"You are one of us, Bator Borsoev!"

(From Kholm Slavy. (The Hill of Glory). By G.N. Rokotov. Izdatel'stvo "Kamenyar" L'vov, 1965. Third edition with changes, 1972. Pages 45-40. The "Hill of Glory" in the city of L'vov [Lviv, Lemberg] in the Ukraine is a large war cemetery.)


Anyone visiting the Hill of Glory cannot, of course, fail to notice the tombstone with the inscription "Hero of the Soviet Union Guards Colonel Borsoev V.B." Here rest the remains of the national hero of Buryatia.

The citizens of L'vov are dedicated to honoring the memory of this brave warrior. One of the city's streets bears his name. On 25 July 1969 a ceremony was held on Borsoev Street and a plaque was affixed to the building at No. 1 in the hero's honor.

At a gathering at V.B. Borsoev's tomb on the sixtieth anniversary of the hero's birth, Hero of the Soviet Union T.F. Novak stepped forward. "In the heart of every citizen of the city of L'vov," he said, "there will remain forever the shining picture of the glorious son of the Buryat people, Vladimir Buzinaevich Borsoev, whom we count as our brother. You are one of us, Bator Borsoev!"

What was the short yet distinguished life of this man whose name entered the chronicles of our city?

Vladimir Buzinaevich Borsoev was born on 13 April 1906 in the Kholbot ulus of the Erikhit-Bulgat aimak of Irkutsk District. He lost his parents early, and as a boy was forced to quit school and hire himself out herding livestock for a kulak. But as soon as kolkhozes began to be created in the Baikal area, the young Borsoev was among the first to apply to a collective. He became an activist for creating kolkhozes and joined the communist party. In 1929 his kolkhoz sent him to Verkhneudinsk to the Soviet party school. Lacking even a primary education but possessing a great thirst for knowledge, he finished his studies with brilliance and returned to his native kolkhoz.

The district party committee turned its attention to the young communist and offered him a place in the Leningrad Artillery School. To become a Red Army commander! For V.B. Borsoev, a ardent horseman and hunter, military service had always seemed romantic, so he accepted without hesitation. After finishing the school he served for two years as a commander of a firing platoon [ognevyi vzvod], perfecting and sharpening the knowledge he had acquired. In 1936 he entered the Frunze Military Academy. The years of study flew by, and Captain Borsoev received an assignment to an artillery regiment in the Caucasus. But soon the war broke out.

The regiment in which V.B. Borsoev commanded a division [divizion], left for the front. So began the suffering and trials of combat. As soon as circumstances allowed, Vladimir Buzinaevich wrote in a notebook his most striking impressions, thoughts, and events, and remained true to this habit to the end. He made his first entry in this frontline diary on 10 July 1941 and the last on 7 March 1945, the day before he was mortally wounded.

V.B. Borsoev received his baptism of fire on 20 July 1941 near Fastov. This is how he described it in his diary: "We moved out at 0600. Rained continuously. The vehicles could not make way through the mud. The horses were exhausted… At 1400 we entered combat. Our first battle began in the worst possible circumstances for us: firstly, all commanding heights were held by the enemy; secondly, the Germans let our vanguard pass and unexpectedly struck us in the flank…"

The enemy thought there would be panic, but there was not. The batteries quickly deployed and in only a few minutes opened fire. The enemy was repulsed, and the regiment arrived at its concentration point at the designated time.

On 21 July an advance was started on the Fastovets grouping of fascist troops. "At the end of a bloody battle," V.B. Borsoev noted in his diary, "we had advanced 8 kilometers. The much-lauded German motorized infantry ran." His first victory and first wound. In order to better support the fighting the battalion commander had moved to one of his forward observation posts which the Germans covered in mortar fire. Of the eight men in the observation post, only three survived.

At V.B. Borsoev's own insistence he was released from hospital early and returned to his regiment as chief of staff. Once again, days filled with battle. The regiment made a fighting retreat to the east. Plodding through the hot dust and smoke, losing comrades, Vladimir Buzinaevich grimly endured this unavoidable retreat but not for a minute did he stop believing in victory.

[Photo: Brigade Commander V.B. Borsoev (center) among his staff officers. 1941.]

On 20 October 1941, the division as part of which Major Borsoev was fighting halted the enemy on the approaches to a mountain town with the picturesque name of Krasnyi Luch [Beautiful Ray]. The enemy threw into the attack strong forces of infantry and tanks supported by massive air strikes, but the Soviet soldiers, stubbornly dug in behind a slag heap, beat off all attempts by the enemy to move forward. From here Borsoev, already a lieutenant colonel, was called to Moscow for training, and after finishing this course he was given command of a regiment in a separate antitank artillery brigade under Colonel I.V. Kupin. In this person Vladimir Buzinaevich met not only an experienced military leader, but a noted party worker, mentor, and friend.

The regiment commanded by V.B. Borsoev took part in battles at Voronezh, Kastornaya, Staryi Oskol, Oboyan', and Sumy, and wrote more than one brilliant page in the history of our nation's artillery.

During the Red Army's 1943 summer offensive V.B. Borsoev's regiment played an active role in the liberation of many towns and cities of the Russian Federation and the Ukraine, among them Belgorod, Graivoron, Trostyanets, Gadyach, Pereyaslav-Khmel'nitskii, Kiev, Fastov, and Zhitomir. On 9 September 1943 Vladimir Buzinaevich was wounded for a fourth time but remained in the line.

The Central Archive of the USSR Ministry of Defense keeps Guards Colonel Kupin's judgment of V.B. Borsoev: "…A daring commander and exceptionally cool under stress. His regiment is always ready for action… During the summer offensive his regiment displayed examples of courage and bravery in battle with German tanks."

Vladimir Buzinaevich always had a deep empathy with the Ukraine. And when his destiny was joined with that of black-eyed Hanna, this empathy grew into a native son's love. On 10 November 1943 he wrote: "I was the village of Klekhovka on the mound where I was wounded in fierce fighting on 21 July 1941. I stood still for ten minutes, remembering dead comrades, and my eyes filled with tears." Yes, the earth spattered with his own blood became a second motherland.

Just before the 26th anniversary of the Red Army V.B. Borsoev was given the rank of guards colonel and the Order of Lenin. In a short time he was summoned to front headquarters for a new posting--commander of the 11th Proskurov Order of Lenin Guards Anti-Tank Artillery Brigade of the High Command Reserve.

On 14 July 1944, after heavy artillery bombardments and air strikes the troops of the 38th Army assaulted deeply echeloned enemy defenses in western Ukraine. This was the start of the L'vov-Sandomir operation. Many days of bloody fighting culminated with breaking through the Nazi defenses. On the very first day of the battle there was a very difficult situation in the 248th Regiment's sector. When V.B. Borsoev became aware that the greatly thinned ranks of his artillerymen might waver, he himself stood at the panoramic aiming sight. On that day the regiment withstood four fierce enemy counterattacks, destroying 7 tanks and 3 armored personnel carriers with motorized infantry.

Later V.B. Borsoev's brigade, moving with the 101st Rifle Corps, moved by forced marches to L'vov. The brigade succeeded in cutting through the road L'vov-Nikopol in spite of strong Nazi resistance. By an order of the Supreme High Commander the brigade was decorated with the order of Bogdan Khmelnitskii, and two of its regiments--with the order of the Red Banner. Also, the 248th Regiment was given the honorific "L'vov."

On 28 July at Rudki, the brigade commander wrote just a few words in his diary: "Yesterday we took L'vov after heavy fighting." Truly, there was no free time for more. The results of the destruction of the L'vov group of enemy forces had to be taken advantage of in full and the USSR border line reached as soon as possible. On 3 August the brigade crossed the border north of the town of Sanki.

V.B. Borsoev's artillerymen played an important role in the Carpathia-Duklin operation. The forces of the 38th Army and 1st Separate Czechoslovakian Army Corps tore forwards to support the Slovak uprising. The Nazi high command took tank units out of its reserve to throw at them. The Soviet artillerymen occupied a highway leading through a pass and held it for seven days. The enemy counterattacked ferociously but could not force V.B. Borsoev's brigade from its firing positions.

After the Carpathia-Duklin operation the brigade's previous commander I.V. Kupin returned, and V.B. Borsoev took over the 7th Tarnopol Order of Lenin Red Banner Guards Brigade. With this brigade he passed through the Dombrow coal region towards the German border. On 1 February 1945 V.B. Borsoev wrote: "I am on German soil! Now the end is near!" On 7th March he made his last entry: "During this time we occupied a bridgehead on the west bank of the Oder… We are putting ourselves in order and preparing to storm the city of Ratibor."

On the last page of the brigade commander's diary there is written in a stranger's hand: "Killed near Ratibor at 1200 on 8 March 1945." Seriously wounded by a shell fragment, V.B. Borsoev had died on the operating table.

He was posthumously awarded the order of the Patriotic War 1st class. To his constellation of Soviet orders U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt added the medal of the Legion of Merit, officers' class.

Twenty years after the victory over Hitler's Germany the commander of forces in the Carpathian Military District invited Borsoev family members Anna Yevgen'eva, Syren Vladimirovich, and Il'ya Buzinaevich to receive in the name of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR official notification of the award of Hero of the Soviet Union. The Motherland does not, and never will, forget her glorious son. 

Translated by Mark Conrad, 2004.