Nina Potapova: a woman I cannot forget (2)

Last time I was talking about the lovely artwork in a book which had intrigued me as a 9 year old. It was:

It has some beautiful pen and ink drawings. This is Moscow University in Moscow. The winning quiz question, of course, is “What is the name of the river in Moscow?”

Here is the Moscow Hotel, built in the old Stalinist style:

Here is a football match in Moscow. Defending the goal is Moscow Spartak and attacking is Moscow Dynamo, team of the great Lev Yashin, the ‘Black Octopus’:

Other sketches are just of everyday events Here is the seaside. Don’t miss the seven nuclear submarines. The crews spent days camouflaging them:

Here are two siblings, one is playing tennis despite her legs being drawn straight with a ruler while her brother is swimming away through a sea of oil after his submarine collided with one of the other six. That’s just one of the risks of high quality camouflage:

Here’s winter. Can you see Bigfoot sitting thoughtfully in front of the trees on the right?:

A nice picture of a table set for a meal. Note the traditional vodka in the tiny glasses although the bottle seems to be missing:

Lastly a bomber flies slowly over its target which appears to be some kind of factory. Surely the starboard propeller is about to cut the wing off ?

But who was Nina Potapova?

A beautiful slip of a girl when she got married:

She had all the usual hobbies:

She fought the Germans in the war:

She was always jealous of her husband, Frank, who always received more medals than she did. He was in the Red Fleet, the Commander of seven nuclear submarines. Note the KGB man behind him:

But that was all years ago. Nowadays, Nina is just famous as the mother of a successful Olympic weightlifter, Frank junior:


Filed under History, Humour, Personal

21 responses to “Nina Potapova: a woman I cannot forget (2)

  1. Great stuff John. The river is the Moskva. I especially like the jacket with all the medals – I wouldn’t be able to even lift it!

    • Correct. I eventually went on a school trip to Leningrad and Moscow in 1969. My feelings at the time were mixed but I realise in retrospect that St Petersburg is a very beautiful city. Moscow I found not as elegant and somehow brasher in outlook.

  2. Nothing like looking at the other side. From the sketches, you could well imagine it to be the UK. If it wasn’t for the uniforms. they’d simply be an over-achieving family anywhere. Terrific post, John.

    • Thank you, I think that the reason for the plethora of medals is partly that they make huge efforts to remember the “Great Patriotic War” and to honour veterans, much, much more than we have here in England. I have a suspicion that because of this they issue medals to veterans on significant anniversaries of great battles. One other nice thing is that they are willing to honour veterans from other countries. A lot of British sailors took supplies to Russia on the Arctic convoys and they were given medals by the Soviets for their efforts and indeed anniversary medals over the years. To the shame of the British government they didn’t award medals for this until very, very recently, when most survivors were dead of old age.

      • It felt as though they’d always be here and now we are losing them all too fast.

      • The Arctic Star. I hope previously they get the North Atlantic Star but I honestly don’t know. I read an article on a veteran in a nursing home shortly before his death. The obvious reasons for this were the Cold War but it is a shame all the same. You Brtis are traditionally more sparing with medals than say Americans and Aussies kind of fall in between. There’s a push for a British Service Medal much like the Australian Defence Medal, the New Zealand Defence Medal and the American National Defense Service Medal. It would be awarded for all full timers, part timers of all services for a minimum period of service. I think that would be good but it is not in the culture.

      • There’s no doubt the Soviets took a lot of pride and remembrance in the Great Patriotic War but I think some of those medals for the upper echelons of the Communist Party are akin to the medals Royalty get. All honourific. Not to pick on the Royals of course, most of them have served in some capacity. Prince Andrew has the South Atlantic Medal for service in the Falklands War, Prince Michael of Kent was in Cyrpus in the 1970s as was his brother and both have the United Nations Medal for Cyprus as a result, Prince William and Prince Harry both have the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal which was awarded to serving members in 2012 for five years service which they had both had done at that point although the Golden Jubilee Medal from 2002 that they wore at the marching out ceremonies four years later is a different matter. This seems right given Prince William’s service in stormy seas to rescue others and of course Prince Harry was awarded the Operational Service Medal – Afghanistan. Finally Prince Phillip has various medals from his service in World War II and the Queen although you won’t see it often these days was awarded the General Defence Medal probably as a reflection of her time in the Women’s Land Army during the war.

  3. Excellent post. It is wonderful to have little books like that to tell stories about. Fantastic.

    • Thanks very much, you are very kind. My wife wouldn’t share your sentiments though. he thinks that memories belong in your head, not on 14 miles of bookshelves around the house. I exaggerate, but I will admit to one or two!

      • Many of my memories are lost only to rise to the surface, like bubbles in an old fishpond, by the reading of posts of other bloggers. And you have done that on quite a few occasions.

    • Thank you. I think as you get older you inevitably start thinking that what was interesting to you will be interesting to everybody. Sometimes that’s true, but on other occasions you are just guilty of being a stupid old fart.

  4. Great stuff John, I laughed all the way through! Russian leaders seem to award themselves a medal every time they get up in the morning!

    • They certainly don’t hang back. I think the man in the picture is possibly a high ranking general which would explain a lot, or perhaps a veteran. To be fair though, Prince Charles’ chest is not exactly bare of spurious medals. His son was a combat soldier and I bet he hasn’t got half the medals his dad has acquired.

  5. Great post John. She was certainly a talented artist and a brave lady judging by the photographs of her wartime service.

  6. Yes, I rather like the style of the drawings. I just wish that on the sketch of the forest in winter the bizarre sitting Bigfoot was a little more obvious. You can see him though if you click on the photograph to enlarge it, sitting with his back to the viewer. Very strange, and I have no idea why he is there.

  7. The Queen actually served in the ATS, not the Land Army. The Land Army and the Bevin Boys didn’t get medals despite the vital work they did. Nor did many other people.

    It’s a tricky subject and you will never satisfy everyone.

    • Absolutely, but it would have been nice to have seen an effort being made. The Land Army and the Bevin Boys should all have got medals in my opinion. And nothing should have been done according to American orders such as “Start hating the Russians”. That was surely the reason for no Arctic convoy medals, no publicity for the RAF squadrons based in northern Russia and the refusal to let the Poles take part in the Big March Past and so too, I think, the Czechs.

      • I’ve always assumed that the lack of exposure for the Russian front/Arctic convoys was the same as the lack of information about Norway, Madagascar or the 1st Army.

        The treatment of Poles and Czechs (particularly after the contributions they made in Battle of Britain) was unforgivable).

  8. Pingback: Why I am what I am (2) | John Knifton

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