Order of the Red Banner 4th Award, Type 5, Variation 1, Sub- variation 2, #2058, awarded on 13 June 1952 to Hero of the Soviet Union Major General Nikolay Serebryakov.
Silver gilt, enamels. Measures 44.2 mm in height (including eyelet), 36.2 mm in width; weighs 24.9 g not including the suspension. Features shallow rounded depression in the center of the reverse. The torch has three flames in the lower row and one flames above. The mint mark is in two lines with the first word "Monetnyi" in noticeably smaller font. This specimen is from the series manufactured in 1951 at the Moscow Mint /see The Order of the Red Banner by Durov and Strekalov (pp. 166, 167)/.
In outstanding, excellent condition. The enamel is perfect having only microscopic traces of wear that are barely detectable even under 10x magnification. The details of the wreath are likewise pristine; the gilt is very nicely preserved and bright. Very attractive even patina to the reverse. The connecting link, although cut, appears to be original. Comes on a period suspension device, a two-layer model in steel with new ribbon.
Nikolay Serebryakov was born in 1913 to a peasant family in the Tula region of Russia. While working at the famous Tula weapon factory, he enrolled in an OSOAVIAKhIM flight school. Immediately upon finishing the program in 1932, he joined the military and thus started professional career in the Air Force. After graduating from the Borisoglebsk Pilot School he volunteered to join Soviet pilots fighting on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War.
While on his tour in Spain in 1937-38, Serebryakov completed 113 combat missions on a Tupolev SB high speed bomber. By 1937, with the arrival of the new Messerschmitt Bf-109s of the German Condor Legion, the tables had been turned on hitherto nearly invincible Soviet bombers. The unprotected SBs no longer had advantage in speed, and scores of them soon fell prey to the marauding German fighters. Serebryakov was one of the lucky Soviet pilots who survived the ordeal. Unlike some other participants of the undeclared Soviet war in Spain who got prosecuted upon their return, Serebryakov was not only decorated twice - with an Order of the Red Star and Order of the Red Banner - but also quickly promoted when he came home.
In September 1939, Serebryakov was given command of a bomber regiment and later that year, took part in the Soviet invasion of Finland. Based out of Murmansk, his 5th High Speed Bomber Regiment inflicted significant destruction on the Finnish targets in the interior of the country. Serebryakov himself flew 7 missions during the Winter War, while his unit completed 567 sorties in total and shot down 5 enemy fighters. For its performance in the war the regiment was awarded with an Order of the Red Banner, while its commander Serebryakov was recommended for the Title of Hero of the Soviet Union. The award was bestowed upon him on 7 May 1940, making him one of only 412 people to receive the Title of Hero for the Winter War.
Serebryakov fought in the Patriotic War from its first day, initially as commander of the 58th Bomber Regiment of the Northwestern Front. He flew many missions himself, first on an SB bomber and later Pe-2 dive bomber. In the first two years of the war, he served under various fronts and took part in the defense of Leningrad, Moscow, Stalingrad and Caucasus. After finishing advanced training program in the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy, he was appointed aide and later, senior aide to the Inspector General of the Red Army Bomber Air Forces, an extremely important position that required frequent visits to the frontline aviation units. Even in this capacity, Serebryakov continued to fly occasional combat missions to provide hands-on leadership and training to the less experienced pilots. By the end of WW2, he had the rank of Colonel and added 73 sorties to his already impressive pre-war tally making it a grand total of 183 missions flown in three separate wars.
After the war Serebryakov remained in the military and in 1952 graduated from the prestigious Voroshilov General Staff Academy. In 1953, already a Major General, he served on the special committee tasked with purging and reorganizing the air arm of the Moscow Military District in the wake of arrest of its commander Vasiliy Stalin (son of the late Joseph Stalin.) Later he become commander of an air division and then air corps, and served on the General Staff of the Soviet Long Range Aviation. By the time of his retirement in 1973 with the rank of Lieutenant General, he had over a dozen decorations including two Orders of Lenin, an Order of Alexander Nevsky and at least four (or possibly five) Orders of the Red Banner. He passed away in 1988.
Research Materials: photocopy the award record card (several versions compiled at different times) and award commendation for the Title of Hero of the Soviet Union; copy of the article about Serebryakov in the official catalog Heroes of the Soviet Union (the article contains his photo.) Additional information about him is available in various Internet sources such as www.warheroes.ru
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