______World War One was an absolute disaster for the Russians. Initially on the Allied side, they lost millions of men in fruitless and often callous attacks on German and Austrian positions, not to mention losses incurred due to a substandard medical system, shortages of food and ammunition and poor combat equipment. Therefore it is not surprising that when the Russian Revolution broke out the officer corps, closely associated with the Tsarist regime and a visible symbol of it, bore the brunt of the hatred of the common soldiers and much of the civilian populace as well.
______When Civil War broke out between the Bolshevik "Reds" and the counter-revolutionary "Whites," revolutionaries would often nail the epaullettes of the officers to their shoulders, using six inch nails. Or gauge their medals of their uniforms with knives or bayonets... along with two or three inches of flesh beneath. Few officers survived either treatent.
______Such was the hatred of officers that when the Red Army was organized there were no badges of rank, there were no fancy regimental badges and there were no medals. Tsarist officers were lampooned for the number of medals many of them wore, some of which were awarded simply for being a member of the aristocracy.
______But elimination of military awards left the Red Army with no way to recognize soldiers who really distinguished themselves. This was fixed by the creation of "honor weapons," or ordinary weapons and military equipment presented to a soldier (usually a leader) in recognition of their accomplishments.

______This actually seemed to work quite well for a while. Honor weapons were distinguished by an engraved plate or engraving directly on the device detailing who it was awarded to and why, often with a good dose of Red propaganda. The practice of honor weapons also allowed the Bolsheviks to redistribute scarce items such as pistols, binoculars, and swords to those who would put them to the best use. Trotsky himself personally awarded watches to Red commanders who had distinguished themselves in battle, no doubt with an appropriate sentiment engraved on them.

______Eventually this practice evolved into presentation weapons, or trophies designed to look like tanks, armored cars, missiles, aircraft, etc. used or somehow connected to the officer it was presented to.


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