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Order of the Red Banner, Type 2, Variation 3, Sub-variation 1, #46539, awarded on 7 July 1944 to Junior Lieutenant Ivan Golubkov.

Silver gilt, enamels; measures 40.1 mm in height (from the top of the banner to the bottom of the wreath), 36.3 mm in width. According to Durov & Strekalov, this piece was manufactured in 1942 by the Krasnokamsk Mint. /See "The Order of the Red Banner" V. Durov, N. Strekalov, p. 126/.

The obverse is in fine condition. The enamel on the banner is relatively well preserved for a screw back type having only two penetrating chips: one immediately above the center medallion and another, barely noticeable, along the upper edge under the top portion of the torch. There is also extensive surface flaking, mostly along the edges, and surface rubbing. Nevertheless, most of the enamel on the banner is intact; there are no enamel repairs. The red enamel is missing on the center star, while the plaque with "CCCP" has significant surface flaking but no penetrating chips. The white enamel is essentially pristine, completely free of flakes or noticeable wear.

There is light wear to the raised points of the wreath and to a larger extent, upper portions of the torch and flagpole. The details are nevertheless well-defined and some of the original gilt finish on the wreath is still visible in its recessed areas. The badge was converted to suspension to comply with the post-1943 regulations. This was probably done by the recipient himself before the end of the war. Instead of completely removing the screw post and soldering an eyelet directly to the reverse of the order, about half of the screw post - about 5-6 mm in length by rough estimate - was left intact. It provided a base for a wartime screw plate (not original to this particular order but of WW2 era, probably from an Order of the Red Star) which was firmly secured in place with solder and fashioned with a jury- rigged eyelet made of thick brass wire. The whole contraption is reliable but crude; it was clearly made not by a jeweler as many post-war conversions, but rather has a wartime "trench art" feel to it.

Born in 1920 to a peasant family in Smolensk Region, Ivan Golubkov finished seven grades of school in the city of Vyazma before joining the Red Army in late 1939. He was still on active duty as a squad commander in Kronshtadt when the Patriotic War broke out. In August 1941, he was sent to the front and soon received his first wound of the war in combat near Luga, at the Leningrad outer defensive belt. After recuperating, he rejoined the fight as an infantry squad commander of the 21st Rifle Division of the Northern Front which was facing the Finnish army on the Svir River in Karelia, east of Lake Ladoga. In April 1942, he was wounded again near Petrozavodsk and after spending several months in a hospital was sent to a junior officer school.

Commissioned junior lieutenant in January 1943, Golubkov returned to the front as reconnaissance platoon commander in the same 21st Rifle Division, 19th Army, at the time still occupying static position near Petrozavodsk. On 5 February 1944, he commanded a reconnaissance patrol that encountered a Finnish patrol numbering as many as 20 scouts in no man's land. Unnoticed by the enemy, he and his men set up an ambush allowing the enemy scouts to approach within 7-10 meters before opening fire. Golubkov was the first to stand up and then led the charge showing "utter contempt of danger or death". He killed three Finnish soldiers at point-blank range. Even when seriously wounded, he stayed on the battlefield and remained in command of his detachment. Due to his leadership and personal heroism, the skirmish ended with one of the Finnish scouts taken prisoner and the rest of them killed.

During the next month, Golubkov was recommended for an Order of the Red Star by his reconnaissance company commander. Apparently owing to the uncommon circumstances of the scout vs scout engagement and especially Golubkov's personal leadership in the skirmish, the recommendation was sharply upgraded to Order of Alexander Nevsky by the division commander. The final decision by the 21st Army command was to bestow an Order of the Red Banner, technically an even higher award.

Golubkov's first decoration of the war was followed by an Order of the Red Star awarded in June 1945 and an Order of the Patriotic War 2nd cl. bestowed in June 1946 shortly before his retirement from the military with the rank of Guards lieutenant. He soon married and settled in the Kharkov Region of Ukraine where he took a job as a fire department chief at a rural mechanical factory.

Research Materials: photocopy the award record card, award commendation and service record. The latter contains a nice photo of Golubkov apparently taken shortly after his discharge from the Red Army in August 1946. Information about the 21st Rifle Division is available in Vol. VIII "Red Legions" of the Charles Sharp's WW2 order of battle series.

Item# 32566

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