For 29-year-old battalion commander Andriy Denisov, the lasr year was the most difficult one in his life.
It was he and his guys from the brigade who were the first to go to the ATO zone in May, 2014. And it was under his command that the first howitzer battery of the 53d separate artillery brigade from Zaporizhzhya that got out of the Debaltseve kettle with minimum losses.
Story of battalion commander Denisov. How “Gods of war” fight
The artillery started shelling and corrected the fire. And immediately after that there was a new radio message from the same serviceman. He wrote, “Gods of war, I love you!” It meant that the mission was performed properly.
Then they went through Slovyansk, Kramatorsk, Krasny Liman, Yampol, Seversk, and Lisychansk. They moved mostly at night. They did not have the necessary pointing and vision devices. It happened that the speed sometimes was 30 km, and they moved only for 6 hours, but still they marched on. Then they took the position in Popasna and the battalion artillery worked in the direction of Pervomaysk, together with the first “Donbas” battalion.
26 days of non-stop work, several railway cars with ammunition were used for shelling. Then the decision was made for the battery to return to the base camp of the 17th tank brigade.
It was to be the first rest of the soldiers for the whole period of the hostilities in the ATO zone. The battery was promised two days. However, they had an opportunity to relax only for a day. Then the battery was divided into two groups; one group went to Popasna; another one — to Debaltseve where the battery was united again in 2 days. It was mid August, 2014.
On August 31, the battery went home to have their first rest. Then the war routine started again.
The next time “denisovtsy” (Denisov's subordinates) came to Debaltseve on October 7, 2014. The next day, 6 Grad shells fell down 500 metres from the camp.
The battery under Andriy Denisov's command came to Debaltseve for the third time on January 4.
Two weeks later, on January19, 2015, a great orthodox church holiday, Andriy was in the yard to pour cold water from a bucket on himself as he could not, as the tradition requires, to have a dip in the ice-hole in a river or a lake. He even woke up his deputy Victor to do the same, when a package of Grad shells landed in the yard. The major part of the shells hit dwelling houses of civilians; some shells hit the camp. The soldiers rushed to help both civilians and militaries and took the wounded to military doctors. The commander was under the impression that the enemy employed 70% of their equipment in this battle. The enemy shelled our soldiers from early morning. In the afternoon there were bayonet attacks at checkpoints; in the evening there was shelling. The enemy employed armament of various calibres: 122 mm, 152 mm, cassette “Uragan”. Andrey confesses that it was not always possible to eliminate the target. The main task was to supress the enemy for our militaries to be able to regroup and to charge the guns.
Volunteers helped with a lot of the brigade needs
“Denisovtsy” were called “machine gunners” at the ammunition depot because they employed 600 ammunition units a day. Artillerists knew that there is no help to those who guard checkpoints; the enemy employed tanks, infantry fighting vehicle, armored troop-carrier, and infantry against them. So, in this situation, the artillery helped a lot. “There was mutual help with the 128 brigade. We supported and protected each other”, says the battalion commander.
If the chief officer of the battery did not have enough time to give the orders to the gunners, Andriy and his subordinates came to the rescue. They allocated responsibilities: one battery was responsible for north-west, another one — for north-east. They tried not to refuse fire support to anybody and fired at several targets simulaneously. In order to save the lives of our militaries, every second counted. The fire was so intensive that they were already shelling at 6 a.m.; they were still shelling at midnight.
Denisov understood that the moral condition of his militaries was an important factor of the result. That is why the militaries tried to make their life more comfortable. Using boxes, they constructed a kithen, a toilet, a bathhouse. They arranged checkpoints to guard the positions — the guards were everywhere and each of them had a particular task. When food was distrubuted, the battalion commander gathered all the 6 gun commanders, opened the boxes in their presence and distributed equal number of everything: cigarettes, coffee, socks, etc. Everything was divided equally, without any priviledges. “The commander is respected for this fairness”, militaries say about him.
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