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  • "I Remember..."

    Hello,

    As you may know I am putting out parts of my grand-father's memoirs. The process is a bit complicated as I first translate it then send it to SlimFan to correct and then I publish them here. I also have to make sure the pictures are scanned and so on.
    Not always in the evening I have energy to translate large portions of text, but I nonetheless feel like sharing something interesting with you.

    So I decided to open this thread where I will be presenting some short extracts from the RKKA soldier’s accounts which I read everyday. Some of them will be funny, some of them will be very sad... I will try to get somehow remarkable and interesting episodes that you, I hope, will find interesting.

    Most of the accounts are from the website www.iremember.ru

    Ok. Let’s start with few funny ones:
    Arsenij K. Rodkin
    Leutenant. T-34 tank commander. link.

    In 1943 our tank school was awarded the Guards status. In connection with that I recall this funny story. The schools deputy principal was colonel Naumov, a war veteran, very harsh old men. He would never pass by a student without cavilling. Imaging everything about you is in order: uniform according to the service regulations, the boots polished. But do you have required needle and thread in your service cap? No? 5 days of guard house arrest. And at the end he would always add: “You - gobbler”. Shortly after we received the Guard status, he stopped one student and started the routine:
    «Mess again, gobbler». – «No, comrade Guards-colonel, not a gobbler!». – «WHAT!?» – «Guards-Gobbler, comrade colonel!» – «You, son of a bitch, made colonel laugh. Off you go!»
    Then we arrived to town of Rzhev. Our train stopped next to a train with infantry division. Apparently a younger brother of one of our platoon commanders, Ivan Chugunov, was in that very train. What is to be done? The younger one got to be reunited. We rushed to their train leader, coocked up a reference letter and gave him 3 litters of vodka to both the train leader and the station commandant. That is how Vasilij ended together with his brother and they went through the war fighting together. The older Chugunov brother became tank company commander and when in the autumn 1944 we braking from encirclement he distinguished himself and was awarded “Hero of the Soviet Union Star”.
    Later after the war we would tease the younger Vasilij: “Do you remember how we bought you out for 3 vodka bottles?

    Yurii M. Poljanovsky
    Leutenant. T-34 tank commander. link.

    Our unit was the first one to be transferred from Austria back to USSR. At that point we had our own cattle to produce extra rations. Some of our soldiers had herding and milking duties. So during this relocation we received an order to decorate the trucks with banners. So the truck with sheep was decorated with the banner: “Motherland welcomes back her sons.” Later our commander, General Rusianov, told us that he got screwed by the High Command for that. You see, the whole thing was filmed for the news reel.
    Kind regards
    Igor

    * My grandfathers WW2 memoirs - Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, 1944-1945.
    * On the question of "2 mil. rapes" by RKKA
    * Verdicts of RKKA Military Tribunals for crimes against civilians in 1945

  • #2
    Excellent site Egorka, one of the best. Use it myself when I want to educate some of my fellow Westerners.

    Comment


    • #3
      Yurii O. Bem
      Paratrooper, military intelligence. link.

      The platoon leader knew that I wanted to visit my home in Moscow and told me once that they need a type writer for the regimental HQ: "We will give you money and send you to Moscow to purchase a type writer for the HQ office". That is how I visited home during the war.
      ...
      So I bought the type writer and brought it back. And I was reassigned to a position in HQ on the duty of senior intelligence officer.
      Despite the fact that I was working only in HQ I had to parachute jump with my type writer. I told them: "You know, I am so thin that might get gone with the wind".
      They tell me: "Take the type writer - problem solved."
      I also had to jump from a balloon. It is actually much scarier than jumping from a plane. From a plane one can not see the ground. Signal and you get pushed out. But on a balloon the ground is perfectly visible. It gets risen app. 400 meters up and the instructor throws everyone out.
      But I got used to that too. And it is true - jumped with a type writer.
      .....
      Kind regards
      Igor

      * My grandfathers WW2 memoirs - Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, 1944-1945.
      * On the question of "2 mil. rapes" by RKKA
      * Verdicts of RKKA Military Tribunals for crimes against civilians in 1945

      Comment


      • #4
        Arsenij K. Rodkin
        Leutenant. T-34 tank commander. link.

        «Once, while staying in the front second line during the reinforcement, I noticed our seasoned veteran Kostin, who fought in Stalingrad battle in KV tank. I see the freshmen soldiers gathered around him and Kostin tells them about his adventures in during Stalingrad battle: "KV tank armor is THAT thick - WOW! Once Germans gave it to us. I watch the shell - red hot – squeezing further and further through the armor plate in to the tank. I grabbed hammer and smacked it with all the force I had - so it flew away." The freshmen listened to him very attentively - completely green boys. I walked away and burst in laughter.»
        Grigory S. Shishkin
        Leutenant. T-34 tank commander. link.

        «Question: Did you witness that out of fear crew jumped out of the tank while the tank kept rolling ahead?

        Answer: No. But we had a joke about it to tell our freshmen: "I am Sitting in my tank and waiting for orders. Then the order comes to give fire support to our attacking infantry. I fired the gun and - WOW - the tank started rolling ahead. The driver is not pressing the pedals, but the tank is moving! Then we figured it out. Apparently the shell stuck in the gun barrel. But the force it is pulling with is gargantuan!!! So it pulled the gun and therefore the whole tank."
        Some people genuinely believed that.»
        .....
        Kind regards
        Igor

        * My grandfathers WW2 memoirs - Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, 1944-1945.
        * On the question of "2 mil. rapes" by RKKA
        * Verdicts of RKKA Military Tribunals for crimes against civilians in 1945

        Comment


        • #5
          OK, here is one more:
          Aleksader T. Cherepanov
          Fighter pilot. link.

          «The plain with its extra fuel tank was not fit for dog fighting. Both manoeuvrability and the speed suffer. Therefore we would drop them off before the engagement and many pilots dies because of that. The falling fuel tank is an amusing sight. It is spinning in the air. Sometimes it is still full of fuel. When it spins the fuel bursts out in a fountain - looks beautiful. And a pilot may gape at it. A pilot distracted is a shot down pilot. We warned people not to gape and many before him paid the prise. Everything comes with experience. One of us got shot that way and we started warning. A German if he shoots down a plain also looks it burns and follows it down. Interesting what is to happen. So when the attention is distracted you can take an advantage. If you score - do not hesitate and look - go forward. Maybe someone is already on your tail.»
          Kind regards
          Igor

          * My grandfathers WW2 memoirs - Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, 1944-1945.
          * On the question of "2 mil. rapes" by RKKA
          * Verdicts of RKKA Military Tribunals for crimes against civilians in 1945

          Comment


          • #6
            There was thread on another forum about Russians using biological weapon in Stalingrad - Tularemia spread by rodents. Here is a couple of related quotes :
            Philip M. Zharkoy
            Tanker. link.

            «I remember our brigade suffered much from tularemia, which was spread by field mise which were very numerous in the area. To escape we even had to park the truck in the middle of river so that the wheels would be in wather.»
            Feodor F. Arhipenko
            Fighter pilot. Star Hero of Soviet Union. link.

            «Question - How was the pilot's everyday life was arranged?
            Answer - Well, we did not see anything appart from our airfield. As soon as the sun was up we went to the airfield for duty. When the sun went down we went back to the nearest village where a pile of hay covered with tarpaulin awated us. That is it! And we slept very well. Except near Stalingrad mise did not leave us alone and did not let us sleep. So we slept in turns - one is sleept, the other keept mise off with a stick. You see, the grains harvest was collected but was threshed which contributed to the mise population. Once we went to town of Lipetsk to pick up new YAK planes. We got the planes and I also bought 3 cats on the street marked. We put them into the cabine and flew back.

            On the way back we landed in town of Kalach near Voronezh. An attack plane regiment had that airfield as their base. So we landed - the weather was terrible and we could not continue. We placed guards at the planes, left the cats in the plane cabines and left to the mess for lunch. When we came back the cats were gone! The guard soldier said that the ground attack pilots clumbed into our planes and snatched them. Our whole mob went to visit them. We baraly managed to get them back, it almost ended in fisticufs! They painted them over with ink and claimed those were their own cats!
            The delivered cats were cheered everyone up - the mise problem was solved for good.»
            Last edited by Egorka; 22 Mar 09, 05:12.
            Kind regards
            Igor

            * My grandfathers WW2 memoirs - Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, 1944-1945.
            * On the question of "2 mil. rapes" by RKKA
            * Verdicts of RKKA Military Tribunals for crimes against civilians in 1945

            Comment


            • #7
              More quotes:
              Vitaly I. Klimenko
              Fighter pilot. link.

              « On Saturday June 21, 1941 we were in town of Šiauliai (Lithuania) - went out with some girls. So young we were - 20 years! I was acquainted with a beautiful girl, barber, Lithuanian, Ms.Valerie Bunita. We agreed that on Sunday I will take leave, and we will go for a walk near Rikevoz lake. At this time we were in the summer camp and lived in tents near the airfield – there were war game going on. I woke up at five in the morning and thought to leave early for breakfast and then to pick up Valerie and to go together to the lake. Suddenly I hear aircraft buzzing approaching. They were some I-15 from the third squadron on duty standing on the airfield.
              The first thought was that it is a air strike arranged by our opponents in the war game and our on duty wing missed them.

              I opened the tents and saw the “crosses” over my head in the sky and the machine gun fire trace going over our tent line. I shouted: «Guys, war!» – «Oh, get lost, what are you talking about!» - «Look yourself – air strike!». Every one jumped out. We already had dead and wounded. I pulled my pilot’s overall and run to the hangar and commanded to my technician: «Roll out the plane». In the mean while all our on duty fighters were already burning on the airfield. I took off. I went around the airfield I did not know what to do, where to fly! Suddenly one our fighter comes close to me and rocked the wings – “Attention! Follow me!” I recognized Alexander Bukach, another wing commander. We flew towards the German border. The defenses at the border were pierced and the German columns were advancing, fires around. Alexander opened fire and started ground strike. I followed him. The advancing German columns were so dense that it was even possible to miss. For some reason there wasn’t any anti-aircraft fire. I was afraid to loose my wing leader – was afraid to get lost! We made two attacks and went home, landed and rolled into the hangar.

              A car come from the HQ: «Did you just fly?» - «Yes, us». – «Report immediately to the HQ». Ok, went to HQ. The regiment commander: «You are under arrest and to be placed in the guard house. Pilot’s license revoked. Who gave you permission to open fire? Do you know what is happening? Well, I don’t know either. Maybe it is some kind of provocation? Do you know whose columns those were? Maybe those were our forces?». I am thinking: «WTF! Loosing officer rank just like that! I just have been home! Lieutenant! All the girls were mine! And now how can I show up as private!?»

              When Molotov delivered his speech broadcast at 12:00 we suddenly were turned from criminals into heroes. We were worried big time! Our losses were big – many planes were burned on the ground, the hangers burned too. Out of the whole regiment, we ere the only ones who gave any resistance before any orders arrived.»
              Kind regards
              Igor

              * My grandfathers WW2 memoirs - Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, 1944-1945.
              * On the question of "2 mil. rapes" by RKKA
              * Verdicts of RKKA Military Tribunals for crimes against civilians in 1945

              Comment


              • #8
                here is one more:
                Nikolai E. Bespalov
                Fighter pilot. link.

                «The way we introduced new pilots into the action was a as follows: let’s say there is 6 planes are in air, this means 5 experienced ones and one newbie. In our squadron we had 5 experienced pilots, 5 Heroes of Soviet Union: Timoshenko, Saveliev, Voloshin, Michail Zabirin and Himushin.

                When Eugene [Savelyev] got Hero of SU he went to Moscow to receive the Star. We met him on his way back in the town of Borisoglebsk. There was a beer factory which produced handsome, delicious beer, but it was not sold in the shops to the public. So what we did is we hanged all our medals on the Eugene’s [Savelyev] uniform and sent him to the factory director. When he saw Eugen, the only thing the director said was: “How much do you need?” – “A keg.” And it was immidiately rolled out for him.»
                Last edited by Egorka; 01 Apr 09, 04:27.
                Kind regards
                Igor

                * My grandfathers WW2 memoirs - Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, 1944-1945.
                * On the question of "2 mil. rapes" by RKKA
                * Verdicts of RKKA Military Tribunals for crimes against civilians in 1945

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thank you for these. Приятно прочитать.

                  Scott Fraser
                  Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

                  A contentedly cantankerous old fart

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    one more... this time not a funny one...
                    Leo S. Sverdlov
                    Engineer (explosives expert). link.

                    Question: How were the Germans taken to captivity? How did the RKKA soldiers treated them?
                    Answer: «There is a commom saying that Germans are the people of discipline. So after they received the order about the capitulation, they laid down weapons and in organised manner, lined up and under the command of its officers and without complaints, marched into the captivity as if they were good little boys.

                    Certainly, there were exceptions, and "Werewolf" fired at us after the May month, but, in essence, the former warriors of Wehrmacht immediately subdued to the fate and their defeat. It struck my memory, as two our officer said, that once in Danzig they saw a POW column. Some German women on the pavement greeted and cheered. Our officers were astonished by their and asked one of them: " Why are you so glad?", on that they heard: "Wait, in another 20 years Germany will show itself again! "»

                    Question: But what was our soldiers treatment of those surrendering?
                    Answer: «In 1945 no one longer touched prisoners. If on Narev bridgehead, I saw with my own eyes, how our T-34 ramed in full speed into the marching POW column smashed them without pity, then in 1945, we didn't kill prisoners.

                    Only Poles from AK troops continued to vandalize indiscriminately. And when in Danzig, Poles dealt shortly with the local Germans, shot prisoners and in front of everyone pushed civilian Germans out of top floor windows, we immediately interceded, but Poles with anger shouted at us in responce: "Whom you do feel sorry for!? They completely destroyed your entire country", and we them told that we indeed not fascists and it cannot do the same as those beasts…

                    In spring 1945 some other unusual event occurred. A 3 meters tall barricade stands on the road being defended by "Folksshturm". The ground on both sides road is flooded by water and unpassable. Our officer, I think his name was Titov, went as truce flag bearer to the barricade and came back accompanied by 28 armed German boys, all born in 1929, among them several injured.

                    Young boys were all having characteristic short back and side haircut. Then our chief of staff officer Baranovskiy arrived, looked at them, and ordered to take away their weapon and send everyone home, which was done immidiately... Compare to another situation. A large barn stands before us. It is used as hide out by a gang of "Vlasov army" members. They fire at as to the last bullet. Here is no room for discussion. Every single one of them was killed - no one was in the mood take them prisoner.

                    But, even now, recalling the thousands rows long POW columns, it is difficult to me to say that the Germans moral was broken and that they lost fighting spirit at end of the war. That is on the Western Front they didn't really resist since Februrary 1945, but with us they fought ntil the very last day.

                    Another story from the environs of Danzig. A German crossed over to us saying that he was delegated by a German company to negotiate surrender of the whole unit. But Germans wanted guarantees, that they wouldn't be harmed, and they requested one of our scouts to go over to them to be a conductor and a hostage. So that the scout together with another truce flag bearer would later lead the German company to the captivity.

                    I was present during the examination of German, then I went to the rear for some duties, but it I was restless and felt, that something was fishy about it. I found the nearest field telephone and called the battalion cheif of staff, with The Bbaranovsky, and expressed to him my doubts about the sincerity of the delegate. Baranovskiy said that he has same doubts as I. In two days, during night, the battalion of Germans, more than 500 people, attempted to break through to the sea coast, where from their were supposed to be picked up by boats. But our OPAB (detached artillery and machine gun batallion) met those attacking the wall of fire. Only 12 of them survived, whom we took prisoner. Later we were told by our HQ staff that the Germans admited that the whole story about the delegate was a deception conducted with one purpose only: to get hold of our intelligence officer and force intel out of him on our defence positions and breakthrough the most suitable sector. Since their plan to get a prisoner failed , then they decided to rush in frontal attack.»
                    Last edited by Egorka; 07 Aug 09, 05:22.
                    Kind regards
                    Igor

                    * My grandfathers WW2 memoirs - Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, 1944-1945.
                    * On the question of "2 mil. rapes" by RKKA
                    * Verdicts of RKKA Military Tribunals for crimes against civilians in 1945

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      a fresh one... just from the blogging stream...
                      Dmitry I. Rotar
                      Communication, later in tank crew. link.

                      Question: Dmitry Ivanovitch, what did you get the order of "Red Star" for?
                      Answer: «That happened near Kharkov. I started my service near Kursk, but in August 1943 our rifle regiment was moved for attack in Kharkov direction. When we approached the city, the regiment got order to take control over a suburban area. The air recognizance reported that the Germans already left that area and that we should move in. But our battalion commander decided not to take chances and sent forward a scout unit. I and my mate assisted them operated a radio station and accompanied the scout team. The radio we had was good one. It was a Soviet made with range of up to 50km.

                      So we entered the suburb and it indeed was quiet. Nobody is around. So we entered a two storey house and settled in. Suddenly out of nowhere a local woman rushed in: "Sons! Why have you come here!? The Germans in here are everywhere!" We looked to back yard and - oh, Dear Mother of God! - it was flooded with Germans, a whole convoy had arrived. And the Germans are already running all over the place - all the escape routes were cut off! What to do? We quickly sniked into the loft and called the artillery fire on our own coordinates. We bid farewell to each other. In few minutes the volley of shells came down on us. The whole area was hacked into pieces, all Germans were killed, and nobody survived. But we were lucky. No one of us got killed, even though we had no chances.
                      Basically, after that the whole platoon was awarded.»
                      Last edited by Egorka; 07 Aug 09, 05:09.
                      Kind regards
                      Igor

                      * My grandfathers WW2 memoirs - Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, 1944-1945.
                      * On the question of "2 mil. rapes" by RKKA
                      * Verdicts of RKKA Military Tribunals for crimes against civilians in 1945

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You have no idea, how happy I'm to read these stories, back in Czechoslovakia, it was always "heroic Soviet soldiers did this and that" but no individual details like this.
                        Also now I now, that one of the explosive expert engineer's name was Sverdlov. In our town, there were signs on many buildings" Min nyet", it was a sign that the building was inspected and is was cleared of explosives, by the people like Sverdlov, mentioned above

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I stumbled a couple of times in memoirs on incidents as described here.
                          Are there any reports on this in German sources???
                          Mephodij I. Zhezhel
                          Tank driver. link

                          Here (on Don river in 1941) such an episode ocured. German armour forces attmpted to force the river Don supported by their air forces. Out 58th tank Brigade left a KV tank on the midle of the crossing. The tank was manned by the crew but with engine turned off. The tank driver in the crew was seargant Kapustin. A first German tank entered the crossing and approached the KV. The Germans desided that the tank was abandoned by the crew. Germans hooked on to KV and tried to pull away the booty. But Kapustin depressed the clutch and and the KV was unmoveable. The second German tank came to help. As soon as they also attached their tank, Kapustin started the engine and started pulling both German tanks to our side.
                          As soon aas KV rolled to the river bank it stopped leaving the German tank on the crossing blocking it completely. Those of the Germans who jumped out of the tanks were downed by the smal arms fire and the remained were captured. Kapustin was awarded "Order of the Red Banner" for this.
                          I met with Kapustin after the war. He lived in the neighboring town.
                          Kind regards
                          Igor

                          * My grandfathers WW2 memoirs - Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, 1944-1945.
                          * On the question of "2 mil. rapes" by RKKA
                          * Verdicts of RKKA Military Tribunals for crimes against civilians in 1945

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I did not know you had a thread devoted to I remember, Egorka.

                            Here is one I translated.
                            Fedorchuk, Fedor Fedorovich

                            I was born on 10 August 1927, in the small village of Ripki, in Izyaslav district, Vinnitsya province in the Ukraine (the district is now considered part of Khmel'nitskiy province). My parents were middle peasants, having 2 horses and 4 acres of land to their name. I had three brothers, the youngest being born in 1930. During the famine of 1933-1934, my father was unable to pay the bread tax due to the poor harvest. As a result, government officials arrived and made an inventory of the property. I was 6 years old but I remember the event well. It was winter, our horses were harnessed to a sleigh, and they began to ride off with the property from our lodgings. But what possessions could a peasant family have? Well, my mother had a sewing machine and some pillows and cushions if that. Although many things were left behind, they took the sewing machine and placed it on the sleigh. My father, however, had already opened the casing, removed the metal workings, and then closed the machine back up. He hid the pieces “in the hill”, that is, in the attic. When they opened the casing, there was nothing there. My father was standing on the porch, and they seized him by the collar: “What did you do with it?” Not having answered, they pulled my father by the collar, but he struck one of the expropriators. Then my father crawled into the attic and threw down the parts removed from the sewing machine. What else could he do? They convicted him of hooliganism and gave him a three term in prison. He worked on the Moscow-Volga canal. As it turned out, my father was released early, having served two years, but he returned to nothing; there was no work to be had. In Irkutsk province, in Siberia, however, we had relatives on my mother's side, and they invited my father to move in with them. He departed for Siberia, got set up there, started working, and even sent money for chereviki (Ukrainian: leather boots), something we had never seen before, let alone wore. Afterwards, he wrote our mother: “Come on out here, then...!” And so, our mother and us - her four sons - packed a few items, while our grandfather helped out by selling something or other so that we would have enough for our tickets. In 1935, we left for Siberia.

                            We arrived in Irkutsk, and there I entered the 1st grade. At that time I only spoke Ukrainian, and being unfamiliar with a Russian school, I burst into tears. Soon, however, I became used to the language and started learning. My father was employed as a stoker in the main hotel of the city, as everything was fueled by coal in those days. He remained, however, a peasant at heart and so he decided to move back to the countryside, even though mama was already working as a housemaid while my older brother Dmitrii had settled down and started getting himself established. Our father, however, imposed his will, and as a result we moved to a village outside Irkutsk where father had bought some old wooden barn. The forest around the village was deciduous, and thus the wooden material used was thick and it was warm even in the shed. By 1940, we had built a house and begun to live there, but my father did not have time to feel at home in it as the war began in 1941.

                            On June 22nd, 1941, the announcement was made that we had been attacked by Germany. We, still young lads, were delighted at first and let loose with a shout of urrah! But then they suddenly took my father away and the Germans had reached Kiev, and we began to understand that things were not so simple. I had succeeded in finishing only 5 grades of school and was supposed to enter grade 6, when the government issued a proclamation: all 6th grade pupils were to be sent to the REU [District Operations Administration] and the ZhEU [Railway Operations Administration], where we were to learn a trade and then be sent to work, on the either the railways or as apprentices in the factories. My mother said at he time: “Why don't you go, my son. It will better to work in the MTM [Machine and Tractor Works] than to be taken who knows where”. Indeed, we worked in the REU and the ZhEU not out of choice, but simply because we had to. On February 1st, 1942, I left for work in the MTM, where I repaired tractors, but the equipment was varied. I was assigned to a lathe operator, who was working at a meter and a half long work station, equipped with a large clamp for holding the materials being worked on. The lathe was an old model IDIT-300 and for me, as a novice, it was very difficult work. I trained for two months, then the lathe-operator was sent to the front, and I was left to stand at the machine-bench in his place. I would press the button: the carriage would be set in motion, the tail stock would line up, and then I would do everything manually. We would roll everything we could not lift. I am reminded of poet Nekrasov, when he wrote: “Since these years in the factories, we've been turning wheels round round, round...” I was not yet 15 years old, yet we would work twelve hour shifts , changing by the week. One week would be from 8 in the morning to 8 at night, the next from 8 at night to 8 in the morning, with no days off. The bread ration was 400 grams per worker. There was no other choice, however. The MTM had received orders to build a iron casting workshop, a vagranka as it was called – a large cylindrical smelting furnace – where metal ingots were cast and moulded for making shells. The resultant casts were heavy, and in order to set them on the lathe, they had to be lifted, inserted into the chuck, clamped, lined up, and then dusted off. The casts, of course, would arrive directly from the casting workshop and we would only remove surface imperfections and then do preliminary machine work. After that, they would be passed down the line somewhere else for final edging and facing. The work was hard and there was no wasted time in production. On one occasion, I was ordered to clean some automobile intake manifolds of surface imperfections. The imperfections were easily removed and I prepared the manifolds at a quick pace. I turned off my work station and found a warm generator, where – like everyone would do – I curled up and fell asleep. In the morning, the bosses arrived and found the manifolds all prepared and in order, but I was nowhere to be seen. They spent a long time searching for me, but found me all the same. I do not know how they came to this conclusion, but they allegedly accused me of being absent from my work station without authorization. I explained that I had finished everything they had assigned me, but they hammered away at me: “Why were you sleeping? There is work to be done.” I was given a six-month penalty: a 25% reduction in pay – this from wages sufficient only for buying a little bread, with nothing left over for clothing. Another time, I received a metal shaving in my left eye and I headed off to the clinic in Cheremkhovo. The eye doctor took a look, scribbled something down, and then denied me a medical certificate. He had regarded me unfavourably for not having removed my cap as I came in, and when I left, he said to me from the doorway, “You're obviously a Soviet hooligan!” I had to return to work again. Meanwhile, my entire eye turned red. I could endure it no longer, and so on Sunday I asked for leave. The factory officials could see the eye was red and granted my request. Once more, I headed off for Cheremkhovo on foot and arrived at the hospital. The doctor was not there, but there were nurses and interns on call. I wept, asking them to look at my eye. They were no more than girls, but still older than me, of course. They examined me, removed the splinter from my eye, and even showed it to me – it was such a small little thing. They found some ointment, which made my entire pupil expand, but afterward the pain ceased. For some reason, the doctor had not removed the metal shaving, but the nurses explained to me that the doctor was a German. Thus, I am grateful to these young nurses for having saved my eye.

                            In January, we received notice that our father had died, having fallen during the first successful breakthrough of the Leningrad blockade, Operation Iskra. My father died on January 16th, 1943. I was 16 years old in 1943 and I cannot explain the feelings I was experiencing, most likely it was patriotism. I decided to go to the front. I went to the recruitment office and stated that my father had been killed, but they denied my request: “You're still young. When you're a little older, we'll take you”. On August 10th, 1944, I turned 17. Three of the boys in our village had received their papers for military service, but not me. Again, I went to the recruitment office and they asked me: “Well, what do you want?” I stated, “I want to be given my papers, and I will not refuse any assignment”. I went to the administration of the MTM and they granted me leave. Four days later, I was in the army. They sent me to the same town of Cheremkhovo, located some 10 kilometers from our village. There was a coal-field there at the time, and even some mines, albeit small. Generally, one simply needed to open the ground and rake up the coal. From Cheremkhvo, we boarded a train to Irkutsk and spent the night in some building. We were then shipped out east. While on the train, we received nothing to eat. Naturally, I dreamed about going west, but the situation now demanded we head eastwards. We arrived the rail station of Domna, where there was a field school for gunners and radio operators on bomber aircraft, but no one was released from the train. We were sent further down the track to the Manchurian spur line, to station halt No. 77, where the 12th Independent Communications Regiment, 12th Air Army was stationed. I was detailed to the field school for wireless operators along with some 90 other recruits who had been selected and we began learning Morse Code. We were issued uniforms, although old, and boots with foot windings. We studied at the keypad, typing out “ti-ti-ta-ta-ti-ti-ta”. You can not imagine how many dots and dashes there were, having to recognize each letter by a pattern. From the original 90 men, no more than 30 remained who were able to learn the code. I had a comrade, Vasya, who was also there. He was tapping away, “ta-ta-ta”, then, suddenly, there was solitary “ta”. I already knew what this “ta” meant: he had also made the cut. Training involved both practical and theoretical work, followed by 2 hours more individual study. It should be noted, that the instructors were very precise, and Master Sergeant Polukhin was especially strict. We were lodged on two-tiered banks, with mattresses packed with straw. I could not endure them. We would lied down for bed after 10 hours of study and then arise in the morning. Everyone would be standing, but I could not. I could not sleep at night. I would toss and turn, and then Pokhulin would yell out: “Arise!” and “Sound-off!”. He would be training us and I would start sleeping during the lessons. The commander of the field school, Captain Morozov, noticed this, and approached me, saying: “What's the matter with you?”. I told him everything, and he saw to it that I was transferred to his quarters to stoke the stove and to sleep there. After a week, everything had sorted itself out for me, meanwhile they had begun disinfecting the barracks and removed a great deal of filth from the mattresses.

                            I spent 8 months studying at this school and passed the second class, but ranks were not immediately conferred upon us. It was already 1945, the war had ended in the West, while here in the East it was only just getting started. The commander of the 12th Air Army, Air Marshal Khudyakov, came by to visit us and they appointed me to be the duty officer that day. This was an important posting. I had to meet the Marshal and report everything to him in the correct manner. “Attention, school! Comrade Air Marshal, the school is on recess, school duty officer, Fedorchuk, reporting!” He offered me his hand, and commanded “At ease”. After visiting the barracks, Kudyakov dropped by the school, asking: “Well, boys, how are you getting on?”. They replied that everything was fine, but nevertheless added that the food was bad (which was true then – we were not being fed well). To this, Khudyakov responded: “Don't worry boys, soon we will be eating rice!” Here, an allusion was being made to China. We were being fed barley and frozen potatoes, which were being brought to us directly, while the cellar contained vegetables and carrots which had been unloaded during winter. For me, this was somehow sufficient, but other lads suffered greatly. Some of the boys received parcels, but who was there to send me any? My mama had been left alone in the village. No matter, I stuck it out.

                            It should be mentioned that they provided us with clothes prior to the Marshal's visit, issuing us boots and British greatcoats. We also received the American-built SR-399 radio set on a Studebaker truck with the generator situated in a trailer. It was a splendid item. Although our own PTsB-3F radios were also equipped with a separate generator on one vehicle, the battery had to be started by pulling a cord. The American battery had a push button start. The engine would kick in while I sat calmly and went about my business. Following the Air Marshal's visit, we made our own way to Bain-Tyumen' in Mongolia . When we arrived in the evening, our forces already stood everywhere. A train loaded with bombs had halted at the rail station and needed to be unloaded. Who is to take care of this? So, we were sent and spent until morning unloading the 500 kg bombs. Since they were without fuses, we could safely roll them from the train car. We kept ourselves busy until morning, and began engaging in physical exercises as it drew light outside. Off in the distance, about a kilometer away, we saw a yurt. A man emerged from it and - not wanting to “lay it on thick” as they say - I found myself gazing at a savage for the first time in my life. He was covered in hides, as was his yurt. As for Mongolia itself, it was completely bare other than where our troops had planted trees. There were only hills and marmots, mice and steppe eagles. It was a wild and savage country. We were near the the fetid Kerulen river. Here, I encountered a friend of mine, a former classmate from the field school, now serving in a neighbouring unit. He exclaimed to me, “Fedya, your brother Sergei is serving in the tank forces right alongside us!" It was only a few kilometers to where my friend had met my brother, but we had received the command “Get to the vehicles!” and we had to leave. Thus, I did not have the chance to see my Sergei at that time. We were to drive to the borders of Manchuria, which had been occupied by the Japanese and ruled by the strange emperor Pu-Yi. We rode in vehicles while the infantry stamped behind on foot. Ahead drove the tanks, leaving dust behind, just like in the song: “dust, yes and smoke”. Those in the infantry that could not continue would fall behind and be picked up by the approaching supply troops. It was 50 kilometers from well to well, and although the wells were deep, they were filled with icy water. At first, the infantry would arrive at a well, drink with abandon and some would even die. Later, guards would be posted at a well before the infantrymen would arrive, and despite the terrible heat and not having anything to drink, water would be issued to them a little at a time. We, however, had water in canisters. As I drove to the wireless station, I saw how difficult things were for the infantry. Driving along, we saw a soldier sitting down, carrying a rifle, greatcoat, gas mask and some other things. He could not stand and, weeping, asked us to take him with us. We were not allowed to bring anyone to the wireless station, but I could not bear it. I was already the senior radio operator, while the head of station was located somewhere forward, and I was the ranking man in the vehicle. I gave the driver, Vasilii Zhuvasin, the signal to halt. The soldier ran behind us and fell down. His glasses flew from his face. I jumped out and lifted him up, handing him his glasses while he asked we spare him something – anything – to drink. We had canisters with water and I watched as he had a drink. Having taken him along, we then considered where we could leave him before anyone found out. He had bloody callouses on his feet. Well, we decided to drive him from Samona to the assembly point of our assault force, where tanks and aircraft had taken up positions. The head of the wireless station, Second Lieutenant Shenkarovich, responded unenthusiastically at first: “Fedorchuk....this soldier...where did he come from?”. I replied, “Comrade Second Lieutenant, I could not leave him behind to die!”. Very well, it was then decided among the senior commanders to set him up as a cook. He was extremely pleased. In Samon, we arranged camp 3 kilometers distant from the Japanese outposts. A British-made AN/TPS-3 radar station was set up, and I was sent there as an already experienced radio operator in order to maintain communications with headquarters in case anything cropped up. The radar station itself looked like a small-sized dish and was set up on a Chevrolet truck. The radar operators had set up a tent with specialised instruments, which was immediately prepared for operation. We watched the skies in case of attack. True, we only detected only two of our own fighters which flew off somewhere beyond the border, but this did not concern me. Later, we were asked to find where our fighters were. The radar operators found them and I reported. “They are coming back”.

                            Prior to the start of the offensive, we moved off from this position and between August 8th and 9th the entire armada of tanks and aircraft began to hum, crossing over the Manchurian border. We were awaken at 0600 hours and provided breakfast by a field kitchen. I do not know if the attacking troops were provided the same or not. After breakfast, it was announced that we were assuming the offensive and each of us were given 100 grams of alcohol. I had never drunk alcohol before, but Vasilii Zhuvasin, who had served on the German front, told me: “Drink, Fedya, drink”. He taught me how to drink alcohol by diluting it. I drank up, not knowing what would happen. Vasya had told me: “First, breathe in deeply, then drink, then breathe out”. The upshot was – I drank every drop and afterwards came snacks: newly arrived American tinned meats which were very good. The forces advanced, while we were directed to an artillery column which required a radio link. The command was given: “To the vehicles!”. We found our place in the middle of the column and immediately faced the prospect of traversing the Bol'shoi Khinganskiy ridge, in order to take the Japanese from the rear. Doing so avoided the main Japanese line consisting of strong fortifications, emplacements and underground bunkers. We quickly drove across a small river, whose course bed had likely been filled in by our forces. Forests and hills rose immediately on the other side. It was here that I saw my first dead Japanese soldier, whose body had been crushed by a tank. Japanese outposts smoldered nearby, their occupants all killed. We began climbing the the Khiganskiy ridge between August 9th and 10th. During that time, we were fired upon twice by mortars employed by either the Hong-Huzi partisans or Japanese suicide troops and condemned men who had been left behind in our rear for this purpose. They had spotter aircraft employed somewhere or other and tried to destroy our vehicle on two occasions, while we were armed with only PPSh sub-machine guns. During the first such time, we leapt from the truck and I was wounded over my left eye by either a shell fragment or a piece of rock. A doctor immediately stitched me up and being a young man I had already begun to heal after 3 or 4 days. They removed the stitches and everything was all right and there was no pain. Nevertheless, the chief of the wireless station, Shinkarovich, ordered me: “Fyodor, you will not be working at the wireless, just in case”. On August 11th, we descended into a valley on the Khinganskiy ridge. It grew hot and rain had just fallen. Our ZIS-5 trucks and lorries clambered along the hillside with difficulty, sinking and sliding here and there. The drivers mentioned that if the back of the trucks had been open, their cargoes would have spilled out. The Studebaker, however, coped well. Even if it did get stuck somewhere, the truck had a front winch with a cable. The latter would be fastened somewhere and the truck would pull itself out.

                            We descended the ridge towards the town of Solun'. Since we dealt with an aviation unit, we were assigned to the airfield. We arrived with our wireless transceiver with our aircraft already standing on the field. Also on the tarmac were no less than 30 wounded men lying about on sheets. They were placed into some foreign aircraft with recesses in the wings. The doors were closed and the planes flew off to hospitals in the Soviet Union, carrying two men at a time. We left our vehicles for a chance to stretch our legs, and proceeded to walk past the rows of wounded. One of them asked to be lifted up a little so that he could relieve himself while another begged for some water. We always had water with us and we would pour out a little and then continue on our way. On one sheet was a burn victim. He was still alive, but he had no face left, there was nothing. He begged us for a swig of alcohol. We always kept alcohol for cleaning the wireless equipment, and it was stored by the head of the transceiver station. We poured a little into a small mug and gave it to him, but he died soon after and was buried. We had to continue on our way, however. We returned to our vehicles and drove off.

                            I remember this event especially for what occurred afterward. My mother was notified later, that her son Sergei had died from wounds on August 11th, 1945. He had died here, and I was still unaware of it at the time. When I returned and met with my comrade, Pasha Lebedev, who had served with Sergei, he told me that my brother had been burned in a tank, but was still alive. He was among those who were supposed to be transported to the USSR. It was that day, that town - you understand? I have no doubt that that burned man was my brother Sergei, who was born in 1925. As they say, “From the memory of my brother I shall not stray, for my own son shall bear his name – Sergei”.

                            We reached the town of Chang-Chun and on September 3rd it was announced that the war was over. Matters had still not calmed down, however. On the way, we heard about violent attacks on the part of the Hong-Huzi, and when we arrived in Chang-Chun some sort of bandit uprising had broken out. The front commander, Malinovskiy, then issued the demand: “If you do not cease this brigandage, the city of Chang-Chun will be destroyed!”. Somehow, it all stopped at once. I was already working at headquarters by that time. There was a sufficient number of radio operators and we worked only 6 hours per shift. We were set up in a cottage owned by a middle-aged Japanese man and a platoon of us radio operators lived in two wings of building. True, we slept on mats, not beds, and afterwards we would walk through the town. The Chinese greeted us extremely well wherever we went. They were poorly dressed, clad in sandals made from rubber tires. What we wore as under garments, drawers and shirts, they would walk around in wearing nothing more. Upon seeing us, they would raise and finger and cry out: “Shango! Shango!” lit. “Very good! Very good!”

                            In Chang-Chun, we lived well and being young we amused yourselves - as expected. They had rickshaws there and the Japanese, who had remained behind to work, used to get around on them. We watched how the Chinese would carry the Japanese around, but we would always reverse their places, so it would be the Japanese carrying the Chinese. The Japanese would wear specialised bandannas – [Hachimaki – transl.] – and we would roundly condemn them for it. A number of worthless tires lay near our cottage and the Japanese would show up asking if we would sell them. They had yen, but they had to pay in Russian money – we would not take Japanese currency. The old men in the town would make their fortune however they could. For example, we would be walking and there would be a cupboard. We would open it, and there would be all sorts of things inside, both clothing and other items, silk for the women, whatever you'd want. We continued to be on very good terms with the Chinese. There was a kitchen set up for us with vegetables, fruit and meat – whatever one wanted. The Chinese would be asked to clean potatoes, but we would already start wolfing them down by then. I had put on 16 kg following the start of the war and the time spent half-starving in military school was already forgotten. They would make pots of boiled rice or pilaf and borscht with fresh vegetables. We would show up and start eating, discarding only the fat. Meanwhile, the Chinese would already be setting out more. They would wash our plates and leave less work for our cooks. But for all that, the Chinese remained hungry. But I will say this: heaven forbid if someone were to insult a soldier, or rob or assault him. They would get an immediate ten years and the discipline in this regard was severe. Although such cases occurred all the same, the culprits would be caught and a troika of the military tribunal would be organized. They would be sentenced to ten years in prison without discussion. I do not know, if any were released at the border or not, but from firsthand experience there was no gainsaying the strong measures used in this regard.

                            I also became acquainted with a Japanese man in Chang-Chun, who lived across the road. He was missing a hand, and had nowhere to run to and no work to do. He had his own house, which was very nice. Arriving at his door, he would say, “Komito” (Greetings in Japanese). Sitting down beside him on a small bench, and with him somehow knowing some Russian and me having begun to understand Japanese, I asked him: “What is your name?” He pointed a finger at his chest and said, “Mister Hurasio!”. He then pointed at me and I responded, “I am not a mister, I am comrade Fedya!”. We met again the next day and he cried out, “Mister comrade Fedya, cigarette ide!, that is, 'let's have a smoke, mister comrade!' While talking, he told me that Japan had not attacked the Soviet Union,” to which I replied: “Yes – because we kept a large army against you”. Here in the Far East, if Germany had begun to win, the Japanese would have immediately stabbed us in the back.

                            We remained there right up to the November, when the ordered arrived: “Depart”. Our radio equipment was loaded onto flatbeds, while we traveled in boxcars. The cars were small, holding only 16 men each on two rows of plank beds. There was a small stove since autumn had already begun. We traveled through the town of Tsitsikar [Chinese – Qiqihar]. We were there a long time, with work being done on the branch lines or trains arriving from different directions, heading off here or there. Thus we remained standing for a long time. But, we had our stove. We would boil something and eat tinned meat, although we preferred something hot and would run off to the field kitchen. The old hands managed to find some warm jackets from somewhere or other, and we laid these across the bunks. We would lay on them and walk around our boxcar. At long halts, we would jump out and the old hands would immediately find something to eat and drink. While the train was stopped, we would all sit and chat, and would continue when the train was moving. The Chinese would bring us chicken, milk – everything, but we no longer had any money. Our forces, however, were returning with a large amount of booty, and at one major stop there was a large hoist loading various items. We jumped out and saw a soldier standing on guard duty. There was a bale of velveteen and I asked the soldier if I could take it, explaining that we wanted to exchange it for food from the Chinese. The soldier relented but advised us to move quickly and I immediately hid it in the radio equipment. At halts, I would take a piece and head off to exchange it. The Chinese would give roast chicken, sausage, and even gave me rice moonshine, which I hypocritically accepted. While the old hands would drink, I did not enjoy it and did not drink in general – especially spirits, with the possible exception of some sake. We traveled along, enjoying ourselves, celebrating our victory and our return to Russia. We felt such delight and joy that we cried out Urrah! And do you what happened next? We did have some alcohol with the radio equipment, but we drank it all and there was nothing left. Some old hands, however, caught scent that there was alcohol in the gas cans in the officers' car and drained the canisters. At the border, they wanted to drink again, but I had already come down with malaria by then. I had probably caught it while still in Manchuria and I was racked by hot and cold spells. In the evening, my neighbours in the car would all be drinking. They would call out my name, but I would brush them aside, “I don't want anything!”. When I was cold, they would cover me with Japanese coats, and when I was hot, I would throw them all aside. They drank right until morning. Myself, they gave a little all the same and I drank perhaps a shot. In the morning, they all lay, groaning as we crossed the border. We were already on our own territory, and they about moaning and groaning. The customs guards walked past, but they had nothing special to inspect. Myself and Borya Kambulin from the Moscow region were the only ones who did not drink. The others were suffering and complaining. At one time, a telephone line ran through the car, but the connection was later broken and there was no contact with the officers' car other than running to there. At some sort of rail siding, we jumped out of the car and met some railroad workers. We explained that we had suffered a misfortune and the lads were in bad shape. The officers showed up and swore obscenities. The alcohol the lads had drunk was harmful and not for drinking. The train continued and everyone grew worse. We had a driver and electrical mechanic in our car by the name of Lakomkin. He had not been sober a single day since we had left. The lads asked us to cover them up, and as we were covering their legs Lakomkin asked: “Give me an automatic. I can't go on, I want to shoot myself!” Our weapons were kept separately and we immediately put the automatics up top and locked them up. We reached Dauriya station in Chita province. The officers came to the car once more and looked around and immediately summoned medical help. A vehicle drove up. The chief of the wireless station, Second Lieutenant Shimkarovich, came up and called out: “Lakomkin! You're plastered. Get up!” But he did not rise. The doctor came forward, touched him and said: “He's already gone cold on you!” We went ahead and removed the three lads who had gone cold. The rest were then unloaded. The last one remained behind and did not want to go and that was it. He had a suitcase crammed full of booty, which he had prepared already from the Western Front. He was to reach his destination and immediately be demobilised. He had even had a photograph taken of himself beforehand, wearing a leather coat and wristwatches - “This is all mine!” We sent the photo to his home and then dragged him away from his suitcase and loaded him onto the ambulance. They all went to the hospital, while we went on to Chita.

                            Upon arrival, we were immediately sent to the “cooker”- to the bath-house. All our belts were pulled off and uniforms removed. Then we proceeded to the bath-house. A kind of ointment was then rubbed on, which burned everything. We entered the barracks and the beds were white and everything was clean. In the morning, we arose and the medical orderlies were already going about examining us for any remaining lice. This, of course, was matter of the past, but we did pick up lice there. I served a further 7 years and 4 months. They did not let us go, they did not release us. At that time, one simply tried to last it out, get up and do one's duty. True, they gave us more freedom and our pay was increased somewhat. Us, soldiers, were paid ten roubles a day and later they awarded me two stripes. However, I also engaged in a little hooliganism. We had many girl radio operators in the regiment, but they had been discharged at once, but they still remained my friends. On one occasion I wished them happy new year as an uncoded signal and was caught. This was forbidden. Everything had to be coded – five letters in a group. It would not have been understood except by signalers, but I sent it uncoded. It turned out that we were being monitored. I was transferred to another unit, where things turned out better for me. I flew on transport aircraft as a radio operator. Discipline there was not nearly the same. The pilots knew everybody and I even began to get acquainted with some young women.
                            Last edited by Skoblin; 28 Nov 09, 02:52.

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                            • #15
                              Wow! You translated the hole interview. Great!

                              If you want to make this translation to be available on iremember.ru , you can contact the resource owner directly.
                              Here is his blog: http://bonbonvivant.livejournal.com/
                              Kind regards
                              Igor

                              * My grandfathers WW2 memoirs - Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, 1944-1945.
                              * On the question of "2 mil. rapes" by RKKA
                              * Verdicts of RKKA Military Tribunals for crimes against civilians in 1945

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