|1st Border Guard Regiment
Border Guards, were organized into a unified form by the Law of Organization of Armed Forces of 24 July 1864, by merging the territorial troops of Wallachia and Moldova under the direct authority of the Ministry of War. The border areas were divided in the “Danube Strip” and the “Mountains Strip”, surveyed by 4 inspectorates. The military service was 6 years long.
By the Royal Decree of 05 April 1869, the Territorial Division 1 Bucharest was created and the military service was increased to 7 years, though not permanent, the longest in the Romanian army.
On 01 April 1904 was given the Law for the creation of the Border Guards Corps, under the command of General Staur Simionescu, from the Venatori (riflemen) troops. The law stipulated that the Corps was operationally under the Ministry of War, while its customs activity was regulated by the Ministry of Finance. Recruits had to have already had 1 year of military service in another operational infantry unit, and had a spotless military record; illiterates were not eligible. The Border Guards Battalion Bucharest, with 45 officers and 1542 troops, was created. Its strength grew in 1906 to 46 officers and 2023 troops.
On 01 April 1912 the Law for Reorganization of the Border Guards Corps was passed. It changed the name of the unit in Bucharest to 1st Border Guards Regiment. It comprised a special training battalion in Sinaia, that had also Palace Guard duty at the Peles castle. Under the leadership of major Badulescu, intensive skiing lessons and mountain fighting techniques were the taught here. The military service was 3 years long, the longest in the Romanian army, along the gendarmes and the navy.
During the First World War, the 1st Border Guards Regiment participated in the offensive in Transylvania, pushing through the Olt Valley up to Sibiu. It was awarded on November 8th 1918 by King Ferdinand l., at the Royal Palace in Iasi, the Order of Michael the Brave cl.lll. by ID1592/27 June 1918, for bravery they displayed during the fierce battles of the year 1916. On August 15th 1916, in a furious assault, they compelled the enemy to retreat in disorder, capturing numerous prisoners, weapons, war materials and an armoured train. “Then they distinguished themselves brilliantly during the defensive battles at the Turnu Rosu creek, in the Coti battle and in all the ensueing battles in the Fagaras Mountains, up to the Milcov river, displaying the best possible military qualities on the field of honour.”(quoted from the document). Seven officers were awarded the highest Romanian military order, Michael the Brave cl.lll. Lt.col.Dumitriu was decorated with the Legion of Honour by Henri Berthelot himself, the commander of the French military mission in Romania.
The evolution of the Corps during the interwar period was as follows: in 1927 it grew to 4 regiments (313 officers and 21,800 troops); on 01 June 1930 to 6 regiments; on 01 May 1931 to 8 regiments; in February 1941 to 10 regiments, plus 8 platoons of Mounted Border Guards, 1 unit of several batteries of Border Guards Artillery (antitank), and by 1942 additional 9 territorial battalions.
By Royal Decree 333 / 05 February 1932, the unit becomes part of the Guard Division, thus renamed 1st Guard Border Guards Regiment of Bucharest.
During the Legionar’s armed rebellion in January 1941, the 1st Guard Border Guards Regiment of Bucharest bore the brunt of heavy fighting around the Telephone Palace, incurring the loss of 17 fallen.
In the Second World War the unit takes part in the campaign for the liberation of Bessarabia and conquest of Odessa. In 1942, 2 of the regiment’s officers were awarded the Order of Michael the Brave cl.lll. On 23th of August 1944, the strength of the Border Guards Corps was of 42,500 men. The regiment fought heavily against German troops that attacked Bucharest; they managed, with minimum losses, proving their true nature of elite troops, to occupy several German barracks and camps in the area of Aparatorii Patriei, to capture the German offensive groups in the area Tunari-Pipera and to get hold of the airport Bucharest-Chitila.
After the arrival of Soviet troops in Romania (sep ‚44) following border guards regiments were disbanded: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7; thus the strength of the Border Guards Corps was reduced to 12,000 men. On 21 June 1947, by the Law nr.208, border guards pass under the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
> Uniform of a soldier of the 1st Border Guards Regiment: 1916
Uniforms worn by the Romanian infantrymen during WW1 have been introduced in 1912 and modified in 1916. They were composed of the following items:
- Field cap “capela” made in grey-blue cloth with green piping, having in front the number of the regiment, “4”, in green cloth;
- “Adrian” helmet with the overlapping cipher of King Ferdinand I;
- Tunic in grey-blue cloth, with a single breasted fly-front. It had 4 rectangular pocket flaps, 2 on the breast and 2 on the hips. The collar was rolled off, piped green, adorned decorated with green pointed collar patches. Shoulder boards in grey-blue cloth, piped green, adorned by the regimental number, in green cloth. Sewn On the outer edge of the right shoulder board was a small cloth roll serving the purpose of preventing the rifle strap from slipping off the shoulder;
- Green unbraided fouragere
- Breeches in grey-blue cloth with green piping;
- Greatcoat was in grey-blue cloth, doublebreasted, with two rows of visible 4 black metallic buttons. It had 2 side pockets with rectangular flaps. The collar and cuffs were rolled off. The collar was piped green, with green pointed collar patches and the shoulder boards were piped green, adorned by the regimental number, in green cloth. Sewn on the outer edge of the right shoulder board was a cloth roll as for the tunic. At the rear, the greatcoat had two vertical false pocket flaps, piped green, with two metallic buttons, and a rear-belt piped green;
- Puttees in grey-blue cloth;
- Laced boots in black or undyed, natural leather;
- Black leather waist-belt, fastened with a buckle or plain belt plate;
- Black leather rectangular cartridge pouches, fixed on the waist-belt, framing the belt plate. Infantrymen could also optionally carry Austro-Hungarian, Italian or Russian WW1 cartridge pouches;
- Bayonet scabbard holster, made in black leather, carried on the left hip;
- “Linemann” shovel spade holster, made in black leather, carried on the left hip, below the bayonet holster, fastening with its lower strap the bayonet scabbard;
- Bread bag in undyed canvas, with a lateral outer pocket for the canteen, carried diagonally, on the left hip;
- Canteen, made in enameled metal, carried in the bread-bag’s outer pocket. Optionally, other WW1 canteens of German, Russian or Austro-Hungarian origin, could also be used;
- Romanian gas mask (M.1916), French (M-2), or Russian (Zelinsky-Cumant);
- Knapsack made in black waterproof canvas, of rectangular shape, with black leather shoulder straps.
The rank insignia consisted of lace braid stripes, made in yellow cotton (1 large for “Fruntas”, 2 large for “Caporal”) or gold lace stripes (1 large for “Sergent”, 1 large and 1 narrow for “Sergent-major”, 2 large for “Plutonier”, 2 large and 1 narrow for “Plutonier-major”, 3 large for “Plutonier-adjutant”), edged green, displayed on the shoulder boards of the tunic and greatcoat
> Uniform of a soldier of the 1st Border Guards Regiment: 1941
Uniforms worn by the Romanian infantry troops during WW2 have been introduced in 1939. They were composed of the following items:
- Field cap “Capela” made in kaki cloth;
- Dutch style steel helmet, “Adrian” helmet or German WW2 helmet;
- Tunic in kaki cloth, with a single breasted fly-front. It had 2 breast pockets with rectangular flaps. The collar was rolled off and had shoulder boards made in kaki cloth; light green collar patches;
- Green unbraided fouragere
- Breeches or trousers in kaki cloth;
- Greatcoat was in kaki cloth, fastened by two rows of 4 kaki metallic buttons. It had rectangular flaps on the inclined side pockets. The collar and cuffs were rolled off;
- Puttees in kaki cloth, worn with breeches;
- Leggings in black leather, fastened with three side straps and buckles, worn with trousers;
- Laced boots in black or natural leather;
- Natural leather waist-belt, fastened with a belt plate plain or adorned by a crown;
- Natural or black leather Y suspenders;
- Natural leather square cartridge pouches, fixed on the waist-belt, framing the belt plate. Infantrymen could also optionally carry Austro-Hungarian WW1 ammo pouches;
- Bayonet scabbard holster, made in natural leather, carried on the left hip;
- “Linemann” spade holster, made in natural leather, carried on the left hip, beneath the bayonet holster, fastening the bayonet scabbard with its lower strap;
- Bread bag in kaki canvas, carried diagonally, on the right hip;
- Romanian rectangular mess tin, made in enameled metal, fastened by a strap on the outside flap of the bread bag, or German mess tin;
- Romanian, German or Russian canteen, suspended on the waist belt;
- Romanian gas mask (M.1932 or 1939B), carried in a kaki bag, diagonally, on the left hip, or a German WW2 model;
- Knapsack made in kaki waterproof canvas, of rectangular shape, with natural or grey leather slings. the Dutch helmet was carried on its flap, fastened with 2 leather straps.
The rank insignia consisted of lace braid stripes, made in yellow cotton (1 large for “Fruntas”, 2 large for “Caporal”) or gold lace (1 large for “Sergent”, 1 large and 1 narrow for “Sergent-major”, 2 large for “Plutonier”, 2 large and 1 narrow for “Plutonier-major”, 3 large for “Plutonier-adjutant”), edged blue, displayed on the shoulder boards of the tunic and greatcoat
> Distinctive elements:
– in 1906 border guards received special dark green cloth collar patches, that were changed to light green in 1921
– initially they had yellow braided fourageres, that were changed to plain green ones by WWI
– From 1919 till 1930 they donned the “alpini” – type hats
– in 1930 they received ceremonial helmets, topped by an eagle with open wings; the wear of the ceremonial helmet was discontinued in 1941
– By DR333 / 05 February 1932, specific elements were added to the uniform of the 1st Guard Border Guards Regiment: a special monogram of King Carol II., in metal, was worn on helmets and epaulettes; the officers received a special badge with the king’s monogram in light green enamel.