Military Wiki
Ivan Panfilov 8th Guards Rifle Division
RIAN archive 716031 Gunners of the 19th Guards Rifle Regiment.jpg
An artillery unit of the division's 19th Guards Regiment near the front, 1943.
Active 12 July 1941 - January 2003
11 July 2011 - present
Country Soviet Union (1941-1991)
Kyrgyzstan (1992-2003, 2011-present)
Allegiance Kyrgyzstan
Branch Army
Type Motorized infantry division
Garrison/HQ Tokmok
Nickname(s) Panfilov's Men
March March of the Panfilov Division[1]
Anniversaries 12 July (formation day)
Engagements World War II
Colonel Melis Satybaldiev
Ivan Panfilov

The 8th Guards Panfilov Division (Russian:8-я гвардейская Панфиловская дивизия; full title: 8th Guards Rezhitskaya Motorized Rifle Division Named after Hero of the Soviet Union Major General Ivan Vasilyevich Panfilov, awarded the Orders of Lenin, the Red Banner and Suvorov) originally the 316th Rifle Division, is a motorized infantry division of the Military of Kyrgyzstan. Formed as a Red Army division during World War II, it was dissolved in 2003 but established anew in 2011.



After Germany invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, reserves were mobilized to be sent to the front. In 12 July 1941, the 316th Rifle Division was established in Alma Ata, the capital of the Kazakh SSR. Major General Ivan Panfilov, the military commissar of the Kyrgyz SSR, was appointed its commander. The reservists allotted to the 316th were mostly from the two republics. It consisted of three infantry regiments: the 1073th, the 1075th and the 1077th.[2]

The 316th soldiers' were sworn in on 1 August, and boarded trains to the front from the 18th to the 20th. They arrived in Borovichi, near Malaya Vishera, in late August. Intense fighting against the Germans already took place in the region, as part of the campaign to defend Leningrad from the attack of Army Group North. The 316th was involved in several skirmishes, but on 8 September was consigned as the reserve of the 52nd Army. It spent a month in the rear.[3]

Battle of Moscow

In early October, the Germans begun their offensive on Moscow. On the 7th, Panfilov's division was transferred to the vicinity of the Soviet capital, arriving on the 11th. It was assigned to Konstantin Rokossovsky's 16th Army, and ordered to defend a 41-km long sector along the Ruza River, especially the highway passing through Volokolamsk.[2] On the 14th, the Germans attacked with superior forces. By the 27th, they advanced some thirty kilometers, pushing the 316th back to Volokolamsk. On the 28th, after a day of fighting, the city was occupied. Panfilov's soldiers retreated closer to Moscow.[4] The German Army resumed its offensive on 15 November. In the 16th, they engaged the 316th in its new line of defense, near the village of Dubosekovo. Soviet newspapers later reported that twenty-eight soldiers from the division's 1075th Regiment destroyed eighteen enemy tanks while fighting to the last; although the story gained wide publicity, it was later revealed to be exaggerated.[5] The threat to the 16th Army's flank forced the Stavka to send in the reserve 78th Rifle Division. Although they were forced to retreat after three days, the German advance ceased due to the Soviets' resistance and the harsh weather conditions.[4] In 17 November, the People's Commissar of Defense passed a decree to promote the 316th to a Guards formation, in recognition of the role it played in defending the capital; it sustained 9,920 casualties, including 3,620 soldiers killed in action and 6,300 wounded. Marshal Dmitry Yazov, who researched the division's history, wrote that it considerably delayed the enemy's march on Moscow in its sector; in a telegram from Colonel-General Erich Hoepner to Field Marshal Fedor von Bock, the first written about the 316th: " is a division of savages, its soldiers fight in violation of all rules of engagement... They are fanatical, never surrender and do not fear death."[6] On the 18th, a group of journalists traveled to Panfilov's headquarters in the village of Guseniovo, and told him of the news. As he briefed them in the open, they came under a mortar attack. The general was killed by a shell splinter. The decree came into effect on that very day, turning the 316th to the 8th Guards Rifle Division; it also received the Order of the Red Banner. In was named in honor of Panfilov on 23 November, thus becoming one of the only two Red Army divisions to be named after their commanders, along with the Chapayevska.[7] The 8th Guards took part in the December counteroffensive in Moscow, liberating the village of Kryukovo and Istra.[2]

Remainder of war

During late January 1942, the 8th Guards was assigned to the 2nd Rifle Corps of the Northwestern Front's 3rd Shock Army, and participated in the battles near the Demyansk Pocket; for its performance during the operation, it was collectively awarded the Order of Lenin on 16 March. In late 1942, as part of the Kalinin Front, it fought in the campaign near the Lovat River. In 1944, it took part in the Leningrad–Novgorod Offensive and later, in the battle of Rēzekne; for its role in taking the city and the surrounding region, it was awarded the honorary title Rezhitskaya on 27 July 1944. On 3 November, the division received the Order of Suvorov 2nd Class. The 8th Guards ended the war with the 10th Guards Army, as part of the forces besieging Courland.[3]

According to Soviet official reports, during World War II the division killed or disabled 85,000 enemy troops, captured 5,000 more and destroyed or captured 387 tanks, 65 other armored vehicles, 43 planes, 451 guns, 180 mortars, 2010 automobiles and 328 motorcycles. In total, the soldiers of the division were awarded twenty-nine Orders of Lenin, 371 Orders of the Red Banner, two Orders of Kutuzov, eight Orders of Suvorov, fifty-three Orders of Alexander Nevsky, one Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky, 391 Orders of the Patriotic War 1st class, 1783 Orders of the Patriotic War 2nd Class, 4747 Orders of the Red Star, forty-one Orders of Glory 2nd degree and 2061 Orders of Glory 3rd degree.[8] Thirty-four soldiers received the highest Soviet military decoration, Hero of the Soviet Union. The first was Major General Ivan Panfilov himself, posthumously. Panfilov's Twenty-Eight Guardsmen were also all awarded the title posthumously; when six of them were revealed to be alive, two were stripped of it. The other wartime Heroes were Piotr Vikhrev, Malik Gabdulin, Ivan Shapshaev and Tulegen Tokhtarov. Baurzhan Momyshuly received the honor in 1991, three years after his death.[9]

Post-war years

The 8th Guards was stationed in Rakvere, Estonian SSR, until May 1967. Then it was recalled to Frunze, Kyrgyzstan and assigned to the 33rd Corps of the Central Asian Military District. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it became part of the Military of Kyrgyzstan, but was disbanded in January 2003.[10] At 11 July 2011, on the eve of the division's 70th anniversary, the 8th Guards was re-established in a ceremony attended by President Roza Otunbayeva. It is now garrisoned in Tokmok and commanded by Colonel Melis Satybaldiev.[11]


During 1943 and 1944, war reporter Alexander Bek escorted the 8th Guards. Drawing from the memories of Major Baurzhan Momyshuly, he authored a book, Volokolamsk Highway, about the fighting near the city. After the war, in 1960 and 1961, he completed two sequels, Several Days and General Panfilov's Reserve. The trilogy described the experiences of Momyshuly as a battalion commander, from the formation of the division in Alma Ata until the Soviet counter-offensive in Moscow.[12]

Volokolamsk Highway - known also as Panfilov's Men - became popular both in the Soviet Union and abroad. Published in Hebrew in 1946, Volokolamsk Highway "held an almost cult status in the Palmach and later in the Israeli Army" according to media researcher Yuval Shachal,[13] and became a standard tactical handbook in the Israeli Defense Forces.[14] Inspired by the novel, future Israeli Chief of the General Staff Motta Gur once held a "Panfilov Roll Call" for two soldiers who deserted from his company when he was a young officer, shaming them in front of the other troops; he wrote that it was a common practice in the IDF at the time.[15] During 2005, Ehud Barak told "we, as young officers, were raised on Momyshuly."[16] Volokolamsk Highway was popular in Cuba, as well.[17] Fidel Castro told Norberto Fuentes that "the idea to use the love of the Motherland for convincing people to support me, came to me after reading the novel."[18] The novel was well known among members of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces;[19] In 1961, Raul Castro told a journalist that every regimental commander was "compelled to have a copy".[20] In Jesús Díaz's acclaimed 1987 novel Las iniciales de la tierra, the protagonist cites Bek's book as a major influence on his life.[21] The novel was also included in the list of "compulsory reading" for members of the Chinese Communist Party and People's Liberation Army personnel.[22] On 27 June 1963, the East German Ministry of National Defense issued its Order no. 50/63 - drafted on the initiative of Walter Ulbricht - which introduced Volokolamsk Highway as part of the political education program for the soldiers of the National People's Army.[23][24] In the official history of the NVA, historian Major General Reinhard Brühl had cited it as having a major influence of the soldiers.[25] Bek's Volokolamsk Highway served as one the settings for an eponymous series of five plays by Heiner Müller, written from 1984 to 1987. The first part, "Russian Opening", was based on Heinrich von Kleist's The Prince of Homburg. In Müller's reinterpretation, Momyshuly assumes the role of the Great Elector.[26] Beside Bek's trilogy, Momyshuly himself authored his accounts on the division's fighting near Moscow.[27]

Wartime commanders

  • Major General Ivan Panfilov (12.7.1941 - 18.11.1941)
  • Major General Vasily Reviakin (20.11.1941 - 18.01.1942)
  • Major General Ivan Chistyakov (19.01.1942 - 03.04.1942)
  • Colonel Ivan Serebryakov (04.04.1942 - 18.10.1942)
  • Major General Spiridon Chernyugov (19.10.1942 - 12.03.1944 )
  • Colonel Dmitry Dulov (13.03.1944 - 28.05.1944)
  • Major General Ernst Sedulin (29.05.1944 - 07.06.1944)
  • Major General Andrei Kuleshov (08.06.1944 - 17.08.1944)
  • Colonel Grigory Panishev (18.08.1944 - 07.09.1944)
  • Colonel Grigory Lomov (08.09.1944 - 09.05.1945)

Command staff during the Battle of Moscow

  • Commander: Ivan Panfilov.
  • Chief of staff: Colonel Ivan Serebryakov.
  • Commissar: Senior Battalion Commissar (Lt. Colonel) Sergei Egorov
  • Chief of political department: Battalion Commissar (Major) Alexander Galushko;
  • Chief of divisional artillery: Major Vitaly Makarov.
  • 1073th Infantry Regiment: commanded by Major Grigory Efimovich Elin.
  • 1075th Infantry Regiment: commanded by Colonel Ilya Kaprov.
  • 1077 Infantry Regiment: commanded by Major Zinovi Shechtmann.


  1. General Semion Chernitzky. March of the 8th Guards Panfilov Division. Composed 1945.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 A History of the 8th Guards Rifle Division.
  3. 3.0 3.1 A History of the 316th Rifle Division.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Rodric Braithwaite. Moscow 1941: A City and Its People at War. Tantor Media (2006). ISBN 978-1-4000-4430-6. Pages 283-284.
  5. Chris Bellamy. Absolute War. Knopf (2008). ISBN 978-0-375-41086-4. Pages 307-8.
  6. Dmitry Yazov. The Heroes' Ashes Remain Sacred. Krasnaya Zvezda, 20 August 2011.
  7. Mikhail Katukov. In the Vanguard of the Primary Strike. Voenizdat, Moscow (1974). Pages 83-4.
  8. Kyrgyzstan to Host the Events Dedicated to the 70th Anniversary of the Panfilov Division.
  9. The Courageous Do Not Die. kazak-vov.60.
  10. Heroic Anniversary of Panfilov's Men. Krasnaya Zvezda, 9 July 2011.
  11. Ivan Donys. Celebrations of the Panfilovskaya's 70th Anniversary., 11 July 2011.
  12. Alexander Bek.
  13. Journal of Media History in Israel, November 2007, pp. 6e.
  14. Braithwaite, p. 298.
  15. Motta Gur. Panfilov Roll Call.
  16. Knesset protocol no. 232, 17 May 2005. p. 4.
  17. Fernando Heredia . Che Guevara's Marxism.
  18. Norberto Fuentes. Die Autobiographie des Fidel Castro. DTV Deutscher Taschenbuch (2008). ISBN 978-3-423-34495-1. p. 530.
  19. C. F. Judson. Cuba and the Revolutionary Myth: The Political Education of the Cuban Rebel Army, 1953-1963. Westview Press (1984). ISBN 9780865318274. p. 124.
  20. USSR Union of Writers. Soviet Literature: April 1961. ISSN 0202-1870. p. 146.
  21. Jesús Díaz. The Initials of the Earth. Duke (2006). ISBN 978-0-8223-3844-4. pp. 184-188. See, for example, in 184: "a leader of the People's Army, as hard as Momish-Uli".
  22. Oleg Borisov, Boris Koloskov. Soviet-Chinese relations, 1945-1970. Indiana University Press (1975). ISBN 9780253354105. pp. 163-164.
  23. Toni Nelles. Zeittafel zur Militärgeschichte der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, 1949 bis 1968. Deutscher Militärverlag (1969). OCLC 4984029. p. 204.
  24. Klaus Froh. Chronik der NVA, der Grenztruppen und der Zivilverteidigung der DDR 1956-1990. Köster (2010). ISBN 9783895747458. p. 140.
  25. Reinhard Brühl. Armee für Frieden und Sozialismus: Geschichte der Nationalen Volksarmee der DDR. Militarverlag der DDR (1987). ISBN 9783327004593. pp. 319-321.
  26. Jonathan Kalb. The Theater of Heiner Müller. Limelight (1998). ISBN 0-87910-965-3. pp. 52.
  27. Authors of Kazakhstan: Baurzhan Momyshuly.

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).