Журнал Ольги Буториной (olga_euro) wrote in 385_division,
Журнал Ольги Буториной

The Soviet 385th Infantry Division - a brief history written by its commander

of the 385th Krichevskaya, Red Banner, Order of Suvorov 2nd class Infantry Division

The 385th Infantry Division was formed at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War in the city of Frunze [1]. The Central Committee and the Government of the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic were the main organizers of its formation. Division was staffed by soldiers and reserve officers of the Kyrgyz Republic. It was a great crew. In addition to the human resources, the Kyrgyz Republic fully equipped the division with numerous horse-drawn cars, transport, laundry, bakery, kitchen and other property from its reserves.

The Central Committee and the government of the Kyrgyz Republic treated the 385th Infantry Division as their child not only during its formation and putting together, but also during its martial affairs at the front. Each year, envoys from Kyrgyzstan with rich gifts and good wishes of military success came to the division. Paternal care [was shown] for the families of soldiers and officers, and then wounded soldiers returning from the battlefield and the disabled. Soldiers and officers responded to this fatherly concern and called themselves frunzenty.

The 385th Infantry Division entered combat in February 1942 near the city of Kirov [2] within the 10th Army of the Western Front. This was the final stage of the defeat of the Germans near Moscow. Full-blooded, well-armed division was put into action immediately after the march. Its first fighting was unsuccessful. It attacked the Germans and caused them great damage, but it suffered heavy casualties and failed to fulfill the task. Commander, Commissioner and Chief of Staff were removed from command of the division.

Colonel Nemudrov was appointed the commander, Commissioner of the battalion Petrov was appointed the Commissioner [of the division] and Major Suprunov became the Chief of Staff.

The reasons for the failure of the first offensive fighting lay in the fact that firstly, the division lacked combat experience, and, secondly, by this time the Germans have brought up fresh strong reserves.

From February 1942 to August 1943 the division conducted defensive battles near the town of Kirov. During this time, the division commander, Major-General Nemudrov was replaced by Maj. Gen. Naumov, and then by Colonel Suprunov, former Chief of Staff of the division, who commanded the division until the end of the war when it was disbanded. Colonel Mikhailov, head of the political department, replaced Petrov. Division has successfully conducted defensive fights. Deep defenses with three solid, well-equipped, full-profile trenches, cut-off positions, bunkers, command and observation posts were built. Rears were well equipped and camouflaged.

Being constantly in the forefront, the division every day actively delivered telling blows to the enemy. It attacked him with artillery, mortar and machine-gun fire, as well as with fire of numerous snipers, intelligence search and reconnaissance in force. It successfully resisted the enemy’s reconnaissance in force. An illustrative result of active defensive actions of the Division was the fact that the Germans could not take even a small part of their troops from our band, fearing to weaken the defense, in order to strengthen [their positions] during the battle of Kursk.

During the period of defensive battles many soldiers and officers were awarded orders and medals.

August 7, 1943 the 385th Infantry Division as part of the 10th Army of the Western Front began to conduct successful offensive operations. It had already got a good battle experience. Having broken through the heavily fortified enemy defenses north of the town of Kirov, the division while destroying the enemy began to liberate territory and towns of Belarus, that had suffered under the German yoke for more than two years. For two and a half months the division moved with fights some 300 kilometers from the town of Kirov to the town of Chausy, the Byelorussian SSR.

For the liberation of the town Krichev division was given the name Krichevskaya.

From September 1943 to June 1944, the division led defensive and two offensive fights. On the scale of the front, these fights were of local importance, and for the division they were heavy and bloody, though successful. The first was an offensive to seize a bridgehead on the river Pronya, it was led by the 385th Infantry Division alone. The second battle - for the expansion and deepening of a bridgehead - was carried out by two divisions. As a result, there was captured the base width of 8 kilometers and a depth of 12 kilometers, where a Rifle Corps was located.

June 23, 1944 the famous Belorussian operation began, which resulted in more than 300,000 German soldiers were killed or taken prisoner.

In this operation, the 385th Infantry Division was all the time in the first echelon of the 50th Army, and then of the 49 Army of the 2nd Byelorussian Front. On the first day of the operation the division liberated the town of Chausy and later, having crossed the Dnieper River, south of Mogilev, it contributed to the encirclement and the destruction of the 12th Infantry Division, Germany. Continuing to advance towards the town of Minsk, the division took all measures to enter the capital of Belarus first, but the first came in, as they should be, by the end of July 3 tank units; and the 385th Infantry Division went on the night of July 4. To the West of Minsk near Samokhvalovichy [3] division was attacked by a large group of German troops who were trying to get out of the encirclement. Without tanks and artillery, armed with light weapons, that is, machine guns, rifles and light machine guns, they formed chains in several rows, and firing on the move, went to a breakthrough [using] a method of psychological attack. For several hours, this group was eliminated. Over two thousand were killed, the rest - about six thousand were surrendered. The corps commander Colonel-General was captured with his staff [4]. In the 4th volume of The History of the Great Patriotic War on page 193, on the insert, in the bottom left corner there is a picture of German generals. This Colonel-General [Hans Traut] walks along Moscow with a thick cane in his right hand, and a cloak on his left arm. We captured him like that. During the entire Belorussian operation the Division captured more than twelve thousand military people, which was more than the number of its own personnel.

Building on the offensive in the West, in July, the division began to liberate towns of fraternal Poland from German occupation. On August 10 the division stormed the Fortress Ossowitz, and the 20th of August - the city of Łomża on the Narew river. For the liberation of town of Łomża two regiments were given the name "Lomzhynskiy", and the division was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.

During the Belorussian operation the 385th Infantry Division was a continual battle over 600 kilometers.

From August 29, 1944 to January 12, 1945 the division, occupying the defense on the East bank of the river Narew in the band of towns Łomża - Ostrołęka, was preparing, as all the troops of the 2nd Byelorussian Front, to further liberation of the territory of Poland.

January 12, 1945 a new operation began. The 385th Infantry Division, comprising 49th Army acted, as always, in the first echelon of the Army. Advancing with Ruzhany bridgehead, the division broke through the fortified area in East Prussia. For the liberation of the territory of the Masurian Lakes one infantry regiment and one artillery regiment were assigned the name "Mazursky".

On March 28 the division with other troops of the Front liberated the city and major port on the Baltic Sea - Danzig. On the second day after the capture of Danzig, it was moved by cars and horse-drawn vehicles under its own power, to the eastern bank of the river Oder, near the town of Schwedt. There are two Oders in this area - the East and the West - with a 3 kilometer floodplain between them. It was a period of flood, the entire flood plain was flooded with water depth over a meter. There formed a water barrier width of 3.5 kilometers. Division began to force it alone in the band of the Army with the objective to reach the West Oder and to ensure the deployment of troops to force the rest of the Western Oder. The Division has completed the task. After we have crossed the Oder River and broke through the enemy defenses, the Germans had not had a strong resistance. They tried to hold our troops with short counterattacks and strong barriers, taking the main force in the West to surrender to the British and Americans. They were afraid of retribution for all the deeds of evil. Before the surrender to our allies, the Germans left all weapons and equipment. Thus, the Germans have left us weapons and equipment, and manpower went to our allies.

3rd May the 385th Infantry Division met with the 82nd Airborne Division, United States. In this division finished its valiant fighting, and May 8, 1945 Nazi Germany capitulated.

The U.S. government has awarded a group of soldiers, NCOs and officers of the division the U.S. orders and medals. In turn, the government of the Soviet Union, has awarded the Soviet orders and medals the similar group of American soldiers and officers.

The division was awarded the Order of Suvorov 2nd class, and regiments – the Order of Suvorov 3rd class. The division became known as: the 385th Krichevskaya Red Banner, Order of Suvorov 2nd class Infantry Division.

Twelve honorable mentions of the Supreme Commander, and twelve times the capital of our country saluted by twenty salvoes from 224 guns the troops, among whom there was the 385th Infantry Division - for the capture of cities, the major footholds, or for speeding up large water barriers. It is almost impossible to establish how many government awards were received by the personnel, as the division suffered losses, rather often soldiers and officers were sent to other military units after a hospital, many times the division was replenished with new soldiers and officers. It's safe to say [that] almost all [soldiers and officers received government awards], and many got several awards. As an example, for combat operations of the division from February 1942 until the end of the war the division commander was awarded two Orders of the Red Banner, the Order of Suvorov 2nd class, the Order of Kutuzov 2nd class, the Order of the Great Partiotic War 1st class, the Order of the Red Star; he was awarded the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, Major-General.

In July [1945], due to the large reduction in the Soviet Army, the division was disbanded. Battle flags of the division and its regiments with orders on them are stored in Moscow.

A brief history, rather, historical information [about the division] was written using The History of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 in six volumes and memory. It does not include description of numerous battles and battle scenes. There were days of joy of victory, and there were days of heavy setbacks and big losses. There were many heroic deeds of individual soldiers and officers, as well as entire departments and units.

To write a history of the 385th Infantry Division, it is needed to write a large book.

One thing I consider necessary to note: the division has never retreated a single step in its entire military history, although there were very severe, bloody battles.

The former commander of Krichevskaya, Red Banner,
Order of Suvorov 2nd class Infantry Division
Maj. Gen. Retired M.F. Suprunov [5]


April 25, 1967


[1] Frunze – the capital of the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic, Bishkek at present. 

[2] Kirov - the administrative center of Kirov district of the Kaluga region, located 160 km from Kaluga.

[3] The exact name of the settlement Smilovichi, a small town in Cherven district, Minsk region, Belarus, on the river Volma, 27 km east of Minsk.

[4] The 78th Sturm (Assault) Division (Wehrmacht) under the command of Generalleutnant Hans Traut. During the June - July 1944 Soviet offensive against Army Group Centre, Operation Bagration, the division was assigned to defend the main Moscow - Minsk road and the town of Orsha. During the fighting the division was destroyed, having failed to break out of an encirclement east of Minsk on the night of 5/6 July. (Source: Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia).

[5] Mitrofan Fedorovich Suprunov (Russian - Митрофан Федорович Супрунов), (November 23, 1903 - January 16, 1983) - Soviet military, Major General (02/11/1944) – participated in the Soviet-Finnish War and the Great Patriotic War, the commander of the 385th Infantry Division. Was born in the village Loznaya Rovensky  district, Belgorod region. A member of the Communist Party since 1927. Graduated from the Central Asian Military School named after Lenin (1929), from the Military Academy named after Frunze (1939). He took part in the defeat of Basmachi in Turkestan (basmachi soviet name for members of the military-political guerrilla movement of the local population of Central Asia in the first half of XX century, which arose after the 1917 revolution in the Russian Empire. Self-name - the Mujahideen.) After the end of the World War II in Europe, the head of the Soviet administration Chemnitz District in GDR. In 1950-1954 - advisor to the People's Republic of China. Source: Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia in Russian.

Translated by Google; editing of translation, Latin spelling of geographical names and footnotes made by Olga Butorina.  

The original document is stored in the museum named after M.V. Frunze, Bishkek and is published with the kind permission of the Director of the Museum Orozova Kyzzhibek Musamambetovna. Photocopy was made ​​and sent to Moscow by Akkazieva Gulnura Ilyasovna and Abylova Erkegul Duysheevna.

Russian version with photocopies of the original could be found in the previous entry


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