89th Rifle Division (Soviet Union)

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=89th Rifle Division


caption=Members of the division marching under the Brandenburg Gate after the fall of Berlin in May 1945.
dates=December 1941-1945
country=Soviet Union
allegiance=
branch=Infantry
type=Rifle Division
role=Tactical attack and defense combat operations
size ca. 5-7,000 men
50-100 guns and mortars
command_structure=
current_commander=
garrison=
ceremonial_chief=
colonel_of_the_regiment=
nickname=
patron=
motto=
colors=
march=
mascot=
battles=Battle of the Caucasus
Battle of the Crimea (1944)
Battle of the Baltic (1944)
Vistula-Oder Offensive
Battle of Berlin
notable_commanders=
decorations=Order of Kutuzov 2nd Class, Order of the Red Banner, Order of the Red Star
battle_honours=Taman
anniversaries=
The 89th Tamanskaya Rifle Division (Lang-hy|89-րդ Թամանյան դիվիզիա) was a distinguished division in the Soviet Red Army during the Second World War. The division was primarily remembered for its second formation, composed primarily of ethnic Armenians and fought in numerous battles during the war.

It gained fame for participating in the battle for Berlin in April 1945, occupying the Berlin suburb of Rosenthal at war's end. A small contingent of the division arrived at the river Elbe after the war in a famous meeting between Red Army soldiers and the United States army forces from the west.

First Formation

The Division was established at Kursk prior to June 1941. Fighting as part of the 19th Army, it was wiped out at Vyazma in October 1941. [Robert G. Poirier and Albert Z. Conner, The Red Army Order of Battle in the Great Patriotic War, Novato: Presidio Press, 1985. ISBN 0-89141-237-9.]

Second Formation

The division was re-formed in December 1941 in the capital of the Armenian SSR, Yerevan after the outset of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. It was a redesignation of the 474th Rifle Division, which was formed on 14 December 1941 and renumbered the 89th Rifle Division on 26 December 1941. [James F. Goff, 'The Mysterious High-Numbered Red Army Rifle Divisions,' Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Vol. 11, No.4, December 1998, pp.195-202] The company commander was S. Zakyan and his subordinates were A. Vasilyan and major-general Nver Safaryan. [Walker, Christopher J. Armenia. "The Survival of a Nation". London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1990. p. 356] It published a weekly newspaper in Armenian called the "Red Soldier" (Կարմիր Զինվոր). In October 1942, the division finally set out to fight against Nazi Germany's forces; recapturing the city of Grozny and the outlying areas.

Early Fighting

It met fierce fighting at the Russian cities of Eleqotov, Malgobek and Voznesenskaya; effectively halting the advances made by the German Wehrmacht and its ambitions to capture the oil fields of the Caucasus. On January 21, 1943 they advanced 30-40 kilometers past Malgobek and Khamedan towards the Azov Sea. On February 9, Vasilyan was killed while fighting in the city of Novojereelka. In September 1943, the division moved to the southern front and reached the Taman Peninsula in the Ukraine.

On September 6 the division attacked the German-held Russian city of Novorossiysk on the Black Sea and during the fighting, senior sergeants Hunan Avetisyan and S. Arakelyan both earned the rank of Hero of the Soviet Union. Avetisyan was awarded posthumously after he threw himself in the line of fire of a German pillbox, killing him, but allowing his squad to take advantage to outflank the pillbox which had been delaying their advance; a feat similar to Alexander Matrosov. [Hambartsumyan, Victor et al. "Armenian Military Divisions in the Great Patriotic War". Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia. 1980, Yerevan, Armenia Soviet Socialist Republic. p. 175]

On October 3, 1943 the division captured Taman and was awarded with the title "Tamanskaya". The 89th was soon sent to Baksi and Hajimoushka, on November 21, holding both cities against German attacks for over five months; on April 24, 1944 the division was awarded the Order of the Red Star for its efforts. In May 1944, the division participated in the liberation of Sevastopol and was subsequently awarded the Order of the Red Banner and honored by the city of Sevastopol itself. Senior lieutenants S. Bagdasaryan and L. Khachaturyan, and senior sergeants A. Haroutyunyan and M. H. Mkhirtichyan were awarded with the Order of the Hero of Soviet Union. [Ibid., 175]

The Byelorussian Front

In October-September 1944, the division was transferred to the 1st Baltic Front under the command of the Soviet marshal Hovhannes Bagramyan, entering Poland in January 12, 1945. As the division raced towards Berlin on its trek towards the German capital, the unit was recorded to have liberated a total of 900 cities, towns, and villages in Poland and Czechoslovakia. It finally entered eastern Germany in April, capturing the bordertown city of Frankfurt (Oder) near Brandenburg, about 70 kilometers east of Berlin.

The march towards Berlin

As the division neared the capital, commanders in the Red Army initially rejected the unit participating in the capture of the city. Protestations made by "Taman" commanders, however, argued that since they had sustained such heavy losses and advanced such long distances, they deserved to participate in the war's final and most climatic battle. Red Army commanders relented and on April 16, the division entered Berlin and fought in a month long battle to capture the city. Along with the elements of the Red Army's 3rd Guards Army), the division participated in capturing Wedding, Reinickendorf and seven other districts. It also captured a defensive position held by the Germans at Humboldthain park.

For its achievements in Berlin, the "Taman" division was awarded the Order of Kutuzov 2nd Class. The "Taman" division advanced a total of 3,700 kilometers since its original introduction into combat in the Caucasus with 7,333 of its members receiving commendations and awards, nine, including its commander, Colonel Major H. Babayan, being decorated with the award of the Hero of the Soviet Union. [Ibid., 175]

Postwar and service in Georgia

Until 1957, the Division remained the 89th Rifle Division, when it became the 145 Mountain Rifle Division; 1965 145 Mtn Rifle Div; 1989 145 MRD. It was based in Batumi, Adjara, Georgia, for most of the postwar period as part of the Transcaucasian Military District's 9th Army.It comprised the 35th, 87th, 90th, 1358th MRRs and 114th Independent Tank Battalion in 1989-90.

It was renamed the 12th Military Base in the early 1990s. Following several years of tense negotiations, Russia agreed, in March 2005, to complete the withdrawal of the base from Batumi before the end of 2008. [ [http://www.caucaz.com/home_eng/breve_contenu.php?id=192 Will America set up a military base in Azerbaijan? - CAUCAZ.COM ] ] However, the base was officially handed over to Georgia on November 13, 2007, ahead of planned schedule. [ [http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=16321 Russia Hands Over Batumi Military Base to Georgia] . Civil Georgia, Tbilisi. 2007-11-13.] Honorifics are Tamanskaya Krasnozamennaya, of Order of Kutuzov and Order of the Red Star.

ee also

*Sassuntsi-Davit Tank Regiment
*Soviet 76th "K. Y. Voroshilov" Division

References

*Feskov et al, The Soviet Army in the period of Cold War, Tomsk University 2004
*A.G. Lenskiy & M.M. Tsybin, The Soviet Ground Forces in the last years of the USSR, St Petersburg, B&K, 2001


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