Don Cossack Kuzma Kryuchkov, The First Recipient Of The Saint George Cross during World War I

Kuzma Kryuchkov was born in 1890 in the Ust-Khopyorskaya Stanitsa of the Ust-Medveditsk region in the Don, to a Don Cossack family of old believers. He was educated in the Stanitsa school and was called to active duty in 1911 and was assigned to the 3rd Don Cossack regiment. On August 14th, 1914 Kuzma Kryuchkov became the first recipient of the Saint George Cross during World War I.

Here are the events of the battle as described by Kryuchkov.

"At about ten in the morning we headed to the town of Kalwaria Alexandrov. There were four of us- Ivan Shchegol'kov, Vasily Astakhov, and Mikhail Ivankov, and myself. We began to climb a hill and came upon a German patrol of 27 people, among them was an officer and a non-commissioned officer. At first the Germans were afraid when they saw us, but decided to climb on us. However, we met them firmly and managed to stop a few troops. Dodging the attack, we had to split up. I was surrounded by eleven people. In order to remain alive, I ran to my Horse and grabbed my rifle. I reached for a rifle cartridge but hastily dropped, as at this time the German slashed me on the fingers of the hand, and I threw the rifle. I grabbed his sword and began to retaliate. I got a few minor injuries, and I felt blood flowing down my body. My conscious had no time to recognize my wounds, so each soldier I fought received a mortal blow. Having destroyed the troops who attacked me, I felt that it was difficult to work with a sword, and took upon a spear. At this time, my fellow Cossacks coped with others. On the ground lay twenty-four corpses and a few not injured horses rushed in fright. My patrol received minor wounds, I also received sixteen wounds, - injections in the back, neck, arms. My horse also received eleven wounds, but I managed to ride back six miles to safety. In August, there arrived the commander of the army, General Rennenkampf, who awarded me with a St. George cross, and pinned it to my chest as he congratulated the first Saint George Cross award recipient of the War."

Kryuchkov was fatally wounded in 1919 during the civil war and died on August 18th fighting for the white army.