German summer offensive began in late June, the division was still in 18th Army of Southern Front. The attack on the southern sector began on July 7, and the 395th was in the northern half of its Front's sector, in the first echelon along the east bank of the Mius, alongside the 383rd and 353rd Rifle Divisions, with only one division and the 64th Tank Brigade in reserve. The weight of the attack by German Army Group A soon forced Southern Front into a precarious retreat. On July 21 Colonel Petrakovskii was promoted to the rank of major general. The next day the LVII Panzer Corps encircled Rostov's outer defenses. By this time 18th Army had withdrawn most of its forces out of the city and across the Don River, leaving just two regiments of the 395th in Rostov despite orders from the Front to defend it beside the 56th Army. The panzer troops were poorly equipped to secure the heavily fortified city, which did not fall until July 27, by which time most of the personnel of the two regiments had managed to escape southwards.[6]

While the battle for Rostov raged, Army Group A began advancing into the Caucasus region on July 25. At this time 18th Army was defending a 50km sector from the Kagalnik at the mouth of the Don eastward to Kiziterinka, 20km southeast of Rostov. By August 1 the division and its Army had come under the command of the North Caucasus Front.[7] Later that month it was briefly reassigned to 12th Army, but when that Army was disbanded it returned to the control of 18th Army, which was now part of the Black Sea Group of Forces under Transcaucasus Front.[8] On September 4 General Petrakovskii handed his command over to Col. Sabir Umar-Ogly Rakhimov, who had previously been the deputy commander of the 353rd Division.

The German 17th Army launched its Operation Attika on September 23 with the objective of reaching Tuapse on the Black Sea coast and encircling most of 18th Army in the process. At this time the 395th was on the far left (north) flank of its Army in the area of Fanagoriiskoe, protected by defenses that had been built in depth over the preceding weeks. The LVII Panzer Corps assaulted the division's forward defenses with its 198th Infantry Division, supported by tanks of the Slovak Motorized Division, on September 23 and 24, but made only limited gains. The attack was expanded on the 25th, committing more of the Slovak Division and also hitting the positions of the 30th Rifle Division, but the result was similar. Despite these defensive successes, on October 2 the STAVKA ordered two regiments of the 408th Rifle Division into the sector as reinforcements.[9]

After regrouping and rest, the German 17th Army resumed its offensive on October 14. The 125th Infantry Division had been shifted to the 198th's sector and advanced southwest from the region east of Fanagoriiskoe. According to German sources this assault "completely wiped out" the 714th and 726th Regiments. On the 17th the 198th Infantry penetrated southward about 8km; on the same day the new commander of the Black Sea Group, Maj. Gen. I. E. Petrov, visited the retreating troops of 18th Army and after learning of defective communications and tactics relieved Maj. Gen. F. V. Kamkov of his command. The German advance resumed on October 19 and the 395th lost Mount Kochkanova to the 198th Infantry. By this time the division, along with the 32nd Guards Rife Division, was in danger of being encircled and was ordered to withdraw the next day. As of November 1 it had been reassigned to the 56th Army.[10]

Into Ukraine[]

During December the 395th was largely rebuilt with assets of the 11th NKVD Rifle Division,[11] which was removed from Red Army control in the same month.[12] As the Axis forces retreated from the Caucasus in January, 1943 the division was sent to the 46th Army and then in March to the 37th Army, now in North Caucasus Front. On March 19 Colonel Rakhimov was promoted to the rank of major general and on April 9 he handed his command to Maj. Gen. Adam Petrovich Turchinskii. During the final battles against the German forces in the Taman peninsula from August to October the division was under command of the 22nd Rifle Corps of the 56th Army and in September was awarded the battle honor "Taman" for its efforts.[13] On October 18 General Turchinskii was moved to command of the 2nd Guards Rifle Division, and was replaced by Col. Aleksandr Vasilevich Vorozhishchev.

By the start of November the 395th, still in 22nd Corps, had returned to 18th Army, which was moved north to the Kiev area to join the 1st Ukrainian Front.[14] The division would remain under this Front for the duration of the war. Beginning on December 5 the German XXXXVIII Panzer Corps launched a counteroffensive against the Front's forces advancing west of Kiev, retaking Zhitomir and threatening to encircle the 60th Army. The 18th and 1st Tank Armies moved to the area as fast as conditions allowed and forced the panzers over to the defensive on December 21 before going over to the attack themselves three days later.[15] The division distinguished itself in this fighting; on January 1, 1944 it was awarded the Order of the Red Banner and on January 6 it was further awarded the Order of Suvorov, 2nd Degree.[16]

In preparation for the Proskurov-Chernovtsy Operation in early March, 1st Ukrainian Front carried out a significant regrouping during which the 395th was reassigned to the 107th Rifle Corps of 1st Guards Army. In April it was moved again, now to the 18th Guards Rifle Corps of 38th Army. On June 3 Colonel Vorozhishchev was promoted to major general. In August the division was withdrawn to the Front reserves in 74th Rifle Corps.[17] General Vorozhishchev handed his command to Col. Ivan Afanasevich Fomin on September 2. On September 5 the 395th was assigned, with 74th Corps, to 13th Army, and it spent the rest of the war in that Army.[18]

Into Germany[]

Colonel Fomin was replaced in command by Maj. Gen. Pavel Fedoseevich Ilinykh on October 2, who was in turn replaced by Col. Fyodor Aleksandrovich Afanasev on the first day of the new year. At this time the 395th was a separate division in 13th Army.[19] By the beginning of February the division had been subordinated to the 24th Rifle Corps,[20] where it would remain for the duration. By the end of the advance though Poland 13th Army had reached the Oder River along the entire front from Keben to Malcz, forced the river with the assistance of 4th Tank Army and captured a bridgehead west of Keben and Steinau up to 16km deep and 30km wide, as well as a smaller one on the left flank. As of January 28 the 24th Corps was in the Army's second echelon on the east bank of the Oder northeast of Wolau.[21]

1st Ukrainian Front carried out a substantial regrouping from January 29 to February 7 during which the total frontage held by 13th Army was reduced from 86km to just 18km. 24th Corps, consisting of the 395th, 350th and 147th Rifle Divisions, was in the first echelon with the 102nd Rifle Corps. All six divisions of the two corps were in first echelon with two rifle regiments up and one in reserve, and their sectors averaged 3km in width. The offensive began at 0930 hours on February 8, following a 50-minute artillery preparation. 102nd Corps quickly crushed the first German position and advanced up to 8km by day's end. 24th Corps, on the other hand, faced two heavily fortified villages on its right flank and a large woods stretching well to the west. The attacks on the villages were stymied, even with the backing of the 61st Tank Brigade. However the Corps' left flank division took advantage of the success of 52nd Army's attack to its left, advanced 4km and reached Oberau. Jointly these advances put the two Armies in good position to outflank and possibly encircle the Hermann Göring Panzer Division, which was defending the large woods.[22]

On February 9 the 24th Corps advanced up to 15km, reaching Kotzenau with part of its forces while the remainder deployed facing north, blocking passage to the south by the now-surrounded German panzer troops. The next day the main body of 13th Army advanced in the wake of 4th Tank Army, with the objective of forcing the Bober River. On the 11th the Front's shock group faced stiffening German resistance while 24th Corps spent the entire day fighting with rearguards which were covering the main forces' retreat to the Bober. By the end of the day the main shock group had advanced up to 60km and had expanded the width of the breakthrough to 160km, reaching the Bober along a number of sectors. The Corps spent most of February 12 and 13 battling for the town of Sprottau before reaching the Bober in the Sagan area, encountering powerful resistance from German infantry and armor in the eastern part of the town while also forcing a crossing of the river to its north.[23] For their roles in this fighting, on April 5 the 726th Rifle Regiment would be awarded the Order of Aleksandr Nevski, and the 714th and 732rd Regiments would each receive the Order of the Red Star.[24]

Infantry and up to 20 tanks of the Großdeutschland Panzer Corps attacked the bridgehead north of Sagan on February 14. This was countered with the assistance of the 63rd Tank Brigade of 10th Tank Corps and the German force went over to the defensive. Over the next two days the 24th Corps fought to secure Sagan, finally forcing a crossing of the Bober in the center of the town on the 16th, and then cleared its western sector. This success threatened to outflank Großdeutschland and allowed 27th Rifle Corps to expand the main bridgehead. By February 19 the final attempts of the German forces to hold along the Bober crumbled, and what remained of them began retreating to the Neisse River. By February 24 the 13th Army had closed up to the line of that river, and soon went over to the defensive.[25]

Berlin Strategic Offensive[]

As of April 1 the 395th and 350th Divisions made up 24th Corps,[26] but before the Berlin Operation began the 350th was detached to direct Front command and the 121st Guards Rifle Division took its place. On April 13, in a final change in command, Col. Aleksei Nikolaievich Korusevich took over the division from Colonel Afanasev. At this time the strength of 13th Army's rifle divisions varied from 4,700 to 5,700 men each. The Army was deployed on the east bank of the Neisse on a 10km front from Klein Bademeusel to just outside Gross Saerchen, with the 27th and 102nd Corps in first echelon and the 24th in second. The offensive on 1st Ukrainian Front's sector began at dawn on April 16 with attacks across the Neisse and from a bridgehead that had been forced across the river south of Forst in February and made immediate progress. By about April 20 the 121st Guards was shifted to 27th Corps and the 395th was pulled back to the Army's second echelon. On the 23rd it concentrated in Luckau, with its new Corps-mate, the 117th Guards Rifle Division in the Finsterwalde area.[27]

By the morning of April 26 the division had occupied the line Golssen to Baruth with its front facing east, as the encircled German 9th Army attempted to break out to the west; the 117th Guards had organized a circular defense at Luckenwalde while the 280th Rifle Division, which had now joined 24th Corps, remained in reserve. Overnight on April 25/26 the encircled forces formed a powerful group in the area of Halbe, including more than 50 tanks, and attacked west at 0800 hours at the boundary of the 3rd Guards and 28th Armies. The force broke through and reached the northern outskirts of Baruth but the 395th beat off all attempts to take the town. The German group took up positions in the woods north of Baruth and put up fierce resistance on April 27, including hand-to-hand fighting and persistent breakout attempts but over the course of the day the joint actions of the division and a corps of the 28th Army were able to eliminate all but a few remnants. In total, 6,200 prisoners, 47 tanks, 25 armored personnel carriers, 180 guns and mortars and 1,133 motor vehicles were captured. The division remained on the same line the next day as the 9th Army pocket shrank to 10km north to south and 14km east to west.[28]

On April 30, facing further attempts of the 9th Army to escape to the west, the command of 13th Army pulled the division from the line it had held and redeployed it along the front from Munchendorf to Neuhof, with the objective of attacking into Sperenberg to cut off German forces which had broken through to this area. The 117th Guards received similar orders. Despite heavy losses the German force attacked furiously along the line from Sperenberg to Kummersdorf in an effort to reach their 12th Army attacking from the west. Units of the 117th Guards and the 71st Mechanized Brigade were dislodged and the force advanced another 10km to the Woltersdorf area before being halted by the remainder of the 117th, while the 395th's attack towards Spremberg was halted by stubborn resistance. Overnight the leading elements of the encircled group reached to within 3 - 4km of 12th Army, but during May 1 most of the remnants were rounded up. On the same day the 1st Ukrainian Front received orders to prepare for a new advance on Prague, and the division ended the war advancing on that city.[29]

Postwar[]

The officers and personnel of the division ended the war with the full title 395th Rifle, Taman, Order of the Red Banner, Order of Suvorov Division. [Russian: 395-я стрелковая Таманьская Краснознамённая ордена Суворова дивизия.] According to STAVKA Order No. 11096 of May 29, 1945, part 3, 13th Army was to be moved to the area of Bautzen by June 10.[30] With its corps and army, the division was relocated to Volodymyr-Volynskyi in the Carpathian Military District, where it was disbanded with the rest of the 24th Rifle Corps in 1946.[31]

References[]

Citations[]

  1. Charles C. Sharp, "Red Volunteers", Soviet Militia Units, Rifle and Ski Brigades 1941 - 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. XI, Nafziger, 1996, pp. 119-20
  2. Walter S. Dunn, Jr., Stalin's Keys to Victory, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2006, p. 78
  3. Sharp, "Red Tide", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From June to December 1941, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IX, Nafziger, 1996, p. 109. Perechen No. 5 lists the 451st Antiaircraft Battery preceding the 692nd Battalion.
  4. Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 109
  5. John Erickson, The Road to Stalingrad, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, UK, 1983, pp. 264-66
  6. David M. Glantz, To the Gates of Stalingrad, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2009, pp. 112, 177, 202-03, 539
  7. Glantz, To the Gates of Stalingrad, pp. 401, 414
  8. Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1942, pp. 173, 196
  9. Glantz, Armageddon in Stalingrad, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2009, pp. 561, 564-65, 568
  10. Glantz, Armageddon in Stalingrad, pp. 569-72, 606
  11. Glantz, Operation Don's Main Attack, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2018, p. 26
  12. Sharp, "Red Death", Soviet Mountain, Naval, NKVD, and Allied Divisions and Brigades 1941 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. VII, Nafziger, 1995, p. 79
  13. Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 109
  14. Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1943, pp. 283, 306
  15. Earl F. Ziemke, Stalingrad to Berlin, Center of Military History United States Army, Washington, DC, 1968, pp. 189, 218-19
  16. Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union 1967a, pp. 245, 248.
  17. Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1944, pp. 103, 134, 259
  18. Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 109
  19. Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1945, p. 19. This source lists the 355th Rifle Division, but at this time the 355th was in the 2nd Red Banner Army of the Far Eastern Front.
  20. Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1945, p. 53
  21. Soviet General Staff, Prelude to Berlin, ed. and trans. R. W. Harrison, Helion & Co., Ltd., Solihull, UK, 2016, pp. 343-44
  22. Soviet General Staff, Prelude to Berlin, pp. 382-83, 402-04
  23. Soviet General Staff, Prelude to Berlin, pp. 406, 410-13, 416
  24. Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union 1967b, pp. 103-04.
  25. Soviet General Staff, Prelude to Berlin, pp. 417, 438-39
  26. Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1945, p. 123
  27. Soviet General Staff, The Berlin Operation 1945, ed. & trans. R. W. Harrison, Helion & Co., Ltd., Solihull, UK, 2016, Kindle ed., ch. 11, 16
  28. Soviet General Staff, The Berlin Operation 1945, Kindle ed., ch. 19
  29. Soviet General Staff, The Berlin Operation 1945, Kindle ed., ch. 19
  30. Stavka Order No. 11096
  31. Feskov et al 2013, p. 471.

Bibliography[]

External links[]



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