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Mariya Ivanovna Lagunova
File:Mariya Ivanovna Lagunova.jpg
Native name Мария Ивановна Лагунова
Born (1921-07-04)July 4, 1921
Died December 26, 1995(1995-12-26) (aged 74)
Place of birth Okonechnikovo village, Kamensky district, Yekaterinburg Governorate, RSFSR
Place of death Brovary, Kiev oblast, Ukraine
Allegiance Soviet Union Soviet Union
Service/branch Red Army
Awards Order of the Red Star

Mariya Ivanovna Lagunova (Russian: Мария Ивановна Лагунова; 4 July 1921 – 26 December 1995) – was a Soviet tank driver.[1] She was a veteran of the Great Patriotic War. During the war, she served with the 56th Guards Tank Brigade as a mechanic-driver of a T-34 tank, and eventually achieved the rank of guard sergeant.[2]

Early life

Maria Ivanovna Lagunova was born on 4 July 1921, in the village of Okonechnikovo (Ushakovsky selsoviet), Nikitinskaya Volost, in the Kamensky District of Yekaterinburg Governorate (now the Kataisk District of the Kurgan Region).[3]

Lagunova's mother passed away when she was only four. Due to this misfortune, she became responsible for herself at an early age. The family had five children. Losing her mother at four, Lagunovа began to work early to feed and dress herself and her family. (Her older brother Nikolay died in battle during the first days of the war on the front.)[3] She graduated from junior high school after five years.[4] Nikolay's elder brother – from the first days of the war on the front, died in battle.[3]

She was then taken to her sister in Sverdlovsk, where she worked as a nanny. From the age of 16, she began working at the Uralobuv factory. She initially worked as an electrician, but wanted to become a truck driver. When she had spare time, and the factory truck stood idle and unattended, she studied it and was happy if she was allowed to sit behind the wheel.[5]

During the Great Patriotic War

At the front

With the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War, Nikolai's older brother went to the front, and Maria decided to follow his example. After repeated appeals to the Stalin RVC of Sverdlovsk, she received a summons and was one of the 20-year-old girls sent to the Chelyabinsk school for military tractor drivers.[6]

In the winter of 1942, she was sent to the airfield service battalion on the Volkhov Front, a few kilometers from the front lines. During 1942 on her tractor she felled trees, stubbed stumps, leveled the ground, and plowed snow. During the bombing of the airfield, Corporal Lagunova suffered a concussion and was and sent to the reserve regiment,[7] where she was identified as a projectionist.

Driver mechanic

In February 1943, a military representative from the Urals came to the regiment to select tankmen for training. Lagunova decided to enroll, but was rejected. She then wrote a letter to Moscow to M.I. Kalinin, and in a few days the military representative was ordered to take Lagunova as a cadet. Of the 700 male cadets wishing to become tankmen who arrived in March 1943 in the city of Nizhny Tagil, Lagunva was the only woman.[8]

The course program was designed for four months, but the best cadets of the 19th Training Tank Regiment of the 2nd Training Tank Brigade were asked to take exams early in June. Lagunova was among the best mechanic-drivers and passed exams ahead of schedule. By flatly refusing to stay in the regiment as an instructor,[9] she was directed to the front to join the 424th Tank Battalion of the 56th Guards Tank Brigade.[10]

Sergeant Lagunova received baptism of fire with the Guards at the Battle of Kursk. After the counterattack by Soviet troops near Kursk, tankers fought farther to the west, through Sumy, Chernihiv, and the Kyiv regions of Ukraine.[11]

Ivanovna showed herself an experienced and brave driver, and enjoyed the military authority of the tankers. The brigade described her as "our tank ace".[12]

From 1943 she was a candidate for membership in the All-Union Communist Party.[10]

The last 13th battle

On 28 September 1943 near Kiev, in the city of Brovary, the brigade was involved in heavy fighting. Control of the village of Knyazhiychi passed from the Russians to the Germans twice. Captain Mityakin, the battalion zampolit, personally led the tankers in another tank attack on German positions while in a T-34 (commander of the tank – Lieutenant Chumakov), where M.I. Lagunova served as a mechanic driver. This was her 13th battle.[1]

Initially, the attack developed successfully: bursting through the German lines, the crew destroyed German artillery, destroyed the machine gun parapet in the trenches and killed enemy soldiers and officers. But soon the tank was put down. A shell damaged the caterpillar track and one landed in the mechanic driver's seat.[13]

At the hospital

Unconscious, Lagunova was evacuated from the tank and taken to a field hospital. On waking up, she found that she had no legs and her right hand was also gone.[11][14]

She was airlifted to Sumy, from there to Ulyanovsk, and then to Omsk. Here, surgeon Valentina Borisova conducted a series of operations to partially save her legs so that Lgunova would have the opportunity to walk on prosthetics.[15]

In the hospital Lagunova was awarded the Order of the Red Star.[16]

The delegation from the Nizhny Tagil Training Regiment brought her some 60 letters from both friends and from cadets she did not know who were from the new replenishment.[17]

From letters sent from the front written by the commander of the brigade, Colonel M.K. Scooby and her former combatant Major Honin, she learned that her portrait hangs in a room at the regimental headquarters and, and her military biography is taught to all the cadets for educational purposes.[18][19]

According to other sources, Lagunova was considered to have died, and fellow soldiers from the 56th Guards Tank Brigade learned that she was alive only after 20 years from the publications by the writer S.S. Smirnov in the press.[20]

In the spring of 1944, Lagunova was taken to the Central Institute of Traumatology and Prosthodontics of the Ministry of Health of the USSR in Moscow, where she had prosthetics made.[21]

Returning to the training regiment, Lagunova served as a telegraph operator for four years. She continued to learn how to walk on her prosthetics. In 1948, she was demobilized.[5]


She was made an honorary citizen of the cities of Kataysk, Kurgan Oblast (Russia), Brovary (Ukraine) and Grunewald (Germany).

Later life and family

She lived in Sverdlovsk, worked at the Uralobuv factory as a controller of the quality control department (Russian: ОТК). She married Kuzma Yakovlevich Firsov, whom she met in the hospital who was also a war veteran.[24] When Firsov proposed to Lagunova, she laughed and cried: "What will we do? We both need a nanny". To which he replied: "And we are with you, Masha, we will combine two very difficult destinies into one heavy one. And make you happy." They had two sons: Nickolay (born in 1949) and Vasily (born in 1953). Both sons are named after the dead brothers of Lagunova and Firsov. There have grandchildren,[25] and live in the village of Knyazhi, Brovarsky district, in the Kyiv region of the Ukraine.

In the 1960s, following the advice of physicians, due to bad asthma, she was forced to move for a change in climate. The family moved to Khmelnytsky, and then to Brovary. She brought up her children and grandchildren, worked on patriotic education of youth, and traveled with teams or representatives abroad.[26] She died 26 December 1995, at the age of 74 years.


Memorable sign in Brovary

Streets in the city of Brovary and the village Knyazhiychi in Ukraine,[27] as well as the home of Luganova in the city of Kataysky are named after her.

She was made an honorary citizen of the city of Brovary. In 2010, on the eve of the Victory Day celebrations in the city of Nizhny Tagil a memorial plaque was installed in her memory.[28][29]

On 6 May 2013, a memorial plaque in her memory was installed on one of the houses on the street named after her (M. Lagunova Street, house number 38).[30]

In 2015, the documentary series The Magic Regiment was broadcast. The third series Masha is devoted to her life and feats.[31]

In the museum the "History of the T-34 tank", part of the exhibition "Women and Tanks", is dedicated to M. I. Lagunova.[32]

After more than 20 years, Lagunova drove a tank again when she was in Germany as part of a delegation from her regiment. One foreign journalist doubted that a frau could be a tank mechanic. Lagunova sat in the driver's seat of the tank and, with all the force on the friction pedal of both prosthetics, drove the tank. The doubting journalist shouted "Bravo, Frau Meresiev!"[33]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Tikhy, Yuri (25 February 2016). "Mechanic-driver of a steel machine". Progress of Primorye. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  2. Skvortsov, Valery (4 August 2015). "No one is forgotten". Newspaper "New Lots". Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "LAGUNOVA Maria Ivanovna". Persons Zauralye. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  4. ""FRAU Maresiev" -TANKIST MARIYA". Position. 15 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 ""Frau Maresiev" – Marusya Lagunova". Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  6. Dybenko. "The real man is a tanker Maria Ivanovna Lagunova". 31 January 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  7. Yeferev, Sergey (16 February 2015). "Women-tankers of the Great Patriotic War. Maria Lagunova". Military Review. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  8. Kuzhily, Dmitry (6 May 2017). "Tank at the museum. In memory of the legendary training regiment and its heroes". News Agency "Between the Rows". Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  9. Smirnov, S.S.. "Stories about unknown heroes". Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Order of the unit". 27 September 1943. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Masha – the driver of tanks". Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  12. "Lessons of Courage. Lagunova Maria Ivanovna". Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  13. Geiko, Yu.. "Tankist named Maria". Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  14. Smirnov, Sergey (3 May 2010). "Tankist Maria Lagunova is a woman of steel will". State History. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  15. "Maria Lagunova is a woman-tanker who became famous in fighting for Brovarsk". 17 January 2018. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  16. Malyshevsky, Nikolai. "Women who have won fascism". 8 March 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  17. "Mechanic-driver of tank T-34 Lagunova M.I.". Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  18. Antropova, Natalya. "Katay district: the memory of Maria Lagunova". 26 February 2015. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  19. "Extended meeting of the Chuvash Republican Department of the Russian Union of Veterans". 4 April 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  20. Markov, Valery. "Featuring Maria Lagunova". 22 September 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  21. "Tankist named Maria". Politikus. 17 February 2015. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  22. "Lagunova Maria Ivanovna 1921g.". 24 September 1943. Retrieved 20 May 2018. 
  23. "Lagunova Maria Ivanovna". 6 April 1985. Retrieved 20 May 2018. 
  24. Krohmalyuk, V. (5 March 2005). "Sister Maresyeva". Sovross. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  25. "The front-line story of the woman-tanker Maria Lagunova". Inter. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2018. 
  26. Chigintsev, Victor. "Sister Maresyeva". 11 September 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  27. "Victory History. Maria Lagunova". 30 April 2015. Retrieved 20 May 2018. 
  28. Sergeenko, Taisiya. ""Frau Maresiev" – Marusya Lagunova". Retrieved 20 May 2018. 
  29. "Memorial – Memorial board by Lagunova MI in the city of Brovary". Retrieved 20 May 2018. 
  30. Sukhanova, Marina. "Abstract OOD on cognitive development 'The Great Patriotic War and its heroes' for children of the preparatory group". Retrieved 20 May 2018. 
  31. "Masha". Russia – Culture. Retrieved 20 May 2018. 
  32. "Exposition". Retrieved 20 May 2018. 
  33. "Women-tankers in the Great Patriotic War". Retrieved 20 May 2018. 

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