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Cupid, MiG, Kiker, Retcher, Dawn, Orlik, Deina, Beetle, Ball, Bear - Brat, Max, Dick, Inga, Fill - hounds, German and Scottish shepherds, Erdels, Collies, half breeds and simply mongrels ..

And with them girls - Tosya Vasilyeva, Vera Aleksandrova, Nina Butyrkina, Anya and Valya Rodionov, Valya Korneeva, Rita Menshagina, Masha Yakovleva, Valya Glazunova, Liza Samoylovich, Zinaida Filimonova….

What binds these names? What role did these people and these dogs play in the fate of the besieged city?

****

This story began long before the beginning of the war, in 1928, when Peter Alekseevich Zavodchikov was appointed head of the dog breeding section of the city of Leningrad.



Peter Breeders was an outstanding person and educated with a burning interest in technical sciences and the latest inventions and inventions. In the higher school of the Red Army, he personally studied the issues of canine odorology (finding and identifying substances by their smell track), listened to Yazykov’s lectures and, possibly, L. Orbeli himself (in the memoirs of Zavodchikova there is a mention of a professor who had given a special course of lectures to the Red Army commanders about training dogs to recognize odors in extremely small quantities of the desired substance


In the same year of 1928, he invited Olga Dmitrievna Koshkin to be her secretary of the Leningrad Club-School of the Service Dog Breeding Section of the German Shepherd Dog Breed for her start. In 1939, Olga Dmitrievna became the head of the Nursery School of the club, located in the Leningrad park Sosnovka. In addition to the breeding German Shepherd Dogs, the nursery school purchased and accepted for retraining mobilized club dogs from the residents of Leningrad.

It is known that in 1941 almost 700 of them were accepted and put to the kindergarten's allowance. The mobilization goal was to preserve the breeding livestock, as well as to call up the service dogs on a par with people for military service.

Already in August 1941, on the basis of the Separate 34th Engineering Battalion of the Leningrad Front, a military detachment of dog breeders was formed with service dogs - the 5th Separate detachment of tank destroyers.

But the breeding dogs save almost failed. During the evacuation, all the dogs died on Lake Ladoga during the bombing. Only a few breeding dogs were returned to the owners after the blockade was lifted. And only one of them feels asleep.

The dogs of those left in the Sosnovka kennel were not spared by the first blockade winter. Weak and
the asthenes could not survive it.
By the summer of 1942, there were only about 200 dogs out of seven hundred dogs in Sosnovka. A number of connected dogs and fighter dogs were serving at the front line.

At the beginning of the war, dogs were trained and used only as tank destroyers. But ... there is still no more or less reliable data on the successful use of dogs for this purpose. On the contrary, there is evidence that Peter the Breeders himself, being the commander of a battalion of fighters, with tears in his eyes, watched his pets die senselessly on the front line. Often the dogs did not even reach the tanks, struck by the heavy fire of the front. If the dog was scared of the metal and the rumble of the battle and rushed back, seeking salvation from its own, according to the instructions, it was necessary to shoot it, because it bore a lethal charge. Diana Solomonovna Volkats, the wife of Mazovere, Aleksandr Pavlovich, also wrote about the inefficiency of the dogs of demolition men.

Understanding that dogs can be used more efficiently and with smaller sacrifices, in the spring of 1942, Peter the Breeders, secretly from the leadership of the Leningrad Front, begins to form his famous “girl team”. It invited girls from besieged Leningrad, members and instructors of the pre-war club, those who managed to survive the terrible winter of 41-42 years in the besieged city. Thin, with hollow eyes, transparent from hunger, they came to Sosnovka Park to study and teach dogs in foreign language business.

****

“We even, ashamed to say, in dogs for the first time secretly cooked horse meat (soot!) Was stolen. You cry, you ask for forgiveness from the dog, and you will slowly turn away and eat a slice from the bowl. Then, more or less, got fed. Outfit gave us a man. "

****

In the battalion, serious preparatory work began for the newly formed detachment; there was almost no time left for the girls. In addition to classes with dogs and care for them, they studied the charter and drill, sapper business, including long practical classes, and dog training.
In the autumn of 1942, the training of sled dogs was added to the minority science.
Interestingly, according to the official version of the events, the training of minors in the 34th Independent Engineering Battalion began only after the Blockade was broken through and on the personal initiative of the Chief of Engineers of the Leningrad Front B.V. Bychevsky. Apparently, the myth that the short-breeding dogs had been prepared in just one month spread from there.


Maiden team on training


The maiden team that was trained in Sosnovka did not take part in the hostilities until the blockade was broken. Girls with dogs were trained and waited in the wings.

And this hour has come.
In the operation to break through the Iskra blockade, the 34th engineering battalion was tasked to deliver to the advanced engineering equipment (barbed wire, mines, armored guards), and to take the wounded from the front line to the nearest rear. The girls and dogs had double work.

A few days before the start of the operation, the girl’s battalion, along with other units, was stationed at the village of Manushkino.
The offensive began on January 12, 1943. At 9.30 am, thousands of guns and mortars hit immediately.
The girls were waiting for the order.
Their time has come when the infantry rushed across the kneaded snow-covered river.
No crossings have yet been brought in, neither the tanks nor the cars could yet force the river, and the girls with dog sleds rushed into the thick of the battle.

****

"For many girls, it was a baptism of fire. Sergeant-major Petrov boldly ran on skis with them and hurried - it was important to quickly slip through the open river space that was fixed by enemy artillery.
- Look at the openings !!! - he threw on the move.
Shells crushed and crushed ice.
- Advanced then soon, comrade sergeant ??
- Far away! - Petrov shouted - Drive away! - He was amazed by this naively fearless girls, who did not understand that there was already a front line, maybe even the hottest place of the battle. "

****

After breaking the blockade, the girl’s team was no longer able to return to Sosnovka. They were transferred from one front to another. As soon as our troops began to push the fascists back from the city, the help of the battalion was required to clear the liberated and strategic territories.

Sapper devices of that time did not react to anti-personnel mines in cardboard and wooden cases, and on mines in plastic cases and other non-metallic materials. It was possible, of course, to find a mine probe. But the slightest mistake led to the explosion and the death of the sapper.
The dogs, trained in the field of foreign affairs, worked flawlessly and without contact, looking for explosive objects by the smell of the explosive itself. Dog sappers cleared the frontal areas 6 to 8 times faster than troop sappers did before.
Only the maiden team of dog handlers of the 34th Separate Engineering Battalion of the Leningrad Front and their wards had a quarter of a million mines and unexploded shells found and neutralized. But in the battalion there was not one detachment working together with four-legged soldiers.

Girl Team 1943

From left to right: Dick, Jake, Beetle, Dake, Inga, Mig.

The maiden team existed in Leningrad until the end of the war. The dogs continued to serve in the demining of Leningrad and the Leningrad Region in other detachments of the 34th Engineering Battalion. Some girls were left to train demobilized military engineers and canine wisdom.

In total on the account of this military division more than 700 thousand neutralized explosive charges and tens of thousands of mined buildings ..



Many years after the end of the war, Peter the Breeders wrote a book about his "girl team" with the same name. It is written in simple and easy language by a person who is a direct participant in the events. Simple and touching about the amazing feat accomplished shoulder to shoulder by people and dogs who mixed their blood on the battlefields in the name of victory and peace.

Eternal Memory and low bow!

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