7th Guards Rifle Division

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7th Guards Rifle Division (September 26, 1941 – 1946)
Soviet Major General Mikhail Emmanulovich Moskalik.jpg
Maj. Gen. M. E. Moskalik
Active1941–1946
Country Soviet Union
BranchRed Army flag.svg Red Army
TypeDivision
RoleInfantry
EngagementsBattle of Moscow
Demyansk Pocket
Leningrad-Novgorod Offensive
Baltic Offensive
Riga Offensive (1944)
Memel Offensive Operation
Courland Pocket
DecorationsOrder of the Red Banner Order of the Red Banner
Battle honoursRezekne
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Col. Afanasii Sergeevich Gryasnov
Maj. Gen. Efim Vasilevich Bedin Hero of the Soviet Union medal.png
Maj. Gen. Maksim Evseevich Kozyr Hero of the Soviet Union medal.png
Maj. Gen. Mikhail Emmanulovich Moskalik

The 7th Guards Rifle Division was reformed as an elite infantry division of the Red Army in September, 1941, based on the 1st formation of the 64th Rifle Division and served in that role until after the end of the Great Patriotic War. It was first assigned to Bryansk Front, then moved to Western Front where it took part in the early stages of the winter counteroffensive northwest of Moscow as part of 16th Army. On December 31 the 1st Guards Rifle Corps was formed for the second time and the 7th Guards was assigned to it as its core formation. It was then sent north to join Northwestern Front and became locked into the dismal fighting around Demyansk until that salient was finally evacuated by the German II Army Corps in February, 1943. Through the rest of that year it participated in battles in the Staraya Russa region, mostly under command of 1st Shock Army, until the January, 1944 offensive that liberated Novgorod. During operations in the Baltic states that summer and autumn the 7th Guards was awarded both a battle honor and the Order of the Red Banner. In March, 1945 it joined the Courland Group of Forces of Leningrad Front on the Baltic coast containing the German forces encircled in northwest Latvia. Following the German surrender it was moved to Estonia where it was disbanded in 1946.

Formation[edit]

The division was officially raised to Guards status on September 26, 1941, although its sub-units would not be redesignated for a month or more. Its order of battle, based on the first wartime shtat (table of organization and equipment) for rifle divisions, was eventually as follows:

  • 14th Guards Rifle Regiment (from 30th Rifle Regiment)
  • 20th Guards Rifle Regiment (from 159th Rifle Regiment)
  • 26th Guards Rifle Regiment (from 288th Rifle Regiment)
  • 25th Guards Artillery Regiment (from 163rd Light Artillery Regiment)
  • 1st Guards Antitank Battalion[1]
  • 4th Guards Reconnaissance Company
  • 12th Guards Sapper Battalion
  • 6th Guards Signal Battalion (later 13th Guards Signal Company)
  • 10th Guards Medical/Sanitation Battalion
  • 11th Guards Chemical Defense (Anti-gas) Company
  • 1st Guards Motor Transport Company (later 4th Guards Motor Transport Battalion)
  • 3rd Guards Field Bakery
  • 13th Guards Divisional Veterinary Hospital
  • 9th Guards Economic Company (from December 10, 1943)
  • 140th Field Postal Station
  • 105th Field Office of the State Bank

Col. Afanasii Sergeevich Gryasnov, who had led the 64th Rifle Division since July 24, carried on in command. As of October 1 the division is listed as being at the disposal of Bryansk Front.[2] It was positioned far enough to the east that it did not get swept up in the initial stages of Operation Typhoon. After falling back from the Kaluga region in late October,[3] the division was transferred to the 49th Army in Western Front by the start of November.[4]

Battle of Moscow[edit]

At this time the STAVKA and the Front command were making every effort to hold the city of Serpukhov. By November 7 the 7th Guards had moved into the sector from Shatovo to Noviki to Dashkovka and was preparing a defense. It was joined on November 10 by the 415th Rifle Division from the Far East and together they secured the Army's right (north) flank. Until November 23 the division was engaged in stubborn fighting with the attacking German forces and on that date was defending the line from Gurevo to Drakino with one rifle regiment while the other two regiments were concentrating in the area of Shatovo, Ivankovo and Kalinovo, about 5 km south of Serpukhov. From that date it was boarding trains at the Podolsk station en route to Povarovo station, having been transferred to 16th Army. On November 25 its lead regiment occupied a defensive line from the woods east of Yesipovo and Zhukovo (8 km southeast of Solnechnogorsk) while the remaining units were concentrating, as they disembarked, in an area about 12 km southeast of the same city with the objective of occupying a defensive line from Shelepanovo to Terekhovo to Zhukovo, astride the Leningrad road.[5]

During the following days the 7th Guards was involved in heavy fighting in the area south of Solnechnogorsk with the German 4th Panzer Group seeking to break out to the southeast. 16th Army faced the heaviest German attacks during November 29-30 as they attacked along the Kamenka-Ozeretskoe road, and along the Leningrad and Istra roads. By the end of November 30 the division, along with the 8th and 9th Guards and 18th Rifle Divisions, was waging a fierce struggle along part of the line from Lyalovo to Alabushevo to Barantsevo to Zhevnevo. During December 2-3 the German forces managed to take Kryukovo after heavy street fighting but were unable to break through 16th Army's lines. The 7th and 8th Guards continued to contest their hold there into the night of December 5 as the German forces began to go over to the defense.[6]

Winter Counteroffensive[edit]

On the evening of December 6 Lt. Gen. K. K. Rokossovsky, commander of 16th Army, reported to the Western Front command that the Army would go over to the attack at 1000 hours the next day and described his objectives (in part):

2. The 7th Guards Rifle Division is to attack with the objective of taking Lyalovo and by the end of the day to consolidate along the line Klushino - Lyalovo(excluding)-Chashnikovo (four km southwest of Lyalovo)(exclusively).

The German forces put up fierce resistance along the entire front and the division's attack was halted by defensive fire. Despite this the vastly overstretched 4th Panzer Group began to withdraw to the west. The division had more success on December 8, driving two battalions out of Lyalovo which then began to fall back toward Zhilino and Nikolskoe. The next day it was pulled back into the Army reserve in the area of Bolshie Rzhavki, and on December 14 it went into the Reserve of the Supreme High Command.[7]

At the start of January, 1942 the 7th Guards was still in the Reserve, but at the same time the 1st Guards Rifle Corps was being formed for the second time and Colonel Gryasnov was appointed to its command on January 5, being replaced in divisional command by Col. Efim Vasilevich Bedin. The division formed the major unit of the Corps, backed by the 14th, 15th and 52nd Rifle Brigades, 72nd Naval Rifle Brigade, 69th Tank Brigade and the 203rd, 204th and 205th Ski Battalions and was at the disposal of the command of Northwestern Front by February 1.[8] During January the very successful Toropets–Kholm Offensive by Kalinin Front had deeply outflanked the German II Army Corps to the south of its positions around Demyansk, and Northwestern Front saw the opportunity to encircle and destroy that Corps. Both the 1st and 2nd Guards Rifle Corps were deployed to the region southeast of Lake Ilmen in order to complete the encirclement from the north.[9]

Baltic Offensives[edit]

German POWs march through Rezekne, 1944

Near the end of June, as the destruction of Army Group Center was going on in Belarus, the 7th Guards was in the area of Novorzhev in western Russia, facing the defenses of the German Panther–Wotan line.[10] During July it took part in the fighting that breached this line and later that month crossed the border into the Baltic states. Shortly thereafter the division was awarded a battle honor for its part in the liberation of Rezekne, Latvia:

"REZEKNE... 7th Guards Rifle Division (Major General Moskalik, Mikhail Emmanulovich)... The troops who participated in the liberation of Daugavpils and Rezekne, by the order of the Supreme High Command of July 27, 1944, and a commendation in Moscow, are given a salute of 20 artillery salvoes from 224 guns.[11]

By the beginning of August, 10th Guards Army was redeployed somewhat northwards to the area of Kārsava, from where it advanced westward into Latvia over the next six weeks, reaching Lubāna by mid-September. By the start of October the 7th Guards was on the approaches to Riga, north of the Daugava River,[12] and distinguished itself in the fighting for this city from October 13-15; in recognition, on November 3 it was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.[13]

10th Guards moved to the Kurland Group in Leningrad Front in March, where it remained for the duration.[14] Following the German surrender the division carried the full title: 7th Guards Rifle, Rezekne, Order of the Red Banner Division. (Russian: 7-я гвардейская стрелковая Режицкая Краснознаменная дивизия.) It was stationed at Pärnu with the 7th Guards Rifle Corps of the 10th Guards Army before being disbanded in 1946.[15]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Charles C. Sharp, "Red Guards", Soviet Guards Rifle and Airborne Units 1941 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IV, Nafziger, 1995, p. 44
  2. ^ Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1941, p. 52
  3. ^ David Stahel, Operation Typhoon, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2013, pp. 186, 242, 284
  4. ^ Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1941, p. 63
  5. ^ Soviet General Staff, The Battle of Moscow 1941-1942, ed. & trans. R. W. Harrison, Helion & Co., Ltd., Solihull, UK, 2015, Kindle ed., part III, ch. 3, 5
  6. ^ Soviet General Staff, The Battle of Moscow, Kindle ed., part III, ch. 3
  7. ^ Soviet General Staff, The Battle of Moscow, Kindle ed., part IV, ch. 2
  8. ^ Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1942, pp. 18, 26
  9. ^ Robert Forczyk, Demyansk 1942-43: The frozen fortress, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, UK, 2012, Kindle ed.
  10. ^ The Gamers, Inc., Baltic Gap, Multi-Man Publishing, Inc., Millersville, MD, 2009, p. 10
  11. ^ http://www.soldat.ru/spravka/freedom/1-ssr-5.html. In Russian. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  12. ^ The Gamers, Inc., Baltic Gap, pp. 22, 29, 36
  13. ^ Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union 1967a, p. 545.
  14. ^ Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1945, p. 111
  15. ^ Feskov et al. 2013, p. 431.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]