Red Army Shermans of WWII Part II

RED ARMY SHERMAN UNITS

This list is far from exhaustive but does go some way towards accounting for the more than 4,000 M4A2 tanks sent to the Soviet Union between 1943 and 1945. During the Cold War the Soviet government deliberately disparaged the importance of the Lend-Lease program preferring to stress the contribution made to victory in blood by ordinary Russian soldiers. Further, where records were kept they were either inaccurate or incomplete, for example merely describing all Sherman tanks as “Detroit built”. We can say however that of the total number received, some 2,073 were armed with the 75mm gun while the remainder had the 76mm weapon. Among the latter were a small number of very late HVSS models that saw combat in the Far East.

1st Guards Mechanised Corps. Formed in November 1942 from 1st Guards Rifle Division, this unit was completely re-equipped – apparently at the insistence of Marshal Rokossovski – with M4A2 tanks in January 1945. The fact that this was considered an elite unit speaks volumes for the capabilities of the Lend-Lease Shermans. The corps took part in the siege of Budapest and the storming of Vienna as part of 3rd Ukrainian Front. In February 1945, after fighting in Hungary, the corps had 184 M4A2 tanks on hand. By March this total had been reduced to forty-seven. The armoured elements of 1st Guards Mechanised Corps were 16th Guards Tank Regiment and 17th Guards Tank Regiment.

1st Mechanised Corps. Disbanded in late 1941 and reformed in August-September 1942 from the remnants of 27th Tank Corps, this formation was attached to 2nd Guards Tank Army of 1st Byelorussian Front during the fighting in Berlin in April and May 1945.

3rd Guards Mechanized Corps. Formed from 4th Mechanized Corps in December 1942, this unit fought in the Stalingrad encirclement and at Kursk in 1943. During early 1944 the corps was equipped with M4A2 Shermans and British Valentine tanks. The Shermans were dispersed throughout 35th Guards Tank Brigade, 7th Guards Tank Brigade, 8th Guards Tank Brigade and 9th Guards Mechanized Brigade. In June 1944 the corps was attached to 3rd Byelorussian front as part of a special, highly mobile formation known as the Oslikovskiy Cavalry-Mechanised Group with 3rd Guards Cavalry Corps. In July the corps was attached to 1st Baltic Front. In January 1945, as part of 1st Pribaltisky Front, this unit had 176 M4A2 tanks on hand including 108 of the 76mm armed version. The corps took part in the invasion of Manchuria as part of the Transbaikal Front. In recognition of its service, this unit was granted the honorific title Stalingrad-Krivorozhskaya.

5th Mechanised Corps. Colonel Dmitry Loza, a highly decorated veteran and author of Commanding The Red Army’s Sherman Tanks, states that at least his unit, the 233rd Tank Brigade, was completely equipped with M4A2 tanks and implies that the other regiments of the corps were similarly equipped. Interestingly Colonel Loza states emphatically that most, if not all, of his brigade’s Shermans were the 76mm version.

8th Guards Mechanized Corps. Formed from 3rd Mechanised Corps in October 1943, this formation took part in some of the most important battles fought on the Eastern Front including Kursk, the fighting around Zhitomir-Berdichev, Korsun-Shevchenkovsky, Proskurov-Chernovits, and Lvovin in Poland. In January 1945, 8th Guards Mechanised Corps had 185 M4A2 tanks on hand and went on to fight at Warsaw, in Pomerania and in the final battle for Berlin. From its formation the corps was part of 1st Guards Tank Army and was made up of 1st Guards Tank Brigade, 19th Guards Mechanized Brigade, 20th Guards Mechanized Brigade and 21st Guards Mechanized Brigade. In 1945, 64th Guards Tank Regiment was also attached to this corps. In April 1944 this unit was awarded the honorific title Carpathian and is also referred to in some sources as 8th Red Guards Aleksandriysky Mechanized Corps.

9th Guards Mechanized Corps. Formed from 5th Mechanized Corps in September 1944 with 126 M4A2 tanks. This unit was attached to 6th Guards Tank Army during the fighting for Vienna in early 1945. From its formation until the end of the war the corps was made up from 46th Guards Tank Brigade, 18th Guards Mechanized Brigade, 30th Guards Mechanized Brigade and 31st Guards Mechanized Brigade.

9th Mechanized Corps. This formation began to receive M4A2 tanks in late 1943 and early 1944. The corps took part in the invasion of Manchuria as part of the Transbaikal Front and was made up of 116th Tank Regiment, 69th Mechanized Brigade and 70th Mechanized Brigade. At that time the corps had 137 M4A2 tanks on hand.

3rd Guards Tank Corps. Formed from 7th Tank Corps in late 1942, this unit was awarded the title Kotelnikovskikh the following year. From mid-1944 the corps was made up of 3rd Guards Tank Brigade, 18th Guards Tank Brigade, 19th Guards Tank Brigade and 2nd Guards Mechanised Brigade. In June 1944, during Operation Bagration, the corps was attached to 5th Guards Tank Army. This unit also fought in East Prussia with 3rd Guards Cavalry Corps as part of

19th Army. For the final battles in Berlin the corps was attached to 1st Byelorussian Front.

8th Guards Tank Corps. In the summer of 1944, this formation’s 58th Guards Tank Brigade was equipped with Shermans. Quite probably 59th and 60th Guards Tank Brigades also had Emchas.

18th Tank Corps. Formed in June 1942, this unit served with 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts in late 1944 and into 1945 taking part in the fighting in Hungary. Mostly equipped with IS-2 heavy tanks and SU-85 and ISU-152 self-propelled guns, the corps did have a small number of M4A2 tanks on hand in January 1945. These had however all been lost by March.

2nd Guards Cavalry Corps. This unit took part in battle for Berlin while attached to 33rd Army of 1st Byelorussian Front. Although it is known that this corps had a number of M4A2 tanks, no further details are available.

5th Guards Cavalry Corps. In March 1945 as part of 3rd Ukrainian Front this corps had a small number of M4A2 tanks on hand, perhaps as few as two.

47th Mechanised Brigade. This brigade’s 18th Tank Regiment was equipped with M4A2 tanks at the end of 1944.

63rd Tank Brigade. This unit had a number of Emchas on hand for a short time during 1944.

64th Guards Tank Brigade. This brigade took part in the fighting in eastern Germany in 1945. The brigade had at least some 76mm armed M4A2 tanks on hand at that time.

140th Tank Brigade. This brigade had a number of Sherman tanks on hand during 1943.

153rd Tank Brigade. As part of 31st Army of 3rd Byelorussian Front, this independent brigade took part in the fighting for Königsberg and had on hand thirteen M4A2 and thirty-two T-34 tanks in mid-January 1945. By the end of January only five of the Shermans were still serviceable and by February all had been lost.

201st Tank Brigade. Made up of the 295th and 296th Tank Battalions, this independent brigade was with the Transbaikal Front in Manchuria in August 1945.

208th Medium Self-propelled Gun Brigade. Formed in December 1944 this unit was attached to 3rd Ukrainian Front. Although at least one source states that the brigade had 184 M4A2 tanks on hand in March 1945, this number seems far too large being almost enough to equip a complete corps.

48th Separated Tank Batalion. In an effort to bolster the infantry’s offensive capability, some infantry divisions received an armoured battalion referred to as a Separated Tank Battalion. Intended to act in co-operation with the infantry, these battalions were made up of two companies of medium tanks and one of light tanks. The 48th Separated Tank Battalion was attached to the Transbaikal Front in 1945 and had a small number of M4A2 tanks on hand.

59th Independent Tank Regiment. This unit is mentioned as having a number of Emchas on hand. No further details are available at this time.

60th Separated Tank Regiment. Attached to 5th Guards Cavalry Corps in 1944, the regiment had twenty M4A2 tanks on hand at that time.

70th Separated Tank Regiment. Attached to 5th Guards Cavalry Corps in 1944, the regiment had twenty M4A2 tanks on hand at that time.

223th Independent Tank Regiment. This regiment had a number of M4A2 tanks on hand at the time of Operation Bagration.

229th Separated Tank Regiment. This regiment is mentioned in official correspondence as having a number of M4A2 tanks on hand as part of Central Front in 1943 and may have fielded 38 at Kursk – although this is uncertain. No further details are available at this time.

230th Independent Tank Regiment. This regiment had a number of M4A2 tanks on hand at the time of Operation Bagration.

257th Independent Tank Regiment. This unit is mentioned as having a number of Emchas on hand. No further details are available at this time.

563rd Separated Tank Battalion. In early 1943 this unit, sometimes referred to as the 563rd Independent Battalion, was completely equipped with M3 Light tanks and was trained for amphibious operations. It is possible that the battalion received a small number of Shermans as part of the North Caucasian Front in late 1943.

The Emcha served with many Soviet units during the war and presented here as representative, the 1st Mechanised Corps was by 1945 equipped throughout with these US built medium tanks. The corps was attached to 2nd Guards Tank Army which was itself part of Marshal Georgy Zhukov’s 1st Byelorussian Front.

Originally formed in March 1940, more than a year before the German invasion, 1st Mechanised Corps was considered an elite formation at almost every stage of its history. In 1945 the corps was commanded by Lieutenant-General Semyon Moiseevich Krivoshein, an early pioneer of armoured warfare who had led a corps through the darkest days of Barbarossa and the Kursk battles in 1943 were he had been severely wounded. Prior to the assault on Berlin, this formation’s tank companies were completely re-equipped with new M4A2 Sherman tanks, handing over their T-34/85 vehicles to other units of 2nd Guards Tank Army. Readers should note that the figure of ten tanks for each tank company is the authorised strength and would of course have varied. The tank brigade attached to each Soviet mechanised corps usually contained three tank battalions however during the fighting in Berlin only the two shown here were present. During the period of heaviest fighting, between 16 to 21 April, the corps lost 20 of their Shermans – the equivalent of two complete companies – while a further 59 were severely damaged. The supposition that 347th Guards Artillery Regiment were equipped with ISU-122 selfpropelled guns is based on the official return for 1st Mechanised Corps which states that at least one of these vehicles was lost in the fighting.

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