Monday 7 January 2019

French Exit

"Award Order
  1. Name: Kuharenko, Nikolai Ivanovich
  2. Rank: Guards Lieutenant
  3. Position and unit: T-34 platoon commander, Independent Tank Battalion of the 38th Guards Independent Tank Brigade
    is nominated for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
  4. Year of birth: 1915
  5. Nationality: Ukrainian
  6. Party affiliation: VKP(b) member since 1944
  7. Participation in the Patriotic War (where, when): since 1941, Karelian Front
  8. Wounds and contusions in the Patriotic War: none
  9. In the Red Army since: 1937-1939, after 1941
  10. Recruited by: Kramatorsk recruitment office
  11. Prior awards: none
Brief and specific description of personal heroism or achievments: On September 6th, 1944, Guards Lieutenant Kuharenko and his platoon, in carrying out a task of making a 50 km deep path into the enemy's deep rear for a tank column through swampy forest and then rocky mountain terrain, made it to the agreed upon target of the Mikkolahti-Kuolajarvi. highway on schedule, and ensured the destruction of an enemy group. At 21:30 on September 9th, Guards Lieutenant Kuharenko fought in the first echelon of the battalion under a storm of heavy artillery, mortar, and small arms fire. At top speed, he was the first to break through the enemy's reinforced defenses and slipped through a 12 tank German ambush. 1 km away from the front lines, within the enemy rear, he blocked the road and did not permit enemy tanks to escape the encirclement. Forcing the enemy to engage, Lieutenant Kuharenko's platoon destroyed 8 R-35 type tanks and up to 80 fascists. Kuharenko himself destroyed 3 enemy tanks and captured 2 tanks in working order, ensuring success for his battalion and the infantry of 217th Rifle Regiment, 104th Rifle Division.

At 7:30 on September 10th, 1944, comrade Kuharenko was taking part in his second attack and was one of the first to penetrate through two echelons of enemy forces, where he destroyed 4 anti-tank guns, 5 dugouts, and up to 70 fascists. During subsequent pursuit, comrade Kuharenko became bogged down in a swamp in the enemy rear. Despite the difficulty of his situation, comrade Kuharenko did not abandon his tank under a hurricane of artillery and mortar fire. For 14 hours he fired at enemy strongholds, keeping them away from the tank, while simultaneously correcting fire of the rest of the tank battalion. When his infantry pulled up, Kuharenko unbogged his tank and continued the assault on the enemy.

For heroism, courage, and bravery displayed in the fighting with German invaders, Guards Lieutenant Kuharenko is worthy of the highest government award, the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

Commander of the Independent Tank Battalion, Guards Captain Donets
September 15th, 1944."

The story gets more interesting once you find out what tanks Kuharenko captured. In addition to the downright obsolete R 35s, his platoon ran into a handful of SOMUA S 35 tanks, which were at least in the same weight category as the T-34. One of these tanks is now on display at Kubinka.


  1. I wonder if anyone ever got around to drilling a small gun port for the radio operators of the SOMUA S35s.

  2. Where was this? Those place-names mentioned (all two of them) sound distinctly like Finnish, or one of the smaller closely related languages nearby.

    1. Vicinity of Kandalaksha, Murmansk Oblast, so pretty close.

    2. Ah, the hapless Arctic front. I knew the Germans up there didn't exactly have priority for cutting-edge hardware but it's news to me they were having to muck about with old trophy stuff.

      ...though quick look at the Wiki tells me that's pure mea culpa as that info is very readily found. Curiously enough the original parent unit of these old cans, the Panzer-Abteilung 211, was apparently disbanded already in late '41 after the "Polarfuchs" thrust on the Salla-Kantalahti (Kandalaksha) axis fell flat on its face; guess the tanks were thereafter dispersed amongst and folded into the infantry divisions as organic armoured support or something?

    3. Correct toponyms -are Mikkolahti and Kuolajarvi.

    4. Thank you, I made the correction.