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89th Guards Rifle Division

270th Guards rifle regiment


Unit History[1]


            The unit that would become the 89th Guards was raised in Gorkii (now Nizhnii Novgorod), Gorkii Military District as the 160th Rifle Division, in June of 1941.  The component units of this new division were the 1293rd, 1295th, and 1297th Rifle regiments, and the 973rd Artillery regiment.  The division was rapidly demolished in the early fighting, and the 160th Rifle Division (second formation) was raised at Moscow in November of 1941 with the same regimental numbers.  These new units were quickly made battle ready and saw combat at Mozhaisk and at Vyazma with the 33rd Army in January of 1942.  During this offensive, only the 33rd Army penetrated the German rear and reached the suburbs of Vyazma.[2]  By June 1942, the division was with the 6th Army and saw action in the ill-fated Kharkov offensive.  In December, the division was transferred to the Stalingrad area.

            In April of 1943, the 160th Rifle was reformed as the 89th Guards Rifle Division.  At that time the rifle regiments became the 267th, 270th, and 273rd Guards Rifle Regiments, and the artillery regiment was designated the 196th Guards Artillery.  In July of 1943, the 89th participated in the battle of Kursk as part of the 6th Guards Army.  During the battle, 6th Guards Army was responsible for delaying the advance of the German II SS Panzer Corps and the XLVIII Panzer Corps for several days.  This delay gave Lieutenant-General Rotmistrov’s 5th Guards Tank Army time to deploy and defeat the Germans at Prokhorovka[3].  After Kursk, the 89th was the first Red Army division to enter the city of Belgorod on 5 August, 1943.  For this feat, the division was awarded the name of the city it liberated as a title.  Thereafter, the 89th Guards would also be known as “The Belgorod Division.”  After Belgorod, the unit went on to liberate Kharkov with the 69th Army in late August.

            After Kharkov, the 89th Guards assisted in the liberation of the Balkans.  In April of 1944, they participated in the offensive against Romania at the battles of Iasi (or Iassy) in April, and Targul Frumos in May.  After this they were transferred north to become the breakthrough division for the Vistula - Oder Operation in January of 1945.  Then, as a part of Marshall Zhukov’s First Belorussian Front, they helped seize the Kustrin Bridgehead with the 5th Shock Army in February.  The 89th Guards then ended the war participating in the capture of Berlin with the 5th Shock Army.

[1] The primary source of information for this history is Albert Conner, Red Army Order of Battle In the Great Patriotic War (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 1985), 326, 248-249

[2] David M. Glantz and Jonathan House, When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1995), 93.

[3] For a very general guide to the battle, see Mark Healy, Kursk 1943: The Tide Turns in the East (London: Osprey Publishing, 1992).

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