At the initiative of the Cherkessk office of the “Kjarachay khalk tyoryu” organization, on the 27th of March this year, Manaf Batchayev, Oumar-Aly-hadji Bostanov, and I started searching for the veterans of the Great Patriotic War (World War II) living in Cherkessk. Of course, we all know that few of them survived. In spite of this, walking along street by street, we found 12 veterans, and got acquainted with all of them. And each of them was such a person about whom songs or legends could be written. Among them was one woman, and today I want to tell the readers about her.
Fatima Alimovna Chichkhanchiyeva was born in 1921 in the village of Verkhnyaya Mara (Upper Mara) of the Karachay region. Her early days were spent in the Zelenchuksky region, in the village of Housa.
In 1940, having graduated from medical assistants’ and obstetric school in Mikoyan-Shahar, Fatima started working in Housa. She would likely have kept working there if not for the Great Patriotic War. Fatima was sent to a hospital in the city of Zheleznovodsk. Working there, she continually asked to be sent to the frontlines. When the leadership understood that she wouldn’t leave them alone, Fatima was sent to the 11th Division of the 132nd Regiment. There, she became the commander of sanitary office.
While our army was releasing the city of Cherkessk from the enemy, Fatima wasn’t standing aside either. She actively participated in the liberation of the city.
Today Fatima Chichkhanchiyeva lives in Cherkessk, having moved from Karachayevsk recently. She will be 90 years old soon. Despite the respectable age, she has excellent memory, speaks both Karachay and Russian perfectly. Fatima gave us a very warm welcome when we visited her, told us about her life, and shared memories about those with whom she studied and worked.
“I knew Zoya Erkenova, Hous Tekeev, Patiya Chomayeva, Lyuba Dinayeva, the famous writer Halimat Bayramukova very well,” says Fatima. “I thought that the knowledge gained at medical assistants’ and obstetric school would be useful to me in peaceful, quiet life. But it didn't happen. The war began. At my own will, I went to the front and provided medical aid there.”
Fatima, though she was the health worker, didn't take cover in a hospital. She visited the frontline too. Many times she pulled out wounded soldiers who weren't able to move by themselves from a battlefield. According to Fatima, once, during heavy fighting for the Kerch Peninsula, the Nazis set fire to a Soviet plane. The plane crashed into the sea near the coast. Seeing this, Fatima rushed there and pulled a drowning man to shore. It was the pilot, Stepanov by surname. For this courageous act, the goryanka (female mountaineer) was awarded by the Medal of Courage.
In 1945, after the end of the war, Fatima found her relatives in Kazakhstan. She worked in medicine, and was awarded by the Medal of Valor. And in 1957, like other Karachay families, Fatima's family returned from exile to their homeland. Fatima got a job in Karachayevsk. There, she worked as a medical assistant for a long time, and was presented with the award for "Excellence in Medicine." The award of the Order of Great Patriotic War was added to her other awards.
Kanitat Borlakova wrote the book "Cold Spring," in which Fatima Chichkhanchiyeva is mentioned. Recently, Borlakova’s new book, "Heroic Women of the Punished People," was published which also tells about Fatima.
Fatima Chichkhanchiyeva is a pleasant, warm, sincere person, she is respected by everyone who knows her.