THE 5TH REGIMENT DON COSSACK CROSS
Kreuz des 5 . Don-Kossaken-Reiter Regiments
Owning one of these crosses for a number of years I have been wondering just what it was.
I always considered it to be of too poor quality to be an official German award so I began to dig deeper.
I knew who it belonged to as the original owner came to Britain post war when his unit was not considered to be traitors by the Government and hence the members were not returned to the Russians.
So the cross is one that is worn by the 5th Regiment of Cossacks…riders from the Don Basin.
How many were issued? There is no known number but this is my simple deduction:
My numbers may be a bit out but please bear with me as I am still in the middle of some considerable research
The figure of 80,000 badges that I have read having been produced seems to be a massive over estimate.
Bearing in mind that a Regimental Unit of Cossacks was only around 700-1000 men.
Kononov when he came over was part of an Infantry unit as a Major and was only later promoted to Podpolkovnik when in command of the 5th Regiment.
Historically these Lieutenant Colonels only commanded 1000 men which would make the figure correct.
I think a more realistic estimate of badges that would have been produced would be around 4000 at the very most.
My thinking about manufactured numbers is below.
I have yet to see photographic evidence of the Cossack badges (from any Regiment) actually being worn. So I have no doubt I will never see any documentary evidence supporting the production of the badge.
The badge being produced by a manufacturer in Zagreb makes a lot of sense as the whole Cossack division was sent there.
The Cossack Division:
The 5th Don Cossacks must have been operating independently as a Regiment prior to them becoming part of the firstly, The Second Cossack Brigade and then in April 1943 part of the 1st Cossack Division
The total numerical strength of the Division was 13.000 Cossacks and 4.500 Germans
Comprised of 6 Cossack Regiments, A Couple of Artillery Units and Auxiliary troops
Now to their final days after they had been sent to Yugoslavia. There are reports that 50,000 Cossacks that included Women, Children and Old Men and an additional column of 60,000 Others crossed from Yugoslavia into Austria to surrender to the British.
By 1st June 40,000 Cossacks had been returned to the Soviet Union. (I think from the British report a Cossack was someone of Eastern European origin rather than a ‘real Cossack’)
There were a considerable number of escapees who made it further in to Austria.
So even if 80,000 badges had been made most of them would have gone for recycling by the soviets.
So on to the badges:
Database of Badges
The accepted Original type is 47mm high by 47mm wide give or take 0.2mm and weight around 9.5 Grams.
Pin is steel and main body of the badge is aluminium.
This is Mine:
Courtesy of Stan:
Courtesy of Patrick:
Courtesy of Pete:
This is a really nice piece where the original owner has added some additional holes for securing it to the tunic
Another one of Pete’s badges
Denazified but Original Crosses
Courtesy of MJW
Courtesy of Glen @ Wartime Wonders
Sold at Auction: £5500
Detlev Niemann Catalogue 3
Ground Dug on Slovenian/Austrian Border: Unknown Contributors but Thank You
The one that started it a TO from the 1960/70s Sold originally in the Exchange and Mart for around 5s (25p)
Another Couple of Attempts. Both From the same set of dies and both with the Curly 9 and still from the TO Moulds.
A new variation on the TO Mould but different front and rear die set up.
These three are trying to emulate the lower profiled pebble effect on the rear:
Courtesy of Dirklein
Enamel Variants:All are absolute fantasy pieces
Pin Back: MUNCHEN 9
Screwback without the shield and stamped Ges Gesch
New Age Reproduction or an Original Second Type….You decide.
The following examples are all around the 47mm size I do not know the weights.
All the examples below are struck from the same two reverse/obverse dies
Courtesy of Unknown Contributors…Thank you
Courtesy of RickC
The differences between the last 3 examples and the accepted originals.
At ONE the raised area above the 8 and below the 5 actually touch the outer circle.
On originals the raised area is thicker but fades to flatness before reaching the outer circle.
At TWO the number 5 is positioned further away from the top of the circle than can be found on any original.
At THREE the pebble effect is too good. Original examples show a poor workmanship compared to these badges.
At ONE shows the wider reverse raised areas not found on an original badge.
At TWO indicating the neat way the pebble effect has been applied to the reverse die of these badges.
At THREE is the brass pin. Originals are noted as having steel pins only.
Okay that’s my guide to the Don Cross.
To conclude the only accepted original badge which in my opinion has got to have less than a thousand original badges left is the one that I started with.
The early reproductions were/are easy to spot because of the more profiled pebble effect on the reverse and the Curly 9.
The last examples I show I believe are actually super quality highly detailed reproductions.. With a little thicker paint to hide the quality stamping on the obverse, a steel pin and a lack of what pebbling should look like on the back I have no doubt in the future years this will become a ‘second type original’