The 5th Rifle Division of the Soviet Red Army was initially formed in September 1918 as the 2nd Penza Infantry Division. It was later renamed as the 5th Rifle Division (October 1918), Saratov (1920), Vitebsk (1921), and 'in the name of the Czechoslovak Proletariat' (1925). For successful operations during the Russian Civil War it was awarded the Honourable Revolutionary Red Banner in 1929.
In August 1939 it was deployed to the Belorussian Special Military District. On September 17, 1939 the Division was assigned to the 4th Rifle Corps, Third Army of the Belorussian Front. On October 2, 1939 the Division was reassigned to the 10th Rifle Corps, Third Army of the Belorussian Front. In September–October 1939 it took part in the Soviet invasion of Poland. From October 1939 it was deployed in Lithuania according to the Soviet–Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty. Since July 1940 it was stationed in the Baltic Military District.
During the Second World War, the Division was part of the Eleventh Army (where it was part of 16th Rifle Corps at the outbreak of the war), 27th Army, Soviet First Guards Army and 65th Army. As of October 1, 1941 the Division was a part of the 31st Army of the Soviet Reserve Front. The Division participated in defensive fights on as part of the Soviet Western Front, in Moscow and at the Battle of Stalingrad, in fights for Donbass and clearing of Left-bank Ukraine, in Гомельско - Речицкой, Belarus, Млавско - Эльбингской, East Pomerania and the Berlin offensive operations.
For its service in battle the Division became the 44th Guards Rifle Division on October 5, 1942. It was later awarded the honourable name "Baranovichskaya" ("Барановичская"; on July 27, 1944), the Order of Lenin and Order of Suvorov, 2nd degree. Twelve thousand of its soldiers were awarded awards and medals and 22 were named Heroes of the Soviet Union.
Force Composition, October 1939
- 142nd Rifle Regiment
- 190th Rigle Regiment
- 336th Rifle Regiment
- 27th Light Artillery Regiment
- 174th Howitzer Regiment
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