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Perun Gromovnik16 Nov 2021 12:08 a.m. PST

According to current historical wisdom, large numbers of veteran and well equipped Siberian divisions were deployed protecting the USSR's eastern borders against a possible attack by Japan on 22nd June 1941. They were then apparently transferred west from October to November 1941 in time to have a decisive influence on the battle for Moscow. According to the same historical wisdom these divisions were released from October to November 1941, after Stalin had learned from his spy network in Japan, run by Richard Sorge, that the Japanese had no intention of attacking the USSR. Apparently by November 1941 these same Siberian divisions were being encountered all along the front protecting Moscow.

The following quote typifies the current common perception, "The Siberians are coming! It was a cry that spread terror through the ranks of the German Wehrmacht in the winter of 1941. Since June 22, the Red Army had lost millions of dead, wounded and captured soldiers, while the Wehrmacht had advanced to the very gates of Moscow itself. Now, however, new armies seemed to be springing out of the Russian soil as if by magic as the Germans prepared their final thrust toward the Soviet capital. The ever distrustful Josef Stalin had primarily put his faith in the word of one man (Richard Sorge), and had ordered division after division of his armies in the Far East to be transported as quickly as possible to the west to blunt the German advance".(1)

Did this really happen? An objective and detailed look at the history of each division involved gives a much more accurate and truthful historical picture.


GatorDave Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2021 2:55 a.m. PST

Good read. Thanks

korsun0 Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2021 3:52 a.m. PST

Agreed, a very interesting article.

Perun Gromovnik16 Nov 2021 4:29 a.m. PST

Thanks mates, I enjoyed too.
I am glad that can help :)

Legion 416 Nov 2021 11:03 a.m. PST

Yes, good to know !

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2021 12:07 p.m. PST

Curses! now I have to question all my 'understanding' of the Rustina armiya!


Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2021 1:59 p.m. PST

What this analysis misses is the nature of these divisions. If game designers F Chadwick and J Radey are to believed, they were not your typical rifle divisions (both gentlemen designed games about the 1941 Battle of Borodino).

Chadwick did an article in the old Command Post Quarterly on the 32nd Rifle Division when it arrived in the west. According to him, it had the following advantages over most divisions that had been fighting the Germans:

1. Better cadre. One advantage of being thousands of miles from Moscow was anonymity. This meant that division-level and lower levels of command did not suffer as badly from the purges of the late 1930s. In addition, some of the NCOs and officers had recent, successful, combat experience against the Japanese (the 32nd was involved in the Lake Khasan battles of 1938).

2. Being left in the Far East until October gave them time to call up reservists and new conscripts and incorporate them into the unit and train them. This was not a division formed from what I was available and then thrown into combat.

3. They were huge in comparison to western rifle divisions. The 32nd was organized on the 1939 Shtat, which meant it showed up in front of Moscow with nearly 19,000 men. At the time, few western divisions had as many as 5,000.

4. Being so far from the center of things, Far East divisions tended to have full equipment loads already allotted to them, as it would take to long to ship stuff from the other parts of the USSR. And the 1939 TOE was very generous. For example, a western division in October 1941 would be lucky to have a 2-battalion light artillery regiment, with 4 batteries of 76mm and 2 batteries of 122mm howitzers. 32nd RD had such a light artillery regiment, but also a howitzer brigade of 6 more batteries of 122mm and 3 of 152mm weapons. Combine these equipment levels with the above-mentioned manpower, and this "division" is more like a rifle corps (or would be, if the Red Army hadn't disbanded them all in 1941).

These are big, tough, well-equipped divisions compared to those in the west. This is why the 32nd was able to stall the advance of XXXXVI Panzer Corps (10th Panzer and SS Das Reich) for a week. And after this SS DR had to disband battalions to keep the others up to strength.

I always like that the division commander visited the museum of the 1812 battle before the 1941 battle. He signed the guestbook, and under "purpose of visit" wrote "I have come to defend the battlefield."

Cuprum216 Nov 2021 6:33 p.m. PST

I think that we should not talk about "Siberian" divisions, but about "personnel" or "with full-fledged pre-war training."
The big problem of the Red Army before the war was not repression (as a percentage of the number of convicted officers to the total number of the officer corps – the losses were not great, especially considering that the officers sentenced to imprisonment were, for the most part, returned to duty), but an explosive increase in general the size of the armed forces (2.5 times!). It was this that gave rise to a monstrous hunger for professional military personnel, when regiments and divisions were commanded by people who had not yet had time to gain sufficient command experience for such a leadership.
And one more point should be noted. In order for the leadership of the USSR to be able to send a significant part of Soviet troops from the Far East and from Siberia to the Soviet-German front, Mongolia, allied with the USSR, increased the size of its army 2.5 times, which largely made it possible to balance the parity of forces opposing Japan.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2021 7:11 a.m. PST

Mserafin, interesting information.

Griefbringer19 Nov 2021 11:58 a.m. PST

Mongolia, allied with the USSR, increased the size of its army 2.5 times, which largely made it possible to balance the parity of forces opposing Japan.

Interesting, I have to admit that I have not ever seen any details about the Mongolian military organisation in WWII. How large force were they able to field with their limited population?

Cuprum219 Nov 2021 8:13 p.m. PST

I have no exact information. I was able to find information that during the Second World War all men fit for military service were drafted into the army! Every tenth Mongolian took part in the Soviet-Japanese war in 1945.

I only have this information.
Part of the Mongolian troops became part of the Soviet cavalry-mechanized group of Lieutenant General Issa Pliev, who attacked the Japanese together with the Soviet army:

Soviet units:

59th Cavalry Division
27th motorized rifle brigade
43rd Tank Brigade
25th mechanized brigade
35th Anti-Tank Fighter Brigade
30th Motorcycle Regiment

Mongolian units:

5th Cavalry Division
6th Cavalry Division
7th Cavalry Division
8th Cavalry Division
7th motorized armored brigade
3rd separate tank regiment
29th artillery regiment

Soviet sources note the heroism and courage of the Mongolian servicemen in the battles with the Japanese.

Here you can see some interesting photos of the Mongolian army:







Griefbringer20 Nov 2021 10:37 a.m. PST

Thanks for the pictures – that would be the first ones of WWII era Mongolian army that I have ever seen! The uniforms seem to be based on Soviet designs of the era, and the weaponry that I can identify seems to be of Soviet origins.

Would I be right to presume that the organisational structures would have been also heavily influenced by Soviet ones? High number of cavalry units sounds logical, considering the steppe terrain and long traditions of horsemanship.

Cuprum220 Nov 2021 8:39 p.m. PST

Yes, the Mongolian army was armed with Soviet weapons, and its uniform was similar to Soviet models, but with different insignia (however, also quite similar to Soviet models).





I do not know anything about the organization of the military units of the Mongols, but I think that they were just as similar to the Soviet ones.

The Mongolian units corresponded perfectly to the Soviet concept of mechanized cavalry groups. These units perfectly replaced the motorized infantry in off-road conditions, where the movement of wheeled vehicles was significantly complicated.

Legion 421 Nov 2021 5:35 p.m. PST

Great intel Cuprum.

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