7 Legendary Snipers of World War II
7 Legendary Snipers of World War II

7 Legendary Snipers of World War II

Stephanie Schoppert - February 17, 2017

7 Legendary Snipers of World War II
Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev. airsoft-action.online

Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev

Vasily Greigoryevich Zaytsev was made famous due to a book called Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad, and the subsequent feature film that was made. He was a skilled sniper who racked up at least 225 kills, many of them at the Battle of Stalingrad. He was born in 1915 and always had a special ability with a gun. When he was 12 he brought home a wolf that he had killed with one bullet using a rifle that he was barely big enough to carry. He joined the Soviet Navy and served as a clerk in Vladivostok.

When Germany invaded the Soviet Union, he volunteered to be sent to the front to help defend his country. Despite being a chief petty officer in the Navy, he was transferred to the army where he was made a senior warrant officer. He was put in the 1047th Rifle Regiment which eventually joined the 62nd Army at Stalingrad on September 17, 1942.

It was at Stalingrad that his skill with a gun was recognized. He was able to kill 30 soldiers in 10 days using a standard rifle. He was then promoted to a sniper and even helped to develop many of the sniper tactics that are still used today. One tactic that he developed was to cover a substantial area from three different positions. At each position, he would place a sniper and a scout, a tactic which is now known as the “sixes.”

While fighting at Stalingrad he became involved in a “sniper’s duel” which was told in the book and movie Enemy at the Gates. In his memoirs, Zaytsev wrote about the three-day duel with a sniper who was the head of a sniper school in Berlin. The story has neither been proven or disproven. He remained at Stalingrad until January 1943 when a mortar attack damaged his eyes. He recovered and was returned to the front. He survived the war to become an engineer, and lived to the age of 76.

7 Legendary Snipers of World War II
Ivan Mikhailovich Sidorenko. Imgur

Ivan Mikhailovich Sidorenko

Ivan Mikhailovich Sidorenko was a Hero of the Soviet Union and one of the best snipers in the Red Army. He is credited with 500 confirmed kills, and is another sniper who was mostly self-taught and did not go through the Soviet sniper training.

He was born in 1919 in Smolensky Oblast and went to school until 1939 when he dropped out of college. He was conscripted into the Red Amy and sent to training at Simferopol Military Infantry School. He started fighting with the army, and in 1941 during the Battle of Moscow he taught himself how to snipe. He went on hunts for enemy soldiers and was so successful that Sideorenko’s commanders requested that he train others. Men were chosen to train with Sidorenko if they had strong eyesight, weapons knowledge and endurance. He and the men he trained did so well that the Germans started sending their own snipers to try and take care of the threat.

Sidorenko was eventually made assistant commander of the Headquarters of the 112nd Rifle Regiment where he mostly worked with instructing other men in sniping. He would only occasionally fight, taking a trainee with him to teach them how to perform in battle. It was on one trip with a trainee that he was able to destroy a tank and three tractors by using incendiary bullets. Throughout his time with the Red Army he was wounded several times but the worst incident came in 1944 when he was wounded in Estonia.

He remained in the hospital until the end of the war, at which point he was told he was too valuable as a teacher to ever be allowed to see combat again. Sidorenko then retired from the Red Army and worked instead as a foreman at a coal mine.

7 Legendary Snipers of World War II
Fyodor Matveyevich Okhlopkov. OVGuide

Fyodor Matveyevich Okhlopkov

Fyodor Matveyevich Okhlopkov does not get the same recognition as many other snipers with high kill counts in the Soviet Union. Despite having 429 confirmed kills in World War II, it was not until 1965 that he was granted the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, an honor most high count snipers received during the war. Okhlopkov was overlooked for many years because of his status as an ethnic Yakut.

As in many countries, the indigenous people of the Soviet Union were often treated as lower class when compared to the rest of the population. Okhlopkov was born in Krest-Khaldzhay village in the Far Eastern Soviet Union in 1908. He enlisted in the Red Army with his brother and it was not until the death of his brother that Okhlopkov took up sniping. He used both a rifle and a machine gun but his machine gun kills are not included in his official count.

At times his commander would send him out alone with his machine gun and Okhlopkov was said to “mow down Germans like a farmer cutting grass with a scythe.” It was because of his machine gun kills that his family claims that his kill count is over 1,000.

Okhlopkov was seriously wounded 12 times during combat, with his injuries on June 23, 1944 being the worst. He spent months in a hospital recovering and was discharged from the military. He’s remembered as one of the most effective snipers in the Red Army and he lived until 1968, just a few years after finally being named a Hero of the Soviet Union. In 1975, he was given the Order of Lenin and a cargo ship was named after him.