Shoulder Boards of 95 Guards Poltava Division main
Shoulder Boards, Insignia and Branch Markings of the 95th Guards Poltava Division

This quite unusual but undoubtedly interesting article is nothing but a post-WWII information report of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America partially declassified (with most sensitive parts still classified and still not available for public access even today for security reasons), approved for release on September 18, 2009 and published in online non-profit library “Internet Archive”. Judging from the character of that document prepared more that sixty years ago, it was based on the data provided somewhere in 1954 by a CIA informer who at that time served in Austria with the 95th Guards Poltava Order of Lenin, Order of the Red Banner, Order of Suvorov, Order of Bogdan Khmelnitsky Division. That division was disbanded the following year, on September 09, 1955.



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1918 USSR cockade main
1918 Pattern Red Army Cockade

It was way back in March 1918 that the official story of the Red Army five-pointed star being one of the most remarkable and recognizable headgear cockades of the XX century begins. It is first noteworthy to comment that “cockade” as a formal term applies to 1918 pattern red star badge only, and that term was never used since 1922 in respect to the Red Army headgear star.


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Pioneer insignia main
Нарукавные знаки различия пионерского актива

Sleeve Insignia of Young Pioneer activists

Introduction of sleeve insignia for Young Pioneer activists was gazetted in the article “To Put Performance of the Young Pioneer Organization on a War Footing” that was published on September 25, 1942 in the “Komsomolskaya Pravda” (“Комсомольская правда”) newspaper, No.226 (5321). Those regulations were subsequently published in the digest “Assistance to the Young Pioneer Organizer” (“В помощь пионервожатому”) issued a year later, in 1943 by the Saratov-based Newspapers and Books Publishing House of the regional committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks).  

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Uniform of Glavsevmorput Personnel Model 1933 main

Uniform of the Glavsevmorput’ Personnel, Model 1933

The very first standardizated uniform for the personnel of the Chief Directorate of the Northern Sea Route under the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR (Главное Управление Северного Морского Пути, also known as Glavsevmorput’ or GUSMP), hereinafter referred to as Glavsevmorput’, and its network (institutions, sea-going vessels and aircraft) was introduced by the Order of the Glavsevmorput’ No.87/a dated June 01, 1933 “On Uniform of the Glavsevmorput’ and its Network Personnel”. Wearing of the uniform was compulsory for all representatives of sea-going and flying expeditionary personnel of the Northern Sea Route according to gazetted Table of Sleeve Insignia for Officials of the Glavsevmorput’ and its Network, Description of Uniform for Officials of the Glavsevmorput’ and its Network and Regulations on Clothing of the Glavsevmorput’ Personnel.


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Mine Schools main
Insignia of Mining Schools’ and Mining Colleges’ Students Insignia (1949-1964)

Mining Schools (Горнопромышленныешколы, ГПШ), Mining Colleges (Горнопромышленныеучилища, ГПУ) and Special Mining Colleges (Специальныегорнопромышленныеучилища, СГПУ) have been founded by the Order of the Ministry of Labour Reserves of the USSR No.195 dated July 04, 1949 in accordance with the corresponding Decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. This was in response to the concern of the Soviet government about poor management of industrial training in a number of Factory Schools (Школы фабрично-заводского обучения, ШФЗО), weak labour discipline of students as well as about low qualification of graduates posted to work at various enterprises of the Ministry of Coal Industry of the USSR. 


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OSOAVIAKhIM Uniform 1927 1928 main
Униформа членов ОСОАВИАХИМ образца 1927-1928 гг.

Uniform of the OSOAVIAKhIM, Model 1927/1928

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.


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OSOAVIAKhIM Uniform 1936 main
Униформа работников ОСОАВИАХИМ образца 1936 г.

Uniform of the OSOAVIAKhIM, Model 1936

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 обществоВНО), 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.


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Униформа работников ОСОАВИАХИМ образца 1937 г.

Uniform of the OSOAVIAKhIM, Model 1937

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.


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1936 RKKA Collar Branch Badges main
Петличные знаки-эмблемы родов войск и служб РККА образца 1936 года

Collar branch badges of the RKKA, Model 1936

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.

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Uniform for personnel of Soviet Red Cross 1936 main


Униформа Союза обществ Красного Креста и Красного Полумесяца СССР образца 1936 г.

Uniform of the Soviet Red Cross, Model 1936

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).

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RKKA Infantrymen Collar Branch Badge main
Петличный знак-эмблема для пехоты Красной Армии образца 1940 г.

Collar branch badge for infantrymen of the RKKA, Model 1940

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.


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