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The 39th Pacific Ocean Red Banner Rifle Division (Russian: 39-я Тихоокеанская Краснознаменная стрелковая дивизия) was an infantry division of the Soviet Union's Red Army, formed in 1922, which fought in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria against the Japanese in 1945, and became a motor rifle division in 1957. It later became a machine-gun artillery division, responsible for a fortified sector along the Soviet border with the People's Republic of China. It then became part of the Russian Ground Forces.


The division was originally formed on 20 July 1922, on the basis of the 104th Rifle Brigade, of the 35th Rifle Division, as the 1st Transbaikal Rifle Division,[1] but traces its history to the earlier Russian Civil War Red Guard units of the Far East as well.

The division fought the Chinese during the Sino-Soviet conflict (1929).[2] The future Marshal of the Soviet Union Konstantin Rokossovsky was a regimental commander in the division in the 1930s.[3]

In 1936, the division was renamed the Pacific Ocean Rifle Division (Тихоокеанская стрелковая дивизия), and was re-raised at Vladivostok, FEMD, during 1937 as part of the reorganisation of the Soviet forces in the Far East. The division fought in the Battle of Lake Khasan with the 39th Rifle Corps in August 1938. In 1939, it became the 39th 'Pacific Ocean' Rifle Division.

39th RD comprised the 50th, 199th, and 254th Rifle, 15th Artillery, and other smaller sub-units. The division was in the Far East in June 1941. The division was stationed at Tschekunda in the Far East with the 15th Army until April 1943, when it was transferred to the 1st Red Banner Army during August 1943. The division was with the 59th Rifle Corps, 1st Red Banner Army in the Transbaikal-Amur Military District in 1945. One of its post-war commanders was a Petrov (1957–60).

The division became the 129th Motor Rifle Division in 1957, and in 1965, it became the 129th Motor Rifle Training Division. By 1989, the division became the 135th Motor Rifle Division at Lesozavodsk. Consisting of the 122nd Tank Regiment, 199th, 469th (Filino), and 472nd MRRs, elements of the division were deployed to support the border guard troops during the 1969 border skirmishes with Chinese troops.[4]

On 9 March 1989, it became the 130th Machine-Gun Artillery Division. In 1998, amid severe army pay arrears, the division's servicemen apparently threatened to block the Trans-Siberian Railway with their tanks unless they were paid.[5]

Up until 2009, the division was part of the 5th Army, Far Eastern Military District, and consists of the 472nd Motor Rifle Regiment, a multiple rocket launcher regiment, three other regiments, plus an artillery regiment. In 2009 it was probably reorganised as separate motor rifle brigades, in line with all other Russian Ground Forces manoeuvre divisions.

Its honorifics are 'Pacific Ocean', Order of the Red Banner, Order of Suvorov, and Order of Kutuzov.[Clarification needed]


  2. 39-я стрелковая дивизия
  3. Poirer & Connor, p.278
  4. Daman spartans (Даманские спартанцы)
  5. 'Army ready for war. Civil war. There have been cases recorded of officers' families eating household pets', Segodnya, Moscow, 26 September 1998, via BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 1 October 1998, 'Former USSR; Russia; Discontent in Armed Forces; SU/D3346/S1


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