Warfare progresses theoretically and practically, and an army is not just a crowd of people armed with sticks anymore. Even in ancient times, only a part of the entire army participated in battles directly. For every warrior, there were several people who were not engaged in battles, namely porters, stablemen, carpenters, cooks etc. This division of labor only increased with time. As a result, kinds of auxiliary troops occurred that provide main forces with needed resources. Of course, medic and signalman, too, could take arms in hand if necessary, but such situations happened seldom.
Even involved in such a story, the warlike cook looks like a black sheep. A classic image of a cook as a kind guy with a big ladle wearing a white hat prevents us from taking them seriously. Nevertheless, even a cook could stand up to the enemy and get the highest awards. For instance, Ivan Nemkov, who destroyed twenty enemy soldiers when protecting his field kitchen, and Ivan Sereda with his ax were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. Under those circumstances, it is not surprising that these cases were popularized and became a mean of propaganda. Even an ordinary cook could become a hero!
Unfortunately, not all feats were awarded as highly as it could be expected. According to the message of the Sovinformburo dated the evening of August 5, 1941,
“The command thanks junior sergeant Ikonnikov and cook Zinin for perfect work and courage. Comrade Ikonnikov has planned the work of the field kitchens very efficiently, and our soldiers on the frontline always get tasty food in time. At the night of August 4, the enemy made a parachute drop not far away from the place where the kitchens are located. The cooks were resisting the attacking enemy until our soldiers came to help. Comrades Ikonnikov and Zinin killed four saboteurs in hand-to-hand combat.”
In a few days, colorful posters with inspirational chants underneath were created and issued. However, as far as we know, it was everything that was done.
Who were those people? Even during the hardest months of the Second World War, when the Political Directorate of the Red Army had to support the army spirit by any means and produced some semi-real stories, for example, the story about Panfilov's Men, all such cases were based on the true events.
There is no doubt that real people hiding behind the names of junior sergeant Ikonnikov and cook Zinin; however, the brilliant website Pamyat Naroda, which stores data about soviet soldiers, does not give any information about them. Maybe the warriors with very widespread names could have lost among other Ikonnikovs and Zinins, porters and stablemen, carpenters and cooks, without whom the Red Army could barely survive. Some of them received their modest rewards. But it could be that the feat of two cooks remained without a reward in the first mad months of the war.
Did they manage to survive? Maybe our readers can answer this question.