But, as events unfolded on the front showed, these hopes were not destined to come true. As a result, our family, like many others, turned out to be divided - the father in Leningrad, and we have relatives in Rybinsk.
PROMOTE VICTORY OVER THE ENEMY
I, a 15-year-old boy, like many of my peers, wanted to take part in the battles with the fascist hordes that invaded our country as soon as possible. When I asked the military registration and enlistment office to send me to some military unit sent to the front, I received an answer that I was still small for military service, but I was advised to take an active part in other activities that contribute to achieving success on the front. In this regard, I graduated from the courses of tractor drivers, combining them with my studies at school, at the same time believing that in the future this will give me the opportunity to become a tankman. In the spring, summer, and autumn of 1942, I worked in one of the MTS, worked on Warehof peat development, participated in harvesting vegetables and potatoes on collective farm fields, and in October I continued my studies at school, regularly attending the military enlistment office with a request to be sent to the Red Army.
Finally, on the eve of the new 1943, I received a long-awaited military agenda with a referral to study at the 3-e Leningrad Artillery School, located in Kostroma, after successfully completing it in the rank of junior lieutenant was sent to the Leningrad Front, where my military service began.
Shortly after the end of hostilities, directly near Leningrad, our 7 corps artillery brigade was reorganized and as a 180 heavy howitzer artillery brigade as part of the 24 artillery division of the RGVK in February 1945 of the year was sent to the 4-th Ukraine.
If we talk about any significant or particularly memorable events of front-line life, then I will tell you honestly: every passing day at the front is an event. Even if there is no active action, it is all the same - shelling, bombing, local clashes with the enemy, participation in reconnaissance or some other fighting clash. In short, there is no quiet life at the frontline, and since I was the commander of the battery control platoon, my place was constantly in the trenches of the infantry or at the command post located near the front edge.
And yet there was one vivid event that crashed into the memory of participation in military affairs.
LOST NO CONSEQUENCES
This happened at the end of February 1945, when we arrived at the 4-th Ukrainian front and began to occupy certain areas of combat positions.
The site on which it was necessary to act was the foothill of the Carpathians and was a hilly, forested, rugged area and the area divided by small fields. There was no clear, constantly stretching in the form of trenches or trenches of the leading edge as such, which allowed reconnaissance to penetrate relatively freely into the depth of the enemy’s defenses to collect the necessary data.
To determine the locations of command posts for batteries and divisions, the brigade command with the appropriate officers conducted a reconnaissance of the area during the day. Each participant in this operation knew where he was to organize his CP. From our battery in this reconnaissance took part battalion commander Koval, who took with him the commander of the intelligence department sergeant Kovtun. Thus, both of them knew where they would have to equip the KP battery, which I had to do as commander of the control platoon.
Upon my return, the battalion commander ordered me to start a nomination with the platoon at the front line for the occupation and equipment of the command post, saying that Sergeant Kovtun knows the road and location, and he himself will linger a little while engaging in equipment for the firing positions of the battery guns.
After reviewing the map with the upcoming nomination route, I found that the distance required to go to the place of the future KP was approximately 2 – 2,5 km. Simultaneously with moving to the indicated location of the command station, we had to lay a wire line of communication. For this purpose, we had wire coils.
The length of the wire on each coil was 500 m, which allowed to control the distance traveled. Considering the unevenness of the terrain, and in the order of the usual hoarding, I ordered to take 8 coils, that is, about 4 km of wire or almost double its rate required for the upcoming organization of the communication line.
In the 18 clock area, we started the nomination. It must be said that the weather at that time in the foothills of the Carpathians was extremely unstable - it was pouring wet snow, now the sun was peeping, the nasty wet wind was howling, plus the sodden, chomping underfoot ground. Somewhere in half an hour after the beginning of our movement dusk came, and then darkness (as is usually the case in mountainous terrain), therefore, we determined the direction of movement by compass, and even a guide for us was a lonely tree standing in the middle of the field, in which Sergeant Kovtun confidently turned us to the left.
In order to determine the distance traveled, which we measured along the length of the stretched wire, the soldier who was running out of the coil reported this. While there was a report on the end of the wire on the first coils, we did not have much concern. But when there was a report on the end of the wire on the fifth coil, and ahead there was a continuous mist and barely viewed the outlines of the forest, to which we had to approach the calculation on the map through 1 – 1,5 km, I was worried: do we go there according to the direction indicated by sergeant?
After receiving the report on the end of the wire on the sixth coil - and by that time we had continued our way along the edge of the forest - I ordered the platoon to stop and observe complete silence, and with sergeant Kovtun and the signalman with the next coil of wire, slowly and as quietly as possible walking , went ahead.
The feelings that I experienced during this further movement have been preserved in the depths of my soul so far, and, to be honest, they were not particularly pleasant. Darkness, wet snow falls, the wind, howling and shaking trees, causes some incomprehensible crackle of branches, and around - mist and tense, oppressive silence. There was an inner understanding that we wandered off somewhere.
Silently and slowly stepping forward, trying not to create any noise, we went on and suddenly we heard human voices, which seemed to be heard out of the ground. After a few moments, a bright light suddenly flashed in front of us at a distance of 8 – 10 - this is a man who jumped upstairs and threw back the canopy covering the entrance to the dugout. But the most important thing that we saw was that the man was in German form. Apparently, coming out of the lighted room, he did not see us in the darkness and, having done his work, dived down again, closing the curtain behind him.
It turned out that we landed in the location of the front edge of the German defense, and if the Germans had found us, it is not known what our raid would have ended behind enemy lines. Observing the utter silence and secrecy of movement, winding our wires, we moved back, trying to understand what happened and how we were able to get to the enemy's position, where we turned in the wrong direction or went in the wrong direction. And what turned out - going up to the ill-fated tree in the field, the sergeant suddenly remembered that he indicated the wrong direction - instead of turning to the right, he directed us in the opposite direction. Of course, what happened was my fault as a commander who did not check the direction of our movement on the map and compass, but I was confident in the actions of the sergeant with whom we had served together for more than a year, and there was no occasion to let him down . But, as they say, well that ends well, and after the fight do not wave their fists.
As a result, turning in the right direction and unwinding only two coils of wire, we found ourselves on our front line, where the battalion had been waiting for us for a long time. We received an assessment of our wander in appropriate expressions, since more than three hours had passed since the beginning of our nomination, and there was no control platoon headed by its commander. Having dealt with everything that happened, we proceeded to equip the command center of the battery. The conclusion from recent events was this: we would either be taken prisoner or die because of ill-considered actions. We just got lucky. I understand that the case about which I spoke is not characteristic of what was happening at the front. Why, and the war itself is not a characteristic event in human life. But that was, that was.
The memory has preserved other episodes of front-line life.
For example, once, according to the order, it was necessary to penetrate the enemy’s rear and, after spending three days in a shed on the outskirts of the village occupied by the enemy, adjust the artillery fire of our brigade in order to prevent the organized departure of the enemy from the attacked settlement.
For the rest of my life, the last day of my front-line life remained - in my memory - 24 March 1945 of the year. On this day, during the fighting of the Moravian-Ostrava offensive during the liberation of the city of Zorau in Upper Silesia (now the town of орыory in Poland), when moving to a new command post, our group came under artillery fire from an enemy in the forest which we moved after the infantry units. During the shelling, our brigade commander, Lieutenant Colonel G.I. Kurnosov, deputy chief of staff of the brigade, Major M. Lankevich and another 300 man, and several people were injured, including myself, who were seriously injured, from whom he recovered and left the hospital only in October 12.
TRUTH CANNOT BE KILLED
Looking back at past events, one involuntarily thinks about the enormous power of our Soviet people, who withstood enormous trials and difficulties during the Great Patriotic War and triumphed over obscurantism, violence, evil, hatred for people and attempts to make slaves out of them.
One can cite countless examples of the heroic work of people in the rear, great courage and feats on the front, examples of the ability to endure enormous human sacrifices. And, trying to find an answer to the question, what was the source and was the organizer of our Great Victory, I found the following answer for myself.
The source of victory was our people, the working people, the people-creator, ready to sacrifice and give everything for the sake of their freedom, independence, well-being and prosperity. At the same time, it should be noted that the people themselves are a mass of people, roughly speaking, a crowd. But if this mass is organized and cohesive, moves in the name of achieving a single goal, then it becomes an invincible force able to defend and protect the country, to win.
The organizing force capable of achieving this great goal, which managed to unite all the forces and capabilities of the country in the name of victory over fascism, was the Communist Party, which had faithful helpers - the Komsomol and trade unions. And no matter what dirt, lies, and various falsifications have poured on our Victory and the people of today's false histories and pseudo-investigators, it is impossible to silence and slander the truth.
Sitting in the quiet of offices and taking advantage of all the benefits of a peaceful, relaxed life, it is easy to talk about the methods of warfare and the achievement of successful outcomes of solving a task arising during hostilities, or how to ensure the necessary results are obtained, putting forward new ”views and giving“ objective ”assessments of past events.
The Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli spoke very well about such people:
Everyone thinks he is a strategist
Seeing the fight from the side.
But if these figures try to plunge into the real conditions of what is happening, when bullets whistle every minute, shells, mines and bombs explode, and you need to immediately find the best solution with a minimum of victims in order to achieve victory - there is little left of them. Real and cabinet life is the antipodes.