Vasily Filippovich Margelov (Russian: Василий Филиппович Маргелов; 27 December [O.S. 14 December] 1908 – 4 March 1990) was a Red Army General who led the Soviet Airborne Troops (VDV) from 1954 to 1959 and from 1961–1979.[1] Margelov modernized the VDV and was a Hero of the Soviet Union.[2][3]

Vasily Filippovich Margelov
Margelov Vasiliy Filippovich.jpg
Native name
Василий Филиппович Маргелов
Born27 December (O.S. 14 December) 1908
Dnipro, Ukraine (Ekaterinoslav, Yekaterinoslav Governorate, Russian Empire)
Died4 March 1990
Moscow, RSFSR, Soviet Union
Allegiance Soviet Union
Service/branchSoviet airborne
Years of service1928–1990
RankGeneral of the Army
Commands held
Battles/warsWorld War II
Spouse(s)Marya (divorced)

Theodosia Selitskaya (divorced)

Anna Kurakina
SignatureArmy Gen. Vasiliy Margelov signature.png

Author Carey Schofield wrote that Margelov " considered to be the real father of the VDV...[leading]...them through their most vital period of development."[4]

Early lifeEdit

Vasily Markelov (later changed to Margelov due to a spelling error) was born on 27 December 1906 in the city of Ekaterinoslav, the son of Belarusian immigrants Filipp Ivanovich Markelov and Agata Stepanovna.[5][N 1] His father, Filipp Markelov, worked in an iron foundry.[7][N 2] In 1913, the Markelov family returned to Belarus and settled in Kastsyukovichy, the hometown of Margelov's father,[9] where he graduated from the local parochial school in the mid-1910s.[10] As a teenager, he worked as a loader and a carpenter. In the same year, he became an apprentice in a tanning shop and soon became an assistant master. In 1923, Margelov became a laborer in a local bakery. There is some evidence that Margelov graduated from the School of Rural Youth[11] and worked as a forwarder in local mail delivery.[12]

From 1924, Margelov worked in the Kalinin mine at Ekaterinoslav. In 1925, he returned to Belarus and worked as a forester in the timber industry in Kostiukovichi. In 1927, he became the chairman of the working committee of the timber industry and was elected to the local council.[13]

Interwar military serviceEdit

In 1928, Margelov was drafted into the Red Army. He studied at the United Belarusian Military School from 1928 to 1931. He was appointed the commander of a machine gun platoon in the 99th Rifle Regiment of the 33rd Rifle Division in Mogilev. In December 1932, he became a cadet in the 3rd Orenberg Pilot and observer school, but was expelled in January 1933 for making "politically ignorant statements".[13] Margelov became the commander of a machine gun platoon in the United Belarusian Military School. In February 1934, he became the deputy commander of the company and its commander in May 1936.[13]

From 25 October 1938, Margelov commanded the 2nd Battalion of the 23rd Rifle Regiment of the 8th Rifle Division. As chief of intelligence of the division, he participated in the Soviet invasion of Poland.[13]

World War IIEdit

During the Winter War, Margelov commanded a separate ski reconnaissance battalion in the 596th Rifle Regiment of the 122nd Rifle Division. During one raid on the Finnish rear area, he reportedly captured a group of Swedish volunteers. During the war, Margelov was wounded.[13] After the end of the Winter War, Margelov was appointed assistant commander of the 596th Rifle Regiment. In October 1940, he became the commander of the 15th Separate Disciplinary Battalion of the Leningrad Military District.[13]

After Operation Barbarossa, Margelov became the commander of the 3rd Guards Rifle Regiment of the 1st Guards Division of Leningrad Front militia in July 1941. In November, he was appointed commander of the 1st Special Ski Regiment, composed of Baltic Fleet sailors. On 21 November, Margelov was wounded in a raid behind enemy lines on Lake Ladoga. After the end of his convalescence, he became the commander of the 218th Rifle Regiment of the 80th Rifle Division during the Siege of Leningrad.[13] From 15 July 1942, Margelov was the commander of the newly reformed 13th Guards Rifle Regiment of the 3rd Guards Rifle Division. In October 1942, the division was sent to the Southern Front. In December, the regiment repulsed German attempts at relieving the encircled 6th Army during the Battle of Stalingrad.[13]

In January 1943, Margelov became the 3rd Guards Rifle Division's deputy commander. He participated in the Salsk-Rostov Offensive during the same month. Margelov also fought in the Donbass Strategic Offensive and in the Melitopol Offensive from August to November 1943.[13]

In 1944, Margelov became the commander of the 49th Guards Rifle Division. During the Bereznegovatoye–Snigirevka Offensive, the division crossed the Dnieper on the night of 12 March. On the next night, the rapidly advancing division crossed the Inhulets River and captured Kherson within a few hours. The division was awarded the title "Kherson" and Margelov became a Hero of the Soviet Union on 19 March.[13] Margelov led the division through the Jassy–Kishinev Offensive, Belgrade Offensive, Budapest Offensive,[14] Vienna Offensive and the Prague Offensive. During fighting outside Budapest, the division repulsed German counterattacks on the night of 13–14 February 1945.[15] For its actions the division was awarded the Order of Suvorov 2nd class. In the Moscow Victory Parade of 1945, he commanded a battalion on the regiment representing the 2nd Ukrainian Front.[13]


An Il-76 transport loading paratroops in 1984

In 1948, Margelov graduated from the Voroshilov Military Academy of the USSR Army General Staff and became the commander of the 76th Guards Airborne Division in April in Pskov. Between 1950 and 1954, he was the commander of the 37th Guards Airborne Corps. In May 1954, he became commander of the Soviet airborne. After an incident in the airborne forces, which Schofield describes as encouraging a sergeant to wrestle a bear during a birthday party,[16] Margelov was demoted to deputy commander in 1959.[13] In July 1961, he became the airborne forces commander again. He initiated the mass production of parachute systems and helped to introduce the An-22 and Il-76 into service.[12] During his tenure in command of the VDV, the PP-127 parachute was developed, which allowed BMD-1 infantry fighting vehicles to be airdropped. On 28 October 1967, Margelov was promoted to general of the army. He organized the Soviet airborne operations during the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. From January 1979, he was in the group of inspectors of the Ministry of Defence. Margelov was the chairman of the State Examination Commission of the Ryazan Airborne School. Margelov lived in Moscow and died on 4 March 1990 at the age of 82.[17] He is buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery.[13]


Monument in Chișinău


There are memorials to Margelov in Dnipropetrovsk, Kryvyi Rih, Omsk, Tula, Tyumen, St. Petersburg, Ulyanovsk and Ivanovo.[3]

On 21 February 2010, a bust of Margelov was installed near the Palace of Youth in Kherson.[18] A monument to Margelov was erected on 5 June 2010 in Chișinău.[19] On 4 November 2013, a memorial to Margelov opened in Nizhny Novgorod's Victory Park.[20] There is a monument to Margelov at the headquarters of the 95th Airmobile Brigade in Zhytomyr. On 7 May 2014, a monument to Margelov was opened in Nazran's local memorial complex.[21] On 8 June, a bust of Margelov was included in Simferopol's new Walk of Fame.[22] On 8 October, a memorial complex was dedicated to Margelov in Bender, near the City House of Culture.[23] On 27 December, a memorial bust of Margelov was installed in Saratov's Walk of Fame at School No. 43.[24] There is also a monument of Margelov in Dubasari, a city of the breakaway Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (Transnistria).

A bust of Margelov was erected on 23 April 2015 in Slavyansk-na-Kubani.[25] On 25 April, a bust of Margelov was placed in Taganrog's city center.[26] On 12 June, a monument to Margelov was installed in Yaroslavl at the headquarters of the regional military-patriotic organization. On 18 July, a bust of Margelov was erected in Donetsk. On 1 August, another monument to Margelov was erected in Yaroslavl. On 12 September, a monument was installed in Krasnoperekopsk.[27]

The Ryazan Higher Airborne Command School is named after Margelov. There is also a street in Moscow named for him.[28]

On 6 May 2005, the Russian Federation Ministry of Defence established the departmental Medal "Army General Margelov", awarded to soldiers of the VDV.[29]

Honours and awardsEdit

Soviet orders and medals[13]Edit

Foreign awardsEdit


  1. ^ Most post-World War II sources list Margelov's birthdate as 1908, however, prewar records and Margelov's 1939 autobiography state that he was born in 1906.[6]
  2. ^ Margelov's father was drafted into the Russian Imperial Army during World War I and fought in combat, receiving the Cross of St. George in the third and fourth classes. He sided with the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War, returning to Kastsyukovichy in 1920. The elder Margelov aided partisans during World War II and was burned to death in his own home after being discovered by German authorities.[8]



  1. ^ Kruglov, V.A. "МАРГЕЛОВ Василий Филиппович — Десантура.ру – о десанте без границ". (in Russian). Retrieved 2015-10-08.
  2. ^ Lebed, Aleksandr (1997-09-01). General Alexander Lebed: My Life and My Country. Regnery Publishing. ISBN 9780895264220.
  3. ^ a b Десантник но. 1 Генерал армии Маргелов [Paratrooper No. 1 Army General Margelov] (in Russian). ОLMA Media Group. 2003-01-01. ISBN 9785948490878.
  4. ^ Schofield, Carey (1993). The Russian Elite: Inside Spetsnaz and the Airborne Forces. Greenhill Books. p. 33.
  5. ^ Kostin 2005, pp. 5–6.
  6. ^ Kostin 2005, p. 6.
  7. ^ Kostin 2005, p. 9.
  8. ^ Kostin 2005, pp. 8–12.
  9. ^ Kostin 2005, p. 10.
  10. ^ Kostin 2005, p. 13.
  11. ^ "RANS".
  12. ^ a b "биография". Retrieved 2015-10-09.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Маргелов Василий Филиппович". Retrieved 2015-10-09.
  14. ^ Nevenkin, Kamen (2012-07-01). Take Budapest: The Struggle for Hungary, Autumn 1944. The History Press. ISBN 9780752477039.
  15. ^ Ungvary, Krisztian; Lukacs, John; Lob, Ladislaus (2006-09-01). The Siege of Budapest: One Hundred Days in World War II. Yale University Press. ISBN 0300119852.
  16. ^ Schofield, The Russian Elite, 1993
  17. ^ The Current Digest of the Soviet Press. Current Digest of the Soviet Press. 1990-01-01.
  18. ^ "Бюст создателю ВДВ СССР установлен в Херсоне". Retrieved 2015-10-09.
  19. ^ "В Кишиневе открыли памятник основателю Воздушно-десантных войск". ЗАО ИД «Комсомольская правда». Retrieved 2015-10-10.
  20. ^ "Памятный монумент Маргелову открыли в Нижнем Новгороде — Время Н: Новости Нижнего Новгорода и Нижегородской области". Retrieved 2015-10-10.
  21. ^ "В Назрани установили памятник Герою Советского Союза Василию Маргелову". Retrieved 2015-10-10.
  22. ^ "Margelov Bust in Walk of Glory". Gazeta Crimea. 9 June 2014. Archived from the original on 1 January 2015.
  23. ^ "Татьяна Туранская приняла участие в церемонии открытия памятника Василию Маргелову". Retrieved 2015-10-10.
  24. ^ "В Саратове состоится Всероссийская патриотическая акция "Вахта Героев Отечества". Новости. Официальный сайт администрации муниципального образования "Город Саратов"". Retrieved 2015-10-18.
  25. ^ "Monument V.F. Margelov". Zaryakubani. 23 April 2015.
  26. ^ "Десантник номер один / Богудония.ру". Retrieved 2015-10-10.
  27. ^ "Архивы Маргелов бюст Красноперекопск » Народное Ополчение Республика Крым". Народное Ополчение Республика Крым (in Russian). Retrieved 2015-10-18.
  28. ^ "В Москве торжественно открыли мемориальную доску на улице Маргелова : Министерство обороны Российской Федерации". Retrieved 2015-10-10.
  29. ^ "Новодевичье кладбище .. Василий Филиппович Маргелов. Генерал". Retrieved 2015-10-18.


  • Kostin, Boris (2005). Маргелов [Margelov] (in Russian). Moscow: Molodaya Gvardiya. ISBN 5-235-02846-5.