Throughout tin- (livil War vears and the 1920s the Reds were opposed in Central Asia by Turkic guerrillas known as Basmachi (derived from the l.'zbeki word basmak- to attack). The Reds generally referred to them as 'armed hands', even though some detachments were well organised, with a semblance of uniform and their own insignia.
The major hotbeds of Basmachi fighting were the Ferghana, Alav and Arpin valleys, the Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva (or Khorezm) regions, and around the town of Ki~asnovod.sk and in Kirghizia.
More than 200 Basmachi detachments operated in the Ferghana valley (1917-24). The most important among them were those of the rebel leaders: Yrgush: Madamin-bek: Kurshirmat: Makhkum-Hadja; and Akbar-Ali. By 1921 these leaders were attempting to dress their warriors in similar outfits: typically black, white or khaki gymnastnkas. In Kurshirmat's detachment junior officers wore white full-moon badges on their sleeves, and senior officers had red half-moons. In Turkmenistan (1918-27) more than 9,000 Basmachi fought under (unaid-Khan. From 1918 to 1923 heavy lighting took place in the Samarkand region, where the Vluchin-Bek Khanate was proclaimed an independent state.
In terms of uniforms, Bukhara was without doubt the most interesting of the Central Asian regions. Ex-Russian uniforms were worn with all types of shoulder-boards (sometimes they wore a different one on each shoulder). The Emir of Bukhara's guard, which consisted of three snkerdc (regiments), had special uniforms. The elite regiment was the Turkish regiment of 300 men, who were dressed in red British tunics with black braid, white breeches, and red fez hats with black tassels. Tliev were armed with Eee Enfield rifles. The Emir's own regiment had 1.000 men in red tunics and black Astrakhan fur hats. The Arabian regiment numbered 4,000 men who wore black Turkoman fur hats, drab olive greatcoats and tunics with red collar patc hes decorated with yellow metal stars and crescents.
The 'Semenibek' militia (3,000 men under Rahman-Kul-Bek Ynkolonu titled Ibpchi-Bashi, or commander-in-chief) wore Russian uniforms dating back to Alexander III: green tunics with red facings, white linen trousers and black fur hats. The Annv of Bukhara, under Ibrahim-Bek, fought on until 1926. The Soviets managed to fullv suppress the Basmachi movement onlv in Mav 1933.
Buryat soldiers of Admiral Kolchak's Army of Siberia, 1919. Buryats are one of the many peoples of Siberia, whose illiteracy, natural submissiveness and skill as hunters made them ideal cannon-fodder for both Red and White armies. Accustomed to spending long periods in Siberian forests, they preferred to carry as much ammunition as possible.
Japanese soldiers and an officer in the Russian Far East, 1920. Although the original photo caption reads 'Russian railroad workers killed by the Japanese', it is hard to imagine such workers clad in expensive leather coats. The dead are probably Cheka officials or high-ranking pro-Soviet partisan commanders.
Was this article helpful?