Archil Gelovani

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Archil Gelovani
Nickname(s) "The Builder"
Born November 14, 1915
Spatagori, Tsageri District, Georgia, Russian Empire
Died 19 August 1978(1978-08-19) (aged 62)
Moscow, USSR
Allegiance Soviet Union USSR
Service/branch Soviet Army
Years of service 1939–1978
Rank Marshal of the engineer troops
Unit diverse engineering corps
1962 Strategic missile forces
Commands held Strategic defence of the Black Sea Region around Ukraine and southern Caucasus
1977 all engineering troops of the Soviet Union
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Medal State Prize Soviet Union.png 25px 25px 25px Badge Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union.jpg
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Order redstar rib.png Order service to the homeland3 rib.png Defsevastopol.png Defodessa.png
Defcaucasus rib.png Order badge of honor rib.png Order october revolution rib.png 25px
ValourRibbon.png 25px 25px 20YearsServiceUSSRRibbon.png
MilitaryVeteranRibbon.png Outstanding achievements labor.png 20 years of victory rib.png 30 years of victory rib.png
30 years saf rib.png 40 years saf rib.png 50 years saf rib.png 100 lenin rib.png

Prince Archil Gelovani (Georgian: არჩილ გელოვანი; Russian: Арчил Викторович Геловани Archil Viktorovich Gelovani) (November 14, 1915 – August 19, 1978) of the princely House of Gelovani was a Soviet officer and later Chief Marshal of Engineering Troops, responsible for logistics, fortification and military infrastructure during and after World War II. He was tasked on several occasions with fortifying strategically important areas and also reconstruction, including all Black Sea ports during and after World War II. He served primarily on military engineering and defense strategy posts, including being the Deputy Minister of Defence and would play a major role in the structural development of the Soviet armed forces and strategic missile forces during the Cold War era. An avenue in Georgia's capital Tbilisi and a street in the city of Sevastopol have been named after Marshal Gelovani.[1]

Early life

Archil V. Gelovani was born in November 27, 1915 in the village Spatagori of the Tsageri District in Georgia. The boy was not yet six years old when his father, known in the Caucasus as Viktor Gelovani the engineer, died of typhoid fever. The orphan had to learn to live and grow up the hard way. But instead of breaking the young man, it only contributed in steeling his character.[2]

In 1936 after graduating from the Tbilisi Industrial Institute, he started his career as engineer. After only three years his life took a radical change. Gelovani joined the Soviet Army as the army was in need of competent experts, since it became clearer that a war would be the case soon or later. The young engineer quickly found his place in the armed forces and rose through its ranks.[3]

Military career

As a military technician of 1st rank, he began his activities with the Black Sea Fleet and got soon appointed to chief engineer for constructions. The Great Patriotic War found him quickly when he led a small task force of engineers to construct several artillery positions and place artillery batteries on them under heaviest enemy shelling and impossible conditions. The 152 mm guns would play a great role during the Battle of Perekop which was part of the Crimean Offensive. For completing this mission Gelovani received his first and personally most memorable award, the Order of the Red Star. Many more would follow.

In the postwar years, Archill Gelovani's work was accociated mainly to Reconstruction, particularly coastal areas of the Black Sea. Thus in 1953 he was appointed Chief of Military Infrastructure in the port city of Sevastopol, which was heavily damaged during the war. The reconstruction of Sevastopol was given high importance as it would serve as the main base of the Black Fleet and was strictly observed by Moscow. Due to his huge success and numerous other efforts in the area, Gelovani would be later granted the title of 'Honorary Citizen and Hero of Sevestopol' in 1976. One of Sevastopols streets was also named after him.

From 1956 to 1959 Gelovani performed construction works while being second in command of the Black Sea Fleet. Later on the same year, he got appointed to deputy commander of the Soviet Navy Construction Buro with the rank of Major-General.[4]

The success of military builder Archill Gelovani evaluated which made him receive a position as Chief Engineer of the Strategic Missile Troops. It was then in 1962, when a new branch in the armed forces celebrated its second year. The Engineering forces had to complete a gigant task which was build missile systems and launchers in time and quickly put them on alert. In 1968 Gelovani received the Lenin Prize for the development and implementation of special military facilities. A few years later he would also receive the State Prize in accordance to the successful emplacement and in time readiness of all strategic missiles.

In 1974 the prince was appointed to Deputy Minister of Defence for Construction and Quartering of Troops. A huge map in his office covered symbols of construction projects. In 1977 for serving as engineer, organizer and guide for the construction of countless military and also civilian infrastructur, Colonel General Archill V Gelovani was awarded the title Chief Marshal of Engineering Troops.[5]


As a result of an unknown disease, Marshal Prince Archil Gelovali died on August 19, 1978 in Moscow. In the hospital he gave a short interview to one of the military magazines:[6]

He was buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.[7]

Honours and awards

Gelovani received a total of 37 awards, including the following:[8]