|Order of the Red Banner|
The Order of the Red Banner
|Awarded by the Soviet Union|
|Awarded for||Heroism in combat or long service in the armed forces|
|Status||No longer awarded|
|Established||August 1, 1924|
|Next (higher)||Order of the October Revolution|
|Equivalent||Order of the Red Banner of Labour|
|Next (lower)||Order of Suvorov|
Ribbon of the Order of the Red Banner
The Order of the Red Banner (Russian: Орден Крaсного Знамени) was the first Soviet military decoration. The Order was established on 16 September 1918, during the Russian Civil War by decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. It was the highest award of Soviet Russia, subsequently the Soviet Union, until the Order of Lenin was established in 1930. Recipients were recognised for extraordinary heroism, dedication, and courage demonstrated on the battlefield. The Order was awarded to individuals as well as to military units, cities, ships, political and social organizations, and state enterprises. In later years, it was also awarded on the twentieth and again on the thirtieth anniversary of military, police, or state security service without requiring participation in combat (the "Long Service Award" variant).
During the Civil War, there existed similarly named orders and decorations established by the Soviet communist governments of several other constituent and nonconstituent republics. The August 1, 1924, decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee established the all-Soviet Order of the Red Banner for deserving personnel of the Red Army.
Other nonmilitary awards also used the phrase "Order of the Red Banner" in their title; for example, the Order of the Red Banner of Labour was presented for acts of great scientific, military (technical or logistic), manufacturing, or agricultural achievement.
From 1918 till the late 1930s there was also a Soviet collective variant – the Revolutionary Red Banner of Honor. This was in the form of a special military color awarded to distinguished Red Army, Soviet Air Force, and Soviet Navy units. It was older than the Order of the Red Banner, having been established on August 3, 1918, a month and several weeks before.
As a military decoration, the Order of the Red Banner recognised heroism in combat or otherwise extraordinary accomplishments of military valour during combat operations. Before the establishment of the Order of Lenin on April 5, 1930, the Order of the Red Banner functioned as the highest (and practically the only) military order of the USSR. During World War II, under various titles (including the Order of the Red Banner of Military Valour and Order of the Red Banner for Maritime Valour), it was presented to both individuals and military units for acts of extreme military heroism. In some ways, the Order of the Red Banner was more prestigious, as it could only be awarded for bravery during combat operations whereas the Order of Lenin was sometimes awarded to non-military personnel and political leaders. Nearly all well-known Soviet commanders became recipients of the Order of the Red Banner.
The Order of the Red Banner was also used as a "long service award" between 1944 and 1958 to mark twenty and thirty years of service in the military, state security, or police. Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of September 14, 1957, emphasised the devaluation of certain Soviet high military Orders used as long service awards instead of their originally intended criteria. This led to the joint January 25, 1958, decree of the Ministers of Defence, of Internal Affairs, and of the Chairman of the Committee on State Security of the USSR establishing the Medal "For Impeccable Service," putting an end to the practice of awarding long service variants of the Order of the Red Banner.
The Order consisted of a white-enamelled badge, which had a golden Hammer and Sickle badge surrounded by two golden panicles of wheat on a Red Star, backed by crossed hammer, plough, torch, and a red flag bearing the motto Proletarians (Workers) of the World, Unite!. The whole was surrounded by two golden panicles of wheat; at the bottom were the letters "SSSR" (Russian: СССР). Additional awards of the Order bore a white enamelled shield with a silver sequence number at the bottom of the obverse. A recipient of multiple Orders of the Red Banner would wear a basic badge of the Order with a numeral corresponding to the sequence of the award on a cartouche over the wheat at the bottom of the badge.
The early variants of the Order were screw back badges to allow wear on clothing. Later variants (from 1943) hung from a standard Soviet pentagonal mount with a ring through the suspension loop. The mount was covered with an overlapping 24mm wide red silk moiré ribbon with 1.5mm wide white edge stripes and a 7mm wide white central stripe.
The Order of the Red Banner was worn on the left side of the chest and when in the presence of other Orders and medals of the USSR, was placed immediately after the Order of the October Revolution. If worn in the presence of Orders or medals of the Russian Federation, the latter have precedence.
Feats of valour worthy of the award of the Order of the Red Banner were as much against internal as against external enemies of the USSR, as detailed below: