34th Guards Rifle Div., Capture of Vienna

Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by Stewart Coupar, Mar 15, 2021.

  1. Hi,
    I am in need of some guidance as this is a whole new area of research for me and I hope someone here can either help or point me in the right direction.
    Years ago I bought a Soviet Order of the Red Star and only fairly recently discovered it was possible to get them researched. It turns out that the chap was a Guards Junior Sergeant, Machine Gun team leader, in the 105th Guards Rifle Regiment. He was awarded his decoration for actions on the 11th of April, 1945 at Vienna. He crossed the Danube Canal under heavy machine gun and artillery fire and was one of the first across. He rushed a house being held by the enemy and killed a sniper. Later he took the place of one of his heavy machine gunners and brought fire to bear on a German MG nest. This covered the advance across the canal by his own troops and assisted in the capture of the train station, after which his unit reached the Danube River.
    I am having trouble finding any detailed maps or accounts of the fighting in the city. Everything I have or have found are very general and do not give any detail. I was hoping that there would be something online which would give even a detailed account or show maps of exactly where the 34th Guards Rifle Division was during the fighting or where his regiment was. I have tried translating the division's name into Russian and trying google searches, but it is always fairly vague or undetailed accounts. I even bought a book called Bloody Vienna, by Nevenkin, hoping this would provide the details I was after, but this has not been the case.
    Can anyone please suggest either a good website or detailed history of the action, or does anyone have any details about the regiment or division during the battle. I am very keen to try and establish which train station he was fighting in the vicinity of.
    Thank you for looking.
  2. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Do you have a NAME of the Sergeant

    Could it have been the Das Reich bridge which seem to be near the Northwest Station area??

    A Soviet Red Army Victory at Vienna - Warfare History Network


    I found a document that gives the Combat Composition of the Russian Army from Jan to Dec 1944.........UNFORTUNATELY, it is all in Russian

    I was hoping to determine which "HIGHER FORMATION" the 105th Guards Rifle Regiment reported to.......so that I could see it it was any of the units tasked to take the Das Reich bridge in Vienna in the Middle of April 1944. Here's a link to the document, if anyone can help


    And here’s a map showing the Reich Bridge and the train station just beyond it......still “thinking” that this “may” be the bridge the 105th Guards Rifle Regiment was at that time



    Same map as above, at a larger scale, so you can see the location within Vienna


    And this shows BOTH bridges that the Germans did NOT destroy......and the train station locations.....so the location of the information that you gave “COULD” be either of these bridges

  3. Hi Temujin,
    Thank you for all of your help. His name was Pyotr Antonovich Romanenko, born in 1924 and from the Stalino Province in the Ukraine. He joined the Red Army in September 1944. At this stage in the war, the regiment and division were part of the 3rd Ukrainian Front, 4th Guards Army, 31st Guards Rifle Corps. They were tasked with attacking the city from the South East and South, while other units began to encircle the city. They seem to have been met with stiff resistance at first and the going was slow.
    I think the maps you show are the right location and it must be one of the two railways stations in that area. However, the citation states he was one of the first to cross to the Western Bank of the Danube Canal, which makes no sense as he would be going in the wrong direction, particularly as it then goes on to state that after the capture of the train station "Our units reached the Danube River. I will dig out the citation and post it in full.
    I am surprised to see how little there is about the Capture of Vienna online or in books. Thank you for all of your help. I had not thought about looking into the Das Reich Division records to see what they record about the action, that is something I will follow up.
    Many thanks,

    Citation report-

    "On April 11, 1945, during the crossing of the Danube Canal in the city of Vienna, comrade Romanenko, subjected to heavy enemy machine-gun and artillery fire, was one of the first to cross to the western bank of the canal. He rushed into one of the houses in which enemy soldiers had taken up position. Firing his submachine gun with great precision, he gunned down an enemy sniper, who had been impeding the advance of our infantry, at point-blank range.
    When our heavy machine gunner was taken out of action, he took his place. Bringing down heavy machine-gun fire onto the German machine-gun nests, he provided covering fire for our infantry units crossing the canal, thus contributing to the successful crossing of the Danube Canal and the capture of the Train Station, after which our units reached the Danube River.
    He deserved to be awarded the Order of the Red Star"

    I wonder if the mention of the western bank is a mistake? The person who provided the citation also translated the document for me, but I might have a go at using google translate to see if I can double-check this line as it would be an easy mistake to make.
  4. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    So that means (from what you wrote above) that they were moving EAST to WEST........so he and his unit made it across first, and then supplied covering fire while the rest of his Regiment crossed?? AND THEN they went on to capture the Train Station??

    I “think” the statement “after which our units reached the Danube River”......may be the issue, I wonder if it means “WHEN” our units reached the Danube River.......so my thinking is maybe “his unit” rearched the river, crossed, covered the “subsequent Russian units” that were arriving, allowing them to CROSS the Danube and carrying on to then capture the Train Station....

    Another issue I have (Having only been in Vienna once, and NOT looking at it from this perspective)......why are their TWO train stations literally a few hundred meters apart?.........and I THINK I see another train station on the EASTERN side of the Danube??.......this one is complicated and link you Russian documents are HARD

    But, now that you have given me the “higher formations” I’ll see if I can find any more specially on them to lead me to “where they were when”

    I’ve never done a search for a Russian soldier or unit, so this is a new challenge for me and of course COVID prevents me from physically sharing and speaking to my friends (their Polish, but speech and read Russian) so they might give me a hand.


    The more I look at this, the more I think I’ve been “misreading it”.....not having done much on Red Army in WW2, I don’t know where their troops were coming form......but Linz is to the WEST of Vienna, and the 3rd Ukrainian Front “CUT” the rail line between Linz and Vienna.......so they “may” having been moving EAST towards Vienna.......and the records say that the Red Army Captured the main “train station” and THEN moved on to the Danube.......so I think I was looking at this wrong (assuming they were moving East to West).......

    I was hoping “someone” on the site could jump in and solve it for you? I’ll keep checking

    Yes, I was looking at this wrong. This information tells us that the 3rd Ukrainian Front was moving from the South and would have attacked Vienna from the South moving East.......so capturing the train station FIRST, before having a go at the Danube to capture the “East side” of the river and Vienna now makes more sense.

    In October 1944 - February 1945, the 3rd Ukrainian Front had forces involved in the Siege of Budapest, including 46th Army. Its troops crossed the Danube and seized a bridgehead on its right bank. In January 1945, they repelled the enemy counter-attacks, trying to relieve the forces surrounded in Budapest, and in March, during the German Operation Frühlingserwachen, a counter-offensive broke the German troops in the area of Lake Balaton. The successful completion of this battle made possible the beginning of the Vienna Offensive on 16 March, in conjunction with the left wing 2nd Ukrainian Front. Thereafter the front's forces completed the liberation of Hungary, expelled the enemy from the eastern part of Austria and took its capital, Vienna.

    So the maps I posted may still be “accurate” but I have to think they were moving Left to Right (West to East).......now “which” bridge, of was it a “Assualt boat” crossing?? To help other troops cross “at the bridges”
  5. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Report of the battle by the 4th Guards Army is online. You can track movements down to 34th Gds Division and sometimes 105th Gds Regiment.

    Память народа::Поиск документов частей

    Map of the 3rd Ukrainian Front for period 7-11 April.

    Память народа::Поиск документов частей
  6. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Looking at your information and maps now

    Basically the Red Army had Vienna surrounded.....so they moved from the South and East into the center of Vienna, Captured the main train station and then moved over the Danube to capture the Eastern part of the city

    Beha = Vienna


    Excellent documents.......if I could read them. I wonder if the Red Army did “war diaries” like Allied Forces......must be documents that told you the Map Reference of where each unit. Not sure if I can help you much more......everything I’m find is in Russian, and of course google translator is the only way for me to read them.....a lot of work, and you probably have much more info than I could get you
  7. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    The Red Army recorded the same sort of data as all armies.

    The content of Red Army documents saved and available to the public have a similar degree of randomness as do those of all other armies.

    For example, the documents of 105.гвсп, 34.гвсд and 31.ск for the period are not (yet) available online - hence why I linked to the 4th Army record. Plenty other 4th Army documents can be accessed too. Those lower formation documents may have been destroyed or sitting in a very long queue awaiting digitization.
  8. Temujin

    Temujin Member

    Ah, got you.....so the info is available, just getting it is now the challenge. Good luck and I’m interested to see how this story turns out (which bridge or locations)

  9. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    There is a good book on the fighting in Austria 1945 called Killing Hitler's Reich: The Battle For Austria 1945 by William Alan Webb and covers the campaign on a day by day basis and includes a good map of the Russians arrival at the outskirts of Vienna from the south with Das Reich, Totenkopf and 6.Panzer-Division defending the southern outskirts.
  10. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    The previous link I posted was to a post-battle report of the "Vienna Offensive" which started on 16 March, the day by day diary for the 4th Army for April is here

    Память народа::Поиск документов частей

    This post conflict propaganda effort also holds a write up of the storming of Vienna. Lots of photos in it of Vienna, the Danube and bridges.

    Память народа::Поиск документов частей

    Page 385 has a pic of a Red Army Sherman for those interested in such oddities.

    4th Army were directly south of Vienna moving up the west (right) bank of the Danube.

    On 9th April 4th Army issued orders for the assault on Vienna itself. 31st Corps on the left of a three corps advance, 21st Corps to their right and 20th Corps on the far right hugging the Danube.

    31st Corps' line of advance was straight to and through the very centre of Vienna. The line of axis being what is now the main shopping street! The final objective being the Danube River after taking Nordwestbahnhof. That puts them on a line towards the three bridges further up the canal from the one you mentionned.
  11. Hi Mark,
    Thank you very much for the link to the Russian archive, it seems to be full of very good information and maps. I will need to try and transcribe some of it into a translation program and see what it says. Failing that, I will speak to a few people at work who might either speak Russian or know people that do as this will help.

    Thanks for the book recommendation, I will follow that up and have a look. It sounds very interesting.

    Thanks for all of your efforts. You have found a similar level of information to what I was finding.
    Many thanks
  12. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Suggest you look at a contemporary 1945 era map. The citation makes more sense then.

    The action occured right in the heart of Vienna old town not on the river Danube. Lots of bridges to choose from but the centre line of the corps advance went over Marlen Brucke and Schweden Brucke. However, you should also consider Aspern Brucke, Salztor Brucke and Augarten Brucke.

    On 11 April, 105th Gds Rifle Regiment are reported as being at/in "335 Quarter and Eastern Church".

    The 335 Quarter will only be decipherable if you have one of the original Red Army battlemaps with all their codes attached.

    However, the "Eastern Church" smacks of the Greek Orthodox Church sitting almost on top of the Marlen and Schweden bridges.
  13. Hi Mark,
    That's great information, thank you very much. Looking at what you have found and also your links to maps on the Russian site, it has all helped to make sense of what is recorded in his Citation. I have also been looking at the same locations today via Google Street View, the fighting must have been very heavy in that area as a lot of the buildings look very modern.
    Very many thanks once again for all of you help.
  14. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Owen likes this.
  15. Hi Mark,
    Amazing, just need to try and translate it now!
    Many thanks, that is great.
  16. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021
  17. Hi Mark,
    I will need to compare that with what I already have to see if there is anything new to add. From my file I know he had the medals for the Capture of Vienna, Victory over Germany and also the Order of the Red Star. Is there any other awards listed?
    Many thanks.

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