A platoon of Soviet intelligence officers entered the village. It was an ordinary western Ukrainian village. The commander of scouts Lieutenant Travkin thought about his people. Of the eighteen former, proven fighters, he has only twelve left. The rest have just been recruited, and what they will be in the case is unknown. And ahead was a meeting with the enemy: the division was advancing.
Travkin was highly endowed with a self-effacing attitude to the cause and absolute disinterestedness – it was for these qualities that the scouts loved this young, closed and incomprehensible lieutenant.
The light reconnaissance showed that the Germans were not far away, and the division went over to the defense. Little by little the rear was tightened.
The chief of the army’s reconnaissance division, who had come to the division, ordered the Serbian commander to send a group of scouts to the rear of the enemy: according to available information, there was a regrouping, and it was necessary to find out the reserves and tanks. Travkin was the best candidate for leading this unusually difficult operation.
Now Travkin nightly conducted classes. With his usual persistence, he drove the scouts through the brook led by the brook, forced them to cut the wire, check out the non-martial minefields with long army probes, and jump through the trench. The scouts who had just graduated from the military school were Junior Lieutenant Meshchersky, a slender blue-eyed boy of twenty. Looking at how jealously he does, Travkin approvingly thought: “It will be an eagle…”
Have arranged last training session on communication. The reconnaissance call sign was finally established – “Star”, the call sign of the division – “Earth”. At the last moment Anikanov was decided to send instead of Meshchersky, in which case the scouts were not left without an officer.
The ancient game of man with death began. Explaining to the scouts the order of the movement, Travkin silently nodded to the officers remaining in the trench, climbed over the parapet and silently moved to the river bank. The same thing was followed by other scouts and sappers of escort.
Scouts crawled through the cut wire, passed a German trench… an hour later they went into the forest.
Meshchersky and the commander of the field engineer company gazed into the darkness. Every now and then, other officers came up to them-to find out about those who had left for the raid. But the red rocket – the signal “discovered, we leave” – did not appear. So, they have passed.
The forests where the group went were swarming with Germans and German technology. A German, shining with a flashlight, came very close to Travkin, but he did not notice anything. He sat down, groaning and sighing.
Kilometer and a half they crawled almost over the sleeping Germans, at dawn they finally got out of the woods, and something terrible happened on the edge of the forest. They literally ran into three unbroken Germans, who were lying in the... truck, one of them, casually looking at the edge, was dumbfounded: seven shadows in green robes walked silently along the path.
Travkin saved his composure. He realized that you can not run. They passed the Germans in an even, unhurried step, entered the grove, quickly crossed this grove and meadow and went deep into the next forest. After making sure that there were no Germans here, Travkin handed over the first radiogram.
We decided to move on, adhering to swamps and forests, and at the western edge of the grove immediately saw a detachment of SS men. Soon the scouts went to the lake, on the opposite shore of which stood a large house, from which at times came moans or cries. A little later Travkin saw a German walking out of the house with a white bandage on his arm and realized: the house served as a hospital. This German is discharged and goes to his unit – nobody will look for him. The German gave valuable testimony. And, despite the fact that he turned out to be a worker, he had to be killed. Now they knew that the SS tank division “Viking” was concentrated here. Travkin decided that he could not discover himself prematurely, he did not yet “take” the languages. Only a well-informed German is needed, and he will have to be obtained after the reconnaissance of the railway station. But Mamochkin, prone to dashing black-and-white, violated the ban – a hefty SS man turned into the forest directly at him. When the Hauptscharfuhrer was thrown into the lake, Travkin contacted the “Earth” and transferred all that was set by him. According to the voices from the “Earth” he realized that there his message was taken as something unexpected and very important.
A well-informed German Anikanov and Mamochkin took, as they were, at the station. The pigeon died by that time. The scouts went back. On the way, Brazhnikov died, Semenov and Anikanov were wounded. The radio station, hanging on Bykov’s back, was flattened with bullets. She saved his life, but for work was no good.
The detachment was coming, and around it a loop of a huge round-up had already been pulled together. In the pursuit, the reconnaissance division of the Viking division, the advanced companies of the 342nd Grenadier Division and the rear units of the 131st Infantry Division were raised.
The Supreme High Command, having received the information obtained by Travkin, immediately realized that behind this lies something more serious: the Germans want to counterstrike the breakthrough of our troops to Poland. And the order was given to strengthen the left flank of the front and to transfer several parts there.
A girl in love with Travkina is a good girl Katya, a signalman, day and night, she sent the call sign: “Star.” “Star”. “Star”.
No one was waiting, and she was waiting. And no one dared to take off the radio from reception until the offensive began.