She served in the 21st army, worked as a teacher of tactics at the Ulyanovsk Tank School and worked in the Military Academy of Mechanization and Motorization of the Red Army called after Stalin. She participated in military actions during World War II and wrote a handbook ‘Tanks in Ambush’. In 2000, at the age of 91, she was awarded the rank of colonel.
1) Kharchevnikova, M. Tanki v zasade [i.e. Tanks in Ambush]. Moscow: Voennoe izdatel’stvo Narodnogo Komissariata Oborony, 1943. 36 pp.: schemes. 14x11 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Number on front cover and stamp of the Library of the Stalin Military Academy of Mechanization and Motorization of the Red Army on p. 1, 17. Otherwise mint.
Wartime edition. Edited by major A. Kovalenko. According to the contract (item #2), printrun was 50 000 copies while in books themselves such information was usually silenced during the war.
In a brochure, captain Matilda Kharchevnikova overviewed how to operate armored fighting vehicles from concealed positions. She shared experience gained during two early years of the Great Patriotic War. The text was compiled by December 1942, printing process was carried out in May 1943, thus this guide was completed and sent to Soviet officers just before the Battle of Kursk.
The brochure contains military tactics for tank attacks in seven types of military actions: reconnaissance, retreat, an encounter battle, defense and mobile defense, as well as actions of tanks when they are ambushed by an enemy. All methods offered are illustrated with schemes and one of them also decorates the front cover. The source is particularly interesting because of the examples provided. One of them reads: “Two crews under command of Zaitsev and Tomilchenko had suddenly met a tank unit of the enemy. Soviet tankmen didn’t lose their heads and decided to defeat the enemy by setting up an ambush – suddenly attack the enemy from behind bushes without firing a shot but acting as a battering ram. Letting motorcyclists go aside, heavy Soviet tanks collapsed to both sides of the enemy column. The battle lasted several minutes. As a result, 15 light tanks and 10 armored vehicles were destroyed”. Also, the author elaborates on how to choose an ambush site, how to create and mask trenches around tanks.
Worldcat shows the only copy located in the University of Kentucky.
2) Publishing Contract between the Voenizdat Publisher and Kharchevnikova. May 25, 1943. 31x22,5 cm. Typewritten and ink handwritten notes. Ink corrections of terms. Creases, otherwise mint. An excellent source on Soviet book publishing royalties during the wartime.
According to the contract, the book title should have been “Tanks in Ambush in General Types of Battles : In Reconnaissance, in Retreat, in an Encounter Battle, in Defense, in Mobile Defense and Action of Tanks When They are Ambushed by an Enemy”. The contract was valid for four years. One of the corrections is a clause that the publisher was obliged to provide 10 author’s copies of the book instead of 25 copies.
3) Message in the official form of the People’s Commissariat of Defense of the USSR. Komandiru chasti 054 [i.e. To Commander of Unit 054]. Ulyanovsk, December 26, 1942. Typewritten letter. 15,5x21 cm. Creases, ink and red pencil marks, otherwise mint. The note reads: “I inform you that the manuscript “Tanks in Ambush” by captain M.N. Kharchevnikova has been approved for publishing. By January 10, 1943, captain M.N. Kharchevnikova should be sent to the Main Armored Tank Directorate for preparing the original manuscript for print. Signed in red pencil by Major General of tank troops, M. Cherniavskii.
4) Message in the official form of the People’s Commissariat of Defense of the USSR. Komandiru chasti 054 [i.e. To Commander of Unit 054]. Ulyanovsk, January 18, 1943. Typewritten letter. 16x20,5 cm. Creases, ink marks, otherwise mint. The note reads: “I inform you that the manuscript [of “Tanks”] by captain M.N. Kharchevnikova has been accepted for publication and submitted for print”. Signed in ink by two officers of the Directorate of Armored and Mechanized Troops, Kravchenko and Ogarev.
5) Handwritten note from the editor: “Dear comrade Kharchevnikova! I am sending you 10 copies of your book “Tanks in Ambush” that belong to you – as a book post– as well as 1 copy of the contract. The author’s salary of 623 rubles will be sent to you on the 12th day of this month”. June 9, 1943 [Signature]. 10,5x18 cm. Creases, otherwise mint. According to this note, the author earned a little less than it is stated in the contract.
6) Statement typed in the official form of the People’s Commissariat of Defense of the USSR. Moscow, 1943. 15x21 cm. Creases, otherwise mint. Statement proved that M.N. Kharchevnikova was detained by the head of the Main Directorate of Recruiting and Military Training of Armored and Mechanized Troops of the Red Army for carrying out an urgent order, therefore she was obliged to appear at a place of service in the Stalin Military Academy of Mechanization and Motorization after Moscow traffic was over”. September 2, 1943, 3 a.m. Signed in red pencil by Major General of tank troops, M. Cherniavskii.
7) Bilet #0251 Delegata IV Vsearmeiskogo soveshchaniia zhen komanduiushchego I nachal’stvuiushchego sostava RKKA [i.e. Membership Card #0251 of a Delegate of the All-Union Congress of Wifes of the Command Staff of the Red Army]. Moscow, 1936. One-side illustrated card. 7,5x11 cm. Slightly rubbed, otherwise very good. Pale stamp of Soviet organization.
Name of Matilda Kharchevnikova is written in ink. Photo portraits of Stalin and Voroshilov are reproduced. In the 1920-30s, military clubs for families of military personnel appeared all over the country. Wives, children, brothers and sisters of the army commanders learned to shoot from all types of weapons, drive cars and motorcycles, jump from parachutes, protect themselves from the effects of chemical weapons, and provide primary medical care. To sum up and analyze the experience, the All-Russian Congress of Wives of the Command Staff of the Red Army was opened on December 20, 1936.
8) Photo made of two imprints glued together. The All-Union Congress of Wifes of the Command Staff of the Red Army / shot by Kislov; Soyuzfoto. Moscow, 1936. 15x26 cm. Small tears of edges with some fragments lost, imprints attached with black paper tape on rear side, pale stamp on copyright on rear side. The picture features a crowded hall of attendees and a delegation of the Povolzhye military region sitting at the Congress in particular.
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