Red Army Guardsman, Eastern Front, WW2
One of the most valued designations a soldier of the Red Army can earn is to be cited as a “Guardsman.” The term itself is a pride of military achievement, inherent among all warriors. Besides wearing the distinctive Guards badge, the soldier enjoys a great amount of prestige and, moreover, receives double pay.
Guards units are picked Red Army troops who have distinguished themselves by their excellent training, discipline, and courage in battle. The Guards title in the Red Army is significant not only because it was sometimes used during World War 2 as a means of restoring impaired morale among badly cut up units, but also because the honour combines the traditional Guards of the old Czarist army with the memory of the Soviet Red Guards of 1918.
The awarding of Guards titles in the Red Army is rather elastic. Units from entire armies down to independent battalions can receive the honor. Exceptions to the general rule are the rocket-launcher regiments, all of which have the designation Guards Mortar Regiments as distinguished from ordinary mortar regiments armed with mortars, and the 10 Guards airborne divisions whose employment has been primarily as shock infantry and not as airborne troops.
An important distinction in the Red Army is possession of the Red Banner, which is awarded to units for outstanding bravery and remains perpetually with the unit regardless of changes in the name or number of the organization. Members of Red Banner units are considered under marked obligation to serve with distinction. Should the banner be lost in battle because of faintheartedness, the commander and all officers are subject to court-martial, and the unit is broken up.