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Ax wielding Maniac Charged & Captured a German Tank & its Crew

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by PzJgr, Jul 26, 2019.

  1. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Military history is full of examples of the reckless courage and military exploits of ordinary soldiers who go beyond the “norm.”

    A simple cook, Ivan Pavlovich, was one such example during World War II. Armed with an ax and a rifle, he singlehandedly disarmed a German tank and captured four German tankers.

    Ivan Pavlovich was born on July 1, 1919 in the Ukrainian village of Aleksandrovka, now a part of the city of Kramatorsk, in a family of peasants. Soon, he and his family moved to the village of Galitsynovka located in the Donetsk region, where he graduated from school. After that he studied at the Donetsk Food Technical School.

    In November 1939, Ivan was drafted into the Red Army as a cook in the 91st Tank Regiment of the North-Western Front. In July 1941, his regiment was located near Dvinsk, now known as the Latvian Daugavpils. Soviet military units sustaining losses retreated to the east.

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    Red army soldiers

    Ivan repeatedly demanded that the command send him to the front line, but was told, “Everybody can shoot, but few are able to feed the fighter.”

    In August 1941, the field kitchen of the 91st Tank Regiment was located in a small forest near Dvinsk. Suddenly, a liaison officer from the battalion commander appeared and informed the soldiers that it was necessary to urgently advance to the front line, for the new German attack threatened to encircle them.

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    The Great Patriotic War: Red Army men attacking. 1941 with there SVT-40s. By RIA Novosti archive, image #613474 / Alpert / CC-BY-SA 3.0

    Ivan was the sole cook in the field kitchen, which stayed in its place near the supply platoon. After some time, he heard the approaching sound of a tank engine. Looking around, he saw that two German tanks had appeared several hundred meters from him.

    As it turned out later, these were tanks from the 8th German Tank Division, which had orders to go around to the rear of the battalion in which Ivan served.

    Without losing time, Ivan gathered all the horses, and led them into the forest. After that, he came back, hid behind the field kitchen, and waited in the hope that the tanks would pass close by.

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    German troops at the Soviet state border marker, 22 June 1941

    For weapons, Ivan had a rifle and an ax, which at first glance were ineffective weapons in a fight against tanks.

    One of the tanks drove past, but the second Pz.Kpfw.38(t) changed its trajectory and rolled directly toward the field kitchen.

    The tank stopped near the kitchen, and the head of a German appeared from the turret. He laughed and said something to his comrades inside. At that moment Ivan Seredа was seized with rage, jumped out of hiding and, holding the ax in his hands, rushed to the tank.

    The German, seeing a Soviet soldier running toward him, immediately took refuge inside the tank. The tankers began to shoot at the cook with a machine gun, but Ivan avoided its firing zone.

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    1941, a Pz.Kpfw.38(t). By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de

    Jumping up onto the tank, Ivan bent the barrel of the machine gun with several blows of his ax. Then he took a piece of tarpaulin and covered the tank’s inspection slits. After that, he began furiously pounding the tank’s armor with the ax, while giving commands to nonexistent comrades: “Surround them, guys! We will undermine it with grenades! Give up!”

    Stunned, the German tank crew decided to surrender. The tank hatch opened and the tankers climbed out one by one. Ivan held them at gunpoint made them tie each other up.

    When the other Soviet soldiers later returned to the location of the field kitchen, they saw the tank and its associated German tankers. Not far from them Ivan, as if nothing had happened, continued to cook porridge.

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    A German Pz.Kpfw.38(t). By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de

    Ivan’s feat was widely publicized during the war years and was reflected in Soviet propaganda posters. This subsequently led to the fact that people began to think that Ivan’s story was a myth. However, the reality of Ivan Pavlovich and his achievement is documented.

    Later in the war, Ivan distinguished himself during a reconnaissance operation in the rear of the enemy. During the operation, German soldiers discovered Soviet intelligence agents and tried to capture them.

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    Defenders of Leningrad : Great Patriotic War soldiers in attack. RIA Novosti – CC BY-SA 3.0

    Ivan quietly crawled up to the Germans’ tank with a bunch of grenades and blew it up. After that, he killed a machine gunner as well as more than ten German motorcyclists with accurate firing skills. Thanks to his actions, the reconnaissance team was able to return to their unit safely, with trophies and three captured soldiers.

    By decree of the Presidium of the USSR on August 31, 1941, “for exemplary performance of the combat tasks of the command on the front of the fight against the German invaders and showing courage and heroism,” Sereda Ivan Pavlovich was awarded the title Hero of the USSR and also received the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star medal.

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    Red Star medal for Hero of the Soviet Union. Photo: Fdutil – CC BY-SA 4.0

    According to a soldier named Bezchatelnov, who fought with Ivan, Ivan’s ax was kept for some time in his military unit as a battle relic

    After receiving his award, Ivan Pavlovich took part in the defense of Leningrad and the battle for Moscow. During the battles, he was repeatedly injured, but managed to reach the end of the Second World War.

    After the end of the war, Ivan worked as a chairman of the village council in his native village. His military past had a bad effect on his health, so in the fall of 1950 Ivan Pavlovich died at the age of 31.

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    Last edited: Jul 26, 2019

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