A confusion of clothing

Due to the economic disruption of Russia caused by the Great W ar and two revolutions, it proved imposs-

Kalmuk Cavalry Regiment
\on-regulation sleeve badges, 111S-2II (clockwise from top left): 1st Kalmuk Cavalry Regiment; the most popular armoured unit badge; 2nd Moscow Red Heavy Artillery Commanders' School; rare pattern used by aviation detachments; sapper company of an infantry regiment or brigade

ible in the early stages of the Civil War to introduce anything resembling a uniform for the new Red \rmy. Commanders were forced to make do with existing Tsarist Army stores and to condone the widespread use of civilian clothing. In general, uniforms of the Reds and the \\ hites were of the same origin, a fact used repeatedly by both sides to deceive the enemy, especially in poor weather.

The most readily available military clothing was the Tsarist Army uniform introduced between 10 March 1909 and 7 May 1912. Its most distinctive Russian garment was the olive khaki gymnasterka a short shirt-tunic or blouse with a standing collar fastened by two buttons, with three further buttons down the shirt-front and shirt-type cuffs. Trousers were of the same colour, and they were worn tucked into tall jackboots or with puttees and boots. A single-breasted field greatcoat was worn by both soldiers and commandc this had a broad falling collar and roll cuffs, and hoo instead of buttons.

The main insignia on Tsarist uniforms was t Russian kokarda (cockade) worn on the cap band, 'it was made of cloth, until 2 January 1S44, when I • Nicholas 1 ordered it replaced with a metal oval rose" with white, orange and black circles. In 1917 the pro sional government abolished all shoulder-boarc Tsarist badges and the kokarda, but during the lol changeover period, before new red insignia and the star became available, many of the metal badges fru the old shoulder-boards soon found their way ba onto clothing.

Because of widespread clothing shortages, void teers to the Red Armv were permitted, by Prikaz 9 of 30 September 191<S, to keep their own clothe Moreover, it was the responsibility their unit comma ders had to reimburse them the value of these cloth as if they had been provided by the state. Not kno' ing of this concession, many volunteers continued arrive in worn-out clothes, expecting to throw the away on receiving uniforms. F.ven when men did . uniforms, it was an endless temptation to trade the for food. The end result was that most early R troops looked like an armed rabble, which onlv add to the contempt they were held in by W hite offie« and soldiers, who made a point of being much ben turned out.

W hen obtainable, Red commanders and commissi favoured tunics cut in British or American style, leather jackets worn with leather headgear, leatt" trousers and jackboots. A British-sty le tunic, which • known in Russia as a 'French', had been popul among Russian officers and even civilians during t Great War.

On parade, some units wore shakos that would -have looked out of place on a Napoleonic battlefie They had in fact been issued in 1911 to some form Imperial Guard regiments and military colleges. The colourful uniforms had been put into storage in 19 when the entire Russian Army switched to khaki fit uniforms. Cavalry men also wore all manner of far clothing from a bygone era, ranging from hus> breeches to lancer kurtkas.

There were a number of foreign volunteers in Red Army, and at the beginning of the Civil W ar 23 July 1918) they were prohibited from wearing : uniforms of their countries of origin within the K ders of the Russian Republic. However, period ph tographs prove that this order was widely ignored, were the majority of orders at that time.

The new uniform -aid that the uniform which came to typify rnn in the Civil W ar - the pointed hat and . at with coloured tabs had been designed ■ commemorate the 300th anniversary of the dynasty. It is claimed that the Bolsheviks Hi these uniforms from Tsarist supply depots.

• confirmation of this idea, the greatcoat had • on-shaped razgovory tabs one for each cen-. Romanov dynasty.

. the design of the new uniform seems to accomplished by the RMSR. On 25 April ■mission on the Elaboration of Uniform was ind on 7 May it initiated a competition to . a uniform for the Red Army. Many famous d designers took part, and finally, on IS I'M8. new headgear, commanders' insignia BB . h-of-service colours were chosen. On Hi » ' l'rikaz 116 of the RMSR announced the ■ . »prion of these new uniform items. Further K • - added over the following months, and a ■tr "t nodilications were made in the light of field

Headgear headgear, or shlem, was designated for w inter a blunt-pointed peaked khaki cloth hel-tlaps that could be pulled down and fastened chin to protect against the cold. A broad-.-pointed star in branch-of-service colour with .^k stripe (or red if the star was black) was ■ > the front of the helmet. On top of the cloth to be pinned the smaller red star metal badge n July 1918.

the new headgear was nicknamed the the original bogatiry being warrior heroes of cgend who were traditionally depicted wearing -haped pointed metal helmets. The headgear known, for a time, as the frtinzeika, after Frunze; his troops included weavers who were to manufacture and wear the headgear. But i by which the peculiar hat eventually became >th in and outside of Russia, was budenovka, -lion Budenny, the dashing commander of the \ airy Army.

* \pril 1919 this winter headgear was heavily no doubt in the light of early field experi-I he new version had a peak and a roll-up neck .nd was made of six pieces of khaki cloth w ith a - 2cm in diameter stitched into the 'spike' of . net to prevent it from drooping. The roll-up

Andrei Karachtchouk

Red Army General Staff Academy graduate, on parade in I'll'). He wears it pea-green kaftan and matching buden-ovka cap with I/lack velvet collar, cuffs, breast tabs and pocket patches, all piped crimson. The black-piped-crimson star on the sleeve and the cap was the emblem of the General Staff. Four rows of gold lace on the collar (and possibly on the cuffs) could indicate Staff status - although this is not mentioned in official documents. (Andrei Karachtchouk Collection)

Red Army General Staff Academy graduate, on parade in I'll'). He wears it pea-green kaftan and matching buden-ovka cap with I/lack velvet collar, cuffs, breast tabs and pocket patches, all piped crimson. The black-piped-crimson star on the sleeve and the cap was the emblem of the General Staff. Four rows of gold lace on the collar (and possibly on the cuffs) could indicate Staff status - although this is not mentioned in official documents. (Andrei Karachtchouk Collection)

Red Army budcnovka cups as authorised by Prikaz lift of If) January l')l'). Some men had their caps made with a taller point, giving rise to the Russian expression: umootvod (rod-brains) from gromootvod (lightning rod), the joke being that the taller the point, the smaller the brains oj the owner. (Collection of Anton Shalito and llya Savchenkov)

neck cover was kept in place by brown leather straps with two 1.5cm-wide buttons covered in cloth of branch colour. A five-pointed cloth star, 10.5cm in diameter, was sewn on the front of the helmet, 3.5cm above the peak. This star was edged in red paint if black, and in black paint if of any other colour. An enamel red star badge was to be pinned to the centre of the cloth star.

In practice these winter helmets began to be worn widely only from the beginning of 1920. The summer headgear remained as before a peaked khaki forage cap for both soldiers and commanders.

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