Medal for Combat Service, Type 1, Variation 1, #20763,
awarded on 17 March 1942 to Private Ilya Ignatov, Partisan
Platoon Commander, for conducting bold strikes in the enemy
rear in November - December 1941 and providing substantial
support to the regular Red Army units during the Soviet
general offensive in January 1942.
The medallion is in silver and enamel; 32.2 mm wide, weigh
22.2 grams not including the suspension and connecting link.
Features engraved serial number and smaller suspension with
thin copper screw post. The suspension is characteristically
small measuring 31.1 mm in width, 17.1 mm in height (not
including the provision for the connecting link at the
The medal is in very fine to excellent overall condition,
very uncommon for the earliest version of this medal and in
general for any Soviet decoration awarded in the first year
of the Great Patriotic War. The medallion is extremely well
preserved. The enamel in the letters is perfect. The field
of the medallion on both sides has only miniscule contact
marks and dings, shows beautiful even patina, and appears
nearly pristine to the naked eye. The raised details of the
rifle and sword are practically perfect and exceptionally
crisp. There are only some minor dings to the raised edge,
no bumps or significant knocks.
Comes on original suspension device in silver-plated brass
complete with characteristically thin copper screw post
measuring about 3.3 mm in diameter and original 18.1 mm wide
screw plate marked "MONDVOR". The ribbon is clearly old,
possibly of WW2 period. As is usually the case with the
first version of the Combat Service Medal, the rectangular
retaining back plate is missing, and the ribbon has been
instead secured in place by the conventional method of
sewing together its ends. This is really the only serious
flaw of this otherwise excellent example. The connecting
link in silver-plated brass appears to be original and its
ends are still joined with solder.
Ilya Ignatov was born in 1912 in the town of Slavyansk of
the Stalino (now Donetsk) Region. During 1934-36, he served
his first stint in the Red Army and in 1940, joined the
Communist Party. In October 1941 he was drafted again and
judging by the following developments, almost immediately
became one of the thousands of Red Army soldiers whose units
disintegrated during the German offensives in the fall of
1941. Like many other such servicemen, Ignatov refused to
surrender and continued armed struggle in the enemy rear
forming the nucleus of the nascent partisan movement.
On 29 October 1941, Ignatov joined one of the early partisan
units in the Yamа District in the northeastern part of the
Stalino Region, in close proximity of his native town of
Slavyansk (the town of Yama has since been renamed Seversk,
or Siversk in Ukrainian). Probably due to a combination of
factors such as his prior military training, party
membership, and familiarity with the area, he was appointed
a platoon commander. He soon proved himself as a courageous
and capable leader who
inspired other guerrilla fighters
by his personal example.
On 9 November 1941, Ignatov led a partisan raid on the enemy
garrison in the village of Novoplatonovka just north of
Slavyansk. He was the first to enter the village lobbing
hand-grenades at the enemy. The bold strike killed a total
of 42 Nazi soldiers. From 22 November - 1 December,
Ignatov's platoon relentlessly attacked the enemy in the
villages of Serebryanka and Grigoryevka in the same area
forcing them to abandon both locations.
In the period from 7-11 December, at the start of the Soviet
winter counteroffensive, Ignatov with his platoon occupied
high ground near the village of Chernogorovka about half-way
between Stalino (Donetsk) and Voroshilovgrad (Luhansk.) The
platoon held its position despite several German
counterattacks. On 24 December, the partisans found
themselves in exceptionally hard situation when they were
surrounded by the enemy near the town of Yama. Not losing
presence of mind, Ignatov found a way out and led his
detachment from the enemy trap.
As the Red Army prepared for the next phase of its offensive
in January 1942, Ignatov volunteered to be a guide for a
Soviet tank brigade planning to attack Yama and
Chernogorovka. On 17 January, he jointly with the commander
of the brigade conducted a thorough nighttime reconnaissance
of the enemy positions and when they were discovered by the
enemy and came under fire, led the commander to safety. He
also pointed out a location where the terrain allowed the
tanks to ford the Bakhmutka River.
On 11 March 1942, Ignatov was recommended for the Medal for
Combat Service by his partisan unit commander and commissar.
The medal was bestowed on him six days later by a special
decree of the Southern Front which awarded various
decorations to 19 partisans of the Yama (Yamskiy) Partisan
Unit - a testimony to the unit's effectiveness in providing
support to the regular troops of the front. At that point,
Ignatov had re-joined the regular Red Army as private of the
897th Rifle Regiment, 242nd Rifle Division, 9th Army,
Southern Front. He remained on active duty in the military
through September 1943. Although nothing else is known about
his combat service after March 1942, he was probably wounded
or otherwise found unfit for further military duty in 1943.
He did survive the war and judging by the fact that he
received both the Medal for Victory over Germany and Medal
for Meritorious Labor during the Great Patriotic War in
1945, worked for the home front in the last two years of the
war. Interestingly, in May 1943 Ignatov was also belatedly
awarded with an Order of the Red Star - his only other
combat decoration of the war - by the USSR Supreme Soviet in
recognition of his past actions as a partisan.
Research Materials: photocopy of the award record card,
award commendation and award decree for the Medal for Combat
Service, and of the relevant pages of the award decree for
the Order of the Red Star.