increase their strength against us partisans. This would help the
regular Red Army to strike a blow at Akmonai.
Comrade Perepelitsa also came to this conference of our
staff and with him the sailors through whom we used to get
information, reports from Moscow and from the front. They
could not remain among the Whites any longer as they were
in danger of being arrested and shot. They brought us a
valuable present, a double telescope, which they handed over to
the staff. They also reported that two battalions of mobilized
soldiers in Kerch fortress were ready to revolt.
Comrade Ursatyev, delegated by the revolutionary military
staff, spoke first:
"Individual action of one section, or detachment, may lead
to a rapid defeat and will not yield the results we might expect,
since the enemy may centre all his forces against one detachment
and afterwards besiege the quarries separately. The revolutionary
military staff has instructed me to consult with this staff and
with your commanders so that, every time you plan an attack,
you let us know the details. Should you, for example, attack
Kerch fortress, we must simultaneously prepare to attack the
railway station, while other detachments attack other points.
This will divert the enemy's attention."
No criticisms were offered. All the comrades agreed.
Our staff decided, in the circumstances, to take advantage of
the situation, to get into the fortress and raise the revolt within
Denissov was against the attack.
"It's not a bad idea," he said; "but this is not the proper time
for it. The plan is not worked out properly. We must study it
further. The passive attitude of the White soldiers is not reas-
suring. They could disarm their officers and take possession of
the fortress of their own accord."
'"They need an impulse," Nazarov, a member of the staff,
argued. "They need to be led."
"We can send some experienced comrades," grumbled Denis-
sov, "and let them direct the movement. If anything happens
we'll be on the spot."
"No," said Nazarov irritably. "We must start by storming
the fortress. We must begin proceedings and send comrades
into the fortress. While they are preparing the way, we'll
occupy the main entrances."
"That's right!" echoed the comrades. "Nazarov is right. We
must occupy the main entrances, take formal possession of them
and, even if the garrison does nof revolt, the Whites will fall
into a panic and surrender."
"And what then?" retorted Denissov. "We can't do anything
with the forces we have. These White soldiers are leading us
into a trap."
"There's no trap," chorussed Nazarov, Bragin and Fedyayev.
"We'll be able to set free and arm the soldiers who have re-
turned from France. They'll be ready, for they have the revolu-
"I don't agree with this step," said Denissov stubbornly.
"We can't storm a fortress with such a small number of men.
We're likely to lose the whole detachment."
"That's right," confirmed Odudenko. "This is no way to
fight. War proceedings are no joke. We know how a war
should be carried on. We're sufficiently versed in military mat-
ters. We refuse to lead men to a certain death. Not a man would
be left alive."
"We must undertake military action," said Nazarov, "so that
no disaster happens. We must not only be versed in military
tactics, but also in battle strategy. The staff knows what it is
doing. There's a chance for us to secure victory and crush the
Whites. The Red Army will strike on one side and we on the
other. We must march this very day."
Bragin, Fedyayev, Nazarov and a few other comrades were
in favour of making the attack. Perepelitsa was most insistent
of all, since he had been doing secret work in the fortress.
"Friends!" he said. "We'll make a mess of it unless we are
unanimously agreed. That's what we have to fear more than
the attack itself."
At that moment a report came in that Voronkov, in command
of Platoon No. 2, had run away with a list of the platoon.
Everybody was astounded.
Denissov took advantage of it to say :
"There can be no question of attacking now. He'll betray the
To which Nazarov answered in sharp reproach:
"He should not have been appointed to command a platoon
and entrusted with hundreds of men."
Denissov retorted irritably :
"I appointed him because he was an ex-Red Army man."
To ascertain the men's spirit, the staff called a general meeting
of the partisans, at which the members of the staff explained
their plan of attack on the fortress. Our detachment consisted
of brave men who did marvels in battle. There was not a faint-
hearted or weak-willed man among us. Such were impossible in
our detachment in our hard circumstances. When they heard
about the attack, the majority declared for immediate action.
Denissov, however, refused to obey the staff and did not
take part in the attack upon the fortress, handing over the com-
mand to Odudenko, our battalion commander, while he himself
remained in the quarry with twenty partisans.
It was past eleven o'clock that night when the detachment,
more than two hundred strong and commanded by Odudenko,
advanced upon the fortress. We went silently through the dark,
over uneven ground. A thick mist enveloped us and a light
drizzle fell continually. Shouldering our rifles, we marched in
lines four deep, along a road past innumerable mounds, crevices
and rocks which, in the dark, looked like enormous ruins.
As we approached the fortress, we turned off through a field
to the light, sending out scouts and moving with special care,
quietly, in a scattered line.
Perepelitsa led the way and pointed out the fortress gates
through which we must enter. He assured us everything was
prepared within ; the sentries were warned, the password ob-
tained, the soldiers provided with a machine-gun. We proposed
to occupy the main gate first.
At that moment, a steamer ran aground near the fortress, due
to the thick fog, and signalled for help. It screeched as if to
Our scouts reported that we were within a little distance of
the north gate. The scouts were instructed to relieve the sen-
tinels. All had been prepared to this effect and we knew the
The scouts came up to the gates.
"Who are you?" asked the White sentries.
Our men gave the password, "dawn," which had been given
us. The Chechentsy, who had replaced the soldiers after Voron-
kov had given warning, shouted triumphantly:
" 'Dawn,' is it? Take this then!" and opened fire.
Our hearts jumped.
Volley after volley was fired. Machine-guns opened fire from
within the fortress.
The alarm was sounded, trumpets blew, bells rang and a big
gun spoke heavily.
We noticed that the firing was strongest on the eastern side
and that shots came at random from the sea. Evidently, the
Whites did not know who we were. We also heard firing in
other parts of the fortress.
We were afraid of being surrounded and, as dawn was be-
ginning to break, we decided to retreat. Soaked by the heavy
mist, we marched back over the uneven ground and reached the
quarries in safety.
It was morning. The sun shone and the air was full of the scent
of flowers. Mitridat mountain looked formidably big in its coat-
ing of green. The bay was smoothly blue. Little cottages showed
us bright white spots at the foot of the mountain.
Men swarmed in the town and round the bay.
The range of hills, which stretched in the neighbourhood of
the quarry, was a mass of bright green and blue-green foliage.
The Red partisans had left their catacombs and were warm-
ing themselves in the sunlight, cleaning their arms in prepara-
tion for new battles.
We lay on the top of the highest mound, examining the coun-
try by turns through the telescope.
The conversation ran on various questions connected with
domestic economy. One bewailed his cow, another his house,
and so on. The fishermen grew excited at the thought that it
was high time for drying their nets. And all listened hopefully
to the heavy artillery fire which thundered distantly in the
neighbourhood of Akmonai.
Presently a mounted partisan was seen galloping along the
road. Bending low over his horse he approached the mound.
"Comrade commander! An officer has run away from the
Whites and come to join us. He begs to be brought before the
"Bring him here!"
The man galloped off and after a while returned with a
young boy who held a pair of ensign's epaulettes in his hand.
"Take him to the staff," ordered platoon commander Yushko,
who was present.
The officer was led under escort to headquarters.
He told his story to the staff.
"I have just been promoted to the rank of ensign. I got
my officer's epaulettes this morning and my salary three hun-
dred rubles. Here they are." He handed Comrade Nazarov a
Wad of bills and a pair of new gold epaulettes with a single
star. "Perhaps you'll want them? I have no use for them. My
brother has been in the Red Army since the beginning of the
revolution. I shall not go against the revolution and the workers
either. I am with you, comrades ! Let me be one of you. I wanted
to run away and join you long ago, but had not the chance.
Today, I heard that Voronkov had run away from you ; so I de-
cided to counterbalance that by running away from the Whites.
He is now a secret service spy. He stops carts at the town gates
and identifies the peasants who used to come to you. Many
have been arrested already."
The officer was accepted. He was watched at first, but he
proved to be an active partisan and remained in our ranks.
That night I was standing with another comrade at the
entrance to the quarry.
Everybody was asleep. We were gazing up with wonder at
the star-strewn heavens, admiring the Great Bear which shone
brightly above us.
All of a sudden a man's silhouette loomed in the dusk. We
strained our eyes to get a better look. The man came towards us.
Wejjot our rifles ready.
"Comrades, I want to speak to you."
"Who are you?" we asked.
"I'm a workman. I've brought some rifles for you."
"For the partisans in this quarry."
We let him approach and called the partisan who was on
He took the rifles and cartridges the man had brought and
led him into the passage. There were five rifles and a few
We had a good look at the new arrival. He seemed little
more than a boy, with a childish face. His hands were white.
He was trembling, either with cold or fear. We examined the
rifles with suspicion and asked: "Did you actually walk all the
distance from town with this load?"
He answered awkwardly:
"Yes, from town. I'm very strong. I could carry double that
"What's your name?"
"Bredsky. I'm a workman."
The partisan on duty took him to headquarters.
"Looks suspicious," said my comrade, when they had gone.
"I don't believe he carried the rifles and cartridges all the
distance from town. Doesn't look as if he could."
"He looks too tender for a workman," I added.
In the morning the partisans hurried to the openings to get
Bredsky was led out, too.
"Come out, boys! Who's for an 'excursion'?"
An 'excursion' meant examination of new arrivals. The par-
tisans filed out, laughing and talking.
Bredsky sat apart, warming himself in the sun; he was blue
with cold. A sailor who had joined us recently sat down beside
him and asked, while he looked at him closely :
"Are you cold, friend?"
"A little," answered Bredsky, his teeth chattering.
"And where have you been working?"
"In a shop. I've done all sorts of jobs, but mostly I've worked
as a labourer," answered Bredsky, looking down. "Is this an
examination? Don't fear, I'm a friend."
The sailor waited a while, then vanished.
After a time he came back with another partisan, Pavel Ov-
The latter glanced at Bredsky and nodded to the sailor.
They both went immediately to the staff and reported that
they had identified Bredsky he was an agent of the secret ser-
Bredsky was taken before the staff where he played the in-
nocent, asking in an excited voice: "What do you mean by this?
Who do you take me for?"
"Don't get uneasy," said the sailor who had identified him.
Nazarov looked hard at Bredsky.
"What did you come here for?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" returned Bredsky with a wry smile.
"I've come to fight."
"Why do you ask? Against the Whites, of course."
"And besides ?"
Bredsky lost countenance.
"My God! I've told you already against the Whites."
"But you're an agent of their secret service?"
"What do you mean? What right have you to say that?"
"Do you know these men?" asked Nazarov, pointing to Ov-
chinnikov and the sailor.
"But they have good reason for knowing you."
"You don't know me, you say?" shouted the sailor. "When
I was in prison, who was it beat me up? And you don't know
him either, eh?" said he, pointing to Ovchinnikov.
Bredsky was silent.
"Mum, are you? You deserve to be shot, you son of a bitch!"
yelled the sailor in a savage voice, raising his fist.
Nazarov held back the hand raised over Bredsky's head and
"No, no. Leave him alone. Let him make a clean breast of
Bredsky's face grew white. He suddenly went down on his
knees and begged for mercy.
He admitted having worked in the secret service, saying that
he was a pupil of the middle school and had been handsomely
bribed to work in our detachment.
Anxious to propitiate the staff, he slit open the lining of his
long coat and took out a document which confirmed his being
sent for work connected with the liquidation of our partisan
"So that's who you are, my friend ! The thing is clear now."
"Take him away," said the chairman.
The escort looked at him meaningly.
"Surely, surely, comrades, you don't need to be told?..."
The escort laid hold of Bredsky and dragged him away
through the tunnel.
A moment later, we heard the muffled report of a shot.
WE ABDUCT AN ENGINEER
Vassily Khrony arrived from the town nucleus to tell us that
some military engineer had come to Kerch, who was chief of
the sapping party which had blown up the Petrovsk quarries. He
was an inventor and had discovered a new way of blowing up
quarries. The old method used six or- eight barrels of dynamite.
This expert obtained the same result with one barrel. Having
destroyed Petrovsk quarries he was to start upon the destruction
of the Ajimushkai and Stary-Karantin quarries.
The staff decided to abduct him, lest he blow up our refuge.
Three men were appointed from our detachment and Vassily
Khrony joined them. We set out for Kerch in a phaeton at
about ten o'clock at night, abducted the engineer from his
lodgings in Constantine Street and brought him back with us to
This is how it was done :
Khrony walked to the front door. He wore a technicians'
brown uniform with a military jacket. As the engineer came out,
Khrony said :
"I have just come from the fortress. You are to go there
immediately on urgent business. The quarries have been at-
tacked and General Tregubov wants you at once."
"And who are you?" asked the engineer.
"I am the technician attached to the staff of the fortified re-
gion under General Tregubov. May I telephone the staff
garage?" said Khrony, making believe he was glancing round
for a telephone.
"There is no telephone in this apartment, unfortunately,"
answered the engineer, while he put on a khaki -coloured jacket
with wide epaulettes.
"No matter, we'll drive up to the commandant and take a
The engineer donned a heavy canvas coat. *
We were standing near the phaeton when the front door
opened and he came out accompanied by Khrony.
"Will you be comfortable in this phaeton, colonel?" Khrony
Darkness had already fallen.
The colonel had no time to answer, for two of us took out
our revolvers and held them under his nose. At the same time a
revolver clicked behind and Khrony said, in a steely voice:
"Not a word! You are arrested."
We seized the bewildered colonel's arm, took his Browning
from him and marched him to the quarries, while Khrony, in
his technician's cap, drove away in the phaeton.
He was a stubborn man. He would not even speak to us, or
ask where he was being taken to, but kept sighing heavily, now
and then swearing to himself because he had been so smartly
hoodwinked. He was shot soon after.
WE WRECK THE BARRACKS
Two days later, the staff received information that a regiment,
made up of officers and cadets only, had arrived in town. We
decided to attack them.
So, on the night of April 24 a scouting party, headed by
Bragin, drove in two log carts to the Bosphorus barracks, near
the lime kilns on the outskirts of the town. We left the carts,
walked to within a short distance of the barracks and lay down.
Three of the comrades went to take the sentinels off, but before
they reached the gates, they came upon two officers.
Our men shouted "Halt!" One of the officers snatched out
his revolver and wounded partisan Melikhov in both legs. Hear-
ing the shot and shouting Bragin gave the order to advance.
We moved stealthily until we came to the barracks windows,
which were level with the ground and convenient for throwing
in bombs. We hurled about ten of them together through the
windows. There was a crash and clatter of broken glass and
explosions; then pandemonium from within, lights flashing,
shouts, yells, curses, groans.
Our bombs had fallen in the middle of a crowd of white-
guards asleep on the floor. They jumped up only bo stagger and
fall down again. After that we threw one bomb at a time, using
German bombs, which exploded with a dull sound. The roof
collapsed in several places; the barracks was completely broken
up. We picked up the wounded Melikhov and retreated. Frantic
firing began in all parts of the town. The panic was such that
the whiteguards started firing at each other and a good, stiff
battle between them lasted throughout the night.
The odd thing was that we drove away in our carts un-
molested, with only one man wounded, and reached the quarry
WE SET THE STATION ON FIRE
To intensify the Whites' panic and disintegrate their rear-guard,
the staff decided to attack Kerch railway station where trains,
filled with retreating whiteguards, had collected.
At eleven p.m., a scouting party commanded by Bragin
marched out over the steppe in the direction of Kerch station
which it reached by two o'clock.
We lay down in a line, armed to the teeth. A number of
trains were in the station ; locomotives puffed, hissed and whist-
led. There were cars loaded with war munitions on every track.
Engines were manoeuvring in all directions, while the switch-
men whistled shrilly to one another.
Comrade Bragin and two of the partisans entered the station
building; the rest remained outside, ready.
As the three partisans reached the middle of the station, they
saw two officers, one of whom was asleep, the other reading.
They bayonetted the man who was reading and hurried to the
first-class waiting room. A sentry stood at the door. Bragin
pointed his revolver at him.
Suddenly there was shouting: "To arms! The bandits are
The partisans threw bombs into the first-class waiting room,
which was filled with whiteguards asleep on the floor.
At the same time Kossenko, a sailor, chief of our scout
detachment, commanded :
"To the station, at a run!"
The partisans ran.
"Get your bombs ready!"
"Throw your bombs into the windows!"
Shattered glass and explosions.
Fire was immediately opened from the trains; shooting
mingled with the roar of our bombs.
The partisans shouted and, after bombing the middle of the
station, charged across the track to the cars which were filled
with whiteguards newly arrived from the Akmonai front. Get-
ting close to the wagons they threw bombs into the windows
amid a terrific hubbub of firing, groans, screams, yells.
Indescribable panic reigned in the station building. Some
of the Whites ran straight into the partisans' hands, some
took cover and rattled off their machine-guns.
At dawn we reluctantly dropped the battle. We had to get
back to the quarry, about three miles from the station, while
it was still dark. If the Whites had seen our small numbers
they would have been able to surround and kill us to a man.
The command was whispered down the line. We turned
about to the left and began to. withdraw under heavy fire.
Some of the comrades in their excitement got away from
the detachment, and could not go back to Stary-Karantin quar-
ries. They went to Ajimushkai instead. Comrade Bragin was
one of them.
Partisan Ivan Drozdov nearly fell into the enemy's hands.
He was cut off from our detachment, but jumped on a horse
and galloped off to Ajimushkai. In the dark he chanced on
a White detachment. He did not lose his head, but shouted
at them reproachfully in a loud voice, with the accompaniment
of choice oaths:
"Here you are asleep, you devils, while we can !"
"Where?" asked the enemy.
"Over there!" and he pointed to the garden.
The whiteguards spurred their horses and galloped off in
the direction of the garden.
Drozdov reached Ajimushkai.
The rest of us retreated to the Stary-Karantin quarries.
On the following night a body of our men were sent to
the estate of Pospolitak, which lay near Sultanovka vilkge,
seven miles from the quarry. The Whites there were taken
unawares. We also seized a baggage train and munitions.
The same night other parties of us extinguished four light-
houses, which we also damaged, taking away the equipment
and about a hundred cans of petrol, all of which was brought
to the quarry.
Moreover, all roads and villages within six miles of the
quarry were cleared of the enemy. Our cavalry detachments
daily arrested parties of whiteguards and their baggage trains.
Daily we made successful raids through the territory, inflict-
ing much damage and impairing the enemy's morale.
One day our observer saw, through his field glasses, a phaeton
with three horses abreast being driven rapidly down the road.
The commander of the detachment was informed. He called
to one of the partisan horsemen.
"Tell the cavalry chief to send ten good horsemen, well
mounted, to ride in pursuit."
"All right, comrade commander," shouted the partisan joy-
ously, rapidly disappearing behind the rocks* A few minutes
later, a score of partisans were on their horses spurring them
in hard pursuit of the phaeton, whose driver, becoming aware
of the pursuit, lashed his steeds furiously.
But he could not escape our horsemen.
"They've caught him! They've caught another of the snakes.
No chance to get away from our boys," the partisans shouted.
"Bring him here!"
The man in the phaeton was the officer and landlord,
Franchesko, known to and hated by many of the partisans who
had once worked on his estate.
He sat alone in the carriage, a middle-aged* man, thin and
black, casting frightened glances to right and left. The partisans
surrounded him jeering:
"We know the rotter."
"He's a madman, a drunkard."
The officer sat with bowed head, glancing sideways at the
clamant partisans. He turned to the commander of the de-
tachment, saying, in a low voice:
"What do you intend to do with me? Are you going to
"We'll shoot you if necessary."
"I beg you not to do that. I can be of use to you. I have
food, horses and cattle on my estate. I can supply you if you
set me free," he entreated.
"Oh, we'll take them ourselves, if we need them. D'you
see these fifty young sheep browsing? We took them half an
hour ago. They were your sheep!" laughed Denissov.
"Mine but how did you take them?"
"Very simply. We saw a man driving sheep, so we asked
him, 'Whose are they? Franchesko's?' 'Yes,' he answered.
'Where are you driving them to?' 'To the town for sale.' 'If
that's the case, we'll buy them for our detachment,' and we
drove them into the quarries. The herdsman tried to argue at
first. 'I mustn't do that without my master's consent,' he said.
That doesn't matter, your master will be here presently!' You
see, we had an inkling that you would be paying us a visit,"
continued Denissov still laughing.
"Yes, damn it!" said the officer. "It all came off pat."
A MIX UP WITH COSSACKS
It was a fine spring day. The sea lay calm and blue, dotted
here and there with white sails. Taman station, which lay in
the Kuban, could be clearly seen on the other side of the strait.