The David Sasunsky (David of Sasun) was a tank regiment formed during the Great Patriotic War (the Soviet theater of WWII) with funds raised by the Armenian Diaspora and transferred to the 119th separate tank regiment that fought in the Second Ukrainian Front. The regiment was named in honor of the character of the medieval Armenian epos “David of Sasun.”
The regiment was formed in January 1943 in the town of Vagharshapat of the Armenian SSR (where the residence of the Catholicos of All Armenians is located). The fundraising was organized by Gevorg VI of Armenia, the Catholicos of All Armenians. $115,000 was donated from the US, $37,000 from Canada, 185,000 Lebanese pounds from Lebanon, 276,000 Syrian pounds from Syria, and 2.5 million Iranian rials from Iran.
The collected funds were enough to form a regimen of 21 tanks by February 1944. The regiment was equipped with the newest T-34-85 tanks with the 85-mm D-5T gun. The inscription “Sasuntsi Davit” in Armenian was made on the tanks’ turrets.
On March 20, 1944, the tanks entered the 119th Separate Tank Regiment, which at that time, as part of the 10th Guards Army, after heavy fighting near Yelnya, was transferred from the Western Front to the Second Ukrainian Front. On May 26, 1944, the regiment was reformed into the 119th separate engineering-tank regiment.
On June 15, 1944, the regiment entered into operational subordination of the commander of the 6th Guards Army with the task of engineering support for the offensive of the army northwest of the city of Vitebsk in the direction of Sirotino.
On July 4, the support of the regiment’s tanks allowed the sappers of the 47th separate assault engineering and construction battalion to capture the bridge across the Western Dvina, which was mined by the enemy.
Thus, the unimpeded passage of our troops to the right bank and the complete liberation of Polotsk during Operation Bagration was ensured. On July 23, 1944, the regiment was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.
Since March 1945, the regiment has been part of the Moscow Military District. Later, based on it, the 135th Guards Tank Regiment was formed.