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Meet my heroes
Today we are be celebrating 75th VE Day (Victory in Europe) – the day when the Second War Ended. Most of Europe celebrates it on the 8th of May, but all post-Soviet countries special day is the 9th of May – purely because of the difference of the time zones at the moment of signing! 🙂
But the date isn’t important. What’s important is to remember our heroes.
My great-grandparents were my heroes. Here is their story.
Valentina & Vasiliy Prokopovich
Valentina was only seventeen when she left her home town of Yaroslavl and went to the Mining University in Leningrad (Now St Petersburg). In her first year, on her course, she met a handsome man – Vasiliy.
There were courting for over a year, and were planning on getting married in ’41, but…
The war has started, and everything has changed.
Leningrad was under Nazi siege. Noone could have even imagined that this will end up one of the longest sieges in history, and the largest loss of life ever known in a modern city – with over three million casualties, one million of them dead.
Since summer, the students of the Mining University were working at the military factory, but Vasiliy wanted to go to the front. At nineteen years old he wanted to join the military and protect his homeland: honour and loyalty to his country was above all. But he was rejected.
He was the son of the Enemy of the State.
Vasiliy’s family – The Prokopovich family – has been through a very tough time, with the worst year being 1937 – the year of the most brutal Stalin’s repressions. Russian nobility was being destroyed by the Soviets, with all of their lands and belongings repossessed by the State. Anyone who stood in the way of the new ideology was murdered. Vasiliy’s dad was announced as a British spy and an Enemy of the State, and was shot to death.
It was tricky to live with this stamp of shame, so after two months of trying, Vasiliy was finally accepted to the military and in November of ’41 he was setting off to the Volkhov Front.
He took this picture to leave it with his Valentina.
They said their good-byes and promised to write each other letters. He left her all of his tobacco, not even realising, that it will save her life…
This is when the famine in Leningrad became extreme. Having worked at a military factory, Valentina had her bread vouchers, which really kept her going.
One evening, on the way home after a long shift, Valentina got attacked and beaten up. When she woke up, her bread vouchers were gone.
Vasiliy was at the Volkhov Front, fighting alongside other young men, most of them under twenty, and just like so many of them, he got wounded. Many of his comrades died, but for him it was pure luck – he was found in the swamps, shell-shocked, with his toes frostbitten. It took him a good couple of months to recover from partial amputation and all of the injuries, but he was alive, and he could go back to war.
In Leningrad people were dying from hunger. It’s been weeks since anyone has eaten any solid food. Tobacco was more valuable than gold, and when all of the pets were eaten, people were boiling anything leather or making porridge from any wallpaper that they could find – most walls were painted, so it would be a luxury.
Valentina was dying from dystrophy. When she stopped turning up to work, her great-aunty heard about it and went on a search for her. Great-aunty Natalya has somehow managed to get herself a spot to the Road of Life – the only available path out of Leningrad, and she gave it up for her great niece. Blockade victims were taken to Yaroslavl.
Valentina was going home.
Vasiliy was studying in military medical school through his recovery, and was about to be sent back to the Front to work as a military paramedic, when he received terrible news: his twenty-two year old brother Vsevolod was dead.
Vsevolod & Vasiliy
He lead the intelligence mission, which helped his battalion win, but unfortunately he didn’t survive. He was awarded with the order of Red Star posthumously, but the family never found his grave.
Vasiliy & Vsevolod
It’s been two years of loving letters, but in 1944 they managed to briefly see each other – part of Vasiliy’s army was formed in Yaroslavl, Valentina’s home town.
The war was over, Valentina was back in Leningrad. Vasiliy would only be de-mobilised in the summer, but he came to Leningrad, and on the 23rd of January they got married.
Wedding Day. Vasiliy, Valentina and her parents Maria and Aleksander
1947: They were going to have a baby, but the boy wasn’t carried to term and didn’t live… Something that happened to the most of young girls who survived the blockade.
January 1948: A daughter Elena was born (my grandma – dad’s mum).
August 1951: A son Vladimir was born
Vasiliy with his childen
At the International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties, Stalin’s ideology was condemned, and Vasiliy’s father and family were rehabilitated. They were no longer Enemies of the State.
1976: Vasiliy and Valentina attended the opening of the Monument to the Fallen at their university, where Vasiliy’s brother – Vsevolod is commemorated for his bravery.
Both of them have since passed away, but I’m lucky to remember both of them, as I was their first great-granddaughter. Thank you for being my heroes.
This is the last ever picture of Vasiliy, my hero great-granddad with my little brother and his military awards behind him ❤
Valentina Prokopovich (Ershova) 28.02.1922 – 13.06.1997
Vasiliy Prokopovich 23.02.1922 – 18.03.2008
Я помню. Я горжусь.
Looking for a new podcast?
I’ve recently got into listening to more and more podcasts – mainly because I spend a fair amount of time driving… So I thought I’d share with you the podcasts I’ve recently enjoyed; all available on BBC Sounds app. Listen up!
The Missing Crypto Queen
‘A story of greed, deceit and herd madness’
Have you heard about BitCoin? Well, Dr Ruja Ignatova – The Missing Crypto Queen – persuaded millions to join her financial revolution and buy her own crypto currency – OneCoin. But then she disappeared…with all the money!
This is a real life, currently evolving story, and you can read all about it here, but I’d recommend to listen to the podcast- it’s really good – I’m hoping there will be continuation!
Who tells the story? Jamie Barlett, British author and journalist.
Previously known as Brexitcast and Electioncast
If you want to be aware what’s happening in British politics without getting bored or accidentally falling asleep, this is the podcast for you!
You’ll hear intellectual discussions on hot issues, and learn a lot, but that’s not the best part. The gossip from Westminster and Brussels along with the banter will make you LOL (or quietly giggle) at least once in a while.
Who’s chatting? Beloved BBC News correspondents Adam Fleming, Laura Kuenssberg, Katya Adler, Chris Mason and friends
American politics explained for the Brits
Similar style to Newscast, but this one – you guessed it right (well done) – is about USA politics! With 2020 US presidential election race on its way, listen in for the latest gossip from the campaign trail, and learn more about ever so complicated voting system The United States have.
There is an A-Z on American politics episode, as well as deep dives into key characters, and contestants who might have to go head to head with Donald Trump, such as Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg. All you need to know about American politics in a weekly podcast. Ideal.
Who’s chatting? Familiar faces and voices to all BBC News viewers Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel
Real life Gossip Girl story
If you’ve not heard of Anna Sorokin aka Anna Delvey, the girl who scammed Manhattan’s elite and is now in prison for it, trust me, you want to tune in to this story. After all, both HBO and Netflix are working on big time projects, all about this girl. But before it reaches our screens, listen to the podcast and dig deeper into the New York scandal with a mix of drama and documentary!
Who’s telling the story? Journalist Vicky Baker and playwright Chloe Moss
I do hope you give them a listen if you haven’t yet, and please do share your suggestions in the comments below – I’m hungry for good quality podcasts!
Lots of love,
Spanish Princess – new series worth your time
Great news! Another good quality historical TV series have landed – and of course I had to jump right in it: The Spanish Princess.
Sequel to The White Queen, by BBC (set during the War of Roses), and The White Princess, STARZ (The beginning of Tudor reign), this story is about The Spanish Princess, Katherine of Aragon – the first wife of Henry the 8th. Continue reading “Spanish Princess – new series worth your time”
What makes you happy?
Today is International Day of Happiness, which was introduced by the UN in 2012 to recognise ‘the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives’ as well as to be a useful reminder that the happiness comes from family, friends and good emotional well-being rather than money and fame.
This leads me to a question: who is actually celebrating this day – the happy ones, or the ones looking for happiness?
Bubble Bath Day
Today is International Bubble Bath Day, and seeing that it fell on a Sunday I decided to start my day with.. drumroll… A bubble bath! Not that I need an excuse – I could practically be a mermaid if you knew how much time I spend getting my fingertips all wrinkly. 🙂
Would you like a card in your postbox?
It’s international ‘Send a card to a friend day’ and I’ve got 10 lovely cards to send out to my friends and friends-to-be 😊
All you need to do is leave your name and address in the comments (don’t worry I won’t approve them so your address will not get public 😋)
P.S. Feel free to send one back 😊
Update: only 4 left!
International Men Make Dinner Day
Ladies, rejoice! It’s international Men Make Dinner day, so put your feet up, relax and watch your man/men cook for you. 🙂My men – my boyfriend and my lovely housemate cook for me all the time Continue reading “International Men Make Dinner Day”
Is it time for The Apprentice to evolve?
I always wait for The Apprentice with a lot of anticipation, I have a very soft spot for it. You might say that it’s rubbish, that the candidates are stupid and the show is boring, and that’s your right. But when others enjoy watching Made in Chelsea and religiously follow the Kardashians, I choose TV shows that make me think about what I would have done in specific situations. I’m more interested in finding out who got fired rather than who slept with who.
Dishwasher appreciation post
You have no idea how much I appreciate you in my life! I happened to live with one of your relatives for a couple of months, but apart from that time, for the last couple of years I’ve been good friends with the sink, sponge and Fairy liquid.
Now, things have changed. Now I have you. Now I don’t have to worry about ruining my nails and I save up so much time!
You are the best addition to this house, and you are truly now a part of our family.