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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > World History Group Hosting > RKKA (The Russian Army) in World War II

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RKKA (The Russian Army) in World War II Discuss the Russian armed forces in World War II. Hosted by our resident Russian expert, AMVAS. Please visit his RKKA in WW2 Website.

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  #46  
Old 02 Jul 08, 07:31
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Quote:
- 8 -

One of the passing “Willis” suddenly stopped. A major with golden shoulder marks jumped out of it and asked for our sergeant major. We could not hear them talking, but soon we were informed that the reserve regiment had been relocated from Berezovka closer to the front line and now we had to march this road to a settlement called Fensterovo.

We reached Fensterovo at about 17:00. We were all very tired and nervous. Many could barely move their legs, some were limping due to blisters. Fensterovo was a small farm located away from the main road and by the side of a large glen. It was actually an abandoned cattle farm consisting of several barns. We were formed up by our squads, roll call was conducted in front of several officers, were presented to the sergeants and officers who would, at least temporally, be our commanders. Then we were shown where we should stay until dinner. Most of all we were cheered that a dinner awaited us. We were still as naive as all children are. But the experienced and time-served “recruits” took these words lightly. They gave a look at the kitchen and said right away that the dinner would consist only of boiling water. Every squad sent a few men to help in the kitchen. I was among them. The “caboose” constituted a ravine slope with approximately 15 metal barrels previously used for petrol or kerosene each with one of the ends taken out. Some holes had been made in the ravine slope that allowed them to function as small furnaces. The barrels with water or broth were placed above them. Because there was a continuous stream of new arrivals at the reserve regiment, no one knew how many people needed to be fed on a particular day. The new arrivals were ordered to draw water from the bottom of the ravine and fill the barrels. Others were directed to collect firewood (which in practice meant pillaging a wooden fence and a shed). When the work was done and the water came to boil, the cook drew 3 full buckets from another barrel, which had something boiling there under his supervision, and emptied them into a barrel of boiling water. That was our evening hot meal. Rumour had it that the next morning a whole carcass (a cow or a horse) was delivered and was finished in just one day by many thousands of people of the reserve regiment. We also got German canned vegetables - war trophy, and one sixth of a loaf of bread. You can imagine what kind of dining it was! There was no smell of the “morning meat” in the mess-tin and the trophy cans had neither fat nor meat. But people were happy to have what they got, especially because they still had some provision from home (I was one of them). But there were also some who did not have anything.

We spent the night under an open sky. All the barns were occupied by other people. People not only arrived almost every hour, but they also left at the same pace. Sometimes people marched away; sometimes columns of 15-20 trucks would drive them away. The next day we were put through the recruiting commission and the medical exam and were sorted accordingly. As a result I was assigned to the company of “fit only for non-combat duty”. Everyone in that company either had some physical shortcoming or was old man of 55 or more. All of my new acquaintances from the last two days ended up in other companies. All fit for combat duty, they did not hang around there for long, except some people with military specialities, and were sent as reinforcement to the front line divisions. All the ones possessing a military speciality – truck driving, medicine, tank driving, artillery, sappers, pilots, military-engineers etc. – were assembled into dedicated units and were the reserve of the corresponding arm of service. The rest – to the infantry. I spent about five days in that reserve regiment until I was “taken by a buyer”. It happened like this: the commander of our “non-combatants” company would, upon arrival of a senior officer, order us to line up in single file. And the “officer buyer” would go along the line asking everyone what his ailment was and about his health problems. But we were never told beforehand whether the officer was seeking people for the front or for the rear areas. The “officer buyer” made his own decision as to whether or not he should he take a particular person. There were rumours among us that some groups were being sent for labour in the rear: in the mines and woodcutting industries, in the reconstruction of the factories in the liberated occupied territories. All were afraid to be drafted to the labour force, especially to the Ural and Siberian regions. For some reason I was not worried about that. But the more experienced said that it is better to be send towards front line than to the rear to die of starvation.

Finally it was my turn. We were lined up one morning and an aged, slender lieutenant-colonel, accompanied by three lieutenants, was walking along our formation. Going from the head of the formation he asked people about their ailments and ordered many of them to make five steps forward and take place in a new line. He asked me the same and ordered me to take the five steps. No one knew what it was for and where this group was to be sent. The new line consisted mainly of young people who had no problems with their limbs. In this manner I became a member of a new group of 120 people. The order was issued: “After lunch assume marching formation with all personal belongings”.

The reserve regiment in Fensterovo consisted mainly of newly recruited and they were dressed in the civilian clothes. But there were also soldiers discharged from hospitals and other units. They could easily be distinguished by their uniform. Due to the season of bad roads the rear services were lagging behind the front line and the ration and uniform deliveries were being delayed.

In squad formation our column marched again led by the lieutenants. On the first halt it was known that we are to make a 40km march. Our destination was Razdelnoe Station where we were to arrive late in the evening.
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  #47  
Old 02 Jul 08, 07:34
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.
Quote:
- 9 -

Our route followed a country road that was in a terrible condition. It was the very same road used by General Pliev’s horse-mechanised group for its rapid advance in the first days of April. It is to him that Odessa should be thankful for the avoidance of heavy urban fighting. In the deep spring mud, when no vehicles of any kind could master such roads, Don and Kuban cavalrymen undertook a daring manoeuvre and penetrated the enemy’s rear areas managing to take the railway junction at Razdelnoe straight off the march. This development cut Odessa off from the rest of the German forces and forced the enemy to abandon the city without fight.

Our column was getting loose and stretched. Our commanding officers would now and then shout orders for the ones lagging behind to hurry them up, mixing the commands with worst of Russian swearing. Everywhere on the way there were signs of heavy fighting: destroyed German military equipment, trucks, carts, horse carcases. Next to a small farm some local boys played on a crippled German tank, a “Ferdinand” [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elefant ; http://mvd.clan.su/_fr/2/1006991.jpg ], which was standing next to the road with its cannon raised up. In the next village were two new abandoned howitzers with large muzzle-breaks. Being young, we were all interested in that and climbed the tanks and turned the cannon controls no better than local village boys. I remember during one short stop noticing several abandoned German carts and I went to see what was in them. It appeared that they were loaded with horseshoes and nails. The horseshoes were of enormous size and with spikes on them and were meant for the German draft horses, which were slow and resembled elephants. Returning to the column I got a scolding from my platoon leader for absence without leave. There on the spot he explained that “wandering” about without purpose can get us into trouble – we could hit a mine field. As evening approached the railway track came to sight, though the station was not yet to be seen. On the open ground of the field around were signs of a recent tragedy that had occurred several days earlier: among the shell holes were spread out Russian back-sacks, punctured mess tins, ruptured shoes, and hats with flaps bearing red stars… The bodies of the Soviet soldiers had already been gathered and taken away, but some body parts and bloody greatcoats could still be seen. What an anguished scene. Silently we looked around trying to understand where the deadly strike had come from. It became clear when we reached the railway track. In the bushes and on the embankment were piles of German cartridges. It seems our soldiers had been ambushed.
The Odessa-Razdelnoe railway tracks had been destroyed by the retreating enemy. All the rails were damaged and all the sleepers were broken in two by some kind of device attached to a steam engine. Darkness fell but we still had not reached the junction. People were very tired and would just fall right where they were as soon the “halt for five minutes” command was shouted. How difficult it was to rise up again after the halt… legs felt filled with lead. We were hungry. The command “stand up” sounds and we keep dragging ourselves along…

We reached Razdelnoe Station late at night. In the dark we could see the heavily damaged station building and the tracks stuffed with the freight cars. Both our unit and the headquarters were scattered on the south side of the settlement around the railway junction. The settlement consisted of little clay and straw houses with adjacent barns and plots of land. We all fell right down after we arrived and fell asleep like the dead. In the morning the newly arrived were assigned to platoons and companies. The same lieutenant-colonel who had picked us previously announced that from now on we were privates in the Eighty-eighth Separate Work Battalion of the Fifth Shock Army of the Third Ukrainian Front. The lieutenant-colonel’s surname was Chernikh (Черных). He also introduced his political deputy – major Pehota (note: the name in Russian literally means ”Infantry”). We were told that from today we have to start our battle training and drill, learning the rifle, learning guard regulations and so on. The uniforms and the weapons we were told, would be distributed later on after it had been received from storage. But today would be a bath day, haircuts, medical exam and some work duties. I was assigned to the First Platoon of Second Company.
There were no more than ten seasoned soldiers in the whole company. Where were the others? Apparently they were on the way. Before Razdelnoe they were stationed somewhere near the Don, maybe in Darvenkovskoe or Kalach, and were now being moved closer to the front line. The “oldsters” explained that our main task would be loading and unloading the cargo trains; unloading munitions and loading the cars with used shell cases and other material.
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  #48  
Old 02 Jul 08, 07:35
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Huge THANK YOU to Mr. Slim Fan for editing my lousy English translation and giving it grammatic and stylistic sense!
This part and all previous parts have been edited by him.
Quote:
- 10 -

The celebration of 1st of May ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interna...Workers%27_Day ) approached. Major Pehota, who as I mentioned was our "zampolit" [remark: Commander's deputy for political work – not to be confused with "Commissar"], was very busy with the preparations. Knowing that I was a student before the war he offered me the opportunity to join his orderly, Buriak, in making a newspaper poster dedicated to the celebration. Buriak was a boy aged about 14 or 15 and was regarded as our "regiment’s son" [remark: "regiment’s sons" were usually orphans picked up by the regiments on their campaigns. Hence the name "regiment’s son" indicating that a child had been adopted by the regiment]. He wore a uniform and was always "sticking his nose in everywhere", hanging around the newcomers, reading aloud from the newspapers distributed by Sovinformbureau ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Information_Bureau ). Together we began the work. I was responsible for the design and layout and Buriak for the content – for which he went around the platoons collecting material. I remember how our zampolit Pehota criticised me because a German tank with swastika drawn by me did not look as though it had been disabled. I had to redraw it more vividly. This time he was pleased. The tank was depicted with a fractured gun barrel, a huge gaping hole in the side and a broken track. Our tanks were rushing forward belching fire and smoke.

Around 26th April we again had a "bath day" and after that received new sets of cotton uniforms. We got English boots, puttees and old patched grey
greatcoats. It was apparent that the greatcoats had already seen combat, but had been cleaned before being given to us. We knew that the fallen were
buried in common graves without their greatcoats, which had to continue to serve, this time to other people.

Once in uniform we immediately became indistinguishable from one another. Our field caps fitted our shaved heads very well; though the red star badges were missing and there was no possibility of replacing them. But we found a remedy: we made stars ourselves out of tin and attached them to the field caps with thread. On the eve of 1st of May the remaining troops arrived from the Don, Rostov and Donetsk provinces. Some of them said that they had been working on windmills for the army, others worked on some army farms, but the main occupation was loading and unloading the trains.

Even though we all wore uniforms and looked alike, the odessits [remark: recruits from Odessa] still stood somewhat forward showing a special Odessa disposition. Major Pehota made me responsible for politinformations - reading aloud every day the official front reports and make regiments "battle leaflet" [remark: a kind of in-house newspaper].

After the celebration day the combat engineering forces repaired the railway tracks, and trains started coming in to Razdelnoe station. Our battalion was also involved in the loading and unloading work. In their haste to retreat, the Germans had abandoned a large number of loaded railway cars on the 70km stretch between Odessa and Razdelnoe. There were even two German armoured trains and a train loaded with tanks at Razdelnoe station.

Apart from our battalion, General Pliev's cavalry division was also stationed in Razdelnoe. But now, in the process of being transferred to another stretch of the front, they were leaving us. The frontline stabilised along the Dnestr river and Tiraspol was now adjacent to it. That frontline was not far from us, maybe 12 - 15 km, and we could clearly hear the artillery at work.

In May the battalion's headquarters were relocated to the German village of Baden [remark: there were more than a million German colonists living in the USSR] on the coast of Dnestr estuary. The inhabitants had left. Probably they fled west together with the German army. There was a station by the name of Kuchurgan about 2km from Baden. Our First Platoon from Second Company was stationed there in an open field guarding a store of chemicals in an abandoned German ammunition dump. It was encircled by barbed wire. Our battalion staff officers were short of writing paper for their work and the only place to get more was Odessa. So they began looking for two people from Odessa willing to procure more paper. Naturally, this operation was not budgeted for and the procurement required promtness and a certain native wit. Since I myself needed paper for my "battle leaflet" I agreed to go on the business trip. I was delighted with the opportunity to return to Odessa, to meet Olga and her parents, and to catch up on their news. I had agreed to go, but I really had no idea where I would find writing paper and how it would be paid for.
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  #49  
Old 09 Jul 08, 18:56
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Quote:
- 11 -

Our squad commander was from Krasnoyarsk. He had lost toes on his right foot near Stalingrad and as the result of his service had reached the rank of senior sergeant. His name was Kostja (remark: short for Konstantin). Unfortunately, I can’t remember his surname. We became good friends – true comrades in arms. Sending me to Odessa he gave me his greatcoat, which was brand new and had tabs and the shoulder bands of a senior sergeant. The greatcoat was for show – I was to meet my girlfriend in the town… The shoulder bands were to be changed according to the situation. Now, after so many years, I understand how risky it would have been if I had run into a military patrol.

I went to the nearest crossing close to Kuchurgan station and sat on the Odessa-Tiraspol road to wait for a car going to Odessa. There the road was of a better standard. On the roadside a Soviet tank, American made, which was hit in the first days of April, still stood. I guess it was a “Valentine” or a “Katrine”. (remark: It seems my granddad was not sure about the name). I climbed onto it and the first passing Studebaker stopped at my signal. The driver thought I was a tanker and let me sit in the cabin. In three hours I was in Odessa, in the Moldavanka district.

When I reached Kulikovo Square I put on the senior sergeants shoulder bands. But then I thought that I would appear too young to have made senior sergeant and ripped off two of the badges of rank. I entered the house as a corporal.

My appearance on Pirogovskaya Street was unexpected. Olga was happy for my visit and tried to feed me up. But her parents were depressed. Semen Vikentievich was being summoned to the local Communist Party office. He was to report on his Party assignment – conducting resistance work during occupation. The situation was not in his favour and it could prove to have serious consequences for him.

I explained the purpose of my visit and asked for their help. I had two days at my disposal. Olga had about 300 sheets in her possession. But it was not enough. Semen Vikentievich said that with a bit of luck I might find paper at the market but it would require money, approximately 150 Roubles. I only had 70 Roubles in my pocket and Semen Vikentievich gave me the rest. The paper was purchased the next day from black market dealers, who seemed to feel free to operate again. I noticed that town was being slowly reconstructed. Some workers were fixing the walls of the ruined Central Railway Station. I stopped to look at a passenger train arriving from Moscow. A group of young women with backpacks and suitcases got off the train. They asked me where to find a street where they were to work as civil engineers. We fell into conversation. It was interesting for me to meet people from the capital. These were newly graduated specialists. I recounted my arrival at this very station in 1940. Did I think back then that my life would develop in this way? I began to wish that I could continue my studies at Odessa’s Agrarian Institute. As I stood next to the station, I suddenly realised that I was on the very spot where 40 days earlier a Rumanian marauder was hanged (the place is marked by a blue cross on the attached photograph.). People came and went from the station and nobody knew what happened here on the 11th of April 1944.
[ to be continued ]
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Old 11 Jul 08, 18:33
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Quote:
- 12 -

In the evening Olga and I went to the Beaumont cinema, near the central train station, and saw for the first time the film “Two Soldiers” ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036782/ ). The main roles were played by Andreev and Bernes. The song from that movie - “Dark night... Only bullets whistle in the steppe...” ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDGLFLKa5o4 ) – was popular and was already being sung, with guitar accompaniment, in our battalion. Of course, we liked the movie very much and I have seen it many times since. But the first time I saw it in liberated Odessa – that was an unforgettable experience. And what about the other song from the same film – “The skiffs brim-full with gray mullet the sailor Kostja brought to port…” ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CebvBldszqM )? One wants to hear these songs over and over.

I made the return journey to my battalion in a railway tank-car. It just so happened that I reached the Odessa goods station by tramway late at night. It was still about 2km to the Tiraspol road. A goods train was standing in the station, which, according to the train conductor, was to go to Razdelnoe station and then via Kuchurgan to Tiraspol. It was a train delivering military equipment to the frontline. I spoke to the train driver and explained that I urgently needed to reach my unit in Kuchergan. He understood and pointed to a 50tonne tank attached behind the tender. I climbed the tank and settled behind the hatch. The weather was very warm. I took off my greatcoat and took out some food. Then the engine SO-20 emitted a low tone from its whistle and the train started rolling. Some familiar stations passed by – Dachnaya, Vigoda – and the train kept rolling without stopping. The tank I was riding was meant for transporting water. The cinder and soot from the steamers smoke gathered on me. I could not open my eyes. I was starting to look like a chimneysweep. Finally the train came to stop in front of a semaphore signal light. I had to do something to counter the smoke. The hatch was not locked and I opening it and noticed that it was possible to settle there, protected rather like being behind the armour of a tank. It was possible because the hole in the hatch had a metal grid fixed inside. Besides, a wooden plank had already been placed there, probably by a previous traveller. It was comfortable. The water was below me in the tank. And I opened the hatch much like tankers do. Just before Razdelnoe the sky suddenly lit up with searchlights, AA guns opened fire – a German air raid on the station. The train slowed down and continued slowly to Razdelnoe. Luckily there was not much damage to the place this time. In the morning I was in Kuchurgan. I washed myself and tidied myself up as much as possible. I delivered the paper to the chief of the headquarters office and returned to my platoon. The soldiers were digging a dugout for the whole platoon. The work was progressing well and in the evening we had made a huge hole in the ground. We fixed the roof and covered it with earth. For the plank beds the trophy wooden ammunition boxes were used. Cosy and cool. The next day we started the dugout meant for the kitchen. Our cook was an old Cossack from the Don, a jolly and tireless man. He could make a good meal out of the most basic ingredients. The ration was not bad, according to the frontline norm: 600 grams of bread, sugar, tea, American spam or lard. With such ingredients, no matter what you cook, it would taste good. Kulesh was especially good – a soup made of millet or pearl-barley with consistency of a thin porridge and richly seasoned with fatty American spam. In those days it was the pinnacle of every soldier’s culinary desire.

Our work during that time was not complicated – guarding the chemicals and the captured ammunition dump encircled by one layer of barbed wire. There were many guard posts and we were short of people. It meant a shift almost every day or night. Back in Razdelnoe I received a rifle as my personal weapon. It was an old slit Mosin rifle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosin-Nagant ). Obviously, I was in no way satisfied. I wanted a PPSh submachine gun (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PPSh-41 ), which I one day accidentally found in a ditch near Kuchurgan station. I still wonder how it got there. The 71-round drum magazine was empty. I took care of it, cleaned and oiled it. And to get hold of appropriate ammunition was not a problem at all: we unloaded the ammunition boxes.
[ to be continued ]
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Old 15 Jul 08, 10:36
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Quote:
- 13 -

There was a soldier from Odessa in our platoon – Chernenko. Once his wife came to visit him – she found our location after Chernenko sent her a note by means of a passing truck on its way to Odessa. We had to arrange a separate family dugout for that couple. We made a stove right under the open sky and let them use the kitchen dugout.

One of our amusements was using the captured German firing pins with detonators from the antipersonnel land mines. We pulled practical jokes on each other by mining most peculiar places: plank beds, mess tins, back sacks, benches and even toilets. They could not cause any harm because we only used the detonators which looked like brass heads with primers of a shotgun shell.
I noticed that there were wild hares in the field around us and I one day I managed to hit one with my PPSh; a big grey hare. After that the guys asked me to go hunting – it seems they did not object to having delicious game for dinner. All in all I think I bagged about eight until all of them were hunted down in the immediate vicinity.

Once in July, together with five other soldiers, I was sent to assist in the chemical readiness courses for the officers. The course involved the different chemicals being used in the war: bottles with incendiary fluids, flamethrowers, smoke grenades, means of chemical protection against poisons and so on. The exercise was conducted in the field with practical application of the aforementioned substances and devices. There I could for the first time see in action our Soviet backpack flamethrower. And I had myself chance to throw incendiary bottles against a tank mock up model as well as set up a smoke charges for setting up a smoke screen. If I am not mistaken this exercise took place in the county of Domaneevsky.

In July the whole battalion was put on alert and marched to the next station at Migaevo. Then after a sleepover we were marched back to our old location. This happened several times. It all seemed a senseless waste of our energy and indifference on the part of our senior officers. Only after the war, after reading the memoirs of the commanders of the 3rd Ukrainian front, it became clear to me why our unit as well as many others had to do that job. It was done to deceive the enemy’s land and air reconnaissance. The goal was to make it look like the troops were moving to a specific sector of the front line. Later the effort proved to be indispensable – the enemy did not expect the strike on the Kitzkansky bridgehead. For a number of reasons the enemy was convinced that this bridgehead was of no real operational value.

There was an old man from Odessa in our platoon. He suffered from poor eyesight and an ulcer. He was often sick and this was a burden for the platoon. The officers decided to send him to the Filatovskaya clinic in Odessa. I was assigned to accompany him. So I had another chance to visit Odessa, but this time we were given a car from our battalion and I only spent couple of hours with Olga.

At the end of July three companies from our battalion were relocated for an unspecified period near Migaevo Station. For the purposes of deception we were ordered to set up camp outside the settlement and start digging the fox holes and trenches. Near the station a large storage dump was arranged containing only empty boxes. Trucks and cargo trains came with those empty boxes. All of it was openly unloaded in the broad day light, under the eye of the German “frames” (Frame – Russian nick name for the German FW 189 recognisance airplane), which patrolled over the front line from dawn till dusk. Two ferocious night bombing raids were conducted against Razdelnoe and Karpovka. The targets were already alight because during the day the Germans had dropped incendiaries before the bombing. The whole night sky was covered with AA tracers and searchlights. For about an hour the explosions of the bombs could be heard from Razdelnoe and the fire raged the rest of the night. When we arrived the next day there was still a burning train loaded with ammunition – the explosions preventing us from starting work. We expected another raid would be mounted to disrupt the reparatory work, but God had mercy on us. We also expected that our dummy storage dump may be attacked and we organised special shelters.
[ to be continued ]

Last edited by Egorka; 16 Jul 08 at 04:23..
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Quote:
- 14 -

During one of the company’s meeting I was voted into the Komsomol ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komsomol ). The head of our Komsomol cell was my friend Sashka Shefatov (remark: see top photo on the attached picture). I still have his photograph, which I have appended to the text. He was born and raised on the Don in a Cossack family. He lost an eye as a child and was cleared from military duty. He was called up after the Battle of Stalingrad. I tried to locate him after the war but in vain. The area of his khutor ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khutor ), Zaharovo, was flooded by a reservoir during the construction of the Volga-Don canal.

The decisions of our meetings were to be approved by political department of the 3rd Ukrainian Front. One August day I, together with three other new Komsomol members, was called to the political department office located in Berezovka.

I will never forget my conversation with the major, the Secretary of Komsomol of the 3rd Ukrainian Front. First, he asked me for a brief outline of my biography. Finding that I was stuck in Odessa during the occupation, he started questioning me:
- “You, comrade Klimov… why did not you open fire the first time you saw that there was an enemy, a Fascist, in front of you?”
- “I was not conscripted into the army. I was not armed.”
- “Does one necessarily have to be armed for that? There are thousand of other ways to fight. Why did you not take a hand grenade, a rifle or a machine gun and open fire?
“You are entering the Komsomol’s ranks, you serve in the Soviet Army. Are you ready to dedicate yourself wholly to Victory?”
- “Yes, I am ready.” - was my reply.
- “But you already had a chance to show yourself in front of an enemy and you did not take it. How can you be trusted that it will not happen again?”
- “I have understood and have had the chance to think over many things.”
He started telling me about some Komsomol activists from “Molodaya Gvardia” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_G..._resistance%29 ) from Krasnodon which I knew nothing about back then. Seems as he was well informed about those resistance fighter, or maybe he was even connected to them.
- “Well, let us say that you are now admitted into the ranks of the Komsomol” – he said at the end.
( remark: On the attached picture: bottom left – Komsomol membership papers. Bottom right – Photo of Yurii Klimov taken in Rumania on the 30 Dec 1944. )

At the beginning of August we got good news – the opening of the Second Front by the Americans and English. (remark: A little time line mix up. ) This news gave us even more confidence in the imminent defeat of the Hitlerites. Tank brigades under the cover of night began arriving at our station and hastily unloaded their material. We were pleased to see their armour and the long calibre guns. The heavy artillery and “Katyusha” rocket launchers also arrived. We were exhausted, working day and night to unload the ammunition boxes from the train cars. Everything indicated that soon our Front would see some action. In the middle of August near the station … (remark: blank space. ) companies from our battalion were involved in a land sweep intended to capture German parachutists-saboteurs allegedly dropped in our rear. There was even a description of the enemy’s radio operator. From early morning to the late night we swept the area, walking in a line 20-30 meters apart. We walked the fields, forests, and ravines. In the settlements after setting up guard on the perimeter we thoroughly searched every structure, every cellar, every garret and every barn. It was all in vain! But they must be somewhere? Later after the war, I understood that it was part of a planned deception operation - the falce direction of the intended ofensive was fed to the enemy. In order to avoid chances of him checking the real level of our troop concentration on this false direction we had to sweep the area.

On the morning 20th of August the mighty roar of the salvos came from the direction of the front line.
[ to be continued ]
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Old 22 Jul 08, 17:35
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Quote:
- 15 -

On the morning 20th of August the mighty roar of the salvos came from the direction of the front line. They came like ocean waves – one moment they would die out but only to re-emerge with new force in another place. In the beginning the cannonade could also be heard from the front stretch north of Tiraspol, near town Dubasari. But the main thrust was conducted from the bridgehead, which was cleared on the other side of Dniester in the area of Moldavian settlement Kitzkany, south of Tiraspol. General Tolbuhin’s plan succeeded – the thrust was strong and unexpected by the enemy. The tanks and motorised infantry rushed into the breach. The swift advance of the 3rd and 2nd Ukrainian fronts had begun. The result was the defeat of the German forces in the area of Kishinev and Iasi. At the end of the 23rd of August the Soviet mobile groups reached the outskirts of the Romanian capital – Bucharest. The Romanian king, Michael I, a young handsome officer of my age, overthrew the government grovelling before Hitler and asked for peace. Michael I later received from Stalin order of “Victory” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Victory) – the only Soviet diamond covered order that was given to a monarch. His service was described shortly – “for courageous act which lead to Romania’s withdrawal from the war”.

Our battalion was urgently relocated to the Tiraspol suburbs – khutor Blizhny. Tiraspol, whish was a front line town just three days ago, now was in deep rear. The civilian life begun to re-emerge. In Blizhny our unit occupied all of the buildings: one storey school was used for barracks, farmyard sheds, the previously existed Kolhoz office, and the private houses. The town’s commandant ordered all the military units residing in the town and suburbs to organise around the clock patrolling. Our squad was sent for the guarding duty in accord with the order. Tiraspol in those days was flooded with columns of Romanian and German POW captured in encirclement at Kishinev.

According to the schedule I had to take the guarding duty at the battalion’s guardhouse from the midnight to four a.m. Already before the offensive all the automatic weapons were collected in our battalion. It was in need in the first place for the soldiers who were to break through the German defence. And so my PPSh was collected too and I instead was again given an ordinary rifle with a four edged bayonet. I never had ordinary cartridges in my belt. Unloading cartridges I always got only armour piercing-incendiary, tracers or explosive ones, which bullet point market with red.

Sergeant, who the guard commander that night, led us to our posts. I got the guardhouse post as planned. The guardhouse was a small structure, either a sauna or a shed, under a two sloped roof, without windows and a small door. It was located outside of the khutor on the edge of a bush covered ravine. There were two or three soldiers from our battalion placed in the guardhouse. They got penalty for disciplinary misdemeanour. The place was dark and not illuminated. The weather was still and sultry. The “punished” were already asleep. The door was locked; the key was in the guard commander’s possession.

While I was there my mind wandered and I recalled my father and mother who I had not seen in four long years. Recently I had begun to receive letters from them on a regular basis. They were alive and healthy, both had jobs. My father had become head of studies at the newly opened pedagogical school in Petuhovo. I wished I could be there to visit them, just for a day – to see and hear everything for myself, to meet old childhood friends. My mother wrote that Tema Mikov had left for a flying school in Kurgan. He passed out at the end of 1941 and was sent to the frontline near Tula or Kaluga. He was not lucky. His IL-2 was shot down on the very first sorty. (remark: Information from the death certificate accessible on the online RKKA casualty database - “Anatoly Ivanovitch Mikov, second lieutenant of the 624 ground-attack aviation regiment, died 5th of June 1943 in crash at the airfield Volintsevo in Tula region, buried in Village Volintsevo.“) This is the sad story of my best friend. Mother also wrote that my sister, Tanja, was studying in Petropavlovsk in an institute evacuated from Moscow. I was impressed that my sister, like me, was studying land management. In 1943 the institute returned to Moscow, to the original office at 15 Kazakova Street. The institute's name was “Institute Of Land Use Planning” (http://www.guz.ru/index.phtml?lang=eng), or MIIZ for short (remark: this is the Russian acronym for the “Institute Of Land Use Planning”). I already knew of its existence; a couple of students from our group had moved there from our institute in Odessa in 1940. One of them was a girl from Moscow – Kravchiskaya. Our paths were to cross again after the war when we met at MIIZ.

My reverie was suddenly interrupted by the approach of a group of people who I could not recognise in the darkness.
- Halt! Who goes there? – I challenged.
- It is us! – came the reply, followed by the password.
I recognised the voice of our guard commander. Apart from him and two other patrol soldiers there were two men dressed in civil clothes. They were mumbling something incoherent in either the Moldavian or Rumanian language. It was clear that they were pretty drunk. The guard commander took out the key, intending to open the door and place the detainees inside with our soldiers. But those categorically objected because there was not enough room inside. Then the guard commander made a decision to leave the two detainees outside the guardhouse until the morning. The "Rumanian saboteurs”, as the guard commander called them, had been stopped by our patrol. They had tried to run and when stopped again attempted to resist the patrol by threatening them with a bayonet. They had neither a pass nor any other kind of documentation on them.

They were made to lie on some rush mats next to the guardhouse door. Leaving, the guard commander earnestly warned me that I would bear my full responsibility for the detainees. If they escaped it, would be on my head. He was convinced these really were not ordinary people and therefore ordered me to be extra careful. Saying this, he and the rest of the patrol left. It was about two o’clock in the morning.
[ to be continued ]
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Old 24 Jul 08, 05:27
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Originally Posted by Egorka View Post
Hello,

My granddad, Yurii V. Klimov (1922-2002), left 3 volumes of hand writen memoirs. More than 1000 pages including photographs where he describes his life from the childhood in a tiny Sibirian town until the retirement in Moscow. During the war he was in occupation in the city of Odessa until april 1944. After he was in RKKA the second line troop delivering the munition to the frontline. He was in Romania, Yugoslavia and ended the war in Hungary. After the war he studied in Moscow in the "Institute of Geodesy, Aerial photography and Cartography". He was working in the area of the soil recourse management for agricultural and industrial purposes.

I started to convert them into electronic format. So far I inserted only first 40 pages.
You can get a taste of it in the following Russian links:

* part 1: http://egorka-datskij.livejournal.com/42044.html
* part 2: http://egorka-datskij.livejournal.com/43820.html
* part 3: http://egorka-datskij.livejournal.com/54914.html
* part 4: coming soon

And you can get a taste of it in English in these couple of places:

* quote 1: http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/show...491#post100491
* quote 2: http://www.ww2incolor.com/forum/show...951#post121951

The question is do you want me to translate some parts of it into Eglish and place in the forum?
I need to know how many people are interested as it is not so easy for me to translate it. It also takes much time...



My grandfather Also had memiors.....


Its about 1000 pages too.


But not electornic.


oh, and use a electronic translater.


those work.
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Old 24 Jul 08, 05:58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SUBLIMEinfinity View Post
My grandfather Also had memiors.....
Its about 1000 pages too.
But not electornic.
oh, and use a electronic translater.
those work.
Hello!
It would be very interesting to read them! What did your granddad do? Also in WW2.
And my advice: make an electronic copy one way or an other. At least make a photo copy of the pages. This way you can have a back up.
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Old 29 Jul 08, 18:15
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Quote:
- 16 -

My “saboteurs” started to converse quietly. Since I knew many Romanian words, I understood that they were planning to escape. It alarmed me. Holding my rifle in my hands, I walked back and fourth five meters away from where they were laying. It was dark, but the two grey figures could be distinguished on the light mats. At one point when I was in front of them, one of the men rose on his knees and said: “Tovarischul! Comrade! Eu vreu merzhi a kasa. Povtim!” – “Comrade, let us go home. Please!
- Zhos! – I shouted at them. (Down. Do not get up.)
And I turned my rifle on him. But the one who was just talking suddenly rose up onto his feet and grabbed the bayonet with both hands… I sensed his strong hands pulling the rifle. There was no time for hesitation – I realised it immediately. Every split second would be decisive in the outcome of the duel.
- Stop! Do not move! I will fire!
I shouted, this time in Russian, and pulled the rifle back hard simultaneously jumping three – four steps backwards. Despite his two-handed grip he did not managed to keep hold of it – the Russian four edged bayonet is to thin for that ( http://1.1.1.5/bmi/world.guns.ru/rifle/mosinbayo.jpg ). Clanking the bolt forward, I armed the rifle and fired without aiming… at the attacker. Then again one shot after another, but this time above their heads. Two tracers went flying high into the night sky – this meant the alarm and a call for the guard commander. He and two other guards came very quickly. Their tramping could be heard all over the sleeping village.

At the commander’s order I gave a brief report: assault and attempted escape. He pointed his flashlight at the detained… Something was quietly squelching, like a little stream… A large bloodstain on he rush mat. His legs and lower torso were on the ground, hands wide spread to the sides… The guard commander examined the second detainee, but he was lying down without any sign of life. Both of them killed with one bullet – the thought flashed in my mind. But the patrol soldiers managed to bring him round and establish that he was alive.
The “prisoners” in the guardhouse woke up and kept asking the commander about the events outside. There were maybe 30 minutes left of my watch. I was relieved and we went to the guard quarters. I placed the rifle in the weapon pyramid ( http://www.nortfort.ru/kaur/foto_sn12.html ) and undressed preparing to sleep. But I could not close my eyes. The guard commander and other soldiers asked me again and again about the night’s events. No one had any idea who those men were or why they had come or what they were doing near our position. Very early the next morning the commander left to go to headquarters, probably to report on the incident. My troubled slumber was interrupted by the guard commander and a captain – the headquarters officer. He gave orders to place me under arrest. My belt, shoulder marks, and puttees were taken from me by the guard commander and placed in the safe box. Now the problem was where to place me for the arrest – the guardhouse was full. The solution was found in a small storeroom next to the school building. The door was closed on a latch and a guard was placed outside. The guard commander and the officers explained to me that this measure was necessary until the investigation came to a conclusion. In the afternoon an official from the public prosecutor’s office in Tiraspol arrived – a very young woman, almost a teenager. She was an investigator. Records of formal questioning were assembled as well as an inspection of the rifle. The questioning was long and many questions were asked.
I remember some of them. Apparently they seemed natural to the official but they dragged the investigation onto a false track:
- Did you know the detainees?
- Why did you apply deadly force without a warning shot?
- Why did you use a fragmentation round?
- Why did not you use your bayonet instead of shooting?
- Why were the detainees not placed inside the guardhouse?
- What did the detainees talked about?
- What are the details of the assault?

All the points were checked many times. I remember that she took a handkerchief out of her purse and wiped the bayonet trying to establish if this rifle had been fired recently. In the first day our officers found out everything about the detained men. It was all very straightforward: the two “saboteurs” were two Moldavian workers mobilized for work on the nearby airfield, old family men. The previous evening they had left their unit without permission to visit a woman on the outskirts of Tiraspol. They got very drunk and while returning to their unit were arrested by our patrol. Both were from a village close to Kishinev. The nature of their innocent prank and my actions towards them shed some doubt on the legality of my action as a guard. At that time the military prosecutor’s office had already moved on behind the front line and according to rumours was already in Kishinev.

The public prosecutor’s office that investigated my case was leaning to the conclusion that I had committed “use of excessive force in self-defence”. According to the criminal code of those days it could mean up to three years in prison. My commanders, seeing that it might end badly, decided instead to address the case to the military prosecutor of the 3rd Ukrainian Front. It is worth mentioning that there was an apparent breech of the regulations as the detainees were not placed inside a guardhouse and were ordered to be guarded in the open.
[ to be continued ]

Last edited by Egorka; 30 Jul 08 at 04:22..
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Old 29 Jul 08, 18:38
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Originally Posted by Egorka View Post
I need to know how many people are interested as it is not so easy for me to translate it. It also takes much time...
And of course time is money. Is there any (easy) way to make a donation to this obviously worthy endeavour?
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Old 29 Jul 08, 18:45
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Originally Posted by General Staff View Post
And of course time is money. Is there any (easy) way to make a donation to this obviously worthy endeavour?
Donation? Hummm... I like that!
But I guess a couple of tender words would do.
As russian saying goes: Kind word even a cat can appreciate.

Last edited by Erkki; 29 Jul 08 at 19:31.. Reason: Sorry sorry, I pressed the wrong key
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Old 29 Jul 08, 19:35
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Donation? Hummm... I like that!
But I guess a couple of tender words would do.
As russian saying goes: Kind word even a cat can appreciate.
Then carry on soldier.
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Old 07 Aug 08, 08:17
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Quote:
- 17 -

The result of the interrogation of the other Moldavian was not in my favour: he denied any escape attempt and any assault on a guard. The soldiers locked in the guardhouse were not considered to be direct witnesses and their testimony did not clarify the situation for the investigators. The victim’s autopsy supported my testimony: shot from a distance of four metres, bullet entered the thorax in the area of the heart and exited in fragments from the back. The bullet’s path indicated that the victim was on his feet and his torso fully turned in my direction, which corresponded to a posture during an assault…

After about four days, I was escorted to the military prosecutor’s office in Kishinev under the guard of Lieutenant Asyamochkin and two soldiers from our battalion. Unfortunately at around that time my bad leg started to hurt. The feeling was familiar to me from my childhood. A new abscess was forming on my right thigh in the area affected by the poliomyelitis. At first it doesn’t hurt and doesn’t hinder walking, but with time the pain gets sharper and after 10 – 15 days reaches the stage where the leg gets swollen and walking becomes impossible. We crossed Tiraspol, then a large village – Tarkani, then over a pontoon bridge across the Dniester. When we reached Bendery we halted for lunch. Lieutenant Asyamochkin had been in the forces since the autumn of 1941 and was from Omsk, where he had left his wife and children. Learning that I came from Petuhovo and that my parents were teachers living in Siberia, he immediately considered me to be his “fellow Siberian” [remark: Petuhovo and Omsk are actually rather far apart]. He gave me back my shoulder marks, puttees and the belt, which strictly speaking was forbidden by the regulations. Yet what else could he do to make things easier for his fellow countryman? This also made it easier for my escort – they did not have to follow some of the formalities, which otherwise they would have to observe while escorting a prisoner. Now we just appeared like four servicemen and no one would guess that this group was a prisoner under escort. In the evening we reached a big village. We procured some grape wine from the local innkeeper – Asyamochkin was a master in these matters. We had wine and food and slept on the floor in one of the rooms. Everyone was happy – to spend a few days away from base – every soldier’s dream. We all enjoyed our sudden freedom.

In Kishinev we found lodgings in a house with a big garden on the southern outskirts of the town. This was the season for pears and there were so many of them that they covered the ground under the trees. While we were having breakfast, Lieutenant Asyamochkin left with a dispatch to find the prosecutor’s office. Obviously, I was again without my belt and shoulder marks. He returned very quickly. The military prosecutor’s office had moved two days earlier and according to the rumours was now located in Izmail, or maybe in Constanta. On the way back we came across the town market. We were impressed by the abundance and cheapness of the fruits and wine. We had some grape wine and caught a “Studebaker” going in our direction – soon we were again in the vicinity of our battalion. On the way we noticed large columns of German and Rumanian POWs. They were being escorted to Tiraspol, where several POW camps were located. The railway to Kishinev was still under repair and soldiers were working day and night fixing the tracks and the bridges. It had all been blown up by the Germans during their retreat. To this day I remember and will never forget the sight that only a war can produce: the corpse of a German squashed on the asphalt, maybe by a tank column. It had been flattened to a pancake by the passing trucks. No one bothered to take him away. It was causing no hindrance to the traffic but it was a horrific sight!

My leg was hurting and I limped noticeably. Yet I was placed again into solitary confinement. I was there for two days, with time to reflect on my situation. The veterans said that I would not escape the fate of being sentence to a penal battalion. I was mentally ready for that. In the long hours of solitude I thought of my youth when my parents lived and worked in Kamishlov, then Sverdlovsk, a two-storey house made of logs and situated in a settlement almost exclusively populated by railway workers… the boys who I played “cops and robbers” with… Boria Smirnov - son of the chief train conductor for the route “Sverdlovsk – Mineral Springs”… Volka and Shurka Shipulins, who lived in the adjacent room in our house… their sister Sonya. I well remember their father dressed in the railway uniform with a uniform cap on his head and a railway badge. Their tall and almost deaf mother – she was eternally grumbling with her snuffling voice.
Vitka Nadtochiy – son of the former Austrian POW in WWI who stayed in Russia and served in the Red Army during the Civil War. We shared the same apartment with them – a communal kitchen and toilet.
I recalled the childhood pastimes: riding on the railcars. We travelled like that very often in the summertime to the station “73km”. We also sailed self-made rafts and climbed tall trees. Did it all really happen to me?

And what about me walking alone to the kindergarten? I went through the whole town alone without my parents. It was a real adventure! Many things to see on the way – everything was exciting for me! Those were good times! I went to school in 1930. Elementary school was located in front of a huge grey granite building. My father worked there – inspector of the schools for the families of workers on the Perm railway net. For the second class I went to another school – closer to our home. They were difficult and hungry times. It cheered me to remember the extra meals we got in school. Pea soup or pea mush. It was delicious! I was not enthusiastic about studying during the primary school years. Something I did not like much. Too much discipline and too little playtime.

My recollections were interrupted. A captain and Lieutenant Asyamochkin opened the door. They told me to dress quickly and to prepare myself for a journey to Tiraspol.
[ to be continued ]
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