Russia is a pretty cool place. Board a train, and within half an hour you can be in remote wilderness, untouched by man for decades. And sometimes, the men that touched it last left some cool stuff for you to find. 20 years ago, an old man told Dmitriy Mihailovich Bratan about his time in the village of Martushino when he was a boy. The old man, born in 1927, was not old enough to join the army in 1941. He remained in the village when the war started, and soon, the Germans came. According to the eye-witness, the village was defended by a group of Soviet soldiers, led by a Lieutenant (the eye-witness remembers him well, as they played cards together). The squad’s anti-tank armament was composed of a single 45 mm AT gun. Against a number of tanks, a single AT gun isn’t much, and the village soon fell to the Germans. However, the Soviet gunner made his mark. A well-placed shot knocked the cupola clean off. It was left there for over 70 years, until the area started being developed for cottages, and Bratan evacuated the cupola by means of a pick-up truck. As a valuable piece of military history, it’s on its way to a better place. Next time you hear “optics destroyed!”, be happy your crew doesn’t have to get out of the tank, and hoist the cupola back up on top of the turret.

More...