Aleksander Untilov: Soviet-Japanese War (1945): Memoirs of a Kaluga Veteran 

Translator’s Note: Alexander Yakovlevich Untilov (25.4.1919-7.3.2019) was nearly 100-years-old when he died! The Russian language sources state that in 1937, his father was arrested as ‘an enemy of the people’ (dying in 1942) and being rehabilitated in 1953. Within Western narratives, such a declaration is interpreted as reflecting badly on the entire family of the accused, but in reality this was not always the case. Just two-years after the arrest of his father (in 1939) – Alexander Untilov was entrusted with the pursuing of a career in the Soviet Red Army! He would serve both in Europe and in the Pacific surviving the ‘Great Patriotic War’ (1941-1945) and the Soviet-Japanese War (1945)! He served as a Sapper in a Mine-Blasting Platoon and would not leave the Soviet Red Army until 1948! Furthermore, despite the arrest of his father – Alexander Untilov was also permitted to join the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolshevik). As a civilian railway worker, he joined the Kaluga Carriage Depot. He was the Secretary of the Nodal Communist Party Committee and the Regional Council of Mechanical Engineering Trade Unions. He was also elected as a Deputy of the City Council. After retirement in 1984, as a disabled person of the 2nd group, Alexander Untilov, continued to work in public organizations and headed the Council of Veterans of the city of Kaluga. He was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War of the 1st degree (1985), the Order of the Red Star (1944), the Medal for the Défense of Moscow (1944) and the Badge of Excellence in the Railway Troops (1942). In 2015, he was awarded the Jubilee Medal “70 years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945” – the medal was presented to him along with 30 other Veterans in the Kremlin’s St. George Hall and given personally by the country’s President – Vladimir Putin. Labour Merits and Social Achievements were awarded with the Order of the Badge of Honour, the Governor’s Certificate of Merit and the Medal of “60 Years of the Kaluga Region”, etc. In 2009 he was awarded the title of “Honorary Citizen of the city of Kaluga”. ACW (6.10,2021)

Seventy-two years ago, on August 9th, 1945 – the Soviet-Japanese War began – which ended with the Victory of the Soviet Army over the Kwantung Army in Manchuria and the Japanese troops on South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. The decision that the USSR would enter the war with Japan was made at the Yalta Conference in February 1945. In exchange for participation in hostilities, the USSR was to receive South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, which after 1905 belonged to the country of the rising sun. On the night of August 9th, the forward battalions and reconnaissance detachments of the Soviet Red Army three-frontal attacks moved into enemy territory. Aleksander Untilov (Александр Унтилов) – a resident of Kaluga (situated 93 miles Southwest of Moscow) – was a participant in these events.  

Alexander Untilov at 97-Years-Old!

“This is a gift to celebrate my 90th birthday. The City Administration gave me a present and said: ‘You were involved with mine detecting. At least hold a sabre in your hands’” says the Soviet Red Army Veteran! In the collection of historical memorabilia possessed by Alexander Untilov – this katana now occupies pride of place! He deserves such a gift as this Veteran went through the entire Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), and then served in the Soviet-Japanese War (1945)! At 98-years-old, Alexander Untilov remembers everything extremely clearly and in detail. In 1945 he was seriously wounded near Konigsberg whilst the Soviet Red Army was ‘liberating’ Germany and was taken to hospital. The Unit Commander came and announced that their echelon was leaving for the East. Alexander Untilov recalls: “In the ambulance car there was a nurse, an instructor, and I was bandaged. So, we went to the Far East. As we crossed the Amur the Soviet Red Army was put on fall-alert as we entered the domain of the Imperial Japanese. Moreover, the weather was disgusting. It was continuously pouring with heavy rain!” The consolidation of the Soviet Red Army troops at the start of the Offensive revealed that the USSR possessed a serious numerical superiority over the enemy: in terms of the number of fighters, almost one and a half times more. The equipment used by the Soviet Red Army was significantly more modern and powerful than that of Japan. The experience gained by the Soviet troops during the war with Nazi Germany also gave an advantage.  

President Putin Honours Alexander Untilov!

The Veteran says that the Soviet Red Army went on the offensive without artillery preparation, which the Japanese did not expect. Untilov’s platoon cleared the railways in the direction of Mukden, now the large city of Shenyang, in North-Eastern China. The Japanese organized a defence in the hills. Soviet Red Army soldiers advanced under the cover of Red Airforce protection. On August 15th, Emperor Hirohito made a radio address in which he announced that Japan accepts the terms of the Potsdam Conference and unconditionally surrenders. In fact, it all ended in September. Alexander Untilov: “We won by September 7th – as the Japanese will to fight was completely destroyed! Already defeated in Mukden, we were then transferred to the already ‘liberated’ Sakhalin Islands – to the old geographical border between the Soviet Union and Japan (now extended through the Kuril Islands). And we lived there for probably two weeks. What did we do? – We had nothing to do – accept rest and sleep. Because we had nothing to do – we were sent back to Russia”.  

Alexander Untilov as a Young Soviet Red Army Engineer!

The respite was short-lived. Alexander Untilov continued to serve until 1948. When the 2nd Far Eastern Front was disbanded. Prior to this, he was sent to fortify the shores of the Black Sea. But the war with the Japanese In 1945, he met his future wife – a Kaluga woman – who served as a Red Army Nurse in the ambulance he initially travelled within. After demobilization, he returned to Kaluga for her. Aleksander Untilov admitted that the city of his beloved also won his heart. And the young family decided to stay here. 

Russian Language Source:

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