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Item# 38448   $540.00  Add to cart   Show All Images   Download PDF
Medal for Combat Service, Type 1, Variation 3, "Thick" Sub-variation, #137950, awarded on 29 December 1942 to Senior Combat Medic Polina Skripka, 19th Rifle Division, Western Front.

The medallion is in silver, measures 32.1 mm wide, 2.7 mm thick (significantly thicker than the later sub-variation); weighs 22.1 g not including the suspension and connecting link. The suspension is 25.0 mm wide at the top, approx.17 mm tall not including the lip for the connecting link.

In very fine condition. The red lacquer in the letters shows wear to its outer layer; a good amount of lacquer however is still present in every letter. There are some tiny dings, but the medal shows almost no wear otherwise and is completely free of significant edge knocks or noticeab

The medallion is in silver, measures 32.1 mm wide, 2.7 mm thick (significantly thicker than the later sub-variation); weighs 22.1 g not including the suspension and connecting link. The suspension is 25.0 mm wide at the top, approx.17 mm tall not including the lip for the connecting link.

In very fine condition. The red lacquer in the letters shows wear to its outer layer; a good amount of lacquer however is still present in every letter. There are some tiny dings, but the medal shows almost no wear otherwise and is completely free of significant edge knocks or noticeable scratches. The raised details are extremely well-preserved and crisp. There is attractive patina to silver throughout.

The medal on the original suspension device in what appears to be solid silver with brass screw post, brass rectangular back plate, hexagonal retaining nut, and mint-marked screw plate. The screw post is full-length, nearly 10 mm measured from the back plate. The ribbon is of the period although probably not original to the medal; it shows significant wear along the edges but is still sound and very attractive. This old ribbon adds a tremendous amount of character and appeal to the award. The connecting link appears to be original; its ends are still joined with solder.

Polina Skripka was born in 1920. She enlisted in the Soviet Army at the age of 18, probably received medical education in a military medical nurses school, and was sent to the front in July 1941, almost immediately after the German invasion of the Soviet Union. In late 1941, she was appointed chief medical officer of the 92nd Separate Signals Company, 19th Rifle Division, Western Front. By late 1942, she had been promoted to Senior Feldsher (paramedic, Medical Corps rank equivalent of Senior Lieutenant).

In December of that year, Skripka took part in the ill-fated Soviet offensive in the central sector of the front codenamed Operation Mars and dubbed the Second Rzhev - Sychyovka offensive by modern historians. It was conceived by the Soviet general staff and personally directed by Marshal Zhukov as the main strategic offensive of the winter season (with Stalingrad playing a secondary role). Unlike the famous Operation Uranus however, Operation Mars failed miserably in all of its goals. Collectively, the nearly two years of mostly fruitless and exceptionally costly Soviet efforts in this area would later be bitterly referred to as the Rzhev Meat Grinder by the Soviet veterans.

Skirpka showed outstanding courage and dedication throughout the period of the most intensive fighting, especially from 3 - 12 December when she was on the frontline day-and-night helping the wounded and ill soldiers. On one occasion when the bulk of the regiment retreated under enemy pressure from the village of Ryabushkino, she remained there at the cut-off regimental observation post faithfully performing her duties until her unit retook the village. When positions of her regiment in the village of Mikhailovka came under massive aerial attack, she rendered first aid selflessly working under the bombardment. In this manner she saved the life of a wounded battalion commander, among many others.

On 26 December, Polina Skripka was recommended for a Medal for Valor by her company commander. Although the award was approved by the commander and political commissar of the regiment, it was later downgraded to the Medal for Combat Service. The latter was bestowed upon Skripka on 29 December 1942 by a general order of the 19th Rifle Division. There is an additional entry in her award record stating that the medal was physically issued to her on 17 January 1943.

Skripka continued to serve with great distinction in the following months of the war. She showed heroism in the Battle of Kursk and during the period of 9 -23 August 1943, provided help to dozens of wounded soldiers directly on the battlefield. She was constantly at the forward positions when her division forced the Seversky Donets River and captured a number of villages in Belgorod and Kharkov area including Bairak, Sorokovka and Privolye. On 27 August, she was awarded with an Order of the Red Star which was apparently her last decoration of the war. Based on the information found on the Russian archival website pamyat-naroda.ru, she retired from the military in June 1946.

It must be said in closing that the Red Army frontline medical personnel suffered terrible attrition during the war. The losses among medical nurses and doctors working on the front lines (as opposed to the staff of "evacuation hospitals" in the rear) were reportedly second only to the infantry. As a result, early decorations to WW2 Soviet combat medics - especially those issued to women - are very uncommon.

Research Materials: photocopy of the award record card and relevant pages of the award decree for the Combat Service Medal and Order of the Red Star.
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