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

    http://collectrussia.com/DISPITEM.HTM?item=32840

    Order of the Patriotic War, 1st class, Type 1, Variation 2, #2700, awarded on 11 February 1943 to Captain Mikhail Tereshchenko.

    Order of the Patriotic War, 1st class, Type 1, Variation 2, #2700, awarded on 11 February 1943 to Captain Mikhail Tereshchenko.

    Solid 14 K gold, silver, enamels; suspension device is in gilded brass. The medallion measures 46.5 mm in height (incl. eyelet), 42.4 mm in width; weighs 26.8g not including the suspension and connecting link.

    In fine overall condition. The medallion has not been converted to screw back and retains its original eyelet. The enamel is missing on the top arm of the star as typical of the Type 1 awards. There are also flakes near the tips of the other arms, but they do not penetrate to silver and therefore not very noticeable or detractive. The enamel on the arms also shows many scratches and contact marks while the red enamel in the center is nearly perfect having only microscopic contact marks. The white enamel in the band has some tiny chips and flakes near its outer border that are almost unnoticeable to the naked eye.

    The hammer & sickle emblem as well as the details of the gold starburst are intact and crisp. The stick-pin on the reverse broke off as is often the case, but its stump is still present. The suspension device is original and complete including the hexagon nut, rectangular back-plate and original mint marked screw plate. The screw post is full length, well over 12 mm measured from the rectangular back plate. The gilt finish on the suspension is perfectly preserved and bright. The ribbon is old, likely original to the suspension. Although heavily worn and tattered, it still adds great amount of character to the entire decoration. The connecting link is a replacement.

    Mikhail Tereshchenko was born in 1909 in a village of the Vitebsk Region of Belorussia. He served a stint in the Red Army in 1931-34 as an NCO assistant sapper platoon commander. In 1939, he reenlisted by enrolling in the advance training program at the Moscow Military Engineer Academy and during the same year was commissioned lieutenant. In the first months of the war Tereshchenko served as a sapper instructor, first in Lepel and then in Archangelsk in the north. He first took part in combat in November 1941 with the Volkhov Front, and was then at the front uninterruptedly through the end of the Patriotic War.

    In January 1943, Tereshchenko commanded a battalion of the 39th Separate Spetsnaz (Special Purpose) Engineer Brigade and in this capacity took part in the Operation Iskra ("Spark"), the offensive aimed at breaking the blockade of Leningrad. Tereshchenko played an important role in the operation: his battalion stormed the heavily fortified German defensive position on Sinyavino Heights south of Lake Ladoga. The Soviet attack on the same position during the previous August had ended in failure, and the Germans were well-prepared for another attempt. On 23 January, Tereshchenko's battalion was a part of the two assault detachments which jointly with the 327th Rifle Division of the 2nd Shock Army managed to breach the defense line on the southwestern side of the Kruglaya ("Round") Grove. Despite concentrated enemy fire which had started even before the Soviet attack, Tereshchenko was able to compel his soldiers to continue the advance. Leading the assault, he and his men captured three German earth-and-timber pillboxes.

    Seven days later, his battalion attacked again capturing the strategically important Height 43.3. Thereupon, Tereshchenko's battalion was subjected to fierce German counterattacks supported by tanks. The combat engineers not only repelled four such counterattacks and held their hard- won position, but made further advance pushing the line 600 meters and killing over 100 Nazi soldiers in the process. Over the course of the incessant three-day battle on and around the Height 43.3, Tereshchenko and his men also disabled one German tank and captured a number of prisoners.

    The heroism of Tereshchenko and others who took part in the offensive paid off: although Operation Iskra did not completely lift the siege of Leningrad, it opened an overland route to the city - something that had not been achieved up to that point in the siege despite numerous costly efforts. Hugging the edge of Lake Ladoga just north of the town of Sinyavino, the corridor was admittedly narrow, only six miles in width and constantly under German artillery fire. Nevertheless, it provided an important extra lifeline to the long-suffering Leningrad and weakened the Nazi death grip on the city. It was also an important propaganda victory for the Soviet Union. Now Leningrad was no longer in danger of being starved out of existence, and it was only a matter of time before the Germans would be pushed away from the old Russian capital for good.

    For his role in the Operation Iskra, Tereshchenko was deservedly recommended for an Order of the Red Banner by his brigade commander. Inexplicably, the award was downgraded further up the chain of command to an Order of the Patriotic War. The first class of this recently introduced decoration was bestowed upon Tereshchenko on 11 February 1943.

    Tereshchenko continued to serve with distinction through the rest of the war, although after the fight for Sinyavino Heights he performed more conventional duties of a combat engineer officer such as supervising the installation of land mines and construction of trench lines and defensive fortifications. In June 1943, he was promoted to Chief Engineer of a rifle division in the 52nd Army, 2nd Ukrainian Front. During the following fall, he was in charge of building bridges for several regiments during river crossing operations, the task he accomplished extremely well. Tereshchenko was especially successful in using improvised devices to conduct the crossing of the Dnieper, 500-600 m wide in that location. As the result, the crossing was done smoothly and without losses despite the enemy artillery and machine gun fire. For his outstanding leadership, Tereshchenko was awarded with an Order of the Red Banner (#77427) in October 1943.

    Within a year, Tereshchenko added another Red Banner to his chest of decorations and was appointed Chief of Engineers of the 48th Rifle Corps, 52nd Army (the latter had been reassigned to the 1st Ukrainian Front in October 1944.) His last award of WW2 was Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky 2nd cl. (#1563, awarded in June 1945) that he earned during the advance through Germany and the battle for Berlin. After the war, Tereshchenko continued his career in the military earning several other decorations and reaching the rank of colonel before his retirement in 1960.

    Research Materials: Xerox copy of the award record card, award commendations for the Orders of the Patriotic War 1st cl., Red Banner and Bogdan Khmelnitsky 2nd cl.; and service record. The latter includes very nice photo of Tereshchenko wearing an M-43 kitel tunic with ribbon bars for his numerous decorations. Included is also a copy of the pages from the Russian-language history of the Leningrad Military District published in 1974 which gives a very detailed account of the Operation Iskra and storming of Sinyavino Heights (it is worth mentioning that the 327th Rifle Division was specially cited by the 2nd Shock Army command for its actions in the capture of the Kruglaya Grove and was soon re-designated 64th Guards Rifle Division.)


    $2,200.00  

     
       
     
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