Military Review

The fate of the heroes of the Winter War

The fate of the heroes of the Winter War

30 November this year marks 75 years since the beginning of the 1939 – 1940 Soviet-Finnish War. In the course of it, the title of Hero of the Soviet Union was awarded to 416 people. The Great Patriotic War, which began a year after the end of the conflict with Finland, did not allow the country to widely recognize the heroes of this short but bloody confrontation. Those of them who did not die the death of the brave on the Karelian Isthmus, very soon entered into a fight with the German fascist invaders. And not everyone survived to Victory.


Fortunately, before 22 June 1941, a small part of the stories about the heroes of the Soviet-Finnish war still managed to see the light. 22 April, two months before the start of the big war, the book “Fights in Finland” was published in the Military Publishing House of the People’s Commissariat of Defense. This edition contains the memories of the Red Army men and commanders, the stories of journalists about the recent battles. Having sustained two editions, the book “Fights in Finland” for a very long time remained practically the only narration about this war.

The book showed intense combat work, almost without exception, of the arms and services of the Red Army. The stories of the fighters and commanders have not yet carried in themselves that fierce hatred that will appear to the German fascist invaders during the years of holy war. Rereading the pages of this book, I often wondered how the life of these heroes was formed, what destinies their “raging” twentieth century rewarded. Today, the work of the military historians community is able to remove the veil of obscurity, making it accessible history the life of the heroes of the already distant war. The website “Heroes of the Country” provides ample opportunities for this, the materials of which were also used in the preparation of this article.


Of the 416 heroes, 97 soldiers were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union posthumously. There is a kind of "unknown" soldier among them. The shooter of the 15 Infantry Regiment Fyodor Ivanovich Ivanov was awarded the title of Hero of 7 April 1940. It is not known where he was born and how this hero looked from the most Russian of surnames. It is still not clear when and how he died while carrying out the “combat mission of the command”, and where a simple Russian soldier rested.

One of the most striking narratives of the book about the soldiers of those battles was the story of the tankman Ivan Sivolap. Driver mechanic tank The 155th separate tank battalion Ivan Danilovich Sivolap repeatedly distinguished himself in offensive battles in February 1940. Twice his tank was hit, and both times the brave tanker kept the car, continuing the battle. The young warrior was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on April 7, 1940. Unfortunately, he had only a little more than a year to live. He will die the death of the brave on July 11, 1941.

During the battles in Finland, the chief was awarded the second Gold Star medal. aviation 7th Army Commander Sergei Prokofievich Denisov. He was the last of five twice Heroes of the Soviet Union, awarded this title before the start of World War II.

Commander-in-chief Yevgeny Savvich Ptukhin, commander of the Air Force of the North-Western Front, became one of the most notable military leaders who were noted for their high rank following the war. For the skillful organization of the actions of Soviet aviation, which caused serious damage to the enemy, 21 March 1940, he was awarded the title Hero. His fate was different with the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, which Lieutenant-General Aviation Ptukhin met as commander of the Air Force of the South-Western Front. 24 June 1941, after the most severe defeats of the first days of the war, he was recalled to Moscow and arrested there. 13 February 1942, by resolution of the Special Meeting of the USSR People's Commissar of Internal Affairs, Yevgeny Ptukhin was sentenced to death, and 23 February was shot.

In total, during the years of the Great Patriotic War, 112 Heroes of the Soviet Union - participants of the Soviet-Finnish war were killed on the battlefields. The first of these was Sergei Ivanovich Kosyakin. In the Soviet-Finnish campaign, Captain Kosyakin served as a squadron commander of the 44-th High-Speed ​​Bomber Regiment. After the conclusion of peace 12 March 1940, he continued to serve in the Baltic. Sergey Kosyakin died in an air battle over the Gulf of Finland 23 June 1941.

But there are biographies and destinies, from the touch of which heart is compressed in a special way.

The commander of the reconnaissance company of the 355 Infantry Regiment, Senior Lieutenant Alexei Mikhailovich Vatagin, was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union 21 in March 1940 of the year for successful reconnaissance conducted in January 12 in 1940. In 1942, he will finish his studies at the military academy, immediately after which he will take part in the battles of the Great Patriotic War. His last battle, the deputy commander for the combat part of the 238 Guards Rifle Regiment of the Guard, Major Alexei Vatagin, took 30 on April 1945 of the year on the outskirts of Prague.

The first Hero of the Soviet Union - a native of Tatarstan - 21 March, March 1940, was the younger political instructor Gafiyat Yarmukhametovich Nigmatullin. Already a senior political commander, Gafiyat Nigmatullin graduated from the Military-Political Academy in 1942. After going through the war, he will die on the last day of the Great Patriotic War - May 8, 1945, in Berlin.

The squadron commander of the 18 th speed bomber aviation regiment Captain Iosif V. Matrunchik during 105 days of the Soviet-Finnish war made 59 combat missions. 20 May 1940, he was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. An active participant in World War II, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Matrunchik died 9 on May 1945 of the year, being blown up by a mine.


Four people who were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union during the Soviet-Finnish war were subsequently deprived of this title and awards. One officer even before the start of World War II - for hooliganism and immoral behavior. One, having fallen into German captivity, went to serve in the army of Vlasov. In 1945, he was extradited by the Americans to the Soviet command, and convicted and executed in 1946. Another one was deprived of the title of Hero of the Soviet Union after the war.

But there was a unique case, which has already been told in print. The correspondent of the newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda” Valentin Petrovich Purgin (Golubenko) was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union 21 April 1940. Being a recidivist thief and swindler, Golubenko kidnapped a passport in the name of Purgin in 1937 after escaping from prison. Over time, he got a job in the Komsomol newspaper, Purgin was able to use fake documents to arrange for himself fictional business trips to battle sites in Khalkhin-Gol, in Western Belarus, on the Karelian Isthmus, to assign a number of state awards. Using the stolen forms of the special purpose 39 division, he prepared documents for assigning himself the title of Hero of the Soviet Union through the Naval Commissariat of the Navy in March 1940. This crime was solved because of the reckless arrogance of a swindler who published his portrait in the central press.

Purgin was arrested on May 23 of the year 1940 at the entrance to the Kremlin, where he followed to receive awards. He became the only person in the history of this exceptional award, who managed to fraudulently achieve the official award of the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. The first in the Soviet Union Valentin Purgin was deprived of the title Hero. In August 1940, the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court sentenced him to death.

The 75 years that have passed since the beginning of the Soviet-Finnish war are a huge period of time, containing bright and memorable events, events and facts. Moreover, real witnesses and participants of those events, their feats and memories are important to us.

The last of the Heroes of the Soviet Union awarded this title for participation in the Soviet-Finnish war, at the time of writing the material, is Vasily Sergeevich Michurin. The machine gunner of the 271 th motorized rifle regiment, a member of the Komsomol Michurin, was awarded this high rank 7 on April 1940. In July, 2014, Vasily Sergeevich turned 98 years.

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  1. Orik
    Orik 15 November 2014 07: 53
    But somehow not very, judging by the examples, the characters developed. Having already received a high award, during the Second World War Starley became a major, and the captain a lieutenant colonel. Many started small, but finished much better.
  2. da Vinci
    da Vinci 15 November 2014 10: 27
    And how many of these "Purgins" are there now? One SMerdyukov is worth something !!!
  3. ruslan207
    ruslan207 15 November 2014 11: 13
    Aviation Lieutenant General Ptukhin met as Air Force Commander of the Southwestern Front. On June 24, 1941, after the most serious defeats of the first days of the war, he was recalled to Moscow and arrested there. On February 13, 1942, by a resolution of the Special Meeting at the People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs of the USSR, Yevgeny Ptukhin was sentenced to be shot, and on February 23, he was shot. They shot Smushkevich Konev. They wanted to shoot. Zhukov did not give the easiest way to shoot non-venous
    1. vladimirZ
      vladimirZ 15 November 2014 17: 01
      "... it is easiest to shoot those who are not veins for their miscalculations" - ruslan207

      "There is no punishment without guilt." Zhiglovsky words I want to answer similar denunciators of the actions of the Supreme Commander of the USSR - I.V. Stalin.
      The fault of the USSR general in the failed battles of 1941 is a historical fact that cannot be avoided.
      You don’t have to go far for examples. Take the Chief of the General Staff of the USSR Zhukov G.K. - Who has shown blatant illiteracy and irresponsibility in this crucial fateful post.
      What does it cost only in February-March 1941, the Zhukovsky additional formation of twenty-one mechanized corps with 1031 tanks in each, actually undermining the planned tank production of the state and frustrating the reconstruction of 8 mechanized corps, already approved in July 1940 by the NPO of the USSR.
      Anyone who is interested in military history and the events of 1941 knows what this led to - the Red Army met the war with 29, on paper, mechanized corps, incapable of conducting hostilities, and the mass non-combat loss of tanks during the very first weeks of the war.
      All the labor of industry, of millions of people producing thousands of tanks went down the drain because of the Fool General.
      He should have been judged and shot, but I.V. Stalin regretted, made it possible to correct the deed with blood.
      But not all "generals" got away with their crimes, some of whom were shot for the edification of others, for example, the command of the OZapVO headed by Pavlov, who actually opened the front to the Germans.
      From similar generals and Ptukhin.
      "There is no punishment without guilt."
      1. RoTTor
        RoTTor 15 November 2014 18: 28
        as the beginning. General Staff of the Red Army It is Zhukov who is personally to blame for evaluating intelligence data, the disastrous first days of the Second World War, poor organization and erroneous evaluations of intelligence data, etc.
      2. RoTTor
        RoTTor 15 November 2014 18: 28
        as the beginning. General Staff of the Red Army It is Zhukov who is personally to blame for evaluating intelligence data, the disastrous first days of the Second World War, poor organization and erroneous evaluations of intelligence data, etc.
      3. ruslan207
        ruslan207 15 November 2014 20: 00
        vladimirZ -What can I say here, the German army was very maneuverable was the best army in the world with the best general staff with experienced officers and even more experience they defeated France, England, Austria, Poland. Where was Beria and the Soviet Union leadership. Russian frosts were saved at first and huge territories and human resources
        1. vladimirZ
          vladimirZ 16 November 2014 05: 44
          ruslan207- The fact that the German army, which used the advanced military strategy - Blitzkrieg, was the best army at that time, with extensive experience in the war in France, England, Poland, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, Greece, Yugoslavia, Africa, crushing and rallying the whole of Europe war against the USSR, no doubt.
          We are talking about the USSR and the Red Armywhich, thanks to the wise policy of I.V. Stalin had a 2-year supply of time to prepare for the inevitable, and of which everyone knew war.
          To prepare industry and the army, the task was not only the leadership of the state, led by Stalin, but in the army of generals.
          Stalin and industry leaders fulfilled their task by arming the Army with tens of thousands of tanks and aircraft, artillery pieces.

          The task of the military was to learn correctly, taking into account the experience of a 2-year German war, the defeat of a dozen European states, to use this mass of military equipment.
          The generals, at the beginning of the war, could not cope with this task,
          already studied during the war, because of which millions of people were killed, tens of thousands of military equipment were abandoned and destroyed, the enemy was near Moscow, most of the European part of the USSR was surrendered.
          For this it was necessary to ask someone to stop this outrage of war crimes, namely CRIMES. And they asked from those who committed such crimes. Not everyone, many were given the opportunity to atone for their guilt, to justify themselves.
          Well, ah about Winter, Russian open spaces, you will tell the current American and Western politicians, claiming the laurels of Napoleon and Hitler, and opposing Russia, trying to unleash a war against it again.
      4. The comment was deleted.
  4. Hubun
    Hubun 15 November 2014 11: 28
    My mother has a missing uncle in Finnish missing
  5. Vadim2013
    Vadim2013 15 November 2014 13: 16
    Thank you for the article. We know very little about this war.
    1. jjj
      jjj 15 November 2014 14: 25
      Finland had the so-called Russian government in exile. And it was from here that they had to attack the USSR. There were formed parts of the ROA (then with the same name the troops were at Vlasov). And Trotsky became the head of the "expelled government". True, he did not have time to command. He was urgently liquidated in Mexico. And the USSR had to start a war to move the borders away from Leningrad
      1. ruslan207
        ruslan207 15 November 2014 20: 03
        jjj-Daerunda is the yellow press Trotsky after 37 years already had no news from the USSR at all, all his associates were shot
      2. The comment was deleted.
  6. Colonel
    Colonel 15 November 2014 14: 50
    The material is unexpected and quite unique. Many thanks to the author.
  7. Karabanov
    Karabanov 15 November 2014 19: 02
    Yes, how surprisingly the fates of the soldiers and commanders of this now-forgotten Winter War evolved ... It is significant that even with the heroes (in spite of their merits) they did not stand on ceremony, easily deprived, imprisoned, shot ...
    I will bring my 5 cents. He did not receive a hero, but went through two wars - Finnish and Patriotic. All of us, our beloved and famous circus and film artist, but just a wonderful person ...
    DOMINO 16 November 2014 00: 00
    "The machine gunner of the 271 motorized rifle regiment Komsomolets Michurin was awarded this high rank on April 7 1940 of the year. In July 2014, Vasily Sergeyevich turned 98 years old."- this is strong !! Respect and honor! I am simply amazed that there are still those alive who participated with the Soviet-Finnish! A generation of robust people, not like my-haired descendants ...)
  9. 23424636
    23424636 16 November 2014 16: 00
    it was necessary for the German agent Ulyanov to shoot a bullet earlier and there would have been no freedom presented to Finland for the participation of its soldiers in the assault on the Winter Palace and there would not have been so many victims for a piece of Russian land sold by the Jews.