Military Review

Berets, caps and turbans: the uniform of the Spanish Civil War


Republican infantry advances to front line in Gaudaram mountains

Uniforms are always interesting. Today we will get acquainted with the uniform of the parties in a somewhat unusual military conflict - the civil war of 1936-1939. in Spain where with weapons in their hands came the nationalists who stood for the preservation of traditional Spanish values ​​and the Republicans who sought to lead the country along the path of democratic development.

History arranged so that this internal conflict became in some way a dress rehearsal of World War II. Others even believe that it was in Spain that it began, because if the nationalists and their allies Germany and Italy had not won there, the latter would hardly have decided on a war in September 1939.

An addition to the uniform theme will be the English-language historiography of this interesting topic, or rather, a small part of it: several books by the famous British publishing house Osprey. In Russian, perhaps, it would be best to read the “Spanish Diary” by M. Koltsov, “In Memory of Catalonia” by J. Orwell and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by E. Hemingway. However, Hemingway should name one more work: his play “The Fifth Column”.

So how were the soldiers who fought in Spain in 1936 dressed?

At that time, the Spanish national army wore a mustard green uniform. Officers wore overalls with four pockets (upper with a fold) and breeches of the same color or beige. Ordinary - short jackets with two pockets and straight trousers or breeches with fasteners on buttons at the shafts from top to bottom. The officers had black or brown leather boots, but they could wear high lace-up boots. With boots that did not have high legs, it was allowed to wear separate leggings of the same color or khaki wraps and white socks wrapped with a roller. The trousers of soldiers dressed in field uniforms should have been tucked in socks. Well, of course, the shoes of the rank and file were a little rougher than their officers. In general, the equipment of the Spanish army was like the French, including the cut of some elements of the uniform. The emblems of the military branch were sewn on the sharp corners of the collars, worn on the tops of caps, on the breast valves of the overcoat-drape. Pieces of caps also served to place insignia for officers.

Berets, caps and turbans: the uniform of the Spanish Civil War

Army of Nationalists: 1 - Cabo, infantry; 2 - policeman of the "Spanish phalanx", 1937; 3 - soldier of the Navarre division "Rekete", 1936. Fig. Jeffrey Burne

The British publishing house Osprey has published many books on the subject of the Spanish Civil War. Here is one of them

Privates and officers wore tall caps with a tassel in front, trimmed along the lobar seam and the edges of the side lapels with a piping. Moreover, on officer caps, the edging was gold. The color of the brush also mattered. Private and non-commissioned infantry officers had red tassels, but in aviation somehow green. Cavalry pilots had silver trim and insignia. The militants of the Spanish Phalanx wore blue caps.

The positive aspect of these publications is that many of their authors are Spanish historians, and they write on the basis of well-known documents and materials

The soldiers of the Rekete corps (especially units from Navarra) were the most combat-ready units of the nationalist army. One of the main elements of their uniform was a red beret with a golden tassel. Many fighters of the prokete on the left of their chest had the patch “The Heart of Jesus” around which their mothers, sisters or wives usually embroidered a request to God to protect their beloved: “¡Detente! El Corazón de Jesús está conmigo! ” - “Wait! (appeal to the enemy pool. - Auth.) Let the heart of Jesus be with me! ” These stripes therefore began to be called "Detente." They were embroidered in large numbers by female carlist organizations of nationalists. On the left sleeve, the Rockete soldiers also wore an embroidered Burgundy cross, which was a symbol of the Carlist movement, and their Rockete officers - white lilies on the collar, which were a symbol of the Bourbon house.

Army of Nationalists: 1 - Senior Sergeant of Bandera of the Foreign Legion of Spain; summer campaign, 1936-1937; 2 - 1st-Class Legionnaire, Foreign Legion of Spain, 1938; 3 - tenente (lieutenant), infantry, summer camping outfit. Fig. Jeffrey Burne

Army of Nationalists: 1 - General de Brihada; 2 - cab, infantry, winter uniforms; 3 - ordinary, infantry, winter uniforms. Fig. Jeffrey Burne

The Foreign Legion of the Spanish Army, which wore uniforms gray-green of the general army type, with the emblem of the legion with a crown against the background of crossed musket, crossbow and halberd, also had its own form.

Emblem of the Foreign Legion of the Spanish Army

Group of Legion Officers, Summer 1936

But the Muslim parts of Moroccans, Mauritians and others like them in North Africa wore uniforms in the traditions of the Arab national costume. All of this, including the emblem of the insignia, was like an army uniform. Although the main vestment of all African Muslim compounds was usually a turban.

It contains a detailed account of the nationalist army along with illustrations by Stephen Welch

In general, there were enough bright emblems and stripes on the Spanish nationalist uniform, especially, of course, the red berets of the racket, with gold and silver tassels, which could be ragged, like pancakes, and small, neat, caught my eye.

And here is the story of the famous Spanish inter-brigades. Illustrations by Mike Chapelle

So, a long (from the elbow to the shoulder), upward, narrow chevron made of red or green braid meant “soldier de example” - in our opinion, a corporal. The red triple galun (green in aviation), sewn obliquely above the cuffs on the left and right, denoted capo - corporal. The sergeant had sarhento, the galloons were already gold or silver: gold in the infantry and silver in the cavalry. The brichade (senior sergeant or sergeant major, wahmister) on the cuff or on his chest, as well as on the side cap, wore a double vertical patch of galun.

Spanish Foreign Legion. Everything about him is here ... Illustrations by Briand Faustin

The berets also wore insignia, both front and side, which depended on the rank. Officer stars on caps were worn in front under the tassel.

Stars officers were sewn at the bottom of the sleeve, either on the color flap on the left chest, higher than the pocket, and also on the cloak, jacket, or drape overcoat in the same place.

The red color of the valves corresponded to the infantry, the green was to the mountain rifle battalions, and the blue to the cavalry. A red and black valve distinguished artillerymen, dark red - engineering troops, yellow - designated military physicians, and black - tankers. But the pilots had a green trim for pilots, but chest stars and wings were sewn onto the red valve.

Republican army soldier in traditional drape overcoat

Officer ranks were indicated by asterisks: one golden or silver six-pointed star over the cuff relied on the alperes - the second lieutenant. The tenente (lieutenant) already had two stars, the captain - three, located in a triangle. The Comandante Major had a large eight-pointed star on the cuff; tenente coronel (lieutenant colonel) - two stars; coronel, colonel, - three located friends after another in one line. General de Brihada cuffed at the crosshairs of a saber and rod, embroidered in gold, wore a four-pointed star. Two smaller stars on either side of the same emblem relied on General de Davison. Also, these signs were on the corners of the collar, and on the cap they were shifted to the left.

Army of Republicans: 1 - Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic, General Miakha; 2 - shadow-coronel V. Kopik, commander of the XV international brigade; 3 - cabo, infantry. Behind - a Soviet tank T-26 in camouflage livery tank parts of republican Spain. Figure: Jeffrey Burna

In summer, instead of jackets and jackets, one could wear shirts of gray-green or beige color with a chest longitudinal patch corresponding to the rank. Leather jackets were usually issued to specialists in military equipment. The steel helmet had a hemispherical dome, a developed head, and a visor, which was very similar to the German helmet of the 1916-1918 model. Used in the Spanish army and the French helmets of Hadrian. On helmets, the emblem of the military branch was applied in front with a stencil.

About tanks on the battlefields in Spain, Stephen Zaloga wrote very interestingly

Tanks were sorely lacking for the Republicans. Therefore, having a lot of factories at hand, they “riveted” such homemade armored vehicles in large numbers. The abbreviation on the boards meant one or another Spanish trade unions or organizations. For example: UHP, Union of Proletarian Brothers.

But this book can be read in Russian

Due to the fact that part of the army participated in the rebellion, and part remained loyal to the republic, in the first months of the civil war, the warring parties were very difficult to distinguish. Unless the parts of the “Spanish phalanx” and the “Rekete” division were striking with their blue shirts, caps and red berets, and basically the uniform of the soldiers was the same. It was necessary to vary. Therefore, on October 31, 1936, new elements of a military uniform and insignia were introduced in the republican army.

To be continued ...
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  1. Free wind
    Free wind 14 June 2020 06: 09
    The winter form is quite normal. Moreover, fairy tales about 40 degree frosts in the suburbs, these are fairy tales. The minimum temperature is -30. in 1941-1942. I'm in our form cold. the soldier’s top is poorly protected from frost.
  2. The leader of the Redskins
    The leader of the Redskins 14 June 2020 06: 13
    Thank you, Vyacheslav Olegovich, for the promised continuation. I never thought about the uniform of Spain
    I thought that on both sides they wore "who in what way." Well, apart from the Nazis ...
    And in my childhood I had a red cap with a red tassel. Simple, like our pioneer. And my mother called her "Spanish." It was then that I first heard about that war and the fact that Soviet people fought against the Nazis. I understood little, but I learned that our cause was right.
    1. kalibr
      14 June 2020 19: 55
      Quote: Leader of the Redskins
      And in my childhood I had a red cap with a red tassel.

      Me too. And also called ... But the brush was yellow.
      1. Sergey M. Karasev
        Sergey M. Karasev 17 June 2020 18: 13
        In Spain itself, such caps with a tassel were called "isabelito".
  3. Catfish
    Catfish 14 June 2020 08: 52
    I could not immediately understand what kind of payment order is rather clumsily depicted in this figure. During the civil war in Spain, it was full of all kinds of weapons, including foreign production.

    It turned out that this is a machine of their domestic production under the name Star RU-35, a company that is now quite famous in the weapons world.

    Article and author - PLUS. smile
    1. Lexus
      Lexus 15 June 2020 06: 19
      Konstantin, good morning! hi
      And this photo puzzled me a little.

      More precisely, the character under number 3 is a soldier of the Navarre division "Requet". I always believed that Navarra is the fiefdom of the Basques - from time immemorial it has been so. The Kingdom of Navarre was divided between Spain and France (after all, everyone remembers the temperamental Gascon). So, then the "Navarre orange" was cut and "diluted" in every possible way, but to this day in Navarra the Basques are the ethnic majority. They just stopped fighting the Spaniards. But, at the same time, as it turned out, it was the Basque provinces that gave the overwhelming number of the most combat-ready units of the Francoists, the "Requet", to the Civil War, while the defensive fortifications were built from the allied Asturias and Cantabria !!!
      During the nationalist uprising of General Franco against the Republicans, Requete was the main strike force. A total of 41 thirds were formed: 10 from Navarra, 8 from the Basque Country, 8 from Castile, 7 from Andalusia, 6 from Aragon, 2 from Asturias, 1 from Catalonia.

      That is what the constant heat of struggle and interethnic contradictions mean.
  4. Senior seaman
    Senior seaman 14 June 2020 09: 06
    friends after friend

    1. Maki Avellevich
      Maki Avellevich 15 June 2020 05: 55
      Quote: Senior Sailor
      friends after friend

      Friends (plural Arabic. دروز; duruz, singular. درزي; durzi or darzi) is an ethnic and religious group of Arabs in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Israel.

      what's wrong with that? Druz is following his friend.
  5. Fitter65
    Fitter65 14 June 2020 11: 20
    Civil War 1936-1939 in Spain, where the nationalists who voted for the preservation of traditional Spanish values ​​and the Republicans who sought to lead the country along the path of democratic development clashed their arms
    It’s interesting how times and opinions change. The USA, who always and everywhere for DEMOCRACY, helped nationalists who advocated the preservation of traditional Spanish values. And now they are against traditional values, they are for sodomy ...
    1. Icelord
      Icelord 14 June 2020 12: 58
      That you were mistaken, the United States never helped Spanish nationalists
      1. Fitter65
        Fitter65 14 June 2020 14: 09
        Quote: Icelord
        That you were mistaken, the United States never helped Spanish nationalists

        So I did not hear about helping the Republicans. But after Franco came to power, it seemed like they worked together normally. Never outraged that they adhere to traditional values ​​...
        1. 27091965
          27091965 14 June 2020 15: 26
          Quote: Fitter65
          But after Franco came to power, it seemed like they worked together normally. Never outraged that they adhere to traditional values ​​...

          There was a trade and financial embargo. But at the beginning of the war, things did not go well with the British, and Hitler had already set his sights on Gibraltar, they could not have kept him. This is where bidding with Franco began so that Spain would not enter the war. The embargo was eased, supplies of goods and raw materials began, and the provision of a loan by England was agreed. The United States initially rejected the proposed changes in relation to Spain, but subsequently, when they were convinced that Spain would not enter the war and that the Wehrmacht units would not pass through its territory, they began the gradual lifting of the embargo.

          So I didn’t hear about helping the Republicans.

          Chamberlain’s words are indicative of this, when the Republican government turned to Great Britain for help, I do not remember verbatim, but the meaning was approximately the same;

          "...Franco is still useful to us, so we will be neutral..... "

          And it really came in handy, whether Spain enter the war or miss German troops to capture Gibraltar, as if it all ended for Great Britain.
          1. Catfish
            Catfish 15 June 2020 09: 24
            ... to capture Gibraltar

            And for the defense of the "captured" Gibraltar, a fleet was needed, and Hitler had not a fleet, but tears, compared to Britain.
            1. 27091965
              27091965 15 June 2020 13: 35
              Quote: Sea Cat
              And for the defense of the "captured" Gibraltar, a fleet was needed, and Hitler had not a fleet, but tears, compared to Britain.

              Dear Konstantin. The capture of Gibraltar cut the Mediterranean trade route, in England it was called "the road of life", there was a well-equipped airfield and coastal batteries. It was very difficult to carry out the landing operation from the sea. The importance of Gibraltar for Great Britain and the "axis" countries is well shown in the documents of the German Foreign Ministry and other publications describing Spain's relations with the USA, Great Britain, Germany and Italy, they are in the public domain, unfortunately most of them, which have a documentary basis or published documents, are English-speaking. I have not seen translations of these publications in Russia. This topic, in my opinion, is very poorly covered in our country.
      2. bubalik
        bubalik 14 June 2020 17: 19
        ,,,, Jose Maria Dassinag, who was then Deputy Foreign Minister in Spain, “without American oil and American trucks, as well as American credit, we would never have won a civil war.”
        1. bubalik
          bubalik 14 June 2020 17: 33
          ,,,, American firms Studebaker, Ford and General Motor delivered Franco 12 thousand trucks. The US government allowed Texaco, Standard Oil and other oil companies to supply the required amount of gas to the French, Italian and German troops - without restrictions and on credit, against American loans. Deliveries by the Texaco company. In 1936, it delivered 344 thousand tons of gasoline, in 1937 - 420 thousand tons, in 1938 - 478 thousand tons, and in 1939 - 624 thousand tons.
          The governments of Italy and Germany purchased aerial bombs from the US, which fascist pilots dropped on Spanish cities.

          ,,, US President Roosevelt at a press conference April 21, 1938:
          “We read that Franco planes dropped American-made bombs on Barcelona. It’s possible ... They were probably sold to the German government, which is absolutely legal, or to German companies, which is also absolutely legal, and sent to Germany, and then they were resold to Franco’s forces. ”
          1. bubalik
            bubalik 14 June 2020 20: 25
            ,,, who and how participated:

            ,,, the USSR sent about 2000 people to Spain, while more than 600-800 Soviet military specialists were never at the same time.
            Among them: 772 pilots, 351 tankmen, 222 advisers and instructors of various branches of the armed forces, 77 military sailors and 100 artillerymen, 52 other military experts, 130 aviation engineers and technicians, 156 signalmen and radio operators and 204 translators.
            Of these, only 189 people died and disappeared.

            The Germans went through the war about 26,5 thousand.

            The maximum number of Italian volunteer corps in March 1937 was 50 thousand (including auxiliary and rear units). Then the size of the corps only decreased. For the entire time of the war, 70-80 thousand Italians passed through the corps.

            From October 1936 to January 1939, the following were delivered from the USSR:
            648 aircraft, 347 tanks, 60 armored vehicles, 1186 artillery pieces, 20486 machine guns, 497813 rifles.

            Italy and Germany delivered to Spain a total of 1650 aircraft, 1150 tanks and armored vehicles, 2630 artillery pieces, 8759 machine guns, 1426 mortars, more than 250 rifles, 16720 aerial bombs, and 1000 tons of explosives.
  6. Jager
    Jager 14 June 2020 13: 16
    Great article. How many of ours were killed in that war, which was actually "secret" and little advertised.
    And those who returned very soon faced an even more terrible test, the scale of which is still being specified, after 75 years
    1. hohol95
      hohol95 14 June 2020 14: 09
      How many of ours were killed in that war, which was actually "secret" and little advertised.

      It is unlikely that at that time this war was "secret" for the citizens of the USSR!
      On the side of the Francoists fought, "ripped away" from the USSR, fans of "crunching a French baguette"!

      Judith Keen
      Fighting for Franco: Russian White Emigrants on the Side of Nationalists
      The White Guard General Nikolai Shinkarenko notes in his memoirs that from February 1937 until the end of the Spanish War he met about 50 white volunteers in the nationalist units [3]. Another Franco volunteer, Anton Yaremchuk, speaks of 80 Russians who fought against Franco. In another place, he gives an even larger number, referring to the Soviet newspaper of October 1937, listing the names of 128 Russian emigrants who fought in the army of nationalist Spain. At least 180 people from the Kornilov battalion were ready to join the Spanish service in the last months of 1936, although we do not know if all of them managed to get to Spain [4].
    2. bubalik
      bubalik 14 June 2020 21: 12
      How many of ours died in that war
      ,,, not so much.
      ,,, first and last page

      1. Catfish
        Catfish 15 June 2020 09: 28
        Seryozha, thank you! hi All information is very interesting, but for me personally, in many ways, is news. good drinks
  7. iouris
    iouris 14 June 2020 14: 47
    "But a passaran!", Shpakovsky. Hitler and Mussolini are Franco's allies (just in case, I remind you).
    1. Catfish
      Catfish 15 June 2020 09: 26
      You can’t flatter Shpakovsky so nakedly, indecently ... you can lick it. laughing
  8. Oleg Zorin
    Oleg Zorin 14 June 2020 19: 33
    Internationalists of the Lincoln Battalion. Medical service

    1. bubalik
      bubalik 14 June 2020 21: 25
      ,,, interestingly, American companies sold Franco products, and volunteers fought in inter-brigades request During the whole war, about 2800 people passed, 750 of them died. 3rd US-Canadian Abraham Lincoln Battalion (company of George Washington and company of the Canadian independence activists Williamo Mackenzie and Louis-Joseph Papino).
      1. Icelord
        Icelord 23 June 2020 08: 56
        This business will be sold to anyone who pays, so there is nothing strange, but the general position was in support of the Republicans
  9. Florian geyer
    Florian geyer 15 June 2020 22: 18
    The commander of the 15th Brigade, shown in the figure, is Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir KopyCh, not KopyK