Cpl. Joseph Franczak
(photo courtesy of his granddaughter,
Sue Franczak Lucas)

Cpl. Joseph Franczak
Co. A, 339th Infantry Regiment
American North Russia Expeditionary Force

Joseph Franzac (Franczak) (1883-1957) of 69 Jackson Street,
Edwardsville, Pennsylvania, was wounded on January 22, 1919
while manning his machine gun in the defense of Visorka Gora,
North Russia and lost his left hand as a result.

For his bravery that day, Cpl. Franczak was awarded the
AEF Gallantry Citation Certificate and accompanying
Citation Star  (now the Silver Star valor award)
plus the
Wound Chevron by the United States
as well as the British Military Medal.


The AEF Gallantry Citation Certificate recognized acts of gallantry that did not meet the criteria for the Medal of Honor or Distinguished Service Cross. About 7,000 of these citations were awarded during World War One and they entitled the recipient to a wear a silver Citation Star that was pinned to the ribbon on their World War One Victory Medal. In 1932, the Silver Star award for valor replaced the Citation Star.  Thuefore, Cpl. Franczak's original award is now recognized as the Silver Star and the full citation is shown below the certificate..


Cpl. Franczak's AEF Gallantry Citation, dated 24 January 1920.
(Citation courtesy of Sue Franczak Lucas, granddaughter of Joseph Franczak)

World War One
Victory Medal

British Military Medal

US Wound Chevron
and Ribbon

Cpl. Franczak's Silver Star Citation
(source: "Hall of Valor")


"Jan. 22, '19. Hell tore loose today"

On January 19, 1919, Bolshevik Red Army troops attacked the 45 men of Company A's fourth platoon, who were holding the cluster of buildings on a hill known as Nijni Gora. At that time, this outpost was the deepest position in Russian territory held by any of the Allied forces in North Russia. The fighting continued over the next four days with great loss of life and many casualties as the men first retreated down the exposed hillside to nearby Ust Padenga and then fell back to Company A's headquarters in Visorka Gora. Here on Jan. 22, 1919, Allied troops tried to stop the Bolshevik advance and prevent them from taking nearby Shenkursk, a large city garrisoned by the Allied forces. Cpl. Franzac's role in the defense of Visorka Gora was mentioned in the book, The Romance of Company "A" :

Map credit:
Godfrey J. Anderson Papers, Folder number 1, Document number 1c.52, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Polar Bear Expedition Digital Collections [link to original full size image] [Link to Ust Padenga on Google Maps]
Book credit: York, Dorothea.. The Romance of Company "A," 339th Infantry, A.N.R.E.F.. Detroit, Mich.: McIntyre Print. Co., c1923; Part IV, The Roll of Guns, pg. 84.[
link to on-line book, subscription required].


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This page created on 09 May 2009; last revised 12 May 2009
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