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Сollective awards

The first Soviet state awards were tne Honorary Revolutionary Red Banners - collective distinctions which were presented in the name of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee to Red Army units that displayed particular gallantry in battle. This award was instituted in August 1918. The first collective awards were given to units fighting at the Eastern Front against the White forces led by Admiral Kol-chak, which was where the destiny of the Revolution was being decided at the time. Among the units that received these awards were the 5th Latvian Rifle Regiment under the command of Joachim Vacetis, the Nikolayevsky Regiment commanded by Vasili Chapayev, the 1st Combined Simbirsk Iron Division, and a number of others.

After the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922, a new All-Union archetype of honorary banner was established, which began to be given to Red Army units which distinguished themselves. It was also then that the Honorary Revolutionary Ensign was instituted.

In the first years of the Great Patriotic War, in the period of the most bitter trials, the Soviet Guards came into being. The title of Guards was an honourable and much sought for collective award for whole units that particularly distinguished themselves in battles with the Nazis. The order of September 18,1941, said: "The 110th, 127th, 153rd and 161st infantry divisions displayed models of valour, gallantry, discipline and organisation in numerous battles for our Soviet Motherland against the Hitlerite hordes of fascist Germany. Under the hard conditions of struggle, these divisions more than once inflicted crushing defeats on German fascist troops, put them to flight and struck terror into them." By this order, the divisions were renamed the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Guards divisions. They were ceremonially presented with special Guards banners bearing a portrait of Lenin, and the entire personnel of the divisions were granted the right to wear the badge of the Guards.

In the spring of 1942, the first Guards warships such as the cruiser Krasny Kavkaz, the destroyer Stoiky and a number of others appeared in the Soviet Navy.

Subsequently, whole armies and corps, including infantry, tank and air armies and corps, were awarded the title of Guards for outstanding heroism. The Guards fought at the most important sectors of the front, confirming their right to this high title. By the end of the war, hundreds of Soviet Army units received honorary Guards banners. Thousands of units and formations attached combat decorations to their banners. From 1945, special decoration ribbons are fastened to banners decorated with military distinctions.

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Today as ever, the Soviet Army vigilantly guards the gains of the Great October Socialist Revolution and the peaceful work of the Soviet people. Shoulder to shoulder with the Soviet Armymen, the soldiers of the armies of the fraternal socialist states are doing their service. As an award for a major contribution to the strengthening of the alliance of the armed forces of the Warsaw Treaty member countries, special distinctions, including the Soviet medal "For Strengthening Combat Alliance", have been established.

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© Alexey S. Zlygostev, 2013-2017
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