5th Army (Russia) - On The Offensive

On The Offensive

As part of the Western Front the 5th Army then took part in the Operation of Rzhev-Vyazma, including the Second Rzhev-Sychevka Offensive in November–December 1942. It then fought with the 10th Guards & 33rd Armies in the Second Battle of Smolensk, by which time the Army was being commanded by General V.S. Polenov. At a later point, General P.G. Shafranov held command for a period. For Operation Bagration of 1944 in Belorussia, 5th Army was part of 3rd Belorussian Front. The 5th Army, now under General N.I. Krylov, was allocated to the Front's 'Northern Group' alongside 39th Army and a Cavalry mechanized group made up of 3rd Cavalry and 3rd Guards Mechanised Corps. The Army's path took it through Vilnius, which was cleared on 13 July with the assistance of the Polish underground after a final savage battle in the city centre. On 1 August 1944 the Army consisted of the 45th Rifle Corps (159th, 184th, 338th Rifle Divisions), the 65th Rifle Corps (97th, 144th, 371st RDs), the 72nd Rifle Corps (63rd, 215th, 277th RDs) and a wide array of supporting artillery, armour, and other units. The Army's final action in Europe was the East Prussian Offensive of 1945. Units of 184th Rifle Division, assigned as part of the 5th Army, were the first Soviet soldiers to reach the prewar frontier on 17 August 1944. With the other armies of 3rd Belorussian Front, 5th Army then took part in the failed Gumbinnen Operation of October 1944, in which the Soviets were not able to break the German East Prussian defences. In the course of the second East Prussian offensive, in interaction with other armies of the front, the 5th Army destroyed the Tilsit-Insterburg and Khalchberg enemy groups and on 23 January occupied Insterburg. In the closing stage of its European service it participated in the liquidation of the Wehrmacht troops trapped on the Samland peninsula, the XXVIII Corps.

On 20 April 1945, the 5th Army was transferred from Stavka VGK reserve to the Maritime Group of Forces, one of the formations which was being sent to the Far East to reinforce Soviet forces there in preparation for the beginning of hostilities against Japan. The MGF was re-designated the 1st Far East Front on 5 August 1945. When the Soviet invasion of Manchuria commenced, the Army consisted of the 17th Rifle Corps (187th and 366th Rifle Divisions), 45th Rifle Corps (157th, 159th, and 184th Rifle Divisions), 65th Rifle Corps (97th, 144th, 190th, 371st Rifle Divisions), 72nd Rifle Corps (63rd, 215th, 277th Rifle Divisions), the 72nd, 76th, 208th, 210th, and 218th Tank Brigades, the 105th Fortified Area, over 35 artillery brigades and regiments, and other units. During the Harbin-Girin operation, the Army’s troops, part of the 1st Far East Front’s main attack, broke through the Volynskiy area where the Japanese troops were resisting and advanced to the eastern spurs of the Taypinliy ridge.

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