OVER THE BATTLE FIELD
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– Over the battlefield (IS Military Memoirs) 2.96 Mb, 346s. (read) (read page by page) (download fb2) (download corrected) – Alexander Nikolaevich Efimov
Chapter first. First height.
In that second military autumn of 1942, September in the Moscow region turned out to be capricious. Sunny weather was often replaced by cold rains, the sky was gloomy, the crimson colors of the autumn forest faded untimely.
Inclement weather, disappointing reports from the Soviet Information Bureau had a bad effect on the mood. The Nazis rushed to Stalingrad, sought to cut off the Caucasus. And there is nothing comforting on the Western Front.
We’d rather get on a plane and go to battle!.. Tolya Ukraintsev, a friend from the aviation school, and I, for the third day kneaded the mud on the front roads in the troops of the airfield we needed. His trace was found unexpectedly. The traffic sergeant helped. He also attached us to a car with shells that was heading in that direction.
In the cockpit of the three-ton we felt happy: now we will surely get there. Clinging to each other to keep warm, we dozed off and … drove through our crossroads. Woke up from the close gun roar. Where has this taken us? It turns out that the driver brought us directly to the firing position of the battery, skillfully disguised at the edge of the forest. She supported the attack of our infantry on an unnamed height, along the crest of which the enemy dug in.
The volleys of our guns merged with close bursts of fascist shells. In the artillery cannonade, it was difficult for us, unfired, to determine where our shot was and where the rupture of someone else’s shell was. It was easy to fall under the tight wave of the explosion or under the fragments flying like a fan. Curious Tolya picked up one of these, heavy, with notches, and immediately threw:
“Hot, you bastard!”
Machine-gun bursts were woven into the artillery duel. From time to time above us, touching the tops of the trees, mines grunted with anguish, showering the battery crews with fragments. Among the gunners were already wounded. But no one left the guns.
It was a difficult attack: the terrain ahead was open, and lead rain was pouring down from above. In anticipation of the command, our infantry clung to the wet ground. Here the chain rose and rushed forward. Machine guns barked angrily from above. It was painful to see how the figures of our soldiers fell and remained motionless. The thinned chain stuck. The attack faltered. As if choking, guns and machine guns fell silent at once. Silence reigned for a moment… The motionless figures of soldiers on the rain-soaked field, and this absurd, ominous silence…
Then there were many fights on my way, but this one, the first one, seen “from the outside”, was engraved in my memory for life.
Confused and stunned, we did not immediately realize what the artillery lieutenant, heated by the battle, with two dice on his buttonholes, was trying to achieve from us. After our confused explanations, I finally realized that we, young pilots, were heading to an assault aviation regiment, looking for an airfield.
– Search there! – he sharply waved his hand to the rear, and he broke into a cry: – And in general, where is it – your aircraft? Where is the promised air support? Who will answer for them? The lieutenant cast an angry glance towards our fighters who remained on the slope of a nameless height.
Depressed, we returned from the front line. The rain that started pouring in the morning did not stop. Our gray soldier’s greatcoats were soaked through. Water sloshed in his boots, heavy with mud.
A dry ration has long been eaten – six black crackers. And yet, more than hunger and cold, resentment tormented us. We were so proud of our aviation, and then suddenly the planes did not arrive, the infantry attack failed. So many soldiers died before our eyes!
However little our experience was, we, of course, guessed that aviation that day was doomed to inactivity due to difficult meteorological conditions. With such visibility, it is difficult to see the object of attack even from a low height. And if you gape, you yourself will crash into some slope. No, we came to the conclusion that it was impossible to fly in such weather.
But as soon as the picture of the battle for the height and the face of the lieutenant distorted by anger rose in the memory, the logical course of our reasoning was interrupted. It seems that we were aware that the attack aircraft should act in the interests of the ground forces even in the rain. But at that time it was still unknown to us that soon we ourselves would conduct combat work in much more difficult conditions.
During conversations, we imperceptibly approached the turn we needed to the village of Chertanovo. A plywood pointer with a laconic inscription: “The economy of the Thousand” is nailed to a lonely standing poplar.
There is no doubt that we are on the right track. Even in the personnel department of the Western Front, we were told that Major Tysyachny was the commander of our assault aviation regiment.
Finally, here is Chertanovo. The only street was blocked by a makeshift barrier. Passing it, they immediately met an officer with a red armband on his sleeve.