OAN for a diver in Berlin 1945

You might have seen a somewhat iconic photo with Reichstag on the background and a diver being bestowed by rear admiral KRYLOV in (May?) 1945 for mine clearing of the river Spree.

Now you can find the name of the diver and see the award he received on the photo. Diver’s name is GREKHOV Aleksander Dmitrievich 1910 born in town Tyumen’, USSR. He graduated from school in 1927. In 1932, he served as an electrician in 2 submarine brigade. 20 October 1935, he became a cadet of the diver school of EPRON in town Balaklava, Crimea. EPRON – “Special Expedition for Underwater Works” —Special-Purpose Underwater Rescue Party, was a government agency of the USSR to salvage valuable cargo and equipment from sunken ships and submarines. From September 1936, GREKHOV is in reserve and back to civilian life. He was married and had already one child. He lived in Moscow until he was drifted back to service on 27 May 1942 and was assigned to the Moscow branch of EPRON for river underwater technical operations (he got his “Moscow defence medal” in 1946). He served as a diver team leader in a river salvage and rescue units. In June 1943, his unit seems to had been reassigned to Volga Flotilla most likely for raising sunken ships after Stalingrad battle. In November 1943, team leader chief warrant officer GREKHOV was bestowed with order “Red Star”:

Chief warrant officer diver GREKHOV has raised from under water 19 ships. His team, despite the lack of equipment and supplies, disregarding harsh weather – rain, slush, and frost – worked uninterruptedly. 19 ships were salvaged ahead of scheduled time. He fully deserves to be bestowed with order “RED STAR”.

On 27 November 1944, GREKHOV is promoted to the rank of Junior Lieutenant. GREKHOV seem to had been specialising in underwater gas torch metal cutting as part of the salvage operations, as from August 1945, he is acting engineer for underwater gas torch metal cutting in his unit (12th team of the main river military directorate). But otherwise the description of the photograph, is that the bestowal was done for mine clearing of the river Spree. As a divers team leader and officer, GREKHOV was bestowed with order “Aleksander Nevsky” (a little unusual award for such circumstances). His unit was stationed in occupied Germany, when GREKHOV‘s Victory medal was handed to him on 12 December 1945.

GREKHOV continued his service in various units responsible for salvaging operations in the rivers of the western area of USSR. He was discharged from the service in the rank of Lt. Captain according to the article 59″a” (due to age) on April 1955. Lived in Leningrad, had 4 children.

Such an unusual and notable award: Naval award for the Berlin battle and for diving operations…

Another diver, GREKHOV’s mate, bestowed on the same occasion by rear admiral KRYLOV.