Woman in the command post of an armored train
The failure of the task of grain procurements
The first assignment from the Soviet government was very important. In November 1917, Mokievskaya was sent by the military department of the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee as food commissar to Yekaterinoslav and other southern provinces. According to the mandate, she was given special powers to send flour and grain to Petrograd and Moscow. However, the matter did not go right away. Local bureaucrats were in no hurry to support and in some way help the young commissioner. Probably, they judged only by their appearance and did not see the threat in the fragile young lady. And in vain. Realizing that one sense of it is not to achieve, she returned to the capital. Received from Podvoisky at its disposal a detachment of armed Baltic sailors. "Brothers" as they were then called. Now she had both security and the possibility of armed escorts of echelons of food, as well as a military assistant.
At the end of November, she returned to Ekaterinoslav with help in order to carry out the assignment and, by the way, “set off the counter-brains”. However, she was not able to organize uninterrupted shipment of “bread” echelons. Moreover, not having understood the local conditions and having shown a sharp temper from the very beginning, she was not able to attract to her side the experienced workers of the former machinery of food supply and grain procurements. So it could be considered that she failed her first independent business. Although some considered all her failures to be the work of detractors around Ludmila. However, she continued to one degree or another to solve the problem of bread deliveries to the capital, organizing armed guards and escorting echelons of flour and grain. By the way, another, no less important task was to provide Petrograd and Moscow with coal.
Work on the supply of grain and coal was controlled personally by Lenin. For example, in January 1918, he wrote to Antonov-Ovseenko and Ordzhonikidze: “For God's sake, take the most energetic and revolutionary measures to send bread, bread and bread !!! Otherwise, Peter may die. Special trains and troops. Collection and discharging. Accompany the train. Notify daily. For God's sake!". In another telegram, the leader demanded to take the toughest revolutionary measures in order to eliminate the deadlock from the echelons with bread and coal. There were several such personal instructions and requests from Lenin only at the beginning of 1918. Therefore Mokievskaya remained in business.
Lyudmila gained leadership experience, administrative resources and personal contacts with top Soviet military leaders. It is about her two countrymen - N.I. Podvoysky and V.A. Antonov-Ovseenko, as well as G.K. Ordzhonikidze (Sergo). These commanders of the highest rank, in some surprising way, almost always turned out to be close by and helped her successfully overcome the problems that arose.
She was acquainted with the head of the military department of the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Command Podvoysky across Petrograd. It was he who in November 1917 of the year elevated her to the rank of Food Commissioner and gave 21-year-old girl special powers. She appealed to him with the request to allocate a detachment of seamen at her disposal. At that time, Podvoisky was already a Commissar for Military Affairs of the RSFSR. True, he stayed in the rank of Soviet minister only until March 1918. But he continued to hold top military and administrative posts in the state.
Her other countryman, Antonova-Ovseenko, she also knew from Petrograd. At that time he was secretary of the Petrograd Military Revolutionary Committee. Although, it is unlikely, Mokievskaya at that time communicated with him personally. Indeed, in November - December 1917, he commanded the Petrograd Military District, since he had once served as an officer and had a military education. He, like Sergo Ordzhonikidze, personally met Lyudmila Mokievskaya later, during the hostilities in the South-West of the country. Judging by his accolades about her, he highly appreciated her firm will, determination and revolutionary enthusiasm. By the way, on Lenin’s insistent recommendation, working in Ukraine, he was usually called simply Ovseenko. And in the RSFSR it was often called Antonov. Such a split personality occurred.
Has linked her fate with an armored monster
At the station, she accidentally saw the armored hulk of an armored train. The fortress on wheels Mokievskaya greatly impressed. She immediately set about trying to build a similar armored train at the South Russian Metallurgical Plant of the Bryansk Joint-Stock Company Yekaterinoslav. Having penetrated into the situation, she learned that the armored train is already under construction and work is nearing completion.
The military use of armored trains was short-lived. But in the civil war they were irreplaceable. The fighting was conducted mainly with the use of railway communications, which connected a vast territory and provided access to warehouse and repair resources. Since the times of the First World War, there were warehouses with large railway junctions and stations. weapons, ammunition, uniform and food.
Mokievskaya often visited the factory where the construction of an armored train was being completed. She really wanted to get into the team of this armored fortress on wheels. Unexpectedly, Lyudmila received support from Sergo Ordzhonikidze, who in early January 1918 was appointed Emergency Commissioner of Ukraine. The Bolshevik leader suggested that Antonov-Ovseenko appoint her as a commissioner of the covering detachment attached to an armored train. A commander of the train appointed Osovets. At the end of January 1918, the armored train headed for the fight against the Cossacks Ataman Kaledin.
Upon returning to Yekaterinoslav on the personal recommendation of Ordzhonikidze at the end of February 1918, Lyudmila Mokievskaya was chosen as the commander of the new armored train built at the Bryansk plant. He was named №3 "Bryansk." So a young woman without a military and technical education turned out to be in the military cabin of an armored train. On her fragile shoulders lay personal responsibility for the lives of the subordinate team and for the performance of all combat missions. Her armored train was being transferred from one combat sector to another. In accordance with the situation, the armored train was used against the advancing German troops. And in late March - early April 1918, the Mokievskaya armored train broke through to Kharkov and covered the retreat of the Red Army to Kupyansk.
In the summer of 1918 of the year, he, along with another 5 of armored trains, was urgently sent to suppress the revolt of the Socialist-Revolutionaries in Yaroslavl. There was a ticklish situation - after all, Mokievskaya was a maximalist Socialist Revolutionary. She was removed from the command of an armored train under the pretext of the absence of military and technical education. After the intervention of high Bolshevik patrons, she was reinstated as a commander. However, she did not take part in suppressing the rebellion.
Her commanding fate was not smooth. In February, on the recommendation of Ordzhonikidze, 1918 was chosen as commander of an armored train. In July of the same year, she was already appointed commander of the armored train No. XXUMX Bryansky. And in August, an interesting resolution of E. Sklyansky appeared on her certificate, already becoming one of the highest Soviet military leaders: “To appoint T. Mokievsky as commander of an armored train”. Note that the male surname is indicated. Was it a mistake or a trick now difficult to say. But in the documents dated August 3 about the appointment as commander of the armored train No. 1918 "Bryansk" she appears under the male name.
After sending an armored train worn out in battle for repairs to Nizhny Novgorod, she received a new armored train No. XXUMX “Power to the Soviets”. In November 3, she was appointed as his commissar, combining the new post with the command of an armored train. A case unique to civil war. Apparently, at that time she had already decided her question of belonging to the Bolshevik Party. Although in the same month still indicated the Socialist-Revolutionary party spirit. It would be a research fortune to discover all these documents in the archives.
Command an armored train is no easy task.
According to the order of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic of December 1918, signed by Trotsky, an armored train with a number of 136 train crew consisted of an armored steam train, two armored platforms armed with cannons and machine guns, a mobile base of 6 – 7 cars with a steam locomotive for the transportation of technical equipment and ammunition. In order to increase the effectiveness of the armored trains, for each armored train, amphibious units of 321 men were formed. Each armored train could independently carry out the assigned combat missions in a certain area of hostilities.
Special requirements were placed on the team of the armored train. Everyone had to meet the following requirements: small height, good physical development, excellent hearing and vision. It required psychological stability and strong nerves. The specifics of combat service assumed heat in the summer in the armored sites and cold in the winter, smoke and powder gases, poor lighting and confusion. Conditions of service on armored trains in many ways resembled the ship. Always be inside the steel box, which moves along the rails only forward or backward at speeds up to 45 km. at one o'clock, realizing that the armor would not withstand a direct hit by a projectile, was not at all easy. And this applied to everyone, both private soldiers and commanders. Mokievskaya’s combat friend, the Commissioner of the Iron Regiment, Z. Chalai recalled: “We, the infantry, looked at these people as knights ...”.
The commanding officer, commissioner, assistant commander, artillery commander, adjutant, communications commander, armored platforms commanders and their assistants in artillery and machine-gun parts, the commander of the troop unit and the head of the economic unit were among the commanders of the armored train. In this case, the commander of an armored train enjoyed the rights of the commander of a separate military unit. Reasoning in the old way, he was in the rank of colonel.
To get a little insight into what the fragile commander-girl had to do, let us recall only some of her everyday tasks. The management of the armored train required military and technical knowledge, as well as commanding skills. Combat use of an armored train had different goals: breaking through enemy defenses and pursuing a retreating enemy, firing support for the actions of their cavalry and infantry, seizing and holding important objects, reconnaissance, firing cover for withdrawing their troops. An important task was to counter enemy armored trains and artillery.
The armored cabin of the commander of an armored train was usually located at the tender of an armored steam train. From here he led the actions of the team on the march and in battle. The duties of the commander included the organization of reconnaissance and observation of the battlefield, the management of the use of fire equipment, as well as the organization of guard duty on the road and in the parking areas, the leadership of the locomotive brigade, etc. The communication system on the armored trains was divided into internal and external. Internal communication in the armored train was carried out by a speaker, a telephone and a special alarm system. The horn system was used to transmit short commands: “Forward”, “Stop”, “Fire”, “Back”, etc. The command for the speaker repeated twice. Special alarms were carried out by electric calls and by the agreed signaling device.
External communication of the armored train was carried out using a semaphore, radio, telephone, telegraph, messengers or signal lights. The communication with the locomotive beep was carried out for 5 – 10 km from the front line according to the established code.
Approaching the front, the order of formation of the armored train changed. In front and behind the armored sites, open railway platforms with repair-building material — rails, sleepers, etc. — usually moved.
In addition, it had its own echelon base consisting of freight and class cars: a wagon for officers, a staff wagon - office, a wagon - kitchen, a car - workshops and others. The base with its locomotive followed at a distance of one or two sections (25 – 50 km) or remained at the nearest station, maintaining communication with the armored train. About once a day, it was necessary to replenish the reserves of the steam supply tank with fuel (coal or fuel oil) and water. Lyudmila Mokievskaya had to manage, organize and control all this and many others.
Artillery Duel - Whose First Shot?
At the beginning of 1919, the armored train No. 3 “Power to the Soviets” is being transferred to the Donbass. Here, in the days of Lugansk, heavy battles with Denikin turned around. The station Debaltseve several times passed from hand to hand. The armored train spent two weeks in continuous battles. It also ended the military and the earthly way Mokievskaya.
There is no doubt about the cause of her death. She died from a direct hit of shells in the armored train and the cabin of the commander. But from where these shells were fired - there are two versions. According to the first version, an artillery duel of red and white armored trains took place under Debaltseve. On the way of armored train No. XXUMX “Power to the Soviets” was one of the most successful Denikin armored trains “Officer”. As a result, this battle was won by a white armored train. At that time, Colonel M. Lebedev commanded them. According to another version, the Mokievskaya armored train was in an artillery ambush of Denikin. The enemy battery first destroyed the armored steam train along with the commander's wheelhouse. Then she shot the immobilized Soviet armored train.
In our opinion, a third version of the incident is possible. Denikin's armored train "Officer" and a disguised battery could act in concert and together cause fire damage to the red armored train. The artillery systems of those years conducted aimed fire at a distance of 2-2,5 km. and could be late discovered by the Mokievskaya train team.
Be that as it may, 9 March 1919, Lyudmila Georgievna died at the fighting position. At that time she was just 23 of the year. Mokievskaya was killed by shell fragments and thrown into an explosion by an explosion. The body of Lyudmila was discovered only two days later, when they again beat off this stretch of road from the enemy.
Fights with memories and monuments continue ...
The body of the heroine was taken by special train to Kupyansk, where the headquarters of the 13 Army was located. Commander I.S. Kozhevnikov spoke at a farewell rally. The brave woman was buried with military honors 14 March 1919 year in Kupyansk on the regimental parade next to the army headquarters. The armored train “Comrade. Lenin "gave a farewell salvo of all guns. A film with the filming of her funeral has been preserved at TsGAKFFD. Many years later, the pages of her heroic biography were shown in the movie "Lyudmila".
And in those sad days, Podvoisky and Antonov-Ovseenko publicly expressed their condolences. About her wrote the newspaper "Red Warrior", "Communist", "Red Army" and other publications. But the Civil War was very cruel even to the fallen. In June, 1919 of the year white, taking the city of Kupyansk, ravaged the grave of Mokievskaya. Her body was thrown into a ditch on the outskirts of the city. Some of the local residents secretly buried her remains. When the Red Army again came to Kupyansk in December 1919, the ashes of Mokievskaya were exhumed and interred for the third time, but already in a mass grave with the dead red fighters and commanders. At the same time, it was believed that already in 1920-s, a city park was laid out at the burial site of Mokievskaya.
However, almost 40 years later, local historians decided to determine the exact place of its burial to install a monument to the heroine there. Searches failed. Answers from local party and Soviet bodies showed that such information was not preserved. Only in 1964, in Kupyansk, an obelisk was installed at the site of its first burial. Restored it from preserved film frames and photographs. After 4, the obelisk with a plaque was installed in Debaltseve. In the DPR, and today remember the heroine of the civil war. But even after death, she again found herself in battle. The monument to her is all wounded by shrapnel and bullets in the period of the hostilities in the Donbas that began in 2014 year. But even in these, almost military, conditions, people remember about her feat. This is evidenced by the inscription on the plaque: “Glory to the heroine! Lyudmila Georgievna Mokievskaya, the commander and commissar of the armored train No. 3 “Power to the Soviets”, died a brave death while defending the city of Debaltseve. 1895 G. XII - 9.III.1919 G. ”.
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