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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Swedish Afghanistan Type Mission In Iran

Uniform and memorabilia of the Swedish officers and NCOs who volunteered for Persia (Iran). PHOTO: Leif Nilsson/SMHA

Swedes at War begins with the Swedes who volunteered to form a gendarmerie in Persia (Iran). What started in 1911 as an Afghanistan type security assistance mission evolved, for the Persians, into the genesis of the Iranian Army.

Thousands of Persians were trained by the Swedes, partly with Swedish equipment, and led by Swedes in security operations. Not only the largest British and German papers in 1913 and early 1914 praised the Persia Swedes, even in China one could read that the Swedes had been successful. For several of the forty participating Swedes, service in Persian Gendarmerie uniform (see above photo) was a springboard to entering German, British and Finnish service. After the outbreak of WWI some of them entered German service in Persia and on other fronts. Quite a few went on to fight in other wars, a handful even during WWII. For example the Swedish Persia veteran Martin Ekström in 1919 took Narva from the Red Army and during WWII was a battalion commander in the Finnish Army.

Together with some other persons with a special interest in Persia I some years ago suggested that the Swedes who volunteered to create the Persian Gendarmerie should be part of the permanent exhibition of the Swedish Army Museum in Stockholm. Last week this display became reality and you may now there study several original items from the Swedes in Persia.

A complete uniform, orders, medals, maps and photos are now on display in Stockholm. PHOTO: Leif Nilsson/SMHA

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