Ilya Katunin — in the past a simple boy from a Jewish family, and later — a hero of the Soviet Union. He was born in Gomel in 1908 and at the age of 10 he lost his father during the Jewish pogrom.

Having on the maintenance of four children, the mother was forced to give Ilya to an orphanage. Then it was difficult to predict that the pupil of the orphanage would first graduate from the Yeysk School of naval pilots, and then during the Great Patriotic War he would almost two years so relentlessly report about the possibility to go to the front as quickly as possible. This will continue until in 1943 he is still sent to the Arctic, to the 46th assault aviation regiment.

It is there, in the service in this air regiment, he will deal with the enemy with special skill, sinking water transport and German warships. So in one year he will make 12 successful assault missions. The next and, perhaps, the most crucial departure will happen on April 23, 1944 in Northern Norway. Then eight “silt” and 14 fighters will get the task to destroy an enemy convoy of 8 transports and 20 ships (including 6 destroyers). At that time the main in the group was appointed Katunin, and at the time of the attack it was his IL-2, being hit, suddenly caught fire. As an experienced pilot, the captain led it to the peak and sent it straight into the enemy transport at an altitude of 1300 meters. There was a powerful explosion and the ship was sunk. It was for this last flight in his life that Ilya Borisovich was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of the USSR and awarded the Order of Lenin. In addition, 15 years after that heroic flight, Katunin will forever be enrolled in the lists of the aviation regiment, and then his name will even be called a settlement in the Arkhangelsk region. After that, there will be years of veneration of the hero’s memory and heroism: memorial plaques, monuments, streets named after him, and so on. But very few people remember that in his hometown of Gomel, in the cemetery of Prudkovsky, the mother of the hero — Katunina Dvosya Shlemovna is buried HERE

And, unfortunately, it is this part of the memory of the pilot that threatens to be forgotten. At the moment, her grave is in ruined condition and the monument itself needs to be replaced. If you wish to help in cleaning, installing a new monument or restoring this burial ground, just write to us. This is how you can become one today, who will honor the memory of the hero, taking care of his mother’s grave.


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