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https://collectrussia.com/DISPITEMWINDOW.HTM?item=38303
Item# 38303   $645.00  Add to cart   Show All Images   Download PDF
St George Cross for Bravery, 4th class, #575455, awarded to Senior NCO Konstantin Dryagin, a Colt-Browning Machine Gunner of the 27th Vitebsk Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, 5th Army Corps, 2nd Army, Western Front, for action in March 1916 on the first day of the Russian offensive at Lake Naroch in Belorussia.
The name of the recipient, brief citation, and serial number of the award are shown in the Vol. IX of the Combined Listings of the Recipients of the St. George Cross, 1914-1922 by S. B. Patrikeev.

In silver, measures 41.0 mm in height (incl. eyelet), 34.5 mm in width; weighs 10.8 g. The serial number is stamped in standard manner on the horizontal arms.

In very fine to excellent condition. There are a few minor scratches and dings to the arms, none of them very detractive, no edge knocks or bumps. The center medallion has a few miniscule dings to its raised border

The name of the recipient, brief citation, and serial number of the award are shown in the Vol. IX of the Combined Listings of the Recipients of the St. George Cross, 1914-1922 by S. B. Patrikeev.

In silver, measures 41.0 mm in height (incl. eyelet), 34.5 mm in width; weighs 10.8 g. The serial number is stamped in standard manner on the horizontal arms.

In very fine to excellent condition. There are a few minor scratches and dings to the arms, none of them very detractive, no edge knocks or bumps. The center medallion has a few miniscule dings to its raised border and recessed field, but the raised details of the artwork on both sides remain exceptionally well preserved and crisp, nearly pristine. Very attractive even toning to silver throughout. Overall, an extremely well-preserved and attractive piece, well above the average for a WW1 issue.

The 27th Vitebskiy (i.e. "Of the [town] of Vitebsk") Infantry Regiment was one of the oldest and most distinguished units in the Russian military. It was formed in the city of Kazan in 1703 during the time of Peter the Great. The regiment took part in the Battle of Poltava and siege of Riga, survived the disastrous campaign on the River Prut against the Ottoman Empire, as part of the naval infantry contingent participated in the first Russian naval victory at Gangut (Hanko Peninsula). Then a musketeer unit, the regiment marched under Field Marshal Suvorov's in his Italian Campaign and valiantly fought against the Turks at Pazardjik and Varna. In 1812-14, it faced Napoleon and in 1828- 29, participated in yet another war with Turkey. During the Crimean War, the regiment was in besieged Sevastopol and was awarded with silver trumpets for bravery of its troops.

During the Great War, 27th Vitebskiy Regiment was a part of the 7th Infantry Division, 5th Army Corps, initially under the 5th Army of Southwestern Front (army group). In 1915, the regiment with its corps was transferred to the 2nd Army of the Northwestern (and later, Western) Front. It participated in the Russian army retreat from Poland and fought in the defensive Battle of Vilno (Vilnius).

In the early spring of 1916, Sr. NCO (Starshiy Unter-ofitser) Dryagin with his regiment took part in the Russian offensive at Lake Naroch in Belorussia. At the time, he was assigned to the crew of an M1895 Colt-Browning machine gun, an American-made weapon supplied to Russia in great quantity during the war. His regiment and division were deployed just to the south of Lake Naroch directly facing the German 75th Reverse Regiment of the Herman von Eichhorn's X Army. Although the citation does not provide specifics of Dryagin's feat, he distinguished himself on 18 March, the second day of the operation (5 March 1914 according to the old Julian calendar still in use in Russia at the time). According to the Combined Listings of the Recipients of the St. George Cross, the action took place near the village of Zanaroch (Занарочь), of what is today an administrative part of the Myadelskiy District located in the extreme northwestern corner the Minsk Region of Belarus.

On the previous day, the Russian offensive in this sector opened up with a massive artillery barrage that lasted many hours. However, the artillery fire proved very inaccurate and ineffective - according to some reports, Russian artillerymen used shrapnel rounds where high explosives were required to deal with the deeply entrenched enemy. When Russian 5th Corps infantry attacked in the late afternoon, it found German defenses nearly intact. Subjected to murderous machine gun fire, the corps lost some 4000 men and gained no ground. The situation changed little in the following days; although Russian troops managed to make small temporary gains at enormous cost, they were forced to withdraw owing to ineffective artillery support. To make matters worse, the wintry weather, broken terrain and spring thaw which began on the second day of the operation made resupplying and reenforcing forward units almost impossible. In general, the offensive at Lake Naroch proved to be a costly fiasco. It was for no fault of the rank and file or NCOs like Dryagin: morale of the Russian army was still high at that stage of the war, and the Russian high command was still able to squander troops in near suicidal offensives such as the Naroch operation.
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