Glorious Intelligence Units
The 54th Separate Guards Reconnaissance Battalion
The 54th reconnaissance separate battalion began its history on March 8, 1943, when Moscow armoured vehicle centre became the base for new 87th motorcycle separate battalion. It was completely formed on May 28, 1943.
The battalion was assigned to the 2nd tank army (2nd TA) of Central Front; it began operating near Ponyri station, Kursk-Orel line of Soviet troops advancement from July 5, 1943. During July-August, 1943, the battalion was successfully collecting data on the enemy formation enabling the 2nd TA of an effective offensive. On August 26, 1943, battalion’s personnel were the first soldiers to storm the town of Staryi Sevsk helping its liberation by the Soviet troops. A significant number of enemy soldiers and equipments were destroyed.
The 2nd TA was inactivated within the Supreme High Command General Headquarters reserve for staffing and reorganization after heavy fighting in September, 1943. According to a new staff list, the battalion received a company of medium tanks on January 10, 1944.
On January 18, 1944, the 2nd TA was assigned to the 1st Ukrainian Front and took share in counterattacks of German troops in Korsun-Shevchenkovskyi offensive operation.
In early March, 1944, the 2nd TA was advancing towards the town of Uman. The 87th motorcycle battalion was responsible for providing with the reconnaissance data on the enemy forces to army command. The battalion successfully combined reconnaissance with manoeuvres and raids. On March 11, 1944, the battalion approached the river Pivdennyi Buh. It operated on the front edge of the Soviet troops advancing off-the-road. On March 15, 1944, near the station of Vapniarka, the battalion obtained the order to move to the town of Yampil and ordered to capture the crossing over the Dniester River and hold it until the arrival of the 2nd TA main forces.
The unit approached the outskirts of Yampil moving over 70 kilometers a day and dealing with enemy resistance. Early in the morning of March 17, battalion combat vehicles burst into the town. After two hours of street fighting, the reconnaissance men approached the river crossing and secured it.
In battles for Yampil while securing the river crossing, battalion’s fighters destroyed over 200 enemy personnel, captured 60 officers and soldiers and a significant amount of enemy combat materiel and weapons. The battalion accomplished its mission with honor: the crossing has been secured; the reconnaissance men were first who have crossed the Dniester and set up a beachhead on its right bank for Soviet forces’ further advancement.
In one continuing offensive movement, the battalion neared the state border with Romania on the river Prut, crossed it and received a new order – to collect intelligence on the Romanian town of Yassy.
On April 24, 1944, according to the order of the Supreme Commander in Chief, for crossing the state border with Romania and forcing Prut River, battalion was bestowed with “Prut”.
The battalion fought in the Romanian territory until June, 1944. Over the period of April – June, 1944, battalion’s personnel killed over 250 enemy soldiers and officers, destroyed 2 tanks, 4 APCs, 12 vehicles, 6 enemy permanent weapon emplacement; captured some 60 enemy personnel and a significant amount of enemy weapons and combat materials.
On June 13, 1944, the 2nd TA was inactivated within the Supreme High Command General Headquarters reserve and was assigned to the 1st Belarus Front.
During the Lublin-Brest offensive operation, the 2nd TA in cooperation with the 8th Guards TA liberated the Polish cities of Lublin (on July 24) and Demblin (on July 25). The army approached the outskirts of Warsaw by late July and dealt with enemy counterattacks until August 6.
On September 6, 1944, the 2nd TA was inactivated within the Supreme High Command General Headquarters reserve and was assigned to the 1st Belarus Front once again on October 30, 1944.
On November 20, 1944, the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Council bestowed the “Guards battalion” title upon the unit for its successful operations during the Lublin offensive operation. The 2nd TA was renamed into the 2nd Guards TA the same day.
The 2nd Guards TA showed high mobility in the Warsaw-Poznan offensive operation: it fought through 700 kilometers from the Vistula to the Oder in just 15 days. The battalion performed the function of army’s right-flank reconnaissance detachment and discovered an enemy formation near Warsaw.
On February 18, 1945, the battalion was decorated with the Order of Oleksandr Nevskyi for operations against the German invaders, for participation in the liberation of Warsaw, and courage and heroism shown in action.
The battalion operated as a part of army’s advance detachment during the Pomerania operation. It forced a crossing over the Nettse River on January 27, 1945, crossed the Polish-German border and was the first unit to enter the land of Pomerania. Continuing its mission, the battalion secured the crossing near the town of Nakel and entered the city by the end of the day on February 3, 1945.
On April 5, 1945, according to the order of the Supreme Commander in Chief, battalion was bestowed with “Pomeranskyi” title for the crossing the state border of Germany and Poland and for the marching into the territory of German Pomerania.
The unit gained the enemy’s rear near the town of Shnaidemol as ordered by the command of the 2nd Guards TA. When the battalion’s soldiers carried out the missions, the reconnaissance men captured a city of Mrotshen and brought the enemy significant losses. After nearly 4 days in the enemy rear, the battalion returned to army base having suffered light casualties. Over that period, the unit’s personnel killed 650 and captured 320 enemy soldiers; destroyed 11 airplanes, 8 tanks, 21 vehicles, 18 machineguns; captured 11 vehicles, 49 machineguns, 4 depots with uniforms and food. The unit lost 26 dead and 32 injured; 2 tanks, 16 motorcycles, an APC and a light vehicle.
On April 12, 1945, the battalion was ordered to establish a mobile observation network along the Oder River on the beachhead and run reconnaissance in Zelov – Dreitzen – Bat-Freinwalde direction in order to prevent the German troops from retreating to the north. The battalion performed the mission excellent.
From April 20 to May 4, 1945, the battalion performed the reconnaissance missions north of Berlin and in its outskirts. In general, the 2nd Guards TA distinguished during the Berlin strategic offensive operation.
On April 24, 1945, according to the Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Council, the battalion was decorated with the Order of Bohdan Khmelnytskyi (3rd Class) for its brave and decisive actions in the enemy’s rear and capture the city of Nakel.
On June 11, 1945, according to the Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Council, the battalion was decorated with the Order of Mykhailo Kutuzov (3rd Class) for its successful performing of combat missions in Berlin operation.
After the Second World War, the battalion was re-assigned to the Carpathian military district.
On June 1, 1953, the 87th separate Guards motorcycle battalion was re-organized into the 16th separate Guards reconnaissance battalion while retaining its Prut-Pomeranian title and the Orders of Oleksandr Nevskyi, Bohdan Khmelnytskyi (3rd Class) and Mykhailo Kutuzov (3rd Class).
In May, 1957, according to the Directive of the Minister of Defence of the USSR, the battalion was disbanded and the 104th separate Guards reconnaissance company was established.
On April 10, 1962, the 104th separate Guards reconnaissance company was reorganized into the 54th separate Guards reconnaissance battalion which inherited all former titles and orders.
When Ukraine regained its independence, the battalion was reassigned to the Minister of Defence of Ukraine. The unit’s personnel swore allegiance to the Ukrainian people, took part in numerous military exercises and peacekeeping operations, always being highly appraised by higher commanders.
Nowadays, the 54th separate reconnaissance battalion is notable within the reconnaissance battalions of the Ukrainian Land Forces not only for its heroic history but also its bright modernity.