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OSOAVIAKhIM is one of the most outstanding features of the Soviet reality. Those were millions of proletarians, collective farmers, engineers, teachers and students who created this grass-root organization that contributes to the national defense. All of them have given very selflessly of themselves, of their own free will. This agency creates great values and helps raising new socialist citizen who is prepared at any time to dedicate himself to active defense of his proletarian Fatherland.
The roots of the OSOAVIAKhIM, the most powerful dozen million-strong paramilitary voluntary organization of the USSR, date back to 1920, when Military Scientific Society, or VNO (Военно-Научное общество, ВНО), was founded on November 15, 1920, amid the Russian Civil War, within the walls of the Academy of the General Staff of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army (since 1998 – the Combined Arms Academy of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation). Progress in military scientific training of the Red commanders was one of the initial tasks of the VNO. By 1923, nearly every regiment had group or section of the Society focused on analysis of the course of the Russian Civil War, planning of combat operations, and tactics of the Red Army.
OSOAVIAKhIM is a grass-root voluntary public organization that carries out extensive useful work. It is focused on training of workers, civil servants, intellectuals, students and collective farmers in the interests of national defense. OSOAVIAKhIM also assists the Red Army with rough preparation of qualified military personnel in various spheres.
Absence of reliable and accurate information on the most significant details of uniforms and insignia often puzzles even seasoned militaria collectors and complicates correct identification of survived artifacts as well as competent attribution of old photos. Topic this article deals with is very important for those who take an interest in pre-WWII and wartime Soviet insignia and photographs. The most tricky issue is that although the Red Army entered the series of military conflicts of the late 1930s, both triumphant and tragic, wearing uniforms sporting M1936 collar branch badges, less is known about those distinctive emblems in Russia itself, to say nothing of foreign collectors. Information available online is either incomplete or uncertain and in most cases isn’t based on original documents, but represents reprint of several amateurish articles that make one grit his teeth on.
The history of the Russian Red Cross goes back to the middle of the XIX century when the Holy Cross Community of Sisters of Mercy (Krestovozdvizhenskaia obshchina sester miloserdija), the world’s first female medical organization that focused on care for the wounded and sick soldiers during the Crimean War (1853-1856), was opened in Saint Petersburg on November 05, 1854 during the Exaltation of the Holy Cross feast by the Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna. That association was organized in the then capital of the Russian Empire on the initiative of the outstanding Russian surgeon Nikolay Pirogov (25.11.1810-05.12.1881).
The last pattern pre-war collar branch badges for enlisted men and commanders of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army (Raboche-Krestjanskaya Krasnaya Armiya, RKKA) were introduced by the Order of the People’s Commissar of Defense of the USSR Kliment Voroshilov No.33 dated March 10, 1936. Those badges replaced Model 1924 trade and unit emblems that were worn according to the Order of the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR No.807 dated June 20, 1924. It should be noted that although being the core combat arm, Infantry, as well as Cavalry, were not granted with their own branch badges. As a result, infantrymen, riflemen and troopers were initially issued with blank collar patches. This circumstance is thought to be an ironic echo of pre-1917 traditions that took root in the Russian Imperial army.