During the Great Patriotic War 1939-1945
Compiled by Andy Swanson
The 112th Rifle Division served distinctively, like the other divisions of the Red Army, throughout the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. This history of the division was written not only for the members of the 112th Rifle Division/416th Rifle Regiment Reenacting Unit and other interested parties, but more importantly in honor of the actual 112th Rifle Division and those Krasnoarmiets who passed through it’s ranks during those four years of death and destruction, as well as all members of the Red Army and citizens of the Soviet Union who lived through this period in history. It is important people understand that the war was not only fought and won by the famous Red Army units such as the 8th Guards Mechanized Corps or Marine Infantry battalions, but also by the “forgotten divisions” like the 112th R.D.
The main source used in this history were the division histories as found on the rkka.ru website (a direct address is found in the bibliography). Also consulted were the OOBs of the 112th and the units it was attached to, found in Robert G. Poirier and Albert Z. Conner’s The Red Army Order of Battle in the Great Patriotic War.While these sources presented a lot of information, it was necessary to use other secondary sources for background or in clarifying events. A complete list of these secondary sources is found in the bibliography, however John Erickson’s two-volume masterpiece The Road to Stalingrad and The Road to Berlin was used extensively. Any information found on the division was incorporated into this history. Be cautioned though, as this history is not “even” chronologically as there was more information on some events than others. For example, though the Battle for Stalingrad only took about six months, the majority of this history consists of this period. For those events where little information was found, general historical information was used were possible to give some background as to the operations taking place during that particular period. This is by no means the definitive work on the division, as much more research needs to be done, particularly on the events between the end of the L’vov-Premshyl’ operation in August 1944 until the end of the war. Some of this research can be done through secondary sources, some through primary sources. Any new information found in the future will be added to this history.
The history of the 112th Rifle Division begins on 23 Sept, 1939, when it was formed in the area around the town of Perm in the Ural Military District (UpVO) and based in the territorial department of the 82nd Rifle Division; the 112th was based on elements of the 82nd Rifle Division left behind when that division left for Mongolia. Territorial divisions acted as a reserve for the Red Army during the interwar years. When a Territorial Division was transferred to another area for whatever reason, that division’s district had to raise another division to compensate for the loss. The Composition of the 112th at this time was: the 385 Rifle Regiment (based at Perm’), the 416th Rifle Regiment (based at Kungur), the 524th Rifle Regiment (based at Byeryezniki), the 436th Artillery regiment, the 156th anti-tank section, the 270th Anti-Aircraft division, the 196th reconnaissance company, the 159th sapper (engineer) battalion, the 272nd Battalion communications section, the 198th medical battalion, the 225th intelligence company, the 33 Motorized Transport Battalion, the 148th Field Bakery, the 479th Field Post Office and the 226th Field Bank. From 23 September 1939 to January 1940, command of the division was held by Colonel F.D. Rubtsov, followed by Colonel V.M. Alekseyev and Brigade commander Ya. S. Adamson. From 10 June 1941 until the division’s destruction on 10 October 1941, command was held by Colonel Ivan Andreevich Kopyak.
The 112th was incorporated into the 51st Rifle Corp of the 22nd Army, which was part of the Reserve Main Command (RGK). During the spring of 1941, the 159th Engineer battalion was sent to build fortifications in the Baltic Special Military District. The division was moved west on 13-21 June 1941, where it was unloaded at Dratun’ Station from 17-24 June.
On 25 June the 112th RD moved to the front along the line of Kraslav’- Bigosovo on the Latvia-Belarus border. It first went into battle on 28 June as part of the first wave in the area of Kraslav’. On 1 July, the 112th was transferred to NorthWest Front, and was returned to the 22nd Army on 4 July. By 9 July the 112th had already sustained 40% causalities. Before falling back to the are around Toropets, the 51st RC held up the advance of the 3rd Panzer Corp at Velikiye Luki. It was during this time that the division was surrounded in the area around Repishche, northeast of Nevel. The 416th Rifle Regiment was virtually wiped out as they covered the breakout of the division on 19 July. What was left of the division was formed into a composite 112th Rifle Regiment under the command of the 170th Rifle Division. At the end of August the 112th was restored to division status and transferred to the second echelon of the Reserve Army based near Vyaz’ma. On 1 Sept. 1941 the 112th was designated a Motorized Rifle Division, however 28 days later was re-designated back to a Rifle Division.
On 6 October, the German Fourth and Third Panzer Groups completed the encirclement of Vyaz’ma. The division was transferred to the command of the 20th Army, presumably because the 20th had fallen back to Vyaz’ma just before the encirclement Battling the first snow of the year, the soviet units fought to escape the pocket. On the night of 12-13 October, Lieutenant General M.F. Lukin, who was put in command of the soviet divisions inside the pocket, ordered all heavy weapons and vehicles destroyed and for all surrounded units to try to breakout on their own. Though two to seven divisions and numerous smaller groups were able to break out, the Germans claimed to have taken 665,000 prisoners. It is assumed though that the 112th, except for possibly small groups, was not able to escape the encirclement, as both unit histories state the division was destroyed, and was later reformed.
The reformation came on 27 January 1942 in Novosibirsk (Siberian Military District). By the decision of GKO.935 made on 22 November 1941 the 112th was reformed as the 445th Rifle Division, but on 18 February 1942 it was re-designated the 112th Rifle Division. Command went to Colonel Ivan Petrovich Sologub. The composition of the reconstituted division included: 385th Rifle Regiment, 416th Rifle Regiment, 524th Rifle Regiment, 436th Artillery regiment, 156th Separate Fighter-Anti-Tank Division, the 196th Reconnaissance Company, the 159th Sapper (Engineer) Battalion, the 272nd Communications Battalion, (272nd, 17th Company Communications Section), the 198th medical battalion, the 225th Chemical Defense Company, the 33rd Motorized Transportation Company, the 148th Field Bakery, the 897 (107)th Division Veterinary Field Hospital, the 1692nd Field Post Office, and the 1062nd Field Bank. The Division may also have contained a large number of men from Penal units.
The 112th remained in the Siberian Military District through the first five months of 1942. On April 15, it was moved to Ryazan where in May it was placed under command of the 1st Reserve Army (The 1st Reserve Army was activated on 28 May). On 10 July, the 1st Reserve army was re-designated the 64th Army, and moved to the Stalingrad area in order to counter the German thrust towards the Caucuses. From Ryazan on 10 July, the 112th embarked by train to Archeda Station. The next day, 11 July, the division was redirected to Volovo Station, and was unloaded at Kotluban’, Kachalino and Filinovo. In August the 112th was transferred to the command of the 62nd Army, where it fought in Stalingrad. In August, portions of the 112th held defensive positions along the Don River between the Karpovka and Donskaia Tsaritsa Rivers. Other portions, along with the 131st R.D. held defensive positions along the Karpovka River behind the line of Kalach-Illarionovskii-Dmitrievka. (Knowledge of the command situation during this period is shaky. The Russian divisional history states that on 9 August, Lt. Col. Ivan Yefimovich Yermolkin was given command of the division. The literal translation of what was printed was “10.08.1942 Lt. Colonel, with 31.08.1942 Col. Ermolkin, Ivan Efimovich.” This probably means that Yermolkin was promoted to Colonel on 31 August. . What is more confusing though is that throughout the secondary sources (Erickson’s The Road to Stalingrad, Beevor’s Stalingrad, etc), Sologub is shown as still in command. I have yet to track down any sources cited within these works, which could be a difficult job as Erickson did not cite any sources within his book. Perhaps the fate of Sologub, which will be discusses a little bit later, played a role in the listing of commanders in the Russian divisional history. Through out the Stalingrad section of this history, Sologub will be used as commander of the division, as it corresponds to the information presented by the secondary sources.)
By the beginning of September, both the 62nd and 64th Armies had been torn to shreds, the 112th RD was down to 150 men. On 16 September, with a battalion from the 42nd Guards Regiment, 13th Guards Division led by Captain Kirin assaulting the northern slope, a squad of 30 men under Lt. Vdovichenko from the 416th Rifle Regiment assaulted the northeast part of Mamyav Kurgan, clearing the German MG pits with rifles, grenades and hand-to-hand fighting. Only six men out of this assault force from the 416th survived who then endured a heavy German bombing attack followed by a German counter-attack by infantry and armour. The bombing had little effect on the soviet troops, as the German pilots had bombed wide for fear of hitting their own infantry, and the Soviets were able to knock out two tanks and broke up the assault. Many more attacks were to come over the next few days, and fighting on Mamayev Kurgan lasted throughout the rest of the battle for Stalingrad.
In another portion of the division, located about 5 miles north of Mamayev Kurgan, an interesting incident occurred. Around 2300 on 16 September, a platoon commander by the name of Lt. K discovered that four men and a sergeant were missing. Instead of trying to locate these men, the Lieutenant only reported the matter to the company commander. At 0100, Commissar Kolabanov, when coming to investigate the matter, heard some voices in Russian on the German side asking people by name to come over. “You should all desert, they’ll feed you well and treat you well. On the Russian side you’ll die whatever happens!” Kolabanov then saw several other figures moving over no man’s land to the German side, and was infuriated when no one shot them down. In all, ten men and a sergeant deserted. The Platoon commander was arrested and court- martialed. His sentence was not recorded, but he was most likely either executed or sent to a penal battalion. Another officer in the division, this time a Captain, tried to urge two other officers to desert with him. However the captain was killed by one of the officers apparently because he didn’t share the same view, though the story could also have only been a cover for a personal argument that was responsible for the shooting.
General A. Yeremenko, commander of the Southwestern front, ordered General Vasilli I. Chuikov on 17 September that an attack was to be made in Stalingrad itself. Chuikov sent the formal orders at 18.00 hours on 18 September:
I 62nd Army Commander, after creating a shock group of not less than three infantry divisions and one armored brigade in the area of Mamayev Kurgan, will launch an attack towards the north-west outskirts of Stalingrad, with the aim of destroying the enemy in this area. The immediate task is to destroy the enemy in the city, firmly securing a line through Rynok-Orlovka-Heights 128.0 and 98.9, and the northwest and western outskirts of Stalingrad.
Left with only two days to organize this attack, Chuikov timed it for noon on 19 September to “unroll from Mamayev Kurgan ‘in the general direction of the station’ to cut off and destroy those German units which had penetrated to the center.” This attack was made by the 112th RD under Sologub along with two battalions from a reinforcement division still being brought across the river. They made some progress but were unable to ease the German pressure on the center.
By 29 September, the 112th RD, along with the 115th Rifle Brigade commanded by Colonel Andryusenko, found themselves holding the Orlovka salient (a suburb of Stalingrad). The division was only a composite battalion by now. Of the 7,000 men present at the beginning of the battle, only 250 were left by 29 September. The division was able to escape the German encirclement of the town, and fell back to the tractor factory. Here, the division held the western face of the factory (the north and north-western approaches were held by two brigades under Colonel Gorokhov and a regiment from the 10th NKVD regiment; on 2 October the 308th division under Colonel Gurtiev, ferried over to the city the night before, took position in the Barrikady factory). Early on 4 October, the 37th Guards division under Major General V.G. Zholudev was ferried across and put into position between the 112th R.D. and the 308th RD. A few days later, on the night of 7-8 October, the division was joined by the remains of 115th Rifle Brigade that was able to break out of the German encirclement of Orlovka. John Erickson described this position in his book The Road to Stalingrad: “The walls of the assembly shops in the Tractor Plant stood out gaunt and blackened after the heavy German bombing: girders and roof-beams were twisted across the floor of the shops, piles of masonry heaped about the fittings which once held machines.”
On the night of 4 October, the defenders of these factories spent every available minute preparing defenses and digging communication trenches. Formalized on 5 October, the groups of factory workers who had been fighting as independent groups as well as repairing weapons and improvising devises for uses in street fighting were put under Red Army command. The 112th fought alongside one of these “militia brigades” whose workers were still clad in their work clothing. On 5 October, German dive-bombers made more than 700 raids on the Tractor Plant, and over 2,000 over the entire factory area. 6 October was fairly quiet as the German groupings preparing to assault the factory sector were hit by a massive artillery bombardment and broken up. The next day though, 7 October, the Tractor Factor was hit by a massive assault by two German divisions with tank support, with a whole block of worker’s houses taken. The 16th Panzer division assaulted the northern industrial suburb of Spartokova, and pushed back the 112th as well as the 124th Special Brigade.
On 12 October, the only remaining regiment of the division, the 524th Rifle Regiment, was ferried over to the Tractor Factory. In order to prepare for the upcoming German assault, Chuikov moved the 112th, now up the 2,300 men in strength, to the northwestern sector of the factory area. At 0800 on 14 October, three German infantry divisions and two Panzer divisions launched an attack against the Tractor Plant and Barrikady Factory. John Erickson offers a description of the fighting: “When the battle was fully joined in mid-morning, individual explosions no longer made themselves heard above the consuming roar of all out bombing and shelling; the drifting smoke blotted out any sight of the pale autumnal sun inside Stalingrad and in the factory district visibility was reduced to no more than half a dozen metres in the murk of swirling dust coming from toppling walls and crashing houses, a yellow-grey fog lit only by the flashes of bursting bombs and shells. The Soviet dugouts trembled, shook and started to collapse. Under their screen of fire German infantry men leapt for the dead ground between the ruins, only to be met by rifle and machine-gun fire from behind stones or out of the chaotic mounds of rubble themselves.”
In the Tractor Factory, each floor and building was fought for ferociously. Shortly before noon, a group of German infantry with around 200 tanks broke though the 37th R.D., pushed to the walls of the plant, and turned into the rear of the 112th R.D. The Germans continued pushing forward, knocking out soviet strong points one by one, and by late afternoon, the 37th and 112th R.D.’s were facing encirclement. That night, the Germans were able to break through to the Volga, cutting off the112th, the 2nd Motorized Rifle Brigade, and the 115th, 124th and 149th Rifle Brigades from the rest of the 62nd Army. These units were all put under the command of Colonel S.F. Gorokhov of the 124th Rifle Brigade. Chuikov only received communications from the commanders of these units asking to be pulled out across the river as their regiments were nearly wiped out. These reports primarily came from the 112th and 115th Special Brigade. The request was denied, as it was considered treason under Stalin’s “not one step back” order. A few days later, Colonel Kamynim arrived from Chuikov’s headquarters to verify the information. He found that the 112th still had 598 men left, and the 115th Special Brigade 890. The senior commissar had not tried to organize any sort of defense, but only remained in his bunker and panicky tried to convince his commander to cross the Volga. The senior officers and commissars were court martialed for their “betrayal of Stalingrad’s defense” and for cowardice. Again, their fate was not recorded, however they probably received little mercy from General Chuikov.
On 15 October, Yeremenko, on orders from STAVKA to look into the defenses of Stalingrad, prepared to withdraw the 112th, 95th and 37th Guards divisions to the western bank to refit them. The 112th would not see any more action inside Stalingrad.
On 16 November, Major Yakov Danilovich Filonenko took command of the division, after Sologub had been court martialed for the actions of 15 October. On 24 December 1942, the 112th was transferred from the 62nd Army to the STAVKA Reserve of the Commander-in-Chief at Solodovka Station in the Atkarsk region. On 31 December, General Major Yakov Danilovich Furt (Furtenko) took command. The division remained in the reserve until February 1942 when it was transferred to 2nd Tank Army.
On 28 April 1943, Colonel Peter Semenovich Polyakov took command. In May, the division was transferred to the 24th Rifle Corp, 60th Army in Rokossovkii’s Central Front. The division had the 10th Punitive Company attached to it, consisting of around 250 men. It is here that the 112th was positioned in the Kursk Salient on the far left wing of the Central Front. The division was stationed in the middle of the salient, and thus saw no action during the battle of Kursk, but did take part in the soviet offensive after the battle.
The 24th Rifle Corp acted as a breakthrough corps during the Belgorod-Kharkov operation. On 24 August 1943 Colonel Aleksandr Vasilyevich Gladkov took command of the division (on 3 June 1944 he was promoted to Brigadier General). In August of 1943, the division mounted an attack toward Kiev (Ssevsk). By September 1943, the Division had arrived at the Dneiper River in or near the Yasnogordka Bridgehead just north of Kiev. On 31 August 1943 the Division was given the honorable designation “Roylskaya” for participation in its capture. In November 1943, the division took part in the fighting in this Bridgehead during the Red Army’s assault across the river. On 18 November 1943, it is given the honorary title of “Korosten,” after the 112th was took the town on 7 November.
On 6-15 December 1943, the HQ of 60th Army was overrun by the 48th Panzer Corp near Korosten, Radomysl, and Zhitomir. The 24th Rifle Corp, with the 112th RD took part in the Kiev Defensive Operation during this period. In December 1943 the division was transferred to the 13th Army. The 112th RD participated in the Zhitomir-Berdichev operation, which began on Christmas Eve, 1943. The 13th Army, with the 60th Army, supported the right flank of the main assault, attacking in a northwesterly direction. When they reached the town of Sarny, the 13th Army shifted its direction southwesterly towards Lutsk The 24th Rifle Corp again was the main attack corps during the Rovno-Lutsk Operation, which opened on 27 January 1944, which lasted into the first part of February.
In March 1944, the 13th Army attacked in the area of Lutsk and Dubno, and captured both towns. In July 1944, the 24th Rifle Corp participated in the Lvov-Sandomir Operation with the 13th Army. The 112th RD, by now attached to the 27th Rifle Corp, assaulted the sector of Galichany and Pulgany, and deliver secondary attacks along the Stoianuv and Kamenka Strumilova axis. The division was positioned on the far left of the 13th Army, and cooperated with the 102nd Rifle core of the 60th Army during the attack On 13th July, 1944, after a 15 minute artillery barrage, forward battalions from the first echelons of the 13th Army’s shock groups and the 112th RD launched their attack, taking full surprise of the Germans. They advanced successfully in the Zviniache and Chervona sector, and had wedged themselves into German defenses by 1015 hours. During the second half of the day, the rest of the first echelons of the 24th, 27th Corp and the 112th carried on the attack. By the end of the day, the 112th had reached the Borochitse and (excluding) Buzhany line. By the end of 15 July, its left flank had captured Buzhany. The offensive continued into 16 and 17 July, where the 112th found them selves fighting for the Polonichna region. By 19 July, the division was fighting north of Grabova. The 112th liquidated a German group in the forests east of Kamenka Strumilova of 19 July, a part of the larger liquidation of the Brody pocket form 18-22 July. Advancing 30-35 km a day, the 27th RC reached the Sans river in the Garasiuki, Kul’no, and Simiava sector on 23 July. (18)Later in August, the 112th RD saw action in the Baranow Bridgehead.
On 7 August 1944, the division was rewarded with the Order of Suvorov. Two days later, 9 August, it is awarded the Order of the Red Banner.
On 28 January 1945, Colonel Dmitriy Tikhonovich Zhukov took command of the Division. In March of 1945, the division was transferred to the 6th Army, where it finished the War in Karlovy Vary, Czechoslovakia, about 70 miles west of Prague.
On 4 June 1945, the division is awarded the order of Kutuzov.
The Divisional Histories of the 112th Rifle Division http://handbook.rkka.ru/regsd5.htm
Craig, William. Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad. New York: Penguin Books, 1973
Erickson, John. The Road to Stalingrad: Stalin’s War with Germany. London: Yale University Press, 1975.
Erickson, John. The Road to Berlin: Stalin’s War with Germany. London: Yale University Press, 1983
Glantz, David M. And Jonathan House. When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler. University Press of Kansas, 1995.
Glantz, David M. And Harold S. Orenstein. The Battle for L’vov July 1944: The Soviet General Staff Study. London: Frank Cass Publishers, 2002.
Natkiel, Richard and Robin L. Sommer. Atlas of World War II. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1985.
Reese, Roger R. Stalin’s Reluctant Soldiers: A Social History of the Red Army, 1925 1941. University Press of Kansas, 1996.
Rotundo, Louis C, ed. Battle for Stalingrad: The 1943 Soviet General Staff Study. Pergamon- Brassey’s International Defense Publishers, Inc, 1989.
(1)Glantz When Titans Clashed 79
(2)For details on the Vyazma operations, see Erickson The Road to Stalingrad, 218-219; Glantz When Titans Clashed, 79-80;and Kershaw War Without Garlands 180-185.
(3)Ed. Louis C. Rotundo Battle for Stalingrad: The 1943 Soviet General Staff Study, pg. 42 and 44
(4)Erickson, Road to Stalingrad, 385
(6)Antony Beevor, Stalingrad 136-137; Beevor cites his source for these stories as “8 Oct 1942, TsAMO48/486/24, pgs 77-8″
(7)Erickson, Road to Stalingrad, 406
(10)Glantz, When Titans Clashed 244n.22.
(11)Erickson, The Road to Stalingrad 417
(14)Erickson, The Road to Stalingrad, 421-422; More research needs to be done on this though as it is still a little sketchy.
(17)Beevor, Stalingrad, 196-197
(18)The Battle for L’vov July 1944: The Soviet General Staff Study,135-146.
|June 22, 1941||Held in STAVKA Reserve (RVGK) around Vyazma (Western Special Military District) in the 51st Rifle Corp with the 22nd Army. The 112th was still being raised and reinforced by July 1941.|
|July, 1941||Moved up to around Toropets. Later the 51st Rifle Corp held up the German 3rd Panzer Corp at Velikiye Luki. Towards the end of the month they found themselves at Nevel, still attached to the 22nd Army.|
|October, 1941||Destroyed Vyazma|
|April, 1942||Second Formation raised at Novosibirsk, in the Siberia Military District.|
|June, 1942||In RVGK with the 1st Reserve Army (1st Reserve Army was formed on 28 May, 1942): The Division at this time may have had a large number of men from Penal Units|
|10 July, 1942||1st Reserve Army is redesignated 64th Army, and are moved to the Stalingrad area|
|September 1942 – Feb 1943||Battle of Stalingrad|
|July, 1943||Battle of Kursk, part of the 60th Army|
|August, 1943||60th Army attacks towards Kiev (Ssevsk). 24th Rifle Corp takes part in the Belgorod-Kharkov Operation and acted as the breakthrough corp.|
|September, 1943||60th Army takes part in the Dnieper Offensive|
|November, 1943||60th Army takes part in action at the Yasnogorodka Bridgehead, as well as action around Kiev. On 7 November, the army took Korosten.|
|December, 1943||6-15 Dec HQ and 60th Army is overrun by the German 48th Panzer Corp near Korosten, Radomysl, and Zhitomir. It probably wasn’t too much longer after this that the 112th saw action around Korosten. Later, the 24th Rifle Corp saw action with the Kiev Defensive Operation.|
|January 1944||24th RC took part in the Rovno Lutsk Operation (in to Feb) with 13th Army, acting as the Main Attack Corp; the 76th RC (with the 6th and 121st Guards Divisions) also took part (the 112th is listed in the OOBs of both Divisions in Jan 44). The 112th during January took part in the Zhitomir Berdichen operation, and served in the Southwest Ukraine with the 112th Rifle Corp, 13thArmy (112th RD not listed in the 112th RC OOB. 112th RC took part in the Novogorod Luge Operation with the 59th army).|
|March 1944||13th Army attacked at Lutsk and Dubno, and captured both.|
|July 1944||24th RC takes part in Lvov Sandomir Operation with 13th Army|
|August 1944||13th Army sees action in the Baranow Bridgehead|
|November 1944||112th RD is moved to the 27th Rifle Corp in the 13th Army|
|April 1945||Berlin Operation|
|8 May 1945||Ends war in Karlovy Vary, Czechoslovakia|