376th Rifle Division (Soviet Union)
|376th Rifle Division (August 10, 1941 – September 1945)|
Maj. Gen. N. A. Polyakov
|Active||1941 - 1945|
|Engagements||Battle of Leningrad|
Lyuban Offensive Operation
|Decorations||Order of the Red Banner|
|Lt. Col. Dmitrii Ivanovich Ugorich|
Col. Georgii Petrovich Isakov
Maj. Gen. Nikolai Antonovich Polyakov
The 376th Rifle Division was raised in 1941 as an infantry division of the Red Army, and served for the duration of the Great Patriotic War in that role. It began forming in August, 1941 in the Siberian Military District. It followed a very similar combat path to that of the 374th Rifle Division. It joined the fighting front in December with the new 59th Army along the Volkhov River and it continued to serve in the battles near Leningrad until early 1944. The division took horrendous casualties in the combat to create and hold open a passage to the 2nd Shock Army during the Lyuban Offensive and was itself partly or fully encircled at several times during this dismal fighting. The division finally left this region as it advanced during the Leningrad–Novgorod Offensive in January 1944 and in July won a battle honor in the liberation of Pskov, while its 1250th Rifle Regiment was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. In October the 376th as a whole would also receive the Red Banner for its part in the liberation of Riga. The division ended the war in Latvia, helping to contain and reduce the German forces trapped in the Courland Pocket, and was reorganized as a rifle brigade shortly thereafter.
Like the 372nd and 374th Rifle Divisions, the 376th began forming on August 10, 1941 in the Siberian Military District based on an RKO order of that date at Kemerovo, Stalinsk, Prokopyevsk and Leninsk-Kuznetsky in the Kuzbass, based on the first wartime shtat (table of organization and equipment) for rifle divisions. Many of its personnel were Kuzbass coal miners, and it was given the name of the region as an honorific when it was formed. Its order of battle was as follows:
- 1248th Rifle Regiment
- 1250th Rifle Regiment
- 1252nd Rifle Regiment
- 943rd Artillery Regiment
- 383rd Antitank Battalion
- 442nd Reconnaissance Company
- 660th Sapper Battalion
- 762nd (later 831st) Signal Battalion (later 524th Signal Company)
- 465th Medical/Sanitation Battalion
- 458th Chemical Protection (Anti-gas) Company
- 495th Motor Transport Company
- 234th Field Bakery
- 803rd Divisional Veterinary Hospital
- 1428th (later 1442nd) Field Postal Station
- 751st Field Office of the State Bank
Lt. Col. Dmitrii Ivanovich Ugorich was assigned to command of the division on September 1, and he would remain in command until April 9, 1942. In November the division was assigned to the 59th Reserve Army, and remained in there when it became the 59th Army. It moved by rail that month as far as Vologda from where it faced a march of about 700 km to reach the fighting front. The division and its Army joined Volkhov Front in December. The division contained a large number of experienced riflemen because when it first went into action it had 375 snipers on strength, five in each rifle platoon on average.
Lyuban Offensive Operation
Volkhov Front launched its main offensive on January 6, 1942. By the end of the day 59th Army's initial assault had expired due to heavy German resistance. Army Gen. K. A. Meretskov reported to the STAVKA the next morning, in part: "After repelling repeated enemy attacks, the 376th and 288th Rifle Divisions are along the Meneksha River line..." Following further bloody failure that day and later, on January 10 the STAVKA called a three day halt in the attacks at Meretskov's request. After regrouping and forming new shock groups he resumed the offensive on January 13, this time preceded by heavier and more effective artillery preparations. On January 17 the 2nd Shock Army resumed its attack, supported by more than 1,500 aircraft sorties, and finally penetrated the Germans' first defensive positions on the west bank of the Volkhov, advanced 5 - 10 km and created conditions that Meretskov considered favorable for developing success. Early on January 22 he proposed:
1. Leave the 4th Army with the 44th, 310th and 190th Rifle Divisions and the 80th Cavalry Division along the Kirishi and Gruzino front and add to it the 59th Army's 288th and 376th Rifle Divisions, which are operating along the western bank of the Volkhov River north of Gruzino. The 4th Army will temporarily conduct local operations to tie down enemy forces.
On March 15 the German 18th Army began its Operation Raubtier with the objective of pinching out the 10 km-wide corridor connecting 2nd Shock Army to the Soviet front along the Volkhov to encircle it and thwart its planned attack on Lyuban. Two days later the STAVKA ordered Meretskov to, among other measures, transfer the 376th to the Miasnoi Bor area to help hold the corridor open. In the event the German forces managed to link up on March 20, but this success was tenuous at best. Meretskov proposed that four divisions of the 52nd Army, including the 376th which had been transferred there, launch an offensive towards Novgorod on March 29, which would reopen communications to 2nd Shock and divert enemy forces to the defense of that city. He also noted that each division was understrength by 2,500–3,000 men. Despite these preparations by March 26, the 18th Army had formed outer and inner encirclement lines around 2nd Shock Army and part of 59th Army and a more direct approach became necessary. An operational group from the two trapped armies began an assault to link up with the stubbornly advancing 52nd Army on March 27 at or near Miasnoi Bor. By the end of the day a gap 3–5 km wide was forced through the enemy cordon, which salvaged the situation for the time being.
In the event the Novgorod operation was never carried out. On April 8 elements of 52nd and 59th Armies struck again, widening the gap to 2nd Shock's positions, although the passage was still inadequate. The 376th was then withdrawn into the Volkhov Front reserves for replenishment, deploying again in the Miasnoi Bor area. On the 9th, Lt. Colonel Ugorich left command of the division, being replaced by Col. Georgii Petrovich Isakov. Volkhov Front was soon disbanded and the division returned to the front in 59th Army, which was now in the Group of Forces Volkhov Direction (later Volkhov Group of Forces) of Leningrad Front. It remained in that Army when Volkhov Front was reformed in June.
In September the 376th was transferred to the rebuilding 2nd Shock Army, still in Volkhov Front, being briefly assigned to 6th Guards Rifle Corps. Colonel Isakov handed his command to Maj. Gen. Nikolai Emilianovich Argunov on December 29; Isakov would go on to be promoted to major general and was made a Hero of the Soviet Union. On January 12, 1943, the Volkhov and Leningrad Fronts launched the third Sinyavino offensive, also called Operation Iskra ("Spark"). Volkhov Front's part in the offensive began at 0930 hours with an artillery preparation with more than 2,000 guns, including 300 conducting direct fire on the forward edge of the German defenses. Soon this was accompanied by attacks from 14th Air Army. The 376th was on the extreme left flank of 2nd Shock, and made a joint attack with elements of 8th Army which penetrated the forward edge of the enemy defense but was halted by heavy fire from the 1st Infantry Division. Repeated attempts to resume the offensive in this sector were stymied by German counterattacks. Overnight on January 12/13 Meretskov reinforced the division's thrust towards Sinyavino with the 71st Rifle Division supported by the 98th Tank Brigade but deteriorating weather and the dense forests hindered coordination and accurate artillery fire. While Sinyavino remained out of reach, to the north at 0930 hours on January 18 the 123rd Rifle Division of 67th Army joined hands with the 372nd of 2nd Shock just east of Workers Settlement No. 1 and the siege of Leningrad was officially broken.
On January 27 General Argunov resumed his post as Deputy Chief of Staff for Combat Training, Volkhov Front, and was replaced in command by Maj. Gen. Mikhail Danilovich Grishin. Following Operation Iskra the 376th moved with its Army into Leningrad Front, where it remained through the rest of 1943. In August it was reassigned to 55th Army.
In the preparations for the offensive that finally drove the German Army away from Leningrad for good, in December the 376th was reassigned again, now to the 116th Rifle Corps in 67th Army. The initial task assigned to this Army was to tie down the German forces south and east of Leningrad to prevent them from reinforcing their forces facing 2nd Shock and 42nd Armies. Subsequently the 67th was to attack through Mga and Ulyanovka towards Krasnogvardeisk. The offensive began on January 14, 1944, and on January 19 the latter town was liberated, primarily by 42nd Army. Early on January 21 Soviet intelligence detected a partial German withdrawal from Mga and 67th Army was ordered to pursue and destroy the enemy forces in the region. While the German forces evaded encirclement, Mga was liberated late in the day. On January 26 the 116th Corps was withdrawn into Front reserve, and by the end of the month the division was transferred to the 118th Rifle Corps, also in Front reserve. On February 6 that Corps was reassigned to serve as the second echelon of 42nd Army, and it would remain under that command until July, becoming part of 3rd Baltic Front when that was created in April. On March 4, General Grishin passed his command over to Maj. Gen. Nikolai Antonovich Polyakov.
At the start of the summer offensive the 376th was directly north of Pskov, near the shores of Lake Pskov, facing the defenses of the Panther Line. After days of intense fighting the line was breached and on July 23 the division was recognized as follows:
"PSKOV... 376th Rifle Division (Maj. Gen. Polyakov, Nikolai Antonovich)... The troops who participated in the liberation of Pskov, by the order of the Supreme High Command of July 23, 1944, and a commendation in Moscow, are given a salute of 20 artillery salvoes from 224 guns.
The 1250th Rifle Regiment was awarded the Order of the Red Banner for its role in the same action.
By August 1 the division was back in the 116th Rifle Corps of 67th Army, but during that month it was reassigned to the 119th Rifle Corps of 1st Shock Army. It would remain under command of that Army for the duration. By the middle of September the 376th was in the vicinity of Ape in Latvia, continuing to advance to the west. On September 19 it took part in the liberation of Valga in Estonia. By early October it was approaching Riga just east of Limbaži. The division played a major role in the liberation of Riga, and was recognized with the award of the Order of the Red Banner on October 31.
Battle of Courland
After the battle for Riga the 3rd Baltic Front was disbanded and the 1st Shock Army was reassigned to the 2nd Baltic Front. Col. Dmitrii Ivanovich Pavlov took command of the division from General Polyakov on December 28. The 376th remained in 119th Corps until February, 1945, when it was reassigned to the 123rd Rifle Corps, still in 1st Shock Army. It would remain under those Corps and Army commands for the duration, moving to the Courland Group of Forces with them in March. On January 15 General Polyakov returned to command and would remain in that position for the duration.
The division ended the war with the full title: 376th Rifle, Kuzbass-Pskov, Order of the Red Banner Division (Russian: 376-я стрелковая Кузбасско-Псковская Краснознамённая дивизия). In September, 1945 it was reorganized as the 48th Rifle Brigade.
- Walter S. Dunn, Jr., Stalin's Keys to Victory, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2006, p. 79
- Charles C. Sharp, "Red Tide", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From June to December 1941, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IX, Nafziger, 1996, p. 101
- Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 101
- David M. Glantz, The Battle for Leningrad, 1941-1944, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2002, pp. 158-62, 164-65
- Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1942, p. 42
- Glantz, Battle for Leningrad, pp. 174-78
- Glantz, Battle for Leningrad, pp. 180-81
- Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1942, pp. 80, 99, 120
- Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1942, p. 187
- Glantz, Battle for Leningrad, pp. 273-75, 278-82
- Sharp, "Red Tide", p. 101
- Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1943, p. 213
- Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1944, p. 9
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- Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1944, p. 36
- Glantz, Battle for Leningrad, p. 377
- Multi-Man Publishing, Inc., Baltic Gap, Millersville, MD, 2009, p. 10
- http://www.soldat.ru/spravka/freedom/1-ssr-5.html. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
- Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union 1967a, p. 429.
- Combat Composition of the Soviet Army, 1944, pp. 217, 247
- http://www.soldat.ru/spravka/freedom/1-ssr-1.html. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
- Multi-Man Publishing, Baltic Gap, pp. 29, 36
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- Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union (1967a). Сборник приказов РВСР, РВС СССР, НКО и Указов Президиума Верховного Совета СССР о награждении орденами СССР частей, соединениий и учреждений ВС СССР. Часть I. 1920 - 1944 гг [Collection of orders of the RVSR, RVS USSR and NKO on awarding orders to units, formations and establishments of the Armed Forces of the USSR. Part I. 1920–1944] (PDF) (in Russian). Moscow.
- Grylev, A. N. (1970). Перечень № 5. Стрелковых, горнострелковых, мотострелковых и моторизованных дивизии, входивших в состав Действующей армии в годы Великой Отечественной войны 1941-1945 гг [List (Perechen) No. 5: Rifle, Mountain Rifle, Motor Rifle and Motorized divisions, part of the active army during the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945] (in Russian). Moscow: Voenizdat. p. 155
- Main Personnel Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union (1964). Командование корпусного и дивизионного звена советских вооруженных сил периода Великой Отечественной войны 1941 – 1945 гг [Commanders of Corps and Divisions in the Great Patriotic War, 1941–1945] (in Russian). Moscow: Frunze Military Academy. pp. 283-84