Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Lend Lease Hero

Soviet award orders are typically dominated by T-34s, so it's nice to see a fresh face once in a while.

"Award Order
  1. Name: Novikov, Ivan Vasilyevich
  2. Rank: Guards Lieutenant
  3. Position and unit: M4A2 tank company commander, 3rd Tank Battalion, 18th Guards Minsk Order of the Red Banner Tank Brigade
    is nominated for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
  4. Year of birth: 1921
  5. Nationality: Russian
  6. Party affiliation: VLKSM member since 1938
  7. Participation in the Great Patriotic War: since July 1944
  8. Wounds or concussions: heavy wound to the head, loss of an eye at the 1st Baltic Front on October 10th, 1944
  9. In the RKKA since: November 1939
  10. Recruited by: Ulyanovsk recruiting office, Ulyanovsk oblast
  11. Prior awards: none.
Brief and specific description of heroism or achievements: during his time in battle with the battalion, as a commander of a company, he served as a brave, courageous, and reliable officer. On October 7th, 1944, he flanked the enemy and captured Yutsi along with a crossing of the Virvita river. The enemy wished to retake the crossing, attacking it several times. In this battle, comrade Novikov knocked out 4 Tiger tanks, 3 guns, more than 10 machineguns and mortars, and killed more than 130 soldiers and officers of the enemy. The enemy, fleeing, left one functional tank in the swamp.
On October 11th, in battles at Memel, the enemy sent a large force to meet our attacking tanks. Comrade Novikov saw that enemy tanks are trying to flank him, rushed forward, organized an ambush, and destroyed 3 tanks, 4 APCs, and over 150 soldiers and officers, preventing an encirclement and enemies in his rear. Heavily wounded, missing an eye, he continued to command his unit until danger to his unit passed.

For the destruction of enemy vehicles and personnel and the display of bravery, courage, reliability, and heroism, he is worthy of the title of Hero of the Soviet Union."

CAMD RF 33-793756-34 

Now, this battle with Tigers is somewhat shrouded in mystery, as the precise date is not given (all we know is that it was fought in between taking the crossing on October 7th and his fighting at Memel before October 11th. To make things harder, Yutsi appears to be such a tiny settlement that it's difficult to find on any map. However, Schneider's diary of s.Pz.Abt 510 makes it clear what happened and when.

"9 October 1944: Attack from Leckawa to Pickeliai, together with one company of Panzer-Aufklarungs-Abteilung 4 and one company of Panzer-Pionier-Battalion 79. The assault comes to an end outside of Pickeliai, after penetrating as far as the strong antitank blocking positions; 4 Tigers lost. At dawn, evading movement to Leckawa and the recovery of the disabled tanks. The battalion loses 3 tanks in these engagements."


The number of Tigers matches up, and here's the crossing between Leckava and Pikeliai. Looks like those Shermans gave the Tigers quite a pounding.

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