The parade of the women’s battalion squadrons 24 of October 1917 of the year on Palace Square was received by members of the Provisional Government headed by A. Kerensky. Everything went smoothly, and the battalion at the end of the event went to the Finland Station. However, by order of Kerensky, the 2 company remained in the square near the Winter Palace. As explained, they were instructed to deliver barrels of gasoline from the Nobel plant, because the workers refused to do so.
The women volunteers of the 2 Company of PZHB who remained on Palace Square were among the defenders of the Winter Palace as a result of outright deception by the Provisional Government and military leadership. Of course, at that moment they did not know it yet. And, as they were taught, faithfully and meekly executed the orders and instructions of the authorities. This was demanded by the military oath of allegiance to the Provisional Government adopted on September 8.
The company commander, Lieutenant V. Somov, was ordered to send volunteers to build bridges: Nikolaevsky - a half platoon, Dvortsovy - half a platoon, and Liteiny - a platoon. The main task was to cut off the working-class districts from the Winter Palace. However, to execute the order even with the support of the cadets failed. Almost all bridges were captured by the rebels.
After that, all of the impactor were placed around the perimeter of the defense zone of the palace. Some of them were on the barricades erected by the cadets in front of the entrance to the Winter. Others were placed in other dangerous areas where it was necessary to restrain the attackers. The most detailed description of everything that happened from 24 to 26 of October was described in her memoirs in the collection “Volunteers” by junior non-commissioned officer M. Bocharnikova. She was at that time the commander of the 4-th platoon of the very 2-th company, which turned out to be in the center of events. Of certain value is the fact that Maria also was a member of the company committee and was more informed than other female recipients. However, one must also bear in mind the fact that she practically all the time was with her platoon as part of her half-company. She knew about what was happening in other areas of the palace’s defense, where volunteers from other platoons of their company were also involved, she only knew from the stories of other people. The headline of her memories remains a mystery: “In the women's death battalion. 1917-1918. And here the mention of the "death battalion", when, as you know, their military unit was called "1-th Petrograd Women's Battalion"? The word “shock” was not in its name, although female soldiers were often called drummers at that time.
The women's battalion was an 4-company squad. According to the military practice of the time, an infantry company usually consisted of 4's platoons, which made up two halves in pairs. So, the 1 th and 2 th platoons were in the 1 th half-company, and the 3 th and 4 th platoon made up the 2 th half-company. He headed half a company one of the chief officers of the company. In the 2 Company of the women's battalion, half lieutenants were commanded by lieutenants Verny and Podrementsev.
On the night of October 25, volunteers already knew that they had been left to protect the Provisional Government. Anxious tension passed the night in the palace chambers. Dozing, sitting on the floor and not letting rifles from their hands. Rows of defenders began to thin. Cossacks are gone. They left their positions along with the guns of the Junker of the Mikhailovsky Art School. Then the defenders of the Winter Palace lost several armored cars, who hijacked the scooters who had left positions. Around 9 o'clock in the evening of October 25 received an order for the women's battalion to leave the palace and take up defense on the barricades. Later, closer to midnight, when the rebels penetrate the upper floors of the palace through the hospital, pass through the attics and through the service entrances, the resistance will become meaningless.
Volunteers laid down weapon among the latter
However, those who remained in their positions were cadets and shockwomen who stood firmly. “The company of the Women's Shock Battalion, beating firmly with one’s leg, as if it were a teaching,” recalled one of the defenders of the palace, Junker 2 of the Peterhof School of Ensign C. de Gailes, goes to take up a position on Millionnaya Street near the Hermitage. Apparently, the Junker in his memoirs, “The Storming of the Winter Palace” was mistaken in estimating the number of marching drummers as a company. The blockade of one street required a much smaller number of volunteers. However, this area was considered one of the most dangerous in the defense of the palace. The women's battalion beats off oppressive Transfigurations and Pavlovians there and still maintains approaches to the palace from Millionnaya Street. Some of the eyewitnesses noted that barricades of logs of firewood were arranged there, behind which the defenders of the palace were hiding.
From the memories of the participants in those events and according to information from open sources, it can be concluded that, in the literal sense of the word, it was not about storming, but about the capture of the Winter Palace by armed soldiers, sailors and Red Guards. Apparently, therefore, until about 1927, the Bolsheviks themselves often called the events of the fall of 1917 not a revolution, but the October coup. The whole process of capturing the palace as a symbol of the previous government was actively carried out with at least four waves of attack from the rebels beginning in the evening on October 25, and ended on the night of October 26 with the arrest of Ministers of the Provisional Government and the cessation of resistance by the defenders of the palace.
It should be noted that almost all the defenders of the Winter Palace noted the sluggishness and extreme disorganization in the actions of the head of defense P. Palchinsky in the period of October 24 and 25. In his notes, kept in the GARF, he, perhaps in his defense, pointed out the reasons that impeded the successful defense of the palace. There was no palace plan, and it was not possible to sort out the location of more than 1500 premises in a short time. There were no food reserves, calculated on the number of defenders. The confusion of the officers and the uncertainty of the actions of the junkers led to a drop in morale. The expected reinforcements from the front units did not arrive in the capital. The hasty appointment of a new head of defense to the head of the School of Ensigns of the Engineering Troops, Colonel A. Ananyev, did not help either. Time was hopelessly lost.
Approximately in 9 hours of 40 minutes in the evening there was a shot of a signal cannon from the Peter and Paul Fortress, followed by the cruiser Aurora with a single projectile. This was a signal for the rebels. After about 20-30 minutes, they went on the 2 attack, but the defenders of the palace beat off this attack. Volunteers loyal to the oath entered into their first battle not at the front, but in the center of the capital of Russia.
Bocharnikova later recalled: “this first battle, which we fought in absolute darkness, without knowing the situation and not seeing the enemy, did not make the proper impression on me. There was a consciousness of some kind of doom. There was no retreat, we were surrounded. It never occurred to the authorities that the authorities could order them to lay down their arms. ... Death did not frighten us. We all thought it was happiness to give life for the Motherland. ”
In 11 hours of the evening, shelling began again. The forces were not equal. After a while, all the leaders of the defense of the surrounded palace understood this. "Women's battalion back to the building!" - Swept through the chain. We go in the yard, ”recalled Bocharnikova, a junior non-commissioned officer,“ and the huge gates are closed with a chain. I was sure that the whole company was in the building. ” At this time, the company commander returned and reported that the Winter Palace had been captured and ordered to surrender their weapons. As you can see, the shock women of 2, the halfhairmen laid down their arms as one of the last defenders of the Winter Palace after the 11 hours of the evening of October 25. This was confirmed in his memoirs "In the Winter Palace 25-26 in October 1917 of the Year", published in the magazine "Past", the former Minister of Justice of the Provisional Government P. Malyantovich. “Someone entered,” the minister wrote, “and reported: the women's battalion had left; they said: “our place in positions, in war; not for this business, we went to the service. " The clock is close to midnight. However, it is not clear who exactly is from the female players, from what positions, from where and where did he go, if at that time the 2 half of the company was inside the palace.
In various sources, one can read that the female players left their positions even earlier - in the period from 7 to 10 hours of the evening, which does not correspond to already known facts. Although it should be noted that certain groups of volunteers in other defense sectors, it is quite possible that they were forced to surrender before general capitulation due to circumstances.
The rebels in different ways have already penetrated into the palace. They occupied the lower floors of the palace and rooms on the side of the Hermitage. In view of the senselessness of further resistance, the Ministers of the Provisional Government decided to surrender the palace and cease armed resistance. But only those to whom this order was communicated surrendered. Many remained in the dark and continued for a long time their hopeless battle with the many times superior forces of the rebels.
Day in a soldier’s barracks under arrest
Many years later, Bocharnikova learned that the team to retreat into the palace was not brought to the other half company, which was defending the entrance doors to the palace. Volunteers kept there until the last, even when everyone around them had already laid down their arms. Their further fate still remains a mystery. There were none of them among the arrested drummers headed by Lieutenant Podrementsev, who were later stationed in the barracks of the Grenadier Regiment. What is even more surprising, when the 2 half sleeper returned a day later to the camp to the location of its company, the 1 half sleeper volunteers were not there. They did not return to Levashovo and the following days. After all, when October 29 Red Guards disarmed the volunteers of the 2-th company at the place of deployment, there were only 150 people. This is despite the fact that, according to various sources, the number of only 2 semifolds arrested in the Winter Palace ranged from 130 to 141 people. In other words, at the end of October 1917, in Levashovo, there was actually only one half-company of the 2-th company of the women's battalion.
In the morning of October 27, the commander Lieutenant Somov and the commander of the 2 half company, Lieutenant Faithful, independently arrived at the location of the 1 th company. But even after that, the situation with the other half beings did not clear up. It is strange that no one attended to their fate and there was not even an attempt to search for them. There is no mention that the company, which had just left the battlefield and suffered serious losses, was visited by the battalion commander, Captain Loskov. The volunteers of other companies of the women's battalion did not even show feelings of female and military solidarity to their fighting friends. They sat down at the neighboring dachas occupied by their companies and were not interested in the fate of other female female players. This testifies to the fact that already at this time the women's battalion lost its combat capability and morale.
Estimates of the actions of women shock
Analyzing the above evidence and other information that is publicly available, several, sometimes, directly opposite, descriptions of eyewitnesses to the participation of volunteers in the defense of the Winter Palace can be identified. Some claim that the shock women kept to the end, fulfilling their military duty. They remained loyal to the oath and surrendered their weapons only on the orders of the authorities. Others argue that they themselves surrendered immediately after the Cossacks and junior artillerymen left, taking advantage of the storming of the palace that had begun. There is also a point of view that the company of the women's battalion fled at the first shots of the advancing. This option, apparently, was chosen as the most acceptable answer to the question about the participation of the female battalion women in the defense of the Winter Palace. Thus was born the Soviet myth of the “Bochkarev fools”, which for many years was part of the official historiography of the October events.
In our opinion, the above options are not different versions of the same event, but only some examples, of which specific people were possible eyewitnesses. The fact is that the battalion was distributed around the contour and sectors of the palace’s defense, sometimes at considerable distances from each other. Consequently, the volunteers performed the assigned tasks, most likely, in groups of different numbers.
And these groups could demonstrate both unparalleled courage and loyalty to military duty, and cowardice, supported by a sense of mortal danger and fear for their lives. The human factor is manifested in different ways in various dangerous and unusual situations. And the revolutionary events, as shown история, moving by spontaneous actions of large masses of people with little predictable consequences.
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