Encyclopedia - Red Army

Leon Trotsky in uniform in 1918 The Red Army was created by the Bolshevik government in early 1918 as a means of promoting and - more to the point - defending the October Revolution against anti-Bolshevik forces, the latter comprised variously of pro-monarchists and moderate reformists.

The Red Army - which originally grew out of volunteer forces assembled for the failed Kerensky Offensive of 1917 - consisted of a variety of elements, ranging from peasants to Red Guard revolutionary militia from Petrograd (St. Petersburg) to some 50,000 former Imperial Russian Army officers (e.g. Alexei Polivanov and Dmitry Shuvaev).  The reliability of former Tsarist officers was carefully monitored via the use of political officers (named 'advisors') attached to all units.

Although stationed on the Eastern Front shortly before Russia's withdrawal from the war, the Red Army - impressively led by its founder and Commisar for War Leon Trotsky - was primarily active in repelling anti-Bolshevik troops during the period until 1921.

Such activities were generally distributed among numerous small Red Army forces during the Russian Civil War; however the Red Army was also active in assisting left-wing revolutionary risings in frontier nations including Finland, Poland and the Baltic states.

Photograph courtesy of Photos of the Great War website

The "Red Baron" was the allied nickname for German air ace Manfred von Richthofen, the leading ace of the war.

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