Stalingrad sword

On November 29, 1943, a meeting of the heads of government of the Big Three was held at the Soviet embassy in Tehran to discuss the plans for the Normandy operation. An honorary Soviet-British guard was lined up along the walls of the hall. At the appearance of Winston Churchill in the blue uniform of the Commodore of the Royal Air Force of Great Britain, the Soviet military band performed the British and Soviet national anthems - "God Save the King" and "Internationale".

In this solemn atmosphere, Churchill took a sword in a sheath from the hands of an orderly of incredible beauty and turned to Stalin with the words: "I have been instructed to present you with this honorable sword as a sign of the deep admiration of the British people."

Stalin accepted the gift and, kissing the scabbard and in an undertone thanking the British, handed the sword over to Franklin Roosevelt, who was sitting next to him, for examination. The President of the United States drew his sword from its scabbard and saw inscriptions on the blade in Russian and English:

TO CITIZENS OF STALINGRAD • STRONG AS STEEL • FROM KING GEORG VI • IN THE SIGN OF DEEP ADMISSION OF THE BRITISH PEOPLE

TO THE STEEL-HEARTED CITIZENS OF STALINGRAD • THE GIFT OF KING GEORGE VI • IN TOKEN OF THE HOMAGE OF THE BRITISH PEOPLE

held him upright and said: "Indeed, they had hearts of steel." Not without a little embarrassment, at the end of the ceremony, Stalin with an unexpectedly sharp movement handed the sword to KE Voroshilov. Caught by surprise, Voroshilov took the sword down with its hilt, and he slipped out of its scabbard - after which, according to various testimonies, he hit the marshal in the leg, fell to the floor, or was caught in flight and put into place.

So what kind of sword did the British give to the Soviet leader? The ceremonial sword, decorated with precious metals and stones, was forged by special decree of King George VI of Great Britain. The sketch was developed by professors at Oxford University. And the progress of work on the manufacture of the sword was monitored by a commission of nine experts from the Guild of Goldsmiths of Great Britain.

The blade of the sword is a double-edged, pointed, convex, without a fuller, model "Crusader", the sword is hand forged from first-class Sheffield steel at the Wilkinson Sword factory. Blade length - 36 inches (about 91.4 cm). On the blade, inscriptions in Russian and English have been etched with acid.

The handle is braided with 18K gold wire. At the end of the head of rock crystal is a golden Tudor rose. The guard is made of pure silver. The gilded arches of the guard, bent towards the blade, are made in the form of stylized leopard heads. The sweep of the temples is 10 inches (about 25.4 cm). The total length of the sword is about 4 feet (122 cm). The scabbard is crimson, made of dyed broadtail (according to some sources, made of morocco leather, it is decorated with a silvered royal coat of arms, a crown and a monogram, five silver onlays and three five-pointed ruby ​​stars in a gold frame. The implementation of the project - from a sketch to a finished sword - took about three months.

Before being donated to the Soviet Union, the sword was exhibited with religious honors in several temples in Great Britain, including Westminster Abbey. and later returned to the UK three times to be shown at various exhibitions. At the moment, the sword of Stalingrad is an exhibit of the Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad in Volgograd.

Soon after the release of the original, three copies of the sword were made by Wilkinson Sword.Their current location: Wilkinson Museum (London), South African National Museum of Military History (Johannesburg), private collection.