‘Day of Winning Back Zaporozhye’

Democracy in Europe is safe, because of the defeat of Hitler and fascism in World War II. This was only possible due to the leading role of the Soviet Union, which lost 25 million people, including 11 million soldiers. The turning point in the war, the battle of Stalingrad (the gateway to gas and oil resources), fought from September 1942 to January ’43 was the turning point, marking the beginning of the end for Hitler, fascism and the war. Nikolay Ivanchenko fought and survived. His great grand-daughter Nina, a second year student in Coláiste Éinde, won the first prize for this essay, written in May 2015 for the competition, announced by the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Dublin and devoted to the 70th anniversary of ‘The Great Patriotic War’(known as World War II in Europe)                                    

T.O’L (Teacher)


     I decided to write about my great-grandfather Nikolay Fiyodorovich Ivanchenko, a driver in a tough Artillary Brigade of the Soviet Army, in that war. He was born in 1913 in the Dnepropetrovsk area, but from 1927-1986, he lived in the area of Zaporozhye, in the Ukraine. He was mobilized, at the end of 1941 and fought, until the end of November 1944.

    Nina’s great-grandpa Nikolay Fiyodor recalls: By chance, it happened that they were retreating with part of the army and moving though his village. They retreated hard, with tough fighting up to Stalingrad. Grandfather took part in defending Stalingrad and was wounded. After a period in hospital, he was again sent to the front lines. Having defeated the Nazis here, they fought on to Kurskay, Dug, helping to free the area from Stalingrad to Odessa. In the process, he was wounded again heavily and was said to be unable to fight again. Nikolay was not a talkative person and didn’t like speaking about the war much but once when he met his comrades, I overheard him speaking about one episode, the freeing of Zaporozhye” .

     “Our forces having freed a village and having renewed our strength, started a tank attack towards the railway line at Zaporozhye. Having passed a village on the way with no trouble, our tanks emerged into the aerodrome. The Nazis, in panic, started to run. Only 3 to 4 Nazis planes were able to rise, the rest were destroyed on land. Flattening the whole aerodrome, the tanks stopped at the village of Gasanovka, waiting for fuel and ammunition. As our tanks were resting by the railway, our artillery started to set up in firing positions and the infantry started to dig trenches.

      Not even two hours had passed when, from the direction of Matveyevka, Nazi tanks and infantry showed up. They attacked our forces, which still had yet to finish digging the trenches. We asked for help from our Tank Korps but their answer was that until they could get fuel and ammunition, they could not help.”

     Nikolay was then a driver in the artillery brigade (152 mm. cannon), in the reserve of the main command. This brigade was supposed to set up by the railway in front of the aerodrome. “When it became clear that our tanks couldn’t help, they had to aim heavy guns at the Nazis. They had never been in such shoot-outs before. Having let the Nazi tanks come to a distance of 1,000 metres, 6 of our firearms hit 4 Nazi tanks. After the second round of shots, 3 other tanks were destroyed. A minute later, the Nazi tanks left, leaving the infantry behind. No more Nazi attacks happened that day.” 

     My great grand-father, despite four wounds incurred in battle, lived a long and fulfilling life. He worked for 30 years on the community farms and reared three sons, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. It later came to pass that his eldest grandson Nikolay (Nina’s father) joined the army where his grandpa fought on Mamaevo Circle in Volvograd [formerly known as Stalingrad].

     Their photo was published in the article of Viktor Ivanchenko (Nina’s grand-father) in the Zaporozhye city newspaper.


This story is reproduced with kind permission from Nina’s parents, Elena Dorogaya and Nikolay Ivanchenko, granted on 10/01/2017.



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