13th Army (Soviet Union)

13th Army
Country Soviet Union
Branch Soviet Army
Ukrainian Army
Size Army
Engagements Russian Civil War
Russo-Finnish War
World War II

The 13th Army (Russian: 13-я армия 13-ya armiya) was a name given to several field armies of the Soviet Union's Red Army, first created during the Russian Civil War. Later armies existed until the 1990s, and the army survived as part of the Ukrainian Ground Forces for some years.

Russian Civil War

It was first formed from the Kursk direction group of forces which was later assigned the group under leadership of I.S. Kozhevnikov arriving from the frontlines of the First World War. After its assignment to the Southern Front in December 1918 it was renamed as the Donetsk group of forces in February 1919, and in March reformed as the 13th Army. The Army under command of the V.I. Selivachev group until September, together with the 8th Army, while the Southern Front was renamed as the Southwestern in January 1920. In September 1920 it was assigned to the newly created Southern Front at that time fighting against Vrangel.

During the Civil War the Army's force structure was highly dynamic with most subunits operating as part of operational groups. These included Special (reserve) group (two regiments and a battery), Left group (two divisions, cavalry and infantry brigades), Shock group (Latvian division, Cossack cavalry brigade and separate brigade), and Perekopskaya group (Latvian and 3rd divisions, 8th cavalry division, Nesterov group, and later 52nd division and 85th brigade of the 29th division). This group fought on the approaches to Crimea, and experienced many changes, at one time including a group of armoured trains and the 1st Cavalry corps, but was eventually split between the Ekaterinoslav direction group of forces and the 6th Army. The rest of the 13th fought towards the southern coast of the Black sea between Perekop and north-east of Odessa. In October 1920 the army lost many of its units to the 2nd Cavalry Army, and in November of the same year it was merged into the 4th Army. Its last location of headquarters was in the city of Slavyansk.

This first 13th Army participated in operations spanning an area from southern Kursk gubernia to Crimea, fought Denikin, the Don nationalist Cossacks and Vrangel, participated in the offensive into Donbass, and its defence, and in the counter-offensive in Southern Tavria.[1]

Russo-Finnish War

The 13th Army was created again at the end of December 1939 as a separate 13th Army in the course of the Soviet advance into the Karelian Ishtmus when the 7th Army was split into two, and also renamed separate, after being substantially reinforced.[2] As part of the 1940 February Vyborg offensive they were coordinated by the North Western Front in Leningrad, both armies were able to breach either first or second defensive positions in the Mannerheim Line, but were unable to breach the main position. The separate 13th Army was allocated three of the eight rifle corps assigned to the operation.[3]

World War II

The 13th Army (Ist formation) headquarters was formed in May 1941 in the Western Special Military District, starting on 5 May in Mogilev in accordance with the decision of Central Committee of the Communist Party and Sovnarkom of the USSR No.1113-460cc. dated 23 April 1941.[4] It was intended to comprised 21st, 2nd, and 44th Rifle Corps.[5] In the beginning of June General-Leytenant Piyotor Filatov arrived to take command. From the beginning of Operation Barbarossa the Army included the 21st Rifle Corps, 50th Rifle Division, the 8th Anti-Tank Artillery Brigade and a number of other separate units. From the end of June 1941 the Army conducted defensive operations in the Minsk Fortified Region, on the Borisov direction and on the Dnieper river. The formation conducted operations as part of the Soviet Western Front and the Soviet Central Front. Parts of the Army held up the Wehrmacht advance for almost three weeks near Mogilyev. The 172nd Rifle Division under General Romanov especially distinguished itself in the combat. Parts of the Army participated in the Battle of Smolensk 10 July to 10 September 1941. During September and October 1941 the Army was operating as part of the Bryansk Front and included the 6th Rifle Division.

The Army fought as part of the Central Front in the Battle of Kursk in July 1943 under General N.P. Pukhov, numbering four corps with twelve rifle divisions (including the 75th Guards Rifle Division). The Army finished its war service in Germany within the 1st Ukrainian Front in 1945, consisting of the 24th Rifle Corps (117th Rifle Division, 380th Rifle Division, 395th Rifle Division), 27th Rifle Corps (6th Guards Rifle Division and 121st Guards Rifle Division), 102nd Rifle Corps (147th Rifle Division and 172nd Rifle Divisions, which took part in the Battle of Halbe), 17th Artillery Division, and many other smaller artillery and other formations.[6]

Soviet Army

The Army was located for the entire postwar period in the Lviv and Carpathian Military Districts, initially comprising three Rifle Corps with a total of nine rifle divisions. From 1947 to 1949 it was commanded by General Issa Pliyev who was a renowned commander of several Cavalry mechanized groups during the war. It was for much of this period headquartered at Rovno. Almost all its divisions were Guards formations: the 17th, 51st, 97th (the former 40th, 15th, and 97th Rifle Divisions). Only the 24th (subsequently resubordinated to Military District control) and the 161st Rifle Division were not Guards, but both were renowned combat formations.

In 1960 the following divisions were assigned:[7]

In 1960 the 24th Motor Rifle Division was transferred to district control. In January 1965 the 99th Motor Rifle Division was redesignated the 161st Motor Rifle Division.

On 22 February 1968 the army was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.

In 1970 the following divisions were assigned:

In 1970 the 275th Motor Rifle Division (mobilisation) was activated, and the 62nd Anti-Aircraft Rocket Brigade was transferred from the 8th Tank Army.[8]

In 1980 the following divisions were assigned:

In 1987 the 275th Motor Rifle Division (mobilisation) was disbanded.

Divisions in 1988:

Also part of the army in the late 1980s were the 119th and 442nd Independent Helicopter Regiments (Mi-24s), 62nd Anti-Aircraft Rocket Brigade (Lyuboml), 49th Independent Engineer Regiment, and 38th Rocket Brigade (Kremenets). In January 1992, the army, its facilities and most of the equipment was transferred to the newly-sovereign Ukraine.[9]

Ukrainian Army

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence chose to retain the Army and its formations for some time. On 18 March 1992, in accordance with Decree No. 161 of the President of Ukraine, Major General Petra (Петра) Shulyak was assigned as the army commander.[10]

Formation in 1989 Formation in 1991–92 (Ukraine)[11]
17th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Khmelnitskiy) Unchanged(?)
51st Guards Motor Rifle Division (Vladimir-Volynsky) No change
97th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Slavuta) 97th Guards Mechanised Brigade
161st Motor Rifle Division (Izyaslav) 161st Mechanised Brigade

The reorganisation of 17th Guards MRD as 15th Mechanised Brigade may have occurred as late as 2004.

Oleksandr Zatynaiko (uk:Затинайко Олександр Іванович) later became commander. However, by 1997 the Army was substantially reduced in size and renamed the 13th Army Corps.


  1. extract from Section VII, Vol I, Fronts, armies and groups, Civil War, Central State Archive of the Soviet Army (Russian)
  2. Voroshilov K.E., Lessons of war with Finland, Unpublished report of Narkom for Defence of USSR K.E. VOroshilov at the plenum of ZK VKP(b), 28 March 1940, (Russian)
  3. p.97, Vasilevsky A.M., A lifelong cause, 2nd ed., Politizdat, Moscow, 1973. (Russian), English translation by Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1981
  4. p.177, Lensky, A.G., Land forces of RKKA in the pre-war years, A reference, B&K Pub., St.Petersburg, 2000
  5. David Glantz, Stumbling Colossus, 206
  6. Combat composition of the Soviet Army, 1 May 1945
  7. Holm/Feskov 2015, 13th Combined Arms Army
  8. Holm, 62nd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade
  9. Feskov et al 2013, pp. 472473
  10. "NAU-Online -> Про призначення командуючих арміями Збройних Сил України". Zakon.nau.ua. 1992-03-18. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  11. Feskov et al 2004, 56, 104-105

References and See also

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