3rd Mechanised Corps (Soviet Union)
The 20th Motor Rifle Division (Cyrillic
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

: 20 гвардейская мотострелковая Прикарпатско-Берлинская дивизия) is a formation of the Russian Ground Forces
Russian Ground Forces
The Russian Ground Forces are the land forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, formed from parts of the collapsing Soviet Army in 1992. The formation of these forces posed economic challenges after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and required reforms to professionalize the force...

, originally formed within the Soviet Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 as the 3rd Mechanised Corps.

The first formation of 1940

The 3rd Mechanised Corps was first formed in July 1940, and on 22 June 1941, was stationed at Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

 in the Baltic Military District
Baltic Military District
The Baltic Military District was a military district of the Soviet armed forces, formed briefly before the German invasion, and then reformed after World War II and disbanded after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991....

 under MG A.V. Kurkin. It consisted of 2nd Tank Division, 5th Tank Division, 84th Motorised Division, 15th Motorcycle Regiment, an artillery regiment, and engineer and signals battalions. On 22 June, the 2nd Tank Division was located in the forest in Gajzhuny, in the Ionava area, the 5th Tank Division was positioned to defend the Neman bridge near Alitus, and the 84th Motorised Division - was in forest in the Kajshadoris area. On 22 June 1941, the 3rd Mechanised Corps had 31,975 men & 651 Tanks (of which 110 were new T-34
The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1940 to 1958. Although its armour and armament were surpassed by later tanks of the era, it has been often credited as the most effective, efficient and influential design of World War II...

 and KV-1 tanks).

It was heavily engaged in the first battles of Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

, particularly during the Baltic Operation (1941) and at the Battle of Raseiniai
Battle of Raseiniai
The Battle of Raseiniai was a tank battle fought between the elements of the 4th Panzer Group commanded by Gen. Erich Hoepner and the 3rd Mechanized Corps commanded by Major General Kurkin & 12th Mechanised Corps commanded by Major General Shestapolov in Lithuania 75 km northwest of Kaunas...

, and by early July, had virtually ceased to exist as a formation, though remnants rejoined Soviet lines later. For example, the 5th Tank Division was at Yelnya
Yelnya is a town and the administrative center of Yelninsky District of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, situated on the Desna River from Smolensk. Population: -History:...

 by 4 July 1941, and consisted of 2,552 men and a total of 2 BT-7
The BT-7 was the last of the BT tank series of Soviet cavalry tanks that were produced in large numbers between 1935 and 1940. They were lightly armoured, but reasonably well-armed for their time, and had much better mobility than other contemporary tank designs...

 tanks and four armoured cars. The 2nd Tank Division was encircled and destroyed at Raseiniai
Raseiniai is a city in Lithuania. It is located on the south eastern foothills of the Samogitians highland, some north from the Kaunas–Klaipėda highway.- Grand Duchy of Lithuania :...

  and the 5th Tank Division was encircled and destroyed at the Battle of Białystok–Minsk and was disbanded shortly after.

The second formation of 1942

The Corps was formed for the second time on 18 September 1942 at Kalinin
Kalinin , or Kalinina , is a Russian surname, derived from the word kalina , and may refer to:People with the surname...

 in the Moscow Military District
Moscow Military District
The Moscow Military District was a military district of the Soviet Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. In 2010 it was merged with the Leningrad Military District, the Northern Fleet and the Baltic Fleet to form the new Western Military District.-History:In the beginning of...

. General Lieutenant M.E. Katukov took command. It was initially assigned to the 22nd Army
22nd Army (Soviet Union)
The 22nd Army was a field army of the Russian Ground Forces, part of the Moscow Military District. It was active from 1941 to 2010. The order for the formation's dissolution was signed by the Minister of Defence on 1 July 2009....

 of the Kalinin Front
Kalinin Front
The Kalinin Front was a Front of the Soviet Army during the Second World War. This sense of the term is not identical with the more general usage of military front which indicates a geographic area in wartime, although a Soviet Front may operate within designated boundaries.The Kalinin Front was...

. It took part in Operation Mars
Operation Mars
Operation Mars was the codename for the Rzhev offensive operation part of the Rzhev-Vyazma strategic offensive operation launched by Soviet forces against German forces during World War II. It took place between 25 November and 20 December 1942 in a salient in the vicinity of Moscow...

 alongside the 22nd Army. At the beginning of Operation Mars 3rd Mechanised Corps consisted of 232 tanks. Hamazasp Babadzhanian
Hamazasp Babadzhanian
Hamazasp Khachaturi Babadzhanian was Chief Marshal of the Mechanized Forces of the USSR and Hero of the Soviet Union.-Biography:Babadzhanian was born in the family of an Armenian peasant, in the village of Chardakhlu near Yelizavetpol , then part of the Russian Empire, attending school there...

, who commanded the 3rd Mechanised Brigade of the corps, mentioned this operation briefly in his memoirs, quoting a conversation with 22nd Army commander, V. A. Iushkevich, who said, “We will conduct a rather serious offensive together with Western Front forces—we must liquidate the enemy Rzhev grouping.”

The Corps then fought in the Battle of Kursk
Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk took place when German and Soviet forces confronted each other on the Eastern Front during World War II in the vicinity of the city of Kursk, in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. It remains both the largest series of armored clashes, including the Battle of Prokhorovka,...

, then fought across the Ukraine with the Central, Belorussian, and 1st Belorussian Fronts. On 23 October 1943, it was awarded ‘Guards’ status and re-designated the 8th Guards Mechanised Corps. In 1944, it took part in the Zhitomir-Berdichev, Korsun-Shevchenkovsky, Proskurov-Chernovits, and Lvov-Sandomir
Lvov-Sandomierz Offensive
The Lvov-Sandomierz Offensive or the L'vov-Sandomierz Strategic Offensive Operation was a major Red Army operation to force the German troops from Ukraine and Eastern Poland...

 battles, in April gaining the 'Carpathian' honorific. It ended the war in Berlin after participating in the Warsaw-Poznan and East Pomeranian offensives. As part of the occupation forces, it was assigned to the 1st Guards Tank Army (later 1st Guards Mechanised Army).

In the immediate post-war period, the Corps was reorganised as the 8th Guards Mechanised Division. In 1957, it was reorganised as the 20th Guards Motor Rifle Division, bearing honorifics: Carpathia-Berlin, Red Banner, Order of Suvorov. In 1959, the division was transferred to the 18th Guards Army, which had been up to 1957, the 3rd Guards Mechanised Army. It took part in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia as part of the 1st Guards Tank Army, although when it returned to East Germany, it reverted back to the control of the 18th Guards Army. When 18th Guards Army was disbanded in 1979, the division was transferred to the 1st Guards Tank Army, where it remained until it was withdrawn from Germany in 1991.

The division was withdrawn from Germany in 1991, and moved to Volgograd in the North Caucasus Military District
North Caucasus Military District
The North Caucasus Military District was a military district of the Russian Ground Forces, which became in 2010 the Southern Military District and lately also includes the Black Sea Fleet and Caspian Flotilla....

. It is currently garrisoned in Volgograd, with parts of the division having taken part in the First
First Chechen War
The First Chechen War, also known as the War in Chechnya, was a conflict between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, fought from December 1994 to August 1996...

 and Second Chechen War
Second Chechen War
The Second Chechen War, in a later phase better known as the War in the North Caucasus, was launched by the Russian Federation starting 26 August 1999, in response to the Invasion of Dagestan by the Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade ....


As part of the reorganisation of the Russian Ground Forces, it was reported by Warfare.ru to have been disbanded to be reformed as separate motor rifle brigades.

Order of Battle in 1989-90, Germany

a. Division Headquarters – Grimma 51° 13’ 50” North, 12° 06’ 10” East
b. 29th Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment (BMP) – Plauen 50° 29’ 30” North, 12° 06’ 10” East
c. 67th Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment (BMP) – Grimma 51° 13’ 40” North, 12° 42’ 20” East
d. 242nd Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment (BTR) – Würzen 51° 22’ 50” North, 12° 43’ 40” East
e. 95th Tank Regiment – Glauchou 50° 48’ 40” North, 12° 33’ 10” East (in 1989, the 95th Tank Regiment was reorganized as the 576th Motorized Rifle Regiment)
f. 944th Guards Self-Artillery Regiment - Leisnig 52° 09’ 30” North, 12° 54’ 50” East
g. 358th Guards Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment – Leisnig 51° 09’ 10” North, 12° 55’ 10” East
h. 20th Independent Tank Battalion – Pommsen 51° 13’ 30” North, 12° 36’ 10” East
i. 487th Independent Anti-Tank Artillery Battalion – Oshatz 51° 17’ 40” North, 13° 07’ 40” East
j. 320th Independent Missile Battalion (SS-21)
k. 68th Independent Reconnaissance & Radio EW Battalion – Plauen 50° 29’ 30” North, 12° 06’ 10” East
l. 454th Independent Signals Battalion – Grimma 51° 13’ 50” North, 12° 42’ 20” East
m. 133rd Independent Guards Engineer-Sapper Battalion – Leisnig 51° 21’ 40” North, 12° 27’ 00” East
n. 153rd Independent Chemical Defense Battalion
o. 39th Independent Repair-Reconstruction Battalion 51° 21’ 40” North, 12° 27’ 00” East
p. 347th Independent Medical-Sanitation Battalion
q. 1124th Independent Material Support Battalion


By 25 June The remnants of 5th Tank Division has been driven into the Area of Control of the Western Front to be destroyed later at the Bialystok-Minsk encirclement & a report by the fronts General Staff said "the remains of Northwestern Front's 5th Tank Division are concentrated 5 kilometres south east of Molodechno
Maladzyechna , is a city in the Minsk Voblast of Belarus, an administrative centre of the Maladzyechna district . It has 98,514 inhabitants and is located 72 km northwest of Minsk. Located on the Usha River, it has been a settlement since 1388 when it was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania...

; 3 Tanks, 12 Armoured Cars, and 40 trucks".On 11 July 1941 Col P Poluboiarov, Northwestern Front armoured directorate reported that the 3rd Mechanised Corps had 'completely perished' having only 400 men remaining who escaped encirclement with 2nd Tank Division & only 1 Bt-7 tank.General Erhard Raus
Erhard Raus
Erhard Raus was a Austrian Colonel General during World War II. He commanded the 6th Panzer Division during the early years of the war on the Eastern Front before taking Army and Army Group commands....

 the Officer in Command of 6th Panzer Division's Kampfgruppe
In military history and military slang, the German term Kampfgruppe can refer to a combat formation of any kind, but most usually to that employed by the German Wehrmacht and its allies during World War II and, to a lesser extent, in World War I...

Erhard Raus
Erhard Raus was a Austrian Colonel General during World War II. He commanded the 6th Panzer Division during the early years of the war on the Eastern Front before taking Army and Army Group commands....

 which was the unit held up by the lone vehicle says the vehicle was damaged by several shots from a 88
88 mm gun
The 88 mm gun was a German anti-aircraft and anti-tank artillery gun from World War II. It was widely used by Germany throughout the war, and was one of the most recognizable German weapons of the war...

 Anti-Tank Gun
Anti-tank warfare
Anti-tank warfare was created by the need to seek technology and tactics to destroy tanks and their supporting infantry during the First World War...

 firing at the vehicle from behind whilst it was distracted by Panzer 35(t)
Panzer 35(t)
The Panzerkampfwagen 35, commonly shortened to Panzer 35 or abbreviated as Pz.Kpfw. 35, was a Czechoslovak-designed light tank used mainly by Nazi Germany during World War II. The letter stood for tschechisch...

 tanks from Panzer Battalion 65 and the crew were killed by grenade
A grenade is a small explosive device that is projected a safe distance away by its user. Soldiers called grenadiers specialize in the use of grenades. The term hand grenade refers any grenade designed to be hand thrown. Grenade Launchers are firearms designed to fire explosive projectile grenades...

s from a Pioneer Engineer
Combat engineering
A combat engineer, also called pioneer or sapper in many armies, is a soldier who performs a variety of construction and demolition tasks under combat conditions...

 unit who pushed the grenades through two holes made by the gun whilst the turret had started moving again, the other five or six shots having not apparently penetrated completely. The crew had remarkably only been apparently stunned by the shots which had entered the turret. Afterwards they were buried nearby with honours by the German soldiers of the unit held up.

Sources and references

  • Keith E. Bonn, Slaughterhouse: the Handbook of the Eastern Front, Aberjona Press, Bedford, PA, 2005, p. 351

Further reading

  • Brian Taylor, Barbarossa To Berlin A Chronology of the Campaigns on the Eastern Front 1941 to 1945, 2003, Spellmount Ltd, ISBN 1-86227-206-9
  • David Glantz
    David Glantz
    David M. Glantz is an American military historian and the editor of the Journal of Slavic Military Studies....

     (2003), 'Before Stalingrad Barbarossa - Hitler's Invasion of Russia 1941', Tempus. ISBN 0-7524-2692-3
  • Christer Bergstrom, (2007) 'Barbarossa - The Air Battle: July-December 1941, Ian Allan Publishing.ISBN 1-85780-270-5
  • Craig Crofoot, document on Group of Soviet Forces Germany accessible at www.microarmormayhem.com, including Conventional Forces in Europe data exchange material
  • David Glantz
    David Glantz
    David M. Glantz is an American military historian and the editor of the Journal of Slavic Military Studies....

    (1998), 'Stumbling Colossus - The Red Army On The Eve of World War', Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0879-6
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