Medal for Valor, Type 1 Variation 3, "Thin" sub-variation,
#245476, awarded on 24 March 1942 to Private Sergey
Reshetov, the gunner of an 82 mm mortar with the 4th Army,
Volkhov Front, for destroying two German machine gun nests
and large number of enemy soldiers in fighting for Tikhvin -
the battle that saved Leningrad - in early December 1941.
The medallion is in silver and lacquer; measures 37.3 mm
wide, approx. 2.3- 2.5 mm thick at the edge (the so-called
"Thin" sub-variation); weighs 26.7 g not including the
suspension and connecting link. The suspension measures 25.2
mm wide at the top, 17.3 - 17.4 mm tall not including the
ribbon and projection for the connecting link.
Very fine condition. No less than a third of the fragile
original lacquer in the letters is still present. There are
some minor dings to the edge and light wear on both sides,
but the details of the tank and airplanes are very well
preserved. There are no nicks or significant bumps. Very
attractive dark toning to silver throughout. Comes on
original suspension device, complete with original back
plate, hexagon nut and brass screw plate. The screw post is
full length, well over 10 mm measured from the back plate.
The connecting link appears to be original as well, and its
ends are still joined with solder. The perfectly preserved
ribbon shows age, although it is probably not of the same
vintage as the medal itself.
Sergey Reshetov was born in 1903 in a village of the Vologda
Region of northern Russia. He was drafted into the Red Army
in November 1941 and appointed a gunner of an 82 mm mortar
crew with the newly formed 1st Separate Grenadier Brigade,
4th Army, Volkhov Front. Note that the name of the brigade
was unique for the Soviet Army: the word "grenadier"
harkened back to the imperial era. It was added to the
brigade's official designation because due to the lack of
rifles at its inception in mid-November 1941, most of the
unit's personnel was armed only with hand-grenades!
During the previous month of October, the 4th Army had been
engaged in the desperate defense of the town of Tikhvin, the
railway junction that was among the key objectives of the
German Army Group North in its offensive east of Leningrad.
The German plan was to completely cut off Leningrad by
advancing along the south shore of Lake Ladoga and linking
with the Finnish Army on the Svir River. After getting into
the rear of the 4th Army at the end of the month, the
Germans forced it to pull back, and on 9 November, managed
to temporarily capture Tikhvin. Their advance severed the
last remaining railroad link to Leningrad and directly led
to the terrible starvation among its civilian population
during the winter of 1941-42. Nevertheless, the Wehrmacht
had been literally bled white by that point, unable to move
forward and achieve the larger objective of securing Lake
Ladoga and thus shutting off all outside help to the city.
Private Reshetov joined the fight at the most critical time
when the fate of Leningrad was literally hanging in balance.
The 4th Army played a principal role in the struggle to save
the city as it started a series of counterattacks
immediately following the loss of Tikhvin. In late November,
its 1st Separate Grenadier Brigade advanced from the
southeast alongside the 65th Rifle Division until it was met
by stiff German resistance on the doorsteps of the town. The
Soviet effort renewed in early December, immediately after
the start of the much larger Soviet counteroffensive at
During the storming of Tikhvin Reshetov's separate 82 mm
mortar battalion was deployed at the Highways #1 and #2.
According to the subsequent award recommendation, during the
period of 6-9 December he with his crew destroyed two German
machine gun nests and eliminated tens of enemy soldiers.
Reshetov's actions greatly facilitated the capture of both
highways. During the same time, the other units of the 4th
Army engaged in fierce house-to-house battles inside
Tikhvin, with streets and buildings changing hands several
times. The town was completely cleared on 9 December. By
some estimates, the German 39th Motorized Corps and 61st
Infantry Division lost 7000 men killed in action at Tikhvin,
not counting the wounded. Moreover, on their retreat the
Nazis left behind large amounts of ammunition and food
stores that were later put to good use by the Soviet troops.
The 4th Army then continued its offensive until it reached
the Volkhov River.
The liberation of Tikhvin never attracted as much attention
as the Soviet counteroffensive at Moscow which unfolded at
the same time. The importance of this early Soviet success
however cannot be overestimated, because it restored
overland supply line to Lake Ladoga that continued
throughout the winter via the frozen "Road of Life" - thus
allowing Leningrad to fight on and remain unconquered.
On 14 January 1942, Reshetov was jointly recommended for a
Medal for Valor by his grenadier brigade's commander and
political commissar. During the same month, his severely
depleted brigade was disbanded and its remaining personnel
was used to augment other units of the 4th Army. As was
often the case with very early awards, it took a long time
for Reshetov's commendation to be processed through the
chain of command, and the medal was bestowed upon him only
on 24 March by a decree of the Volkhov Front. It is
interesting to note that the award serial number, relatively
high for a Type 1, indicates that Reshetov actually received
the decoration even later, probably in mid-1943. The most
likely explanation is that Reshetov was released from active
duty in April 1943, as evident from his award record card.
Although the archival record does not
mention the reason, he was probably severely wounded or fell
gravely ill at some point in 1942 and after a convalescence
in a hospital, deemed unfit for further military service. If
he was no longer with his original combat unit, it could
understandably take quite a while for the award decision to
be implemented, at which point the available decoration was
issued to its recipient and its number recorded in the
After his discharge from the military in 1943, Reshetov
returned to his native Vologda Region. As of February 1947,
he was working there as manager of the retail department of
a rural district consumer cooperative. The Medal for Valor
remained his only decoration of WW2.
Research Materials: Photocopy of the award record card,
award commendation and award decree. Brief history of the
1st Grenadier Brigade is available in the Volume XI Red
Volunteers of the Charles Sharp's book series Soviet
Order of Battle, WW2; a more detailed information about
this interesting and short-lived unit can be found on