What was it like to command a T-34 tank on the Eastern Front during the Second World War? How were tank operations organized and carried out, what was the actual experience of combat, and what were the qualities that made the difference between success and failure - and what were the chances of survival? Vasiliy Pavlovich Bryukhov's vivid, detailed and gripping memoir of his wartime service gives a fascinating and authentic insight into these questions. In addition, it provides an accurate, unsentimental record of the day-to-day life of a tank man whose unit fought in the forefront of the Red Army throughout the conflict across the western Soviet Union and into Eastern Europe. His first-hand eyewitness account is a memorable personal story, and it gives a powerful insight into the reality of tank warfare seventy years ago.
Vasiliy Pavlovich Bryukhov was born in 1924 in Osa. In April 1943, after graduation from tank school, he was given command of a T-34 tank, and he took part in the Battle of Kursk. He served continuously until the end of the war, fighting through Ukraine, Moldavia, Romania and Hungary to Austria. In one action his crew destroyed nine German panzers and in another he led the vanguard of his tank brigade through German lines to capture bridges and cut off the German retreat. In 1944, he was promoted to battalion commander. For his actions at the end of 1944 and 1945, he was nominated for the title Hero of the Soviet Union, but this nomination was not fulfilled until 1995 when he was given the title of a Hero of the Russian Federation for the courage and gallantry he displayed in battle during the Great Patriotic War.
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