Sidorenko with his Hero of the Soviet Union Golden Star medal
|Born||12 September 1919
Glinkovsky District, Smolensk Oblast, Soviet Russia
|Died||19 February 1994(aged 74)|
|Years of service||1939–1945|
|Unit||1st Baltic Front, 1122nd Rifle Regiment|
|Battles/wars||World War II
• Eastern Front
|Awards||Hero of the Soviet Union|
Ivan Mikhaylovich Sidorenko (Russian: Ива́н Миха́йлович Сидоре́нко) (September 12, 1919 – February 19, 1994) was a former Red Army officer, who served during World War II. He was one of the top Soviet snipers in the war, with over five hundred confirmed kills.
Born to a peasant family in Glinkovsky District, Smolensk Oblast, Russia, Sidorenko attended ten grades of school, and later studied at the Penza Art College at Penza, south-east of Moscow. In 1939, he dropped out of college, and was conscripted into the Red Army,for training at the Simferopol Military Infantry School, in the Crimean Peninsula.
World War II service
In 1941, he participated at the Battle of Moscow, as a Junior Lieutenant of a mortar company. During the battle, he spent a lot of time teaching himself to snipe. His hunts for enemy soldiers were successful, prompting Sidorenko's commanders to order him to train others—who were chosen for their eyesight, weapons knowledge, and endurance. He first taught them theory, and then slowly started taking them out on combat missions with him. The Germans soon began fielding snipers of their own in Sidorenko's area of operation, to counter the new threat posed by him and his men.
Sidorenko became assistant commander of the Headquarters of the 1122nd Rifle Regiment, fighting as part of the 1st Baltic Front. Though he mainly instructed, he occasionally fought in battles, taking one of his trainees with him. In one of these excursions, he destroyed a tank and three tractors using incendiary bullets. However, he was wounded several times, most seriously in Estonia, in 1944; he would remain hospitalized until the end of the war. While recuperating from this wound, Sidorenko was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, on June 4, 1944. Sidorenko was prohibited from seeing combat again, by his superiors, as he was a valuable sniper trainer.
By the end of the war, Sidorenko was credited with about five hundred confirmed kills, and had trained over two hundred and fifty snipers. Ranked a Major, he was the most successful Soviet sniper of the Second World War, and used the Russian Mosin–Nagant rifle, equipped with a telescopic sight. Sidorenko's feat was not unique, however: several other Soviet snipers scored nearly as many kills, and Simo Häyhä of Finland is credited with having killed 505 men in only 100 days, using a M28-30 "Pystykorva" rifle with no scope.
After the war ended, Sidorenko retired from the Red Army, and settled down in Chelyabinsk Oblast, in the Ural Mountains, where he worked as the foreman of a coal mine. In 1974, he moved to the Republic of Dagestan, in the Caucasus. He died on February 19, 1994 in Kizlyar, Dagestan.
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