The medals ‘For service in battle’ and ‘For courage’ were established under the decree of Supreme Soviet Presidium of USSR on October 17, 1938. Along with the established on January 24, 1938 anniversary medal ’20 years of Workers’-Peasants’ Red Army’ these medals actually became the first Soviet medals.
The medal ‘For courage’ was especially appreciated by war veterans from the very moment of its appearance because it was awarded exclusively for courage demonstrated in battle. This was the main difference between this one and other decorations that could be awarded ‘for participation’.
The medal ‘For courage’ was awarded to military personnel of the Soviet Army, Navy, frontiers troops and internal troops and other USSR citizens. Among the first holders were frontier guards N. Gulyaev and F. Grigoryev who had arrested a group of subversives near Khasan lake.
The medal ‘For service in battle’ was awarded to the same categories of military men for competent, initiative and brave activities during the battle that contributed to successful completion of fighting tasks, for courage demonstrated at state border defense, for excellent progress in battle and political training, new military equipment mastering and maintenance of a high fighting trim in military divisions and subdivisions. The medal ‘For service in battle’ could also be awarded to foreign citizens. For the first time during the prewar years this medal was awarded on a mass scale to the participants of battles near Khasan lake (1158 decorations).
‘For courage’ medal was the highest medal of USSR and remained such until the Soviet Union collapse. However in new Russia it has not been transformed in an exclusively historical relic as have many other decorations of the Soviet period. The medal ‘For courage’ is established in the system of Russian State decorations under the Decree of the President of Russian Federation of March 2, 1994, N 442.
In total the medal ‘For courage’ was awarded to over 4.5 million military personnel, and the medal ‘For service in battle’ – to over 5 million.
Lit.: Дуров В. А. Русские и советские боевые награды. М., 1989; Колесников Г. А., Рожков А. М. Ордена и Медали СССР. М., 1983; Куценко А. Н. Ордена СССР. Донецк, 1994; Музалевский М. В. Ордена и медали СССР. Тиражи, разновидности. Справочник. М.,1996; Мурашев Г. А. Титулы, чины, награды. СПб., 2001; Савичев Н. П. Символы трудовой и ратной доблести. Киев, 1987; Шишков С. С., Музалевский М. В. Ордена и медали СССР: Тиражи и разновидности: Справочник. Владивосток, 2000.
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