My family on my great-grandfather's side came from Romania and I have a picture of one of his brothers in a soviet military uniform.

I know nothing of his involvement in the military and was hoping by posting a picture of him in his uniform, someone could discern some meaning from it such as what branch he was a part of or his rank. This ancestor was born about 1899 if that helps. I don't know exactly when the photo was taken.

man in military uniform

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    The rank is "младший сержант" (the dictionary gives me "lance-sergeant" but one should be careful here - I'm not good at British or American ranks).
    – tum_
    Dec 6, 2019 at 16:54
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    At least it's a starting point. Thanks!
    – Cerulean
    Dec 6, 2019 at 17:12
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    I could give a bit more, actually, but I'm having a problem with the English equivalents here :) (A weird feeling, as I'm more or less fluent in English but all these Soviet/Russian military terms - not a clue how to present them). For example, "младший сержант" is denoted by the two stripes on his "погоны" (the "thingies on his shoulders" - what the hell is the English term for them - epaulets? shoulder boards?) Later on I might try to make an answer out of this. Not tonight, though.
    – tum_
    Dec 7, 2019 at 0:01
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    The branch of the military would be shown on "pogony" (shopulder boards?) as a little sign between the button and the stripes. Perhaps if you magnify the photo very much it will be possible to see what is this. And also the sign on the right of his chest. The sign on the left side has the shape of the Komsomol member sign but again it is not clearly visible. (I refer to the "left" and "right" with respect to the person standing in the photo. His shirt is a generic Soviet army shirt before and including WWII period, but even in 1970s some soldiers were wearing this style of shirt.
    – Alex
    Dec 7, 2019 at 0:25
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    … and if it's indeed "Отличник Советской Армии" - the photo is dated no earlier than 1957 because the badge did not exist before then ("учрежден приказом Министра обороны Советского Союза от 17.04.1957").
    – tum_
    Dec 7, 2019 at 1:08

1 Answer 1


This photo is of a junior sergeant from between 1957 and 1970:

First of all, it cannot be from before 1955, when the badge on the shoulder board was placed in the center of the board. The placement you see in the photo was introduced by Ministry of Defense order № 225. The badge is moved right below the button, and the shoulder boards are now reversible (gold or silver bars on branch-appropriate color, and red bars on khaki for wartime/training use).

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In 1970, the appearance changes completely so that can't be it. Note that while he is missing the arm insignia (introduced in 1969), that was only for soldiers who chose to serve past the end of their mandatory term so it doesn't help us.

The uniform appears to be the "#3 uniform" (summer uniform officers of land troops) specified in the same order № 225. The anomalously colored pants may be due to the fact that they are from the uniform to be worn on leave (and thus they are actually blue and not black).

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These photographs from 1960 taken by Carl Mydans in Belarus depict soldiers in identical uniforms, with the exact same badge (introduced 1957) worn in the exact same place:

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As for the branch of forces the soldier is from, that is difficult to say. We can rule out aviation and navy easily. The pointy bits on top of the symbol and the dark color of the shoulder boards makes me suspect engineering forces (where the boards would have been black).

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