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Border Guards Or Infantry?


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The crossed rifles and target collar insignia is USUALLY found on NKVD Border Guard personnel before the war. Here is a Lieutenant (yes! yes! I admit it-- I got it because of the bad haircut TOO!) wearing a concealed buttons front gimnastyorka from the 1930s:

Yet the attestation of this one from yesterday's show haul shows that Comrade (illegible to me-- ? Tutschenko?) was in the 591st Rifles Regiment of 176th Rifles Division-- formed at Krivoi Rog in April 1941:

Line infantry did not use this insignia, so ...

From the same haul, Lieutenant I.... P... Gu... (removed from something it was glued down to full length, and cannot remove the other paper's layer) in a concealed front buttons "salt and pepper" tunic with the same insignia:

(coincidentally a Doppelg?nger for my Svensker childhood best friend, so I guess some of those old Viking Rus genes were still floating around in the 1930s USSR)

Any information on how widespread this insignia would have been in the ARMY, as opposed to the BORDER GUARDS would be most appreciated! :cheers:

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These have got me rummaging around in my photos on hand and now I can't find ANY that are NOT stamped by line infantry regiments!

Here is Junior Lieutenant Timofei Stepanovich Kalinin, attested 20 December 1940

by 366th Rifles Regiment, 126th Rifles Division (formed that month in Moscow on the cadre of the old 1st "Moscow Proletarian" Rifles Division)

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Rick, the 'streltsi' insignia were certainly worn by infantry too. I think that proportionally border guards may have been awarded them more often pre-war, but look in Webster and Nelson's and the Shalito et al books for plenty of infantry uniforms with this insignia.

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I wonder if my statistical sample is off because these are all OFFICERS-- and the ordinary soldiers weren't as likely to have these?

In thousands and thousands of photos... I have only seen the crossed targets insignia a handful of times. In fact, oddly enough, I'd have to say based on the "evidence" of the piles of photos that I've pawed throuygh-- the Soviet army was all artillery and no infantry! :speechless1::cheeky:

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Remember how delightfully early these pictures are :jumping::jumping: , way before the later neo-Tsarist onslaught and uniform "alteration" (as one might "alter" their cat?).

My sense of this "streltsi" badge (and please let me know how wrong I am here) is that it is as much a sort of pre-guards "guards" badge as it is a branch insignia? Am I totally wrong? Always learning.

Edited by Ed_Haynes
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That was my impression too. But these guys seem to be from boring old line units-- hardly elite formations at all, at this time.

It's just that out of probably close to 10,000 similar photos that I've had in my hands over the last 10+ years (9,852 or so more than 5 years ago :rolleyes: ) I don't think I've ever seen more than 50 photos with this insignia.

I know, I know. My historical "dog that didn't bark" evidence training leads me to wonder whether they could have "all" been diverted out while still in the former 'Union, before ever reraching these shores. But-- why would they have been?

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The crossed rifles in a wreath was the symbol of a "guards" type unit as early as 1922. I'm not exactly sure when the target like thing was added but this symbol designating an experienced, elite unit was replaced by the guards badge in 1942. Attached photo is only one I have, from an infantry major comissar.

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The rigles insignia was indeed an award for units who somehow distinguished themselves, thus in peacetime it w as more likely that border troops would do something to earn them Which means that every soldier, (officers and men) would be entitled to wear them.

Incidentally they were also awarded to NKVD internal troops, who continued to wear them on their shoulder boards too. (The only units to do so).

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Nice bunch of uniforms and some interesting variations. I suspect the last was not in keeping with regulations and may have been a veteran unofficial use. (Since the guards badge replaced the rifles both on the uniform and in unit terminology the year before the epaulets came out.) On the other hand, the NKVD often did things different than everyone else so it may have lasted a little longer with them. Interesting to see.

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The red piped black patch, is actually raspberry red and black, an infantry one like Mefferts' but I adjusted the exposure.

Some are srewback, some with prongs, and the set on the border guard corporal's with the short bayonet's are brass. The others may be coppered steel, I'm not sure!

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