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179th Rifle Division (Soviet Union)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 179th Vitebsk Red Banner Rifle Division was an infantry division of the Soviet Union's Red Army during World War II.

Established at Vilnius on 17 August 1940 as part of the 29th Lithuanian Territorial Rifle Corps on the basis of the 1st Infantry Division of the Lithuanian Army. The headquarters was formed from the headquarters of the 1st Infantry Division and Staff of the Lithuanian Army, 215th Rifle Regiment of the 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Cavalry batteries, headquarters of the 1st Infantry Division and the headquarters of the Lithuanian Army, 234th Rifle Regiment from the 1st and 8th Infantry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Battery, and the 259th Rifle Regiment from the 2nd and 3rd infantry regiments and the 3rd Cavalry battery.

With 29th Rifle Corps of 11th Army on June 22, 1941. Fought at Kalinin, Gomel, and Vitebsk; with 4th Shock Army of the Kurland Group (Leningrad Front) May 1945.

It was reduced to the 27th Rifle Brigade in 1948 at Uralsk. It became a division again in October 1953.[1]

In 1955, the division became the 4th Rifle Division at Buzuluk in the South Ural Military District.[2]

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For two months, Russia and the Central Powers had negotiated peace terms, but territorial demands had been too much for the Russians to accept, and they had left the conference. And now? Well, now they were reaping the whirlwind, as the German juggernaut advanced all through the east. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week the Eastern Front flared to life again, the German army was smashing its way toward Petrograd and Kiev, and the Bolsheviks were desperate. The British advanced in Palestine and the Ottomans in Eastern Anatolia, and Henry Wilson became Britain’s new Chief of Staff after Wully Robertson resigned. Here’s what followed. German troops continued advancing in the East, entering Reval the 25th. That same day they reached the outskirts of Narva. On the 27th, they reached Mogilev and a German plane bombed Petrograd. Bolshevik leader Lenin had by then agreed to resume peace negotiations with the Central Powers, and the Russian delegation arrived in Brest-Litovsk the 28th, but the German would not stop their advance. General Max Hoffmann said the fighting would stop when a treaty was actually signed. That border wasn’t the only one, though, that was being discussed this week. The Transcaucasian Federation finally met beginning February 23rd about establishing a new frontier in the Caucasus. On March 1st, the Transcaucasian Diet approved conditions for reestablishing the 1914 border and the right of self-determination for the peoples of Eastern Anatolia with the guarantee of autonomy for Armenia under Ottoman sovereignty. The Ottomans would meet the Diet once Russia’s peace negotiations were concluded. However, Vehip Pasha’s Ottoman forces were advancing in the field, and by the end of February had taken Trabzon and Gumushane. Neither the Ottomans nor the rulers of the Transcaucasian territories thought themselves at war, though, and the Turks could claim they were just reoccupying their own provinces. “The Armenians, however, were confronted with a very special problem; the protection of the Armenian population in the districts which the Turks were in the process of reoccupying... Immediate danger threatened all Armenians living in the regions of Erzurum, Hinis, Van, Malazgirt, and the Eleshgirt Plain.” These people preferred not to await the coming of the Turkish army and asked to be immediately evacuated across the Transcaucasian border. So a big chunk of the new national Armenian army was sent to protect them and give them time to move, and that small army was now spread over a pretty wide region. And another small army, but one that grew every week, was becoming more involved in the action in the field. The American Army. On February 26th, there was a French raid on German trenches near Réchicourt, and an American soldier who was observing, the Chief of Staff of the 42nd Division - the Rainbow Division, got carried away by the moment and joined in, helping to capture some Germans. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre, and was the first soldier of the American Expeditionary Force to receive one. His name was Colonel Douglas MacArthur. If you’re wondering why it was called the Rainbow Division, there had been concern in Washington when recruiting for the war began that some states might take issues with other states as sources for particular divisional recruiting, so they decided that one whole division would be recruited from surplus units of many different states. Then-Major MacArthur apparently said that was great and it would stretch across the whole country like a rainbow. One side note from that front to point out - the Allied papers were all writing about how American aircraft would soon darken the skies with their numbers, but at this point there was still not a single American manufactured airplane on the Western Front (Gilbert). US President Wilson’s 14 points speech in January had not had a lot of immediate impact, but it had placed a small wedge between Germany and Austria-Hungary. German Chancellor Georg von Hertling had sort of generally and grudgingly accepted them without making any concessions on specific ones, while Austria’s Count Czernin was a lot friendlier. Wilson had followed up this month with a speech condemning Hertling and praising Czernin, and also announcing his “four principles”, which was a VERY carefully qualified commitment to self-determination after a peace, whereby, “all well defined national aspirations” would be satisfied as far as was possible without creating international conflict. See? That leaves a lot of wiggle and discussion room. This month, well, February, Austrian Emperor Karl actually corresponded directly with Wilson through King Alfonso XIII of neutral Spain, but that dialogue led nowhere. Wilson wanted some clarity on what the Empire would offer national groups, and Vienna still would not accept Italy’s claims on Austrian territory, nor France’s on Germany’s. Basically, peace was on offer if the Empire would break from Germany. That was not going to happen. It seems that the Empire was gambling on the success of Germany’s impending western front offensive. And Quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff was proceeding with his plans for that, which involved bringing a lot of troops from the Eastern front to the West. The transfer of troops numbered more than half the size of the British Expeditionary Force at this point. Germany would have 191 divisions in the west against 178 allied ones. This gave the Germans numerical superiority there for the first time since 1914. Now, only a small part of the divisions that would attack were actually from other fronts, but they would hold quieter sectors and free up the best troops for the big fight. And anyhow, most of the best German divisions had remained in the west the whole war, and by 1918 some of them had rested in quiet sectors for over a year. For example, 68 German Western Front divisions had not seen action at Passchendaele last fall, as opposed to just nine British ones. It would be fresh, but seasoned troops, using Hutier assault tactics and Bruchmuller artillery doctrine that would break the front. Ludendorff was also going to use the commanders that had been the most successful in 1917 for the three armies that would go into battle. Otto von Below, who had directed the rout of the Italians at Caporetto, would command the 17th army. Oskar von Hutier, who had refined the infiltration tactics that bore his name - even though he didn’t come up with them personally - and worked so well at Riga, would command the 18th. Georg von der Marwitz, now commanding the 2nd army, had led the German defense and counterattacks at Cambrai. The plans were to “eat through” the allied defenses and bring about a war of movement and maneuver by keeping the enemy off balance, continuously pressing the attack, and reinforcing success. The artillery would aim for surprise, and the infantry would move forward without relief no matter what the casualties. That’s in contrast to the British and French who sent in relief during action. The basic small unit, the gruppe, would be around 9 riflemen and light machine gunners with an NCO. Specialized teams with flamethrowers and heavier weapons would follow. The newly revised “Training Manual for Foot Troops in War” said that ALL soldiers should be accustomed to assault squad methods. Ludendorff did recognize the fact that older men could not suddenly be recast as storm troops, so he chose roughly a quarter of his infantry to be attack divisions. These were men from ages 25-35 and they took priority for food, equipment, and training. Around 56 divisions were pulled out of the line for three weeks of intensive training, beginning with traditional drills to restore discipline, and some marksmanship, but moving on to quick long-distance marching, fighting while on the move, and storming simulated enemy trenches under live fire. Aircraft numbers were much higher than last year and featured hundreds of Schlactflugzeug- planes especially for ground attacks, for which the pilots were also trained, BUT although this army was pretty well set up to break into Allied positions, in terms of mobile warfare to follow that up it wasn’t really much better than it had been in 1914. They had 23,000 trucks, but since they had no access to rubber, these had steel tires and they chewed up and ruined the roads. By contrast, the Allies had 100,000 rubber-tired vehicles. The Allies also used tanks and armored cars. The Germans lagged way behind there, having built only a few clumsy A7V models or resurrecting captured Allied tanks, but never in large numbers. So there were serious drawbacks and they had no big advantage in either men or equipment. And so the week ends as March begins. Germans still on the move in Russia, and Russia now desperate to sign pretty much anything to stop it. The Ottomans were still advancing toward the Armenians, Americans were seeing action in the west, and German High Command was making plans for the mother of all offensives. Ludendorff was very much planning on winning by qualitative rather than quantitative measures, even with a slight advantage in manpower. The next few weeks could prove the decisive ones of the war. Russia overrun, Italy pacified after Caporetto for the time being, uncertainty in the British High Command, the Americans not even close to being in Europe in numbers enough to make a difference. This was Ludendorff’s and Germany’s great window of opportunity, and the whole world would be watching. If you want to learn more about the German Stormtroopers, you can click right here for our special episode. Our Patreon supporter of the week is Pitchatarn Lertudomtana - thank you for your ongoing support on Patreon. If you want to help the show and get cool perks in return, consider supporting us at Don’t forget to subscribe and see you next time.

See also


  1. ^ Feskov et al 2013, p. 149, Table 4.1.4
  2. ^ Feskov et al 2013, p. 150, Table 4.1.5
  • Feskov, V.I.; Golikov, V.I.; Kalashnikov, K.A.; Slugin, S.A. (2013). Вооруженные силы СССР после Второй Мировой войны: от Красной Армии к Советской [The Armed Forces of the USSR after World War II: From the Red Army to the Soviet: Part 1 Land Forces] (in Russian). Tomsk: Scientific and Technical Literature Publishing. ISBN 9785895035306.
  • Robert G. Poirier and Albert Z. Conner, The Red Army Order of Battle in the Great Patriotic War, Novato: Presidio Press, 1985. ISBN 0-89141-237-9.
This page was last edited on 1 March 2019, at 16:46
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