|The Hot War |
POD: November, 1950
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
|Nationality:||Russian citizen of the Soviet Union|
|Date of Birth:||1927|
|Date of Death:||1952|
|Cause of Death:||Shot in combat|
|Military Branch:||Red Army (World War II, World War III)|
Konstantin Morozov (1927-1952) was a Soviet tank commander. During World War II, he'd enlisted in the Red Army in 1944 at the age of 17, survived having four or five tanks killed out from under him with burns and machine gun wounds, and rose from loader to commander. In January 1951, on the eve of World War III, he was stationed in Meiningen, East Germany, held the rank of sergeant, and commanded a T-54.
In the first week of January, after a round of solo drinking, Morozov was informed by his commanding officer that it appeared that the U.S. would use atomic weapons against China, and that Joseph Stalin was prepared to retaliate if the U.S. did.
The fateful day came on 23 January 1951 when the U.S. dropped several atomic bombs in Manchuria, and Stalin ordered retaliatory attacks in Europe on 1 February. Stalin also ordered the Red Army west. Morozov's company moved to the border between Soviet zone and the American zone under the cover of darkness a few days after the European bombings.
The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. traded another round of bombings, concluding with the destruction of three Eastern European cities on 15 February. On the morning of 18 February, the Soviet invasion of West Germany began, with Morozov's unit as part of the initial spearhead towards Fulda.
In short order, Morozov discovered that the T-54 had a design flaw: the 100mm gun wouldn't depress as far as the main armament on the American and British tanks they were facing. That meant that the T-54s, when on a reverse slope, had to move farther forward and expose themselves when the fired, leaving them vulnerable to the enemy. Moreover, the U.S. was able to use atomic bombs to negatively impact the Soviet supply lines. At one point, Morozov's crew had around eight rounds of AP, half a dozen HE, and a couple of canister shells, and it wasn't clear when they'd be resupplied.
In April, Morozov's tank was hit by a British or American tank. While the shell killed the tank's engine, it didn't immediately destroy the tank, allowing Morozov and his crew to escape into a Soviet fox hole. The tank was destroyed almost immediately after they'd escaped. The driver, Misha Kasyanov, was shot in the leg as he left the tank. They were able to carry him in as well, and he received treatment.
Morozov was issued a new tank within a few weeks, a repaired T-54 that had previously sustained damage from an armor piercing round through the frontal armor. He was also given a new driver, Yevgeny Ushakov. Once the crew was squared away, Captain Gurevich sent them to help break into Arnsberg. Their talent as a crew meant that they were frequently the tip of the spear in the Soviet drive.
With the fall of Arnsberg, Morozov's crew went west to Dortmund. In May, their tank was stalled inside the town after another tank was killed by a Molotov cocktail. Morozov was in the cupola watching the destroyed vehicle being hauled off to one side when he saw someone with a bazooka. While he shot at the attacker, the bazooka missile hit the tank. Morozov was thrown from the tank by the blast, but his crew was killed. Morozov received burns to his legs.
A few weeks later, he was healed enough to return to duty. He was assigned to command a new tank. He was the only Russian in the new crew, and antagonized them a bit at first by finding a clog in the engine he suspected they'd intentionally created. Morozov quickly realized that his main antagonist in the group was Juris Eigims, who hailed from one of the Baltic states. The loader, Vazgen Sarkisyan, was Armenian, but Morozov felt no animosity from him. The only other Slav was Vladislav Kalyakin, the driver.
He and the crew were assigned to the drive on Bocholt. That drive stalled out quickly, as Bocholt's defenders were too numerous. However, the following month, the Soviets broke through, crushing the largely British defenders of the city, with Morozov's crew doing its fair share, even destroying a British Centurion. Morozov's competence in battle did impress Eigims sufficiently that their antagonism lessened, although Eigims didn't quite let Morozov forget their respective ethnicities.
In July, Morozov and his crew were in the Soviet forward lines, but were far enough from the main front that they survived the nighttime U.S. atomic bombing of several Soviet strong points in West Germany. He and his crew had been sleeping under their tank, as per custom, when the bomb came. The blast sent the tank up on one side before it crashed down again. After climbing back in their tank and checking in with headquarters, the crew was ordered to fall back for medical check.
In short order, they all developed symptoms of radiation poisoning. Morozov lost all of his body hair (including in his nose ears, eyebrows, and lashes), and was still quite weak even in September. Eigims and Sarkisyan were similarly affected. Kalyakin had non-stop rectal bleeding until he underwent surgery. While the bleeding was stopped, he was still a long way from being fit for duty. The rest of them healed, and Morozov and Eigims actually became something like friends.
In December 1951, Morozov, Eigims, and Sarkisyan were assigned a new driver Demyan Belitsky, and a new bow gunner, Ilya Goledod. They were also assigned a T-34/85, a tank that had been produced in 1943. Despite his protests that the tank was outdated and likely to be destroyed, Morozov knew he'd be overruled by the higher ups. They were then assigned to the regiment of Major Kliment Todorsky, and joined a drive on Paderborn. Todorsky freely admitted he was using the T-34s as point vehicles in his platoons to draw fire, and then using T-54s to finish off the enemy.
They survived the drive, and, against all odds, the whole tank crew grew rather fond of their old tank. As March gave way to April, Paderborn was still in American hands. Morozov and his crew were once again part of a drive on the town, under the command of Captain Lezkov. Morozov's tank was the point-tank of the platoon. Despite his own misgivings, he warned bow gunner Goledod not to sabotage the tank. Goledod understood.
In the end, it didn't matter much. After a kilometer and a half, a bazooka round hit the engine compartment, crippling the tank. The crew evacuated safely, and there were no further attacks.
When the time came for a new tank, Morozov flatly refused to be assigned another T-34. He demanded the tank-park sergeant fetch an officer with a great deal of mat. The park's senior officer, a lieutenant colonel, initially threatened Morozov with court-martial and execution, but Morozov stood his ground, assuring the colonel that putting him in the T-34 would have the same result. Convinced, the colonel gave Morozov's crew a T-54. Since they no longer needed a bow gunner, Goledod was reassigned. They then joined their new regiment, commanded by Major Genrikh Zhuk, in Dassel. Zhuk was impressed with Morozov's T-54, and his tenacity in obtaining it. At the same time, Morozov and Eigims began to work together better, just in time for Dassel to fall back into the hands of the Allies.
As a consequence of their more relaxed relationship, Eigins was comfortable with approaching Morozov about the futility of the war. Morozov cautioned Eigins against such talk. As they prepared to leave, an American air raid destroyed their tank. While Morozov and Eigims survived, Vladislav Kalyakin and Vazgen Sarkisyan were both killed.
Morozov and Eigims were assigned their new T-54 weeks after Joseph Stalin was killed, and days after his successor, Lavrenty Beria was ousted by Vyacheslav Molotov. They also had a new driver, Avram Lipshitz, and a new Georgian loader, Nodar Gachechiladze. However, the Baltic states also began a rebellion and Eigims promptly deserted. After he confirmed that Eigims was indeed gone, Morozov alerted Zhuk, who directed Morozov to an MGB officer named Svyatoslav Sverdlovsk. Sverdlovsk was content that Morozov had not aided Eigims. He received a new gunner, Pyotr Polikarpov, though he still missed Eigims. He was not surprised when other non-Russians in the platoon started to desert. Major Zhuk shared his concerns, espeically as the replacements they received were lacking.
With the war in Europe over in July, 1952, Morozov company was sent back east via train. After a skirmish while traveling through Poland, the were deployed to Lithuania, where they immediately lost their T-54 to Lithuanian rebels. They were rescued by the Red Army, and given a new T-34 and a new bow gunner named Alexei Yakovlev.
However, Morozov soon realized that the Red Army was fighting a much more cautious war here, keeping to the towns and cities as much as possible, while Lithuanian rebels such as the Forest Brothers had complete control over the countryside. Efforts to drive attacks failed; MGB agents who attempted to prod the Red Army were shot in the back. Both sides escalated in their brutality.
In October 1952, Morozov and his crew were assigned to escort a truck convoy of Soviet supplies from Vilnius to Ukmerge. A running firefight took place between the convoy and bandits a kilometer outside of Ukmerge. Then the lead tank hit a landmine outside of Pabaiskas. While Morozov ordered his driver to ram buildings, bandits used Molotov cocktails on the tank. Morozov bailed out, and encountered a bandit who looked a great deal like Eigims. Both men shot at each other simultaneously, and both men were killed.
References[edit | edit source]
- Bombs Away, pgs. 18-19, ebook.
- Ibid., pg. 18.
- Ibid., pgs. 20-22.
- Ibid., pgs. 55-58.
- Ibid., pgs. 64-65, 70.
- Ibid., pgs. 74-78.
- Ibid., pgs. 110-113.
- Ibid. pg. 138.
- Ibid., pgs. 138-40.
- Ibid., pgs. 209-213.
- Ibid., pg. 235.
- Ibid. pg. 237.
- Ibid., pg. 238.
- Ibid., pg. 289.
- Ibid., pg. 290.
- Ibid., pgs. 353-356.
- Ibid., 399-402.
- Ibid., pg. 401-402.
- Fallout, loc. 739-768.
- Ibid, loc. 784-799.
- Ibid., loc, 1002-1062.
- Ibid., loc. 1826-1886.
- Ibid., loc. 2562.
- Ibid., loc. 2576.
- Ibid., loc. 2591-2637.
- Ibid., loc. 3314-3371
- Ibid., loc. 4482-4531.
- Ibid., loc. 4520-4543.
- Ibid., loc. 5641.
- Ibid, loc. 5691-5704.
- Ibid., loc. 5989-6024.
- Ibid. loc, 6036-6049.
- Armistice, pg. 30-33, ebook.
- Ibid., pgs. 66-69.
- Ibid., pg. 122.
- Ibid., pg. 119.
- Ibid., pg. 122.
- Ibid., pgs. 123-124.
- Ibid., pgs. 146-149.
- Ibid., pgs. 240-243.
- Ibid., pgs. 256-259.
- Ibid., pg. 300-301.
- Ibid., pgs. 303-306.
- Ibid., pgs. 348-353.