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Lieut Michail Gavrilov

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Lieut Michail Gavrilov

Birth
Russia
Death 30 Apr 1942 (aged 25–26)
Russia
Burial Burial Details Unknown
Memorial ID 62939935 View Source
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April 30th, 1942. Nothing fundamental seemed to have happened at the front that day. Soviet forces destroyed 38 German fighter planes and lost 9. Among the losses that day were legendary attack planes IL-2. At the control column of one of these single-seater planes made for his last battle lieutenant Michail Gavrilov. And disappeared.
In 1994 lieutenant Gavrilov was already a seasoned pilot. Under his belt he had at the minimum 27 operation flights, 20 of which appeared to be low-flying attacks of enemy manpower, tanks, artillery and airfields.
April 1st, 1945. Eleven planes flew out with the attack mission. Only Gavrilov returned to the home airfield. He reported that the group was met with the anti-aircraft fire, but maneuvering it succeded in attacking the enemy. After the second attempt, the group dashed for the enemy, breaking the wall of anti-aircraft defensive fire, and successfully began to come out of the attack. Gavrilov started a maneuvre for the third attack, but immediately noticed fire traces above his head. They were attacked by "Messerschmidts", the fight lasted about 15 minutes. In the long run the "Messers" split the Soviet formation and made them fight singly. Some Soviet planes were brought down in that battle. On the 3rd of April the group of 4 IL-2 attack planes, in which Gavrilov stood in for the leader, was attacked by the 3 fight planes. The German planes brought down the leader at once and Gavrilov took command over the group. 20-minute fight, in which Gavrilov successfully confronted and even attacked German fight planes in his IL-2, was being observed from the ground by colonel Ivanov and a group of pilots. It were them, who sent a letter "full of admiration with courage and bravery of lieutenant Gavrilov" to the commander. For that fight Gavrilov was decorated for bravery in the battle with a "Red Banner" order.
"Red Banner" order was the first Soviet decoration. It was instituted for the outstanding courage, selflessness and bravery manifested in defence of the Socialistic Fatherland.
Who was that brave fighter pilot Gavrilov? Born in 1916, Russian worker, member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Took part in the Polish campaign of 1993. According to the data of Central Archive of the Russian Ministry of Defence was missing from 30th April, 1942. Did not return from the last mission of the Lyuban operation. Tragic Demyansk Pocket was nearing to its end.
In the Demyansk regions very hard battles were taking place. Several enemy divisions got encircled by the Soviet army. There are reasons to assume that lieutenant Gavrilov with other fighter pilots attacked enemy airfields. He must have been shot down by enemy fight planes or anti-aircraft gun. He did not make it to the base and felt halfway. Where exactly – no one knew.
68 years later lieutenant Gavrilov and his IL-2 has been found in a bog. Two weeks ago. Anatoliy Pavlov, commander of the searching brigade "Demyansk", and his fellows have spent several days extracting from the slush everything left from the single-seated attack plane IL-2. Although, not much has been left: armored hull, engine and fragments of plane construction. And the main thing – remains of a pilot were found inside. Such godsend was worth several days of hard work and toil of a dozen volunteers weared out wheeled and track equipment and a pump, which had been constantly pumping out bog water from the excavation site.
The pilot lay with coveralls, helmet and kersey boots on. There was no parachute, gun and watch by the pilot. They must have been stolen right after the war. And then the plane sinked deep into the bog and lay there till April 2010, guarding the pilot's name secret. After the discovery of the pilot's remains and the operation on extracting the plane fragments the team proceeded to the task, by no means less effortful – identification of the pilot. The documents found were unreadable. There was no decorations and personal weapon. But taking into consideration the engine number gave good cause to assume that the pilot was Michail Gavrilov himself.

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