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One of my Favorite Groups - Guards Lt. Colonel Mikhail Tolkachev

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This is one of my favorite groups. It belonged to Guards Lt. Colonel Mikhail Aleksandrovich Tolkachev.

Colonel Tolkachev joined the Red Army on 18 September 1938 and served until 11 December 1964. He served through WW2 and and advised the Red Chinese. He was a career tanker, though his positions during the War included service with motor rifle units. The greatest thing about this group was that he kept the photos he took at the end of the War! It sheds an interesting light on the road to victory (so to speak) at the vanguard of the 3rd Guards Tank Army, where he served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations for the 22nd Motor-Rifle Brigade attached to the 6th Guards Tank Corps.

During the War, he earned the Red Banner, two OGPW 1sts, and the Red Star. His citations include the following:

In the village of Medvezhinskoye 27 January 1943, after all our rifle commanders were killed during an enemy counterattack, he stopped a squad from the battalion and personally led the soldiers into an attack. As a result of this surprise counterattack, our soldiers retook the village and forced out the enemy. After the enemy had fled, our soldiers launched another attack and destroyed the enemy forces. He acted with exceptional courage.


His first Order of the Patriotic War was awarded in September 1943. He was initially nominated for a second Red Star, but it was upgraded to the Order of Kutuzov 3rd Class. Other minds prevailed however, and he was awarded the OGPW 1st

Captain Tolkachev, as a Chief of Staff of the 1059th Rifle Regiment, immediately participated in the preparation of operations carried out by the regiment between 22 August 1943 and 28 September 1943. In combat, during the offensive, he provided prompt leadership. As a result of the implemented plans that have been developed with Comrade Tolkachev?s active participation, the troops broke through heavy German fortifications of the on the western bank of the Severnaya Dontsa river in the village of Krivaya Lyka from 4 to 5 September 1943 and advanced, taking over the villages of Krivaya Lyka, Zakatnoye, Kolenniki, Bezkrovny, Rai-Alexandrovka, as well as the mountain of Slovyanska and the height 168,4 towering over Slovyansk. The taking of this height provided for the advancement of our troops to the west and south-west of Slovyansk, to the village of Shostakovka, where the enemy attempted to stop the advancement of our troops. As a result of the able and prompt leadership of Captain Tolkachev during the attacks, up to 950 enemy officers and soldiers, 8 trucks carrying goods, 2 artillery and 1 mortar batteries, 10 earth and timber pillboxes were destroyed. Ten motorcycles, 3 warehouses with ammunition, 30 bicycles, 2 fuel warehouses, 6 machine-guns and other smaller pieces were captured. Comrade Tolkachev deserves to be awarded the Order of Red Star.

His second Order of the Patriotic War was awarded in January 1945 with the following citation:

During the course of brigade?s military campaigns, Guards Captain Tolkachev, as a Deputy Operations Chief of Staff, maintained the operations of his department at top levels.

By providing timely information about the situation on the battlefield, informing the sub-units of military orders, and ensuring their complete fulfillment, he helped the brigade to successfully fulfill its military objectives.

Comrade Tolkachev actively participated in the crossing of the rivers Nida and Pyalitsa by the sub-units of the brigade. The crossings of the rivers were exemplary.

For his courage and bravery he deserves to be awarded the Order of the Great Patriotic War 1st Class.

His final wartime award was the Order of the Red Banner in April 1945. He was initially nominated for an Order of Lenin, but it was downgraded to the Red Banner.

Comrade Tolkachev works as the deputy head of operations. During the course of brigade?s military actions, he has showed himself as a courageous, developing commander. On 24 April 1945 during forced crossing of the Teltov Canal, Guards Captain Tolkachev, who was among the infantry under heavy enemy artillery fire, organized the crossing of the Canal with only locally procured materials.

During street fighting in Berlin, Comrade Tolkachev organized effective coordination between the means of enforcement and advancing infantry.

He is brave and resolved in battle, fulfills the orders of his commanders without regard for his life. For courage and bravery in battles he deserves to be awarded with the Order of Lenin.

What an amazing wartime record! And yet, as can be seen by the photos, he never lost his wry smile. A truly amazing man that I would have loved to have met in person.

Enjoy the following posts....


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Here's a very nice single shot of one of the Operations briefs on the road to Berlin. Being the Operations Officer, this was his bread and butter... his choices of what routes to take and who they were facing was a matter of life and death for the men of the unit...

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And another shot taken at the same movement... I'm guessing it was in March/April 1945 as he hadn't yet been awarded his Red Banner. I wonder what the German farmers were thinking...

Edited by NavyFCO
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Interestingly, the photos are dated 1945, but some of his award documents (for his foreign awards and Prague) are dated 1946. Perhaps this was an example of a time where they handed out the medals and gave them temporary documents?

Here's a formal photo of him, from late 1945. This is the exact same photo as the one from his service history.

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He was decorated by several nations, not the least of whom were the Poles and Czechs. Here is his Polish award document for the victory medal. Interestingly, it is signed by a SOVIET general. Even more interesting is that I have this general's personnel file scanned and posted on my website! :cheers:

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