Russia – Soviet: A particularly interesting 'missed' ‘Cavalier of the Order of Glory’, Order of Glory 3rdClass awarded to Guards Private Semyon Nikitovich Shlapak, 4thGuards Airborne Rifle Regiment, 2ndGuards Airborne Division for an enemy ambush on height 1005.0 on 10thAugust 1944. Shlapak was awarded three Orders of Glory during the war, which was made up of two Order of Glory 3rdClass and one Order of Glory 2ndClass, it appears when trying to upgrade his awards in 1950 to benefit from the extra privileges this would entitle him to, that the authorities discovered that he been present in German occupied Odessa for the entire occupation, and was possibly suspected of working for them. His awards were thus stripped from him.
Order of Glory 3rdClass numbered 561554
Condition: Toned, Nearly extremely fine
Guards Private Semyon Nikitovich Shlapak was born in the village of Shidlovtsy, Chemerovtsy Raion, Kamenets-Podolsky Oblast in 1910, and served in the Red Army from April 1944 to November 1945, winning a series of awards whilst a Machine-gunner in the 4thGuards Airborne Rifle Regiment.
4thGuards Airborne Rifle Regiment served as part of 2ndProskurov Guards Airborne Division in the Lvov-Sandomierz offensive in July and August 1944, and during this fighting Shlapak was awarded the Medal for Courage by Order of the 4thGuards Airborne Rifle Regiment on 17thAugust 1944, and then subsequently this Order of Glory 3rdClass by Order of the 2ndGuards Airborne Rifle Division on 29thAugust 1944 with the following citation:
‘On August 10 and 11, 1944, during the fighting for height 1005.0 in the Delyatin Raion (Stanislav Oblast), he showed himself a valient and courageous machine gunner.
On August 10, 1944, during an attack on height 1005.0, he boldly led the way for his squad. Firing his machine gun he enabled the rifleman to successfully push forward. During the attack he fired without stopping, rushed into the enemy trenches, and gunned down 8 Hungarian soldiers who were fleeing the trenches.
When the enemy launched a counterattack, he chose a convenient location, calmly allowed the enemy to close in, and then suddenly opened fire, forcing the enemy to turn back, with a number of them being killed or wounded. He thus helped his squad consolidate its new positions.
He deserves the Order of Glory 3rdClass. Signed by the Commander of the 4thGuards Airborne Rifle Regiment, Guards Lieutenant Colonel Druzhinin.
After the conclusion of the Lvov-Sandomierz Division, 2ndGuards Airborne Division was involved in the Battle of the Dukla Pass and then remained fighting in Czechoslovakia until the end of the war, during this time Shlapak was to win several other awards, including strangely another Order of Glory 3rdClass by Order of the 141stRifle Division on 24thApril 1945, who were clearly unaware that he had already received one! Subsequently he was awarded a Medal for Courage by Order of the 745thRifle Regiment on 29thApril 1945, and an Order of Glory 2ndClass awarded by Order of the 7thGuards Army on 24thMay 1945.
The award of 3 Orders of Glory should have resulted ultimately in the award of an Order of Glory 1stClass, and the title of Cavalier of the Order of Glory, a much coveted recognition which entitled the recipient to a number of privileges within the USSR. It appears at first glance to be a strange oversight on behalf of the authorities!
However, Shlapak ultimately was to have his rewards stripped on 12thJanuary 1950, which would have been for either a criminal or political offence, the most likely being a possible link to collaboration with the Germans. He is listed as having lived in Odessa during the time of the German occupation there, and is taken back on strength there on 10thApril 1944, at the time of the liberation of the city. A quite possible outcome here is that Shlapak has applied to have his Order of Glorys noted, so as to be upgraded to a 1stClass in order to receive the extra privileges he was entitled to, at the time of doing this the Soviet authorities most likely looked in to his records, and discovered or were subsequently notified of something during the occupation that led to them being stripped!
At the time of final award being received in 1947, he was a farmer at the Kolkhoz in the village of Shidlovtsy, and living in the village of Shidlovtsy, Chemerovtsy Raion, Kamenets-Podolksy Oblast in the Ukraine.
An interesting award to a much-decorated Red Army Airborne Soldier who with the award of 3 Orders of Glory should have been a ‘Full Cavalier’.