On International Women’s Day, I would like to congratulate those women to whom we owe our lives, but on earth they cannot be given flowers. You can only bring bouquets to the monument. One of these women is Galina Konstantinovna Petrova, Hero of the Soviet Union. In September of this year, she would have turned 100 years old, but fate measured her only 23 years.
Her short but vibrant life is closely associated with the sea. Galya was born on September 9, 1920 in the family of a sailor. A significant part of her childhood was spent in Novorossiysk, where in 1937 she graduated with honors from school number 1. Then the girl married Anatoly Zheleznov, who was soon drafted to the Soviet-Finnish war, and then participated in the defense of Leningrad …
Of course, then the young family did not yet know about the upcoming trials. There was a hopeful youth, the birth of a son, dreams of the future … In 1940, Galina went to study in Novocherkassk, where she entered the Engineering and Reclamation Institute at the forestry faculty. Little son Kostya stayed with his grandmother, Antonina Nikitichnaya, in Novorossiysk.
War canceled plans
The future heroine managed to unlearn at the institute only one year – the Great Patriotic War broke out. In July 1941, Galina went to Novorossiysk to visit her mother and son. Like millions of Soviet girls, she wanted to go to the front, knocked down the doorsteps of the military registration and enlistment office. They did not want to send the young mother to the war, citing the fact that she did not have skills useful for the front. Then G. Petrova went to study at the paramedic school in Krasnodar.
After completing the courses, Galina was sent to the Novorossiysk hospital (according to other sources, to the 43rd Naval Hospital in Gelendzhik). Hard, intense, almost round-the-clock work was not enough for the young woman – she with all her heart strove to the front line. Especially after she received the tragic news of the death of her husband Anatoly in 1942. Moreover, the enemy was striving for Novorossiysk.
Then she was transferred to the Marine Corps battalion. Galina proved to be a selfless nurse and a reliable companion. When in the fall of 1943 they began to prepare for the landing on the Kerch Peninsula, she was honored to be elected among the participants in the upcoming operation, important and dangerous.
The trainings took place on the Taman Peninsula near the Phanagoria fortress. They made a mock-up on which the soldiers practiced the assault on enemy positions in the village of Eltigen.
Participant of the Kerch-Eltigen landing operation V.F. Gladkov wrote in his book of memoirs:
“The Chief Chief Medical Officer Galina Petrova had golden hair that stood out from under a battered earflaps and wonderful blue eyes. She was of average height, in the full bloom of her sweet youth – in her early twenties. Even a hungry ration could not extinguish the young blush. She kept herself in a sailor’s environment, as between brothers, with the simplicity and dignity of her beloved sister. “
Gladkov told how the front commander, General of the Army I.E. Petrov met during the exercise with his namesake and asked if they were relatives. The following dialogue took place between them:
– How did the fleet seduce you?
– People at sea are brave, fearless. My dream is to get to the paratroopers … True, Comrade Commander, this is my biggest dream now.
– Fighting girl, as I can see.
– No, I want to be fighting, if you knew how I want it!
Tierra del Fuego
Eltigen at that time was a small fishing village near Kerch. Later it was renamed into Geroevskoe, the people called the village Heroevka, but the former name was still heard.
The places where Galina Petrova had a chance to fight were created by nature for human joys, healing, enjoying beauty, but in those years shells burst there, blood shed and great human grief reigned.
As the poetess Yulia Drunina, a participant in the Great Patriotic War, will write later:
Lifting my Texas up to my knees
On the edge of the beach, the girls are laughing.
But I see a resort tonight
Here “Tierra del Fuego” – Eltigen.
This poem is about a frontline nurse. And although there is no exact information, it is possible that it was she – Galina Petrova.
… From the compasses of the dead boats
The girl is pouring alcohol from the sanbat,
Though now he is useless to the wounded,
At least at this hour they don’t need anything.
Trapped in bandages, in earthy darkness
They look with a wary gaze …
On the night of November 1, 1943, people were definitely not up to admiring the beauty of this wonderful land. The sea was desperately storming, enemy fire was fired from the Kerch shores. The Marines went on ships to the landing site. The positions of the fascists were very well fortified.
The first to land on the shore of Tierra del Fuego was Major Belyakov’s battalion, which included Galina. An obstacle arose in the path of the landing: barbed wire, and behind it was a minefield. Someone shouted: “Sappers come here!”, But delay threatened to disrupt the operation. And then the medical instructor Petrova made a decision. Having overcome the barbed wire, she shouted: “Follow me! There are no mines here! ”
Whether it was a false minefield or the fighters were lucky, but the obstacle was overcome. Truly, what was left for men to do when a woman called them ahead?
In all subsequent battles, Galina showed unprecedented courage, saving the wounded, helping them under heavy enemy fire. She was named Comrade Life, and was considered the pride of the battalion. In the first battle in Eltigen, she saved more than twenty soldiers.
Petrova was nominated for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. On November 17, 1943, she was awarded it. Did she find out about the well-deserved reward? Unknown … Data on the date of the death of the heroine vary – in some sources it is said that she died on November 8, in others – on December 8.
The most common version is this: Galina received shrapnel wounds on November 2, when she ran from one wounded soldier to another. Both legs were seriously injured. The wounded was sent to the hospital, for which the village school was adapted.
To cheer up a comrade-in-arms, comrades-in-arms said that she had been presented for the award and that she would soon go to Moscow. And Galina dreamed of seeing her son and mother. By the way, until the last day she had a small particle of her home with her – a toy of her child, carried through all the battles.
On November 8, a fascist shell hit the school building. The patients of the makeshift hospital, including Galina Petrova, died. On Wikipedia, however, a different date of death is indicated – December 8th.
One way or another, but a brave nurse, who gave her life for the liberation of the Motherland, was buried there, near Kerch, in a village called “Tierra del Fuego”.
Streets in Nikolaev, Sevastopol, Tuapse, Novocherkassk, Novorossiysk and, of course, in Kerch are named after her. Monuments have been erected to her in southern cities. Books have been written about her – “The Girl from Tierra del Fuego” (Y. Evdokimov, 1958) and “Galina Petrova – the pride of the Black Sea Fleet” (AN Zadyrko and GG Zadyrko, published in Nikolaev in 2010). Unfortunately, these books are not in the public domain.
In addition, the heroic nurse was forever enlisted in the lists of the 386th separate battalion of the marines of the Red Banner Black Sea Fleet. She became the first woman in the Navy to be awarded the Golden Star of a Hero.
… Galina Petrova Street in the center of Tuapse is one of the busiest. Now the windows of expensive shops shine on it, there is a brisk trade, grandmothers sell bouquets of mimosas and tulips for the holiday. And on one of the houses there is a barely perceptible plaque with a portrait of the one after whom the street is named. It is written on a gray stone that Galina Petrova was a participant in the defense of this southern city (details about this could not be found).