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Comrade Lastovka: Keeper of ... Secrets

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When I got this splendid and 99.9% complete group years ago, I was rather disappointed that the original owner had been a junior administrative officer...

"administrative"... I thought: "paymaster." (They're not ALL like Konteradmiral B?ning!!!)

Today, research on ALL THREE of his three WW2 decorations (I figured I might as well have my most complete group... the most completely researched) came in.

I could not have been more wrong! jumping.gifjumping.gifjumping.gif

Mind you, it was a chore deciphering scribbled Cyrillic on splotchy copies (I have "tweaked" some of these for contrast, which I can only do with scanning from my own scanner) and it was some while before I got WHAT "Department 6" was.

Anyway, The Group, spanning 1943 to 1995 (old scanner group shot)


No photo of him since no service record with the research!


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Group of nineteen awards bestowed on Ivan Borisovich LASTOVKA 1943-1995,

consisting of these 19 awards and documentation for 18 of them:

Born in 1922, served in Red Army September 1942 (called up in Baku) to pre-September 1946, leaving service as a Senior Lieutenant of administrative branch. Peasant class but higher education, Komsomol member since 1942 and a candidate member of the CPSU in March 1944, #6,864,234. Described variously as ?Russian? (sic) and ?Ukrainian? in citation papers.

Served during the war as Assistant Commander ?6th Department??secret signals codes of the 276th ?Temryuksky? Rifles Division divisional staff, ending his military service as Commander (!!!!) of the ?6th Department? of the 3rd Mountain Corps.

Subsequently lifelong resident of Uzhgorod in the Carpathian Forest (formerly Carpatho-Ruthene part of Habsburg Hungary and then Czechoslovakia, city aka Ungv?r and Uzhorod). Alive 1995, probably dead by end of 1998.

Orders Booklet, 1945 edition, serial # A 370055, issued 10 December 194(5/6?). ?Valid without photograph? stamp, as usual. Shows privileges beginning November 1943, and Lastovka?s three WW2 military decorations: Military Merit Medal # 727,404 (October 20, 1943?see citation), Valor Medal #1,200,059 (February 4,1944?see citation), and Order of the Red Star #917,935 (October 29, 1944?see citation).

With the three decorations, both medals mounted on a bar--

1) Order of the Red Star #917,935. Thick ?cookie? type, ?bayoneting O,?

Orders Booklet, 1967 edition, serial # I ( И ) 446,923, issued 26 April 1976 for Order of the Badge of Honor #1,200,059 authorized on 6 April 1976. ?Valid without photograph? stamp. With the Order, mounted alone--

2) Order of the Badge of Honor #1,200,059. Single piece type.

Orders Booklet, serial # D ( Д ) 899,141, for the 1985 jubilee type Order of the Patriotic War, #2,226,704. With the ?Order?--

3) OPW 2nd, single piece jubilee type for all living WW2 veterans, #2,226,704.

Four medal bar: 1940s brass, pinback type, with award papers for latter two medals--

4) Valor Medal #1,065,541 (see 1st O B above--an unusual ?risk of life? award for ?admin?!),

5) Military Merit Medal #727,404 (see 1st Orders Booklet above),

6) Defense of the Caucasus Medal, large format, serial # N (H) 000876, issued on 25 September 1944. All entries typed in to Lastovka as Junior Lieutenant, with stamp and signature of Major General ?Bezhko,? Commander of 276th ?Temryuksky? Rifles Division. Unusual to find issue at divisional, rather than within Lastovka?s branch level--but Lastovka was on CO?s personal command staff. Folded in quarters as usual, but no wear. All documents are exceptionally well-kept unless noted.

7) Victory Over Germany Medal, serial # G ( Г ) 65734, issued 17 September 1945 to Lieutenant ?of Admin Services? Lastovka. Stamp and signature of Major General ?Vedenin,? commander of 3rd ?Carpathian? Mountain Rifles Corps. Again, because he was on the Corps CO?s personal command staff. Some letters rubbed off front cover of document.


Six medal bar: 1980s aluminum with two screw back disks: With documents--

8) 1965 Victory Jubilee Medal, serial # B ( ) 2,302,082, issued on 4 November 1966 to Lastovka with his names only. Stamp and seal of Uzhgorod Veterans? Commissariat, illegible signature of a Lt.Col.

9) 1975 Victory Jubilee Medal, military type, identifying Lastovka as ?Senior Lieutenant of the Reserves? (ranks on these unusual!), issued 24 June 1975 with stamp and seal of Uzhgorod Veterans Com, signed by a Colonel ?Goncharko.?

10) 1985 Victory Jubilee Medal, military type, issued ?7 May? nominal date 1985. Same stamp and seal of the Uzhgorod Vet Com, signed Col. ?Go..ovets??

11) 1968 Armed Forces Jubilee Medal, issued 8 May 1969, signed by Col. ?Goncharko? of the Uzhgorod Vet Com, with stamp and seal.

12) 1978 Armed Forces Jubilee Medal, issued 25 September 1978, identifying Lastovka as ?Senior Lieutenant, Retired.? (unusual to find rank listed--note change in status 1975-78). Again with stamp and seal of Uzhgorod Vet Com, signed by Col. ?I. Timoshenko.?

13) 1988 Armed Forces Jubilee Medal. NOTE: document is missing for this medal, the only award without its document included in this otherwise complete lifetime?s grouping.


Single mounted medals and badges, all documented--

14) 1970 Lenin Centenary Medal, labor issue, issued 7 April 1970 by Uzhgorod City Labor Council, Zakarpatsky Oblast ?Vikonavchy? (=?) Committee. Worn alone above medal bars.

15) Veteran of Labor Medal, issued 9 June 1983 per Zakarpatsky Oblast Council of People?s Deputies decree of 24 May 1983. Oblast stamp. Before getting the research in, I thought this would have indicated that Lastovka was born in 1918, because it seemed to confirm his ?ultimate military release? at age 60 per the 1978 AFJM. Wrong! (Research matters!) For some reason Lastovka chose not to mount this on a bar (between victory jubilees and armed forces jubilees by precedence).

16) 1995 Victory Jubilee Medal, Ukrainian issue preprinted form with Lastovka?s names filled in. 1995 edition document. On single mount as issued.

17) Ministry of Defense 1970 Victory Jubilee Badge. The usual small sized paper, never had a serial number, preprinted with only names and rank ?Senior Lieutenant? filled in. Pinback worn on right chest.

18) Shock Worker (?Udarnik?) of Socialist Labor badge: cheesy enameled aluminum little pin with title and Lenin?s head. Accompanying award book has thick red plastic covers, and is more substantial than an Orders Booklet. Issued 9 June 1983 (see #15 above) by Zakarpatsky Oblast Council of Professional Associations. Bilingual Ukrainian and Russian pages, both filled in, with Ukrainian language Oblast stamp on the Russian language page. A pinback badge.

19) Badge for 50th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Ukraine: fairly well made, heavy screwback badge with red, blue and yellow ?enamel? paint. Document in Ukrainian issued on 9 ?Trobnya? 1995 per 10 ?Bereznya? 1994, post-Communist Ukrainian trident stamp of Uzhgorod Vet Com, signed by a Lt. Col. ?A Borovits?.? Pinback.



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And the reason why obtaining an Awards Record Card is absolutely VITAL for WW2 period awards, which do not show award dates, as the ARC does, and serves to confirm that indeed "everything goes together"--


Because ONLY the Orders Book itself bears the serial numbers along with the Awards Record Card LISTS the serial number. The citations for the awards, in the bizarre Soviet system, do NOT normally show serial numbers. Here is the TOP half of Lastovka's Red Star citation. This always follows a pattern of basic biographical and service information, along with any other awards already held:




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As you can see, the hideously brittle and thickly bound Soviet originals do not lend themselves to great copies. Hence some gaps in "off scan" darkness.

But the actual Red Star citation text:


and THIS Red Star



And the Ricky Translation:

Order of the Red Star

Rank: Junior Lieutenant of Administrative Service

?Comrade Lastovka has been with the division since May 1943, and proven himself with ? military trips ?. right up to the Carpathian mountains, how in periods of defense and in periods of offensive action, participated in securing without interruptions the divisional commander?s coded signals. In difficult conditions of military action in mountain ? region, Comrade Lastovka replaced the wounded commander of the 6th Department, successfully managing the duties of the Department commander in a timely manner and without interruption, securing the divisional commander?s code signals.

Repeatedly visiting the division?s regiments, Comrade Lastovka exerted personal assistance to the Deputy Regimental Commanders for Special Signals, also in matters of securing secret directions for the troops and in organizing the record keeping of the secret secretaries for sub-units within the division.

Politically literate ? ? in the Party of Lenin and Stalin, deserves to be rewarded with the state decoration Order of the Red Star.?

Commander of the 6th Department, 276th ?Temryuksky? Rifles Division Staff, Captain ?Zatsepelin?

Concur, Divisional Staff Commander, Guards Colonel ?Maksimov? 20 October 1944

Approved, 28 October 1944 Division Commander, Guards Major General "Bezhko"

Order of the Red Star issued by Command, 29 October 1944, Cadre Commander 276 etc Major ?Shvatov?




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And for THIS Valor Medal and Military Merit Medal:


Original citation for the Valor Medal, "tweaked" for contrast:


And the Ricky Translation:

Valor Medal

Rank: ?without military rank? (!!! Sic!!!?still technically an officer candidate????) ohmy.gifohmy.gifohmy.gif

?In the latest offensive action of the 1st Ukrainian Front, Comrade Lastovka successfully and accurately managed the duties entrusted to him. Despite all difficulties, repeatedly visited the division?s regiments, assisting in organizing the work of ?SUV? {{{{ = ??? }}} which secured and preserved military and state secrets.

For demonstrating courage and valor in action against the German occupiers, merits being rewarded with the state decoration?Medal ?For Valor.?

Commander of 6th Department, 276th Rifles Division, Captain ?Kononenko?

Concur Divisional Staff Commander Lieutenant Colonel ?Ayvazov? 2 February 1944

Approved, 2 February 1944, Division Commander Colonel ?Grinchenko?

Medal ?For Valor? issued by Command, 4 February 1944, Divisional Commander 4th Dept, Major ?Goloval?



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Serial numbers on the Valor and Military Merit Medals =


And the particularly nasty and uncharacteristically small sized (in original) citation for the MMM, which is still being tweaked. Note "rank" -- "officer cadet!"


Military Merit Medal

Rank: Officer Cadet (?Kursant?)

?In the whole period of ?. action of our troops to Taman in difficult conditions under ? enemy action and (progress?) assisted in matters of securing without interruption the cipher signals of the divisional commander in work of secret ? units.

? deserves award of the Medal ?For Military Merit.? ?

276th ?Temruksky? Rifles Division staff, Commander of 6th Dept. Captain ?Kononenko?

Divisional Staff Commander Lieutenant Colonel ?Ayvazov?

Approved, Divisional Commander Guards Major General ??.?

Medal ?For Military Merit? issued by Command, 20 October 1943, Divisional CO 4th Dept Captain ?G??



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Defense of the Caucasus Medal document


Most often campaign, victory, and jubilee medals simply bear the nominal date when each such medal was created, on an Award Record Card-- which was the case with Lastovka's Defense of the Caucasus AND Victory Over Germany Medals documents, compared to the ARC: routine stuff wasn't worth digging out each award booklet to check the real bestowal date individually on these.


His Victory Over Germany Medal document was signed by 3rd Mountain Rifles Corps CO Guards Major General Andrei Iakovlevich "Vedenin" (1900-1984). Vedenin was Commandant of the Kremlin 1953-67 Thanks to website




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All THREE Orders Books-- WW2 military awards, Order of the Badge of Honor Book, and the 1985 jubilee "Patriotic War."


and the entry page for his Badge of Honor


Reverse of the OBH shoiwing serial number, along with his 1995 Victory Jubilee and Veteran of Labor Medals, which will follow in due course





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Lastovka was apparently "planted," along with surely many thousands of other military colonists (in the Roman and Norman modes) in what had been eastern Slovakia, "Russifying" the area with an artificial influx of ethnic outsiders, much as Still Red China continues to do with Tibet and other "periphery" areas.

There long years of quiet followed. The young secret codes officer (who seems to have spent a lot of time HIMSELF traveling back and forth rather than "signalling"! ohmy.gifspeechless.giflaugh.gif ) did not get another medal until the flood of "jubilee" awards started for WW2 veterans in 1965:


and 1968:


and the Ministry of Defense's flimsy little 1970, here much enlarged by proportion to the normal sized medal booklets:





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1970 was the first year since 1944 that Lastovka received TWO awards. I've never seen any clear cut explanation of who received the 1970 Lenin Centenary Medal as civilians and who did not.


Unlike the military-- where as far as I can tell EVERY officer received it, this seems to have been an extremely minor "decoration," albeit hardly one justified being worn as it was, for civilians and state employees. Lastovka had NOT received a Badge of Honor in the super glut of those in 1966-67, so this was his first civilian recognition since the war-- 25 years earlier.


In 1970, Ivan Borisovich Lastovka was 48. 27 years of his decorations have been covered... 25 more years to go! beer.gif



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All I've done is sit at home and translate what isn't too dark off the pages or scribbly to read. biggrin.gif This group arrived at my house 16 December 1998. Sent off for research on 8 May of this year, and results arrived 3:27 PM 20 August 2005.

The rest of the 1970s saw Lastovka receiving routine jubilee medals in

1975 (Rank on one of these is unusual. "Senior Lt of the Reserve" = actually retired but under 60 and liable to theoretical recall. )


and 1978 (Ditto ditto! "Senior Lt Retired" had me thinking he was 60 between 1975-78, but he was actually 55 this year. Perhaps THAT was "mandatory retirement" for Senior Lieutenants in the event of WW3! Which, having lived through the 1970s, didn't seem too implausible at the time. ohmy.gif )




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But he DID get his Order of the Badge of Honor in April 1976. After the flood of these (1/3 of all that were ever awarded in 60 years! rolleyes.gif ) 1966-67, having crossed the MILLION number, awards were slowing down and starting to perhaps mean something again. These are his individually worn medals grouped for that reason-- will get to the two medals in time. But note here that the Veteran Of labor Medal is the type which never had any "oxydized" gray finish applied.


Not that his final "Order" meant anything. The 1985 jubilee version of the Order of the Patriotic War 2nd Class was simply given (in addition to the Victory Jubilee Medal of that year) to all surviving WW2 veterans who had

not received a REAL one,

were not retired Generals or Admirals,

and were

not war invalids






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The "Orders Booklet" for the 1985 OPW2:


But he had actually retired in 1983, at what I know know was the age of 61.

Here is the booklet for his Veteran of Labor Medal, another "vague" one without clear requirements for minimum years of service OR of age for receipt on retirement.




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Presumably NOT by coincidence, on the same day (retirement day was when the VOL Medal was supposed to be handed out) Lastovka retired, he received a "Shock Worker of Communist Labor" badge. The nasty little sleazy pin itself (with tawdry flashed finish, melted cough drops plastenamel and paint)


looks like something obtained standing in line at a ghastly compulsory school trip museum as an admission token, but the booklet it came with was BETTER than a medals award booklet-- with thick red plastic covers


and bright colored, slick paper pages inside.


in the usual Officially Bilingual Russian and Ukrainian


This probably brought a pensioner some negligble "privilege" while standing in lines or something like that.





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With the mock-OPW2 of 1985, of course, also came the by then inevitable jubilee medal, for Victory


The ONLY award booklet missing in this 52 year lifetime group is that for the 1988 Armed Forces Jubilee Medal. Mounted on his lower medals bar, but the paper itself is the only thing lost.

As the Soviet Union itself was soon to be.

The newly re-established Ukrainian Republic issued a 50th Anniversary of Liberation badge, whose size makes up for the not quite great quality.


The martial motifs at first glance appear to be musical instruments for an orchestral society or some such, but "modern design" is bad all over. At least it is "real metal" and not tinfoil flashed plastic. rolleyes.gif





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Senior Lieutenant of Administrative Branch and Shock Worker of Communist Labor of the Uzhgorod Council of "Professional Associations," Retired, Ivan Borisovich Lastovka's final award was the 50th Jubilee of WW2 Victory Medal for combatants.

His was the Ukrainian issue.



Probably between when this was handed to him and 1998, the young man who kept secrets, whose brain held the keys to a division's classified cipher codes, but who had spent his war running from unit to unit passing ON those top secret codes himself, died. He joined the Great Army in which all of us must someday enlist, ad found-- if there is any "key," the answer to the greatest secret of all.

Slava! Gone but NOT forgotten!!! beer.gif



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Surprising indeed! As the person who decoded the division's secret signals, I'd have expected him to be SIGNALS branch, or if not that, some version of army or state SECURITY.

ADMINISTRATION seems a very odd choice, either for who usually handled these things (and I wouldn't have a clue) or as a "cover."

What is "funny" is that apparently the secret codes did not WORK... and he was forever running back and forth under enemy fire as a "messenger" anyway!!!

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  • 1 month later...

276th Rifles Division

Started forming on 10. July 1941 in the Orel Military District with:

871st Rifle Regiment

873rd Rifle Regiment

876th Rifle Regiment

852nd Artillery Regiment

The 276th Division had just started forming near Orel, when it was rushed south into the Crimea, where it finished forming near Simferopol under the 51st Army until November 194, when it was evacuated to the Caucasus. In February 1942 it returned to the Crimea as part of the Crimea Front, and when the German attack hit the Crimean Front on 8. May 1942, the 276th was under the 44th Army. It was virtually destroyed on the Kerch peninsula by the end of May, but the division commander and staff were evacuated back to the Caucasus. For the next five months the division was completely rebuildt at Kutaiss in the Transcaucasus Military District as a Georgian ("Gruzninsk") National division. It returned to the front in the 9th Army of the North Group of the Transcaucasus Front along the Terek River in November 1942. After the germans retreated from the Caucasus, the 276th remained in the 9th Army on the Kuban or Tamant Front until October 1943, when it went into the STAVKA reserves. When it returned to the front at the end of 1943 it was under the 18th Army, then in the 1st Guards Army of the 1st Ukrainian Front, and it remained in the 1st Guards Army until the last weeks of the war. By the beginning of 1944 the division had removed all of the light 50mm mortars in its rifle units, which may have been a mistake, since the 1st Guards Army spent most of the 1944 fighting thourough the Carpathian Mountains, and at least the 50mm mortars were portable over rough terrain. In August 1944 the 276th and the 1st Guards Army were transferred to the 4th Ukrainian Front. Also by this time the 852nd Artillery Regiment had at least one battery (the 7th) equipped entirely with captured 105mm Howitzer in place of the 122mm Howitzer authorized. In the last weeks of the war, in April 1945 the 276th was transferred to the 38th Army in the 4th Ukrainian Front, advancing through western Czechoslovakia.

(source: Charles C. Sharp, Soviet OOB of WW2)

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