6th Guards Airborne Division
The 6th Guards Airborne Division was a Red Army airborne division that fought as infantry during World War II. Formed in December 1942 from an airborne corps, it first saw combat as an infantry unit in the Staraya Russa in March 1943 fought in the Battle of Kursk; the division advanced west in the Battle of the Dnieper. The division fought in the Kirovograd Offensive and the Korsun-Shevchenkovsky Offensive in late 1943 and early 1944; the 5th Guards received the Order of the Red Banner and the Order of Suvorov for actions during the Uman–Botoșani Offensive fought in the Jassy–Kishinev Offensive. The division advanced westward into Hungary, fighting in the Battle of Debrecen and the Budapest Offensive in late 1944. In the last months of the war it fought in the Bratislava–Brno Offensive and ended the war fighting in the Prague Offensive. Weeks after the end of the war, it was redesignated as the 113th Guards Rifle Division, it was downsized into a brigade between 1953, serving in the Taurida Military District.
The division became a motor rifle division in 1957 and disbanded in 1959. The 6th Guards Airborne Division was formed on 8 December 1942 from the 6th Airborne Corps in Noginsk, one of eight new airborne divisions formed due to a shortage of infantry; the former commander of the 6th Airborne Corps, Major General Alexander Kirzimov, continued in command of the new division. Although its personnel received airborne training, the division was organized as a guards rifle division and would fight as infantry for the rest of the war, it included the 14th, 17th, 20th Guards Airborne Regiments, the 8th Guards Airborne Artillery Regiment, smaller units. Before the division went into combat, Kirzimov was replaced by Colonel Mikhail Smirnov on 11 March 1943, promoted to major general on 16 October 1943; the division saw its first combat with the 1st Shock Army in the area of Koshelki south of Staraya Russa on 14 March during the Staraya Russa Offensive. After that, the division was placed in the Reserve of the Supreme High Command.
As part of the 5th Guards Army, the division fought in the Battle of Kursk and the Belgorod-Kharkov Offensive Operation. After the Battle of the Dnieper, the division captured Kremenchuk on 29 September and Znamianka on 9 December, for which it was awarded honorifics. On 8 January 1944, the division helped capture Kirovohrad during the Kirovograd Offensive. In the Korsun-Shevchenkovsky Offensive, the division stopped German attempts to relieve the Korsun Pocket. During the Uman–Botoșani Offensive, it operated with the 4th Guards Army. For its performance during the offensive, the division was awarded the Order of the Red Banner on 19 March. For crossing the Dniester, the 6th Guards Airborne was awarded the Order of Suvorov 2nd class on 8 April. 14th Guards Airborne Regiment platoon commander Starshina Sharifzyan Kazanbaev was posthumously made a Hero of the Soviet Union for saving the regimental flag during fighting in early April. In the second half of April, it entered Romanian territory; as part of the 7th Guards Army, it captured Târgu Frumos.
In October, it fought in the Battle of Debrecen. Advancing into Hungary, it fought in the Budapest Offensive. On 5 December, the division broke through the northeastern defensive lines of Budapest as part of the 7th Guards Army, with which it remained for the rest of the war. At the end of December it crossed the Hron, but was forced to retreat in the face of German resistance. On 25 March 1945, the division crossed the Hron in the area of Zhemlyari during the Bratislava–Brno Offensive. On that day, it had a strength of 5,001 officers and men, with more than 1,000 in each of its three rifle regiments; the division was equipped with 2,157 rifles, 851 submachine guns, 109 light machine guns, 49 heavy machine guns, twelve anti-aircraft machine guns, twelve 120 mm mortars divided between each rifle regiment, 51 82 mm mortars divided between the rifle regiments, five 122 mm howitzers, twenty 76 mm divisional guns, eight 76 mm regimental guns, eighteen 45 mm anti-tank guns, 36 anti-tank rifles, 131 vehicles.
After the breaking through the German lines, the division captured Šurany, advanced over the Western Carpathians, captured oilfields in Zistersdorf. The division captured Příbram on 11 May. On 13 June 1945, it was redesignated as the 113th Guards Rifle Division to reflect its infantry role as part of the 25th Guards Rifle Corps of the 7th Guards Army in the newly created Central Group of Forces, its airborne regiments became the 359th, 361st, 363rd Guards Rifle Regiments, the division included the 468th and 473rd Guards Artillery Regiments. The division was withdrawn to Zaporizhia in the Odessa Military District in late 1945 with the corps and downsized into the 43rd Separate Guards Rifle Brigade in April 1948 following the disbandment of the corps in May 1947; the brigade was subsequently moved to Yevpatoria in the Taurida Military District, where it became a division again in October 1953. By 1955, the 85th Guards Tank Regiment was added to the division. On 17 May 1957, the 113th Guards Rifle Division became a motor rifle division at Yevpatoria with the 45th Army Corps.
It included the 359th, 361st and 363rd Guards Motor Rifle Regiments formed from guards rifle regiments with the same numbers, the 85th Guards Tank Regiment and other smaller units. The division was disbanded on 1 March 1959; the following officers are known to have led the division: Major General Alexander Kirzimov Colonel Mikhail Smirnov (11 March 1943–December 1948.
The Volga is the longest river in Europe with a catchment area of 1,350,000 square kilometres. It is Europe's largest river in terms of discharge and drainage basin; the river flows through central Russia and into the Caspian Sea, is regarded as the national river of Russia. Eleven of the twenty largest cities of Russia, including the capital, are located in the Volga's drainage basin; some of the largest reservoirs in the world are located along the Volga. The river has a symbolic meaning in Russian culture and is referred to as Волга-матушка Volga-Matushka in Russian literature and folklore; the Russian hydronym Volga derives from Proto-Slavic *vòlga "wetness, moisture", preserved in many Slavic languages, including Ukrainian volóha "moisture", Russian vlaga "moisture", Bulgarian vlaga "moisture", Czech vláha "dampness", Serbian vlaga "moisture", Croatian vlaga "moisture" and Slovene vlaga "moisture" among others. The Slavic name is a loan translation of earlier Scythian Rā "Volga" "wetness", cognate with Avestan Raŋhā "mythical stream" and Vedic Sanskrit rasā́ "dew, juice.
The Scythian name survives in modern Mordvin Rav "Volga". The Turkic peoples living along the river referred to it as Itil or Atil "big river". In modern Turkic languages, the Volga is known as İdel in Tatar, Атăл in Chuvash, Idhel in Bashkir, Edil in Kazakh, İdil in Turkish; the Turkic peoples associated the Itil's origin with the Kama. Thus, a left tributary to the Kama was named the Aq Itil "White Itil" which unites with the Kara Itil "Black Itil" at the modern city of Ufa; the name Indyl is used in Adyge language. Among Asians, the river was known by its other Turkic name Sarı-su "yellow water", but the Oirats used their own name, Ijil mörön or "adaptation river". Presently the Mari, another Uralic group, call the river Jul, they called the river Volgydo, a borrowing from Old East Slavic. The Volga is the longest river in Europe, its catchment area is entirely inside Russia, though the longest river in Russia is the Ob–Irtysh river system, it belongs to the closed basin of the Caspian Sea, being the longest river to flow into a closed basin.
Rising in the Valdai Hills 225 meters above sea level northwest of Moscow and about 320 kilometers southeast of Saint Petersburg, the Volga heads east past Lake Sterzh, Dubna, Yaroslavl, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan. From there it turns south, flows past Ulyanovsk, Samara and Volgograd, discharges into the Caspian Sea below Astrakhan at 28 meters below sea level. At its most strategic point, it bends toward the Don. Volgograd Stalingrad, is located there; the Volga has many tributaries, most the rivers Kama, the Oka, the Vetluga, the Sura. The Volga and its tributaries form the Volga river system, which flows through an area of about 1,350,000 square kilometres in the most populated part of Russia; the Volga Delta has a length of about 160 kilometres and includes as many as 500 channels and smaller rivers. The largest estuary in Europe, it is the only place in Russia where pelicans and lotuses may be found; the Volga freezes for most of its length for three months each year. The Volga drains most of Western Russia.
Its many large reservoirs provide hydroelectric power. The Moscow Canal, the Volga–Don Canal, the Volga–Baltic Waterway form navigable waterways connecting Moscow to the White Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. High levels of chemical pollution have adversely affected its habitats; the fertile river valley provides large quantities of wheat, has many mineral riches. A substantial petroleum industry centers on the Volga valley. Other resources include natural gas and potash; the Volga Delta and the nearby Caspian Sea offer superb fishing grounds. Astrakhan, at the delta, is the center of the caviar industry. A number of large hydroelectric reservoirs were constructed on the Volga during the Soviet era, they are: Volgograd Reservoir Saratov Reservoir Kuybyshev Reservoir – the largest in Europe by surface Cheboksary Reservoir Gorky Reservoir Rybinsk Reservoir Uglich Reservoir Ivankovo Reservoir Volgograd Nizhny Novgorod Kazan Samara Saratov Tolyatti Yaroslavl Astrakhan Ulyanovsk Cheboksary Tver The area downstream of the Volga believed to have been a cradle of the Proto-Indo-European civilization, was settled by Slavs and other Turkic peoples in the first millennium AD, replacing the Scythians.
The ancient scholar Ptolemy of Alexandria mentions the lower Volga in his Geography. He calls it the Rha, the Scythian name for the river. Ptolemy believed the Don and the Volga shared the same upper branch, which flowed from the Hyperborean Mountains; the Russian ethnicity in Western Russia and around the Volga river evolved among other tribes, out of the East Slavic tribe of the Buzhans. Several localities in Russia are connected to the Buzhans, like for example Sredniy Buzhan in the Orenburg Oblast and the Buzan river in the Astrakhan Oblast. Buzhan is a village in Nishapur, Iran. Subsequently, the river basin played an important role in the movements of peoples from Asia to Europe. A powerful polity of Volga Bulgaria once flourished where the Kama jo
4th Guards Motor Rifle Division
The 4th Guards Motor Rifle Division was a motorized infantry division of the Soviet Army during the Cold War. The division began its history as the 13th Tank Corps of the Red Army, formed in April 1942 during World War II and fought in the Soviet counterattack against Case Blue, the Battle of Voronezh, the Battle of Stalingrad; the corps lost so many tanks that it was reorganized with a mechanized corps structure in November, though it retained the 13th Tank Corps designation. For its actions the corps became the 4th Guards Mechanized Corps in early 1943 and received the Stalingrad honorific, it continued to fight in combat for most of the rest of the war, receiving the Order of the Red Banner for its role in the Nikopol–Krivoi Rog Offensive of early 1944, the Order of Suvorov, 2nd class for its actions in the Odessa Offensive, the Order of Kutuzov, 2nd class for its actions in the Jassy–Kishinev Offensive. In the final months of the war the corps advanced into Bulgaria, Serbia and southern Czechoslovakia before being withdrawn into the reserve.
Several weeks after the end of the war, the corps was converted into the 4th Guards Mechanized Division and based at Sofia. In the late 1940s it was withdrawn to Ukraine, was based at Lugansk by the time it became the 63rd Guards Motor Rifle Division in 1957, it was renumbered as the 4th Guards Motor Rifle Division to preserve its traditions in 1964, was sent to Termez during the Soviet–Afghan War to replace a division deployed to the latter. When it returned to Lugansk in 1989, the division was reduced to a storage base, disbanded in 1991; the corps was formed during April and May 1942 in the Stalingrad Military District as the 13th Tank Corps, under the command of Major General Pyotr Shurov. It included the 65th, 85th, 88th Tank Brigades as well as the 20th Motor Rifle Brigade and support units; the corps saw its first combat on 10 June in the area of Prikolotnoye southwest of Kupiansk as part of the Southwestern Front. During June and July the corps was part of the 28th Army transferred to the 21st Army to participate in the Battle of Voronezh.
Shruov was mortally wounded in July and replaced by Colonel Trofim Tanaschishin, who would be promoted to major general on 7 December 1942 and to lieutenant general on 30 August 1943. On 23 July 1942 it was transferred to the Stalingrad Front, with which it fought in the Battle of Stalingrad. Due to heavy losses of tanks, in November the corps was reorganized as a mechanized corps with the 1st, 17th, 62nd Mechanized Brigades, though it retained the 13th Tank Corps designation; the corps fought in Operation Uranus, helping to encircle the Axis southern flank, in the repulse of the German counterattack Operation Winter Storm, in the counteroffensive of Operation Little Saturn. For "showing perseverance, courage and organization" in these actions, in addition to the "heroism displayed by its personnel," the corps was made an elite Guards unit, the 4th Guards Mechanized Corps, on 9 January 1943, received the Stalingrad honorific on 27 January, its subordinate brigades accordingly became the 13th, 14th, 15th Guards Mechanized Brigades.
Between January 1943 and mid-January 1944 the corps fought as part of the Southern Front, which became the 4th Ukrainian Front on 20 October 1943. It participated in the Rostov Offensive, the Donbass Strategic Offensive, the Melitopol Offensive during this period. Transferred to the 3rd Ukrainian Front in mid-January 1944, the corps was attached to the 8th Guards Army for the Nikopol–Krivoi Rog Offensive. Between 16 and 18 January it was relocated to support a breakthrough of the flanks on the 46th and 8th Guards Armies, with the objective of capturing the critical rail junction of Apostolovo to link up with forces of the 4th Ukrainian Front and cut off German troops in the Nikopol bridgehead. During the offensive, it helped to capture Nikopol and Apostolovo, earning it the Order of the Red Banner for its "exemplary completion of combat missions" and "valor and courage" on 13 February 1944; the 4th Guards Mechanized was attached to a Cavalry Mechanized Group commanded by Lieutenant General Issa Pliyev for the subsequent Bereznegovatoye–Snigeryovka and Odessa Offensives.
For helping to capture Odessa among other objectives during the latter, the corps was awarded the Order of Suvorov, 2nd class, on 20 April. Among the corps personnel posthumously awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union title for their actions in these operations were tank commanders and Junior Lieutenants Boris Grebennikov and Vadim Sivkov, gunner and radio operator Ryadovoy Pyotr Krestyaninov. Tanaschishin was killed in action during the Odessa Offensive at the end of March and replaced by Major General Vladimir Zhdanov, who commanded it for the rest of the war and was promoted to Lieutenant General on 13 September. Attacking in conjunction with the 7th Mechanized and 18th Tank Corps during the August Jassy–Kishinev Offensive, the corps reached the area of Huși and Leova to encircle and destroy a large Axis group of eighteen divisions. For this action it received the Order of 2nd class, on 7 September. In early September the corps swept southward into Bulgaria west during the Belgrade Offensive to capture the Yugoslav capital of Belgrade on 20 October.
For their actions in the latter 214 corps personnel received Yugoslav decorations, Zhdanov was made a Hero of Yugoslavia. The corps was transferred to the 2nd Ukrainian Front in late October, served with it until February 1945; the corps was successively attached to the 46th Army from 1 November, Cavalry-Mechanized Group Pliev from 28 November, the 6th Guards Tank Army from 23 December, the 7th Guards Army from 26 January 1945 during the Budapest Offensive. It sa
Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst Paulus was a German general during World War II who commanded the 6th Army during the Battle of Stalingrad. The battle ended in disaster for Nazi Germany when Soviet forces encircled and defeated about 265,000 personnel of the Wehrmacht, their Axis allies and collaborators. Paulus surrendered in Stalingrad on 31 January 1943, the same day on which he was informed of his promotion to field marshal by Adolf Hitler. Hitler expected Paulus to commit suicide, repeating to his staff that there was no precedent of a German field marshal being captured alive. While in Soviet captivity during the war, Paulus became a vocal critic of the Nazi regime and joined the Soviet-sponsored National Committee for a Free Germany, he moved to East Germany in 1953. Paulus grew up in Kassel, Hesse-Nassau, the son of a treasurer, he tried, unsuccessfully, to secure a cadetship in the Imperial German Navy and studied law at Marburg University. Many English language sources and publications from the 1940s to the present day give Paulus' family name the prefix "von".
This is incorrect. After leaving the university without a degree, he joined the 111th Infantry Regiment as an officer cadet in February 1910. On 4 July 1912 he married the Romanian Elena Rosetti-Solescu, the sister of a colleague who served in the same regiment; when World War I began, Paulus' regiment was part of the thrust into France, he saw action in the Vosges and around Arras in the autumn of 1914. After a leave of absence due to illness, he joined the Alpenkorps as a staff officer, serving in Macedonia, France and Serbia. By the end of the war, he was a captain. After the Armistice, Paulus was a brigade adjutant with the Freikorps, he was chosen as one of only 4,000 officers to serve in the Reichswehr, the defensive army that the Treaty of Versailles had limited to 100,000 men. He was assigned to the 13th Infantry Regiment at Stuttgart as a company commander, he served in various staff positions for over a decade and briefly commanded a motorized battalion before being named chief of staff for Panzer headquarters in October 1935.
This was a new formation under the direction of Oswald Lutz that directed the training and development of the Panzerwaffen, or tank forces of the German army. In February 1938 Paulus was appointed Chef des Generalstabes to Gen. Heinz Guderian's new XVI Armeekorps, which replaced Lutz's command. Guderian described him as "brilliantly clever, hard working and talented" but had severe doubts about his decisiveness and lack of command experience, he remained in that post until May 1939, when he was promoted to major general and became chief of staff for the German Tenth Army, with which he saw service in Poland. The unit was renamed the Sixth Army and engaged in the spring offensives of 1940 through the Netherlands and Belgium. Paulus was promoted to lieutenant general in August 1940; the following month he was named deputy chief of the German General Staff. In that role he helped draft the plans for the invasion of Operation Barbarossa. In November 1941, after German Sixth Army's commander Field Marshal Walther von Reichenau—Paulus' patron—became commander of the entire Army Group South, who had never commanded a larger unit than a battalion prior to this time, was promoted to General der Panzertruppe and became commander of the Sixth Army.
However, he only took over his new command on 20 January, six days after the sudden death of Reichenau, leaving him on his own and without the support of his more experienced sponsor. Paulus led the drive on Stalingrad during that summer, his troops fought Soviet forces defending Stalingrad over three months in brutal urban warfare. In November 1942, when the Soviet Red Army launched a massive counter-offensive, code-named Operation Uranus, Paulus found himself surrounded by an entire Soviet Army Group. Paulus followed Adolf Hitler's orders to hold his forces' position in Stalingrad under all circumstances, despite the fact that he was surrounded by strong Soviet forces. Operation Winter Storm, a relief effort by Army Group Don under Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, was launched in December. Following his orders, Paulus prepared to cooperate with the offensive by trying to break out of Stalingrad. In the meantime, he kept his entire army in fixed defensive positions. Manstein told Paulus that the relief would need assistance from the Sixth Army, but the order to initiate the breakout never came.
Paulus remained firm in obeying the orders he had been given. Manstein's forces were unable to reach Stalingrad on their own and their efforts were halted due to Soviet offensives elsewhere on the front. Kurt Zeitzler, the newly appointed chief of the Army General Staff got Hitler to allow Paulus to break out—provided he continue to hold Stalingrad, an impossible task. For the next two months Paulus and his men fought on. However, the lack of food and ammunition, equipment attrition and the deteriorating physical condition of the German troops wore down the German defense. With the new year Hitler promoted Paulus to Colonel General. Regarding the resistance to capitulate, according to Adam, Paulus stated What would become of the war if our army in the Caucasus were surrounded? That danger is real, but as long as we keep on fighting, the Red Army has to remain here
Primorsky Krai (Russian: Примо́рский край, tr. Primorsky kray, IPA: is a federal subject of Russia, located in the Far East region of the country and is a part of the Far Eastern Federal District; the city of Vladivostok is the administrative center of the krai, as well as the largest city in the Russian Far East. The krai has the largest economy among the federal subjects in the Russian Far East, a population of 1,956,497 as of the 2010 Census; the name of the krai is derived from the Russian words "приморский", meaning "maritime", "край, meaning "edge" or "frontier". It is informally known as Primorye in Russian, is translated as Maritime Territory in English; the krai shares Russia's only border with North Korea, along the Tumen River in Khasansky District in the southwestern corner of the krai. Peter the Great Gulf, the largest gulf in the Sea of Japan, is located along the south coast. Part of Manchuria, Primorsky Krai was ceded to the Russian Empire by Qing China in 1860 as part of a region known as Outer Manchuria, forming most of the territory of Primorskaya Oblast.
During the Russian Civil War it became part of the Far Eastern Republic before joining the Soviet Union, going through numerous changes until reaching its current form in 1938. Primorsky Krai is home to the Russian Navy's Russian Pacific Fleet. Borders length — over 3,000 kilometers, including 1,350 kilometers of the sea borders. Highest peak — Anik Mountain, 1,933 meters Railroads length — 1,628 kilometers. Automobile roads length — 12,633 kilometers Primorsky Krai, bordered by China, North Korea, the warm—although freezing in winter—waters of the Sea of Japan, is the southeasternmost region of Russia, located between the 42° and 48° north latitude and 130° and 139° east longitude, it is stretched in the meridianal direction, the distance from its extreme northern point to its most southerly point being about 900 kilometers. Highlands dominate the territory of the krai. Most of the territory is mountainous, 80% of it is forested; the average elevation is about 500 meters. Sikhote-Alin is a mountainous formation.
It consists of a number of parallel ranges: the Partizansky, the Siny, the Kholodny, others. There are many karst caves in the South of Primorye; the accessible Spyashchaya Krasavitsa cave in the Ussuriysky Nature Preserve could be recommended for tourists. There are comparatively well-preserved fragments of the ancient volcanoes in the area; the ranges are cut by the picturesque narrow and deep valleys of the rivers and by large brooks, such as the Partizanskaya, the Kiyevka, the Zerkalnaya, the Cheryomukhovaya, the Yedinka, the Samarga, the Bikin, the Bolshaya Ussurka. Most rivers in the Krai have limpid water; the largest among them is the Ussuri, with a length of 903 kilometers. The head of the Ussuri River originates 20 kilometers to the East of Oblachnaya Mountain; the vast Khanka Lowlands extends into the West and the South-West of Primorye, carpeted by coniferous-deciduous forests. A part of the Lowland surrounding the largest lake in the Russian Far East, Khanka Lake, is occupied by a forest-steppe.
The krai's coastline is straight, except for the southern-most section around Vladivostok which contains the Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula There are numerous islands in this area, the main ones being Lisy Island, Askold Island, Putyatin Island, Skrebtsov island, Sibiryakov Island, the Eugénie Archipelago, the Rimsky-Korsakov Archipelago and Furugelm Island. The geographic location of Primorye accounts for the variety of its flora; the territory of Primorye has not been subjected to the ice cover in the past in contrast to the rest of Siberia during the ice ages. This circumstance, as well as the specifics of the geographical situation and the specific features of climate, determine the unique, diversity of the plant world at species and cenotic levels and the richness of plant resources. In the flora of Primorye there are more than two thousand species of higher plants, of which are about 250 species of trees and ligneous lianas. Flora of mosses and lichens are diverse; as part of the coastal flora, there are many valuable medicinal and food plants, many relict and endemic species.
About 200 species are listed in the IUCN Red List as threatened extermination. There are mountainous tundra areas and coniferous-deciduous forests, forest-steppe, sometimes called the Far Eastern Prairie, where many ancient plant species have been preserved, including ferns and the Chosenia willow; the flora of the territory contains such plants as Taxus cuspidata, Juniperus rigida, Phellodendron amurense, Aralia elata, Maackia amurensis, Alnus japonica, Actinidia kolomikta, Schisandra chinensis, Celastrus orbiculatus, Thladiantha dubia, Eleutherococcus, Flueggea suffruticosa, Nelumbo nucifera, Betula schmidtii, Carpinus cordata, Acer mandshuricum, Parthenocissus tricuspidata, Vitis amurensis, Panax ginseng and many others. The fauna of Primorye is diverse; the following animals are found in the Krai: Ussuri black bear, Amur tiger, Amur leopard, Eurasian lynx, wild boar, Manchurian deer, Siberian roe deer, musk deer, long-tailed goral, sika deer, sable (Martes zib
Grigorii Trofimovich Skiruta was a lieutenant colonel of the Red Army during the Second World War. He became a Hero of the Soviet Union during the fighting along the Dniepr River in 1943, he continued to serve well into the postwar era, was promoted to colonel in 1961, when he went into the reserve. Skiruta was born on December 1912, in the village of Velikopolovetskoe in the Kiev Oblast, he was Ukrainian by nationality. After he completed primary school he went to work as a timekeeper in one of the State farms of Chernigov Oblast, he joined the Red Army in 1932, in 1936 he completed the courses for junior commanders. In 1940 he joined the Communist Party; as the 422nd Rifle Division formed up in the Russian Far East in the spring of 1942, Skiruta was assigned to it, serving first as deputy commander and as commander of its 1334th Rifle Regiment, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. The division arrived at the front near Stalingrad on July 26. By September the bulk of the 422nd was in the 64th Army, on the Volga south of the German encirclement, but the 1334th was detached to a special task force in 57th Army further south.
On the night of September 28–29 this force of two rifle regiments with tank and artillery support attacked positions held by the 1st Romanian Infantry Division south of Lake Sarpa, driving them back as much as 5 km and liberating the villages of Tsatsa and Simkin by October 1. This was an ominous foretaste of the weakness of the Romanian forces south of Stalingrad; when Operation Uranus began in the southern sector on November 20, Skiruta's regiment was back in the 422nd in 64th Army, once again attacking forces of the newly-formed 4th Romanian Army and driving them back until encountering the German 29th Motorized Division, which brought the advance to a halt. The division served in Operation Ring in January, 1943, on March 1 was re-designated as the 81st Guards Rifle Division; the 1334th was concurrently re-designated as the 235th Guards Rifle Regiment. Skiruta led his regiment during the Battle of Kursk; the 81st Guards built strong defenses on the east bank of the Donets River, based on the Stari Gorod of Belgorod.
By July 9 the bastion was outflanked and nearly encircled, the division commander, Gen. I. K. Morozov, ordered a retreat. In recognition of his meritorious behavior, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy between July 5–16, leading his troops through a cordon of panzers on the night of July 9–10, Morozov commended Skiruta to be awarded the Order of the Red Banner on July 20, approved by the military council of 7th Guards Army on August 21. A few days Morozov cited the commander of Skiruta's 2nd battalion, Captain Goshtenar, for retreating without orders, but this judgement was quashed. Following Kursk, Skiruta continued to lead his regiment, participating in the liberations of Kharkov and Krasnograd, for the last of which the 81st Guards received a divisional honorific. By late September 7 Guards Army was approaching the Dniepr River, behind which Army Group South was scrambling to build a new defensive line; the 81st Guards were nearing the village of Orlik, south of Poltava, on September 23, where more than 5,000 enemy officers and men and over 1,000 trucks and wagons had converged on the crossing point.
They were supported by aircraft from the west bank. Fierce fighting continued over the next two days. To overcome the position, overnight on September 25–26 the 233rd and 235th Guards Regiments forced a crossing of the main channel of the Dniepr, occupying West Island; the following night the second channel was crossed and a bridgehead was established on the west bank after heavy fighting for the large village of Borodaevka, about 6 km in length. On October 26, Guards Lieutenant Colonel G. T. Skiruta was recognized by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR for his command of his regiment, personal courage and bravery in the crossing battle with the award of the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star of a Hero of the Soviet Union. Skiruta continued in command of his regiment through the battles for west bank Ukraine, participating in the liberation of Kirovograd during the Battle of the Korsun Pocket and the crossings of the Southern Bug and Prut Rivers during 1944. After the occupation of Romania in October, Skiruta was sent to study at the Frunze Academy.
After his graduation in 1947 he went back to command of a regiment taught tactics to senior officers at the Vystrel courses. He was promoted to the rank of colonel in 1961 just prior to being moved to the reserve. In his retirement Skiruta moved to the town of Solnechnogorsk northwest of Moscow, here he spent some of his time directing military-patriotic work among the young people of the area. In 1995 he was named an honorary citizen of Solnechnogorsk, he was buried in the town's New Cemetery. Col. G. T. Skiruta at warheroes.ru
Operation Winter Storm
Operation Winter Storm was a German offensive in World War II in which the German 4th Panzer Army unsuccessfully attempted to break the Soviet encirclement of the German 6th Army during the Battle of Stalingrad. In late November 1942, the Red Army completed Operation Uranus, encircling some 300,000 Axis personnel in and around the city of Stalingrad. German forces within the Stalingrad pocket and directly outside were reorganized under Army Group Don, under the command of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein. Meanwhile, the Red Army continued to allocate as many resources as possible to the eventual launch of the planned Operation Saturn, which aimed to isolate Army Group A from the rest of the German Army. To remedy the situation, the Luftwaffe attempted to supply German forces in Stalingrad through an air bridge; when the Luftwaffe proved incapable of carrying out its mission and it became obvious that a successful breakout could occur only if launched as early as possible, Manstein decided on a relief effort.
Manstein was promised four panzer divisions. Due to German reluctance to weaken certain sectors by redeploying German units, the task of opening a corridor to the German 6th Army fell to the 4th Panzer Army; the German force was pitted against several Soviet armies tasked with the destruction of the encircled German forces and their offensive around the lower Chir River. The German offensive made large gains on the first day; the spearhead forces were able to defeat counterattacks by Soviet troops. By 13 December, Soviet resistance slowed the German advance considerably. Although German forces took the area surrounding Verkhne-Kumskiy, the Red Army launched Operation Little Saturn on 16 December. Operation Little Saturn crushed the Italian 8th Army on Army Group Don's left flank, threatening the survival of Manstein's entire group of forces; as resistance and casualties increased, Manstein appealed to Hitler and to the commander of the German 6th Army, General Friedrich Paulus, to allow the 6th Army to break out of Stalingrad.
The 4th Panzer Army continued its attempt to open a corridor to the 6th Army on 18–19 December, but was unable to do so without the aid of forces inside the Stalingrad pocket. Manstein called off the assault on 23 December and by Christmas Eve the 4th Panzer Army began to withdraw to its starting position. Due to the failure of the 6th Army to break out from the Soviet encirclement, the Red Army was able to continue the strangulation of German forces in Stalingrad. On 23 November 1942, the Red Army closed its encirclement of Axis forces in Stalingrad. Nearly 300,000 German and Romanian soldiers, as well as Russian volunteers for the Wehrmacht, were trapped in and around the city of Stalingrad by 1.1 million Soviet personnel. Amidst the impending disaster, German chancellor Adolf Hitler appointed Field Marshal Erich von Manstein as commander of the newly created Army Group Don. Composed of the German 4th Panzer and 6th Armies, as well as the Third and Fourth Romanian Armies, Manstein's new army group was situated between German Army Groups A and B.
Instead of attempting an immediate breakout, German high command decided that the trapped forces would remain in Stalingrad in a bid to hold out. The encircled German forces were to be resupplied by air, requiring 680 t of supplies per day. However, the assembled fleet of 500 transport aircraft were insufficient for the task. Many of the aircraft were hardly serviceable in the rough Soviet winter; the German 6th Army, for example, was getting less than 20% of its daily needs. Furthermore, the Germans were still threatened by Soviet forces which still held portions of the Volga River's west bank in Stalingrad. Given the unexpected size of German forces closed off in Stalingrad, on 23 November Stavka decided to strengthen the outer encirclement preparing to destroy Axis forces in and around the city. On 24 November, several Soviet formations began to entrench themselves to defend against possible German incursions originating from the West; the Soviets reinforced the encircling forces in order to prevent a successful breakout operation by the German 6th Army and other Axis units.
However, this tied down over ½ of the Red Army's strength in the area. Planning for Operation Saturn began on 25 November, aiming for the destruction of the Italian 8th Army and the severing of communications between German forces west of the Don River and those operating in the Caucasus. Meanwhile, planning began for Operation Koltso, which aimed at reducing German forces in the Stalingrad pocket; as Operation Uranus concluded, German forces inside the encirclement were too weak to attempt a breakout on their own. Half of their remaining armor, for example, had been lost during the defensive fighting, there was a severe lack of fuel and ammunition for the surviving vehicles, given that the Luftwaffe was not able to provide adequate aerial resupply. Manstein proposed a counterstrike to break the Soviet encirclement of Stalingrad, codenamed Operation Winter Storm. Manstein believed that—due to the inability of the Luftwaffe to supply the Stalingrad pocket—it was becoming more important to relieve them "at the earliest possible date".
On 28 November, Manstein sent Hitler a detailed report on Army Group Don's situation, including the strength of the German 6th Army and an assessment on the available ammunition for German artillery inside the city. The dire strategic situation made Manstein doubtful on whether or not the relief operation could afford to wait to receive all units earmarked for the offensive. Stavka