Kuperjanov, Julius

29 September 1894 Pskov province – 2 February 1919 Tartu

Estonian soldier, legendary hero of the War of Independence

In 1914 he graduated from the Teachers’ College in Tartu. In 1915 he was conscripted into the Russian army, completing the School of Ensigns. In WW I he served as head of the infantry regiment’s scout commando. In late 1917 he joined the national armed forces in Estonia. During the German occupation in 1918 he helped to organise secret military groups that were supposed to form the basis of the Estonian armed forced once the German occupation was over. In November 1918 Kuperjanov was appointed the head of the Defence League in Tartu county. After the War of Independence had started, he assembled a battalion in December, which took his name – the Kuperjanov partisan battalion. In the January 1919 battles he stood out for his brave, energetic and successful actions. Kuperjanov also demanded strict discipline, not even allowing his men any alcohol or playing cards. On 31 January 1919 Kuperjanov was fatally wounded at Paju manor near Valga when he led his men to attack. In the Republic of Estonia in the twenties and thirties he posthumously became a national hero, a paragon of bravery and self-sacrifice. The regiment formed by Kuperjanov demonstrated an excellent fighting spirit throughout the rest of the War of Independence, and a battalion bearing his name has been restored in today’s Estonian army.


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