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Crossing of the river of Oder.


We had to cross Oder. The river was complicated and split in two channel, Ost-Oder and WestOder, each about 240 m width and separated by 3-km space filled with small rivers, channels and dumps. The autobahn bridge was blown. The opposite side was considerably higher and dominated the terrain.

Our regiment was transferred to the 70th Army of the 2nd Belorussian front. In the early hours of April 19, we crossed Ost-Oder via the pantoon bridge prepared by our combat engineers. Just as we entered the bridge it was blown. The captured German war swimmers confirmed that it was their job. After the bridge was repaired we finally crossed Ost-Oder. The narrow dump led forward. We went another 500 m forward with the infantry and stormers running behind us, when came a bombardment. The shell splashed fountains of dirt and water around us but we kept on moving forward shooting as we detected German positions on the sides.

Step by step we reached West-Oder. At the nighttime the combat engineers and supporting stormers crossed West-Oder in the amphibious armored cars and kept the bridgehead till the pantoon bridge was laid across the channel.

At 8.00 our tank went through the vibrating under the tracks bridge to the opposite side. All around us the Germans could be seen. We had to use flame-thrower again and again. The machine-guns were hot from the continuos firing. The fire from our shots was all around. The gun could not be used due to the terrain but we kept on moving forward.

Counter-attacks started. On the autobahn Stettin-Berlin the shell from the SP gun bounced of the turret. The driver took the tank to the small hill and we opened fire at the attacking Germans. Our tanks were backed up by Katjushas, whose missiles fell just exactly among the German infantry. Our tank jumped forward and shooting from the gun and the flame-thrower, we reached the mass of Germans. The Germans could say nothing but "Hitler kaput!" to our infantrymen, who were collecting them. These words were the slogan of the day as they were repeated by children, women, soldiers.

The battle with German tanks and guns lasted the whole day of April 21. Our troops slowly but sure were pressing the Germans backward. There was no fun in dying a few hours before the Victory and the thought was frightening but it the fight was to be fought, and I was any better than any of my comrades, which were dying in this battle. All we, tankers, artillerymen, pilots and many others, worked for the simple infantrymen, to help our guys in the infantry move forward, burn, smash and blow whatever was between them and the Victory.

The Commander of the 70th Army Popov demanded to capture immediately the railway station Tantow, which was an important point in supplying the defending Germans. The operative plan was urgently prepared by the Army headquarters.

The night storm was fast. The barrage from all guns and then red-purple traces of Kathjushas' missiles shook the defending troops. The Germans run under the attack of our assault troops dropping on the battlefield 24 AA guns, a battery of 10.5-cm howitzers, warm supper and ready for sleep beds.

With the infantry aboard our tanks, we followed the enemy not allowing them to stop and prepare the defense. We avoided the defense positions of Germans moving ahead of elements of our partners, the 136th Infantry division.

On April 29, unexpectedly for Germans we reached the small city of Woldek. Taken by surprise, the German offered no resistance. The self-propelled gun we came across did have time to shoot. Shelukhanov's platoon dispersed a group of Germans.

We resumed our raid. Rostock was behind us already as we closed our objective, a small city at the seaside, which we were to take and keep till the arrival of the main forces. We were driving ahead of our troops through the calm but suspicious Germany, through the streets without people with only white banners hanging out of windows.

Without a fight we reached a small city Bad Dohberan. Nobody was expecting to see the soviet tanks and did not even recognized us as out tanks, covered with dust and dirt, rolled through the city. The steamer was working at the railway, even the citizens might be seen in the park. Suddenly the concentration camp appeared from behind the turn. The gray barracks stood behind the lines of barbed wire. Our tank torn it apart following the running guards in the black uniform. The liberated prisoners cried from the happiness near our tanks. The view of girls and guys in the gray uniform, with tears of happiness greeting us, was one of my dearest memories.

The Victory! May 9, 1945. The war was won. The regiment commander read the order on the seizure of combat and nominations. I was awarded the membership to the order of Alexander Nevski and received two medals as well.

Many my comrades received the decorations the same day.

The war ended.

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