No one can take away the right to remember
They hardly knew each other. They have completely different front-line fates, which, many years later, came together when their common grandson, Dmitry Kukanov, was born. Those about whom this very short story is written have long been dead. Alas, their grandson, a journalist and poet, also left this world a little over three years ago.
But the poet had relatives, a son, grandchildren, a sister and brothers and many friends. And amazing poems about the war, included in the collection, which will soon be published. And the memory remained. Not only about him, but also about his grandfathers – the grandson wrote about them such piercing lines:
I have never had enough grandfathers,
Which I didn’t know at all:
One was gone under Kerch,
The other one “disappeared” after the war.
And both were officers
And both kept their honor,
But there was not enough atmosphere
Both of them around the Earth.
Someday i will be a grandfather
And I’ll tell my grandson (granddaughter)
To whom we owe Victory,
And I will not blame anyone …
I believe: late or early
They will come to me from dreams:
Ivan Semenovich Kukanov,
Ivan Semyonitch Soloviev.
Ivan Semyonovich Kukanov
There is not so little information on the network resources about Colonel Kukanov, but he was lucky with his heirs. They preserved his autobiography, and his son, Vladislav Ivanovich, left memories of his father. This essay deserves a place in a good memorable collection, and it does not matter whether it is about veterans from a particular regiment, division, corps, or a city or region. It is important that he helped to tell about the real hero on our pages almost without dry officialdom.
Ivan Kukanov is a peasant son from the village of Gavrilovka, Syzran province, who has become a career officer. He managed to work as a farm laborer, a loader, and a fireman in Altai, where his family moved due to hunger in the Volga region. He lost his mother early and married early, and Ivan was drafted into the army in 1929, when he was already 22 years old.
The new Red Army soldier was immediately sent to the artillery school in Tomsk, and then he became a cadet of the artillery battalion of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee school in Moscow. There he, according to his own stories to his son, even managed to stand at post number 1 at the Lenin Mausoleum. Finally, after he was sent to another artillery school, in the substandard regional center of Sumy, his studies ended, and he became a young paint at the head of an artillery platoon.
But the first wife did not wait for him to become an officer, and for the second time Ivan marries later, the son of his youngest son Vitaly and the poet Dmitry Kukanov will be. For eight pre-war years, Ivan Kukanov managed to serve in different parts of the USSR, and on June 22, 1941, he met cadets at the Penza Artillery School as a battery commander.
Since September 41, he is already at the North-West front, in the 1st Shock Army, which managed to encircle the Germans in the Demyansk ring. For six months they kept our Germans surrounded, the artillerymen of Ivan Kukanov had enough work, but often they did not have enough ammunition. Perhaps that is why the Nazis from the 2nd Army Corps and the SS Division “Death’s Head” still managed to break out of the encirclement.
Kukanov, first a captain, and by the end of the war already a lieutenant colonel, fought at the head of the anti-tank regiment, and then the 204th light regiment of the 13th breakthrough artillery division, which supported the offensive on Orel in the second phase of the famous Battle of Kursk. The path to Victory was as long for him as for everyone who was lucky enough to stay alive.
How the artilleryman Kukanov fought can be judged at least by a short excerpt from his combat characteristics:
In the area of the village of Kapitonovka, the enemy concentrated many heavy tanks and infantry and, cutting off the approach to the indicated point, tried to cut off the approach of the main forces and destroy the cut off grouping of troops. Comrade KUKANOV, leading the artillery, skillfully placed it, and as a result, the artillery destroyed 5 enemy heavy tanks and 1 self-propelled gun, and also destroyed a lot of enemy infantry, thus preventing us from cutting off communication lines and destroying our cut off troops. “
The descendants of his subordinates also wrote about Lieutenant Colonel Kukanov. Lev Lukashov in his essay “To be remembered”, dedicated to the Red Army soldier Mikhail Tarmosin, left the following lines about the 204th anti-tank artillery regiment and its commander:
In November 1942, on the basis of 374 IPTAP, commanded by Kukanov, a 204 light artillery regiment was created, included in the 42 light artillery brigade. The regiment took part in the liquidation of the Demyanovsk group of the enemy in January 1943, in the Kursk-Orel battle in July … After the liberation of Belgorod, Kharkov, Poltava, there was a crossing of the Dnieper, the elimination of the Korsun-Shevchenko group, a breakthrough of the German defense in the Uman direction.
There were battles in the encirclement and the award in February 1944 with the Order of Alexander Nevsky. The year was “fruitful” for awards, Lieutenant Colonel Kukanov received two more Orders. Order of Suvorov 3rd class decorated the hero’s chest for battles in May, and the Order of the Red Banner – in September, for supporting units in the forcing of the Luga and Western Bug rivers and the liberation of the cities of Vladimir-Volynsky and Rava Russkaya.
The regiment, led by Kukanov, pursued the Germans to the Sandomierz bridgehead, defended the bridgehead during enemy counterattacks, and in January 1945 participated in breaking through the defense and pursuing the enemy to the Oder and Neisse rivers. Further battles in the Czech Republic, the war ended on the outskirts of Prague on May 9, 1945 “.
Lev Lukashov attached a truly unique document to his essay – one of the orders signed by Lieutenant Colonel Kukanov.
In all battles, in all directions, the 204th Guards Regiment of the 13th Artillery Division smashed the enemy’s defenses. In the war, Ivan Semyonovich received many awards, about which a little more below. He was wounded in February 1943, lost his brother Nicholas, who died in 1943, and after the war his fate turned out to be, perhaps, more tragic than at the front.
His eldest son Vladislav recalled:
“Father returned only in 1946 … We waited for him for several months. But he was in Germany, then in Western Ukraine … and in the Caucasus, studying artillery courses at the Leningrad Artillery Academy, and returning to Georgia.” …
And there was Beria’s case in the summer of 1953, which in some incomprehensible way caught the gunner.
No, according to the testimony of his relatives, he was not injured, but he lost several friends, and his health undermined thoroughly. Guard Colonel Kukanov died of a heart attack in March 1955 in Manglisi. He died right at the headquarters of the division after a “conversation” with the general, who became the commander of the formation, in which everyone was waiting for the appointment of Colonel Kukanov. The artilleryman “disappeared” – as the poet writes it exactly.
Ivan Semyonovich Soloviev
But very little is known about our second hero. He was born in 1905 in the Tver province, in the city of Rzhev, well known from the history of the Great Patriotic War. Ivan Semyonovich Solovyov, like his full namesake Kukanov, was also a career officer of the Red Army, however, he did not live to see the time when the army became Soviet, shoulder straps were introduced, and the red commanders were no longer hesitant to be called officers.
Ivan Solovyov with his wife and daughter
By the summer of 1941, in the rank of quartermaster of the second rank, Ivan Solovyov held a rather high post at that time. He was the head of the artillery depot of the Transcaucasian Front, but unfortunately, his relatives did not manage to get his personal file or any other documents in the archives of the Ministry of Defense.
In the outbreak of the war, the quartermaster of the 2nd rank, Solovyov, had every right to make a reservation, but immediately refused it and left to fight the German fascist invaders. Shortly before that, in about 1938 or 1939, Solovyov was transferred to service in Tbilisi, where, in the pre-war years, he received truly invaluable experience in providing rear artillery support.
Upon arrival at the front, Ivan Solovyov probably managed to fight in several positions, and when the North Caucasian Front was formed in May 1942, he was appointed head of the 4th artillery supply department of the front. Ivan Semyonovich by this time already had the rank of intendant of the first rank, corresponding to a colonel in the infantry or artillery.
The importance attached to this strategic direction in Headquarters is evidenced by the fact that Marshal S.M.Budyonny was appointed commander of the front, and one of the members of the Military Council was one of Stalin’s closest associates, L.M. Kaganovich. The front initially included the formations of the former Crimean Front, and he managed to take part in the defense of Sevastopol and repelling the breakthrough of Nazi troops to the foothills of the Caucasus along the Black Sea coast.
In the summer of 1942, the front’s troops were reinforced by three armies at once, they fought heavy defensive battles in the lower reaches of the Don, and then in the Stavropol and Krasnodar directions. By direct order of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, the North Caucasian Front, together with the specially created Crimean Front, attempted to recapture Crimea from the Nazis and unblock the besieged Sevastopol.
The head of the Main Political Directorate of the Red Army, Lev Mekhlis, was sent to the Crimea as a special representative of the Headquarters. On the eastern coast of Crimea, troops landed, but the main offensive was carried out head-on, directly on the well-prepared German defenses. Despite all the efforts, the Kerch landing operation ended up as one of the worst failures of the Red Army.
Several tens of thousands of soldiers and officers were killed in it. The last battle near Kerch, obviously, fell to the lot of Ivan Solovyov, who, most likely, was already part of the Crimean Front. Quartermaster of the first rank Solovyov disappeared without trace, apparently in the infamous “Kerch cauldron”.
Today it will hardly be possible to find out why the quartermaster-artilleryman was on the front line at all, but, as his fellow soldiers told his relatives after the war, Ivan Solovyov was last seen in the trenches, where he held the defenses along with ordinary soldiers. And this, unfortunately, is all that is known about the “second” grandfather.
We will share glory after the war
We have to admit that the glory to the lot of those who died in the war still fell much less than the winners. And the awards too. And if Ivan Semyonovich Kukanov is a real order bearer, then, alas, you cannot say this about I.S.Solovyov. At least, until now nothing is known about the orders, or about the medals of this worthy commander, or even about the gratitude of the command.
Perhaps they were, but, alas, there is still no documentary evidence. There are only a few frightening lines from the list of those who went to war, with the mercilessly marked “no” in response to a request for information:
But it is quite possible to write a novel or at least a story about the awards of Ivan Semyonovich Kukanov. Fortunately, the “People’s Feat” website has been successfully operating for a long time, from where we decided to borrow only two award documents.
They, as you can see, are about special orders: the Red Star, received by Major Kukanov in the difficult year of 1942, even before Stalingrad, as well as about the Order of Alexander Nevsky. The latter was especially appreciated in the Soviet Army: not just because it was one of the rarest, but also in terms of status – they were awarded only for exceptional military achievements.