World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
58th Combined Arms Army
The 58th Army is an army of the Russian Ground Forces, headquartered at Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia-Alania, within Russia's Southern Military District. It was formed in 1941 as part of the Soviet Union's Red Army and has been part of the Russian Army since 1995, it was first formed in the Siberian Military District in November 1941, including the 362nd, 364th, 368th, 370th, 380th, 384th Rifle Divisions and the 77th Cavalry Division and moved to the Arkhangelsk Military District, but the Army was redesignated the 3rd Tank Army in May 1942. It was reestablished within the Kalinin Front in June 1942, in July included the 16th and 27th Guards Rifle Divisions, the 215th and 375th Rifle Divisions, the 35th and 81st Tank Brigades, other support units, it was reformed in the Transcaucasian Front from the 24th Army on 28 August 1942, under General Khomenko of the NKVD. Much of its senior cadre came from the NKVD, among its missions was to keep order in the Caucasus in the Groznyi and Makhachkala regions.
This was because of a Chechen uprising that had gone on since 1941. 58th Army joined the North Caucasus Front. On 1 November 1942 it consisted of the 271st and 416th Rifle Division, the Makhachkala Division of the NKVD. Prior to the North Caucasus Front putting its main effort into the Kerch-Eltigen Operation the Army HQ was reorganised as Headquarters Volga Military District in October 1943; the headquarters was reformed in 1995 in the North Caucasus Military District from the 42nd Army Corps at Vladikavkaz. During the Second Chechen War, the Army was commanded by General Vladimir Shamanov. On 3 August 2008, five battalions of the Russian 58th Army were moved to the vicinity of Roki Tunnel that links Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia with Russia's North Ossetia. On 8 August 2008 the 58th Army crossed the border into Georgia and engaged in combat against Georgian forces, most notably in the city of Tskhinvali, its then-commander, General Anatoly Khrulyov was wounded in action. In June 2014 Ukrainian troops captured a damaged BM-21 Grad launcher, which the Ukrainians identified as equipment of the 58th Army of the Russian Federation.
Major general Sergey Kuzovlev became commander of the army on 18 August 2016. In late 2016 the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that the 42nd Guards Motor Rifle Division had been reformed from the 8th Guards Mountain Motor Rifle Brigade, the 17th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade, the 18th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade. In January 2017, 20th Guards Army commander Major general Yevgeny Nikiforov replaced Kuzovlev; the Army operates in a close coordination with the 4th Air Force and Air Defence Army of the district, includes: 42nd Motor Rifle Division – Khankala and Kalinovskaya in the Chechnya 19th Motor Rifle Division – Vladikavkaz 205th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade – Budenovsk 136th Guards Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade – Buynaksk, Dagestan 135th Separate Motorized Rifle Regiment – Prochladny, Kabardino-Balkaria 291st Separate Artillery Brigade – Maikop – 943rd Multiple Rocket Launcher Regiment – Krasnooktabrsky 1128th Anti-Tank Regiment – Maikop 67th Separate Anti-Aircraft Rocket Brigade – Volgograd area 487th Separate Helicopter Regiment – Budenovsk 11th Separate Engineer Regiment – Kavkazskay 234th Separate Signals Regiment – Vladikavkaz 22nd Separate Regiment of Electronic Warfare- Vladikavkaz 8th Guards Mountain Motor Rifle Brigade – Borzoy 17th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade – Shali 18th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade – Khankala and Kalinovskaya, Chechnya 19th Motor Rifle Brigade – Vladikavkaz 20th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade – Volgograd 136th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade – Buynaksk 291st Artillery Brigade – Troitskaya 42nd Guards Motor Rifle Division 19th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade 136th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade 4th Guards Military Base 12th Rocket Brigade 291st Artillery Brigade 67th Anti-Aircraft Rocket Brigade 100th Reconnaissance Brigade 34th Headquarters Brigade 40th NBC Protection Regiment 31st Engineer Sapper Regiment 78th Logistic Support Brigade 14th Separate Electronic Warfare Battalion Murphy, Paul J.
The Wolves of Islam: Russia and the Faces of Chechen Terror, Brassey's, 2004
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was the largest confrontation of World War II, in which Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in Southern Russia. Marked by fierce close quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids, it was the largest and bloodiest battle in the history of warfare. After their defeat at Stalingrad, the German High Command had to withdraw vast military forces from the Western Front to replace their losses; the German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August 1942, using the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intensive Luftwaffe bombing; the fighting degenerated into house-to-house fighting. By mid-November 1942, the Germans had pushed the Soviet defenders back at great cost into narrow zones along the west bank of the Volga River. On 19 November 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian armies protecting the German 6th Army's flanks.
The Axis forces on the flanks were overrun and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded in the Stalingrad area. Adolf Hitler ordered that the army make no attempt to break out. Heavy fighting continued for another two months. By the beginning of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad had exhausted their ammunition and food; the remaining units of the 6th Army surrendered. The battle lasted one week and three days. By the spring of 1942, despite the failure of Operation Barbarossa to decisively defeat the Soviet Union in a single campaign, the Wehrmacht had captured vast expanses of territory, including Ukraine and the Baltic republics. Elsewhere, the war had been progressing well: the U-boat offensive in the Atlantic had been successful and Erwin Rommel had just captured Tobruk. In the east, they had stabilized their front in a line running from Leningrad in the north to Rostov in the south. There were a number of salients, but these were not threatening. Hitler was confident that he could master the Red Army after the winter of 1942, because though Army Group Centre had suffered heavy losses west of Moscow the previous winter, 65% of its infantry had not been engaged and had been rested and re-equipped.
Neither Army Group North nor Army Group South had been hard pressed over the winter. Stalin was expecting the main thrust of the German summer attacks to be directed against Moscow again. With the initial operations being successful, the Germans decided that their summer campaign in 1942 would be directed at the southern parts of the Soviet Union; the initial objectives in the region around Stalingrad were the destruction of the industrial capacity of the city and the deployment of forces to block the Volga River. The river was the Caspian Sea to central Russia, its capture would disrupt commercial river traffic. The Germans cut the pipeline from the oilfields; the capture of Stalingrad would make the delivery of Lend Lease supplies via the Persian Corridor much more difficult. On 23 July 1942, Hitler rewrote the operational objectives for the 1942 campaign expanding them to include the occupation of the city of Stalingrad. Both sides began to attach propaganda value to the city, based on it bearing the name of the leader of the Soviet Union.
Hitler proclaimed that after Stalingrad's capture, its male citizens were to be killed and all women and children were to be deported because its population was "thoroughly communistic" and "especially dangerous". It was assumed that the fall of the city would firmly secure the northern and western flanks of the German armies as they advanced on Baku, with the aim of securing these strategic petroleum resources for Germany; the expansion of objectives was a significant factor in Germany's failure at Stalingrad, caused by German overconfidence and an underestimation of Soviet reserves. The Soviets realized, they ordered that anyone strong enough to hold a rifle be sent to fight. If I do not get the oil of Maikop and Grozny I must finish this war. Army Group South was selected for a sprint forward through the southern Russian steppes into the Caucasus to capture the vital Soviet oil fields there; the planned summer offensive, code-named Fall Blau, was to include the German 6th, 17th, 4th Panzer and 1st Panzer Armies.
Army Group South had overrun the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1941. Poised in Eastern Ukraine, it was to spearhead the offensive. Hitler intervened, ordering the Army Group to split in two. Army Group South, under the command of Wilhelm List, was to continue advancing south towards the Caucasus as planned with the 17th Army and First Panzer Army. Army Group South, including Friedrich Paulus's 6th Army and Hermann Hoth's 4th Panzer Army, was to move east towards the Volga and Stalingrad. Army Group B was commanded by Field Marshal Fedor von Bock and by General Maximilian von Weichs; the start of Case Blue had been planned for late May 1942. However, a number of German and Romanian units that were to take part in Blau were besieging Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula. Delays in ending the siege pushed back the start date for Blau several times, the city did not fall until early July. Operation Fridericus I by the Germans against the "Isium bulge", pinched off the Soviet
303rd Rifle Division (Soviet Union)
The 303rd Rifle Division began service as a standard Red Army rifle division shortly after the German invasion, in its first formation fought in the central part of the Soviet-German front for a few months, taking part in the first offensive success of the Red Army at Yelnya, before being encircled and annihilated in the fighting around Vyasma. A second 303rd was raised a few months and fought on in the central sector of Ukraine; the men and women of the division first distinguished themselves during the summer offensive of 1943, making an assault crossing of the Dniepr River at Verkhnodniprovsk and gaining a battle honor for it. A second such honor was won in the spring of 1944 for the division's role in the liberation of the city of Beltsy in Moldova, it ended the war at Prague, after advancing through Romania and Austria. The division was disbanded in 1946; the division began forming on July 1941 at Voronezh in the Oryol Military District. Col. Nikolai Pavlovich Rudnev was appointed as commanding officer on the same day.
The division's order of battle was as follows: 845th Rifle Regiment 847th Rifle Regiment 849th Rifle Regiment 844th Artillery Regiment 561st Sapper Battalion 741th Signal Battalion 365th Reconnaissance CompanyLess than a month after forming, the 303rd was assigned to Reserve Front, moving to 43rd Army of that Front on August 10, just as that Army was itself forming up. By the end of August it had been shifted to 24th Army, took part in the third counteroffensive against the Yelnya salient, beginning on August 30; the division led the southern Shock Group as part of the planned concentric attack to seal off the salient, advanced 2km on the first day, again on the second. After standing off German counterattacks for two days, it again advanced on September 3, with assistance from a tank battalion, it was still about 8km short of linking up with the northern Group when German Army Group Center ordered its forces to withdraw from the salient, carried out over the next four days. Army General G.
K. Zhukov gave the 303rd little credit for this success, stating that "The 303rd... operated poorly and without initiative". It was not chosen to become one of the first four Guards rifle divisions; as of September 12 the rifle regiments of the division averaged only 400 men each, indicating excessive casualties. By the end of September the division was reassigned yet again, to 49th Army of Reserve Front some 200km to the north in the area of Sychevka. Before this move could get well underway, the 303rd was swept up in the German Operation Typhoon, by October 10 was encircled north of Spas-Demensk. By the end of the month the division was destroyed as a fighting unit, but a cadre survived, Col. Alexsandr Gavrilovich Moiseevskiy was appointed to its command on October 31; the division lingered on the official order of battle until December 27. A new rifle division numbered the 448th, began forming on January 1, 1942, at Topki in the Siberian Military District, its first commander, Col. Lev Ivanovich Ostroukhov, was assigned on that date.
It was formed from men drafted out of the Kuzbass coal mining region, in March was re-designated as the second 303rd Rifle Division. At this time its composition by nationality was recorded as 60 % Siberian and others, it remained in the Siberian District until April. Its order of battle remained the same as that of the 1st formation, although an unknown numbered antitank battalion would have been included. Late in that month it moved to the Moscow Military District and was assigned to the 2nd Reserve Army in the STAVKA reserves. By July the division was in 3rd Reserve Army when it was re-designated the 60th Army for front-line service. On July 19 that Army went into Voronezh Front, on that same date, Col. Konstantin Stepanovich Fyodorovskiy was promoted from chief of staff to divisional command. Promoted to the rank of Major General on January 17, 1944, he remained in command until late December of the same year; the 303rd spent the remainder of 1942 in that Army in that Front, mounting an aggressive defense against what the STAVKA anticipated to be a German drive to the northeast towards Moscow.
In early 1943 it was moved to 40th Army, for a month in Voronezh Front reserves for rebuilding. Following this the 303rd was transferred to Southwestern Front, in April to 57th Army of that Front. Following the Battle of Kursk, 57th Army was moved to Steppe Front and in September the division was reassigned to the 7th Guards Army; the 303rd was destined to remain in that Front for the duration. It was in this period, during the Battle of the Dniepr, that the division was recognized for its efforts in a river-crossing operation at the town of Verkhnodniprovsk, received the following unusual honorific:"UPPER DNIEPR - Liberated on October 22, 1943 by troops of 2nd Ukrainian Front in the attack on the Krivoy Rog direction during the battle for the Dniepr... 303rd Rifle Division... By order of the Supreme High Command is given this name." The division was further recognized on January 8, 1944, with the award of the Order of the Red Banner. In February it was moved to the 52nd Army as part of the 78th Rifle Corps, in which it liberated the Moldovan town of Beltsy on March 26, earned its second battle honor:"BELTSY - 303rd Rifle Division...
The troops who participated in the battles during the crossing of the Dniestr and the liberation of Beltsy... by order of the Supreme High Command and a commendation in Moscow on 26 March 1944 are saluted with 24 salvoes from 324 guns." However, the Corps' advance ran out of steam the next month outside the Romanian city of Iași. In June
Grozny is the capital city of Chechnya, Russia. The city lies on the Sunzha River. According to the 2010 Census, it had a population of 271,573, it was known as Groznaya. In Russian, "Grozny" means "fearsome", "menacing", or "redoubtable", the same word as in Ivan Grozny or Ivan the Terrible. While the official name in Chechen is the same, informally the city is known as "Соьлжа-Гӏала, Sölƶa-Ġala", which means "the city on the Sunzha River". In 1996, during the First Chechen War, the Chechen separatists renamed the city Dzhokhar-Ghala, or Dzhokhar/Djohar for short, after Dzhokhar Dudayev, the first President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. In December 2005, the Chechen parliament voted to rename the city "Akhmadkala" —a proposition, rejected by his son Ramzan Kadyrov, the prime minister and President of the republic; the fortress of Groznaya was founded in 1818 as a Russian military outpost on the Sunzha River by general Aleksey Petrovich Yermolov. As the fort was being built the workers were fired upon by the Chechens.
The Russians solved the problem by placing a cannon at a chosen point outside the walls. When night fell and the Chechens came out of their hiding places to drag the gun away all the other guns opened up with grapeshot; when the Chechens recovered their senses and began to carry away the bodies the guns fired again. When it was over 200 dead were counted, thus did the'terrible' fort receive its baptism of fire. It was a prominent defense center during the Caucasian War. After the annexation of the region by the Russian Empire, the military use of the old fortress was obsolete and in December 1869 it was renamed Grozny and granted town status; as most of the residents there were Terek Cossacks, the town grew until the development of oil reserves in the early 20th century. This encouraged the rapid development of petrochemical production. In addition to the oil drilled in the city itself, the city became a geographical center of Russia's network of oil fields, in 1893 became part of the Transcaucasia — Russia Proper railway.
The result was the population doubled from 15,600 in 1897 to 30,400 in 1913. One day after the October Revolution, on November 8, 1917, the Bolsheviks headed by N. Anisimov seized Grozny; as the Russian Civil War escalated, the Proletariat formed the 12th Red Army, the garrison held out against numerous attacks by Terek Cossacks from August 11 to November 12, 1918. However, with the arrival of Denikin's armies, the Bolsheviks were forced to withdraw and Grozny was captured on February 4, 1919, by the White Army. Underground operations were carried out, but only the arrival of the Caucasus front of the Red Army in 1920 allowed the city to permanently end up with the Russian SFSR on March 17, it became part of the Soviet Mountain Republic, formed on January 20, 1921, was the capital of the Chechen National Okrug inside it. On November 30, 1922, the mountain republic was dissolved, the national okrug became the Chechen Autonomous Oblast with Grozny as the administrative center. At this time most of the population was still Russian, but of Cossack descent.
As Cossacks were viewed as a potential threat to the Soviet nation, Moscow encouraged the migration of Chechens into the city from the mountains. In 1934 the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Oblast was formed, becoming the Chechen-Ingush ASSR in 1936. In 1944, the entire population of Chechens and Ingush was deported after rebelling against Soviet rule. Large numbers of people who were not deemed fit for transport were'liquidated' on the spot, the adverse situation with transport and the stay in Siberia caused many deaths as well. According to internal NKVD data, a total of 144,704 were killed in 1944–1948 alone. Authors such as Alexander Nekrich, John Dunlop and Moshe Gammer, based on census data from the period estimate a death toll of about 170,000–200,000 among Chechens alone, thus ranging from over a third of the total Chechen population, deported to nearly half being killed in those 4 years. All traces of them in the city, including books and graveyards, were destroyed by the NKVD troops; the act was recognized by the European Parliament as an act of genocide in 2004.
Grozny became the administrative center of Grozny Oblast of the Russian SFSR, the city at the time was again wholly Russian. In 1957, the Chechen-Ingush ASSR was restored, the Chechens were allowed to return; the return of the Chechens to Grozny, lacking of Nakh for thirteen years, would cause massive disruptions to the social and political systems of what had been a Russian city for the period until their return. This caused a self-feeding cycle of ethnic conflict between the two groups, both believing the other's presence in the city was illegitimate. Once again migration of non-Russians into Grozny continued whilst the ethnic Russian population, in turn, moved to other parts of the USSR, notably the Baltic states, after the inter-ethnic conflict broke out in 1958. According to sociologist Georgy Derluguyan, the Checheno-Ingush Republic's economy was divided into two spheres—much like French settler-ruled Algeria—and the Russian sphere had all the jobs with higher salaries, while non-Russians were systematically kept out of all government positions.
Russians worked in education, oil and social
103rd Rifle Division (Soviet Union)
The 103rd Rifle Division was an infantry division of the Red Army, formed three times. It was first formed in 1939, it was fought in the Yelnya Offensive. After being converted back to a rifle division it was destroyed in the Battle of Vyazma; the division was destroyed during the Second Battle of Kharkov. It was reformed a third time in the Far East in summer 1942 and participated in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria; the division was formed at Voroshilovsk in August and September 1939 from the 35th Rifle Regiment of the 74th Rifle Division. The division was converted to a motorized division in part of the 26th Mechanized Corps. On 8 July the division became the 103rd Tank Division as a result of the reorganization of Red Army mechanized forces. During July and August, it fought in the Yelnya Offensive as part of the corps, now subordinated to the 24th Army. On 28 August, it became a rifle division again. In October 1941, it was surrounded and destroyed in the Spas-Demensky District, trapped in the Vyazma Pocket.
However, the division was only disbanded on 27 December, despite coming out of the encirclement with only thirty men. The division was reformed on 9 January 1942 from the 463rd Rifle Division at Samarkand; the 103rd was composed of the 583rd and 688th Rifle Regiments. In early March, the division was relocated to Starobilsk with the 28th Army and fought in the Second Battle of Kharkov during May 1942. Due to supply shortages the division was not provided with food from 28 April to 2 May. On 19 May, it became part of 6th Army but was surrounded and destroyed at Izyum between 25 and 27 May; the division was disbanded on 30 June 1942. The division was reformed a third time on 21 July 1942 in the Transbaikal Military District and served there for the duration of the war, it was with the 2nd Rifle Corps in Transbaikal Front in January 1945. During August and September 1945, it fought in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria. For its actions, the division was awarded the honorific "Khingan", it was disbanded in 1946 in the Transbaikal-Amur Military District.
Feskov, V. I.. I.. A.. A.. Вооруженные силы СССР после Второй Мировой войны: от Красной Армии к Советской. Tomsk: Scientific and Technical Literature Publishing. ISBN 9785895035306. Poirer and Connor, Red Army Order of Battle
120th Rifle Division (Soviet Union)
The 120th Rifle Division was an infantry division of the Red Army, formed three times. Its first formation became the 6th Guards Rifle Division for its actions in the Yelnya Offensive, its second formation became the 69th Guards Rifle Division for its actions in the Battle of Stalingrad. The division was reformed a third time in late April 1943, it was disbanded "in place" with the Central Group of Forces in the summer of 1945. The 120th Rifle Division was formed in July 1940 in the Orel Region from the 35th Reserve Rifle Brigade under the command of Major General Konstantin Petrov, part of the 33rd Rifle Corps; the 120th Rifle Division was composed of the following units: 401st Rifle Regiment 474th Rifle Regiment 540th Rifle Regiment 606th Artillery Regiment 180th Separate Antitank Battalion 105th Separate Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion 150th Intelligence Company 193rd Sapper Battalion 224th Separate Communications Battalion 208th Medical Battalion 50th Separate Chemical Defense Company 187th Motor Transport Battalion 113rd Field Bakery 164th Corps Veterinary Hospital 84th Field Post Office 81st Field Cash Office of the State BankOn 28 June 1941, it was transferred to Bryansk.
On 10 July it was concentrated in the Novoselki area west of Bryansk to establish a defensive line, including antitank ditches. The division became part of 24th Army on 15 July and was moved to the area 20 kilometers southeast of Yelnya, it went into combat on 30 July. Between August and September it fought in the Yelnya Offensive; the division helped capture Yelnya on 6 September. On 16 September, it was withdrawn from the front and sent to Stavka reserve in the Bologovsky District. On 26 September, the division became the 6th Guards Rifle Division for its actions at Yelnya; the division was reformed in Kazan from the 405th Rifle Division on 10 March 1942. 80% of the soldiers of the division were Kazakhs. The division was commanded by Colonel Nikolai Ryakin; the division included the following units: 289th Rifle Regiment 538th Rifle Regiment 543rd Rifle Regiment 1033rd Artillery Regiment 410th Separate Anti-Tank Battalion 464th Anti-Aircraft Truck Company 161st Intelligence Company 328th Sapper Battalion 678th Separate Communications Battalion 248th Medical-Sanitary Battalion 148th Separate Chemical Defense Company 532nd Road Transport Company 376th Field Bakery 847th Divisional Veterinary Hospital 1974th Field Post Office 1155th Field Cash Office of the State BankIn May the 120th was assigned to 8th Reserve Army in the Reserve of the Supreme High Command.
In June 1942 the division was moved by river to Saratov. On 24 August, 8th Reserve was rushed to Stalingrad; the division was thrown into a series of costly counterattacks north of the city from 4 September. On 27 September Colonel Kirill Dzhakhua took command. By 20 October, at the outset of Don Front's Fourth Kotluban counteroffensive, the division was noted as being under strength, with a battalion's worth of fighting men remaining. Prior to the start of the Soviet counteroffensive at Stalingrad, the 120th had been transferred to 24th Army, still in the same general area, rebuilt. On 22 November the division supported the army's shock group with two of its rifle regiments, but the attack made little progress against dug-in German positions. Further efforts on the following three days were unsuccessful. However, once the Axis forces had been encircled, the 120th gave distinguished service during Operation Ring, finishing off the trapped German 6th Army. In recognition of this, on 6 February the division was converted into the 69th Guards Rifle Division for its actions.
The division was reformed on 22 April 1943 from the 11th Rifle Brigade and the 142nd Naval Rifle Brigade on the Leningrad Front, part of the 67th Army, under command of 11th Rifle Brigade commander Colonel Alexei Batluk. The division included the following units: 289th Rifle Regiment 538th Rifle Regiment 543rd Rifle Regiment 1033rd Artillery Regiment 410th Separate Anti-Tank Battalion 161st Intelligence Company 328th Sapper Battalion 678th Separate Communications Battalion 248th Medical-Sanitary Battalion 148th Separate Chemical Defense Company 532nd Road Transport Company 376th Field Bakery 847th Divisional Veterinary Hospital 2276th Field Post Office 1216th Field Cash Office of the State BankBetween July and early September it was part of the 2nd Shock Army, but was returned to 67th Army. During the Sixth Sinyavino offensive the 120th provided right flank support to the 30th Guards Rifle Corps, able to storm and hold the Sinyavino heights on 15 September, although the offensive bogged down and was halted three days later.
The division transferred to front reserve that month. On 13 November the 120th was assigned to 117th Rifle Corps, where it would remain for most of the duration. In January 1944 it became part of the 59th Army; the division fought in the Leningrad–Novgorod Offensive, during which it participated in the capture of Gatchina on 25 January, penetrating into the northeastern section of the town from the north, just as 108th Rifle Corps was seizing the northwestern sector. After an all-night battle, the town was cleared the following morning:"Wednesday, 26 January; the battle for Gatchina did not cease throughout the night. The enemy 11th Infantry Division, defending the city, has been destroyed. At 1100 hours Colonel A. V. Batluk's 120th Rifle Division, cooperating with Colonel F. A. Burmistrov's 224th Rifle Division and other units cleared the occupiers from Gatchina." On 27 January 1944 it was awarded the honorific "Gatchina". The division received the Order of the Red Banner for helping to liberate Luga on 12 February.
In April 1944, th