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The 87th Rifle Division and later in 1942, the 13th Guards Rifle Division was an infantry unit of the Red Army during WWII. The division was officially formed in 1929 though prior to the war, the division was built up and mobilized in 1937. Like many others at the time, it consisted of Soviet conscripts. 

Commanders

The first commander who took charge of the 87th Rifle Division was the Major General F.F Alyabushev who was killed just three days after Operation Barbarossa had begun. Following came Colonel A.I Rodimtsev who replaced him and served until 1943.[1] Serving until 1944 was Major General G.V Baklanov and eventually leading the division through to the end of the war was Colonel V.M Komarov.

Structure

The 87th Rifle Division or later the 13th Guards Rifle Division consisted of the 42nd, 39th, and 34th guards rifle regiments along with 32nd Guards artillery regiment, 4th Guards Anti-Tank Battalion, 8th Guards sappers battalion, and the 14th Reconnaissance Company. Supporting units of the division were the 139th Signal Battalion, 12th Chemical Warfare Company, 11th Transportation Company, 15th Medical Battalion, 17th Field Bakery, and the 2nd Veternairy Hospital.

Unit History

The 87th first saw combat in 1939 during the first campaigns in Poland as well as against Finland during the Winter War.[2] In Poland, the division had in fact taken over 1,500 prisoners. In Finland however, the division only saw very minor combat. When Operation Barbarossa had begun, the division was redeployed to counter German attacks and was involved in heavy fighting around Kiev and Lutsk. Though, in the fighting the division was virtually destroyed, leading to the death of its first commander. 

Battle of Stalingrad 9

Men of the 13th Guards Rifle Division operating in Stalingrad

After further combat into 1942, the division was resignated the 13th Guards Rifle Division and reformed with replacement troops. Most notably, the division was then moved into combat in the Battle of Stalingrad. Once more, the division took heavy losses in destructive fighting. Oftentimes the division was left to only 2,000 of the original 10,000 personnel. 

After the battle, the division also saw extensive service during the Battle of Kursk, operating in the 5th Guards Army. The division was stationed here just west of Prokhorovka and were later used in the attempts to retake German captured territories. They continued to operate until the end of the war.

References

  1. http://www.13thguardspoltavaskaya.com/history.html
  2. http://www.13thguards.nww2a.co.uk/unit%20history.html

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