The 6th Mechanised Corps began to form on 15 July 1940 at Bialystok in the Western Special Military District. It was attached to the 10th Army in the Bialystok area and was under the command of Major General M.G. Khatskilevich when the German Operation Barbarossa began in June 1941.
The Corps initially comprised the 4th, 7th Tank Divisions and the 29th Mechanized Division, as well as smaller units. On 22 June 1941, 6th Mechanized Corps consisted of 32,382 men, 1,131 tanks, 242 armored cars, 162 artillery pieces, 187 mortars, 4,779 vehicles, 294 Tractors and 1042 Motorcycles including lighter models, T-26 Bt-7 and Bt-5 and T-28, and 201 of the newer T-34 and KV-1 models in the 7th Tank Division and 151 in the 4th Tank Division.
A report by Major General B.S. Vasil'evich, commander of 7th Tank Division, on 4 August 1941 said that the division had been at 98% enlisted strength and 60-80% officer strength. The division included 348 tanks, of which 51 were KVs and 150 T-34s. However, there was lack of supplies. It possessed only one to one and a half loads of 76mm ammunition when it entered battle, no armor-piercing ammunition for its tanks, three refills of gasoline, and a single fill of diesel fuel. The fuel ran out quickly, partially due to unclear orders. The division had to move to three new assembly areas within the first two days of the war. The division was soon immobilized south of Grodno.
Similar to the 4th Mechanized Corps (Soviet Union), the 6th Mechanized Corps stood out of the remaining mechanized corps of the Red Army.
On 22 June 1941 it was fully formed, and stationed no further than 100-150 kilometers from the border.
The 6th Mechanized Corps was heavily involved in the first battles with Germans. At 23:40 on the day of German invasion, Pavlov ordered his Deputy Front Commander Lieutenant General Ivan Boldin to take command over what would be later called Boldin's group. The group's core was the 6th Mechanized Corps and the 6th Cavalry Corps, with 11th Mechanized Corps to be attached soon. The Boldin's group first and last mission was against German armored forces of Hoth's 3rd Panzergruppe advancing at the vulnerable boundary line between Soviet Northwestern Front and Soviet Western Front at Merkinė. It is considered part of the larger Battle of Białystok–Minsk.
David Glantz stated the tank divisions of 6th Mechanized Corps on 24 June 1941 were inferior against the advancing German units often without infantry support and were relentlessly pounded by the German aircraft of Luftflotte 2. Without adequate ammunition and with many tanks in a state of disrepair and sent to several different locations without fuel reserves, they were quickly immobilized. A Western Front report on 27 June noted that 6th Mechanized Corps had lost 20–26% of its tank strength in its 4th and 7th tank Divisions.
Solonin stated that the only battle that 6th Mechanized Corps saw was an attack of 24 June, when it lost 2% of tanks. The corps dissipated soon without any other combat, with negligible losses to aircraft, and with distance traveled that hardly necessitated any fuel tanking or repairs. The corps scattered on 27 June near Krynki, with the personnel retreating east in small groups, and the equipment being abandoned or destroyed en masse.
Communication with the headquarters of Boldin was lost and Major General Khatskilevich died on 25 June 1941.
Hoth's panzers had reached Vilnius on the 23rd of June, then Grodno, and finally Minsk by 26 June. By 25 June 1941 Guderian's 2nd Panzergruppe reached Slonim and Vawkavysk and cut off the retreat of the greater part of the 10th and 3rd Armies at Białystok encirclement. The Soviet armies could not retreat across the Shchara River because Luftflotte 2 had destroyed the bridges. Guderian's "pincer" reached Vilnius on the 27th June trapping the greater part of 13th and 4th Armies in another encirclement at Minsk.
The 6th Mechanized Corps was destroyed in the Białystok encirclement. It was formally dissolved in late July 1941.
The idea of mechanized corps were revived in the spring of 1942. The second formation of 6th Mechanized Corps was done in November 1942. On the basis of Headquarters' 14th Tank Corps, the 6th Mechanized Corps was reformed on Nov. 26, 1942 at the station Kostereva in accordance with NKO directive number 11905907ss and GABTU number 1105723 dated November 26, 1942. Major General of Armored Forces Semyon Ilyich Bogdanov was appointed the commander of the 6th Mechanized Corps.
On December 18, 1942, 6th Mechanized Corps was assigned to the 2nd Guards Army of the Southern Front, where it was involved in stopping the onset of Operation Winter Storm. The Manstein's attempted breakthrough to the Sixth Army stationed in Stalingrad. On January 8, 1943, the Corps – participating in the counterattack – captured the Zimovniki station (Rostov Oblast), a vital point of the Luftwaffe's munitions supply chain. For this reason the Corps was given the honorific Zimovnikovsky. Soon it was raised to the elite "Guards" status; thus it became the 5th Zimovnikovsky Guards Mechanised Corps.
The Corps participated in the Battle of Kursk, as a part of 5th Guards Tank Army. On 1 August 1943, it comprised 10th, 11th and 12th Guards Mechanised Brigades, 24th Guards Tank Brigade, and smaller supporting units. Along other units, it fought in the southern part of salient against the elite 3rd SS Panzer Division Totenkopf and drove them out of Belgorod. In 1944, the 5th Guards Mechanized Corps took part in the elimination of the Korsun-Cherkasy Pocket.
Later in 1944 the 5th Zimovnikovsky Guards Mechanized Corps fought in Moravia and Upper Silesia. As part of the 4th Guards Tank Army it crossed the Oder and Neisse. At the end of April 1945, it took part in the Battle of Berlin. After taking Berlin, the Corps was engaged from 6 to 11 May 1945 in the battle to capture Prague. On May 8, 1945, the 10th Mechanized Brigade of the Corps was the first to enter the Czech capital, for which the unit received the Prague honorific.
After the war, on 10 June 1945, the 5th Guards Mechanized Corps became 5th Guards Mechanised Division. On 25 June 1957 it became 53rd Guards Motor Rifle Division. On 11 January 1965, it became the 5th Guards Motor Rifle Division. On 17 December 1982 it was named "The 60th anniversary of the USSR". On 28 June 1945, the division was awarded the Order of Kutuzov of II degree. In 1946 the division relocated to the Turkestan Military District. From the time of its reassignment to the 53rd Guards MRD, it was based at Kushka, Mary Oblast, Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic.
The division had the Military Unit Number (V/Ch) 11904 until the invasion of Afghanistan (12/79) upon which the V/Ch changed to 51852.
On the night of 27/28 December, from Kushka, the 5th GMRD entered Afghanistan bound for Herat and Shindand, a battalion from the 56th Guards Air Assault Brigade took control of the Rabat Mirza pass on Dec 26th, between Kushkov and Herat. On December 26 at 19:20, the Commander of the 5th GMRD, Major-General Yuri Shatalin, gave orders to cross the Afghanistan border. The division was pulled out of the Kushka, Tahta-Bazaar, and Iolotan. At a set time one of the 5th GMRD units came out at the juncture near the towns: - Herat, Shindand, Kandahar, the division headquarters was located under the Shindand. The first loss amounted to 2 people. At the very beginning it was quite peaceful. The then division commander, and the future Commander in Chief of the Russian Internal Troops, Colonel-General Yuri Shatalin recalls:
"It happened at dawn on December 27th. Surprised: 5:00 am, and the streets full of people with flowers. It turned out, meet the shuravi, as we were called, the Soviet soldiers. A similar meeting was warm and in other towns and villages in the north of Afghanistan."
Since the summer of 1980, 5th GMRD began to participate in raids against the Afghan Mujahideen. During the period of the Afghan war, the division participated in 156 scheduled and unscheduled operations.
On 1 March 1980 the division was reorganized. The 373rd Guards Red Banner Order of Kutuzov and Bogdan Khmelnitsky Motor Rifle Regiment, had formed part of the division on its arrival in the country. It had been stationed in pos.Adraskan. On 1 March 1980, the regiment was reorganized as the 70th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade (by reorganizing the staffing structure of departments and adding the 2nd Battalion of the 56th Guards Air Assault Brigade). After the reorganization the brigade was relocated to the city of Kandahar.
From 1980 to 1982 the division was commanded by the future commander of the famous 40th Combined Arms Army General Boris Gromov.
In March 1985 the 12th Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment arrived from Kaliningrad and joined the division.
On February 15, 1989, the last units of the 40th Combined Arms Army and the army commander Colonel General Boris Gromov left Afghanistan. Withdrawal in the West direction was carried out by two methods: by air (carried - 5,142 people) and land (6,986 people). 10 colonies from 4 garrisons (Shindand, Adraskan, Herat, Turgundi).
During the Afghan war four soldiers of the division were awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union, and 12,825 in total were awarded orders and medals. From May 1988 the division, under the Geneva conventions, began to prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan. The withdrawal of the 5th GMRD from the garrison Shindand - Herat Turugundi - Kushka began as scheduled on Jan. 29th, 1989, and ended February 15, 1989. The Division was relocated permanently to the city of Kushka.
Total number of killed in the division from 27.12.1979 to 15.02.1989 was 1135 (910 of them in combat).
The division was disbanded by being absorbed into the 88th Motor Rifle Division in March 1989.
In Afghanistan war (1979 - 1989), the 5th GMRD comprised:Divisional Headquarters - Shindand.
795th Station courier mail service.
251st Battery Management and artillery reconnaissance.
814th military fire brigade.
582nd-second bath and laundry item
Field establishment of the State Bank of the USSR
164th Separate flame thrower Company(before March 1985 - 164th Separate Company of Chemical Protection).
101st Motor Rifle Regiment - Herat
371st Guards Berlin Orders of Suvorov and Bogdan Khmelnitsky Motor Rifle Regiment - Shindand.
12th Guards Red Banner Order of Kutuzov and Bogdan Khmelnitsky Motor Rifle Regiment - Herat.
24th Guards Prague Orders of Suvorov and Bogdan Khmelnitsky Tank Regiment - Shindand.
1060th Artillery regiment Shindand.
1122nd Sevastopol Redflag Antiaircraft Artillery Regiment - Shindand.
1377th Separate Antitank Artillery Battalion Shindand.
650th separate Prague Order of Alexander Nevsky reconnaissance battalion. Shindand.
68th Guards separate engineering battalion. pos. Adraskan.
388th separate battalion. Shindand.
307th separate missile division. Herat.
177th separate repair battalion of recovery Shindand.
375th independent battalion of material support Shindand.
46th separate medical-sanitary battalion Herat.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, based on the 5th Guards Motor Rifle Division 'Zimovnikovskoy,' a unit of Turkmenistan's Ministry of Defense was established with the honorary title of "Turkmenbashi Saparmurat Niyazov's" located in the city of Kushka.
Source: Captain Kuchkin Gennady Pavlovich, Hero of the Soviet Union
Colonel Vladimir Neverov Lavrentyevich, Hero of the Soviet Union
Captain Fyodor Ivanovich Pugachev, Hero of the Soviet Union
Captain Sergey Gushin, Hero of the Soviet Union