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Mysterious RCW Shoulder Strap

Article about: This shoulder strap won't win any beauty contests! It's nevertheless an interesting, unidentified piece, probably from the civil war period. The item's provenance is fairly safe: brought bac

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    Default Mysterious RCW Shoulder Strap

    This shoulder strap won't win any beauty contests! It's nevertheless an interesting, unidentified piece, probably from the civil war period. The item's provenance is fairly safe: brought back by a Czech officer, which suggests it once saw action in the Urals or Siberian theatre of war. However, it's not a Czech Legion shoulder board.

    V-e-r-y crude and locally, or field made, it conforms to RIA WW1 field pattern boards often manufactured by regimental tailors or saddlers. These were even known to have stripes and stars added by ink or paint. On this particular example, the machine-embroidered centre stripe is raspberry coloured, for Rifle units.

    The "E" cypher is NOT for Catherine II (Ekaterina), but it has been suggested that it was worn by some Jaeger units (Egerskie chasti) belonging to Kolchak's Siberian forces during the civil war. Close examination reveals however that the heavy brass E cypher actually might be a modified Catherine cypher, with the "II" filed off!

    I have added a reconstruction proposal for a full-colour, EM pattern, stencilled cypher "Jaeger" shoulder strap, based on modern Russian sources.

    An alternative, albeit less likely, interpretation points to a different direction: a very early, independent Estonian army shoulder board, brought over from RIA service. "E" cyphers in Estonia are confirmed, but some sources claim that a stripe in Estonian colours were also worn on the shoulder straps/boards. EM pattern reconstruction attached.

    I should mention that the button is a recent addition. There are also faint traces of a missing single metal rank star in the centre of the board.

    Any comments to shed further light on the matter would be most welcome. Or just enjoy another example of one of those anomalies of the RCW!
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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