Military Review

From death herald to fashion accessory

Two centuries ago, for the first time, metal tags appeared on the soldiers' necks with information about the owner, his duty station. With their help, the concept of "unknown soldier" should have been a thing of the past. In part, this helped, and in the armies of those countries where the presence of tokens is monitored very strictly, this is almost a rare case. In our Armed Forces, only a few years ago, officially each soldier received a token indicating their personal number.

From death herald to fashion accessory
Badge soldier, personal label, dog tag - as soon as people do not call him, and the military itself. However, all these names quite clearly define its intended purpose - to quickly identify those killed and wounded in combat conditions. Its form in different countries has different meanings, but, as a rule, a personal sign is a metal token, worn on a chain around his neck, on which is written the personal identification number of a serviceman or a member of the special services. In a number of states, they also indicate the name, surname or additional information - about belonging to a specific division, about blood type, religion.

For the first time, tokens appeared in the German army at the end of the nineteenth century, during the period of the Austro-Prussian War 1866. Already at that time it was ordered to each soldier of the German army to possess a personal identification mark. But the innovation met with massive rejection of innovation by even the most disciplined Prussian soldiers. They simply threw out the personal signs issued to them, at best, “forgot” in the wagon train. The fact is that any soldier in a war sooner or later becomes superstitious, especially with regard to death. Therefore, the requirement of commanders to be sure to carry the “herald of death” on themselves caused the superstitious fear among the Prussian soldiers that it is this “messenger” that would bring them quick death. It was even said that the tin plate of a personal sign possesses the magic power to attract bullets to itself. Only active propaganda by officers among their soldiers of the need to constantly carry a personal sign, as a guarantee that a soldier’s family would receive a pension, eventually turned the tide, and the wearing of personal signs by all servicemen in the German army became the norm.

By the beginning of the First World War, tokens appeared in the armies of other foreign countries. Germany’s coalition allies took into account the German experience in creating personal identification marks and introduced a similar system of registering marks with minor changes and additions. The identification badge of a Finnish army soldier, for example, had the shape of a bone and consisted of two identical halves, easily breaking apart along the kerf in the middle.

The personal identification marks of the Hungarian army consisted of two bonded plates, on which a special number, uniquely identifying the owner, was perforated with holes. At burial, the plates are separated. One remains on the body of the soldier who is buried, the second is withdrawn by the funeral team for registration. The same signs were in the Italian army.

By the beginning of World War II in the German army, with the intrinsic Germans, a whole system was created for recording and identifying the dead. Her main detail was a personal identification mark, which was issued to the Wehrmacht soldier immediately upon appeal. An oval-shaped aluminum or galvanized plate was worn on a cord around the neck and consisted of two equal segments separated by special kerfs. The medallion, if necessary, was easily broken in half. The broken off half, along with the loss report, was sent to WAST - the German Central Bureau for Accounting for Military casualties and prisoners of war. The numbers of the received identification mark were reconciled with their own data. This confirmed the fact of death and recorded the next specific loss. Naturally, such an accounting system eliminated any duplication of losses, misunderstandings, and false reports about the death of a serviceman. Over the past half century, past since the end of the Second World War, in the work of WAST nothing has changed in principle.

In the Russian army, the first tokens appeared by the end of the XIX century. AT "Stories Life Guard Eger regiment for 100 years. 1796 – 1896 “It says that in the 1877 year, when the regiment was preparing to be sent to the Russian-Turkish front in Bulgaria, all the soldiers and officers received metal tokens with a cord for wearing around their necks. On the counter, the abbreviations of the regiment's name, battalion number, company and personal number of the serviceman were knocked out. But this, one might say, was an experiment.

The appearance of the first personal identification medallion for all military personnel of the current Russian army dates back to the end of the First World War. The Minister of War, General of Infantry, Belyaev, signed a special order: “On the 16 day of January 1917, the Emperor ordered to establish a special cervical sign to identify the wounded and the dead, as well as to mark the St. George awards of the lower ranks on the proposed drawing. I declare this to the highest will of the military department indicating that the mark should be worn under uniform clothing on snuria or tape, worn on the neck, and the record attached to it should be printed on parchment paper. " The neck mark was an amulet with a form inside. The serviceman had to use a small hand to manage to write a lot of information about himself. Indicate your regiment, company, squadron or hundred, rank, name, surname, awards, religion, estate, province, county, parish and village. But the troop en masse did not have time to enter. With the beginning of the October Revolution, all the tsar was recognized as a relic of the past and, therefore, canceled.

In the Red Army, the mention of the token refers to the mid-20-s. The soldier's medallion was introduced by order of the Revolutionary Military Council No. 856 from 14.08.1925 of the year. He relied on all conscripts of military units, ships, staffs, directorates, institutions and establishments of the military and maritime departments after arriving at his unit when they were enrolled in the service. A special form (liner) was put in the medallion, which was made by printing on parchment paper, which contained the necessary information about the soldier: surname, first name, patronymic name, place and date of birth, position held. The use of parchment paper was supposed to protect the form from damage when wearing the medallion, which was a bureaucratic thing on a par with equipment and had no statute of limitations. In case of its loss, a new one was immediately issued. But when using this token during the Finnish campaign, it turned out that the medallion is leaky and the parchment sheet quickly becomes unusable. In March 1941, it was canceled. But he was replaced by a new instance.

Now the medallion was in the form of an octagonal plastic case with a screw cap, with an insert on parchment paper in duplicate. The medallion was worn in a special pocket on the belt of the trousers, but there was also a version of a pencil case with an eyelet for wearing the medallion around the neck. Since the beginning of World War II due to the lack of standard medallions in the parts of the Red Army, both wooden and metal medallions were used. Sometimes, instead of a pencil case, a regular rifle cartridge was used, and instead of a standard liner printed by typographical method, the servicemen put in a medallion a note with personal identification data on scraps of paper or newspaper, leaflets.

In October, 1941, by order of the USSR NKO, the Red Army book was introduced as a document certifying the identity of the Red Army man and junior commander. Sending to the front of the Red Army and junior commanders without Red Army books was strictly prohibited. The officers were issued personal ID cards. It was these documents that were seized from the soldiers and officers who were killed and died from the wounds and were transferred to the headquarters of the unit or medical institution, where they were used to compile lists of irretrievable loss of personnel. It was because of this approach that in November 1942 of the year an order was issued by NKO No. 376 “On the removal of medallions from the supply of the Red Army”. This led to an increase in the number of missing military personnel due to the inability to identify the deceased.

With the end of the Second World War, nothing has changed. Soldiers of military service did not have medallions. In the 60 of the twentieth century, to the officers of the Armed Forces of the USSR, after graduating from college, tokens were issued on which the personal number of the serviceman was printed. Many wore such a keychain tag, but most simply stitched to the officer’s identity card.

Nothing has changed in the army of the Russian Federation. Even the military conflict in the Chechen Republic did not help to eradicate the rank of an unknown soldier. For some reason, the army leadership continued to stubbornly resist this introduction, when folk art from different manufacturers offered tokens of all stripes and for every taste. Soldiers were forced to buy them.

Even in the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 1997, conclusions were drawn from the tragic events in the North Caucasus, and the police department issued order No. 446, according to which steel tokens were entered for the private, non-commissioned officers and officers, which were assigned a personal number.

Only ten years later, a similar order appeared in the Ministry of Defense. New army tokens have a rectangular shape with rounded corners, on which the RUSSIAN ARMY plus the personal number of the soldier is written using laser engraving.

However, we note that against this background, in the special forces of the internal troops there was and there is a tradition to surrender the squad token - the personal number plate of the soldier with the symbolism of the special forces unit. The handing over to the token takes place either as part of a group or as part of several groups. The overall test plan comes from the net exam test, but the standards are lower. The token is handed over on the solemn construction of the whole part and its owners automatically receive the right to wear the special form.

We already said above that today army tokens are used not only by the military. They are very popular as a fashion accessory in the style of "military". And contributed to this by the US military.

The history of American tokens has an exact date. By order No. 204 of December 20, 1906, the US military obliged the soldiers and officers to wear round tokens “about the size of a silver fifty cent coin”. The name, surname, rank and designation of the unit were knocked out on the aluminum round. For the similarity with the tokens, which must necessarily have been present on the collars of all American dogs, this particular sample was nicknamed the “dog tag” - the Dog tag.

Then, over the years, these tokens changed their appearance, until 15 February 1940 was introduced a new sample that has the same look as nowadays: a rectangular shape with rounded ends and a new way of applying symbols - using a punching machine. The information contained on the tokens occupied the 5 strings. The first placed the name and surname, the second - the registration number, the date of tetanus immunization and blood type, the third name of the person to be notified if the badge owner died, the fourth is the address of this person, the fifth city and state of the notified person and token owner's religion. It should also be noted that the soldiers of the Jewish religion, who fought in the European theater of operations, very rarely indicated their religion.

Over 70 years, only the composition of the tokens for the US Army has changed. They are made of a light alloy based on aluminum that appeared for the first time during the time of Vietnam. The only change in the composition of the signatures was that from 1969, instead of the registration number, they began to write the social security number.
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  1. Canep
    Canep 29 June 2013 07: 49
    When he served as an urgent officer (95-97 officer) he saw his badge in a personal file, but for some reason they did not give it to me. Probably because there was no war.
    1. aviamed90
      aviamed90 29 June 2013 17: 47

      In fact, in the Soviet army, a token was issued to an officer after graduating from a military university and when conferring the first officer rank on signature. And it doesn’t matter - wartime or peace.
      He surrenders to the RVC after being transferred to the reserve, but can be left to the officer at his request.
      1. beech
        beech 29 June 2013 20: 10
        Well, yes, according to the idea, but in our country these rules are conditional, and in the 90s they are not binding
        1. 77bor1973
          77bor1973 29 June 2013 21: 07
          Tokens were always given to the officer, this is mandatory. I handed over mine after leaving the draft board, some were left as a keepsake.
          1. sub307
            sub307 29 June 2013 22: 58
            In general, I "lost everything": a badge and a certificate, and some of the weapons recorded in the certificate.
      2. aviamed90
        aviamed90 30 June 2013 13: 43
        Interesting - why "minus"?

        Don't like the phrase "Soviet Army"?
    2. RoTTor
      RoTTor 30 June 2013 19: 12
      so urgent or still a two-adder officer?
  2. AK-47
    AK-47 29 June 2013 08: 39
    A necessary thing, if in the USSR the number of missing persons was taken seriously to the identification badge during the war, it would be reduced many times.
    BARKAS 29 June 2013 08: 49
    To us conscripts, a token was issued in the 95th before Chechnya, exactly like the officers on top of the USSR Armed Forces have a letter and a six-digit number, this number is entered on the military ID on the page with special marks, and he still has not taken any tokens from me somewhere.
  4. ed65b
    ed65b 29 June 2013 08: 58
    After 2 companies in the cellar in Achkhoy-Martan, we found 60-70 pieces of our soldiers' tokens on a rope in a cellar. I sent numbers with photographs to the MO I wanted to know the fate of the soldiers. without useful not a single answer as he screamed into the grave. After that, hands somehow dropped.
    1. omsbon
      omsbon 29 June 2013 11: 15
      Quote: ed65b
      in the cellar on the rope we found tokens of our soldiers pieces 60-70

      I did the right thing with the house that owned the cellar, I hope?

      Quote: ed65b
      I wanted to know the fate of the soldiers. without useful not a single answer as he screamed into the grave

      Unfortunately, guitarists are serving in the Moscow Region, thieves are sons, but I hope that Shaigu will conduct certification for professional suitability!
      1. Alexey Prikazchikov
        Alexey Prikazchikov 29 June 2013 14: 30
        I did the right thing with the house that owned the cellar, I hope?

        No brains count the cripple.
  5. specKFOR
    specKFOR 29 June 2013 11: 07
    in my homeland, only officers and military men who go to peacekeeping "messiahs" receive tokens. Name, identification code and blood group on the token. Identity as you break into two parts. Why do conscripts need a token if they do not go to carry out tasks related to the conduct of hostilities, but only dig, paint, whitewash, outfits, etc.?!
  6. Kovrovsky
    Kovrovsky 29 June 2013 12: 07
    Quote: specKFOR
    in my homeland, only officers and military men who go to peacekeeping "messiahs" receive tokens. Name, identification code and blood group on the token. Identity as you break into two parts. Why do conscripts need a token if they do not go to carry out tasks related to the conduct of hostilities, but only dig, paint, whitewash, outfits, etc.?!

    I think everyone should have tokens with personal numbers. Today, the conscript is digging, and tomorrow he will go to war, and there will be no time to think about tokens with numbers. So there are unknown soldiers in the 21st century!
    1. specKFOR
      specKFOR 29 June 2013 12: 37
      Russia is a warring country. I agree with you. I hope that the events of 1994-1995, when it was so, will not be repeated, I was digging today, shooting tomorrow ...
  7. Day 11
    Day 11 29 June 2013 12: 38
    I have a photo of German tokens (dead), I don’t know whether to show the photo or not? Probably I won’t let them sleep peacefully (first of all, these are people, albeit deceived by the propaganda of the schizanut Führer)
  8. ed65b
    ed65b 29 June 2013 12: 55
    We dig a lot of these tokens of the German times of war, you can buy on the market for a penny
    1. Day 11
      Day 11 29 June 2013 13: 00
      I’m just wondering: What is your PERSONAL attitude to this business? These are the dead Hans tokens, right?
      1. Lopatov
        Lopatov 29 June 2013 13: 20
        The Germans pay well for them. Only with a mandatory indication of the location of the find. Selling them for a penny in the market is first-rate nonsense. If someone decided to cash in on this, then you need to do it wisely.
        In general, normal people without any compensation report such findings to the German embassy or consulate. A trifling matter in the presence of the Internet. They treat the graves of our soldiers very well, and it’s worth paying them with the same coin.
        1. Day 11
          Day 11 29 June 2013 13: 33
          I have the same opinion. My story is generally not simple: I consider myself Russian, with an admixture of German blood. The fact is that one of my grandfathers fought (on his father's side) with the Germans from July 41 to December 42 (they were commissioned for a serious injury) on the Volkhov front. On the site "The feat of the people" I found him (what awards for which particular battle he received). Another grandfather (by his mother) was part of the Hitler Youth and defended Berlin, was captured and was sent to our North. Here he built , erected, etc. I met a Russian girl, then it's clear ... Under the communists, this was hidden in our family
        2. il grand casino
          il grand casino 29 June 2013 13: 35
          I saw with my own eyes how the Germans in eastern Germany looked after the graves of Russian soldiers. On their own initiative. Not old people. Not inclined to consider the dead German soldiers as saints. Not at all, consider them like that. But you're right, it’s worth reporting such findings
    2. Pimply
      Pimply 29 June 2013 16: 57
      Black archaeologists are a shame everywhere and always.
      1. Day 11
        Day 11 29 June 2013 17: 32
        But just amazing things come across, although what is surprising here?
        1. tanker75
          tanker75 29 June 2013 21: 24
          What is it? Digging?
          1. Day 11
            Day 11 29 June 2013 21: 46
            You do not understand what it is? Yes, I go to the cop as much as possible (time)
            1. tanker75
              tanker75 29 June 2013 23: 22
              No, I did not understand honestly.
              I dig too, but I try to make coins, but the German jumble also comes across interesting, as a rule with RI and Civil. We had Germans here in the Urals, owned something, and so I’m not mastering it yet.
              1. Day 11
                Day 11 30 June 2013 00: 36
                These are German condoms. Now I read one Hans-sniper, I put a lot of ours (yours?). I can put one piece out of his memories when he first went through the boxes. Interesting?
  9. Taoist
    Taoist 29 June 2013 12: 58
    At our school, it was fashionable to make a tattoo on the forearm with a personal number and blood group. Tsoi seems to have heard enough. "Blood type on the sleeve, my serial number on the sleeve ..." (c) I really didn't, but I always wore a badge.
    1. RoTTor
      RoTTor 30 June 2013 19: 15
      Choi, who did not serve in the army, but adored to sing about some kind of war, is a terrible authority.
      1. воронов
        воронов 30 June 2013 22: 43
        Quote: RoTTor
        Choi, who did not serve in the army, but loved to sing about some kind of war, a terrible authority

        And most of these figurines in the army did not serve both Rastorguev from Lube and Rosenbaum, but on the other hand, amateurs show off on stage in military uniform. As if on a box, on the day of the Navy, he saw a colonel in the naval medical service in a naval uniform. he gave this title and on which ships or submarines did he serve as a military commissar? laughing
  10. Patriot KK98
    Patriot KK98 29 June 2013 14: 07
    Necessary thing. Yes, if there were such, during the Second World War, missing servicemen and restless relatives would be less. But why stamp the title on the tokens, and if you lower or raise a new one, you need to issue
  11. Pimply
    Pimply 29 June 2013 17: 02
    In Israel, the token goes into boots: there are special pockets, half of the token is put into each shoe.
    The chain of the token that goes around the neck is put in a special cord in the warheads, and the token is put into the case so that it does not glare.
  12. mithridate
    mithridate 30 June 2013 00: 29
    in Ukraine, police also issue tokens
  13. waisson
    waisson 30 June 2013 08: 55
    In Bosnia, at my military comrade, doctors from the UN, finding a border guard officer on the neck of the Russian troops refused to hospitalize because he was Russian and fought in the Serbian army, then the Serbian guys laid him the documents of the murdered comrade, he was favorably taken out by helicopter to Belgrade’s VMA, where the Serbian doctors collected his honors and he is still alive and well. here's the story with the badge and the oath of the hepatocrat
  14. Kavtorang
    Kavtorang 30 June 2013 10: 28
    Everything is different everywhere.
    I quit "under the Christmas tree" in 2012. The badge is in his hands, and in the military card of the reserve officer there is just an entry on page 20 that the LN badge has been issued so-and-so, and issued on the date of the assignment of an officer's rank in nine hundred shaggy year.
    By the way, the naval knife also stayed at home - the military enlistment office took only a copy of the certificate.
  15. stoqn477
    stoqn477 30 June 2013 11: 38
    I'm on my own I call the plate morgue. laughing
  16. AlexVas44
    AlexVas44 30 June 2013 14: 34
    Almost always during the field trials (usually at least twice a year - final inspections, etc.), the presence of a token was checked. There were cases of loss, but I don't remember the consequences for such a "serious offense", most likely a reprimand, but a new sign? But already in the 70s and 80s, tokens appeared on sale, it only remained to knock out the required number, but the craftsmen were in any part, the main thing is to find out the loss in a timely manner ...
    HAIFISCH 30 June 2013 18: 35
    I made my own myself, although I have not yet served in the army, life is such a thing, in general, I decided not to hope for my uncle. He took a German cartridge case and a bullet, in our area a lot of them remained, and as a rule they are in good condition, and ours unfortunately rot. In general, a note, name, surname, address, registered, drilled a sleeve, put a bullet for a moment, sits tight, and lace up to the heap, men tell me if I should take the army with me or will they take away some horseradish?