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View Poll Results: Are you interested in Y.V.Klimov's memoirs?

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56. You may not vote on this poll
  • Yes. No doubt.

    37 66.07%
  • Yes. You are a KGB provocator, but I nonetheless want to read your biased propaganda

    12 21.43%
  • No. No way, Jose!

    2 3.57%
  • No. Though you are a very handsome KGB agent, it doesn't compensate for biasity of your propaganda

    5 8.93%
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Thread: Who is interested in my granddad's memoirs?

  1. #31
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    Default Re: Who is interested in my granddad's memoirs?

    Thanks, Nick!!!

  2. #32
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    Default Re: Who is interested in my granddad's memoirs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Originally Posted by Rising Sun*
    Yeah, *** off.
    I hate to be pedantic, old sport, but there are four asterisks in **** off.

  3. #33
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    Default Re: Who is interested in my granddad's memoirs?

    Well, **** you too! I'm not a big fan of language censorship programs though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Egorka View Post
    Thanks, Nick!!!
    No problem, just doing my job...

  4. #34
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    Default Re: Who is interested in my granddad's memoirs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Well, **** you too!
    ROFLM*******AO

    Mate, your grasp of the language qualifies you as an Aussie. You're the fourth person to say that to me today, and the others were equally affectionate.

  5. #35
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    Default Re: Who is interested in my granddad's memoirs?

    - 6 -
    I rolled head over heals down the stairs into the yard. Through the fence I watched them again. All doubts disappeared. Ours! But what if this was a trap? Several women from the next house run into the street. Then more and more people come out and rush to the first Soviet soldiers. Arms and kisses, tears on their eyes. Soon several, unusually looking for us, trucks approached. These were “Studebakers”. One of them was towing a cannon. The soldiers jumped out of the vehicles. Something of a spontaneous rally occured on the spot around our liberators. The women treated the tired and dusty soldiers to meat rissoles and wine brought in a kettle. Everyone was rejoicing and the joy was unbounded. It occurred to everyone that the soldiers were either very young or old men, dressed mainly in boots with puttees over them. Some of them were wearing thin aged grey greatcoats. But the Odessits did not pay any attention to that – they saw hero-liberators before them. A captain with the Order of the Red Star on his chest answered questions. I managed to squeeze myself through and asked him where and why he was given the decoration. His answer was somewhat unexpected: “In Crimea, for the partisan activity.”
    Me: “How come?”
    “I was in partisan movement last year, was wounded and evacuated by plane to the “big land”, spend time in hospital” – was his answer.
    Yes, it was something to think over.
    Suddenly we heard several machine gun bursts from a car that sped rapidly along Kanatnaya Street from the “Big Fountain” direction… The crowd immediately dispersed from the road crossing. During the commotion the car rushed by the crossing and disappeared in the direction of the seaport. The captain gave a belated order and the soldiers quickly unhooked the cannon and set it up facing the direction where the rushing car came from. Soon whole Kulikovo field was covered with trucks and talking, smoking soldiers.

    How we had waited for that day! Just that morning we had been worried by the uncertainty of the upcoming day, afraid of furious fighting in the city. And then, suddenly, the joy of freedom and the feeling of oppression lifted from our shoulders…
    The fire in the neighbouring house had not picked up. Fleeing from Odessa the Germans did not want to waste gasoline. That old building had a large hall from which a big marble staircase led up to the second floor. That is where the Germans had piled some chairs, tables, and some papers and set them alight. The furniture had burned out but the building self did not catch fire. Not far from the house, on the tramway tracks stood a German armoured personnel carrier abandoned during the night. The reason was apparent – one of the tracks had broken. Our house was chosen to be headquarters of one of the RKKA detachments. It met all the requirements for the purpose. First of all it stood on the corner, providing a good overview to the Kulikovo field and all the trucks and carts on it. Secondly it could be accessed from all four directions and it location could easily identified from a verbal description. In the evening a lieutenant brought whole platoon for lodging. They moved quickly, like they were in their own house, settled in the first room, the kitchen and even the little working room. The sergeant-major made him self comfortable on “my” couch. The soldiers – on the floor. They lay on their greatcoats and put their backpacks under their heads. The transportable machine gun and the rifles were put in the corner. Their submachine guns, PPSh, were next to them. While they washed themselves and their clothes, Fenja Ivanovna cooked up a big pot of borsch soup and corn-mamaliga. A large bottle of grape wine was produced. A few soldiers were sent off by the sergeant-major to some task (I think they had to guard Kulikovo field).

    Just as we sat at the dining table a patrol brought in three detained German soldiers. The dining stopped, but the table was served and the plates are waiting. The Germans, one of them was a corporal, had already overcome the first moment of fear. They stood silently with heads down. One of them had a nervous tremor. It was very apparent when they all were sat at the served table. His trembling was so severe that whenever his legs or hands touched the table we could hear the clatter of crockery. But he could not help himself. Even the corporal passed some rude remark about it. It was Fenja Ivanonvna who by the right of the hostess suggested inviting the Germans to the table. The sergeant-major had no objection. And so the enemy, so recently involved in the fighting, sat at the same table. After emptying glasses with red wine (the Germans were not offered wine) they engaged the borsch, food and at the same time interrogation of the prisoners. Or rather to say questioning. The trembling German was the youngest, maybe 18 years old or so. From his words, which I and Olga translated, it transpired that he was serving as a medic and was relocated to the front two months earlier. Two others looked older, but not more than 40 years of age. The corporal was tall, slender and neat. Even in captivity in front of our solders he looked like clean, neat intellectual. Both of them were drivers and served in a truck regiment [автобат = truck battalion]. Gradually the prisoners calmed down and the sergeant-major ordered two soldiers to escort them to the POW assembly point of the division…

    Only now could we sit at the table with the sergeant-major and two other soldiers. We filled our glasses with wine and expressed our gratitude to our liberators.
    Unwillingly we started talking about the Russian soul in connection to the fact that the Germans were undeservedly allowed at the table instead of being starved or killed by the raging mob. The sergeant-major first took me for the host’s son, but he was pleased when he found that I was from Siberia and learned that my parents live in the Kurgan region. He called me his “fellow countryman”, though he himself was from Petropavlovsk. But I could see on their faces that they were wondering how come I was not in the army, but instead lived with a young girl, while they shed their blood and through the bitter cold and mud had to carry their burden. “Why?” – could I read it in their eyes. I understood immediately and without a word showed them my “hammer and sickle” passport and the “discharge from the military duty”, which was issued to me in 1938 by the Military Recruitment Centre in my home town of Petuhovo. This convinced them but they assured me that nowadays I would be found to be in a suitable medical condition for active service.

    The sergeant-major gave me a postcard on which I wrote to my parents my first message from the liberated Odessa. It was 10th April 1944. I wanted to let my mama and papa to know that I was well and in good health and hoped to see them soon. The sergeant-major took the postcard and said he would send it via his field post. I am grateful to him. He did not deceive me. That postcard actually reached my parents. My mother could not believe her luck, that I was alive and well… That is how she later described the day that she marked in the calendar – 10th April 1944.

    My mother told me that she often saw me in her dreams; 1941, 1942, 1943, especially in winter time, knocking on the window of their little house on the Soviet street. Sometimes she saw me as a distant pedestrian, barely walking and dressed, for some reason, in raincoat with hood over my head.
    “In those minutes I prayed to God he would save you,” she said. And God granted her wish.

    Now after all those years I regret I did not write down the names of the soldiers who have every right to be called my liberators. I still remember them to this day…

    [ see part 7 ]
    Last edited by Egorka; 06-30-2008 at 07:06 AM.

  6. #36
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    Default Re: Who is interested in my granddad's memoirs?

    - 7 -
    “My dear Odessa faded into the fog…”
    The next day, 11th April 1944, my life turned around. The sergeant-major brought a stack of Moscow newspapers early in the morning. They told of the successful Soviet offensive in the Crimea, about liberation of Odessa and many other settlements in the Odessa region. I eagerly read “Pravda”, “Red Star”, and other papers. I read about the orders of the supreme commander I.V.Stalin about the awarding of honour names to the regiments, divisions and armies, about the artillery salute salvos in honour of liberation of the cities, and of many other things. I read everything from the first word to the very last. For almost three years I did not have a Soviet newspaper in my hands, it seems I missed them.

    The day started with information that some Germans had been shot in the yard of the house located close to the Agrarian Institute. Some teenagers 15-16 year of age, armed with rifles left behind by fleeing Germans and Rumanians, sought out the Germans hiding in garrets and cellars and took the reprisal into their own hands. Seven corpses of Germans executed in this manner were discovered, but their executioners were never found. I was thinking that “our” Germans were lucky to fall in to the hands of such guys (the RKKA soldiers lodging in the apartment). It was not without reason that one German had been trembling… he was lucky.

    I was impatient to see the centre of the city. So, right after lunch, I rushed there. The first thing that caught my eye was that the soldiers exchanged wristwatches. It was done by inviting other soldiers by just saying: “Lets barter without a peek”. Apparently there was a captured truck with a case in it full of wristwatches. They had labels with the “Fritz’s” names on them. I do not know for sure, but I think they were collected to be returned to the families or perhaps to be repaired. The fact is that the watches were used, not new. A soldier standing in back of the truck was giving them left and right to everyone who would reach out. I got one that was not working…

    Even from a distance it was apparent that the central railway station had been damaged by explosions. All the windows were knocked out; the left wing of the building was completely in ruins. In the yard in front of the station there was some kind of commotion. Several soldiers were arranging something resembling a gallows. Could it really be for an execution? The gallows were ready with a noose made of telephone cable. Only now I noticed an open truck parked next to the station. In it there were two soldiers armed with submachine guns watching over a sitting Rumanian soldier. Only his head in a Rumanian uniform cap was visible to me. Then the truck drove under the gallows. The sides of the trucks body were opened and the Rumanian soldier made to stand up… An officer announced an order which among other stated: “For marauding and rape of Soviet women”. The noose was fastened around his neck and the truck drove forward… Later while returning from the city I again approached the still hanging corps. Somebody had already taken the boots from his feet. His head leaned to the side, green snot hanging from his nose… It was a disgusting scene to look at.

    I walked to the centre along the Pushkinskaya Street. A column of German and Rumanian prisoners of war was being escorted in the other direction. Many of the city’s inhabitants watched this escort and rightfully reviled them… Some individuals even managed to kick them or hit them with a stick, though the escort did not allow reprisals.

    When I reached “Primorsky Boulevard” I was astonished by the devastation. The big refrigerator building was demolished. The grain elevator was destroyed and emitting smoke from the burning grain. The hoisting cranes and the piers were blown up too. Right there I noticed a group of generals surveyed the seaport from the height of the boulevard and were chatting about something. I could hear the words of regret that it was not possible to save the grain in the grain elevator… It was in such great need in the country…

    But on the other hand the building of the famous Odessa Opera House survived, even though it was said to be mined and prepared for demolition. It was saved by some underground resistance people who had managed to remove the detonators in time. Many streets had all of the telephone cable wells blown up. The sewerage and water wells suffered the same fate. Some large administrative buildings were burned out… But as a whole, Odessa remained just as when it was abandoned by the Red Army in 1941. The weather was wonderful and sunny and all the citizens were roaming the streets.

    The next day the orders of the city’s commandant were hung on the street: “All males aged 18 to 55 are to report to the military registration and enlistment office in their district, having with them an extra set of clothes, a spoon, a mug and five days provisions.” My military registration and enlistment office for the Kaganovich district was very close to our house. Just a short walk across “Kulikovo field”. It was located in our institute building, the address was 13 Chizhikova Street. That used to be our map and plan drawing workshop as well storage for the geodesic instruments. Now it was occupied by the military registration and enlistment office. Me and Olga decided to go there and first just take a look around. The public garden next to the building was already full of people. There were not only men present, but even more women and children. They saw off to the war their fathers, husbands and sons… Tears and laughter – everything mixed. But in general it was a sad occasion for every family, for every man. Every two or three hours, a 200-250 man strong columns of “new conscripts” led by a few sergeants would march away. They allegedly were going to Berezovka located 50-60km north of Odessa. A reserve regiment of the Third Ukrainian Front was stationed there. The medical exam and other check were also conducted there.

    I put everything required into my back sack and said goodbye to Semen Vikentievich and Fenja Ivanovna and to the house warden. Me and Olga went to the office. We spent half a day waiting for our turn. We talked about many things, but did not touch on the subject of our personal affairs. And then I entered the military office. On the second floor, where we previously had a dressing room, the office officials were sitting behind desks. After my introduction they wrote down my full name, date and place of birth and so on. They took my documents and, barely opening them, threw them on a pile of similar passports and the military registration cards in the corner of the room. I was astonished at that. I had spent so much effort preserving and keeping all my documents intact during the occupation, since only my documents could protect me from some of the life’s problems, which were more than enough in war time. A doctor in a white coat asked me if I had any health problems. I told him about my physical shortcomings, which were the reason for me being free for military duty before the war. He examined my leg and asked me to squat several times. “Fit for non-frontline service” – was his conclusion. Then I had to wait for some time until there could be assembled a group of 200 new recruits. Outside once again we quickly assumed a formation. Olga and I kissed each other and the command “Forward!” was given and our disorderly ranks silently moved across the city towards the Peresip district. Our first stop was on the road along side the Hadzhibey Estuary. Among us were people of different ages and health conditions. Our column occasionally stretched out too far and the sergeants would issue reprimands, to put it politely, to the ones at the end. Unlike some among us, I was not afraid of the military service …

    When our column reached its highest point I could see the plains stretching ahead to the horizon. And behind us, still in sight, was sweet Odessa, so dear to me. Farwell, dear city!

    The sun was already about to set when we reached a big settlement and halted on its outskirts. White huts of daub and wattle were abandoned. It was not clear if the inhabitants had been deported by the Germans or whether it had been a German settlement whose occupants had fled to the West. In half a day we had covered not more than 20km but were, nonetheless, exhausted. Our officers instructed us to use several of the huts as temporary accommodation. Others before us had already covered the clay floors with straw. It seems that the previous groups had stayed overnight here and had taken care of it. Water was drawn from a well. Some of us drank thirstily, other washed themselves, but mostly people just fell on the heaps of straw and snatched a mouthful of whatever they had to eat. Each hut had to come up with an orderly for guard duty. That is how the first night passed. The next morning when it was barely light we heard the command: “Assume formation!” Roll call was conducted and soon our column moved again. Around noon we reached a wide macadam road. The sides of the road were covered with carts, boxes, burnt-out German cars and, sometimes, armoured personal carriers and, even, tanks. The whole road and roadsides surface was eroded by ruts left by heavy trucks. It was evident that Germans had used this road to flee and had abandoned behind everything that was slowing them down. A long halt was ordered for the lunch break. Studebaker trucks infrequently drove by in both directions. The army headquarters, located we had heard in Berezovka, were 15km away, i.e. not more than 3 hours marching.

    [ see part 8 ]
    Last edited by Egorka; 06-30-2008 at 07:09 AM.

  7. #37
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    Default Re: Who is interested in my granddad's memoirs?

    - 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.

    [ see part 9 ]

    If you have read that far - reply "Mooooo"
    Last edited by Egorka; 06-30-2008 at 07:11 AM.

  8. #38
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    - 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.

    [ see part 10 ]
    Last edited by Egorka; 06-30-2008 at 07:15 AM.

  9. #39
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    Default Re: Who is interested in my granddad's memoirs?

    -

    Mooooo

    Very vivid and detailed account ... keep up the good work

    -

  10. #40
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    Default Re: Who is interested in my granddad's memoirs?

    Quote Originally Posted by George Eller View Post
    -
    Mooooo
    -
    Ok. At least someone reads this.

  11. #41
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    Default Re: Who is interested in my granddad's memoirs?

    Huge THANK YOU to Mr. Slim Fan for editing my lousy English translation and giving it grammatic and stylistic sense!
    This part has been edited by him. He also edited the previous parts which I now will replace (Done!). So you may as well re-read them again.
    - 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.

    [ to be continued ]
    Last edited by Egorka; 03-11-2009 at 07:05 PM.

  12. #42
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    Default Re: Who is interested in my granddad's memoirs?

    read it all!
    very very very exciting! It would be cool if someone made a comic out of it.
    shame your grandfather died in 2002.
    [ to be continued ]
    please do so

  13. #43
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    Default Re: Who is interested in my granddad's memoirs?

    - 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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    Last edited by Egorka; 07-09-2008 at 05:51 PM.

  14. #44
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    - 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...” ( youtube video: 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…” ( youtube video: 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 ]
    Last edited by Egorka; 07-16-2008 at 03:05 PM.

  15. #45
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    Default Re: Who is interested in my granddad's memoirs?

    - 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; 07-16-2008 at 03:03 PM.

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