Katukov, Mikhail Yefimovich, born 17-09-1900 in the village of Bolshoe Uvarovo in Kolomensky Uyezd, Moscow Governorate, to an impoverished peasant family of five children. From a young age he worked on the local landowner’s dairy farm. Katukov graduated from the primary rural school. In 1912 he was sent to relatives in Saint Petersburg, where he worked as a messenger boy in a dairy shop, and later in the factories of the city. Katukov participated in the October Revolution in 1917, after which he returned to Bolshoe Uvaravo to take care of his family after his mother’s death.
Katukov entered the Red Army as a private in 1919. He served during the Russian Civil War, and later served as a tank formation commander before the war. In 1935 he graduated from the Stalin Military Academy and in July 1936 he was promoted to captain. In October 1938 came his first major command as acting commanding officer of the 5th Light Tank Brigade of the 45th Mechanized Corps. He survived the purges.
On the onset of the war he took command of the 4th Tank Brigade. In the battle of Moscow in 1941, it was Katukov’s Tank Brigade, then part of the 1st Guards Rifle Corps, that checked the advance of Guderian‘s Panzergruppe 2 near Tula. To honor this achievement it became the 1st Guards Tank Brigade.
Later during Operation Mars in December 1942, Katukov’s command managed a deep penetration into the German lines in the Rhzev salient.
In January 1943 he took command of the 1st Guards Tank Army , a post he held for the duration of the war. Aleksandra Samusenko was the only female tank officer in the 1st Guards Tank Army, 1943 According to World War II veteran Pyotr Demidov, Aleksandra Samusenko was crushed under the caterpillar tracks of a tank, which did not notice the accompanying people in the darkness. She was buried in Lobez, Poland, near the monument to William I. Anatoly Raftopullo is one of the recognized masters of tank combat and a Hero of the Soviet Union. From tractor driver to tank ace. Unlike many of his comrades-in-arms, by the time the war began Raftopullo was a regular soldier who had served in the ranks of the Red Army for more than 10 years and had real combat experience gained on Lake Hassan and in the war against Finland. Anatoly Raftopullo was especially distinguished during the battles near Moscow in 1941, where he fought with the enemy as part of the famous Katukov brigade. The famous Soviet tank commander passed away on 21-04-1985 at the age of 78, and was buried in the capital of Ukraine at the Lukyanovsky military cemetery.
In the battle of Kursk, Katukov’s command was one of the two armies that were hardest-hit by the initial German advance on the southern shoulder. Through the use of well-defended and sited strong-points, dug in tanks, and judicious use of counterattacks, Katukov managed to extract a high toll from the German attackers breaking through the defensive system.
He commanded his tank army in the Proskurov-Chernovtsy Operation, Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive, the Vistula–Oder Offensive, and the Battle of Berlin. Mikhail Katukov was awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union twice (29-09-1944 and 06-04-1945).
Following the war he became commander of the mechanized forces of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, and later Inspector General of the Army.
Death and burial ground of Katukov, Mikhail Yefimovich.
Mikhail Katukov died 08-06-1976, aged 75, in Moscow and is buried at Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow. Section 7, Row 11, Grave 21. Radek Hroch visited the cemetery in Moscow and kindly sent me the grave photo’s.