Military Wiki
6th Mechanized Corps (1940-1941)(1942-1943)
5th Guards Mechanized Corps(1943-1945)
5th Guards Mechanized Division(1945-?)
5th Guards Motor Rifle Division(?-Pres)
Active 1940 - early 1990s (including the early Mechanized Corps)
Country  Soviet Union
Branch Red Army flag.svg Red Army
Type Mechanised Infantry
Size Division
Part of 40th Army (Soviet Union) (1979 - 1988)
Patron 60th Anniversary of the USSR
Engagements World War II
Soviet war in Afghanistan
Decorations Order of Kutuzov II Degree

The 5th Guards Zimovnikovskaya order Kutuzov II degree Motor Rifle Division (, named on the 60th anniversary of the USSR, was a military formation of the Soviet Ground Forces. It traces back to the 6th Mechanized Corps created in 1940, and destroyed in 1941 in the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. The corps was reformed in November 1942 under the same name, but with a different organizational structure. For prowess in battle, the 6th Mechanized Corps was granted "Guards" status and became the 5th Guards Mechanized Corps. It became a 5th Guards Mechanized Division in 1945, and then subsequently a 5th Guards Motor Rifle Division. Perhaps its most noteworthy service since 1945 was in the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

Creation of 6th Mechanised Corps

Mechanised Corps of the Red Army were set up just before World War II.[1] By June 1941, 29 existed in the Red Army, although the degree of staffing they had significantly varied. One of these units was the 6th Mechanised Corps, which began to form 15 July 1940 in Bialystok (in the Western Special Military District). It was attached to the 10th Army in the Bialystok fortified region.[2][3] It was under the command of Major General M.G. Khatskilevichwhen the German Operation Barbarossa began in June 1941.[4]

The Corps initially comprised the 4th and 7th Tank Divisions and the 29th Mechanised Division, as well as smaller units.[5][6] On 22 June 1941, 6th Mechanised Corps consisted 32,382 men, 1131 tanks, 242 Armoured Cars, 162 Artillery Pieces, 187 mortars, 4779 Vehicles, 294 Tractors & 1042 Motorcycles including lighter models T-26, Bt-7 & Bt-5's, & T-28's & 201 of the newer T-34 & KV-1 models in the 7th Tank Division & 151 in the 4th Tank Division.

Just like the 4th Mechanized Corps (Soviet Union), the 6th Mechanised Corps stood out of the remaining mechanised corps of the Red Army.[7]

On 22 June 1941 it was fully formed, and stationed not further than 100-150 kilometers from the border.[7]

Defeat in Operation Barbarossa

The 6th Mechanised Corps was heavily involved in the first battles with Germans. At 23:40 on the day of German invasion,[7] Pavlov ordered his Deputy Front Commander Lieutenant General Ivan Boldin to take command over what would be later called Boldin's group. The group's core was the 6th Mechanised Corps and the 6th Cavalry Corps, with 11th Mechanised Corps to be attached soon.[7] The Boldin's group first and last mission was against German armoured forces of Hoth's 3rd Panzergruppe advancing at the vulnerable boundary line between Soviet Northwestern Front and Soviet Western Front at Merkinė.[7] It is considered part of the larger Battle of Białystok–Minsk.

A destroyed KV-1 is inspected by German Troops in Russia in 1941

David Glantz states that the tank divisions of 6th Mechanised Corps on 24 June 1941 were committed piecemeal against the advancing German units often without infantry support and were relentlessly pounded by the German aircraft of Luftflotte 2. Without adequate ammunition and with many tanks in a state of disrepair and sent to several different locations without fuel reserves, they were quickly immoblised.[8][9] A Western Front report on 27 June noted that 6th Mechanised Corps had lost 20–26% of its tank strength in its 4th and 7th tank Divisions.

Solonin states that the only battle that 6th Mechanised Corps saw was an attack of 24 June, when it lost 2% of tanks.[10] The corps dissipated soon without any other combat, with negligible losses to aircraft, and with distance traveled that hardly necessitated any fuel tanking or repairs.[7] The corps scattered on 27 June near Krynki, personnel retreating east in small groups, and the equipment has been abandoned or destroyed en masse.[7]

Communication with the headquarters of Boldin was lost. Maj. Gen. Khatskilevich died on 25 June 1941.[7]

Hoth's panzers had reached Vilnius on the 23rd of June, then Grodno, and finally Minsk by 26 June. By 25 June 1941 Guderian's 2nd Panzergruppe reached Slonim and Vawkavysk and cut off the retreat of the greater part of the 10th & 3rd Armies at Białystok encirclement. The Soviet armies could not retreat across the Shchara River because Luftflotte 2 had destroyed the bridges. Guderian's "pincer" reached Vilnius on the 27th June trapping the greater part of 13th and 4th Armies in another encirclement at Minsk.

6th Mechanised Corps was destroyed in the Białystok encirclement. It was formally dissolved in late July 1941.[9][11]

Second Formation

The idea of mechanised corps were revived in the spring of 1942. The second formation of 6th Mechanised Corps was done in November 1942. On the basis of Headquarters' 14th Tank Corps, the 6th Mechanised Corps was reformed on Nov. 26, 1942 at the station Kostereva in accordance with NKO directive number 11905907ss and GABTU number 1105723 dated November 26, 1942. Major General of Armored Forces Semyon Ilyich Bogdanov was appointed the commander of the 6th Mechanised Corps.

On December 18, 1942, 6th Mechanised Corps was assigned to the 2nd Guards Army of the Southern Front, where it was involved in stopping the onset of Operation Winter Storm, the Manstein's attempted breakthrough to the Sixth Army encircled in Stalingrad. On January 8, 1943, the Corps – participating in the counterattack – captured the Zimovniki station (Rostov Oblast), a vital point of the Luftwaffe's munitions supply chain. For this reason the Corps was given the honorific Zimovnikovsky. Soon it was raised to the elite "Guards" status; thus it became the 5th Zimovnikovsky Guards Mechanised Corps.[citation needed]

The Corps participated in the Battle of Kursk, as a part of 5th Guards Tank Army. On 1 August 1943, it comprised 10th, 11th and 12th Guards Mechanised Brigades, 24th Guards Tank Brigade, and smaller supporting units.[12] Along other units, it fought in the southern part of salient against the elite 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf and drove them out of Belgorod. In 1944, the 5th Guards Mechanised Corps took part in the elimination of the Korsun-Cherkasy Pocket.[citation needed]

Later in 1944 5th Zimovnikovsky Guards Mechanised Corps fought in Moravia and Upper Silesia. As part of the 4th Guards Tank Army it crossed the Oder and Neisse. At the end of April 1945, it was taking part in the Battle of Berlin. After taking Berlin, the Corps was engaged from 6 to 11 May 1945 in the battle to capture Prague. On May 8, 1945, the 10th Mechanised Brigade of the Corps was the first to enter the Czech capital, for which the unit received the Prague honorific.


After the war, on 10 June 1945, the 5th Guards Mechanised Corps became 5th Guards Mechanised Division, and after a brief period as 53rd Guards Motor Rifle Division (GMRD) from 1957 to 1965, it became the 5th Guards Motor Rifle Division. Later it was named also after "The 60th anniversary of the USSR". On 28 June 1945, the division was awarded the Order of Kutuzov of II degree. In 1946 the division relocated to the Turkestan Military District.

Afghanistan War

On the night of 27/28 December, Afghanistan, from Kushka, the 5th GMRD entered Afghanistan on the route Herat Shindand (a battalion from the 56th Guards Standalone Air Assault Brigade took control of the Rabat Mirza pass on Dec 26th, between Kushkov and Herat).[13] On December 26 at 19:20, the Commander of the 5th GMRD, Major-General Yuri Shatalin, gave orders to cross the Afghanistan border. The division was pulled out of the Kushka, Tahta-Bazaar, and Iolotan. At the set time one of the 5th GMRD units came out at the juncture near the towns: - Herat, Shindand, Kandahar, the division headquarters was located under the Shindand. The first loss amounted to 2 people. At the very beginning it was quite peaceful. The then division commander, and the future Commander in Chief of the Russian Internal Troops, Colonel-General Yuri Shatalin recalls:

"It happened at dawn on December 27th. Surprised: 5:00 am, and the streets full of people with flowers. It turned out, meet the shuravi, as we were called, the Soviet soldiers. A similar meeting was warm and in other towns and villages in the north of Afghanistan."

Since the summer of 1980 5th GMRD began to participate in raids against the Afghan Mujahideen. During the period of the Afghan war the division participated in 156 scheduled and unscheduled operations.

On 1 March 1980 the division was reorganised. The 373rd Guards Red Banner Order of Kutuzov and Bogdan Khmelnitsky Motor Rifle Regiment, stationed in pos.Adraskan, had formed part of the division on its arrival in the country. On 1 March 1980, the regiment was reorganised as the 70th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade (by reorganizing the staffing structure of departments and adding the 2nd Battalion of the 56th Guards Separate Air Assault Brigade). After the reorganisation the brigade was relocated to the city of Kandahar.

From 1980 to 1982 the division was commanded by the future commander of the famous 40th Combined Arms Army General Boris Gromov.

On February 15, 1989, the last units of the 40th Combined Arms Army, and with it the army commander, Colonel General Boris Gromov left Afghanistan. Withdrawal in the West direction is carried out by two methods: by air (carried - 5,142 people) and land (6,986 people). 10 colonies from 4 garrisons (Shindand, Adraskan, Herat, Turgundi). Total conclusions 49 parts, totalling 11,907 people, 2,016 combat vehicles, 45 combat aircraft. The return march was on the same route Shindand - Turgundi, on their own.

During the Afghan war four soldiers of the division were awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union, and 12,825 in total were awarded orders and medals. From May 1988 the division, under the Geneva conventions, began to prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan. The withdrawal of the 5th GMRD from the garrison Shindand - Herat Turugundi - Kushka began as scheduled on Jan. 29th, 1989, and ended February 15, 1989. The Division was relocated permanently to the city of Kushka.

Total number of killed in the division from 27.12.1979 to 15.02.1989 was 1135 (910 of them in combat).

Order of battle

In Afghanistan,[when?] the 5th GMRD comprised:

  • Divisional Headquarters - Shindand.
    • Agitotryad.
    • Headquarters company.
    • Bakery.
    • 795th Station courier mail service.
    • 251st Battery Management and artillery reconnaissance.
    • 814th military fire brigade.
    • 582nd-second bath and laundry item
    • Field establishment of the State Bank of the USSR
    • 164th Separate flame thrower Company(before March 1985 - 164th Separate Company of Chemical Protection).
  • 101st Motor Rifle Regiment - Herat
  • 371st Guards Berlin Orders of Suvorov and Bogdan Khmelnitsky Motor Rifle Regiment - Shindand.
  • 12th Guards Red Banner Order of Kutuzov and Bogdan Khmelnitsky Motor Rifle Regiment - Herat.
  • 24th Guards Prague Orders of Suvorov and Bogdan Khmelnitsky Tank Regiment - Shindand.
  • 1060th Artillery regiment Shindand.
  • 1122nd Sevastopol Redflag Antiaircraft Artillery Regiment - Shindand.
  • 1377th Separate Antitank Artillery Battalion Shindand.
  • 650th separate Prague Order of Alexander Nevsky reconnaissance battalion. Shindand.
  • 68th Guards separate engineering battalion. pos. Adraskan.
  • 388th separate battalion. Shindand.
  • 307th separate missile division. Herat.
  • 177th separate repair battalion of recovery Shindand.
  • 375th independent battalion of material support Shindand.
  • 46th separate medical-sanitary battalion Herat.

After the withdrawal from Afghanistan

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, based on the 5th Guards Motor Rifle Division 'Zimovnikovskoy,' a unit of Turkmenistan's Ministry of Defense was established with the honorary title of "Turkmenbashi Saparmurat Niyazov's" located in the city of Kushka.

Heroes of the Soviet Union of 5th Guards Motor Rifle Division


  • Hero of the Soviet Union medal.png Kuchkin captain Gennady Pavlovich, Hero of the Soviet Union [15]
  • Hero of the Soviet Union medal.png Colonel Vladimir Neverov Lavrentyevich, Hero of the Soviet Union [16]
  • Hero of the Soviet Union medal.png Captain Fyodor Ivanovich Pugachev, Hero of the Soviet Union [17]
  • Hero of the Soviet Union medal.png Captain Sergey Gushin, Hero of the Soviet Union [18]


  1. - h & catid = 1:2009-12-27-11-21-03 & Itemid = 24 DIVISION FIVE: A short biography of Nikolai Starodymov
  2. David Porter, (2009), 'Soviet Tank Units 1939-1945', Amber Books, ISBN 978-1-906626-21-1, p.34
  3. David Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, 1998, p150
  4. David Glantz, Before Stalingrad Barbarossa - Hitler's Invasion of Russia 1941, 2003, p32
  5. David Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, 1998, p229
  6. David Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, 1998, p 155
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Mark Sołonin (2007) (in Polish). 22 czerwca 1941 czyli Jak zaczęła się Wielka Wojna ojczyźniana. Translation by Tomasz Lisiecki (1 ed.). Poznań, Poland: Dom Wydawniczy Rebis. pp. 94–150, 166–170, 528–529. ISBN 978-83-7510-130-0.  (the only English translations of Solonin's works seem to be, as of June 2011, these online chapters)
  8. David Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, 1998, p 130
  9. 9.0 9.1 Paul Carell, Hitler Moves East, 1971 p 70-71
  10. 18 tanks of 7th Tank Division lost during an unsuccessful attack against either German 162nd or 256th Infantry Division; Solonin 2007 p. 144
  11. David Glantz, Before Stalingrad Barbarossa - Hitler's Invasion of Russia 1941, 2003, p32-p35
  12. Боевой состав Советской Армии на 1 августа 1943 г
  13. Source for this section is Site Veteran 5 Zimovnikovskoy Guards Red Banner ordena Kutuzov II degree Cavalry Division Name the 60th anniversary of the USSR.
  14. Heroes of the Soviet Union and full cavaliers of the Order of Glory
  15. Hero Soviet Union Kuchkin Gennady
  16. Hero Soviet Union Vladimir Neverov Lavrent'evich
  17. Hero the Soviet Union Fyodor Ivanovich Pugachev
  18. Hero Soviet Union Sergey Gushin

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