Records were made wherever and whenever possible – in dugouts, between the battles, on wallpaper, exercise books, office books…

Handwritten partisan journals were kept together with important documents. They contained facts and figures interspersed with stories about the daily grind, battles and heroes. Handmade 'books' were pepped up by pictures and unfailing sense of humor. They were circulated to raise morale. They were read to draw strength.

"What a joy it was to welcome the first plane that brought us the things that we had a hard time obtaining and the things that we needed badly: component parts, the things we could not make ourselves. We got it all: TNT, detonators, mines, SVT sniper rifles, antitank rifles, assault rifles. What an addition it was to our munitions arsenal! What armament for partisans!"

Excerpt from the article "How We Armed" of the People's Avenger handwritten partisan journal, Issue No. 3, Slava unit, Plamya Brigade, Minsk Oblast, 1944

V.K. Bobrov, the head of munitions in the partisan unit Slava, Plamya [Flame] Brigade, Minsk Oblast. Drawing by Y.K. Dyatlov
That was how the head of munitions V.K. Bobrov described the joy of the partisans who welcomed the first planes with ammunition. In December 1942, he was enrolled as a gunsmith in the Slava unit, Plamya Brigade, Minsk Oblast.
I worked alone in this primitive workshop without proper tools or qualifications. Well, are there any things a Russian cannot do when Motherland needs him?
At first special groups were tasked with looking for weapons in villages and forests. Over time, the Red Army began to airlift new samples of weapons from the Soviet Rear. Naiman's handheld mortar was among the weapons sent in the spring of 1944.
Special group before air mission. Photo from the museum's archives
In 1943 by the order of the chief of the central command of the partisan movement P.K. Ponomarenko a sabotage tactics and equipment division was set up as part of the operations department. Its specialists studied how weapons were used in combat and also participated in the development of the central command's main operations where mines explosive means were used. Among them were the operations Desert, Rail War, Technology.
Enemy train derailed by partisans. Dvorets village, Baranovichi Oblast. Photo from the museum's archives
It was as part of the Technology operation that new types of weapons for sabotage had been developed to ensure the maximum effect of destruction of enemy trains and to reduce manpower losses. The work proceeded along two avenues: the development of ammunition for remote fire and the development of tools to shoot it. Specialists of the Inventions Bureau of the People's Commissariat of Defense came up with design specifications for a handheld mortar while the weapon itself was developed by the R&D institute NII-6.
Reference: Isaak Markovich Naiman was born in the city of Baranovichi in 1907. Candidate of Science (Chemistry). A laureate of the Stalin Prize 2nd class in 1946 for the development and introduction into the industry of a new kind of raw materials (wood pulp) to make gun powder. The work ensured a considerable increase in the production of ammunition and resulted in a great economic effect. Wood pulp (Naiman's cellulose) was used to make about 1 million tonnes of gun powder during the war.
Isaak Markovich Naiman. Photo from the museum's archives
Isaak Naiman was in charge of the weapon's development. By October 1943 the NII-6 engineers designed and made 50 handheld mortars with the official designation "Naiman's handheld mortar" (RMN-50). It was also known as Naiman's mortar gun.
The institute specialists also designed an incendiary mortar round (ZM-50). It was designed by Kuzmin and Terletsky. The mortar rounds were made at plant No.562 of the USSR People's Commissariat of Ammunition in Moscow. The plant was established using the institute's workshops in 1941.
In spring 1944 engineers of the central command of the Belarusian partisan movement came up with an operations plan to use the new technology: regular army units and partisan units were told to test the new weapons at the same time. Handy and simple weapons with minimal weight and volumes were delivered to fighters behind enemy lines. The new weapons did surprise the enemy.
Mining and explosives classes in the Stalin Partisan Brigade. Brest formation. Photo from the museum's archives
A total of 24 Naiman mortar guns and 1,650 mines were sent to the Zyabrovka airdrome in Gomel Oblast for partisans. The shipment was prepared by the engineering department of the central command of the Belarusian partisan movement.
Packages from the Soviet Rear are being unwrapped. Brest formation. Photo from the museum's archives.
"Special-purpose machinery, namely Naiman's handheld mortars showed great results. On 18-22 June, the Plamya partisan brigade armed with these handheld mortars and led by Colonel Filippskikh was on a mission. As a result, we burnt an earth and timber emplacement and a train carrying tanks and ammunition. This handheld mortar is ready for mass production. A big thank you to Naiman from partisans. Conclusions: the Naiman handheld mortar is a close-range combat weapon. Partisans of the Plamya brigade hailed its lightness, easiness in use and its performance. The Naiman handheld mortar can be used to fire at moving targets, trains, warehouses with fuel and ammunition since these targets catch fire easily."

Excerpt from the report of an instructor of the central command of the Belarusian partisan movement, Senior Lieutenant Yu.V. Shvam following combat tests, May-June 1944

Partisans derail an enemy train. Dvorets, Baranovichi Oblast. Photo from the museum's archives
Despite positive feedback from instructors and heads of the department, the production of the Naiman handheld mortar and mortar rounds was stopped. Their design later influenced the development of light infantry weapons.
Exposition of the Belarusian State Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War. The Road of War Hall
People's Avenger handwritten partisan journal, Issue No. 3, Slava Unit, Plamya Brigade, Minsk Oblast, 1944
The website assets or a selection of assets, parts of the design and the layout can be used only upon authorization of the copyright holder and with reference to the source: www.belta.by
© BelTA News Agency, 2018
© Belarusian State Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War, 2018