There were about one milion Russian volunteers in the German army still in 1944 there. In autumn 1944 two infantry divisions were formed from that men and creation of third such divison started. Due of material shortcomings of the end of war only the 1st Division of Russian Liberation Army (Russkaya Osvobozhditelnaya Armiya, ROA) was fully trained, equpped and used in action.
There is a few informations about armoured vehicles in the 1st Division of ROA. Written sources claim that there were nine tanks T-34 in division during it's forming in Muensingen. Two of them were photographed on a parade in front of general Vlasov, head of Russian anti-soviet opposition in Germany, and general Bunyaczenko, the division's commander, on 10 February 1945. The tank in foreground has a white number "2" uder the gun barrel and a shield divided horizontally white/blue/red from the top painted on the turret's side.

- Two T-34/76 are passing a tribune on a parade in Muensingen, Germany, 10 February 1945.

- Two crew members of a ROA tank T-34/76 with Russian national flag on a parade in Muensingen, Germany, 10 February 1945. Horizontaly divided white/blue/red shield is clearly visible on the turret's side.

Walther Spielberger in his work on Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer writes, that in February 1945 the 600th Inf.Div. received ten Hetzers (it means a Panzerjaeger company). The 600th Infanterie-Division (russ.) was German oficial name of 1st Division of ROA. There is no evidence of using armour in division's first action against soviet bridgehead Erlenhof, near Fuerstemberg, Germany, on 13 April 1945. There is no evidence about armoured vehicles during division's retreat to the south from Lusatia too. Till division marched on Czech territory unidentified armoured vehicles are noticed from villages Radonice, Citoliby, Brdloh, Divice, Rocov, Vinarice and the town Louny. In the afternoon of 5 May 1945 the 1st Division of ROA left the German army and joined Czech patriots. Russian soldiers in German uniforms started their advance to help Czech uprising in Prague.

- Two RSOs type 3 with Pak 40s attached and a truckload of ROA soldiers on a ZiS 3 hailed by Czech inhabitants in Beroun in rainy 5 May 1945.

When division advanced to Prague from Beroun on 5 May 1945, there were two columns which contained armoured vehicles:
The southest column, advancing along left banks of rivers Berounka and Vltava, contained two T-34/76 tanks, three BA-10 armoured cars and a SdKfz 251/16 flame-thrower half-track. The unit which they belonged to was identified as divisional recce troop, commanded by major Kostyenko.

Both tanks and armoured cars were painted in one overall colur, probably green. One of the tanks has a white number "3" (or a letter "Z" in Cyrillic) under the gun barrel as the only marking. One of the BA-10 armoured cars has got the same symbol on the side door.
A SdKfz 251/16 was left in original German camouflage and the only known marking is a registration table WH-108502 on lower part of frontal armour.

- An armoured car BA-10 and a Volkswagen Kaeffer in Prague-Smichov on 6 May 1945 at dawn. Major Kostyenko's reconnaissance troop enters Prague.

- A T-34/76 of the 1st division of ROA enters
Counts of Kinsky Square in Prague Smichov, on 6 May 1945.

In the northest column, advancing on Beroun-Prague road, where divisional 3rd and 4th regiment marched, were at minimum three Hetzers. They were painted in three-colour stripe scheme.

On sides were marked by white letters "POA". The shape of letters was the same as on sleeve badge of Russian volunteers in Wehrmacht. One of them has on lower part of frontal armour painted small black serial number 2543...(?) and a small white letter "A" under the gun barrel.

- A Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer in Dusniky (recently part of Rudna, east of Prague) escorting units of 3rd and 4th regiment during theirs advance to Prague in the morning of 6 May 1945.
- Thee Hetzers of the 1st ROA Division on their advance towards Prague. They are camouflaged with foliage.

There were about 30.000 armed Czech patiots in Prague, who manned about ten captured anti-aircraft trains, two Hetzers with only 20 rounds together, six unarmed armoured Hetezer chassis, three Renault AMR 1935 tanks armed with machine guns only and about ten half-tracks and other armed vehicles. Against them stood SS-Kampfverband Wallenstein (which consisted from SS-Kampfgruppe Klein and SS-Kampfgruppe Joerchel) from the south, Kampfgruppe Milowitz and Kampfgruppe Reimann from the east, Kampfgruppe of 2nd SS-Panzergrenadierregiment "Der Fuehrer" from the north and mixed German garrison in Prague. Nazi forces manned about eighty armoured vehicles, including about ten StuG III and about forty Hetzers.
In this situation arrival of more than 20.000 men strong 1st Division with four infantry regiments, tanks and artillery was very welcomed by military authorities of Czech patriots. The presence of the 1st Division of ROA in Prague on 6 and 7 May was the crucial moment thanks to it Prague uprising could survived the heaviest German attack on 7 May 1945.
During fights side by side with Czech patriots from 6 to 7 May 1945 division's 2nd regiment stopped SS-Kampfgruppe Klein in Radotin-Lahovice area. 3rd regiment attacked Prague-Ruzyne airport and avoid Luftwaffe to use them against Prague. 1st regiment with recce troops crossed Vltava river and halted SS-Kampfgruppe Joerchel in Prague-Pankrac. 4th regiment captured Petrin Hill and fought in the Old Town.

- Bartolomejska Street in the Old Town in Prague in the afternoon of 6 May 1945. A SdKfz 251/16 which was used by 1st Division envoy major Arkhipov, commander of the 1st regiment, when conferred in military headquarter of Prague patriots (HQ Bartos) on action for the next day. Registration table WH-108502 on lower part of it's frontal armour is hardly visible.

- A Hetzer in Walter factory in Prague-Jinonice, where headquarter of 1st Division of ROA
was located on 7 May 1945.

- Hetzer with tricoloured stripes on it's side behind a barricade in unknown place in Prague, Czechoslovakia, May 1945.

- Two T-34/76 tanks advancing together with Czech patriots against German forces in Prague-Pankrac, 7 May 1945.

- A field howitzer of 1st regiment in Prague-Pankrac, near todays Hrdinu Square, 7 May 1945.

- An MG-team of the 1st regiment in firing position in Prague-Pankrac. Note white cloth stripes around helmets - a distinguishing mark during fights in Prague from 6 to 7 May 1945.

- Field kitchen of 4th regiment in Counts Kinsky Square in Prague in 7 May 1945. At the same place a monument of soviet tankers was erected two months later.

- Soldiers of 1st regiment manned in Prague-Vinohrady and Prague-Strasnice an unidentified armoured car. It was probably this SdKfz 234/4, which stood abandoned on Charles Square after the end of war.

When it became clear, that general Patton's 3rd US Army was definitive stopped by politicians in Pilsen, 40km southwest from Prague, that Prague should be captured by soviet troops and that political leadership of patriots (Czech National Council, Ceska narodni rada), controled by communists, is not pleased by the 1st Division presence in Prague, the Division left the city back to the Beroun in the evening of 7 May. From Beroun the 1st Division retreated via Horovice, Pribram to Lnare. On the road it's soldiers were warmly welcomed by Czech inhabitants as savers of Prague.
Division reached American lines in Lnare in the afternoon of 9th May, too late to be captured in WWII. On 12th May the division was encircled by soviet 25th tank corps. Officers were shot down immediately as many of NCOs and soldiers were and rests of them were send to concentration camps of GULAG.

- A Bergepanzer Hetzer during retreat on the road from Prague to Beroun at 9 May 1945. A still form colour motion picture made by an American war correspondent published on the Critical Past website.

- On the same film a column of RSO tracked prime movers with Pak 40s guns attached had been filmed

- A march of the 1st Division to the West through Beroun. A still form colour motion picture made by an American war correspondent published on the Critical Past website.

- Two Hetzers of the 1st Division of ROA passing through Horovice, south-westwards of Prague on 9 May 1945, during retreat to the west.

- A Bergepanzer Hetzer in Horovice on 9 May 1945. On the original photo letters "POA" on it's side are clearly visible.

- Three BA-10 armoured cars in Pribram, south of Prague, 9 May 1945. On the original photo a number "3" on the opened door of the vehicle in foreground is clearly visible. Note the lack of any marking on vehicles in background.

- A T-34/76 of Division's recce troop in Pribram on 9 May 1945.

- The same Hetzer as in Horovice above, here in Pribram on 9 May 1945.

- A sleeve badge of Russian volunteers in Wehrmacht. The Badge, designed in 1943, was worn on left-hand sleeve of uniform. It was used by soldiers of 1st division of ROA too, although it was not a particular divisional emblem. In the 1st Division of ROA the badge was usually worn on right-hand sleeve.

Numbers of armoured vehicles in the 1st Division of ROA.

Type of vehicle Number in written
Confirmed number
in Bohemia
Probably confirmed
in Bohemia
Captured by Soviet
25th Tank Corps
T-34/76 9 2 - 5
JPz 38 Hetzer 10 3 +1 5
- 1 - -
Sd Kfz 251 2 1 +1 2
Sd Kfz 234/4 - - 1 -
BA-10 - 3 - 3

A leaflet "Brothers Czechs and Russians" typewrited in Divisional HQ on 5 May 1945. It sais, that the 1st Division of ROA will fight as against nazi Germany as against communist USSR (written both in Czech and Russian languages).

Tomáš Jakl
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