10 February 2022

2022-02-10 The 100th anniversary of the birth of Daria Stepanovna Petrova (née Stepanova), a Dame of the Imperial Military Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and veteran of the Great Patriotic War

Daria Stepanovna Sepanova was born on February 10, 1922, in the village of Golochevo, on the banks of the Tsarevich River (presently in the Dukhovshchinsky Distict of the Smolensk Region).

With the beginning of the Second World War, the 19-year-old Daria Stepanova was called up for military service and sent directly to the front. She was assigned as a surgical nurse in a medical unit. She participated in the battle of Smolensk, and in the battles at the Solovyov crossing and Yartsevo. She performed her duties while under direct fire from the enemy and during air attacks. Risking her own life, she saved the lives of countless wounded officers and soldiers.


Later, Daria Stepanova became a surgical nurse of the 265th detached medical and sanitary battalion of the 134th rifle division of the 61st rifle corps. Working tirelessly for days on end without sleep or rest, she assisted in the operating room in the most difficult conditions, quickly and efficiently assisting surgeons in life-saving surgical procedures. Instead of resting, she often used her time away from the operating room to wash gowns or sterilize medical instruments.


Beginning in January 1945, Daria Stepanova served as the senior surgical nurse of the 538th detached medical and sanitary battalion of the 12th breakthrough artillery division of the High Command Reserve.


During the Vistula-Oder and Berlin operations, when the number of wounded soldiers and officers rose dramatically, Daria Stepanova worked tirelessly in the operational dressing unit, bringing all her vast experience and expertise to bear. Having mastered techniques for blood transfusion and splinting, she taught these skills to the junior medical staff, which helped save the lives of many of her patients. She reached Berlin alongside the soldiers of her unit, and left her signature on the walls of the Reichstag.


After the end of the war, she was transferred to the reserve with the rank of Second Lieutenant in the medical corps. Returning to the Smolensk region, she got married and raised five children. She passed away on September 18, 2003, and was buried in the cemetery of the village of Vityazi, Kardymovsky district, Smolensk region.


Daria Stepanovna Petrova was awarded the Order of the Red Star (August 17, 1945), the Order of the Patriotic War I Class (April 6, 1985), the medal For Military Merit (August 9, 1944), the Maternity Medal II Class (March 29, 1962), and a number of other medals.


In 2002, the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, awarded Daria Stepanovna Petrova the Imperial Military Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, III Class. (See http://imperialhouse.ru/en/allnews-en/news/371.html.)


The insignia of the Order were presented to Daria Stepanovna by the Head of the Russian Imperial House and her mother, H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna, in the presence of Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad (the current Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia), during the consecration of the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God “Recovery of the Perished” at the military cemetery near Solovyov crossing on September 27, 2002, the feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross of the Lord.


Before the ceremony presenting the insignia of the Order to Daria Stepanovna, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia gave a short speech. “It is an extraordinarily important thing to me and to my Mother,” Her Imperial Highness said, “to be here in Smolensk and in its environs, which have suffered so much in the past, at the consecration of the Cathedral of the Icon of the Mother of God ‘Recovery of the Perished,’ and at the foundation on its grounds of this commemorative military cemetery. The Russian Imperial House considers the feats of soldiers who have given their lives for the Motherland during the Second World War, to be holy. Those who fell here during the heavy fighting of the initial onslaught and who have for many long years remained here in unmarked graves, deserve the highest honor. In many ways, the Nazis’ plan for lightning warfare, which they hoped would bring them victory, was smashed thanks to their sacrificial struggle. Before all else, I want to offer my heartfelt greetings to the veterans who survived these battles and have lived on even to this very day. I offer my greetings to those who are with us today, and those who could not come, but are surely in spirit with us here. Your feats will never be forgotten by your descendants. May the Lord and His Most Pure Mother keep you in good health for many years to come, so that you can pass on the knowledge of your feats to the younger generation of our people. I especially want to extend my greetings to all those who helped make today’s events possible.”


In 2013, when His Holiness Patriarch Kirill was discussing the significance of the activities of the Russian Imperial House in Russia today, he mentioned the awarding of the Imperial Military Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker to Daria Stepanovna Petrova as an example of the cultural contribution that the Imperial Family can and has made to the life of Russian society today. (See, in Russian: http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/2836965.html; and, in English: http://imperialhouse.ru/en/allnews-en/news/3506.html.)


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Grant, O Lord, eternal rest, in blessed repose, to Thy servant Daria, and may her memory be eternal!


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