Distinguished guests:

terça-feira, 25 de abril de 2017

Наталья Венедиктовна Ковшовa - Natalya Venediktovna Kovshova

Natalya Venediktovna Kovshova (Russian: Наталья Венедиктовна Ковшовa, b. 26 November 1920 – d. 14 August 1942) was a Soviet sniper who fought in the Great Patriotic War.
She fought with her friend Mariya Polivanova who acted as her spotter. Natalya fought bravely throughout the war; she was killed fighting German Wehrmacht forces near Novgorod in August 1942. She was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union which was the Soviet Union's highest award for bravery.

Natalya Kovshova was born in Ufa, the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan in Russia, and  is one of the largest cities in Russia.
Shortly after her birth, her family moved to Moscow. After graduating from high school, Kovshova began work at a Moscow research institute while waiting to be accepted into a university of aviation. She met a girl called Mariya Polivanova while in the institute; the two became good friends.

When the Great Patriotic War began in 1941, Kovshova joined a Narodnoe Opolcheniye (self-defence) unit in Moscow with Polivanova at age 21. These self-defence groups were started when German Luftwaffe aircraft began to bomb Russian cities and towns.
Kovshova was put in charge of the observation and communication department, spending many nights in the control tower.
After her experience at the self-defence group, Kovshova attended sniper training in the 528th Rifle Regiment. After her training had been completed, she was sent to the front with the 528th Rifle Regiment.

In January 1942, Kovshova and Polivanova, who had joined the same regiment shortly after Kovshova, began fighting the German forces on the Northwestern Front. Both women established themselves as the Regiment's resident snipers. Kovshova was the shooter in the two-women sniper team, and Polivanova acted as the spotter.
They both fought in the Battle of Moscow when the 528th Rifle Regiment were sent to help defend Russia's capital.
During the battle, Kovshova proved to be an expert sniper, killing many German soldiers. She also dug numerous anti-tank emplacements, machine gun nests, and infantry trenches during the defence. She took the job of training new soldiers how to use the rifles.
She also trained the best students to become snipers, teaching them marksmanship early; passing on her shooting skills. It is estimated that Kovshova killed over 300 German soldiers during the battle for Moscow.
For her actions at Moscow, Kovshova was awarded the Order of the Red Star.

 Kovshova expressed great hatred of the Germans during the Great Patriotic War.
She was inspired by the Soviet propaganda explaining how the Soviet soldiers were fighting for the liberation of the Motherland.
She wrote to her mother in 1942:
"You can hear horrible stories from local residents who have been in the hands of the fascist pigs. The women we live with had a guest come to visit said that the Germans shot her brother and four of her friends simply because they went outside after 4pm." Natalya found great delight in killing German soldiers.

She wrote to her mother on 7 July 1942:
"My dearest Mama!" "Please don't be angry that I didn't write to you about being wounded. But I didn't want to worry you for no reason, since nothing serious happened..." "I've been back with my unit 2nd June 1942. Now Mashenka [Mariya] and I are working with the young snipers. Their statistics are looking good. In the last two weeks of June our students took down 3 Fritzes. Not bad!"... "A few days ago five of us went on reconnaissance without saying anything to the company commander. We were right under the German's very noses and they had no clue!"

On 14 August 1942, Kovshova's regiment was committed to the fighting near the village of Sutoki-Byakovo in the Novgorod Oblast. The machine gunners and snipers resisted the German offensive in trenches. The Soviet soldiers were killed one after another, until only Kovshova and Polivanova remained, both wounded.
As being captured was not an option, Kovshova decided to pull the pin of her grenade, and wait to blow the German soldiers up when they reached the trench.
When the Germans finally reached the trench, Kovshova detonated the grenades, killing herself, Polivanova and many German soldiers.

                                                                         She was posthumously awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union shortly after, in recognition of her sacrífice.

    1944 Soviet postage stamp depicting Polivanova and Kovshova

Kovshova´s biography book cover.

Kovshova and Polivanova

In Moscow, where the corners of Maria Polivanova and Natalia Kovshova Streets meet, there are two memorial plaques celebrating the memory of the heroic friends.


Another one of the fabulous EK Castings miniatures, proudly made in Russia :)

sábado, 22 de abril de 2017

князь Михаил Илларионович Голенищев-Кутузов - Prince Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov

Field Marshal of the Russian Empire, Kutuzov served as one of the finest military officers and diplomats of Russia under the reign of three Romanov Tsars: Catherine II, Paul I and Alexander I. His military career was closely associated with the rising period of Russia from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 19th century. 
Kutuzov is considered to have been one of the best Russian generals.

He was born in Saint Petersburg in 1745 to a family of Novgorod nobility.
His father was a Russian general and senator. Kutuzov began military schooling at age 12 and joined the Imperial Russian Army in 1759. Three years later Kutuzov became a company commander in the Astrakhan Infantry Regiment under Alexander Suvorov. He took part in crushing the Polish Bar Confederation rebellion. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774 he served in the staff of Pyotr Rumyantsev at Moldova for the battles of Larga and Kagul. In July 1774 at Crimea, Kutuzov was severely wounded by a bullet that went through his temple and out near his right eye, which became permanently scarred.
He returned to Crimea in 1776 to assist Suvorov and conducted negotiations with the last Crimean khan Girey, convincing him to abdicate and submit to Russia.


After Kutuzov became Governor-General of Crimea in 1787, the Russo-Turkish War of 1787–1792 began.
 He was again severely wounded in 1788 during the Siege of Ochakov when a bullet was shot through both of his temples. Kutuzov came back a year later, taking part in the Battle of Rymnik and Siege of Izmail. Near the end of the war, he led a decisive charge at the Battle of Măcin.
 Kutuzov was on good terms with Tsar Paul, but had disputes with his successor Tsar Alexander. 
In 1805, he led Russian forces alongside Austria during the Napoleonic Wars. The allied Russo-Austrian army was defeated by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz. 
Alexander blamed Kutuzov and demoted him to Moldova for the Russo-Turkish War of 1806–1812. Kutuzov vanquished a four-times larger Turkish army at Rousse and brought an end to the war with a decisive victory at the Battle of the Danube. For his achievements, he was awarded the titles of Count and Prince.

Kutuzov returned at the request of Alexander for the French invasion of Russia.
He was appointed Commander-in-Chief, succeeding Barclay de Tolly and continuing his scorched earth policy up to Moscow. Under Kutuzov's command, the Russian army faced the Grande Armée at the Battle of Borodino.
He allowed Napoleon to take an abandoned Moscow, which was afterwards set on fire.

 Kutuzov counter-attacked once Napoleon retreated from Moscow, pushing the French out of the Russian homeland.
In recognition of this, Kutuzov was awarded the victory title of Prince Smolensky.
He stepped down from command due to deteriorating health soon after the French left Russia. Kutuzov died in 1813 at Bunzlau and was buried at the Kazan Cathedral in Saint Petersburg.
Kutuzov was highly regarded in the works of Russian and Soviet historians.

   Text source: Wikipedia

My impression of Kutuzov´s monument in front of the marvellous Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, in St. Petersburg.  Not an easy task - plenty of tourists immortalizing themselves in the vicinity... :)

 Kutuzov´s tomb, inside the Cathedral (image taken from the internet)

Yet another of the wonderful miniatures I bought in St. Petersburg. 
It is made in Russia by EK Castings.

segunda-feira, 17 de abril de 2017

Василий Зайцев - Vasiliy Zaitsev

   Vasiliy Zaitsev 
 Sniper of the 1047th Infantry Regiment
 Autumn of 1942, Stalingrad, USSR 


 Васи́лий Григо́рьевич За́йцев (Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev) b. 23 March 1915 – d.15 December 1991, was a Soviet sniper and a Hero of the Soviet Union during World War II.
 Prior to 10 November, he killed 32 Axis soldiers with the standard-issue Mosin–Nagant rifle (effective range of 900 metres or 985 yards). 
Between 10 November 1942 and 17 December 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad, he killed 225 soldiers and officers of the Wehrmacht and other Axis armies, including 11 enemy snipers.

 Zaytsev was born in Yeleninskoye, Orenburg Governorate in a peasant family of Russian ethnicity and grew up in the Ural Mountains, where he learned marksmanship by hunting deer and wolves with his grandfather and older brother. 
He brought home his first trophy at the age of 12: a wolf that he shot with a single bullet from his first personal rifle, a large single-shot Berdan, which at the time he was barely able to carry on his back.

 Zaytsev served in the Soviet Navy as a clerk in Vladivostok. 
When Germany invaded the Soviet Union, Zaytsev, like many of his comrades, volunteered to be transferred to the front line. 
He was a chief petty officer in the Navy and was assigned the rank of senior warrant officer upon transfer to the army. 
He was eventually assigned to the 1047th Rifle Regiment of the 284th "Tomsk" Rifle Division, which became part of the 62nd Army at Stalingrad on 17 September 1942.

During Zaytsev's career as a sniper, he would conceal himself in various locations – for example, on high ground, under rubble, or in water pipes. After a few kills, he would change his position. Together with his partner Nikolai Kulikov, Zaytsev would exercise his hide and sting tactics. 
One of Zaytsev’s common tactics was to cover one large area from three positions, with two men at each point – a sniper and a scout. This tactic, known as the “sixes”, is still in use today and was implemented during the war in Chechnya. Zaytsev took part in the Battle of Stalingrad until January 1943, when a mortar attack injured his eyes. He was attended to by Vladimir Filatov, who is credited with restoring Zaytsev's sight. On 22 February 1943, Zaytsev was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. He then returned to the front and finished the war at the Battle of the Seelow Heights in Germany, with the military rank of captain. He became a member of the Communist Party in 1943.

 After the war, Zaytsev settled in Kiev, where he studied at a textile university before obtaining employment as an engineer. He rose to become the director of a textile factory in Kiev and remained in that city until he died on 15 December 1991 at the age of 76, just ten days before the final dissolution of the Soviet Union. He was initially buried in Kiev despite his final request to be buried at Volgograd (Stalingrad). 

On 31 January 2006, Vasily Zaytsev was reburied on the Mamayev Kurgan in Volgograd with full military honors. Zaytsev's dying wish was to be buried at the monument to the defenders of Stalingrad. His coffin was carried next to a monument where his famous quote is written:

                             "For us there was no land beyond the Volga".

Colonel Donald Paquette of the U.S. Sniper School was present and laid a wreath as a sign of respect to a legendary sniper. U.S. Army News quoted Colonel Paquette: "Vasily Zaytsev is a legend and every American sniper must memorize his tactics and methods. He is a legend amongst snipers. May he rest in peace."

      Text and tomb photo source: Wikipedia

          Vasily Zaytsev posing with his Mosin-Nagant sniper rifle, Stalingrad, Russia, October 1942.

                        I bought this wonderful miniature in Petersburg some days ago. It is made in Russia by EK Castings.