Although it was an elite formation, the division was destroyed during the Winter War, after being ordered to help the 163rd Infantry Division break a Finnish siege on the Raate road. On 30 November 1939, it was part of the Special Rifle Corps, 9th Army, together with the 54th Rifle Division.
|44th Rifle Division |
44th Mountain-Rifle Division
|Engagements||Winter War, World War II|
|Decorations||Order of Red Banner (1928)|
|Battle honours||Shchors Kievskaya (1920)|
The unit is also famous for being the one of the first military formations out of which was formed the short-lived Soviet Ukrainian Army (1918–1919). It was formed by the order no.6 of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine on September 22, 1918, as the 1st Insurgent Division along with the 2nd Insurgent Division. The 1st Insurgent Division was formed out of insurgent squads of Tarashcha and Novgorod-Sieversky uyezds. The chief of division (nachdiv) was appointed N.Krapivyansky and the chief of staff S.Petrikovsky (Petrenko).
By the end of September the Division grew to 6700 bayonets, 450 sabers, 14 [artillery] guns, and from 10 to 18 machine guns "Maxim", 5 to 6 Colt, 20 to 30 Lewis. Because of that, selected regiments were reorganized into brigades. However, the name for the units were nominal as the brigade's headquarters were never formed, and functions of kombrigs were performed by the regimental commanders (colonel).
Around that time at the divisional headquarters a security company was formed out of some 700 soldiers. That new unit was planned to be transformed into the 5th Regiment and used as a reserve. Also the 4th Insurgent Regiment was recommissioned as the 6th Insurgent Regiment (commander T.Chernyak) and along with the 1st Regiment of Red Cossacks was soon transferred to the 2nd Insurgent Division. In their places, were created the 3rd Insurgent Regiment, later called Novgorod-Sieversky (T.Chernyak) and the 4th Insurgent Nezhyn Regiment (P.Nesmeyan) transformed out the security company.
During the preparations for an assault on Kharkiv most of the division, however, refused to obey orders except for the Red Cossacks and the 4th Insurgent Nezhyn Regiment. For that the divisional commander N.Krapivyansky was dismissed and court martialed. I Lokatosh was appointed the new chief of division and I. Panafidin the political commissar. The name of the division also changed to the Special Insurgent Division (order of Military Council of Kursk direction group of forces of November 21, 1918) as well as its formation consisting now only out of two brigades:
Приказом по войскам 12-й армии №2 от 16 июня 1919, объявлено о формировании из частей 1-й Украинской Советской армии в составе 44th Rifle Division of the Red Army.
The 44th Rifle Division participated during the Soviet invasion of Poland in autumn 1939. Later, during the Finno-Russian Winter War, the division was sent to the Finnish front as reinforcement for the Soviet 163rd Rifle Division which had attempted to advance into central Finland and become surrounded after capturing the town of Suomussalmi and was suffering heavy casualties. The 163rd Division, which was running short of food, was almost completely annihilated in combat with the Finnish 9th Infantry Division before the 44th Rifle Division could reach its position. With no ski troops, the 44th Rifle Division was completely road bound in the deep snow. The Finns, mounted on skis, and carrying superior arms (submachineguns), were able to break the route of march of the 44th Division on the road leading to Suomussalmi. By breaking the division into pieces along the road, after Finnish radio intelligence had confirmed that the whole division had entered the Raate road, the Finns were able to annihilate the entire unit. According to Robert Edwards, the division's Commander A. Vinogradev managed to escape, but later, on the orders of Stalin's emissary, Lev Mekhlis, he was shot for incompetence following a sham trial. Of the 44th Division's 17,000 troops, 1000 were captured and 700 escaped. The rest died.
Other records suggest that Commander (kombrig) Alexei Vinogradov was sentenced in January 1940 to the Highest Degree of Punishment (VMN) by the Military Tribunal of the 9th Army. along with his chief of staff Onufri Volkov. On January 11 he was publicly executed in front of formation.
'Captured Soviet Generals' says that the division commander, Major General S.A. Tkachenko, was captured by the Germans. The division was immediately caught up in conflict and suffered heavy losses. By 21 July 1941 the division was already short of shtat (establishment or Table of Organization and Equipment) by over 4,000 soldiers, 199 cargo trucks, and over 3,000 rifles and carbines. Divisional morale fell despite some small victories. Ultimately the division was wiped out in combat near the village of Podvyskoe in the Kirovograd and Uman region.
The division was recreated at Leningrad in October 1941. It fought in northern Russia and Kurland with the 54th Army of Volkhov Front in January 1944 and the 67th Army of the Leningrad Front in May 1945.
It was briefly reactivated after the war from 1955 at Uralsk in Uralsk Oblast, from the 270th Rifle Division. It was redesignated the 44th Motor Rifle Division on 4 June 1957. In January 1958 it became part of the Turkestan Military District with the dissolution of the South Ural Military District. The division disbanded on 1 March 1959. Its 118th and 126th Motor Rifle Regiments transferred to the 43rd Motor Rifle Division.
On July 8, 1939:
Several countries have had a 44th Division:
44th Reserve Division (German Empire)
44th Landwehr Division (German Empire)
44th Infantry Division (Germany) (World War II)
44th Infantry Division Cremona (Kingdom of Italy)
44th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)
44th Infantry Division (Poland)
44th Rifle Division (Soviet Union), a unit of the Red Army reformed during World War II
44th (Home Counties) Division (United Kingdom)
44th Infantry Division (United States)Airborne divisions
44th Airborne Division (India) (British Indian Army during World War II)
242nd Training Centre (44th Training Airborne Division)Armoured divisions
44th Armoured Division (India)Aviation divisions
44th Air Division (United States Air Force)