One time our own aviation flew over and bombed the Germans with no mercy. I managed to flee in the general chaos. With many precautions I was able to reach Dnepropetrovsk by train. From there I traveled on foot to Novomoskovsk. The town was burnt to the ground but my mother was alive. She hid me in the hayloft, because the Germans were shooting all new arrivals. Two weeks later the local partisan-underground members...
In the summer of 1944, I once again experienced the desperate hell of war. The temperature was up to 30C. To attack, it was necessary for us to go through the woods where Germans had set up obstructions, which they set on fire as we approached. The flames were as if in a blast-furnace. The caustic smoke caused pain that "ate away" at my eyes…And in this nightmare, in addition to being under enemy bombardment, I - the gun layer - had to aim precisely!
Some older soldier had dug himself a small hole and was sitting in it. He said, "What are you crawling for? Jump in here!" I jumped. I could not sit there for too long! I sat for a little. I said, "I can't stay any longer!" I crawled forward, got a wounded soldier, and started crawling back. I crawled back to the trench, but there was a chunk missing from the soldier's head.
The first baptism of fire was the raid of the scout group into enemy positions in order to find out the system of firing emplacements and capture a “tongue”. The group had been active within enemy positions for 3 days, and the mission was accomplished. During a skirmish my fellow countryman, Mikhail Nikitin, was severely wounded. He was the first soldier I ever carried away on my back.