On September 8, 1942, Sergei 'Seryozha' Andreyevich Alyoshkin (according to some sources incorrectly 'Alyoshkov') was found at the age of six in a forest near Oryol by troops of the 142nd Guards Rifle Regiment. Seryozha's mother was a partizan, but was captured by the Gestapo, which subsequently murdered Seryozha's entire family. The boy managed to escape and tried to link up with the partizans, but couldn't find them. He wandered through the forest until he was found by Red Army troops. Seryozha was 'adopted' by the regiment and was involved in the Stalingrad battle. At one occasion the bunker with the regimental commander and a number of officers was hit during a bombardment. Seryozha was the only witness. Without hesitation he faced the explosions to get help. With the assistance a couple of soldiers the officers were pulled out. Seryozha helped wherever he could: he delivered ammunition, food and mail and sang songs. For his merits he received the Combat Merits Medal in April 1943. This made him probably the youngest soldier - or at least the youngest Soviet soldier - ever to receive an award. In 1944 Seryozha was sent to a Suvorov School in Tula.
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