When the Great Patriotic War started, I had just finished the second year of my pedagogical high school. My father went to the front, and I started working at a sewing factory in the name of N.K. Krupskaya. I took part in immediate peat-digging works, dug anti-tank trenches.
Having learned of the existence of sniping courses, I appealed to my district military comissariat with a request. I was directed to the Central female school of sniper training. There was a whole company of small – both in stature and age – girls. We were even nicknamed like that – “pencil company”.
I successfully finished this school and in the rank of senior sergeant arrived to the front near Orsha in the end of 1943 – to 508th rifle regiment of 174th rifle division.
The fighters of the regiment treated us fatherly, especially aged soldiers. The front-line soldiers knew how hard it was to survive at the front line, especially to such fragile ones as we were. Sometimes we could only wash ourselves with cold-burning snow on mornings in frozen trenches and dugouts.
Every day and night snipers went to the front line – for a “hunt”. They dug in and observed the relocations of Germans on the front line. This was the place I opened my sniper’s score.
I remember how I killed my first fascist. Together with my partner Zina Vershinina we occupied our sniping positions. While observing enemy positions, I spotted a machinegunner. I aimed and shot. It was unclear whether I hit him or not. But when I returned to the detachment, everyone already knew I’d killed an enemy. An artillery observer reported this. He saw it in his periscope, how the enemy machine gunner was killed. Everyone was joyous, they hurries to congratulate me. And I wept, for I had to kill a man…
I – a common girl – had a hard time getting accustomed to the front and shoot at people, although I understood I was shooting at the enemy. Soon there was a crisis into my conscience. Seeing people’s sorrow, tears and blood of my native land, I understood there could be no pity to the fierce invaders. For the killing of my 10 first Hitlerites I was awarded with the medal “For Courage”.
The offensive started. My comrades, girls and men, were dying by whole detachments, platoons and companies. Our regiment received reinforcements right on the march and attacked again. We liberated Orsha, Minsk, Grodno, Suvalki. There started fighting by the coast of the Baltic sea. Main direction – Koenigsberg! There I was wounded in the arm. After my recovery I caught up with my regiment by taking passing vehicles.
The battles were hard and bloody. In one place on the coast we found a POW camp and freed all inmates. There was so much joy, happiness and abundant tears on their faces! They kissed us and wept like children…
Among many battle episodes The following one was the most memorable to me. In the Autumn of 1944 there was heavy fighting in Poland. An enemy sniper appeared in one location, and we suffered appreciable losses: our commander, a scout and many signalmen were killed. There came an order: “Destroy fascist sniper!”
Three of us went to carry out the order: Nina Isaeva, Lena Akulova and I. We settled upon our positions and started shooting at roofs with armor-piercing incendiary bullets. Thatched roofs caught fire fast, the Germans started escaping those houses with their mortars and machineguns. And we shot on and on… We were so carried away with this, that we completely forgot about staying cautious. And the German sniper noticed us. He hit Nina Isaeva right in the eye by a well-aimed shot. Luckily, she stayed alive, although she lost her eye and her vision was significantly impaired.
Having concentrated ourselves, we still discovered the lair of the enemy sniper and eliminated him, as well as other firing positions of the Germans. Our task was fully accomplished! For this successful battle operation I was awarded with the Order of Glory, 3rd Grade.
The war went on. I had 43 eliminated fascists on my personal account. I was awarded with the second order of soldier’s Glory – 2nd Grade.
I finished the war in Chekhoslovakia. I took part in the parade along the streets of Prague. I returned home in August, 1945.
|Translated by:||Alexander Shmidke|