This is the story of a real Russian woman, Maria Oktyabrskaya, who managed to buy a tank during the Great Patriotic War and went to the front from Tomsk to avenge her husband's death.
Maria Oktyabrskaya (nee Garagulya) was born in the Crimea, in a large peasant family. After completing six classes, Maria worked first at a cannery, then at a telephone exchange. In 1925, in Simferopol, she met a cadet of the cavalry school, Ilya Ryadnenko. A few months later they got married, when registering the marriage they took the name Oktyabrskiy.
"She loved her husband very much and was a man who really met her soul mate. As a military wife, she traveled to all military towns, both in the Crimea and in Moldova. Arriving at military units, she organized amateur art activities, embroidery courses - she was amazing Maria wanted to fully correspond to her husband: she graduated from nursing courses, learned to drive a car, was good at shooting a rifle, a machine gun - she even received the sign "Voroshilov shooter".
At the same time, she remained a charming woman. From pre-war photographs, a beautiful woman is looking at us, dressed in the latest fashion of those years.
Maria Vasilievna's husband served in Chisinau before the war. It was there that the war found the Oktyabrsky family. From the first days Ilya Oktyabrsky was sent to Moscow for courses and from there immediately went to the front. Maria Vasilievna and her sister were evacuated to Siberia. They did not see each other again.
At the end of the summer of 1941, a funeral came: "The regimental commissar of the 206th rifle division Ilya Fedotovich Oktyabrsky died a heroic death near Kiev on August 9, 1941".
The death of her husband knocked down, but did not break the strong-willed woman. At the congress of women in Novosibirsk, where Oktyabrskaya went as a delegate from Tomsk, she met the mothers and wives of those who died at the front. They told how they master difficult male professions, how they cope with their grief. It was there, at the congress, that Maria Vasilievna made a decision - her place in the ranks of the defenders of the Motherland.
First, Maria turned to the military registration and enlistment office with a request to send her to the front. She was denied several times: because of a past illness (she had tuberculosis of the cervical vertebra) and age (at that time she was almost 40 years old).
Then she decided to go the other way. At that time, in the USSR, there was a collection of people's funds for the defense fund. Having sold all the things and valuables and worked for several months for wear and tear, she contributed 50 thousand rubles for the construction of the T-34 tank (for comparison, the salary of a worker at the plant was about 200 rubles a month). Then she sent the following telegram to the Kremlin:
Moscow, Kremlin To the Chairman of the State Defense Committee. To the Supreme Commander-in-Chief.
Dear Joseph Vissarionovich!
In the battles for the Motherland, my husband, the regimental commissar Oktyabrsky Ilya Fedotovich, died. For his death, for the death of all Soviet people tortured by the fascist barbarians, I want to take revenge on the fascist dogs, for which I contributed all my personal savings to the state bank to build the tank - 50, 000 rubles. I ask you to name the tank "Fighting Girlfriend" and send me to the front as the driver of this tank. I have a specialty of a driver, I have an excellent command of a machine gun, and I am a Voroshilov shooter.
I send you warm greetings and wish you good health for many, many years for fear of enemies and for the glory of our Motherland.
OCTOBERSKAYA Maria Vasilievna.
Tomsk, Belinsky, 31
The answer was not long in coming.
“Thank you, Maria Vasilievna, for your concern for the armored forces of the Red Army. Your wish will be granted. Please accept my greetings. I. Stalin "
Maria Oktyabrskaya goes to the Omsk Tank School. She passed all exams with excellent marks and received a certificate of a driver-mechanic. In the Urals, right from the factory assembly line, workers handed her a tank, on the armor of which the "Fighting Girlfriend" was displayed.
The tank's crew consisting of the commander - junior lieutenant Pyotr Chebotko, tower gunner - sergeant Gennady Yasko, gunner-radio operator - Mikhail Galkin and driver-mechanic - sergeant Maria Oktyabrskaya, was enlisted in the 26th Elninskaya Guards Tank Brigade of the Western Front.
In the battles near the village of Novoye Selo, Lioznensky District, Vitebsk Region, on November 18, 1943, the Battle Girlfriend tank was the first to break into the enemy's defenses, destroying an anti-tank gun and about 30 German soldiers and officers. In this battle, the tank was knocked out. Despite the injury, M.V. Oktyabrskaya spent two more days in a besieged tank under enemy fire until the tank was evacuated.
In mid-January 1944, a battle took place in the area of the Krynka state farm, Vitebsk region. Maria Vasilievna broke through the enemy's defenses on her tank, but the tank was knocked out. Under heavy enemy fire, being wounded, the Oktyabrskaya mechanic began to repair the damage, but a fragment of a mine that exploded nearby seriously wounded her in the head.
Maria Vasilievna was taken by plane to Smolensk, where the surgeon examined the wound. It was difficult to do anything: the splinter pierced the eye and touched the cerebral hemisphere. After the operation, Maria Vasilievna was transferred to the ward, although there was little hope of recovery.
The fellow soldiers affectionately called this little strong woman mother and wrote letters to her at the hospital:
Hello, our mother Maria Vasilievna! We wish you the very soonest recovery. We deeply believe that our "Battle Girlfriend" will reach Berlin. For your injury, we will mercilessly avenge the enemy. In an hour we leave for battle. We hug you all. Our "Battle Girlfriend" sends you greetings.
From letters of fellow soldiers
On March 14, Major Topok came to visit her, who brought letters from the children and presented Maria Vasilievna with the Order of the Patriotic War of the 1st degree.
And a day later she was gone. At dawn, on March 15, 1944, Maria Vasilyevna Oktyabrskaya died, a courageous woman was buried in the Park in Memory of Heroes in Smolensk.
By the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of August 2, 1944, Guard Sergeant Maria Vasilievna Oktyabrskaya was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. She was forever enrolled in the lists of the military unit.
And "Fighting Girlfriend" continued her glorious path. True, this was no longer the tank that Maria Vasilyevna had bought with such difficulty - her car was damaged. The tanks died, and the crew members remained alive, as if Maria Vasilievna from heaven invisibly protected her guys. They assigned the name "Fighting Friend" to their new cars - in memory of Maria Oktyabrskaya. The victory found the "Fighting Girlfriend" - already the fourth - in Konigsberg.
The name of Maria Vasilievna Oktyabrskaya bears the Tomsk school number 24. In front of its entrance there is a monument made by the sculptor Sergei Danilin, and the school museum contains a few exhibits and materials about the heroine tanker.
In Smolensk and Dzhankoy, a street is named after M. Oktyabrskaya, and a monument is erected at the Krynki railway station.