“I was told we were surrounded and no one panicked. The boys followed the orders of the officers, and everything went in its normal way. This is war. All right. This is normal. We all knew they were surrounding us, and it didn’t come as a surprise to any of us.

My memory of Mariupol is street fighting, torn uniforms and gloves. I can see the boys so clearly. Dirty faces and beards, dirty uniforms with holes in the knees, elbows, gloves, pant legs and sleeves. We all had holes in our uniforms.

The whole city was broken glass, and the nature of urban battles is to enter positions through windows. We tore our uniforms against the glass. At the time of the start of the last drive to Azovstal, most of the boys looked like homeless warriors!

The mood, as before, was upbeat. The officers tried to keep the boys together and they did a great job. The officers were well trained, very good and kept morale as high as possible. The officers were with us all the time.”

  • Ukrainian Soldier. Mariupol Veteran. Battle of Mariupol. December 9th, 2022.

Documented by Battles and Beers: War Stories / Nicholas Laidlaw