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     Home > SOVIET ORDERS AND MEDALS > Order of the Patriotic War

    Order of the Patriotic War, 2nd class, Type 1, Variation 3, #31780, awarded on 22 June 1943 to Captain Petr Shepitko for the defense of Tuapse and the Malaya Zemlya Operation (famous amphibious landing south of Novorossiysk.

    Order of the Patriotic War, 2nd class, Type 1, Variation 3, #31780, awarded on 22 June 1943 to Captain Petr Shepitko for the defense of Tuapse and the Malaya Zemlya Operation (famous amphibious landing south of Novorossiysk.)

    Silver, solid gold (hammer & sickle emblem), enamels. Medallion measures 47.4 mm tall (incl. eyelet), 42.4 mm in width. The suspension is 32.5 mm wide, 21.4-21.5 mm tall (not including the provision for connecting link at the bottom). The serial number is engraved in standard manner at 7 o'clock.

    In very fine condition - far better than vast majority of the surviving suspension type Orders of the Patriotic War. The red enamel in particular is almost completely intact. There is a small chip at the tip of the top arm, far less than the usual enamel losses in that area (most other Type 1 specimens have enamel completely or almost completely missing on the top arm.) There are a couple of small surface chips at the upper edge of the upper left arm that do not penetrate to silver and are not very noticeable. Additionally, there are tiny flakes at the tips of four lower arms that are practically unnoticeable to the naked eye. The enamel on the arms retains is free of significant scratches or rubbing and fully retains its beautiful original luster. The red enamel in the center is perfect, while the white band around it has only a couple of microscopic flakes unnoticeable to the unaided eye. The details of the golden hammer & sickle emblem and silver starburst are beautifully preserved and crisp, almost pristine. There is very attractive dark patina to silver on both sides.

    The order has not been converted and retains its original suspension device, complete with the retaining nut and rectangular back plate which are partly hidden under the celluloid wrapping but nevertheless present. The ribbon is old and almost certainly original to the order. It is faded but otherwise almost perfectly preserved by the protective cover which is also almost completely intact. This type of wrapping is occasionally found on some of the early suspensions; it is believed to be original, either applied at the mint or at the very least, at the time when the award was issued. The silver finish is fully present on all parts of the metal parts of the suspension. The screw post is full length, well over 11 mm long (the measurement is approximate because of the wrapper.) Original mint marked screw plate is included. The connecting link appears to be original as well. An unaltered Order of the Patriotic War Type 1 in such a nice condition is a very rare find!

    Petr Shepitko was born in 1908 in a village of the Poltava Region of Ukraine. In 1930, after working for a while at a wood products factory in Poltava, he was drafted into the Red Army, received training as a signal man / telegraph operator, and then chose to remain in the military as a career NCO. In 1937-39, he received additional training and was commissioned junior lieutenant. In 1939, Shepitko took part in the Soviet invasion of Poland (aka "Liberation of Western Ukraine") as commander of a signal platoon, and in July 1940, participated in the annexation of Bessarabia from Romania. During the next month, he was appointed commander of a telegraph station in the Kiev Military District.

    Being in the officer cadres in one of the military districts on the Soviet western border, Shepitko took part in the Patriotic War literally from its first day. In September 1941, he was made deputy commander of a telegraph and telephone communication battalion in the 88th Separate Signal Regiment, and in June of the next year, promoted to commander of the battalion. His signal regiment was initially attached to the 12th Army, first under the South Front and later, North Caucasus Front. Throughout the summer of 1942, the 12th Army was constantly engaged in rearguard actions during the Soviet retreat from the Don River to the Caucasus and suffered heavy attrition. By September, it was disbanded with its remaining troops - including the 88th Separate Signal Regiment - joining the 18th Army of the Soviet Black Sea Group. Shepitko and his unit would remain with that army through the end of the war. By the time when Shepitko's unit was resubordinated to the 18th Army, the German and Romanian mountain troops had captured the key port of Novorossiysk and oil fields of Maykop, crossed some of the key mountain passes in the Caucasus, and were zeroing in on the port city of Tuapse from the north. The 18th Army was the last barrier between the Nazi juggernaut and the shore in the Tuapse area. The loss of Tuapse would be catastrophic: it was one of only remaining Soviet naval bases on the Black Sea, and its capture could lead to the annihilation of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet. The German 17th Army operating against the Soviet 18th made every effort to achieve a breakthrough and came close on several occasions in October. Nevertheless, the new commander of the 18th Army Andrey Grechko - future Marshal of the Soviet Union and USSR minister of defense - skillfully organized the defense turning every mountaintop into a redoubt and mounting counterattacks. Assisted by a steady flow of reinforcements, the 18th Army stubbornly fought its foes to a standstill and won enough time for the winter weather to set in the mountains making further German advances impossible.

    During the defense of Tuapse, Shepitko's battalion proved invaluable in providing lines of communication for the beleaguered 18th Army. Stationed on Mount Induyk, the same area where Luchinskiy's 83rd Mountain Rifle just deployed after its march from Central Asia, and later near the village of Anastasievskaya, Shepitko and his men frequently became a target for German artillery and air strikes. Nevertheless, they managed to maintain uninterrupted telephone communications between the troops and 18th Army command. This was especially important due to near complete breakdown in radio communications later described by Grechko in his memoirs.

    Starting from the March of the following year, Shepitko's service once again proved invaluable during the fighting on the famous Malaya Zemlya beachhead. The naval assault operation of the 18th Army had been conceived by the Soviet high command as a bold offensive aimed at the recapture of Novorossiysk. It nearly ended in disaster as the main beachhead was promptly isolated and wiped out by the well- prepared Germans. Nevertheless, the secondary landing by a small contingent of naval special forces on Cape Myskhako south of Novorossiysk succeeded despite all odds. The naval infantrymen established a tiny - initially only 4 km wide - beachhead soon dubbed Malaya Zemlya or "Minor Land." This strip of barren rocky terrain soon become legendary, because the troops of the 18th Army managed to defend it in over seven months of non-stop action against the enemy vastly superior in numbers and equipment. Malaya Zemlya was further popularized long after the war by the memoirs of the Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev who was Chief of Political Department of the 18th Army at the time of the operation and visited the beachhead on a number of occasions. Although the Malaya Zemlya did not immediately open the path to the liberation of Novorossiysk, it eventually became an important jumping off point in the final Soviet assault which secured the city in September 1943.

    During the fighting on Malaya Zemlya, Shepitko's signal battalion was positioned just to the east across the Bay of Novorossiysk (Tsemes Bay), near the 9 km mark on the Novorossiysk Highway. Once again, Shepitko's was invaluable in providing lines of communication for the army. By training new personnel, he was able to maintain his battalion's excellent performance even though it lost as many as 50 servicemen to enemy actions and disease. On 15 June, long before the fighting on Malaya Zemlya was over, Shepitko was recommended for his first decoration, an Order of the Patriotic War, 2nd cl. The award was promptly approved by the current commander of the 18th Army Lt. General Leselidze, and on 22 June 1943, officially bestowed upon Shepitko by a decree of the army.

    Shepitko remained with the 88th Signal Regiment of the 18th Army until the end of the war. In August 1943, two months after his first award, he was promoted to Major. In 1944, he received two Medals for Combat Service (one of which was for length of service), and in May 1945, was decorated with an Order of the Red Star for his contribution in the 18th Army's offensive in the Moravska Ostrava region of Czechoslovakia. Shepitko remained in the military for a long time after the war. From 1946-47, he attended the Highest Signal Officer Academy and was then sent for an unspecified "long term faraway assignment" by the Agency for External Relationships of the Soviet Defense Ministry (almost certainly serving as a military advisor for a friendly foreign communist regime.) He had received two more awards, Orders of the Red Star and Red Banner, by the time he retired in 1954 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel due to reaching the age limit.

    Research Materials: photocopy of the award record card, award commendations for the Order of the Patriotic War 2nd cl. and the 1945 Order of the Red Star, and service record containing three very nice photographs of Petr Shepitko taken in different years of his military career. The events at Tuapse and on the Malaya Zemlya are described in detail in Andrey Grechko's memoir books "Years of War" and "The Battle for Caucasus."

    Item# 33358


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