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3rd Shock Army
Active 1941–1991
Country USSR
Allegiance Soviet Union
Branch Regular Army
Type Shock Army
Size 4 Corps and 2 Independent Regiments
Part of Military District
Engagements Toropets–Kholm Offensive
Vistula–Oder Offensive
East Pomeranian Offensive
Battle of Berlin

The 3rd Shock Army (Russian: Третья ударная армия) was a field army of the Red Army formed during the Second World War. The 'Shock' armies were created with the specific structure to engage and destroy significant enemy forces, and were reinforced with more armoured and artillery assets than other combined arms armies. Where necessary the Shock armies were reinforced with mechanised, tank and cavalry formations and units. During the Second World War some Shock armies included armoured trains and air-sled equipped units.[1]

Campaign history

Campaign history

The Army was created from the 60th Army (1st formation), which had been formed in the Moscow Military District in November 1941.[2] Initially 60th Army comprised the 334th, 336th, 348th, 352nd, 358th, and 360th RDs and the 11th Cavalry Division, and was tasked to fortify the left bank of the Volga River from Unza to Kosmodemiansk. 60th Army was converted into 3rd Shock Army on 25 December 1941, under the command of General Lieutenant Maksim Purkayev. On 1 January 1942, the Army was composed of the 23rd, 33rd and 257th Rifle Divisions, 20th, 27th, 31st, 42nd, 45th and 54th Independent Rifle Brigades, and a number of artillery and other units. The Shock Army was also singled out by having its own aviation units attached in view of its intended use. These units included: 163rd Fighter Aviation Regiment (Yak-1), 728th Fighter Aviation Regiment (Polikarpov I-16), 128th short-range bombing regiment (Pe-2), 621st aviation regiment (R-5) and 663rd aviation regiment (Po-2). However by the beginning of April this was reduced to one light-bombing regiment (twelve Po-2) and three fighter regiments with twelve Polikarpov I-16s in total.

It was initially a part of the Moscow Defense Zone in the Reserve of the Supreme High Commander (RVGK). However, 3rd Shock was soon allocated to join North-Western Front from 27 December 1941 as part of the Moscow counteroffensive. Matters were not improved by the lack of supplies, aggravated by horrible communications; the assault troops did not get a full meal before the offensive due to food shortages.[3]

However after a few days the offensive – the Toropets-Kholm operation – began to roll forward, with 3rd Shock approaching Kholm, but it was getting dangerously separated from its neighbour, 4th Shock Army. By mid January, 3 Shock had surrounded Kholm and its forward units had cut the road between Kholm and Toropets. Kholm itself was surrounded on 22 January (but never taken and relieved on 5 May). With some success in view, Stalin widened the operation's goals, and with a Stavka directive of 19 January directed 3rd Shock, as part of the wider operation, to head for Velikie Luki, and thence to Vitebsk, Orsha, and Smolensk.[4] Two days later, 3rd Shock was shifted from North-Western Front to the Kalinin Front. However the forces available were becoming dangerously thin for the enormous tasks Stalin was setting them. But the Army got no further than Velikie Luki (though not taking the town) in the face of stiffening German resistance and shortages of food, fuel, and ammunition. Velikie Luki was finally taken by Kalinin Front on 17 January 1943.

The Army's next major effort was as part of the Nevel'-Gorodok offensive operation in October- November 1943. Nevel was taken at the start of the offensive on 6 October 1943. Kalinin Front had been renamed Baltic Front on 13 October 1943,[5] and under Yeremenko, used two armies on the left flank, 43rd and 49th, to distract the Germans’ attention from his main blow, from 3rd and 4th Shock Armies against Third Panzer Army focused on the Nevel area.[6] This would see the Soviets astride the routes leading to the rear of Army Group North and cut vital rail links.

Following the Starorussa-Novorzhev offensive operation (February 1944), the Army's next attack was as part of 2nd Baltic Front's July 1944 offensive – the Rezhitsa-Dvina offensive operation. Kicking off on 10 July, 3 Shock Army had reached the Velikaya River by 12 July, captured the bridges despite the demolition charges laid on them, and gone on to outflank Idritsa. Idritsa was liberated that same day. Five days later the Army liberated Sebezh after a deep outflanking movement. Rezhitsa (now Rēzekne, Latvia) was taken on 26 July 1944, with the help of 10th Guards Army. 2nd Baltic Front was now facing central Latvia, and on 2 August 1944 the armies were on the march again, with 3rd Shock tasked to move south of Lake Lubań and on to south of Madon, but after the Soviet forces seized Krustpils, some heavy fighting followed with only limited success. 3rd Shock forced a passage over a tributary of the Dvina River, the Oger, on 19 August, but then had to fend off a strong German attack mounted by three divisions with air support. Slowly the Soviets moved toward Riga, but the emphasis was shifted south, and 2nd Baltic Front found itself playing a supporting role from early October as Bagramyan's First Baltic Front raced for the Baltic coastline itself to sever the remaining connection between the German forces in East Prussia and those in Latvia and Estonia. Riga fell on 13 October and the remaining German forces in the area were bottled up in the Courland area.[7]

3rd Shock then took part in the blockade of the Courland pocket, and the first Soviet attacks started on 16 October. However by the end of October it was seen that despite some advances, there was little hope for full success, and the Army was shifted south. 3rd Shock became part of the 1st Belorussian Front from 31 December 1944. The Army was placed in the second echelon for the Warsaw-Poznań' strategic offensive operation, attacking in the direction of Poznań under Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front. It then took part in the Vistula-Oder Offensive between 12.1.1945 – 3.2.1945.

As the Army moved quickly across Poland in March 1945, during the Eastern-Pomeranian strategic offensive operation, it liberated a number of cities: Vangerin (now Vengozhino, Poland) and Labes (now Lobez, Poland)(together with the troops of the 1st Guards Tank Army) on 3 March, and Frayenvalde (now Khotsivel, Poland) and Regenvalde (now Resko, Poland) on 4 March 1945. The same day, in conjunction with the Polish 1st Army and the 1st Guards Tank Army 3rd Shock entered Dramburg (now Dravsko-Pomorske, Poland). A day later, 3rd Shock entered Gyultsov (now Golchevo, Poland), and on 6 March: Kammin (now Kamen'-Pomorski, Poland). On 7 March, 3 Shock entered Shtepenitts (now Stepnitsa, Poland), and liberated Gollnov (now Golenyuv, Poland) together with troops of the 2nd Guards Tank Army.

The Army was in the 2nd echelon of the 1st Belorussian Front in the Battle of Berlin.[8]

In April 1945 the 3rd Shock Army (HQ Stendal) as part of the 1st Belorussian Front had the following major component formations and units:

  • 7th Rifle Corps (146th, 265th, 364th Rifle Divisions)
  • 9th Tank Corps (23rd, 95th, 108th tank and 8th motor-rifle brigades)[9] (attached from front headquarters)
  • 12th Guards Rifle Corps (23rd Guards, 52nd Guards, 33rd Rifle Divisions)
  • 79th Rifle Corps (150th, 171st, 207th Rifle Divisions)
  • 1203rd, 1728th and 1729th Independent self-propelled assault artillery regiments
  • 136th Gun-Artillery Brigade
  • 45th Antitank Brigade
  • 25th Sapper Brigade
  • 5th and 13th Pontoon Bridging Brigades

The Army took Pankow, a suburb of Berlin, on 23 April 1945. A week later, two regiments of the 150th Rifle Division, 79th Rifle Corps were responsible for erecting flags over the Reichstag on 30 April 1945, one of which was known as the "Victory Flag". A future commander of the Army, V.I. Varennikov, would also command the honour guard of the "Victory Flag". The curtain came down on the Army's war service when fighting ceased in Berlin on 8 May 1945.

World War II service

Campaigns and Operation participation

  • Winter Campaign of 1941–42 (Russian: Зимняя кампания 1941/42 г.) (5 December 1941 – 30 April 1942)
Toropets-Kholm Offensive (9 January 1942 – 6 February 1942) [10]
  • Summer-Autumn Campaign (Russian: Летне-осенняя кампания 1942 г.) (1 May – 18 November 1942)
  • Winter Campaign of 1942–43 (Russian: Зимняя кампания 1942–1943 гг.) (19 November 1942 – 3 March 1943)
Velikie Luki offensive (November 1942 – January 1943)
  • Summer-Autumn Campaign of 1943 (Russian: Летне-осенняя кампания 1943 г.) (1 July – 31 December 1943)
Nevel'-Gorodok offensive operation (October- November 1943)
  • Winter-Spring Campaign (Russian: Зимне-весенняя кампания 1944 г.) (1 January – 31 May 1944)
Starorussa-Novorzhev offensive operation (February 1944)[11]
  • Summer-Autumn Campaign of 1944 (Russian: Летне-осенняя кампания 1944 г.) (1 June – 31 December 1944)
On 15 December 1944 army is returned to the reserve of the STAVKA.
Rezhitsa-Dvinsk Offensive Operation (10 July 1944 – 27 July 1944)
Madon Offensive Operation (1 August 1944 – 28 August 1944)
Riga Offensive (1944) (14 September 1944 – 24 October 1944)
Kurland peninsula blockade (from October 1944 – 31 December 1944)
Vistula–Oder Offensive (12 January 1945 - 2 February 1945)
Berlin Offensive (16 April 1945 - 8 May 1945)
  • Campaign in Europe during 1945 (Russian: Кампания в Европе 1945 г.) (1 January – 9 May 1945)

Notable service personnel

  • 3rd highest ranking sniper, Guards senior sergent Michail Budenkov, sniper of 59th Guards Rifle Regiment (21st Guards rifle division, 3rd Shock Army, 2nd Baltic Front (437 confirmed)).[12]
  • 11th highest ranking sniper, senior sergent Abuhadji Idrisov, 1232nd Rifle Regiment (370th Rifle Division, 3rd Shock Army, 2nd Baltic Front (349 confirmed).[12]

Command staffs


  • General Lieutenant M.A. Purkaev (December 1941 – August 1942) Major General, since January 1943.
  • General Lieutenant Kuzma Galitsky (September 1942 – November 1943)
  • General Colonel N.E. Chibisov (November 1943 – April 1944)
  • General Lieutenant V.A. Yushkevich (April – August 1944)
  • General Lieutenant M.N. Gerasimov (August – October 1944)
  • General Major N.P. Simonyak (October 1944 – March 1945)
  • General Colonel V.I. Kuznetsov (March 1945 – to the end of the war)

Leaders of the Military Council

  • Brigade Commissioner A.P. Riazanov (December 1941 – February 1943)
  • General Lieutenant P.K. Ponomarenko (February – March 1943)
  • General Major A.I. Litvinov (March 1943 – to the end of the war)

Chiefs of staff

  • General Major A.P. Pokrovskiy (December 1941 – February 1942)
  • General Major M.N. Sharokhin (February – August 1942)
  • General Major I.O. Yudintsev (August 1942 – March 1943)
  • General Major M.M. Busarov (March May 1943)
  • General Major F.A. Zuev (May October 1943)
  • General Major V.L. Beylin (October 1943 – August 1944)
  • General Major, from July 1945. General Lieutenant M.F. Bukshtynovich (August 1944 – to the end of the war).

Service in Germany

3rd Shock Army stayed in Germany after the end of the war, becoming part of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. During the 1960s and early 1970s the Army's divisions were equipped with the T-62 and T-55 tanks. During the late 1970s the divisions received T-64A, T-64B (one third of each battalion), and eventually T-64BV with dynamic armour. In 1984 a decision was made to re-equip the formations with T-80BV variants (10th Guards Tank Division), replacing the T-64s[13] BMP-1/2 and variants, and various BTR variants.

The army kept the descriptive title "shock" into the 1950s, when it was re-titled the 3rd Assault Army, before assuming its final name: the 3rd "Red Banner" Combined Arms Army (Russian: 3-я краснознаменная общевойсковая армия).[14]

During 1989–91 a past commanding officer of the Army (1969) V.I. Varennikov was the Commander in Chief of the Ground Forces of the Soviet Union.[15] The Army was relocated from Germany during 1990–1991 and dispersed throughout the former Soviet Union, with many units and sub-units disbanded or converted to training units and storage depots. Army headquarters was briefly sent to the Far East Military District but then disbanded.[16]

Cold War order of battle

For most of the 1970s and 1980s the Army was composed from the following major formations:[17]

Late in the Cold War the Army was unique in having four tank divisions as part of its formation. It was located in Magdeburg,[18] and its order of battle included:

  • 7 Guards tank Kiev-Berlin division (Roßlau) (disbanded 1990)
    • 55 Guards tank Vasilkovskiy regiment (Lutherstadt-Wittenberg)
    • 56 Guards tank Vasilkov Shepetovsk regiment (Zerbst)
    • 79 Guards tank Bobruiskiy regiment (Roßlau)
    • 40 motor-rifle Berlin regiment (Bernburg)
    • 670 Guards motorised artillery regiment (Cochstedt)
    • 287 Guards antiaircraft-missile regiment (Roßlau)
    • 4 Independent Reconnaissance Battalion (Quedlinburg-Quarmbeck)
    • 146 (?) independent signal battalion (Roßlau?)
    • 121 independent engineer battalion (Roßlau)
    • (?) independent battalion of chemical protection (Roßlau?)
    • 183 independent battalion of materiel supply (Roßlau)
    • 58 independent is repair-restoration battalion (Roßlau)
    • 89 independent medical-sanitary battalion (Dessau)
  • 10 Guards Tank Ural Volunteer Division in the name of Marshal of Soviet Union R. A. Malinovsky (Altengrabow) (now at Boguchar in the Moscow Military District)
    • 61 Guards tank Sverdlovsk regiment (Altengrabow)
    • 62 Guards tank Permian-Keletskiy regiment (Altengrabow)
    • 63 Guards tank Chelyabinsk-Petrokovskiy regiment (Altengrabow)
    • 248 Guards motor-rifle Unechskiy regiment (Schönebeck)
    • 744 Guards motorised artillery Ternopol' regiment (Altengrabow)
    • 359 Guards anti-aircraft missile L'vov regiment (Altengrabow)
    • 112 independent reconnaissance battalion (Khalershtadt) later Altengrabow
    • 152 independent signal battalion (Altengrabow)
    • 131 independent engineer battalion (Magdeburg)
    • 127 independent battalion of chemical protection (Altengrabow)
    • 1072 independent battalion of materiel supply (Altengrabow)
    • 60 independent is repair-restoration battalion (Altengrabow)
    • 188 independent medical-sanitary battalion (Altengrabow)
  • 12 Guards Tank Uman Division (Neuruppin) (disbanded 1991)
    • 48 Guards tank Vapnyarsko-Varshavsky regiment (Neuruppin)
    • 332 Guards tank Warsaw red banner of order A. Nevsky regiment (Neuruppin)
    • 353 Guards tank Vapnyarsko-Berlin regiment (Neuruppin)
    • 200 Guards motor-rifle Fastov regiment (Burg)
    • 117 self-propelled artillery regiment (Mahlwinkel)
    • 933 antiaircraft-missile Upper Dnieper regiment (Burg)
    • 18 independent Guards reconnaissance Demblin battalion (Mahlwinkel)
    • 490 independent signal battalion (Neuruppin)
    • 136 independent Guards Demblin engineer battalion (Neuruppin)
    • (?) individual company of chemical protection (Neuruppin)
    • 1074 independent battalion of materiel supply (Wulkow)
    • 64 independent is repair-restoration battalion (Neuruppin)
    • 208 independent medical-sanitary battalion (Neuruppin?)
  • 47 Guards tank Lower-Dnepr division (Hillersleben)(withdrawn to Moscow Military District, amalgamated in the mid-1990s with the 31st Tank Division as the 3rd Motor Rifle Division)
    • 26 tank Feodosiya regiment (Hillersleben)
    • 153 tank Smolensk Red Banner Order of Kutuzov regiment (Hillersleben)
    • 197 Guards tank Vapnyar-Warsaw regiment (Halberstadt)
    • 245 Guards motor-rifle Gneznenskiy Red Banner, Order of Suvorov regiment (Mahlwinkel)
    • 99 Guards motorised artillery Pomeranian regiment (Mahlwinkel)
    • 1009 antiaircraft-missile Order of Red Star regiment (Hillersleben)
    • 7 independent reconnaissance battalion (Hillersleben later Burg)
    • 73 independent signal battalion (Hillersleben)
    • 52 independent engineer battalion (Hillersleben)
    • 1077 independent battalion of materiel supply(Hillersleben)
    • 332 individual company of chemical protection (Mahlwinkel?)
    • 65 independent is repair-restoration battalion (Hillersleben?)
    • 63 independent medical-sanitary battalion (Hillersleben)

Formation and units subordinate to Army

  • 792 individual company of special purpose (SpetsNaz) (Cochstedt)
  • 115 individual tank regiment (Quedlinburg)
  • 899 independent landing-assault battalion (Burg)
  • 232 independent battalion of protection and security (Magdeburg)
  • 178 individual helicopter regiment (Borstel)
  • 440 individual helicopter regiment (Borstel)
  • 296 independent helicopter squadron (Mahlwinkel)
  • 36 missile brigade (Altengrabow)
  • 448 missile brigade (Born)
  • 49 antiaircraft-missile brigade (Planken)
  • 385 artillery brigade (Planken)
  • 451 individual anti-tank artillery battalion (Magdeburg)
  • 254 individual radio-technical regiment (Cochstedt)
  • 15 independent radio-technical battalion (Magdeburg)
  • 10 independent battalion radio-electronic combat (Stahnsdorf)
  • 105 independent communications regiment (Magdeburg)
  • 457 independent radio relay cable battalion (Magdeurg)
  • 323 independent engineer battalion (Magdeburg)
  • 36 Łódź engineer pontoon bridge regiment (Magdeburg)
  • 2 independent battalion of chemical protection (Burg)
  • 42 brigades of materiel supply (Magdeburg)
  • 298 independent equip. maint. and recovery battalion (Schönebeck)
  • 302 independent equip. maint. and recovery battalion (Schönebeck)
  • (?) military hospital (Magdeburg)


  1. p.762, Military Encyclopaedic dictionary, Editor in chief C.F. Akhromeyev, Moscow, Voyenizdat, 1986
  2. Keith E. Bonn, Slaughterhouse: The Handbook of the Eastern Front, Aberjona Press, 2005, p.328-9
  3. historian, The Road to Stalingrad, 2003 Cassel Military Paperbacks edition, p.280, 304
  4. Erickson, 2003, p.306-7
  5. Baltic Front was very quickly renamed 2nd Baltic Front
  6. Erickson, Road to Berlin, 1983, 133–4
  7. Erickson, Road to Berlin, 1983, p.313, 319–21, 414, 418, 420–1
  8. Rear Services of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation
  9. ВЕЛИКАЯ ВОЙНА – Бобруйск
  10. for Wehrmacht known as Sychevka and Vyazma battles, not to be confused with the Soviet Sychevka-Vyazma Offensive Operation (8 January 1942 – 28 February 1942)
  11. See also
  12. 12.0 12.1 Боевой счет лучших советских снайперов периода Великой Отечественной войны — Журнал «Братишка»
  13. Развертывание новых типов танков в GSFG/WGF
  14. Feskov et al., Советская Армия в годы «холодной войны» (1945-1991), p. 42, Tomsk: Tomsk University Press, 2004
  15. [1] and [2]
  16. Army Quarterly and Defence Journal
  17. Состав соединений и частей 3 Общевойсковой Армии
  18. Feskov et al., Советская Армия в годы «холодной войны» (1945-1991), p. 40, Tomsk: Tomsk University Press, 2004

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