Minay Shmyryov was born on December 23, 1891, in a peasant family in Punishche, a village near Vitebsk (then part of the Russian Empire's Vitebsk Governorate), now Belarus. The Shmyryov family included 13 children and was in a bad financial situation, that's why Minay had to work since the very childhood. He grazed cattle, rafted timber and looked after the horses of a wealthy local landowner, Pan Rodzianka.
In 1921-1923, his father and younger brother were killed. He became the eldest male person in the family and had to provide for them. Since that time he became known as "Bats'ka" - Belarussian word for "father."