A skier in a tank helmet. Vasily Bryukhov

Soviet tank aces… Vasily Pavlovich Bryukhov was born on January 9, 1924 in the Urals in the small town of Osa, which today is part of the Perm Territory, and in those years was part of the Sarapul District of the Ural Region. The future tank ace was born into a family of ordinary workers. In 1941, Bryukhov graduated from high school. One of the main hobbies in his life was sports, Vasily showed excellent results and shone in city, district and regional ski competitions. No one knows how his life would have turned out if it had not been for the Great Patriotic War that began on June 22, 1941, which forever changed the fate of our hero, like many millions of his peers.

Pre-war life

Vasily Pavlovich Bryukhov was born into a simple working-class family in the small town of Osa, whose population at that time was about 6 thousand people. The family was large, Vasily had three brothers and five sisters. And he had 66 cousins ​​and sisters. All relatives were mostly ordinary working people and artisans. Vasily’s parents worked from morning to evening to feed a large family, while they lived very poorly.

How to break out into people? Vasily learned from childhood that this requires a lot of effort. He studied diligently and diligently, after school attended various circles and sections. Since childhood, I fell in love with sports and everything connected with it. His favorite subjects at school were physical education and military science. One of the options for Vasily Bryukhov after completing his studies was to enter the naval school, a very young student liked the ceremonial naval uniform. But fate decreed otherwise, as a result Bryukhov became an excellent tanker.

According to the veteran’s recollections, despite his small stature (162 centimeters with a weight of 52 kilograms), at school with sports he was in perfect order. And in the future, small stature and good physical training came in handy in the tank forces, where Bryukhov did not shy away from manual labor, being both the commander of a tank company and the commander of a battalion. While still at school, Vasily managed to get the first category in skiing and took part in various competitions. He won school starts, city, district and regional competitions. Bryukhov also played football, was the captain of the city football team “Spartak”.

In the summer of 1941, Vasily Bryukhov graduated from high school. According to his recollections, on June 20 they had their graduation party, and on June 21 they went out of town in class for an impromptu picnic. Returning home on June 22, yesterday’s schoolchildren were greeted by terrible news: the war had begun. Vasily recalled that many guessed that the war would really happen, but few of them were afraid of it. In their view, the conflict would have lasted only two or three months. On the same day, all of Vasily’s classmates rushed to the military registration and enlistment office, he himself recalled that he was afraid that he would not have time to fight. At the same time, they did not take him into the army for several months because of his non-conscription age. The situation changed only when it became clear to everyone that the hostilities were dragging out, while in the hinterland the tragedy of the terrible summer of 1941 was not felt so clearly, and the front was still very far away, although it was getting closer every day.

Bad acquaintance with the front

Vasily Bryukhov was drafted into the army only on September 15, 1941. The situation at the front became more and more tragic every day, so the 17-year-old boy, the prize-winner of regional and regional ski competitions, was finally noticed. The athlete was enrolled in the emerging 1st separate fighter ski battalion of the Ural Military District. Here the fighters underwent the necessary training for more than a month. At the same time, Vasily himself helped many commanders who were not strong in skiing, while he himself could be an instructor and had the necessary knowledge and skills.

The battalion moved to the front in November 1941. Near Kalinin, a train with fighters was raided by German aviation. Even before entering the battle, the unit suffered serious losses. Vasily Bryukhov was seriously wounded, he woke up already in the hospital, having learned that he was wounded in the shoulder and was shell-shocked during an air raid. Our hero never got up on skis at the front. After completing the treatment, the capable young man was sent to study at the Perm Aviation Technical School. But Vasily did not want to become a technician at the airfield in the rear, and by hook or by crook managed to achieve a transfer to the Stalingrad Tank School in July 1942.

Assembling the T-34 at the factory

Together with the school, Vasily was evacuated to Kurgan when the Germans approached the city on the Volga. Everyone who studied here for at least three months was sent to the defense of Stalingrad, and the newly arrived replenishment left for the rear regions of the country. Recalling combat training after the war (and Vasily Bryukhov lived a long life, died in 2015 at the age of 91), he noted that the training base was weak. According to him, at the school, he fired three shells and one machine-gun disk. And the tactics classes were mainly held “on foot in a tank style”. Only at the end of the training took place a tactical lesson that imitates the actions of a tank platoon in the offensive. That’s the whole level of training of the young commander. In an interview for the Internet project “I Remember”, the founder of which is the Russian writer and public figure Artyom Drabkin, Vasily Bryukhov noted that he assessed the level of training at the school as weak, emphasizing that the cadets knew the material part of the T-34 medium tank not bad.

After completing his studies, the newly made lieutenant Vasily Bryukhov was certified as a tank platoon commander and in April 1943 arrived in Chelyabinsk, in the 6th reserve tank regiment. Here the tankers needed to get new tanks. To make the machines faster, the newly minted tankers themselves had to stand behind the machines and help the workers. In Chelyabinsk, Vasily Bryukhov mastered the work on a semi-automatic lathe. Bryukhov arrived at the Voronezh Front in the 2nd Tank Corps with his tanks in June 1943 just before the beginning of the Battle of Kursk.

Front roads

The young lieutenant took part in the Battle of Kursk and took part in the Prokhorov battle. According to his recollections, he had to change two tanks during the day. In the first thirty-four, the shell smashed the chassis, beating off the sloth, and the second car was burned after the shell hit the engine compartment. According to Bryukhov’s recollections, in battle he managed to knock out one Pz III tank and destroy a 75-mm anti-tank gun. Remembering the first battles, he noted that one real tank battle gave more than the whole process of training at the school.

German tank destroyed at the Kursk Bulge

Later, the unit in which Bryukhov served was transferred to the 159th Tank Brigade of the 1st Tank Corps. Together with the brigade, the lieutenant took part in the Oryol and Bryansk offensive operations of the Soviet troops. In one of the battles, he received a shell shock during reconnaissance in force, when Bryukhov’s tank platoon was completely destroyed by the enemy. From October 1943 to February 1944, Vasily Bryukhov served in the 89th and 92nd separate tank brigades, which fought the Germans as part of the 2nd Baltic Front.

From February 1944 until the end of World War II, he fought in the 170th Tank Brigade, which was part of the 18th Tank Corps. As part of the corps, he took a direct part in hostilities to liberate the territory of Right-Bank Ukraine from the invaders, participated in the Yassko-Kishinevskaya, Bucharestko-Arad and Debrecen offensive operations, participated in battles in the region of Budapest and Lake Balaton.

For battles from 21 to 27 August 1944, during the Yassy-Kishinev operation, he was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. The award documents indicated that Lieutenant Vasily Bryukhov showed courage and courage during the liberation of the cities of Khushi and Seret (Romania), as well as during the crossing of the Prut River. In battles, he proved himself to be a well-trained officer, skillfully leading the actions of the platoon. In these battles, he personally destroyed one enemy self-propelled gun, 4 field guns, 16 different vehicles, about 20 carts. Destroyed and captured up to 90 enemy soldiers and officers. In total, according to the recollections of Bryukhov, in the battles during the Yassy-Kishinev operation, his crew knocked out 9 enemy tanks, including one “Panther”.

On September 23, 1944, Senior Lieutenant Vasily Bryukhov, who took command of a tank company, made a successful raid on the enemy’s rear as part of the vanguard of the 170th Tank Brigade. The detachment consisted of 8 tanks, 4 guns and a platoon of machine gunners. The tankers of this detachment were the first at the front to enter the territory of Hungary. On September 24, with a swift attack, Bryukhov managed to knock out the German and Hungarian units from the city of Buttonha in Hungary. After liberation, the detachment held the captured city for several hours, awaiting the approach of the main forces of the brigade. During this time, a small detachment managed to repel five enemy counterattacks. In the battles in the Battoni area, Bryukhov’s crew destroyed 4 enemy tanks, up to 7 field guns, 13 mortars, two bunkers, as well as more than 100 enemy soldiers. For the accomplished feat he was nominated for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, but did not receive an award. The awarding took place already in December 1995, when for the courage and heroism shown during the war against the Nazi invaders, Vasily Pavlovich was awarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation by presidential decree.

In 1945, at the final stage of the war, Captain Bryukhov commanded a tank battalion as part of the 170th Tank Brigade. At the same time, for participation in the battles at the end of December 1944, he was awarded the Order of Suvorov, III degree. The award documents indicated that in the battle on December 23, 1944, the commander of the T-34-85 tank company demonstrated examples of courage, courage and resourcefulness. In the battles for the settlements of Vitezi, Verteshbaglar, the company of thirty-fours, having no losses, destroyed and put to flight the superior forces of the enemy. In total, the company destroyed 8 tanks, 7 armored personnel carriers, 10 vehicles and up to 50 enemy soldiers and officers. Personally, Bryukhov recorded one tank and 4 destroyed enemy armored personnel carriers in this battle.

Vasily Bryukhov met the victorious May 1945 in Austria near the Enns River, near the city of Amstetten. In total, during his stay at the front, according to Bryukhov’s calculations, he knocked out and destroyed 28 enemy tanks and self-propelled guns. At the same time, during the same time, the thirty-four, in which Bryukhov fought, was knocked out and burned 9 times.

A skier in a tank helmet.  Vasily Bryukhov

Fragment of the cover of the book series “Heroes of the Great Patriotic War. Front-line memoirs of the winners “(” Exmo “)

The post-war life of Vasily Bryukhov

After the end of World War II, the commander of the tank battalion Vasily Pavlovich Bryukhov continued his military career. The officer received a full-fledged higher military education, graduating from the Military Academy of Armored and Mechanized Forces (1947-1952). Later, Bryukhov also graduated from the Military-Political Academy and the Military Academy of the General Staff, as well as diplomatic courses. Over the years, he held high command posts in various military districts of the USSR, and also managed to visit a foreign business trip, being the chief military adviser to the President of North Yemen. Retired in 1985 with the rank of lieutenant general.

During the years of service he was awarded numerous orders and medals. The title of Hero of the Russian Federation (1995), two Orders of the Red Banner, the Order of the Red Star, the Order of Suvorov III degree, the Order of the Patriotic War I degree and other awards, including those of foreign states. After the war he became an honorary citizen of the city of Osa (Perm Territory). Also, since 2004, the local secondary school №1 has been named after the hero.

Vasily Pavlovich Bryukhov

Vasily Pavlovich Bryukhov lived a long life. The veteran died on August 25, 2015 at the age of 91 in Moscow. He was buried at the Federal Memorial Military Cemetery located in Mytishchi.

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