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KHERSON - ASKANIA-NOVA (part 5 - KAKHOVKA)

KAKHOVKA

As soon as the motor-ship passes the lock of the Kakhovka Hydropower Station, you find yourself in a region known as the Kakhovka Bridge-Head from the lime of the Civil War.

On leaving the lock on your way to Kakhovka you behold the vast stretch of the storage sea. It is one of the newest seas in the world measuring up to 200 km in length by 40 km in the widest part. Knowing people say that in some places the depth of the sea is over 50 metres. One-and-a-half metre pikes, sheat-fish weighing up to a hundred kilos, enormous carps, breams, razor-fish and others — this is by far an incomplete list of the piscatorial wealth of tilt storage reservoir.

To the right one can see a pumping station. This is the beginning of the Krasnoznamensky and North-Crimean irrigation canals. Only in the Kherson Region these canals irrigate over 500 thousand of hectares of land that had never before tasted the Dnieper water. By the way of the canals the life-giving water flows to Krasnoznamenka in Golopris-tansky District, and reaches as far a-s Kerch in the Crimea.

To the left you see buildings of a town. This is Berislav, a place where in 1699 Russian and Ukrainian troops led by Prince Golitsin won a victory over the Turks defending the fortress of Kizy-Kermen. Even now the remnants of the walls of this fortress can be seen near the landing stage. In honour of the victory the place of the former fortification was named Berislav. It was from this place that the Soviet divisions began the forced crossing of the Dnieper during the rout of Wrangel in 1920. Here in Berislav was based a detachment of Soviet fliers who dealt a crushing blow at the Wrangel hordes. Fighting in the detachment were such Hero Fliers as I. U. Pavlov, P. H. Mezheraup, U. I. Arvatov, I. F. Voyedilo, N. K. Vasilchenko, J. J. Gulyaev, who were each decorated with two or three Orders of the Red Banner.

On the bank across the storage reservoir just opposite Berislav is the village of Malaya Kakhovka. At the beginning of the last century a landowner in one of the northern provinces bartered his hounds for a number of serfs, brought them to Tauria and founded the village of Novaya Kakhovka. Nowadays, the descendants of the former serfs live happily

In a rich collective farm named after the 21st Party Congress. There is a high school, a hospital, and a club in the village. Around the village there are hundreds of hectares of vineyards. And now we are landing at the legendary Ka-khovka.

Kakhovka, Kakhovka, With rifle in hand We fought to gain freedom For Soviet land.

It is not without reason that the name of Kakhovka celebrated in the famous song went down in the history as one of the principal places where great battles were fought to win freedom for our country.

The town you see before you was founded ir. 1783. From the encyclopedia published in 1895 we learn that about that time the small town of Kakhovka had a population of nearly four thousand inhabitants. In the town there was a steam-powered mill, a saw-mill, over a hundred of shops, and a great number of storehouses. There used to be two fairs there every year, at which (usually in spring) goods to the amount of about two million roubles were sold. Up to thirty thousand peasants would come to the fair in search of work. In his works V. I. Lenin wrote about these fairs and the miserable condition of the farm-hands. At that time the yearly dispatch of such goods as grain, tallow and wool from the Kakhovka piers amounted to three million poods (1 pood = 36 lb.).

There were a great number of public houses in the town and not a single secondary school.

Now Kakhovka has more than 25 thousand inhabitants and a number of industrial enterprises, such as an Automobile Repair Works, Arc-Welding Equipment Plant, Food Factory, and Repair and /Maintenance Station. The production of the Arc-Welding Equipment Plant is delivered to 40 countries of the world. Every morning thousands of young people sit down at the desks of the four secondary and three eight-form schools in Kakhovka. There is an evening school for young workers, a music school for gifted children, a Palace of Culture, a stadium, a number of libraries, a Museum of Local History, and a motion-picture theatre named after V. K. Blucher. Many feats of arms were performed at Kakhovka during the Civil War under the leadership of this outstanding commander.

In the spring of 1920, after stubborn fighting with the 13th Army defending northern Tauria, the black hordes of Baren Wrangel, armed and clothed at the expense of foreign concessionaires, came from the Crimea and, having captured northern Tauria, advanced to the Donbas. The third and the last henchman of the Entente had mustered under his banners over 150 thousand officers and men (including 800 generals). The white guards had whole officer divisions where graduates from officer schools served as rank-and-files. At the head of a platoon was a captain, and a company was commanded by a colonel. The divisions and corps were placed under the command of generals notorious for their cruelty, such as Slashchev, Vitkovsky, Barbovich, Kutepov. After the capture of Chaplinka Wrangel got the following telegram: "Captured Chaplinka today — some shot and some hanged as required — Slashchev".

The best forces of the young Red Army were sent against the third and the last campaign of the Entente. From the distant Siberia, after defeating Kolchak, came 24 thousand men in 92 trains. That was the 51st legendary division under the command of Vasily Konstantinovich Blucher, bearer No. 1 of the Order of the Red Banner. Every third man in the division was a Communist. From Apostolovo the division forced a march to Berislav. From Berislav the division arrived at Kakhovka where, together with the 15th, 52nd and the Lettish divisions, it began fortifying the Kakhovka bridgehead. During the August, September, and almost entire October of 1920 these divisions of the Kakhovka forified area under the command of V. К Blucher repelled numerous attacks of the Wrangel troops and counterattacked the enemy successfully. It was on this bridge-head that the Soviet fighters staunchly stood their ground and repulsed the most concentrated armoured attack known to that date in the history of war. The attack was launched by the enemy with 16 tanks and 14 armoured vehicles. By the way, the commander of the artillery battalion of the 51st Division, L. A. Govorov, the future Marshal of the Soviet Union, was decorated with his first Order of the Red Banner for repelling the Wrangel tanks by direct laying. In the environs of Kakhovka D. M. Karbyshev, the future Hero of the Soviet Union, the legendary hero of the Great Patriotic War, later tortured to death by the Hitlerites in Mauthausen, participated actively in fortifying the bridge-head.

The courage and fortitude of the Soviet troops who defended Kakhovka knew no bounds. At the same time racing to the battle-field of Kakhovka from the Polish front was the glorious First Cavalry Army led by S. M. Budyonny and К. E. Voroshilov. It was from Kakhovka that the Army cut into the enemy rear and broke the might of the white-guard cavalry which until then was considered invincible.

In the town's Museum of Local History a multitude of exhibits display the heroic past of this small Tauric town. Among the honorary relics of the Museum is the gold sabre of S. M. Budyonny presented to him by M. V. Frunze for routing the Wrangelites in northern Tauria, a Maxim machine gun of those days; personal belongings, photographs, documents, arms and rewards of the participants of the unforgettable battles.