In January 1918, the Council of People’s Commissars issued a decree that founded the Raboche-krest’ianskaia Krasnaia armiia (RKKA) – the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army. The Eastern Front of the First World War had killed and wounded millions of officers and soldiers, but the increasing activity of counter-revolutionaries meant that an organised, centrally commanded fighting force was desperately needed. Following the January decree, the drafting of recruits started on 23 February, a date still marked in modern Russia as the Day of the Defender of the Fatherland.
The 1918 formation of the Red Army was celebrated throughout the Soviet period. On display are four postage stamps marking the anniversary. The top two date from 1947, celebrating 29 years of the force (by this point renamed the Soviet Army). The two below are from the Second World War: 1943 issue stamps, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the RKKA and the VMF (the navy). The left-hand 1943 stamp shows fighters from 1918; the right-hand one shows their WW2 successors.