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302nd Rifle Division (Soviet Union)

 

302nd Rifle Division (Soviet Union)

302nd Mountain Rifle Division (July 15 1941 - Mar. 31 1942)
302nd Rifle Division (Mar. 31 1942 - May 28 1945)
Active 1941 - 1945
Country  Soviet Union
Branch Red Army
Type Division
Role Infantry
Engagements Battle of the Kerch Peninsula
Battle of Stalingrad
Donbass Strategic Offensive
Lower Dniepr Offensive
Kamenets-Podolsky Pocket
Vistula-Oder Offensive
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Col. A.P. Rodionov
Col. N.P. Kucherenko

The 302nd Rifle Division began service as a specialized Red Army mountain rifle division, which was later converted to serve for the balance of the war as a standard rifle division. The division played a leading role in 51st Army's breakthrough south of Stalingrad in the opening stages of Operation Uranus, and then in the exploitation following this success. The division continued to turn in a creditable record of service in the southern sectors of the Soviet-German front for the duration, and was especially recognized for its role in the liberation of the city of Ternopol, for which it received that city's name as an honorific.

Contents

  • Formation 1
  • Battle of Kerch 2
  • Battle of Stalingrad 3
  • Donbass Offensive 4
  • Advance 5
  • Heroes of the Soviet Union 6
  • References 7

Formation

The division was originally formed as a mountain rifle division with a specialized order of battle featuring rifle regiments made up of over-sized companies (no battalion structure), with supporting arms, capable of independent operations in difficult terrain and backed by light and mobile mountain artillery.[1] In this role the 302nd served in the Caucasus region until March, 1942 when it was shipped to Crimea and began conversion to a standard rifle division. Its order of battle was revised as follows:

  • 823rd Rifle Regiment from 823rd Mountain Rifle Regiment
  • 825th Rifle Regiment from 825th Mountain Rifle Regiment
  • 827th Rifle Regiment from 827th Mountain Rifle Regiment
  • 865th Artillery Regiment from 865th Mountain Artillery Regiment
  • 231st Antitank Battalion (renumbered as 232nd on Nov. 19, 1943)
  • 634th Signal Battalion
  • 601st Sapper Battalion
  • 248th Reconnaissance Company[2][3]

During this conversion the division was in 44th Army.

Battle of Kerch

Shortly after this conversion process was complete, on May 8 Erich von Manstein's Eleventh Army began its attack into Crimea. The 302nd escaped relatively intact, evacuating to the North Caucasus, still in what remained of 44th Army in North Caucasus Front. In July the division was sent north, and joined the 51st Army in Stalingrad Front.[4]

Battle of Stalingrad

When Stalingrad Front launched the southern offensive of Operation Uranus on Nov. 20, 1942, the 302nd was one of the assault divisions that broke open the defending Romanian 6th Corps and supporting German elements, allowing the 4th and the 13th Mechanized Corps to break into the clear and complete the encirclement of German 6th Army. In December, while continuing the push towards Rostov-na-Donu and the Donbass, the division, along with the rest of 51st Army, were transferred to South Front, remaining there until July, 1943.[5]

Donbass Offensive

In July the 302nd was moved into STAVKA reserves, then into South Front reserves. The division was substantially rebuilt during these months. Following a transfer to 2nd Guards Army in September it briefly participated in the Donbass Strategic Offensive, and then in the Lower Dniepr Offensive, remaining in this Front (after Oct. 20 named 4th Ukrainian Front) until the end of the year.[6]

Advance

At the end of 1943 the division was once more in STAVKA reserves, now moving north to an assignment with 47th Army of 1st Ukrainian Front. It would remain in this Front until just before the end of the war. By the beginning of March the 302nd was assigned to the 106th Rifle Corps of 60th Army. During the final stage of the Battle of the Kamenets-Podolsky pocket, on Apr. 15, 1944, the men and women of the division distinguished themselves in the liberation of Ternopol, for which they received the name of that city as an honorific.[7]

In July the division was moved to 28th Rifle Corps, still in 60th Army where it remained for the duration. In the final weeks this Army was moved to 4th Ukrainian Front, fighting its way through Czechoslovakia. The 302nd Rifle Division finished the war near Prague, as a separate division in 60th Army. In addition to its honorific, it had been awarded the Order of the Red Banner and the Order of Kutuzov. (Russian: 302-я стрелковая Тернопольская Краснознамённая ордена Кутузова дивизия.)[8][9]

Heroes of the Soviet Union

Three men of the 302nd Rifle Division earned the Gold Star Hero of the Soviet Union, all posthumously:

  • Private A.P. Zhivov of the 827th Rifle Regiment, who blocked the embrasure of a German bunker with his body during the liberation of Ternopol. Awarded Dec. 23, 1944.
  • Private V.V. Kurbatov of the 825th Rifle Regiment, for valorous conduct during a river-crossing operation, even after being wounded, on Jan. 14, 1945. Awarded June 29, 1945.
  • Colonel N.P. Kucherenko, divisional commander, for his valorous command before his death in action, Mar. 30, 1945. Awarded Apr. 6, 1945.[10]

References

  1. ^ Charles C. Sharp, "Red Guards", Soviet Guards Rifle and Airborne Units 1941 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. IV, 1995, p 90
  2. ^ Sharp, "Red Swarm", Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed From 1942 to 1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II, Vol. X, 1996, p 113
  3. ^ Russian WorldHeritage
  4. ^ Sharp, "Red Swarm", p 113
  5. ^ Sharp, "Red Swarm", p 113
  6. ^ Sharp, "Red Swarm", p 113
  7. ^ Russian WorldHeritage
  8. ^ Sharp, "Red Swarm", p 113
  9. ^ Russian WorldHeritage
  10. ^ Russian WorldHeritage
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