Chronicle of war:

Sidor Kovpak
Sidor Kovpak7.6.1887 - 11.12.1967

Sidor Kovpak was Putivl guerrilla’s commander. A member of the illegal Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of the Ukraine, Major-General.

He was born on May 26 (June 7) 1887 in Kotelva village today a settlement in the Poltava Region, in a poor peasant family. Ukrainian. A member of the CPSU (B) / CPSU in 1919 graduated from a parochial school.

From 10 years Sidor Kovpak hacked for a local grocer, doing the dirtiest and hardest work. After military service, he worked in Saratov in the river port and tram depot as a laborer.

At the beginning of the First World War, in July 1914, S. Kovpak was mobilized in the tsarist army. In 1916, as part of the 186th Aslanduzsky Infantry Regiment S. Kovpak participated in the Brusilov breakthrough and distinguished as a brave scout and was twice awarded the George Cross.

Experienced soldier imbued with revolutionary sentiments and sided with the Bolsheviks. In 1917 the soldiers elected S. Kovpak in the regimental committee, by whose decision Aslanduzsky regiment failed to comply with the government’s order Kerensky’s attack, and the command decided to retire the regiment. Over time, soldiers of the regiment returned to their homes.

In 1918, S. Kovpak returned to his native Kotelva, where he took an active part in the struggle for the Soviet power, headed the Land Commission on the distribution of estates among the poor peasants.

During the Civil War S. Kovpak headed Kotelva guerrilla group. Under his command guerrillas along with the Red Army conducted military operations against the Austro-German occupiers and Denikin. In May 1919, he joined the partisans of the Red Army. As part of the 25th Chapaev Division S. Kovpak participated in the defeat of the White near Guriev, as well as in the battles against the forces under Wrangel in the Crimea and Perekop.

In 1921-1925 S. Kovpak worked as an assistant and then a military commissar in Tokmak, Genichesk, Krivoy Rog, Pavlograd. Since 1926, he was on the economy and party work. During the first elections to local Councils, following the adoption of the Constitution of the USSR in 1936, S. Kovpak was elected Deputy of Putivl City Council, and during its first session –Executive Chairman.

In July 1941, a guerrilla group was formed in Putivl to fight behind enemy lines, and S. Kovpak was appointed commander. Material-technical base of the detachment was founded in Spadshchansky wood.

After appropriate preparation, on September 8, 1941 S. Kovpak sent all of the guerrilla army into the woods, and on September 10 the Nazi troops broke in Putivl. Soon the Red Army joined the group, and it increased up to 42 men, 36 of them had weapons.

On September 27, 1941 a group of party activists from Konotop joined Putivl detachment. The guerrilla group started the first fighting against the Nazi occupiers in Safonovka village. In mid-October guerrilla group led by SV Rudnev came to Spadshchansky Wood.

On October 18, 1941 Putivl guerrilla group was finally formed. His commander was Sidor Kovpak, and commisar – Semyon Rudnev. There were about 70 men in the squadron, many rifles, mostly captured, and light machine gun.

On October 19, 1941 Nazi tanks reached in Spadshchansky Wood. The fight began, and the guerrillas captured three tanks. After losing a large number of soldiers and military equipment, the enemy was forced to retreat and return to Putivl. It was a turning point in the battle of the guerrilla group.

On December 1, 1941 about 3 thousand Germans, supported by artillery and mortars launched an attack on Spadshchansky Wood. S. Kovpak closely followed the guerrillas’ mood taking into account their views. With a great deal of combat experience, S. Kovpak realized how much it meant: he had to raise the morale of troops.

The unequal battle lasted all day and ended by the guerrillas’ victory. Inspired by the example of the commander and the commissar, who fought as well, all the guerrillas did not bate an inch from the positions they occupied. All the enemy’s attacks were repulsed. The enemy lost about 200 officers and soldiers, while the guerillas found the trophies – 5 machine guns and 20 rifles.

During these first battles Kovpak’s military experience helped, he showed his military talent, courage, and bravery combined with a deep understanding of guerrilla tactics, with a sober calculation and the ability to navigate in the most difficult situations.

Since then it was dangerous to stay in Spadshchansky Wood, therefore, S. Kovpak and S. Rudnev changed the tactics: the squad was moving and crushing blows to the enemy during raids. During these raids they tried new tactics and strategy, greatly contributing to the development of guerrilla warfare.

During the raid, S. Kovpak was particularly demanding and exacting, knowing from his own experience that the success of the battle sometimes depended on small, unaccounted “trifles”. During maneuvers the guerrillas gradually developed their iron laws:

To fight after it gets dark, but to rest in the woods or in remote villages in broad daylight; to know everything happening around; do not go long in one direction choosing roundabout roads, do not be afraid to make a hook or loop. Passing by the large enemy’s garrison to hide. Small garrisons, outposts, ambushes to be destroyed without a trace.

Under no circumstances violate the system, never leave the series. Always be prepared to attack and be attacked. Some canons go to the gun position, while others in the meantime hit right off the road.

The main forces move along deaf country roads, trails, paths which are known only to local residents and raiding parties go out on the highway and railway lines, close them from the enemy – break bridges, rails, wires, derail trains. It is so quiet in places where the gorilla group at night is, but far from all around is under the thunders and flames. After coming in a village – wake up the people to fight, use everything for it – flyers, radio, agitators, and armed local guerrillas, share your experience with then – let the flame of fire and the thunder of explosions not stop when you are far behind.

In December 1941 – January 1942 Putivl squad carried out a raid in combat in Khinelsk, and in March - the Bryansk woods. There it quickly rose to 500 men well armed with captured and domestic weapons. It was the first raid of Kovpakov’s squad.

The second raid on their home Sumy began on May 15 and continued until July 24, 1942. During this time, the guerrillas held a series of battles against the superior forces of the Nazis. The enemy lost about fifteen thousand people. The raid was notable for the fact that on May 27, 1942 it came into Putivl. Hometown greeted its liberators with tears of joy and gratitude.

By the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet on May 18, 1942 for the successful conduction of military operations to destroy the enemy garrisons, military equipment, as well as to undermine the railway facilities, Sidor Kovpak was awarded the honorary title of Hero of the Soviet Union, the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star medal (№ 708).

Taking into account his active participation in the development of the guerrilla movement, by the Party Central Committee decision dated October 2, 1942 S. Kovpak was approved as a member of illegal Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of the Ukraine.

On October 26, 1942 the unit left the Bryansk woods for the Right-Bank Ukraine. Having conducted a force crossing of the Desna, Dnieper and Pripiat, Kovpakov’s squad reached Olevsk in the Zhytomyr region.

With each passing day guerrilla groups led by S. Kovpak gained experience during active operations behind the enemy lines. The best example of guerrilla art is the famous the Sarny Cross Operation, made during a raid on the Right Bank Ukraine when the guerrillas blew up simultaneously 5 bridges on Sarny railway lines and defeated the in Lelchitsy. S. Kovpak and S. Rudnev showed great military prowess during the raid.

On April 9, 1943 S. Kovpak was promoted to the rank of Major-General. “Now”, said Sidor Kovpak, “We must fight wisely, more intelligently. After all, we now a part of the regular Red Army” In Moscow they felt the same way: all the orders and radiograms referred to Kovpak’s unit as “military part number 00117”.

Performing the job of the Central Party Committee on the further development of the partisan movement in the Ukraine, the illegal Communist Party (Bolsheviks) on April 7, 1943 considered the operational plan for fighting in the spring and summer and decided to relocate several large partisan formations in the western and south-western parts of the Ukraine to launch the national struggle in the Volyn, Lvov, Drogobych, Stanislav, Chernovtsi regions, as well as fto organize local guerrilla groups and joint combat and sabotage on the railway communications and oil fields.

The guerrillas were in the military campaign in the Carpathians on June 12, 1943. To the output of the Carpathian raid the compound had about 2,000 guerrillas. There were 130 machine guns, 380 machines, 9 guns, 30 mortars, 30 antitank guns, rifles and other weapons.

During the raid, the guerrillas went about two thousand kilometers, killed and wounded more than 3,800 Nazis, blew up 19 military trains, 52 bridges, 51 warehouses, knocked out some power and oil fields near Bitkov and Yablonovy.

The raid was one of the outstanding operations of partisans during the Great Patriotic War. Carried out during the Battle of Kursk, it had a great moral and political significance. Sowing confusion and alarm in the enemy’s rear, the unit drew in a large enemy force, destroyed the railroad tracks, delaying the transfer of the Nazi troops to the front. In addition, the raid had a great influence on the development of guerrilla warfare in the western regions of the Ukraine: thousands of new patriots woke up for the armed struggle against the enemy.

By the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet on January 4, 1944 for the successful implementation of the Carpathian raid Maj. Gen. Sidor Kovpak was awarded a second Gold Star medal (№ 16).

In December 1943, S. Kovpak due to the illness returned to Kiev. On February 23, 1944 the unit was transformed into the 1st Ukrainian Partisan Division named after twice Hero of the Soviet Union S. Kovpak. Under the command of P. Vershigora it made two more raids on the enemy’s rear in the western regions of the Ukraine and Belarus, as well as in Poland.

Since 1944, S. Kovpak was a member of the Supreme Court of the Ukrainian SSR, since 1947 - Deputy Chairman of the Presidency, and from 1967 - member of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR. Member of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of the 2nd-7th convocations.

The legendary guerrilla commander S. Kovpak lived in Kiev. He died on December 11, 1967 and was buried in Kiev at Baikovoe cemetery.

He was awarded four Orders of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner, the 1st class Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky, 2nd class Order of Suvorov, medals and decorations, as well as medals of Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

A bronze bust of twice Hero of the Soviet Union Sidor Kovpak was installed in Kotelva urban settlement in Poltava, and monuments - in Kiev, Putivl and Kotelva. Streets in many towns and villages are named after the hero.
 



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