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Have always wanted one of these and finally found one. I saw one in one of my references a good while back and thought it was really cool how the triangle fold meant it was from a soldier. I read somewhere years ago that there were a ton of these that had never been sent home as they were from units that were wiped out and that it would be considered bad for home front morale if they were delivered. They were discovered in the late 80's or early 90's if I remember correctly.

I'll provide better scans when I have it in hand. Hoping someone will be able to provide more info on what it says.

post-873-048145100 1291742386_thumb.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, got this in today but now compariing it with the original pics it seems he sent me a different one. The one I received has some tears but seems to be all there. Guessing he got them mixed up as he had several going out at the time. But six of one half a dozen of the other. Here's the scans of the one I received:

post-873-093107900 1293505803_thumb.jpg

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  • 7 years later...

Hello! It has only been 7 year... :D

The letters are written in March-April 1945 by Vitaly Nikolaevich SMIRNOV to his parent living in Novosibirsk. He write from Kurland. He served in artillery unit. I think it was 11 corps artillery brigade. 

If you want translation of the letter , you need to make sharper scans. There are some part which are too blurry to read.

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Many thanks for the additional info. It may take me a bit as the den has a ton of extra stuff in it right now and I'll have to dig around to find it... but soon as I can I'll be happy to do good scans (originals were pics the seller took) and can either post or can send them over to you... whatever is best.

God bless,


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This letter is from Lt. MOZGIN Pavel Iosifovich, 1907, to his mother living in Kharkov, written on 24.02.1944. The veteran served as a platoon commander in 336 detached sapper battalion, 161 rifle division. His Red Star citation describes mine laying and mine clearing missions.
Among other things he writes in the letter about the ceremony awarding him with Red Star order on the day before, i.e. on 23.02.44. He writes: "The order was handed to me by the Major General himself, who then congratulated with such high honor and wished me all the best."


The "Major General himself" was HSU Major General TERTYSCHY (1899 - 1997) , the commander of 161 rifle division:


Unfortunately, Lt. MOZGIN was killed in action on 22.11.1944 and buried on Slovak country town Krivošťany cemetery.




This letter is from Lt. MUSATOV Sergey Ivanovich, 1918, written on 30.01.44.
He served in army service and administrative branch at 170 tank brigade HQ.
In the letter he informs his wife (?) Nina in Krasnoyarsk, that his field post address has just changed the same morning. He writes: "I just sent you a postcard this very morning, but am writing to you today again. Matter that my address has changed to field post 43110."
And in fact we read in his Red Star citation, that he did a great job organizing the brigade HQ office after he took over in chaotic state in March 1944.
So it seems the veteran wrote this letter on the day he was reassigned.


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I recently found this letter and when I read it I could not resist! It was written by Vsevolod RASPOPOV to his brother Youry, who lived in Moscow at the time.
Vsevolod Aleksandrovich RASPOPOV was a pilot - senior aerial observer. at the time the letter was written he was assigned to 100 detached aerial observer regiment (100 ОКРАП). 
Before that he served at 68 detached aerial observer squadron (68 ОКРАЭ) where he earned ORB in December 1943 for 21 combat missions. His tasks were observing, photography, and ground assault. His ORB citation will come later. 

The letter:
"13 May 1943 Hello Youriy!
Here I am again alive and well!
Matter that, I was shot down and my plane crushed into the sea on 24 March while I was on a combat mission. When I got out of water I was captured by Germans. I spend there 15 days. I escaped to partisans and spent with them almost a month. 
On the 9th I returned to my regiment, where I was already considered to be KIA - so I had to greet and kiss everyone.
I don't believe myself I got out of that hell!
I am a now resting on the Black sea coast.
I will write more later."


Continuing RASPOPOV's story, here is extract from his service record, which shows his service in 68 detached aerial observer squadron and then later at 100 detached aerial observer regiment. 
The line in between marked with yellow arrow reads: "Has been in enemy captivity on the territory of Crimea from March 1944 till May 1944."
The veteran also was promoted after his return. His position changed from "Pilot observer" to "Sr. pilot observer".
RASPOPOV finished his military career (he became aviation navigator in training regiment) in the rank of Major in 1960. Lived in town Omsk and was awarded OPWII in 1985. 


RASPOPOV was awarded ORB at the end of 1943. Here is the citation:

"He serves on the front against German invaders since 19.12.1942. In this period he conducted 21 successful artillery fire-directing and enemy positions photographing combat missions. As the result of his fire directions he destroyed 2 enemy artillery batteries, which systematically barraged our forces and observation posts. Despite high concentration of enemy AA systems, and without regard to his own life making 3-5 runs, he fulfilled the objectives and photographed 420 km on the front line from river Molochnaya- Perekop isthmus. This provided the artillery Command with very valuable intelligence information. 
After achieving primary objective, he conducted ground assault, which resulted in suppression of 2 artillery batteries, 2 tanks and up to 170 enemy troops destroyed, 10 horse carriages, 1 train set on fire. 
For excellent execution of the Command's orders and exhibited bravery and courage he received gratitude from People's Commissar of Defence, from the Head of Artillery Intelligence HQ of 4 Ukrainian front, from the deputy Artillery Commander of 51 army. 
All the information is supported by the ground forces and photo materials."


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I have made a good catch lately - found and got 2 field letters written by HSU. I would like to share their stories with you and present how much history can be relayed through such small sheet of paper. 
Here is one of them.


This letter was written by HSU Feodor Vasilievich PLOTNIKOV (1904 - 1972). He was an artillery man (a loader) awarded HSU title in December 1943 for the action in September 1943. 
On 29/Feb/1944, the veteran writes home to his wife who lives in town Gorky near the automobile plant. 
The letter text: 
29II-44 Hello dear Liza. Greetings to you, to the mother, and to the little ones. I wish you all well.
I receive your letters. In them, you frequently reproach me for not writing often enough.
I have written 3 letters this month. Why you receive them seldom or not at all - I don't know.
Today I got letter from my sister Panya, who is also now serving on the front line, and also your letter, where you again ask: "What happened, that you don't write?" I write very-very often. Panya informs, that she gets your letters, and that you write her regularly, which she is very happy with. I also wrote to my brother Maksim and to Marusya, in one word - to everyone. 
Please, let me know if you received the money I sent you 13 January. 
Have you solved the accommodation issue? If you can get one in the American settlement, that would be great. 
Please, write me how is Velik's and Valya's school going. I asked you about this numerous times, but you don't shed light on this in your letters.
Well, good bye for now. Write me all the news from the neighbours. Who is writing what and so on.


Before we look closer at the veteran and his HSU decoration, lets look in the letter content. There are three points to highlight. 

Firstly, the letter mentions sister Panya, who was in service at the time. 
In fact, PLOTNIKOV sister's full name was Jr. Sergeant Proskovyia Vasilievna Plotnikova, born 1923. She served since 1942 and was a radio operator in the 266 detached signals company under 3 ground-assault aviation corps, 3 Belorussian front. 
She was awarded CSM medal in August 1944. 

Secondly, the home address - Automobile plant in town Gorky. 
The town housed GAZ - a large plant, which produced trucks and vehicles. The plant was built from 1932 with technical expertise delivered by Ford Motors: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GAZ
During the war GAZ has been fully repurposed for military equipment production: Light tanks T-60, T-70; SPG SU-76; armoured recon carriers BA-64; engines ; mortars ; rockets for "Katysha" launchers. 
In trucks it produced both it's own models as well as the American Chevrolet with the spare parts delivered by Lend-Lease program. 
Having such importance, the plant the target to frequent German air raids. See the German air photo with targets marked. 


And finally, about the "American settlement". What is that?
This was one of the town districts. It was formed during the plant construction for the American specialist consultants. On this page you can see many photos with the view of the American settlement or American village: https://vk.com/club60371957?z=album-60371957_242918928


Now let's take look at the veteran and his action for which he was awarded HSU title. He was born 4 October 1904 in the village Kevdo-Mel'sitovo. Worked briefly at steel plant. Became Communist party member. 
In 1926-1928 he served in the RKKA in artillery. After his demobilization, he moved to town Gorky (old name: Nizhnij Novgorod) and worked in the internal affairs (GPU). Later studied in an agricultural school. 
Since 1939 he worked at the Gorky Automobile Plant as a mechanic. 
In October 1942, Plotnikov was again drafted into the army. In the field forces from August 1943.
He served as a gun loader in 130 Guards artillery regiment, 58 Guards rifle division, 64 Guards rifle corps, 57 Guards army, Steppes front. 

Now, lets read his HSU citation. It is written in special style - both political propaganda and dramatical notes. 

"Thunder and flames of explosions flashed around. Smoke and dust impeded breathing. The first battery supporting the rifle company repelled the 6th enemy counterattack. The hill 172.0 was dominating the surrounding landscape and the Germans were intended to recapture it at any cost. The artillery men, the Guards men of the 1st battery, stood their line no mater what. Dashingly fought the loader PLOTNIKOV. Direct hit at the artillery position took the crew out of action. PLOTNIKOV was lightly wounded, but continued alone to bash the Germans, working both as loader and gunner. Soon after two other battery guns were also knocked out of action. Remained only wounded PLOTNIKOV and one gun. The opponent feeling luck launched the 7th counter attack. Three tanks lead the assault followed by 200 drunken Fascist thugs. "If I have to die - I die like a hero!" - decided PLOTNIKOV for himself and braced for uneven fight. "This one is for town Gomel" - shouted PLOTNIKOV and knocked the turret off the leading tank with a heavy shell. The joy of victory took over PLOTNIKOV. Two more shots and another tank gave smoke. The third tank tried to escape. "You will not get away, skunk!" - exclaimed PLOTNIKOV. Four more shots and the last steel beast begun to spin around on one spot. 
But remained the run amok drunken submachine gunners. They pressed forward approaching PLOTNIKOV's gun position. He gave two shots and then had to take over a machine gun. A long MG salvo forced Germans to sober up. Many of them fell right there, the others ran away. That was exactly what PLOTNIKOV needed. He collected automatic weapons from the fallen comrades and took position in the trench awaiting new enemy attack. He prepared 6 hand grenades. The Fritz were quick to return. Again shouting and whistling German line appeared. PLOTNIKOV was waiting. 80 meters distance remained. Then he employed his submachine gun. The German line was getting thiner and thiner, but they kept on pressing. 30 meters left and a bullet pierced hero's left shoulder. With his right arm he threw 4 bundled grenades and killed an officer. Fritz retreated. Our infantry caught up and helped the hero to hold the hill. Germans pushed no more. PLOTNIKOV held an important hill, killed 90 Germans and destroyed 3 tanks. He fully deserves the title "Hero of Soviet Union".
12 September 1943
Commander of 130 GuAP
Guards Captain DEMIDOVICH


The citation went through the approval chain and PLOTNIKOV was awarded HSU by decree of 20 December 1943. He was awarded order of Lenin and the gold star medal #3172.

The citation is written not fully according to the rules. F.ex. you may notice the date of the action is missing. This made it difficult to locate the hill where the events took place. 

All the other sources I could find, which described PLOTNIKOV's actions rely solely on this citation and shed no extra light on the events. Except maybe one! 
In 1961 a collection of stories about HSU cavaliers who lived in town Gorky was printed. There is also an essay about PLOTNIKOV written by writer KRUTOV I.A. (Russian text). 
I will not translate it all. It is a heavy mix of autor's interpretations, official propaganda version, and PLOTNIKOV's own words. It is obviously heavily based on the official citation version, and also rewritten to make story more fluid and readable. But it was also based on an interview with PLOTNIKOV himself! And this gives some extra details which otherwise would be lost. Here are some excerpts from the essay with what I think are PLOTNIKOV's quotes: 

"On that day near the hill 172.0 our battery was quickly deployed on a closed position. We saw that the hill was covered by abandoned and destroyed German trenches and other fortifications. Abandoned equipment. Looks like the position was left in a hurry. 
At noon the Germanstwice launched attack but were repelled with high casualties. Two of our crew were wounded, one killed. I was lightly wounded and remain wit the gun. There were no reinforcements, and frankly speaking no time for it. We were two people to operate the gun - GUS'KOV and me. I was the gun layer, GUS'KOV was the loader. 
The enemy barrage intensified. Soon two other guns went silent. Their crews killed. My mate GUS'KOV got whole arm ripped off. 
The Germans sustained losses, but broke through the rifle company line. This happened in the afternoon. What could I do? I was thinking to my self: "Well, just one gun, but let it work. At least some help to the infantry." Later I was not thinking of anything any more. Get the charge, load, aim, fire.
As soon as I brought a few shell to the gun and loaded it with an HE shell, the leading tank came out of the bushes and fired in my direction. It missed. I fired point blank. The tank was embraced in smoke and abruptly stopped. The sun was already setting down but it was still light. Then I see another tank right of me. And this one stopped after my shot - I cannot believe it. 
The third tank was left of me and was moving fast firing in motion. It got quite close, but suddenly changed the course and started retreating. I got him with 4 shells, and was attacked by German submachine gunners. I fired 2 shrapnel charges and a long MG burst. 
I knew they will come back. I collected the weapons from the dead. Again they attacked and approached me. I prepared the grenades, but suddenly felt burning feeling in my left shoulder. I remember I was thinking: "How good it is the left one, else it is all over." I threw the grenades with my right arm as far as a could and hit them. At this point I heard "HURRA" and our infantry assaulted."

As you may notice the veteran tells his story much more "calm" compare to the citation. It also gives one interesting clew - the hill 172 and their position was previously occupied by Germans. 


P.S: GUS'KOV mentioned in PLOTNIKOV's story died later... RIP.

to be continued...


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And finally to the action for which PLOTNIKOV was awarded HSU. Lets try finding the details. Where and when did it take place?
And here we are actually having a bit of trouble. You see, neither the date nor the location is provided properly in the citation. 
So let's endeavour together and find out.

The place is only denoted by "hill 172.0". It just tells us, that the hight above the sea level was 172 meters, and there should be a hill marking on the map with appropriate scale (1:100.000). The hill marks on the maps with higher scale were denoted without decimals (and some of them were also completely omitted). 
Can we use this hill 172.0 to locate the position on the map? Well not really... We could if we knew the precise date. But the date of the action is not mentioned in the citation - a direct violation of the rules. I have seen numerous rejection for other citations, which lacked such details. But it was not a problem in this case. 
OK, we don't know the date directly. Can we estimate it? Yes, we can establish, that the action happened earlier, than 12 September 1943 (the day the citation was signed by PLOTNIKOV's regiment commander). The earliest day may be approximately established from information, that PLOTNIKOV was in field forces from "August 1943". Also the assault operation by 57 Army, 64 Gu. rifle corps, 58 Gu. RD started on 08 August 1943. 
And we can generally expect, that the action was closer to 12 September, rather than 08 August. 

Interestingly, the post war material on PLOTNIKOV mentiones directly wrong location place of his action: "near town Verkhnedneprovsk". This can't be right, because 58 Gu. Rifle Division reached town Verkhnedneprovsk only by 22 of October 1943. And the date on the citation (12 September 1943) is a hard evidence, which cannot be interpreted any differently. 

OK, what have we got? Period: 08/08-12/09 of 1943. Location: hill 172.0. 
The problem is that until 12 September, 58 GuRD covered covered app. 100 kmduring the assault operation, which started 08 August.
The 57 Army sector was passing just South of town Kharkov.
So we need to find a hill 172.0 in the sector of 58 GuRD along the 100km covered in the period 08/08- 12/09. It is not easy! 


I can tell you I tried. And I failed. I could not find hill 172.0 in the respective sector. I found a couple of hills 172.x - i.e. with different decimal number. 
What does it mean? If one looks carefully at the handwriting on the citation, one can sense that the hill was corrected from 172.1 to 172.0


But I could not find hill 172.1 either. But this at least can indicate that the decimal in the hill demotion is not to be taken as a hard fact. 

OK, so we should look at the hill 172.x markers. 
There is one - 172.4 - just East of Kharkov where 58 GuRD was engaged on 18 August. Good candidate. But! This position in fact does NOT dominate the terrain (the fact that was mentioned in the citation and interview). So we need to look further. 
Then there is 172.3 just South-West of small town Merefa and just next to village Lelyuky. This is also one of the reference points with triangulation pillar installed. And importantly, this hill does dominate the landscape: the river Mzha cuts through a small valley and the two banks form two hills on each side. So from 172.3 one can observe far away to the next Eastern bank, which would make this a good position for Germans to defend from approaching Soviet forces. 
And the map of 64 GuRC shows that this position was previously occupied by Germans, which fits well to the information we have so far. 


So far so good, but we don't have yet anything more to know this was the exact hill. I was lucky to find a document which provided more support: a map produced by 57 army HQ depicting the actions of German forces. An unusual document. This map infact shows that there was a German attack near hill 172.3 by 3 tanks and 1 infantry battalion. So this yet another piece of puzzle fitting together!


So here you go! 
We found the specific location where the action took place. The date of action is determined approximately as 09 September.

The view toward the hill 172.3 from the Merefa:


The memorial in the village Lelyuky to the fallen in 1943. 


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And the final chapter on PLOTNIKOV.
After a brief hospitalisation he finished shortened officer courses , and after that shortened commissar courses. Finished the war in the rank of Lieutenant, demobilised in 1946. 

After the war he worked as a technical school director until 1952. These were specialised boarding schools attached to manufacturing facilities (existed 1940-1963) which admitted youth of 16-18 y.o. Education lasted 6 months. 
Here is PLOTNIKOV's photos as the school director. If you look closely you can see his gold star on his left breast.


Veteran retired in 1969.
Fedor Vasilievich PLOTNIKOV died 11 July 1972 of acute nephritis.


And the sad note... From PLOTNIKOV daughter's interview given in 1999: 

"He died unexpectedly. Practically burnt away in 6 days of nephritis of the kidneys. It is hard to think about it... 
When the pope was being buried, another trouble happened - his gold HSU star was stolen. The thief was never found." 

The end.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Another letter written by an HSU. Impressive military career, also post war. 
Please, meet ONUSAITIS Yuriy Iosifovich (1921 - 2005).


The letter was written on 22.03.1944 when Guards Captain ONUSAITIS was a rifle company commander of 95 Gu. rifle regiment, 31 Gu. rifle division.




Short biography: 
ONUSAITIS and his friend (they were 3rd year radio engineering students) tried to volunteer in June 1941 , but were sent home. Nevertheless few days later they were called in and after interviewing were sent to the scout and special operation school, which prepared for the missions behind enemy lines. After the school he was assigned to 88 detached scout company, 18 rifle division, Western front. 

The first mission was in October 1941 with objective to destroy a fuel depot and a bridge in Smolensk region. After the group was dropped in both objectives were fulfilled without any losses in the group. 
The second mission objective in November was one of the German HQ office, which was destroyed and a German Lt.-Colonel captured. But on their return, the group run into a German patrol and firefight ensued, in which ONUSAITIS was wounded in his left arm. After hospitalization, he was send to junior officer school and in February 1942 reassigned to the 328 rifle division (later 31 Gu. rifle div) as a rifle company commander.

Wounded again in 1943 while being 1st company commander of the training battalion.
He earned HSU title for the forced crossing of Nieman river on 14 July 1944, while being 1 rifle company commander of 95 Gu. rifle regiment. In this battle he was severely wounded in the chest (through and through wound). Despite that he remained in the line until he fell unconscious. He was sent to he hospital and returned in February back to the 31 Gu. rifle division engaging near Koenigsberg. He had the post of deputy regiment commander of 95 GuRR. But his chest wound opened again and he was sent away from the front line to the military coerces "Vistrel", located near Moscow. 

In 1954 he is graduated from the Frunze Military Academy. In 1957 colonel ONUSAITIS begins his study at Military Diplomatic Academy of Soviet Army. After graduation in 1961 and until his retirement in 1982, ONUSAITIS assumed a position in Main Intelligence Directorate of the Soviet army General Staff - GRU.
He was the head of of GRU intelligence office at Carpatian military district of the Group of Soviet forces in Germany.  
In 1980-1982 he was the military advisor to the Afghan General Staff. 

to be continued...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here is the translation of the letter (see previous post). Nothing very exciting, but still give a little feel of the atmosphere.

"22.III.44 Hello, my dear ones!
I don't know why you don't receive my letters. I write you very often. Though, not letters every time, some times just post cards, but do so often. We have spring here in full spring. Warm sunny days. But the weather here is not to rely upon  (being grumpy here). A little frost can come again. I feel my self quite well, but stomach pains still trouble me, but it will soon go away. I am very happy El'ka is doing so well. How is Dimka's health? He is getting ill quite often. I regularly receive letters from Debka. She is upset with you writing seldom to her. 
 Right now, we are sitting in the dugout. Have just been enthusiastically singing, but soon strained our voices, and now everyone is busy with his own stuff. Some of us are eagerly eliminating shchi soup. I am writing this letter. The others are still quietly singing to themselves. Our team is coherent and we work as a team. In fact I am very lucky: many other envy our teams coherent team work. 
Well so far that is it. Greatings to everyone. Big-big kiss from me.
Juriy "

HSU citation for ONUSAITIS for the action on 13-14 July 1944 during forced crossing of Nieman river. 
"13 July 1944. The 1 rifle battalion lead by Guards captain ONUSAITIS was the first one to force cross river Nieman and advanced to the right bank. Comrade ONUSAITIS prepared for crossing using locally available materials: logs, shelter tents, rafts and organised the crossing to the right bank. The crossing went successfully and with low casualties despite hurricane of enemy machine-gun, artillery and rifle fire, despite strong current and width of the river (up to 200m). 

Comrade ONUSAITIS was among the first soldiers and officers to cross the river to the Western bank, where he personally took over the command against counterattacking enemy and for extension of the bridgehead. 
Comrade ONUSAITIS personally commanded the preparation work as well as the battalions combat operations in repelling German counterattacks, which they attempted 8 times during 13 and 14 July. Being on the combat line, he lead and inspired the troops by personal example, raised them for assault, and while being severely wounded through and through by a bullet in his chest he left the battle only after he got fully immobilised and fell unconscious. Comrade ONUSAITIS' battalion eliminated over 150 Hitlerities during the engagement in defence of the bridgehead. He personally eliminated 8 German soldiers with his personal weapon. 

Bold and daring actions of battalion commander comrade ONUSAITIS allowed to extend the bridgehead and facilitated forced crossing of the whole regiment, as well as provided for further success in capturing town Alytus

Comrade ONUSAITIS is worthy of title HEERO OF SOVIET UNION, order of LENIN and GOLD STAR medal.

16 July 1944
Commander of 95 Gu. rifle regiment , Guards Lt. Colonel LESCHENKO"

The maps of the bridgehead and the citation.

map 31GuRD.jpg

map 31GuRD 19440722.jpg

citation HSU ONUSAITIS.jpg


The end.

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  • 4 weeks later...

A letter written from Sr. Lt. SHMELEV VASILIJ FILIPOVICH, 1918, to his girlfriend in January 1945. 

"Hello dear Galochka. 
First, I let you know, that I received your letter, which you wrote on 1 January 1945. Secondly, I thank you for it. Your letter has barely reached me, as I have changed a lot of address lately. 
Dear little Galochka, you ask me to write you about interesting episodes from my life, how weapons fire, how we bomb, and how we fly like meteors. You have seen all that many times, and wanted to escape that. But not good enough. No offense, just kidding.  
If you could only see how they run about in Koenigsberg, but there is no way to go. 
In one of the letters you wrote about your nightmare, in which I shot down a German plane. And really, I did shot down one plane on that day. But I had no fear, only satisfaction. And about 4 days ago I set ablaze a Focker plane. And for that one lousy Focker the Germans wanted to kill me over Koenigsberg. Such nuts!
I have not enough paper to explain all that now in details. 
I conclude the letter, and you know why? Because of the red signal flare! 
Greetings to everyone.  
30 January 1945"

Sr.Lt. SHMELEV served in 809 Fighter Aviation Regiment and conducted 229 combat sorties during the war. He had 6 air victories and 3 destroyed planes on the ground. 
On May 1945 he was awarded with "Aleksander Nevsky" order # 26891.


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And some more information has come up. Please, meet pilot SHMELEV.


SHMELEV was shot down in 26 August 1942 (light head wound in the plane crash) and was kept POW in town Pyatigorsk (North Caucasus region) until his escape in November 1942.  
Then NKVD special clearance camp for ex POW. After that one some rear positions (not clear if due to health reasons or due to him being ex-POW). 
But in October 1944 he is again back to his original unit - 805 fighter aviation regiment. 

Retired as deputy regiment commander in the rank of lt.-colonel in 1955. 

POW record:


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  • 1 month later...

Please meet technic-intendant 2 class ROSS ALEKSANDER IVANOVICH, born 1904 in town Nikolaev (Ukraine).
The veteran wrote this letter on 08 June 1944 to his wife, who resided in Kiev at the time. If you read the letter you will see the intrigue.


town Stalino, 08/VI/1944
Greetings my dear Shurochka (wife's name), my dear mother and my lovely daughter Annushka. I am alive and well.
I didn't write you because I was on the state clearance, first in the village Mandrikino, then in village Gorlovka. Now I have passed the state clearance and assigned to the ranks of RKKA. Soon I am leaving for the front.

Dear Shurochka! Our 3 year long suffering and turmoil are soon to end. Not more, than in a couple of months, if I survive (I am not in doubt I will) our lives will turn to the better - I will send you my soldiers provisions attest and the live will be as it used to.

I sent a teletype letter to Mrs.Chernogor today. I need your address. Expect my next letter either from the front or from transit.
Write me where is Misha and Vanya? How are you living and where? Pass my loving fatherly kiss to my precious son Misha.
Good bye. Kisses to all of you. Greetings to all the friends and neighbors.

Donbass, town Stalino.
My address: fieldpost 44482 Ж.
Aleksander (please, don't write me)
The letter was written right after ROSS successfully passed through the filtration camp, because he was living on the German occupied territory from August 1941 until December 1943. He was in service since February 1936. In June 1941 he was the head of supply train of the 19 Howitzer Artillery Regiment, which was located close to the state border when Germany attacked. His unit quickly found itself to be behind the front line.
As many others in such situation he was declared MIA:
But ROSS survived. It also appears to me, he evaded being captured by Germans (i.e. he was not a POW), but managed to get shelter somewhere and live his live through 1941-1942-1943. I don't know exactly how. Maybe he managed to get to his home town Nikolaev or he just settled somewhere quiet in the countryside (another common survival scenario during that period).

So by June 1944 he was cleared, i.e. no fact of collaboration with Germans were found on him. Despite the fact, that formally all these cleared men (and there were many of them) were not found guilty of any crimes, they had to take a 2 months shift in an Assault units - detached assault battalion&company. 2 months or until wounded. Or killed. So ROSS was on his way to 13 detached assault battalion, where he arrived on 12 July 1944.
The 13 detached assault battalion existed from 20.06 till 01.10.1944. It was moved a lot between the rifle units, and it seems after 04.07.1944 it was assigned to 416 rifle division (32 rifle corps, 5 shock army, Southern front).

The further fate of the veteran is not 100% clear to me. I don't see any direct and specific KIA report. But his award record is not in the archive and nothing else positive can be found either... So I am fearing the worst...
But this is not the end. It gets even worse...
It appears , that ROSS' son Misha - Mikhail Aleksandrovich ROSS, born 1925 in town Nikolaev, was KIA on 14 January 1945. He served from Summer 1944 first as a rifleman in 358 rifle regiment, 136 rifle division. Awarded Bravery medal in October 1944.
By January 1945 he was a MG section leader.
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  • 5 months later...

An interesting extension to my collection and excellent letter linked to the pilot Vsevolod RASPOPOV, who was shot down over Crimea and captured by Germans. See posts #11 of this thread.

This is one is addressed to RASPOPOV's father, Yuri Alekseevich Raspopov, and written by a stranger woman.

Greetings, Yuri Alekseevich.
Your son Vsevolod RASPOPOV - the pilot who has been a prisoner of war in the town Simferopol for about 2 weeks. On the night of 13 March 1944, i.e. when Germans retreated, they were taken away in unknown direction. Their further fate is unknown?
The previously captured pilots were kept and later transported to the West.
They were captured at Syvash lakes. The engine broke, they tried to escape but were captured. 
I was working in the unit where the pilots were held. I supplied them with our newspapers and some other items. All these 4 pilots asked me to inform their families about them. 
I am SHUSHAKOVA Vera Tikhonovna. My address is town Simferopol, Zhelyabova street 15. 
Please, let me know if you received this message. My duty is to inform you and fulfil their wish.

The house at the address Simferopol, Zhelyabova street 15.


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  • 9 months later...

This is an innocent looking letter. One of many, right? Not quite! :)

First of all, not often one sees a man whose first name is Achilles (Ахилл) like the Greek hero, right?
OK, this alone makes my mental alarm beep. But there is more. Much more.
Apparently, STALIN made an example of this man and named the guy specifically in one of his decrees in October 1941.
But first, the letter, which was written on 01 April 1944 to the wife.
The author is Commissar BANKWITZER Achilles L'vovich (1892-1970).
"Dear Allya,
It is all the same here. I am very worried due to lack of news from you, even though I know for a fact, that it takes 13 days for a letter to arrive from Moscow. So, it takes 26 days to get an answer on my letter. Write me every day at field post 83244 (not field post station - apparently these are not the same). 
Are there any new about Igorek? It is unbearable to think, he is not alive anymore... I probably will get mad of these thoughts. 
Allya! I beg you, don't spare my possessions, but sell them to improve your situation. Don't you understand, that your well being is more important to me, than my clothes, books and so on? Write me very detailed about the course of your illness. Any seizures? How often? But don't hide anything. Write how it is! Please, pay for the telephone bill for the next 3 months. 
We still have snow, rain, and mud up to knees. On one hand, it's good, because the running Germans abandon their equipment. But walking on this damn swamp is terrible. 
I sincerely, regret KOFTAKOV is free of this troubles. If you only knew, how much I despise all those bastards sitting comfortably in the rear area. All those SMIRNOVs and BALEZINs and others like them! And how they talk patronisingly to us (top-down), when we visit them in the rear area. And how much the old machine-gunner ZELINSKY is bigger, than all of those! He is a real Russian patriot! And those are the patriots of their own bellies.
Well, take care of your self, my dear! Write me!

Igorek, mentioned in the letter, is the veteran's son Igor - a partisan, who was KIA in December 1942 near Leningrad.


And now is the most interesting bit. On 04 October 1941, the defence commissar comrade STALIN, issued the decree №0391: "On the facts of replacing pedagogical work with repressions".
Here is Google translation it. You will find BANKWITZER's name in the decrees body.

04 October 1941

On the facts of replacing pedagogical work with repressions.
Recently, there have been frequent cases of unlawful repression and gross abuse of power by individual commanders and commissars in relation to their subordinates.
The lieutenant of the 288 joint venture Komissarov without any reason shot the Red Army soldier Kubica with a shot from a gun.
 - Former chief of 21 SD Colonel Suschenko SUSCHENKO shot Jr. Sgt. PERSHIKOV because he slowly got off his car due to an illness in his hand.
 - The platoon commander of the motorized rifle company of the 1026th Infantry Regiment, Lieutenant MIKRYUKOV, shot dead his assistant, the junior platoon commander Ba-Burin, allegedly for not following the order.
 - The military commissar of the 28th Panzer Division, regimental commissar BANKWITZER, beat up one sergeant for lighting a cigarette at night; he beat up Major Zanoznogo for an impolite conversation with him.
 - The chief of staff of the 529th Infantry Regiment, Captain SAKUR, without any justification, hit twice with a pistol of Art. Lieutenant Sergeev.

Such intolerable facts in the Red Army about the distortion of disciplinary practice, the excess of the granted rights and authorities, lynching and hand-application are explained by the fact that:
a) the method of persuasion was incorrectly pushed into the background, and the method of repression against subordinates took first place;
b) in some cases, everyday educational work in units is replaced by abuse, repression, and assault;
c) the method of clarification and conversation of commanders, commissars, political workers with the Red Army is abandoned and the explanation of questions incomprehensible to the Red Army is often replaced by a cry, abuse and rudeness;
d) individual commanders and political workers are lost in difficult battle conditions, panic and cover their own confusion with the use of weapons without any reason;
e) the truth is forgotten that the use of repression is an extreme measure, admissible only in cases of direct disobedience and open resistance in a combat situation or in cases of malicious violation of discipline and order by persons who deliberately go to the detachment of orders of the command.

Commanders, commissars, and political workers are obliged to remember that without the right combination of persuasion and coercion, it is inconceivable to impose Soviet military discipline and strengthen the political and moral state of troops.
Severe punishment in relation to malicious violators of military discipline, accomplices of the enemy and obvious enemies should be combined with an attentive analysis of all cases of violation of discipline, requiring a detailed clarification of the circumstances of the case.

Unreasonable repression, illegal executions, arbitrariness and assault by commanders and commissars are a manifestation of lack of will and armlessness, often lead to the opposite results, contribute to the fall of military discipline and the political and moral state of troops and can push unstable fighters to dash to the side of the enemy.

I here by command:
1. Restore educational work in the rights, make wide use of the method of persuasion, and not replace the everyday explanatory work with administration and repression.
2. All commanders, political workers and commanders have daily conversations with the Red Army men, explaining to them the need for iron military discipline, honest performance of their military duty, military oath and orders of the commander and chief. In conversations, it should also be clarified that a serious threat loomed over our Homeland, that the greatest self-sacrifice, unwavering stamina in battle, contempt for death and merciless struggle with cowards, deserters, wreckers, provocateurs and traitors to the homeland are needed to defeat the enemy.
3. To explain widely to the commanding staff that lynching, assault and arenas, humiliating the rank of warrior of the Red Army, lead not to strengthening, but to undermining discipline and authority of the commander and political worker.
4. In the most decisive way, right up to bringing the guilty tribunal to trial, to combat all phenomena of unlawful repression, assault, and lynching.
An order to declare to the entire commanding staff of the field army up to and including the commander and commissar of the regiment.

People's Commissar of Defense I. Stalin
Chief of General Staff B. Shaposhnikov

The book written by BANKWITZER about his war years: "The men of our division".

Edited by Egorka
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