Katyusha

from by Nick Jaffe

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"The Soviet infantry was retreating, and the Germans were advancing with troops and tanks. Then we saw that the Soviets were coming up to reinforce with their Katyushas, the sacred gun of the Soviet Army. The Katyusha comprises many ballistic rockets. Katyusha--a purely Russian name--is a form of Katherine, like Kateriana, Katyusha. Then the Katyushas were set up in their stand and fired, and they crushed all the German tanks and the German infantry. It was a mass of metal, human beings and blood. It saved our troops from retreating, and instead our troops began advancing. Then we carried the banner and began walking, and it took us almost twenty-four hours to rejoin our regiment."

Look at those birds go
Flying soaring into the air
Forcing peace
Forcing change
All while flying



This song is based on the reminiscences of Senior Sergeant Matryona Yurodjeva-Samsonova, an aircraft mechanic in one of the Red Army women's 46th Guards Bomber Regiment, a highly decorated tactical bomber unit that flew thousands of sorties through WWII . The regiment was one of many Soviet air combat units staffed and comprised entirely of women pilots, support staff and command officers.

In the story recounted here (Quoted from the book Dance with Death, by Anne Noggle(p. 79)) Sgt. Samsonova recalls how she and a comrade were caught in the midst of a tank battle while they were moving equipment between forward airfields. She and the Soviet infantry engaged in the battle were saved from destruction by the timely use of Katyusha rockets.

"Katyusha" was the widely used nickname for the Soviet short range rocket artillery used throughout WWII. The BM13 weapon system included multiple rails from which the 70-inch long rockets were fired. Up to 48 rockets could be mounted on a truck or other vehicle, or set up in batteries on the ground. The rockets had a range of about 3.5 miles and though they were not terribly accurate, when fired in salvos of dozens or even hundreds of rockets they could have a devastating effect against Nazi armor and infantry.

Katyusha's were often referred to by German soldiers as "Stalin's Organ" because of the sound they made as dozens of the rockets were fired from their launchers.

The Katyusha was among the weapons most loved by Soviet soldiers and most feared by German ones. I imagine that in in the years after the Soviet victory over the Nazis, the idea of a rocket in Soviet popular consciousness must have been closely bound up with memories of the Katyusha from the war.

credits

from Sputnik 1, released October 15, 2010
Composed, performed, recorded and mixed by Nick Jaffe. Mastered by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering.
Vocals: Talonie Starr.
Lyrics: Senior Sergeant Matryona Yurodjeva-Samsonova and Talonie Starr.

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Nick Jaffe Chicago, Illinois

Just Nick (Nick Jaffe) is a Saint Paul, MN-based musician, recording engineer, teacher and editor. Nick plays guitar and occasionally other things, with a wide variety of projects and artists. He has performed with Common, Dwele, Estelle and Bilal and has done music for film and advertisingl. His solo work is available here. ... more

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