Medals of Renown is a new series in which we take a look at the names of the medals in the game. Have you ever received one of these epic achievements and wanted to know more about the people they are named after? Here’s your chance!
This month we take a look at Orlik’s Medal, which is awarded for destroying three or more tanks or tank destroyers with a light tank.
The medal is named after Edmund Roman Orlik, a Polish tank commander who, in 1939, proved to be one of the world’s first tank heroes.
Before the war, he was an architecture student at university in Poland. When war broke out, he ended up as a Sergeant First Class (SFC) in the Polish army and commander of a TKS Tankette – these tiny vehicles formed the bulk of the Polish armoured vehicle force at the time of the invasion of Poland.
SFC Orlik’s TKS was armed with just a single 20mm gun. Over the course of a single week, he proceeded to single-handedly destroy 13 enemy tanks.
The first three were taken down on 14th September 1939 during the battle of Brochów. This battle ended with a complete Polish victory.
On 18th September 1939, he and two vehicles armed only with machine guns were sent to perform reconnaissance in the forests of Poland. After stumbling across enemy vehicles, Orlik ordered the two supporting vehicles to retreat while his own TKS covered their escape.
Orlik found a good spot to hide and laid an ambush. A convoy of enemy vehicles appeared, led by three Pz.Kpfw. 35 (t)s of the 1st Light Division. With his single TKS, Orlik managed to destroy all three enemy tanks, as well as several other vehicles. He also took two prisoners, and tried to rescue the crew from a burning tank. One of those badly wounded in the attack was the platoon commander, Victor IV Albrecht von Ratibor, the descendent of a German prince and heir to a dukedom.
Edmund Orlik’s story didn’t end there. The following day, he and his TKS took part in the battle of Sieraków. An armoured unit of the Wehrmacht, which had just come from the huge Battle of the Bzura, attacked the village, seeing easy spoils. However, they were held at bay by a far smaller Polish force, which included Orlik’s TKS. Between them, the Polish forces destroyed more than 20 tanks, seven of which were taken out by Orlik himself. Again, these were mostly Pz. Kpfw. 35 (t)s.
Eventually, Orlik and the other Polish forces ran out of ammunition and had to retreat. By this point, Orlik’s TKS alone had destroyed 13 German tanks over the week of fighting.
Despite Orlik’s heroic actions, Poland was falling to the Germans. He took part in the battle of Warsaw a week or so later, but after that there was little more he could do. Nonetheless, he managed to survive the war. Afterwards, he resumed his career in architecture, and lived peacefully until his death in 1982.
Now get out there and earn your own Orlik’s Medal, commanders!