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Hello all,

I’m attempting to identify the unit of the young ‘Ensign’, or ‘Praporshchik’ (Пра́порщик) shown in this photograph taken in Archangel in the latter years of the Great War.

His rank indicates that he is a reserve officer, and his private-purchase field-jacket is of the popular, so-called ‘French’ pattern, worn here with soft shoulder-boards; however, the nearest explanation in my sources for the insignia on his upper left sleeve is that it was the distinctive badge of the pioneer detachment of a cavalry regiment, i.e. crossed pick and shovel. Is this correct? My sources show this badge with the shovel-blade on the left, the pick-head on the right, contrary to that seen in this photograph. My sources are also unclear as to whether it was worn by Officers as well as by ‘Other Ranks’.

Many thanks for any assistance!


Пра́порщик, Арха́нгельск.jpg

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49 минут назад, cmf сказал:

His rank indicates that he is a reserve officer

Why do You think so? Why couldn't he be promoted to infantry ensign right after ensign school?

By the way, there is a chance he isn't officer at all. How about official in the rank of коллежский секретарь with too wide shoulder boards? Such thing wasn't somthing extraordinary in the latter yeras of the Great War.

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Thanks Cobalt,

The source for my thought that because of his rank, he must be an officer of the Reserve, was the 'Handbook of the Russian Army', sixth edition, compiled by the British General Staff, and published by the War Office, London, 1914. I'm fully aware that such a foreign source can be misinformed, lacking in detail, or just plain wrong, and of course does not take into account wartime conditions. 

Do you have any thoughts on his sleeve insignia?


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  • Freiwillige changed the title to Прапорщик, г.Архангельск

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