Grigory Tikhonovich Pavlov

Grigory Tikhonovich Pavlov was born in 1918 in the village Novo-Ochakovo in the Vladimiroka district, Nikolaev region, in the Ukraine.

Grigory went into the Red Army in Oktober 1939. It is unknown to me in which unit Grigory was at that time. When Germany invaded Russian on 22 June 1941, Grigory fought on the South-Western front.

On 26 July 1941 he fought against units of the German III. Panzer-Corps at the town Boguslav not far from Korsun in the Kiev region. The German III. Panzer-Corps covered the operational left flank while other German forces performed the encirclement of large Russian forces at Uman in the Ukraine. On that day Grigory became wounded. What happend to Grigory is unknown to me. Was he captured? did he went to a hospital or to his home?

Map from the Uman encirclement. Boguslav is on the Nort-east.

By 1944 Grigory's hometown had been liberated by the Russian forces. On 15th of March 1944 Grigory enlisted in the Red Army again, he was drafted in his home region. Grigory was first posted in the 2nd Battalion of the 149 Army-Reserve-Rifle-Regiment. This reserve unit was part of the 8th Guards-Army, commanded by Vasily Chuikov. Grigory's Military specialty was "Wired signals specialist".

Page 2 and 3 of Grigory's Soviet military ID-book.

On 11th April 1944 he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion of 76th Guards-Rifle-Regiment as Signalman. The commander of this Regiment was Pavel Dmitrievich Kurnosykh. The Regiment was part of the 27th Guards-Rifle-Division which was part of the 29th Guards-Rifle-Corps which in their turn was also part of the 8th Guards-Army. At this time the 8th Guards-Army fought under the 3rd Ukrainian-Front and had just participated in the liberation of the city Odessa (freed on 10th April). After 2 months the Division, with other units of the 8th Guards-Army, was moved away from the front and put in the reserve for about 2 weeks. After that they were transported to the 1st Belorussian-Front in the Kowel area.
The Division participated in the Lublin-Brest operation, starting on the 18th of July 1944.

On this day Grigory's Division attacked west of Kowel and broke through the German defences, this was noted in his military ID-book on page 6. On the 21st of July the 8th Guards-Army reached the banks of the Bug river. On the 24th Lublin was liberated and on the next day the Army reached the eastern banks of the Vistula river. On 27 July Grigory was awarded the Guards badge, this was also noted on page 6 of his ID-book. This badge was to be worn on the right brest of his uniform. Brest was liberated on 28 July.

Page 6 and 7 of Grigory's Soviet military ID-book.

Red Army forces crossed the Vistula river and made bridgeheads. Grigory's 27th Guards-Rifle-Division crossed the Vistula in the early morning of 1 August 1944. They made a bridgehead and set up defences near the village Zagroby. This bridgehead was located just south of where the Pilica river flows into the Vistula river. Here the two rivers form a kind of triangle. This was probably done to counter any German counter attacks and use the Pilica river as a natural defence.

Map of part of the Pilica/Magnuszew bridgehead in 1944.

The combat journal of Grigory's Division mentions in the conclusion, that “uninterrupted availability of the wired and wireless communication links provided for firm control of the forces during the forced crossing as well as the subsequent bridgehead clearing”. This was accomplished by Signal-soldiers like Grigory.
Later, on 4 and 5 August Grigory's Division also crossed the Pilica river and Grigory's Regiment was positioned in the village Ostrołęka. For 6 August 1944 the Regiment mentioned the following events in their combat journal:


"At 10:30 the enemy force of up to regiment supported by 19 tanks and SPGs attacked in the direction of settlement Antonywka and Niwy-Ostrolecki defended by 1st rifle battalion. After 4 hours of fighting against superior forces, the 1st battalion left the village Ostroleka and withdrew to the right back of Pilica river where it dug in. The regiment suffered the following losses in personnel and equipment: 18 KIA, 38 WIA, 1 AT gun destroyed, one 76mm regimental cannon, 6 heavy SMG, 5 light MGs, 7 AT rifles. Enemy losses: 4 tanks, 2 AT cannons, and 180 as KIA and WIA”


The 1st Battalion took the main blow, but Grigory's 2nd Battalion also had to defend themselfs. Grigory did his part and for his actions on this day he was awarded the Medal for Bravery a few weeks later. The document in which Grigory was proposed for the medal says the following about Grigory's actions:


"Signalman of 2 rifle battalion, Guards private PAVLOV Grigory Tikhonovich.

In the action for repelling enemy counter-attack on 6 August 1944 at the bridgehead on the river Pilica, comrade PAVLOV went to repair the telephone wires in the field. On his way he discovered 2 Germans sneaking in the bushes. With a well placed shot he eliminated them. He had repaired 3 telephone wires while being under heavy enemy fire"

The combat journal of the Division also discribes this day:


"06 August 1944 – At 10:30, the enemy opened heavy artillery barrage at the forward lines of 76GuRD. At 10:45 enemy force battalion strong supported by 8 tanks and 4 SPGs attacked the 1st battalion of 76GuRR in Ostroleka. At 10:50, 30 enemy troops on 3 boats tried to cross Pilica and outflank 83GuRR. Simultaneously 20 enemy troops on 2 boats attempted to cross to the Eastern bank of Pilica near the demolished bridge. The enemy boats were sunk by all fire means. A part of enemy troops managed to reach back to the bank, but most were killed or drowned.

At 11:00, up to a company of enemy forces supported by 2 guns attempted to cross Pilica to the Eastern bank at the point 1km West of Boguszków. Met by strong artillery and mortar fire, the enemy infantry withdrew back to the Western bank. 1st battalion, 76GuRR was engaged whole day in heavy fighting against superior enemy force in Ostroleka. Lacking AT means and being pressed by enemy armour, they held North-Eastern outskirt of Ostroleka suffering heavy casualties. After the dark, the 1st battalion of 76GuR, following the division Commander’s order, withdrew and dug in on the Eastern bank across Ostroleka”


Map of the bridgehead at Pilica

The Army continued to hold the bridgehead, also know as the Magnuszew bridgehead, against German attacks till middle January 1945. On 9 Oktober 1944 Grigory was promoted to Guards Sergeant. And on 31 December 1944 he was transferred to the 23rd Guards-Recon-Company. This unit was part of the same Division, the 27th Guards-Rifle-Division, but was not organically attached to a bigger formation and operated on its own. Grigory was given a new function, he was now assigned as Scout. Grigory's Company concisted of 3 Squads: 1 mounted on horses and 2 on foot. Grigory was part of the mounted Squad and was the second in command of this Squad.

Page 4 and 5 of Grigory's Soviet military ID-book.

Map of the road the 27th Guards-Rifle-Division took from the Vistula river to Poznan.

In January 1945 the 8th Guards-Army took part in the Vistula-Oder operation. The army participated in the liberation of Lodz in January 1945. In late January 1945 the army reached Poznan (Posen). It was decided that four Divisions from the Army together with two Divisions from the 69th Army had to capture Poznan. Grigory's Division was one of these. The other parts of the 8th Guards-Army continued their advance towards the Oder river. The city Poznan was declared a fortress by Hitler and ordered to defend itself till the last men. The garrison of Poznan consisted of around 40.000 to 60.000 men, including many from auxiliary forces and the Volkssturm.

A photo of one of the fortifications in Poznan, 1945.

Poznan was surrounded and on 26 January the Division fought itself into the city with a hasty but successful assault. In bitter and heavy combat the Soviet forces managed to push the German forces towards the city center. At the beginning of February most of the city was captured. On 12 February the Germans only held the imposing citadel in the city center. The final attack on the citadel started on 18 February. Grigory's Division together with the 74th and 82nd Guards-Rifle-Divisions attacked it.

To get into the citadel, Russian forces had to get across a deep ditch with a steep rampart on the far side. Russian soldiers tried to cross this obstacle with ladders but in the heavy German fire they failed. It took them 3 days to neutralize the German citadel defences that overlooked the obstacle, in which they used flametrowers and explosives. After a make-shift bridge had been made, Russian tanks went into the main ground of the old fortress and the final stage of the battle began. The German commander, Generalmajor Gonell, refused to surrender and shot himself in the head while laying on a flag. That same evening the new commander, Generalmajor Mattern, surrendered with his remaining 12.000 soldiers to General Chuikov. It took the Soviet forces a month, but Poznan was captured. 50% of Poznan was destroyed, but in the city center 90% was destroyed. 5000 German troops and more then 12.000 Russian troops lost their lifes in the battle for Poznan.

Grigory's Company did not do the actual assault, they received special missions. Grigory fought well and was proposed for another medal for 2 actions during the battles. The proposion document says the following about those actions:


"13.02.1945 in town Paznan, the scout group under command of Guards Master Sergeant BAYBORODOV, the part of which Guards Sergeant PAVLOV was, got a task to slip behind enemy line into the house block #24 and report on the strength of enemy defences. Comrade PAVLOV penetrated into the enemy positions and reported back the personnel and equipment strength. Providing support during operation for seizing a prisoner-informant, he rushed in to assist comrade BILETSKY.

15.02.45 in town Poznan, the the scout group was assigned a mission to sneak into the house-block #3 and report back the enemy strength. Comrade PAVLOV completed the mission by providing her command with invaluable information on the enemy personnel and equipment strength. Comrade PAVLOV is worthy of order of “Glory III class”

It was signed on 18 February 1945 by the commander of Grigory's unit, Guards Captain Popov and the head of the reconnaissance section of his Division, Guards Major Zhigalov. On 5 March 1945 the Divisional commander decided to award Grigory the Medal for Bravery for these actions and not the proposed Medal of Glory III class.

The above mentioned comrade was Guards Sergeant Biletsky, born in 1922. Biletsky fought and survived in Stalingrad and had received various medals. On the map below you can see the 2 house blocks mentioned above (encircled in yellow).

Russian map of Poznan in 1945.

The 8th Guards Army, excluding the four Divisions at Poznan, reached the Oder river at the beginning of February 1945. South of Küstrin, near the Reitwein Spur, they began to cross the frozen river. Later on the ice started breaking and crossing was difficuilt. The Soviet forces created a bridgehead on the west side of the Oder, south of Küstrin and held it against German attacks. North of Küstrin, the Soviet 5th Shock-Army also created a bridgehead and held it against German attacks. On 21 March both Army's attacked from their bridgeheads towards each other and thus surrounded Küstrin. After bitter fighting, at the end of March Küstrin had been captured.

Map of the road the 27th Guards-Rifle-Division took from Poznan to Küstrin.

At some date the four Divisions from the Poznan battle arrived back at the 8th Guards-Army at the Oderfront. In April 1945 Grigory's Division was on the frontline opposite the German defences at Seelow. In this part of the front, of the 8th and 5th Army, the Soviets had placed 8983 (artillery)guns and 731 tanks. On 16th of April the final offensive on Germany began. In the early morning thousends of guns opened fire on the German frontline. It was the heaviest artillery attack on such a small part of the front in the whole war. After the fire on the first trenches lifted, the waves of Russian infantry moved forwart. The artillery barage moved to the German rear. The 8th Guards-Army fought south of Reichsstrasse 1 (the main highway from Küstrin to Seelow to Berlin).

The Russian attack was not the succes the Russian commanders hoped for. The German forces resisted. At some parts the Russians made breakthroughs but at the 8th Guards-Army the attacks towards Seelow failed. The Russian forces conquered some terrain but the attack died down with heavy losses. In the afternoon a re-newed attack was initiated. This time the Soviets used their tank reserves. This attack did not succeed as wel. The next day the attacks continued, with small gains. Soviet forces bypassed Seelow and surrounded it. Seelow was captured and the 8th Guards-Army continued their advance towards Berlin. The 29th Guards-Rifle-Corps, of which Grigory's 27th Guards-Rifle-Division was part, attacked Berlin on the east side. During the battle for Berlin Guards Sergeant Biletsky was killed in action during close combat with German soldiers. Grigory's Company fought all the way to the Reichs Chancellery area.

Photo of a few soldiers from the 23rd Detached-Guards-Recon-Company, 27th Guards-Rifle-Division.

After the war a member of Grigory's Company was interviewed. He told that approx. 100 men in total had served in the Company (including the casualties). The casualty rate was about 50% during the 2 years that the unit was on the front. He provided the photo below. It is a photo of the whole Company shortly after the war in May 1945. Grigory must be one of the soldiers.

Photo of the soldiers from the 23rd Detached-Guards-Recon-Company, 27th Guards-Rifle-Division. May 1945.

Below you can see 2 more photo's from Grigory's military ID-book that he carried during the war, these are equipment and weapon pages. Unfortunately there is no portrait photo from Grigory inserted in the ID-book. Grigory survived the war and was released from the army in 1945. He went back to his hometown. In 1985 he received the Order of the Patriotic War II degree as veteran of the war.