Vasiliy (Inaluk) Khetagurov
Major-general, a hero of WW1
V.D.Khetagurov descend from the hereditary aristocracy of Tersky region. He was born on January 5, 1858. Having graduated from the Vladikavkaz high school, the 18-year old guy was accepted in the Life Guards of the Caucasian Squadron of His Imperial Magesty’s Personal Convoy. This in many respects predestined the course of his life. The Convoy service was not easy but everyone was proud of it. Only the best of the best were selected to serve there and it was great honor for young Vassili.
In 1877 the Russian-Turkish war began. The Imperial Convoy was sent to the active army. Fighting against the Turks turned out to be the baptism of fire for Vassili Khetagurov. Here he showed the best qualities of the warrior – personal bravery and courage for which he was decorated with the St.George cross of the 4th degree.
Having returned to Petersburg from the war, V.D.Khetagurov passed the officer’s exam at the Nikolaev cavalry school and got the rank of second cornet. A year later he became cornet and was transferred to the Vladikavkaz regiment.
Vassili married V.Kasabiev’s daughter Makrenia. Five sons were born one after another – Konstantin, Alexander, Vissarion, Vladimir and Georgiy. They all became officers just like their father.
In December 1885 Khetagurov was promoted to the rank of sotnik. He proved himself an excellent officer knowing well the combatant service. In May 1892 Vassili became pod’esaul and in 1900 – esaul.
Soon Khetagurov was struck by the tragedy. His wife died of consumption. Some time later Vassili got married to the daughter of captain Gazdanov, a 22-year old Anna Alexandrovna. From this marriage he had 2 daughters – Fatima and Zarifa.
In March 1905 Khetagurov got promoted to first sergeant and transferred to the 2nd Volshky regiment mobilized to maintain order in Terskiy region. In the position of a regiment commander assistant he took part in skirmishes and bandit catching. In late 1908 he was appointed assistant of the regiment commander in the 1st Gorno-Mozdokskiy regiment.
On February 18, 1912 Khetagurov was promoted to colonel for his excellent service. In spite of his age he still had enough time to participate in the military operations in Persia. There were anti-shakh unrests there and Russian authorities sent a few regiments to help the ally. It was there that he got the Highest order of January 13, 1914 confirming his retirement due to his age.
Vassili Khetagurov got settled in his native city of Vladikavkaz and occupied himself with his daughters’ upbringing. It was less than half a year later that the World War I broke out. Having enough strength to serve his country Khetagurov filed the request to let him serve. In October 1914 he was sent at the disposal of the commander of the 1st Caucasian Cossack division where he was appointed commander of a special battalion. He had to courageously fight the Turks around Sarykamysh and Olta. In spite of bitter frosts and deep snow the Russian troops had to repulse attacks of superior enemy forces. By early January 1915 three Turkish corps were defeated completely. In April of that year Khetagurov was transferred to the 2nd Gorno-Mozdokskiy regiment. Then, as a commander of the 2nd Volshsky regiment he took part in the battles near Bukovina, Galicia and in the Carpathian mountains. For military achievements he got decorated with the III degree Order of St.Anne with the swords and the bow.
In summer 1916 Terskaya division was engaged in heavy fighting and tried to conquer the Carpathian Mts. time and again. Colonel Khetagurov becomes a temporary commander of the 2nd Kizlarsko-Grebensky regiment and on July 10th captures the town Kimpolung taking prisoner 40 officers, 1500 lower-ranked fighters and confiscating 11 machine guns. The fighting went on.
On June 25 while rebutting the enemy attack colonel Khetagurov got shrapnel wound in the neck and a contusion. In spite of the wound he remained in operation. Colonel Khetagurov was rewarded with Georgievsky personal weapon. On September 30, when the commander of the 2nd Sunzhensky division colonel A.D.Tuskaev was killed by a shell, Vassili became commander of the regiment who was involved in autumn and winter battles in the Carpathians. His youngest son, cornet Georgiy Khetagurov, was fighting as bravely as his father, side by side with him.
The February revolution brought huge changes. Mono-national units were being formed. Ten Ossetian officers were transferred to the Ossetian cavalry regiment and foot battalions. V.Khetagurov was appointed the commander of the Ossetian cavalry regiment within the 3rd Caucasian Cossack division. Ossetian horsemen gladly accepted a new commander and Vassili easily came into contact with his subordinates. In spite of the fact that the army began disintegrating under the influence of Bolshevik propaganda, the Ossetian regiment was still efficient. That’s why he used to get the most important military assignments. In July 1917 infantry units began retreating chaotically leaving the front line. The Ossetian regiment had to cover this shameful retreat near town Monasrerzhisko. July 11th was the last day of the courageous colonel Khetagurov. His tragic death was described in the memoirs of baron P.N.Vrangel whose subordinate was our compatriot.
Vassili’s body was sent to Vladikavkaz.
On July 26th, 1917 a lot of people gathered for a burial service which took place in an Ossetian church. Citizens who knew and loved Vassili came to pay respect to the heroic officer. Many people came from different Ossetian villages. Colonel Khetagurov was granted the rank of major-general posthumously and buried in an Ossetian church with special honors.
“Vasili Khetagurov“ by Felix Kirejev
Translated from Russian by Andrei Varava