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The Order of The Great Patriotic War.

Red Star on gold (Ist class, left) or silver (IInd class) background. The statute of order allowed membership of persons, independ of rank, for valor in combat and/or actions which facilitated the success of operation.

The order was established on May 20, 1942. The statute listed also specific deeds for which the order could be awarded.

The membership to the order of the first class was allowed to soldier or officer for destruction of 2 heavy or medium tanks, or 3 light tanks. The second class was awarded for destructing 1 heavy or medium/2 light tanks. Gun crew was entitled to the second class order, if they destroyed 2 heavy/medium or 3 light tanks.

The Order Ist class Number 1 was awarded to Capitan Ivan Krikliy, on the photo.

He was allowed membership to the Order on June 2, 1942 for his last fight in May, 1942. In long defensive battle the Guard gun battery under his command was engaged in AT fight. In two days 32 tanks were destroyed. Capitan Krikliy destoyed 5 tanks personally in his last combat and died near the gun. When the rest of the gun crew was killed, Sgt. Alexander Smirnov continued to fight alone even after he lost a hand. He took out 6 tanks and was also awarded the Order of the GPW 1st class. 6 other gunners received the Order of the 2nd class.

Interesting is that the 3 crewmembers of a heavy bomber under command of Capt. Gastello were awarded with the Order of the 1st class. In raid on major railway station the bomber was hit in the fuel tank. Gastello directed the burning aircraft at German trains tanks and fuel. The crush inflicted major damage. Gastello was nominated The Hero of the Soviet Union. This is a sample of backdated award as Gastello rammed the station on 26th June of 1941. But, the family of Krikliy received an award in 1971 only... Russia...

The heroic deed of Gastello became well-known.

The Order of the 1st class was awarded to Mikhail Panikakh from Marines unit. During Stalingrad battle, he was going to throw a bottle with Molotov cocktail (highly flammable mixture) at German tank when a bullet hit the bottle. The mixture splitted all over the soldier and caught fire. Burning, Mikhail jumped on the tank and used the other bottle on the turret. The flame engulfed both the tank and the brave soldier.

In total, The Order of the Great Patriotic War of all classes was awarded more than million times.

3 Febr. 99 Alexei Nikiforov

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