21st Guards Motor Rifle Division (Russia)

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328th Rifle Division (1941–1942)
31st Guards Rifle Division (1942–1945)
29th Guards Mechanised Division (1945–1957)
29th Guards Motor Rifle Division (1957–1964)
31st Guards Motor Rifle Division (1964–1978)
21st Guards Tank Division (1978 – ca. 2004–6)
21st Guards Motor Rifle Division (ca. 2004–6 – 2009)
38th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade
Country Soviet Union
BranchRed Army flag.svg Red Army
TypeMechanised Infantry
EngagementsWorld War II
Battle honoursVitebsk
Porfiry Gudz
Ivan Burmakov

The 21st Guards Motor Rifle Division was a unit of the Russian Ground Forces, within the Far East Military District, formed from the Red Army 31st Guards Rifle Division, an infantry division of World War II which subsequently became a motor-rifle, a tank division and then back to a motor-rifle division. The division appears to have been disbanded, probably in 2009. At least one of its regiments became a separate motor rifle brigade.

World War II[edit]

The division traced its origin to the 328th Rifle Division, which was formed in the Yaroslavl area in August – September 1941. The division initially consisted of the 1103rd, 1105th and 1107th Rifle Regiments and the 889th Artillery Regiment. Colonel P.A. Yeremin (August, 1941 – April, 1942) took command. On December 7, 1941, the division entered battle in area of the city of Mikhajlov of the Ryazan area. Colonel P. M. Gudz (April – September, 1942) held command from April 1942.

As part of the 10th Army, then the 16th Army, the division joined the Western Front, participated in counterattack near Moscow and the winter offensive of 1942, around Zhizdra and Kirov. On 24 May 1942 for its courage and heroism the division became the 31st Guards Rifle Division.[1] The new regimental titles were the 95th, 97th, and 99th Guards Rifle Regiments and the 64th Guards Artillery Regiment. In the summer of 1942 the division fought in the Bryansk area. General-Major A. F. Naumov (October, 1942 – February, 1943) took command in October 1942.

Colonel, from 17 November 1943, general-major I. K. Shcherbina (February, 1943 – July, 1944) took command from February 1943. In 1943 as part of the 16th Army (since April, 16th, 1943 – 11th Guards Army) the division attacked the Oryol direction, on 15 August participated in clearing the city of Karachev. It then took part in Operation Bagration and the Gumbinnen Offensive. On 2 July the division was awarded the honorific Vitebsk for skilful actions in Vitebsk–Orsha Offensive, and on 23 July for clearing the city of Molodechno it was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.

In July during the Vilnius Offensive the division skillfully forced the Neman river near the city of Alytus, for which, on 12 August it was awarded the Order of Suvorov, 2nd class. Major General Ivan Burmakov took command of the division in July and remained in command until the end of the war. The division has entered East Prussia on 18 October against stiff German resistance. On 14 November for valour and heroism of soldiers in the invasion of East Prussia the division was awarded the Order of Lenin.[2]

The division participated in the East Prussian Offensive of 1945. During the assault on Koenigsberg, now Kaliningrad, the division distinguished itself breaking the external defensive boundary. The division participated in the rout of the remaining German forces and the taking of the Pilau (Baltiysk) naval base.

More than 14,000 of its soldiers were awarded decorations and medals during the war, and eleven were awarded the coveted Hero of the Soviet Union.

Cold War[edit]

In 1945 31st Guards Rifle Division was reformed as 29th Guards Mechanised Division, with the 94th, 93rd, and 92nd Guards Mechanised Regiments.

On 25 June 1957 29th Guards Mechanised Division was reflagged as the 29th Guards Motor Rifle Division at Kaunas. The division was subordinated to the 10th Army Corps. In June 1960, the division became part of the Baltic Military District. On 19 February 1962, the 626th Separate Equipment Maintenance and Recovery Battalion was activated, along with a missile battalion.[3]

On 1 November 1965 the division became 31st Guards Motor Rifle Division (Russian: 31-я гвардейская мотострелковая Витебская ордена Ленина Краснознамённая ордена Суворова дивизия). In 1968, the 35th Separate Guards Sapper Battalion became a sapper-engineer battalion. It may have been based at Vilnius for a period. In August 1969 31st Guards Motor Rifle Division was relocated from Kaunas in the Lithuanian SSR (Baltic Military District) to Belogorsk, in the Amur area of the Far East Military District. The division became part of the 35th Army. In 1972, the chemical defence company was upgraded to the 158th Separate Chemical Defence Battalion.[3]

On 16 May 1977 31st Guards Motor Rifle Division became 21st Guards Tank Division. The 93rd Guards Motor Rifle Regiment became the 111th Guards Tank Regiment and the 94th Guards Motor Rifle Regiment became the 125th Guards Tank Regiment. In 1980, the 389th Separate Motor Transport Battalion became the 1138th Separate Material Supply Battalion.[3]

Post-Cold War[edit]

In 2002 the division became the 21st Guards Motor Rifle Division, and its full formal title in 2009 was the 21st Guards Motor Rifle Vitebsk Lenin Red Banner Order of Suvorov Division. The division was disbanded and its 111th Guards Tank Regiment became the 143rd Guards Motor Rifle Regiment.[4] The 143rd Guards Motor Rifle Regiment was upgraded to brigade strength as the 38th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade.[5]


The division used to comprise:[6]

  • 2nd Guards Vitebsk Red Banner Orders of Suvorov and Kutuzov Tank Regiment
  • 111th Guards Red Banner Order of Kutuzov Tank Regiment
  • 125th Guards Tank Regiment
  • 143rd Guards Motor-Rifle Red Banner Order of Kutuzov Regiment (Yekaterinoslavka, a constant readiness unit which changed its number from 111th Guards Tank Regiment in the late 1980s or early 1990s); (Military Unit No. 26381)
  • 64th Guards Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment
  • 1064th Guards Antiaircraft Rocket Regiment

One of the machine-gun artillery battalions is deployed in Blagoveshchensk.


  1. ^ "31-я гвардейская Витебская стрелковая дивизия" [31st Guards Vitebsk Rifle Division]. samsv.narod.ru (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-02-18.
  2. ^ Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union 1967, p. 558.
  3. ^ a b c Michael Holm, 31st Guards Motor Rifle Division, 2015
  4. ^ "Продолжение омсбр 2000–х годов" [New Separate Motor Rifle Brigades of the 2000s]. www.soldat.ru (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-02-18.
  5. ^ "Войсковая часть 21720 (38-я ОМСБр)" [Military Unit 21720 (38th OMSBr)]. voinskayachast.net (in Russian). Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  6. ^ Soldat.ru, but corroborated in Feskov et al., The Soviet Army in the Period of the Cold War, Tomsk, 2004