Red & Soviet Military and Paramilitary Services: Female Uniforms 1941-1991 (Officer and Enlisted Personnel)
By Adrian Streather
Veloce Publishing (www.veloce.co.uk / www.battlecry-books.com)
This is another excellent book by Adrian Streather on the uniforms of the Red and Soviet Armed Forces. In a similar strain to the literature on male uniforms there is a significant lack of secondary literature dealing with post Imperial Russian female uniforms. This publication helps to fill that gap and it is an essential reference work for those who cannot read Russian.
This first-rate guide covers all the uniforms issued and used by female officers and enlisted personnel between 1941 and 1991. The USSR collapsed in 1991 so this has been placed as a cut-off date and there were very few females serving in the Russian Armed Forces prior to the Nazi Invasion of Russia. It was the German Invasion in 1941 that spurned the recruitment of female personnel into the Russian Armed Forces. Women were keen to avenge for the Invasion and they enlisted in huge numbers. After the War their ranks were considerably reduced to a small fraction of their wartime strength.
This means that obtaining or collecting female uniforms can be quite difficult. The author illustrates the different uniforms and notes their “availability”. He has conducted extensive research and uses numerous illustrations to emphasise his notes. He has catalogued each type of uniform, when it was produced, approved and authorised and how it was manufactured.
This exceptional book is aimed at collectors, historians, enthusiasts and the interested public. It helps with the identification of the correct uniforms and accessories for specific eras. There are excellent descriptions of the uniform components, what to look for and how to avoid “reproductions”. Given the careful and precise descriptions one can hopefully avoid the minefield of reproductions being offered as “genuine” uniform components.
Genuine female uniforms issued prior to 1969 are exceptionally rare so the author does an excellent service by illustrating and discussing them. Less than 20,000 women per year served in the post war forces until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Rare and genuine female uniform components command high prices and their rarity also encourages a strong reproduction market. The author has done the collector / enthusiast great service by indicating the features to consider when parting with hard earned cash to buy that “irresistible” uniform.
I can’t stress sufficiently the wonderful service the author has done for collectors and others interested in the uniforms of this period. He has conducted outstanding research and produced this essential guide to uniforms. For non-Russian speaking readers the author has done a splendid job as he has used multiple original Russian government uniform regulations in the text (translated into English) and presented excellent illustrations of the uniforms.