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The subject index / People's Volunteer Militia of 1941

People's Volunteer Militia of 1941

Categories / Army. Navy/Blokade

PEOPLE'S VOLUNTEER MILITIA (NARODNOE OPOLCHENIE) OF 1941. Volunteer military units formed at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45, made up of people not subject to immediate draft upon mobilization. The mobilization plan of 1939 stipulated that the People's Volunteer Corps would be organized as mop-up (second line) battalions. Recruiting began on 24 June 1941. Organization of mass military units was initiated by the Leningrad Municipal Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (of Bolsheviks), which applied on 27 June 1941 to the high command of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army for permission to form an army of the People's Volunteer Militia, including seven divisions and other units numbering up to 200,000 people. Permission was granted on 30 June. As a result, ten divisions, sixteen separate machine-gun artillery battalions, and seven partisan regiments (over 135,000 people in all) were formed and sent to the front before September. People's Volunteer Militia divisions and units were formed on a regional basis, and staffed as regular rifle divisions. The lack of artillery, machine-guns, and military equipment, however, prevented them from being used to their full potential. While units larger than companies were commanded by regular or recalled officers, it was People's Volunteer Militia members who were in command of the companies and lower-level units. Special units were formed from regular soldiers and conscripts. Up to 60% of the People's Volunteer Militia had no previous military training. Training would last between four days and three weeks. In July 1941, four People's Volunteer Militia divisions (1st Kirovskaya, 2nd Moskovskaya, 3rd Frunzenskaya, and 4th Light Division) were fighting on the Luga line of defence and in the fortified Krasnogvardeysky District, where they suffered heavy losses. What was left of the troops fell back to fighting the enemy's approaches to Leningrad. Partisan regiments of the People's Volunteer Militia lost 95% of their forces by October 1941. In September 1941, recruitment for the People's Volunteer Militia stopped, and shortly afterwards it was dissolved. The divisions that had suffered the highest casualties were disbanded; the others were reorganized into regular units. In May - September 1942, 232 detachments of the People's Volunteer Militia were formed again (19,000 people) to support troops in case the enemy broke through the line, each of them meant to operate in a certain area within the internal defence line. In October 1942, these detachments were reorganized into 52 rifle battalions (27,000 people); and in May 1943, into 38 battalions of submachine gunners, 15 machine-gun artillery battalions, a separate artillery division, five field-engineer companies, and five signal companies (22,000 people in all, women among them). In March 1944, these subdivisions were disbanded; about a quarter of the personnel was transferred to the army. Throughout its different formations, the People's Volunteer Corps numbered 200.000 people (see table on page 565-66). In 1964, the name of the People's Volunteer Militia was given to an avenue (see Narodnogo Opolchenia Avenue); 18 memorial plaques were placed on buildings where its units were formed; the People's Volunteer Militia (Opolchentsi) memorial was erected as a part of the Green Belt of Glory in 1966 (on the western outskirts of Pushkin); and People's Volunteer Militia sculptures were included in the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad. In 1971, a commemorative "People's Volunteer Militia of Leningrad" badge was instituted.

References: Беляев С., Кузнецов П. Народное ополчение Ленинграда. Л., 1959; Колесник А. Д. 054 полченские формирования Российской Федерации в годы Великой Отечественной войны. М., 1988.

G. V. Kalashnikov.

Беляев С., Кузнецов П. Народное ополчение Ленинграда. Л., 1959
Колесник А. Д. Ополченские формирования Российской Федерации в годы Великой Отечественной войны. М., 1988

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