- WW2 Russian Corps Guide books, the battlefield maps and virtual tour
Military training. The entire internal way of life and training were conducted according to the old regulations of the Russian Imperial Army. However, due to a change in the tactics of warfare, they soon switched to the charters of the Red Army, and in 1943 the German charters came into force.
In order to give the youth who joined the Corps a military education and upbringing, they were reduced to a cadet battalion, and later separate cadet platoons and companies were created (see essay “Military Training Unit”).
Later in the Corps, courses were held for commanders: battalion commanders, company commanders, as well as military school courses, which gave five graduates of lieutenants.
In addition, at various times various special courses functioned in the Corps, such as: a school for riding and draft riding, air defense and chemical defense, gunsmiths and captains, radio telegraph, sanitary, cook, etc., and in the regiments – training teams for the training of non-commissioned officers.
Corps Commander, Gen. Shteyfon possessed remarkable organizational skills. He showed them even 20 years before, in the post of chief of staff of Gen. Kutepova, in Gallipoli (Turkey).
What kind of undertakings were not then launched by him – to maintain the spirit and body and to expand the mental horizons of the white warriors who had just lost their homeland.
Now, at the head of the Corps, he returned to the old, well-known business.
The main attention was paid to young people who had not seen their homeland, who had grown up abroad.
In order to take on the youth “as it should”, they immediately, upon arrival at Banitsa, were assigned to a separate, cadet battalion.
Personally, I did not have a chance to take part either in the formation of a battalion or in the development of programs for a military training unit. The autumn of 1941 found me seriously ill, in a hospital in Pancevo. I arrived at Banitsa only in winter, when the battalion was already at the front.
In addition (although I had the experience of the head of the “shock” Kornilov military school in Gallipoli and Bulgaria), the times were not the same.
The commander of the Corps turned out to be just my close personal friend. He knew too well my ardor and my sharp, unrestrained tongue to take the risk of my direct contact with the Germans in command positions.
Only my work in the shadows, purely at home, the matter of teaching and educating young people, remained my feasible contribution.
The first step was the appointment in the spring of 1942 as a teacher in Loznitsa, at the disposal of the regiment. Ivanovsky – inspector of the military training unit of the cadet battalion. Soon, however, I had to take his place, for him to get another position.
By this time, lecturing to the junkers was temporarily suspended due to the dispersion of the battalion company. They were waiting for the “promised” reunification of the entire battalion. But this “hope” never materialized.
Dispersal of all parts of the Corps, which guarded important military and industrial facilities from partisans (and not quite reliable some Chetnik detachments), this dispersion, on the contrary, grew … began to be practiced and platoon …
What was to be done? “If the mountain does not go to Mohammed, then Mohammed goes to the mountain!”
The training staff turned into the “Flying Dutchman” – they began to travel to the places of “scattering”. Along the way, the course programs were reduced to a minimum and became “marked”.
In the future, even such an unusual “adaptation” turned out to be insufficient.
Corps grew. The dispersion of parts also grew – it spread throughout the country. New youth parties also found themselves in the new formations. It was also desirable to cover them with training.
In the end, it was necessary to switch almost entirely to “local funds”, i.e. on the selection of teachers from the composition of the units themselves.
The “roaming” stopped, with the exception of only one “head of the military training unit” and his most valuable assistant, Captain Rumyantsev.
The ensuing transfer of the Corps to the Wehrmacht further complicated the situation.
In the new states of the Corps, there was no provision for the training part. I had to “camouflage” several of the most necessary positions, taking them out of order. The “injured”, destitute commanders did not slow down with complaints and complaints …
It was even more difficult with the occupations themselves – cutting out unforeseen hours, under the watchful eye of the connected Germans.
There is no need to conceal a sin! The “realism” acquired abroad had an effect. It took a lot of fraying of nerves and manifestations of selfless sacrifice from teachers in the field to bring the matter at least to formal – external results – the release of new second lieutenants.
To what extent were the true goals of training and education outlined by the Corps commander achieved? Let those of the youth who happen to read this brief account judge and answer (by M. Georgievich)
Youth in the Russian Corps
During the many years preceding the last world war, one often heard and read about how our emigre youth was being denationalized, especially that part of them who, due to their youth, did not retain personal memories of Russia.
Such an opinion about the younger generation was partly formed as a result of the lack of any interest in the majority of its representatives in the manifestations of the social life of our emigration. There were no “cups of tea” and “snacks” at most of the various meetings of the youth, which caused criticism from the “grandfathers and fathers” and accusations of her lack of love for Russia. There were reasons of a different nature, somehow easier than the older generation, rapprochement with the local population, etc. etc., but it is not our task now to analyze these reasons, but let us remember how the youth reacted as soon as the opportunity presented itself to join the struggle for the Motherland not in words, but in deeds.
Belgrade, September 1941. Even before the publication of the order to form the Corps, on the basis of a verbal call from General Skorodumov, the first to arrive at the barracks was Russian youth – the junkers of the Training Team, formed on a voluntary basis, long before the war, Colonel Gordeev-Zaretsky, who consisted entirely of young people who grew up outside of Russia. The first Russian soldier who rose up with a weapon in his hands, paired with a German sentry at the entrance to the Guards barracks near Belgrade, wore cadet shoulder straps.
Several months have passed. The 1st Regiment has left Belgrade and is on guard duty deep in Serbia. The last shots of the III Cossack battalion, which had cleared the Zayach mine of red partisans, had just ceased, when the 1st company of the 1st cadet battalion received its baptism of fire.
The first machine gun taken from the enemy – German – was lost by the Germans a few days before, in a battle with the Reds. The first seriously wounded; the first George Cross.
The author of these lines happened to be present at the same time, as the machine gun returned to the Germans was handed over by their officer to his soldiers. Unaware of the presence of a Russian witness who was sitting inside a truck covered with a tarpaulin, he said: “Aren’t you ashamed, German soldiers, to receive back the weapons you lost from the wrong hands?!” I think that in the history of the last war, this was the only case in which foreigners returned to the Germans weapons they had lost in battle, and this was done by the Russian youth in the person of the cadet of the 1st company.
Cold February morning; the profile of the hills is sharply outlined in the blue morning sky. Low huts seem to have grown into the ground; rising from the red chimneys, pillars of smoke rested against the sky. A crane creaks over the well, pulling its burden out of it. With measured, unhurried steps, a patrol walked along the only street.
For the third day now, the 2nd cadet company has been “combing” the area, in pursuit of a detachment of red partisans that has appeared. There is a close relationship with the local Chetniks; they regularly report on enemy movements. Here again are two such familiar figures in “shubara” with shoulder-length hair, almost running towards the house occupied by the company commander.
Alert!.. A detachment of communists, not knowing about the presence of a company in the village, is moving here openly along the road and is now about 3 kilometers away – half an hour’s walk.
Like frightened sparrows, messengers flew in all directions and, after a few minutes, the company moved towards the partisans.
At the exit from the village, the road, taking to the left, disappears behind the hill. A platoon of junkers, in order to ensure the further movement of the company from the flank, climbs it at a run. Ahead is a wide valley, behind it a ridge overgrown with shrubs; to the right along the white field, the “snakes” of the junkers are moving quickly.
The first shot lashed out sharply, and the bullet sang along the tops of the trees, the machine gun fell off and fell silent. The first “snakes”, having scattered into a chain, are approaching the ridge.
The enemy, having discovered the company, turned 90 ° and began to move to the side, the company rushed after him.
And suddenly a thick fog descended on the whole area at once, the company became blind. On the right in front, where one platoon had gone, rifle shots were often hastily clapped, and our light machine guns rattled in frequent, short bursts … the company went on firing.
Guerrilla rifles clicked and their heavy machine gun started working with the sewing machine. The terrain rises uphill, the snow reaches the knees in places. People begin to breathe heavily, movement slows down. The belt of the duffel bag presses on the chest, the floors of the overcoats get tangled in the legs, trying to detain the junkers, not to let them move on ….
Just as suddenly as the fog fell, a ray of the sun suddenly flashed and the white veil disappeared. At 400 paces in front of the company there is a dense copse, to the right of it there is a bare top, gray figures in helmets are already climbing on it – our right-flank platoon. Strong fire from the forest, you can see how the partisans run across the edge.
The commander, Colonel Eichholtz, seriously wounded in the arm, handed over command of the company to Colonel Kotlyar. Junker Zavadsky, wounded in the stomach, is pulled over a hillock. Rota continues to move forward.
In the bushes on the edge, with his face buried in the ground, lies a partisan wounded by two bullets in the chest; shots are lashing from all sides … further, farther, forward! .. One by one, the cadets run across the clearing; under the blows of bullets, the ground, mixed with wet snow, takes off in dirty fountains. A fence, a ditch, half-sitting on a slope, reclining a junker wounded by a bullet in his mouth … further, further …
Bushes along the ditch, trees, a pile of bloody rags on the snow, left by the partisans, in their arms they carry a cadet mortally wounded in the head, a pierced helmet with a white cross on the ground … further … further, farther …
By evening, the cadets occupied the village, in which the partisans had their main base. Rich war booty was captured.
Corps Commander Gen. Shteifon, foreseeing from the very first days of formation the possibility of further deployment of the Corps, and realizing that young people should be in the lower command positions, if only for physical conditions, not to mention a number of other reasons, from the very beginning did everything in his power, so that young people who have not served in the military should be given the necessary military education and trained as young command personnel armed with modern military knowledge.
To this end, a separate cadet battalion was formed in the 1st regiment, in which classes were regularly held and lectures were given in all subjects included in the course of normal cadet schools.
With the transfer of the Corps to the Wehrmacht in Belgrade, special officer courses were formed according to the German model, after which the cadets were promoted to the rank of lieutenant and were appointed mainly as platoon commanders.
Thus, the training of young command personnel was carried out consistently and systematically and brought great benefits during the period of further deployment of the Corps, in the formation of the so-called young regiments, consisting in the overwhelming majority of volunteers who arrived for replenishment from the USSR.
A year has passed, and these regiments with junior commanders from emigrant youth gained fame in the mountains of Bosnia, imprinting love for their Motherland with streams of blood and proving their readiness to sacrifice themselves for its name, not in words, but in deeds.
It is impossible to briefly describe all those cases when Russian youth, who grew up abroad, by their direct participation in the terrible events of 1941-1945, proved their sacrifice and readiness to fight for the liberation of Russia, thereby dispelling unfounded accusations of denationalization (by S. Zabotkin)
Indian Tribe Game
At the very beginning of the formation of our Corps, a whole group of young people arrived at Topchider barracks. Judging by their faces and voices, these were still real teenagers.
The youth threw themselves into military drill with childlike fervour, flaunting their poise and clarity one before the other. Young people studied gun techniques and especially shooting.
One day, their instructor heard a noise in the room and, upon entering, what did he see? Child Game. His “soldiers,” some from behind the beds, some from behind the pillows, shouting “poo-bang,” aimed at one another, hid under the beds, ran across and shot again.
– What’s all the noise here? – the instructor asked sternly. There was silence… everyone stood at attention… there was silence.
– I repeat, what is all the noise here? – Silence again, and one of the young people, so naive, embarrassed, and timid, answers: “Indians.”
– We’re playing Indians here, Mister Captain.
The captain, barely restraining himself from laughing, quickly left and, arriving in his room, laughingly told his roommates about what had happened.
So the young people’s room received the name “Indian”. And when a platoon was formed from the young people, it was called the “Indian platoon.” When the cadet battalion was formed and the youngest in age were assigned to a special 3rd company, then the company of the young began to be called “Indian”.
With such a funny name, this company as part of the regiment entered the position. It was a really unique piece. The entire company had distinctive nicknames: “cock’s head”, “woodpecker”, “sparrow”, etc. Everyone unofficially called the company commander “chief commander.”
Shooting was their favorite pastime. They shot at “flying” and “flightless” birds and at chicken eggs at a certain distance. Some spent entire decades buying eggs for shooting, and then the prize winners prepared eggnog – this was the most delicious dessert.
Their “leader” was a calm, silent man, he did not persecute young people for shooting, he saw this as practical training, but there was a certain agreement: “if you hit it, it’s a feather on the wall; if you miss, it’s two hours of combat.”
Where the company stood, neither sparrows nor crows were visible – they were all shot. And they always had a lot of cartridges: the first thing the “Indians” took from captured and killed bandits were grenades and cartridges.
Frequent shootings of the “Indians” not only caused funny incidents, but there were also misunderstandings with neighbors.
One evening one of the “Indians” decided to shoot a “flightless” bird, a cat running to the side. He was followed by another, as they say: “an example is contagious”; the third began to shoot, others opened fire right from the windows of the hut, the shooters became excited. The “moving target” darted to the sides in fear, and random shooting began. The German neighbors fired a rocket from the post, the alarm was raised at other neighboring posts, but it soon became clear why they were shooting. The perpetrators received the required “combat watch” from the “leader commander,” but this did not confuse them, and similar shooting occurred more than once.
There were such cases. Once three “Indians” on a cart were sent to headquarters for food. It was a frosty winter day. The cadets decided to go into the hut on the way to warm up. They sat down near the stove and, having warmed themselves from the cold, soon fell asleep. It is unknown how long they slept; when they woke up and went outside, there was no cart. A neighboring resident explained to them that two Germans passed here, asked something, shouted, got on the cart and drove in the opposite direction. The “Indians” decided to catch up with the cart.
A rumor spread in the regiment that three “Indians” had disappeared, apparently captured by bandits. And the “Indians”, having traveled more than 50 kilometers, caught up with the cart and returned 4 days later with food and a cart. They received a punishment for not knowing how to “warm up” and gratitude for their persistent search for the cart.
“Indians” – this was, indeed, a unique part of the first regiment – an “Indian company” as part of the regiment. One could often hear in the regiment: “The Indians are standing in K…”, “Indians will replace us at the bunkers tomorrow,” “The Indians have gone on an expedition,” etc.
The regiment commander greeted them: – Hello, Indians!
The entire company, from the “leader-commander,” who was also called the “leather footcloth,” to the left flank, wore a bird feather on the left side of his cap.
New arrivals, including lieutenants, were solemnly presented with a feather in their cap, which was always worn in the ranks and on campaigns. Their “leader” was a calm, silent man and surprisingly unpretentious and undemanding, especially in camp life: he slept on straw, was indifferent to food, and the young “Indians” were left to their own devices: they cooked something, ate something, and their premises were a real “magpie’s nest.” But the walls of the houses where they stood were perfectly painted with drawings from Indian life: “Indian head with feathers,” “tomahawk,” “wigwam,” “wolf head,” “Indian hut” and other drawings. Feathers and wings of killed birds were nailed to the walls as trophies. There were feathers here: sparrows, crows, magpies, and even such “flying” birds as chickens and geese.
One Indian nicknamed “Hawkeye” had 14 different feathers nailed to his wall.
Once a German general, the head of a division, was driving through the village where the “Indians” were stationed. He became interested in the drawings on the walls of houses. When they explained to him that there were Russian cadets stationed here under the nickname “Indian Company,” the general became interested and examined the premises, the drawings, the feathers on the walls and laughed heartily when the special traditions of the company were explained to him.
One day, in winter, a lieutenant from Banitsa arrived in the village in the evening. Approaching the painted house, he saw a young soldier sitting by the burning fire with a rifle on his lap.
– Who are you? – the lieutenant asked the soldier. The soldier quickly jumped up and answered clearly:
– Orderly, Mr. Lieutenant.
The lieutenant, making a remark to the orderly who was sitting, asked him how to get to the company commander’s apartment.
The “orderly” saw his comrade passing and shouted to him:
– Hey, parrot, take Mr. Lieutenant to the “leader-commander’s” apartment.
The lieutenant had absolutely no idea where or what military unit he ended up in, but then he sincerely laughed when he found out that he was “visiting the Indians.”
The lieutenant was no less amazed when the next day, entering the bunker with the “Indians,” he saw seven different drawings on the wall: a rooster’s head, a ram, donkey ears, etc., which, as they explained to him, replaced the “list” of the names of the guard soldiers .
There were many curious cases and characteristic combat episodes when young “Indians” with youthful fervor rushed to attack the bandits, boldly carried their wounded comrades out of the battle under fire and conducted bold reconnaissance in the Drina mountains (by S. Boldyrev)