In January 1938, when the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union turned twenty years old, a special government decree marked this momentous event with the establishment of a special medal. The right to receive the honorary award was received by a special committee under the government of the country, and in its rank she followed the medal, which noted special merits in the development of natural resources and the development of the gas and oil industry.
Newly Installed Medal - Military Personnel Award
In accordance with the established provision, the anniversary medal “20 years of the Red Army” was awarded to a regular military officer, who held command and leadership positions in the army and navy, had a length of service of at least twenty years, that is, was in the ranks of the Soviet Armed Forces from the day they were created. This also included years of service in the Red Guard squads, as well as in partisan units that fought with the enemies of the state.
From this category of persons, awards were awarded to those who showed heroism during the Civil War, as well as in other battles with the enemies of our Fatherland. "20 years of the Red Army" - a medal that was also awarded to all veterans who were awarded the Order of the Red Banner during the Civil War . All this was noted in a government decree. Proceeding from this, a negative answer is inevitable to the frequently asked question about whether ordinary soldiers received the medal “20 years of the Red Army”. This is due to the list of categories of persons to be awarded, in which only the commanders and those who held senior positions are indicated.
Appearance of the award badge
The medal "20 years of the Red Army" (photo at the beginning of the article) is a round disk with a matte surface, the diameter of which is 32 mm. A rim runs along its edge, and a red five-pointed star made of enamel and having a thin silver edging is placed on the front side. In the lower part of the circle, symmetrically between the ends of the star and leaning on the upper edge of the edging, is located the Roman numeral "XX". It is gilded, has the following dimensions: 8 mm high, 7 mm wide.
On the other side of the award badge is an image of a Red Army soldier in a Budenovka coat and an overcoat shooting with a rifle. In the lower right part of the disc is the inscription "1918-1938", indicating the twenty-year stage of the existence of the Armed Forces. For the manufacture of the medal used high-grade silver and gilding for the inscription "XX" (20 years of the Red Army). The medal contained 15.592 grams of pure silver and 0.10 gold. It was one of the first medals in the country.
Medal "20 years of the Red Army": varieties of pads and fasteners
A hanging block for attaching a sign to clothes is known in two types. The earliest one, used from the day the medal was established (1938) until the special government decree of 1943, was rectangular in shape with a narrow oblong frame at the bottom. A red ribbon passed through it, covering the entire surface of the block.
To fix it, a copper plate placed on the back of the block with teeth along the edges and a hole in the middle was used. It was attached to clothes with a threaded pin and a flat clamping nut with a diameter of 18 mm, on which the brand of the manufacturer “Mondvor” was located, as well as the serial number of this award badge.
Change the appearance of the pads
When the Decree of 1943 entered into force, all previously awarded were using old-style pads, and newly awarded prizes received it in accordance with a government decree. In the new version, a ring threaded into a special eyelet connected the medal with a block that had a pentagonal shape and covered with a moire ribbon on top. A gray silk ribbon 24 mm wide was edged around the edges with two longitudinal red stripes. A threaded pin with a nut was missing, and the block itself was attached to the clothes with a pin.
Two samples of award certificates
All awarded the medal "20 years of the Red Army" received the appropriate certificate, which also had different design options. The earliest of them, the sample of 1938, is characterized by the fact that on its cover there was an emblem of the Soviet Union with eleven ribbons - according to the number of republics that were part of it at that time.
The next feature that distinguished this certificate from the subsequent sample was the presence of a serial number. It was affixed to the first U-turn, immediately after the inscription "Certificate", and was located in its upper part, on the right. The certificates of this type were signed by A. Gorkin, secretary of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the country.
In 1959, the relevant government decree made adjustments in the design of certificates for the award marks “20 years of the Red Army”. The medal has not undergone any changes since 1943, but the accompanying document could not but reflect the realities of the new time.
By this year, the number of union republics has reached fifteen; accordingly, the number of ribbons in the image of the state coat of arms has also changed. By that time, M.P. Georgadze held the post of secretary of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, and documents of a new type had his signature. In addition, they did not indicate the serial number of the medal.
It should also be noted that all certificates awarded until 1959 remained the same, that is, of the old type, but they had the right to receive new certificates in case of loss of the old ones, or as persons who in previous years were unreasonably repressed, and subsequently rehabilitated and restored to their rights.
Despite the fact that “20 Years of the Red Army” - a medal established earlier in the Soviet Union before other similar award badges - was awarded to more than thirty-seven thousand red commanders of various levels, by the end of the war it was rare to see it. The reason is that a significant part of the awarded fell under the wheel of mass repressions of 1938, as well as subsequent years, and was shot; many died during clashes with Japanese aggressors in Khalkhin Gol and the Finnish campaign, while others died in battles with Nazi Germany or were captured. In the post-war, fifties, this award was already extremely rare on officer, general and marshal uniforms.
One of the few pre-war officer awards
It is interesting to note that by the beginning of the forties, the picture was completely different. On the uniforms of cadre officers, other awards were extremely rare, except for the one discussed in our article. The reason for this is as follows. The fact is that in the early forties only five orders were established in our country, three of which were awarded for military merit. In addition, there were four medals, two of which, according to the regulations, were also intended for those who distinguished themselves on the battlefields.
Proceeding from this, in addition to “20 years of the Red Army”, only five more award marks were intended — three orders and two medals. All of them were given for the heroism shown during the military conflicts, and by that time there were only three: two of them in the areas of lakes Hassan and Khalkhin-Gol, as well as the Finnish campaign.
Thus, to receive military awards it was required to excel in at least one of them. The exception was a group of officers awarded for the heroism shown in Spain. For this reason, by the beginning of the war, among officers of the staff there were extremely rare gentlemen of other awards, except for the medal “20 years of the Red Army”.
The army of many thousands awarded
At the end of the article, it will be appropriate to give statistics on the awarding of this medal for the entire period during which it was presented to veterans of the Soviet Army. It is known that in 1938, immediately after the publication of the government decree, 27 575 people were awarded this award. A year later, it received another 2 515 personnel officers of the Soviet Army. When, in 1959, a new type of award certificates was introduced, among the cavaliers of the medal there were 37,504 officers, generals and marshals. Photos of two of them are presented in the article. This award became a monument to the defenders of the country, and the cavaliers of the medal "20 years of the Red Army" - its heroes.