Semen Konstantinovich Timoshenko

Timoshenko, Semen Konstantinovich


Born Feb. 6 (18), 1895, in the village of Furmanka (now Furmanovka, Kiliia Raion, Odessa Oblast); died Mar. 31, 1970, in Moscow. Soviet military commander. Marshal of the Soviet Union (May 7,1940). Twice Hero of the Soviet Union (Mar. 21, 1940, and Feb. 18, 1965). Member of the CPSU from 1919.

The son of a peasant, Timoshenko was conscripted into the army in 1915 and fought in World War I as a machine gunner. After the October Revolution of 1917, he took part in the defeat of the Kaledin Revolt. In April 1918 he joined the Red Guard 1st Black Sea Detachment, in which he served as a platoon and squadron commander; he fought against the German occupiers and White Guards in the Crimea and on the Kuban’ River. In August 1918 he became commander of the 1st Crimean Revolutionary Regiment at the defense of Tsaritsyn. In November 1918, Timoshenko took command of the 2nd Detached Cavalry Brigade of the Tenth Army (the brigade became part of S. M. Budennyi’s I Horse Cavalry Corps in June 1919). In October 1919 he was appointed commander of the 6th Cavalry Division of Budennyi’s I Horse Cavalry Corps (after November 1919, the First Horse Cavalry Army). The division under Timoshenko’s command distinguished itself in battle at Voronezh, Kastornoe, Rostov-on-Don, Egorlykskaia, Zhitomir, and Brody. In August 1920, Timoshenko took command of the 4th Cavalry Division, which contributed to the defeat of Wrangel’s troops and the Makhno gangs. After the Civil War he was appointed commander of a cavalry corps.

Timoshenko graduated from the Advanced Academic Courses in 1922 and 1927 and from the courses for single commanders at the V. I. Lenin Military Political Academy in 1930. He became deputy commander of troops of the Byelorussian Military District in August 1933 and of the Kiev Military District in September 1935. He assumed the post of troop commander of the Northern Caucasus Military District in July 1937, of the Kharkov Military District in September 1937, and of the Kiev Special Military District in February 1938. In September 1939 he became troop commander of the Ukrainian Front, and his forces took part in the liberation of the Western Ukraine. During the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939–40, he commanded the Northwestern Front beginning in January 1940. From May 1940 to July 1941 he was people’s commissar of defense of the USSR.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, Timoshenko was chairman of General Headquarters until July 19. There followed a succession of appointments: member of the General Headquarters of the Supreme Command; deputy people’s commissar of defense (July to September 1941); commander in chief of the west axis (July 10 to September 10, 1941) and of the southwest axis (Sept. 13, 1941, to June 21, 1942); and troop commander of the Western Front (July 2 to 19 and July 30 to Sept. 12, 1941), the Southwestern Front (Sept. 30 to Dec. 18, 1941, and Apr. 8 to July 12,1942), the Stalingrad Front (July 12 to 23,1942), and the Northwestern Front (October 1942 to March 1943). Timoshenko coordinated operations of the Volkhov and Leningrad fronts (March to June 1943), of the Northern Caucasus Front and the Black Sea Fleet (June to December 1943), of the Second and Third Baltic fronts (February to June 1944), and of the Second, Third, and Fourth Ukrainian fronts (August 1944 to the end of the war).

After the war Timoshenko commanded the troops of the Baranovichi (1945–46), Southern Urals (1946–49), and Byelorussian (1949–60) military districts. In March 1960 he became inspector general of the inspectors general group of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR. From 1961 to 1970 he served as chairman of the Soviet Committee for War Veterans.

Timoshenko was a member of the Central Committee of the ACP(B) from 1939 to 1952 and a candidate member of the Central Committee of the CPSU from 1952 to 1970. He was a deputy to the first through seventh convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Timoshenko was awarded five orders of Lenin, the Order of the October Revolution, the Order of Victory, five orders of the Red Banner, three Orders of Suvorov First Class, the Honorary Revolutionary Weapon, the Honorary Weapon (a cavalry sword with a representation of the state coat of arms of the USSR), many medals, and various foreign orders and medals. He is buried on Red Square at the Kremlin Wall.