Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about Russian History => Russian Imperial Medals, Orders, Uniforms & Militaria => Topic started by: Mike on March 10, 2005, 08:55:10 AM

Title: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Mike on March 10, 2005, 08:55:10 AM
A rare photo of officers of the Finland Guards Rifle Battalion, ca 1896. Note a protestant pastor instead of orthodox priest normal in other military units. The shoulder boards were hand-painted blue - apparently by some Finnish enthusiast.
(http://erastimes.8m.net/finland_battalion.jpg)
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Paul K on March 10, 2005, 01:18:04 PM
Hi Mike !

At first I was certain that it was not a picture of the Life Guards 3rd Finnish rifle battalion. I didn´t recognise any faces ( there wasn´t so many officers serving in that battalion and there are good  picturised reference books of them ). Sorry to see that the hand-painting has been done incorrectly. Then I realised that the pastor really seems to bee mr. Alfons Johan Lonnroth (born 20. may.1856) who was the battalion pastor during the years 1892-1901. He was a Lutheran pastor ( as we Finns mainly are and was ). So it seems to be a picture of the mentioned battalion.
As You may know, the battalion was stationed in Helsinki (Helsingfors) and all the officers where of Finnish origin. The battalion was discarded in 1905 as a process of the ongoing russification of the Finnish autonomy. I´ll try to ID some of the other faces. A more sharp picture would make it easier....

Besides of Pastor Lonnroths service in the above mentioned battalion, he at the same time served as a reverend in the 1st Finnish rifle battalion ( not a guards unit, but a Finnish local army unit ) also situated in Helsinki. All these units had standard imperial uniforms of model 1881 with some differences in piping and shoulder board colours. All the eight local battalions + the Finnish dragoon regiment where discarded in 1901.

Respectfully

Paul
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Mike on March 10, 2005, 01:39:50 PM
Hi Paul,
I'm pleased that you were able to recognize the pastor. The picture has been taken from the NYPL collection, here is the link to a 300 dpi image:
http://images.nypl.org/?id=443829&t=w

I've got an impression that all the officers of the Finnish units were actually ethnic Swedes - correct me if I'm wrong.
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Paul K on March 10, 2005, 02:12:25 PM
Mike !

Yes indeed, ethnic swedes in a way. The swedish speaking population ( now about 5 %, during 19th century maybe 8 to 10%) settled down here sometimes during the 13th century. During the 19th century, and before, the Finnish state administration and also the officers were mainly of this swedish-speaking origin. Starting from the end of the 19th century the finnish speaking officials became more frequent.  It is a very long story to tell....... But, You must not make any particular parallels between Sweden and the swedish-speaking part of the Finnish population. The only thing connecting is the language.

Over 95% of the officers of the Finnish units during the imperial era were from these "wealthy" swedish-speaking families. The main part of those officers were trained at the Finnish Cadet Corps in Fredrikshamn (Hamina). The Finnish Cadet Corps was in fact a russian military school but mainly for the training of Finnish officers. The teaching language at that school was swedish, as well as the administrative language in all the Finnish military units. The command language was russian. The teaching language in the Finnish battalions was finnish. So three languages were used. Tricky !

Best regards

Paul
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Paul K on March 10, 2005, 02:35:26 PM
I´ll try to insert a photo of the jeton of  the Life Guards 3rd Finnish Rifle Battalion ( the lower one). The upper jeton is that of the Finnish Cadet Corps. This is my first time trying to attach a photo this way, so we shall see.....


Paul


(http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y27/viktor02/jetonger.jpg)
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Mike on March 11, 2005, 03:43:35 AM
Paul, you seem to have a nice collection!

A number of questions that you might be able to answer:
Was the Swedish-origin officers' almost absolute predominance in the Finnish troops due to the fact that there were no ethnic Finnish nobility?
Could an ethnic Finn be awarded a hereditary nobility at a military or civil service?
Were ethnic Finns admitted to the Fredrikshamn corps?
Could an educated Finnish NCO be commissioned after a certain period (as was normal for Russian NCOs) and then make it to a senior rank?
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Paul K on March 11, 2005, 09:24:01 AM
Thanks Mike !

As to your questions:
The fact that finnish-speaking nobility was merely non-existant before the end of 19th century was of course a reason for the lack of etnic finnish-speaking officers. The nobility originated mainly from the time of the swedish era ( before 1808 ). A rising amount of finnish-speaking state officials, starting at the end of 19th century, were given russian nobility. Cadets from finnish-speaking families also became more frequent during that same time. It had to do with rising standards of living and the development of the Finnish society. But they had to speak and understand swedish because it was the teaching language in Fredrikshamn corps. It was a quite common way for a future officer to start out as a volunteer NCO. The system was in my opinion the same as in the russian army. The system of conscription, on the other hand, was quite different from the russian system. A good book about this: J.E.O. Screen - Finnish army 1881-1901, training the Finnish rifle battalions ( in english )
After commision from Fredrikshamn corps the young officer had to serve in a russian unit for at least 2 years. This was for learning the russian language and army specifics. Many former cadets from Fredrikshamn became generals in the russian army ( over 300 ).

Best regards

Paul
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Paul K on March 12, 2005, 03:19:05 PM
For those whom it may interest..... Epaullettes of sub-lieutenant of Life Guards 3rd Finnish rifle battalion. Even though they seems to be new, they are absolutely original pieces.

(http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y27/viktor02/Finnguard1.jpg)
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Michael_Doubrovin on March 12, 2005, 08:56:38 PM
Wonderful piece of history in AWESOME condition! No doubt that they are original.

BTW, there were some nice photos of uniforms of Finnish Guards Rifles in the Guards exhibition catalogue, published in 2003 in St. Petersburg.
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Paul K on March 15, 2005, 03:48:55 PM
Having this Finnish topic active, I just can not stop myself sending these pics. Here You have a lieutenant colonel from the 1st Finnish rifle batallion. Notice that the digit 1 is in silver, which means the commander of the reserve district of the 1st batallion ( active officers in the battalion had golden digits). When I got these epaullettes they had the function of candlesticks!!! Thats why they are a bit damaged. Don´t mix these Finnish local batallions with the 1st-16th Finland rifle regiments, which were pure russian regiments only stationed in Finland during this period. They had the common raspberry colours of russian rifle troops.

Best regards to You all !

Paul

(http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y27/viktor02/03150003.jpg)
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Vladik on March 16, 2005, 09:58:28 AM
Maybe an obvious answer, but shouldn't the stars be in a reverse color to the epaulettes? ???
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Paul K on March 18, 2005, 01:44:09 PM
Hi Vladik !

The stars on the picture above are in silver. The photo is lying a bit. On the epaullettes and shoulder boards of the Finnish guards batallion the stars and epaullettes are of the same colour.

Best regards

Paul

(http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y27/viktor02/03150002.jpg)
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Vladik on March 18, 2005, 10:16:43 PM
So these are not Russian regiments, these are Finnish regiments that copied Russian epaulettes? ???
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Paul K on March 19, 2005, 11:52:03 AM
Well, Vladik, as You may know, Finland was a part of the russian empire from 1809 to 1917 but had its own territorial army and autonomy. The Finnish army was a part of the russian armed forces, so i wouldn´t call it copying.

Paul

(http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y27/viktor02/03150004.jpg)
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Vladik on March 21, 2005, 09:55:12 AM
Paul K., can you please post a picture of the backs of the boards. Thanks in advance. ;D ;D
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Paul K on March 24, 2005, 03:04:54 PM
Here You are! The left pair is the same as in the picture above. The right ones are of a cornet of the Finnish dragoon regiment. Both pairs from about 1890-1900. Some moth-damage, as You can see. Sorry about the slightly poor picture quality.

Best regards!

(http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y27/viktor02/klaffar.jpg)
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Vladik on March 25, 2005, 10:59:23 AM
Paul K, thanks alot for your pics, if it's not too much (again :-[ :-[)trouble can we see the pics of the cornet's boards, thanks ;D  ;D
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Paul K on March 25, 2005, 01:38:15 PM
Vlad ! No problem. It´s a pleasure to share these pictures, especially in these days when you have to look at so much s..t in ebay etc. Thanks all of You for showing interest in this Finnish subject. The epaullette to the left needs identificaton. Which grenadier regiment ? It´s quite large sized so I suspect it would be from 1860-1870?
Michael! Thanks for the catalogue hint. I´ll try to get hold of one.

Paul

(http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y27/viktor02/dragoner.jpg)
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: georgecl on March 25, 2005, 02:59:09 PM
Great collection Paul.. :D
Keep posting :o

George
Title: Re: Finland Guards Rifles
Post by: Vladik on March 25, 2005, 11:13:25 PM
Totally agree with you Paul about the s..t on Ebay and also agree with GEorge keep posting, that's the only way we can stop s..t.
About the epaulette, I'll try, (but wait for others) - it's a  lieutenant colonel(I think there are 3 stars missing) of the St. Petersburg German Emperor William III Grenadier Regiment.  ???