Red Army at Orel

10 - 27 October 1919

My primary source of the units involved in the Battle of Orel is Seargent Magazine #5, which was available for a while on the web. Note that the Soviets refered to it as the Orel-Kromy Operation.

The units listed are part of the Southern Front, under KomFront A. I. Egorov.

The spear of the Soviet attack was the Shock Group, led by the Latvian Division. It was originally part of 13th Army, but transferred to 14th Army during the operation as the 13th Army started to disintegrate.

Shock Group

Commander – A.A. Martusevich

Latvian Rifle Division

Commander – A.A. Martusevich (from 20 October – F.K. Kalnins)

The Latvians were the best forces in the Red Army at this battle, both experienced and motivated. They were to bear the brunt of the fighting at Orel. Their main fault was that they were quite slow moving, due to excessive caution.

1st Brigade

1st Latvian Rifle Regiment – 705 bayonets (7 companies), 12 HMGs
2nd Latvian Rifle Regiment – 664 bayonets (6 companies), 12 HMGs
3rd Latvian Rifle Regiment – 690 bayonets (6 companies), 12 HMGs

2nd Brigade

4th Latvian Rifle Regiment – 741 bayonets (9 companies), 12 HMGs
5th Latvian Rifle Regiment – 658 bayonets (6 companies), 12 HMGs
6th Latvian Rifle Regiment – 719 bayonets (6 companies), 12 HMGs

3rd Brigade

7th Latvian Rifle Regiment – 720 bayonets (6 companies), 12 HMGs
8th Latvian Rifle Regiment – 611 bayonets (6 companies), 12 HMGs
9th Latvian Rifle Regiment – 569 bayonets (6 companies), 12 HMGs

Cavalry Regiment

1st to 4th Squadrons – in total 618 sabres, 2 HMG, 8 "Lewis"

Artillery Brigade

1st Light Artillery Divizion

1st to 3rd Light Batteries – 4 guns (76.2mm), 2 HMG

2nd Light Artillery Divizion

4th to 6th Light Batteries – 4 guns (76.2mm), 2 HMG

3rd Light Artillery Divizion

7th to 9th Light Batteries – 4 guns (76.2mm), 2 HMG (except 7th only 3 guns, 2HMG)

Howitzer Divizion

1st Battery – 3 howitzers (122mm)
2nd Battery – 2 heavy guns

Chervonno Cossack Brigade

Commander – V.M. Primakov

1,200 sabres, 24 HMG, 10 guns

This brigade appears to have been part of the newly formed "Cavalry Division of the 14th Army" at this time, but fought separately from the other two brigades (in 14th Army) at Orel-Kromy. It would later be named the 8th Red Cossack Cavalry Division.

The brigade was raised in the Ukraine, and the "Cossack" of the title refers to this, not any reference to the usual Cossack Hosts. It was an experienced and well-equipped unit, and was very much the spear of the Red attacks.

"Chervonno" is the colour red (but a different word from that used for Red Army).

1st Chervonno Cossack Regiment
2nd Chervonno Cossack Regiment

Horse Artillery Divizion

1st Horse Artillery Battery – 4 guns
2nd Horse Artillery Battery – 4 guns
3rd Mountain Horse Artillery Battery – 2 guns

Pavlov Separate Rifle Brigade

Commander – P.A. Pavlov

1,685 bayonets, 120 sabres, 46 MG, 6 guns

Despite being part of the elite Shock Group, this was a recently raised unit, full of deserters and lacking qualified commanders. It did not perform well and took heavy losses.

Plastun Regiment – 532 bayonets, 16 MGs
Kiev Regiment – 700 bayonets, 15 MGs
Composite Regiment – 450 bayonets, 15 MGs

Cavalry Divizion – about 120 sabres

Artillery Divizion – two light batteries – in total 6 guns

8th Armoured Car Detachment

probably about 4 cars

21st Armoured Car Detachment

probably about 4 cars

13th Army

Commander – A.I. Gekker
Chief of Staff – A.M. Zayonchkovskiy
RVS – I. V. Kosior, G.L. Pyatakov, A.P. Rozengol'ts

17,907 bayonets, 1,755 sabres, 318 MGs, 86 guns.

3rd Rifle Division

Commander – V.K. Gondel' (from 24 October – A.D. Kozitskiy)

2,801 bayonets, 275 sabres, 49 MGs, 21 guns (at 1 October)

19th to 27th Rifle Regiments (in the 7th to 9th Rifle Brigades)

9th Rifle Division

Commander – A.D. Kozitskiy (from 17 October – P.A. Solodukhin)

3,822 bayonets, 164 sabres, 34 MG, 11 guns (at 6 October)

73rd to 81st Rifle Regiments (in the 25th to 27th Rifle Brigades)

42nd Rifle Division

Commander – I.H. Pauka

5,629 bayonets, 235 sabres, 152 MG, 27 guns (at 7 October)

This division was only formed on 30 September, in a hurry from miscellaneous units of the Orel Fortified Area. It was disbanded on 15 October, after taking severe losses, with the men distributed to the 9th Rifle Division.

370th to 378th Rifle Regiments (in the 124th to 126th Rifle Brigades)

55th Rifle Division

Commander – M.K. Yuzvyuk

2,781 bayonets, 157 sabres, 13 MG, 5 guns (at 17 October)

487th to 495th Rifle Regiments (in the 163rd to 165th Rifle Brigades)

Sveshnikov Composite Rifle Brigade

Commander – M.S. Sveshnikov

2,874 bayonets, 415 sabres, 63 MG, 19 guns (at 1 October)

Formerly Forces of the Kursk Fortified Area. It took severe losses early in the battle and was broken up, with the men reinforcing the 9th Rifle Division.

Estonian Rifle Division

Commander – Ya. Pal'vadre

7,191 men: 3,346 bayonets, 114 sabres, 68 HMGs, 12 LMGs, 11 guns

This division was previously known as the Composite Division. The Estonian integral cavalry regiment had been sent to the NW Front.

The quality of the Estonians was high, similar to the Latvians, and they fought well during the battle.

1st to 4th Estonian Rifle Regiments
1st All-Training Regiment (former Putilov Factory workers)
86th Rifle Regiment

13th Separate Cavalry Brigade

400 sabres?

12th Armoured Car Detachment

probably about 4 cars

Armoured Trains

At least 5 trains.

The 13th Army had 13 operational trains in May 1919, but lost most of these in their retreat. Some reinforcements arrived from reserve in October however.

14th Army

Commander – I.P. Uborevich
Chief of Staff – S.G.Szhvarelidze-Bezhanov
RVS – N.F. Preobrazhenskiy, G.K. Ordzhonikidze

15,287 bayonets, 2,730 sabres, 462 MG, 100 guns.

7th Rifle Division

Commander – A.G. Golikov

1,449 bayonets, 106 sabres, 55 MGs, 9 guns (at 16 October)

This unit was to take very heavy casualties.

55th to 63rd Rifle Regiments (in the 19th to 21st Rifle Brigades)

41st Rifle Division

Commander – M.V. Molkachanov (from 12 October – R.P. Eydeman)

5,520 bayonets, 690 sabres, 122 MGs, 52 guns (at 10 October)

361st to 369th Rifle Regiments
three other regiments ?

If the 41RD followed the usual pattern, it would have only the 121st to 123rd Rifle Brigades. However it seems to have had four brigades. Presumably the fourth was not numbered in sequence, but added as a result of a merger of another unit. It was likely only temporary.

46th Rifle Division

Commander – A.N. Lengovsky

7,015 bayonets, 245 sabres, 224 MGs, 23 guns (at 1 October)

It appears this division took little part in the Orel-Kromy Operation.

406th to 414th Rifle Regiments (in the 136th to 138th Rifle Brigades)

57th Rifle Division

Commander – N.A. Khudyakov (from 11 October – F.A. Kuznetsov)

1,303 bayonets, 200 sabres, 40 MGs, 12 guns (at 8 October)

It seems this division only took a peripheral part in the Orel-Kromy Operation.

505th to 513th Rifle Regiments (in the 169th to 171st Rifle Brigades)

Sablin Group

Commander – Yu. V. Sablin

The composition of this group is unknown. It appears it took no active part in the Orel-Kromy Operation.

Cavalry Division of the 14th Army

Commander – N.K. Shchelokov (acting)

Although formally grouped together, it seems these units fought separately at this time. The Chervonno Cossacks took an active part in the Orel-Kromy Operation as part of the Shock Group, but it is not clear that the other two brigades took any part at all.

Chervonno Cossack Brigade (detached, with the Shock Group)
11th Cavalry Brigade
12th Cavalry Brigade

5th Armoured Car Detachment

probably about 4 cars

22nd Armoured Car Detachment

probably about 4 cars

Armoured Trains

The 14th Army had lost most of these in their retreat.