Barend's banner

Don Life-Guard Regiment

One of the elite regiments of the Don Host, descended from one of the Imperial Guard units.

Lifeguard regiment parade their flag in August 1918 (Photoalbum)

Life Guard Regiment of the Don Host

Officer: parade dress Trooper:parade dress Trooper: field dress

This uniform is based on the service dress of the Imperial unit. (The parade uniform had a red coat.)

As a guard unit, it did not follow the usual Don colour scheme. Instead all its shoulderboards and cap colours were red.

The trousers were apparently unstriped. Dress belts of guards were white.

WWI field dress would have all the red replaced by khaki, but some coloured parts might well be retained in practice in the Civil War. Williamson reports seeing the Life Guard Regiment at the front wearing red caps in late 1919.

Uniform Details

Shoulderboards: Sotnik (Lieutenant) Shoulderboards: Trooper Shoulderboards: trooper field version Collar tabs

Shoulderboards were surprisingly plain. Button and officer lace were silver, so rank markings would be in gold.

There was a regulation pre-war papakha, with large red "bag". If they wore papakha in the Civil War that they were normal ones, presumably with the red cloth inside and silver cross for officers of normal Don units.

History in the RCW

When the Don Host started to form its own army, straight after the February Revolution, the 1st Regiment of that was almost immediately given the name and standard of the old Imperial "Life Guard His Highness Cossack Regiment".

When the Young Army was formed, the Life-Guard Regiment was its senior Regiment again. Most officers had served in the Tsarist predecessor, and the ranks were filled with young men. It was placed in the Guards Brigade of the 1st Don Cavalry Division with the Ataman Regiment, the other Don Guard regiment.

In October 1919 it had 194 bayonets, 66 sabres, 8 MGs – typically for a Don unit it combined infantry and cavalry in proportion to the number of horses available. The Soviets assessed its strength in October 1920 as 600 sabres.

Unlike some other Guards units this was a fighting body, and it generally was near the thick of any fighting. It appears to have retained its morale even when other Don units wavered.


The regiment had an 1857 model flag, with yellow background, red squares [?] and silver embroidery. Apparently it can be seen in Paris, in the museum of the Don Guards.

The battle standard appears to have been a red square with triangular dark blue "pigtail".

This seems very plain, but then somewhat surprisingly the unit didn't have any monogram on the shoulderboards either.