[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]
CHAPTER IX. UNIFORMS, INSIGNIA, AND INDIVIDUAL EQUIPMENT
Section I. ARMY UNIFORMS
a. PREWAR DEVELOPMENTS. In peacetime the German Army provided its personnel with both a service and a field uniform. The service uniform is an extremely gaudy form of dress. Its purpose was to promote enlistments, and to induce soldiers to vie for the various embellishments awarded for skills, service, and rank. The field uniform was designed to retain these advantages as far as possible, while at the same time providing a practical field uniform. Its designers bore in mind considerations of comfort (fit, warmth in cold weather, coolness in hot weather, body ventilation), utility (adequate pockets, and support for individual equipment, arms, grenades, and ammunition), and security (relative inconspicuousness in different seasons and in different types of terrain). Because of anticipated strategic and production conditions, economic factors had great influence on the field uniform. In particular, the necessity of stockpiling wool and cotton against probable wartime shortages caused the Germans to mix about 30 per cent of rayon with the wool of the uniform cloth. So carefully was this material prepared that the resultant uniforms suffered little actual loss of thermal efficiency and wearing quality.
Armored and mountain troops were provided with special uniforms, while special clothing items were furnished personnel engaged in various other special tasks or on duty in unusual weather conditions. Nevertheless, prior to 1939, there was a remarkable degree of standardization in German Army uniforms, and an equally remarkable emphasis upon retention of traditional features and appurtenances designed to improve individual morale and to cultivate arm and unit esprit de corps.
b. WARTIME DEVELOPMENTS. The prolongation of the war into 1942 resulted in a
need for simplification of the field uniform, and in the use of a poorer quality
cloth. By the winter of
As the quality of the uniform has decreased, the German High Command has sought to bolster morale by exploiting to the utmost the esteem-building effect inherent in badges, awards, decorations, and arm bands, as well as marks of special units, rank, and specialty. German troops have prized these various symbols so highly that they usually wear them on the field of battle, even though personal security is compromised by nullification of protective coloration, by permitting the singling out of key or expert personnel by enemy observers and snipers, or by facilitating the operations of Allied intelligence. Indeed, such has been the disregard for security on the part of noncommissioned officers and men that they have worn silver instead of dull gray insignia whenever the former has been procurable.
Further recent developments include the provision of additional special uniforms required by the development of specialized troops and the necessity of campaigning under unforeseen conditions of extreme heat and cold. The service uniform has been confined to officers already owning them, officer candidate battalions, higher staffs in the rear, permanent parties of service schools, and similar personnel.
2. Service Uniform
a. GENERAL. Whereas many armies have both dress and service uniforms, in the German Army the service coat (Waffenrock) and trousers serve as the basis for the following varieties of dress:
(1) Gesellschaftanzug. This is the dress uniform, which in turn is divided into grossen (ceremonial) and kleine (ordinary) Gesellschaftanzug. Long trousers and high black shoes always are worn with this type of uniform. Officers may wear white jackets during appropriate seasons.
(2) Ausgehanzug. This is a type of uniform which might be termed "walking-out dress". In the peacetime Army, it was a most important uniform, since it gave noncommissioned officers and enlisted men an opportunity to display themselves while on pass. It includes service cap, service coat, long piped trousers, high black shoes, and black belt with saber (for senior noncommissioned officers) or decorative bayonet (for junior noncommissioned officers and men). Decorations and awards may be worn, together with a colored tassel on the sword or bayonet. For officers and senior noncommissioned officers, this tassel indicates rank; for others, it indicates by its color the wearer's unit within the regiment.
(3) Meldeanzug. This uniform, much like "walking-out dress", is worn on minor occasions.
(4) Dienstanzug. This is the service dress proper, worn when attending classes, on duty in an office, or performing other duties not calling for the field uniform.
(5) Paradeanzug. This uniform is similar to "walking-out dress", but resembles the field uniform in that steel helmet, boots, and (for enlisted men) cartridge pouches are worn.
b. SERVICE COAT. The service coat (Plate I), which forms the basis for all these uniforms, is highly decorative. The same basic formfitting coat is used for all ranks. The base color is the warm, field green known to the Germans as "field gray" (feldgrau). Collar and cuffs are covered with a dark bluish-green imitation velvet, which also appears as the base for any sleeve insignia that may be worn. The front edge of the eight-button coat opening, the lower edge of the collar, and the upper part of the cuffs are piped in the color of the wearer's arm. Fancy silver patches with buttons are worn on the cuffs. These patches, together with the collar patches, are each mounted on a velvet base dyed in the color of arm. Noncommissioned officers wear silver braid on the upper edge of collar and cuffs, and around the shoulder straps. They therefore present an even gaudier appearance than commissioned officers. Officers and noncommissioned officers of the Reichswehr may wear Reichswehr coats with proper insignia as service dress (Plate II). These coats also are worn sometimes in the field. Though service coats are of wool, officers may have cotton ones privately tailored for summer wear.
c. SERVICE TROUSERS. The service trousers or breeches made of bluish-gray wool cloth, are piped along the sides in the color of arm. On both sides of this piping General Staff and general officers add a broad stripe in the proper color. Officers may wear service breeches in the field.
d. SERVICE CAP. The service cap is similar to the U.S. Army service cap, but is upswept to give the wearer the appearance of height. The visor is black, with a silvercorded chin strap for officers, and a black leather strap for noncommissioned officers and men. The cap band is of dark, bluish-green imitation velvet (blue-gray for Sonderführer), piped top and bottom in the color of arms. Piping also appears around the crown of the cap. The cap cover is field-gray. The national emblem (an eagle, stylized differently for the different Armed Forces and Party organizations), and below it the national colors (black, white, and red) surrounded by oak leaves, are worn on the cap front. Officers often wear service caps in the field.
3. Field Uniform
Since anticipated economic conditions precluded the provision of both service and field uniforms for all German Army personnel, the German Army field uniform was designed to perform the dual purpose of field and service uniform. It therefore retains as many of the morale-raising features of the service uniform as possible. In wartime, the field uniform is worn in combat and on all occasions except those that call for a fatigue or work uniform. As the war has progressed, the number of embellishments worn on the field uniform has tended to increase, except where economic conditions have interfered. The field uniform includes the following components (some of which have undergone changes during the war as noted):
a. HEADGEAR. (1) Steel helmet. The present steel helmet, M1935, is used by all branches of the German Armed forces, although some World War I helmets as well as Czech and Italian helmets still are in use. The M1935 is a smaller and lighter version of the World War I German helmet, from which it can be differentiated by the absence of facepiece lugs which characterized the old helmet. It comes in five basic sizes, which weigh from 1.8 to 2.7 pounds. Two ventilation holes are furnished at the sides. The suspension consists of an adjustable, leather-padded, spring-aluminum band, secured at the sides and rear of the helmet by three cotter keys. The chin strap is leather. Prior to the war, the national colors were worn on the right side of the helmet and the national emblem on the left side. These emblems are no longer worn.
(2) Old-style field cap. The old-style field cap (Plate I) is of field-gray wool-rayon cloth. It is cut similarly to the U.S. WAC garrison (oversea) cap, except that the turn-up is scalloped downward in front. This scallop is provided so that the eyes are left uncovered when the turn-up is lowered to protect the neck and ears. The front of the cap is decorated with the national emblem and the national colors. An inverted "V" in the color of arm at one time enclosed the national colors. Officers wear silver braid around the top of the crown and along the edge of the scallop (Plate II) . The cap is designed to be worn under the steel helmet.
(3) M1942 field cap. The M1942 cap is an early type of field cap, tried out in 1936, and reissued in 1942 as a new type. It resembles the old-style field cap, except that the turn-up is buttoned in front (Plate III). The turn-up flaps may be buttoned across the chin.
(4) M1943 field cap (Einheitsmütze). In 1943 a visored wool-rayon cap was introduced (Plate III) for all types of troops. Like the mountain cap and M1942 field cap, the turn-up may be used to protect the ears and back of the neck, with the buttoned flaps securing across the chin. The turn-up feature is unhandy and ineffective, even if the winter wool toque is worn underneath the cap. National emblem and colors are worn as on the other types of cap.
(5) Toque. A wool-rayon knit toque is issued to protect the head and neck in cold weather. It may be worn under the cap or helmet (Figure 2). This toque is not a balaclava helmet, but consists of an unshaped sleeve with neck and face openings.
b. BODY CLOTHING. (1) Coat. The coat (Feldbluse) has appeared in several models.
(a) Prewar coat. The prewar coat was designed to be as handsome as possible, while at the same time providing a comfortable, practical, field coat affording maximum security and utility. Four pleated patch pockets are provided, with an inner pocket along the lower part of the right front flap for the first-aid kit. The gray-painted, stamped metal buttons are quickly removable, and are standard for all Armed Force uniforms. The sleeve ends are split so that they may be buttoned fairly snugly around the wrist. The collar is built like the collar of a U.S. shirt, except that it is stiff and is worn without a tie. Until 1943 the coat collar was protected by a sweat band (Kragenbinde) which buttoned to the inside of the collar. The coat collar was designed to be worn closed, although the collar hooks and top coat button might be freed in the field. Support for personal equipment is furnished by two adjustable metal belt holders in both front and rear. These coats were furnished with dark, bluish-green, imitation velvet collars and shoulder straps. Similar material was used as a backing for the national emblem worn on the right breast (often mistaken for an aviator's wings), and for chevrons and specialty badges.
Officers' prewar field coats are similar to those for noncommissioned officers and men, except that cuffs are worn. Officers, however, may wear the issue coat with proper insignia. General officers wear gold buttons and a gold national emblem. Chaplains' coats always have been distinguished by lack of shoulder straps. Since officers purchase their uniforms privately, some officers have acquired cotton field uniforms of field-gray color for summer wear.
(b) Wartime changes. As mentioned above, material shortages and production difficulties resulted in a lowering of the quality of the coat material. Besides the shoddy appearance of the newer coat, the most noticeable differences are the absence since mid-1943 of pocket pleats, and the use of straight-edge instead of pointed pocket flaps. The color of the cloth also tends towards a gray rather than a warm green. (Compare in Plate I the private in field uniform, who wears the prewar coat, with the first sergeant in mountain uniform, who wears the later type of coat.) Necessity finally has compelled adoption of the Model 1944 coat (see Figure 3), the main apparent differences of which are tailoring modifications permitting the use of less skilled labor and the conservation of materials.
(2) Trousers. (a) Prewar trousers. Until 1943, full trousers of the same field-gray material as the field uniform coat were issued to the German Army. Suspenders are used with this type of trousers which have two sets of suspender buttons sewn in place. Many of these trousers have reinforcements in the scat. Many have semi-breeches legs, so that the leg ends easily may be fitted into the marching boot. Two slanting buttoned front pockets, a buttoned hip pocket, and a watch pocket with ring are provided. The trousers may be tightened at the waist by means of two tapes and a metal buckle in the rear.
(b) Belted trousers (Rundbundhosen). In 1943 the German Army was issued field uniform trousers with built-in cloth belt after the style of Afrika Korps clothing. The decision to drop suspender trousers was governed by two considerations: the impracticability of suspenders when only shirt and trousers are worn, and the inconvenient and, under combat conditions, dangerous necessity of removing the coat and battle equipment to let down the trousers. These trousers are still cut high. Like ski or mountain trousers, the legs are tapered to fit into leggings or shoe-tops.
(3) Overcoat. The double-breasted six-button, wool-rayon overcoat is standard for all ranks, except that general officers wear gold buttons and have red lapel facings (and administrative officials in general-officer grades wear dark green facings). Collars, once of dark, bluish-green imitation velvet, now tend to be plain field-gray wool. The coat, which is cut narrow at the waist, flares at the bottom, and has two side slash pockets. The ordinary leather belt may be worn, run through slits on the side so that it runs inside the rear of the overcoat without interfering with the cloth belt at the back. Overcoats have degenerated in quality of material in the same manner as the field coats.
(4) Sweater. A light-weight wool-rayon,
(5) Gloves. A pair of field-gray knit wool-rayon gloves is furnished in the winter with the field uniform.
(6) Underwear. (a) Prewar type. The type of Army underwear issued until 1943 consists of a long-sleeved undershirt and lung underdrawers, worn in all seasons. They are made of medium-weight, tricot (machine-knit) cotton cloth, which gradually has incorporated increasing amounts of rayon. Since the war began, an increasing proportion of Army underwear has been dyed green for camouflage.
(b) 1943 shirt. In 1943 the collarless undershirt was replaced by a green tricot combination shirt-undershirt with collar and two buttoned breast pockets. The shirt remains a pullover type. The collar obviates the need for a sweatband inside the coat collar. When worn with the coat collar closed, the shirt shows slightly above the edge of the coat collar. When the coat is worn with the collar hooks and top button open, the shirt collar is worn outside the coat collar (see the 1st sergeant in mountain uniform, Plate I). The provision of a fairly presentable shirt-undershirt makes possible a coatless summer uniform.
c. FOOTGEAR. (1) Footwraps and socks. The German soldier is furnished with long, wool-rayon socks and with footwraps. The latter are of the best quality wool or of cotton flannel, cut in large squares. One square is wrapped around each foot over the socks before the shoe or boot is put on. Boots are fitted to two pair of socks, or one pair of socks and one pair of footwraps.
(2) Jack boots (Marschstiefel). Short boots have been the traditional footgear of German soldiers for centuries. This type of footgear, however, both requires an inordinate amount of leather and causes unnecessary wear on the heel during the march. The traditional marching jack boot therefore has received much adverse criticism in the German military press. By 1941 its use was limited to infantry, engineers, and motorcyclists. Issue finally has been completely suspended, although existing stocks will be used up.
(3) Anklet leggings. Short leggings worn with high shoes now replace the jack boot. The leggings are of cotton or linen duck, with the lower edge rimmed with leather. Each legging is secured on the outside with two leather straps with metal buckles.
(4) High shoes (Schnürschuh). High laced leather service shoes have always been part of the field uniform issued by the German Army. They now replace the boot entirely, instead of serving as alternate footgear.
d. FATIGUE OR WORK CLOTHING. Prior to the war and during its first 2 years, individuals might be issued both a work suit and a fatigue suit with the field uniform. Generally only one was issued each man, the work suit being reserved for those with heavy tasks, such as motor maintenance. Both are cut in the same style, but the work suit is of unbleached linen woven as herring bone twill, while the fatigue suit is of a lighter linen herringbone twill dyed a rush green (Plate III). In 1943 a fatigue coat, cut in the style of the field uniform coat, was issued. This latter type, often of a cloth containing a high percentage of rayon, may serve as a summer uniform.
e. ISSUE. The field uniform as described above is issued to all troops except those requiring special uniforms or special clothing issue because of unusual tasks or because they are expected to operate under abnormal terrain or weather conditions.
4. Special Uniforms and Clothing
Special clothing issued to German Army troops varies from minor changes or additions to the field uniforms, to uniforms of completely different cut, color, and material.
a. BLACK UNIFORM. Prior to the war, a black uniform was furnished crews of German Army tanks and armored cars. This uniform, which has undergone slight changes, now is worn by crews of "Elephants", by tank-destroyer and assault-gun crews in Panzer and Panzer Grenadier divisions, and by tank and armored-car crews.
(1) Headgear. (a) Beret. Until the winter of
(b) Black field cap. During the winter of
(c) 1934 black field cap (Einheitsmütze). Simultaneously with the introduction of the field-gray Einheitsmütze for the normal field uniform, the black uniform received a similar visored cap in black cloth. Insignia and braid for officers follow the field-gray cap pattern.
(2) Body clothing. (a) Coat. The black. double-breasted, wool-rayon coat issued with the black uniform is known as the "field jacket" (Feldjacke). It is illustrated in Plate II. Recent jackets lack the piping on the edge of the collar, and some may have large pockets on the left breast. The coat is made of the same quality of wool-rayon cloth as the field uniform. It is dyed black to conceal dirt and grease stains. A metal death's head is worn on each collar patch.
(b) Trousers. The black, wool-rayon trousers of the black uniform are referred to as "Field trousers" (Feldhosen). They resemble the later type of normal field uniform trousers in cut, with ski-pant legs. They are fitted with tapes, however, so that they may be bound to the leg at the ankle.
(c) Underwear. Underwear consists of long drawers and a collared tricot shirt-undershirt with black necktie. Until 1944, this shirt was gray. Issue since that date has been green, and therefore identical with underwear for the normal field uniform.
(d) Two-piece coverall. For camouflage purposes, for a summer uniform, and for a work garment a two-piece coverall of rush-green cotton or rayon is issued. It is cut identically with the black wool uniform.
(3) Footgear. Standard black service shoes, long socks, and footwraps are worn. The use of boots with the black uniform is contrary to German regulations.
b. FIELD-GRAY UNIFORM FOR ARMORED-VEHICLE CREWS. A wool-rayon field-gray uniform, identical in cut with the black uniform, was issued in the spring of 1940 to crews of assault guns. This uniform is worn by the crews of the assault guns and tank destroyers of infantry, light infantry, and mountain infantry divisions. The uniforms bear a death's head on each collar patch. Crews of armored trains and of self-propelled infantry and antiaircraft guns wear the same uniform with the usual field uniform collar patches (Plate II). A two-piece, rush-green coverall, identical with that issued to troops wearing the black uniform, also is issued to those wearing the field-gray uniform for armored-vehicle crews.
c. MOUNTAIN UNIFORM. The mountain uniform is similar to the normal field uniform with the following exceptions:
(1) Cap. The visored mountain cap, derived from the visored Austrian cap of the last war, is the original model for the M1943 Einheitsmütze. The mountain cap may be distinguished by a metal Edelweiss sewn to the left side of the cap (Plate I). A white camouflage cap cover is furnished with the cap.
(2) Coat and overcoat. Field uniform coats and overcoats are worn, but are embellished by an Edelweiss on the upper right sleeve (Plate I).
(3) Windjacket. The mountain windjacket is a light, double-breasted, long jacket of olive-colored, windproof, water-repellent duck (Plate III). This is less common now than the parka, which appears to be superseding it.
(4) Sweater. The mountain sweater, heavier than the normal field uniform sweater, has a turtle neck for added warmth.
(5) Trousers. Baggy trousers, designed and fitted so as not to bind the mountaineer at any point, are provided German mountain troops. These trousers are of the usual field-gray, wool-rayon cloth. Their ski-pant bottoms tie with tapes at the ankles. Special mountain suspenders are issued with these trousers.
(6) Parka and overpants. Until 1942, a white parka was issued on the basis of 10 per cent of unit strength. By the time of the Caucasus campaign, a new and improved type of parka, with overpants of the same material, was furnished to mountain divisions. The parka is reversible, with a tan and a white side, and is distinguished by three buttoned breast pockets. The cloth is unusual, in that the rayon fibers are designed so that some provide strength, while others swell when wet. The swelling action renders the garment water-repellent to a high degree. When dry, the fiber shrinks, permitting proper ventilation through the garment. The objective of the designers was to avoid the accumulation of sweat, which, if the wearer should rest after heavy exertion, would cause undue dampness and cooling and result in colds, pneumonia, and frostbite.
(7) Canvas overmittens. These mittens with leather palms are furnished in addition to the field uniform wool gloves to provide extra insulation against cold and to keep the wool gloves dry.
(8) Ski-mountain boots. Heavily-hobnailed, high laced shoes are provided as ski-mountain boots.
(9) Leggings. Until October 1944, short, wrap leggings of field-gray wool, such as those used by Austrian mountain troops in World War I, were standard for German mountaineers. Now these are being replaced by the canvas leggings issued with the normal field uniform.
(10) Rock-climbing shoes. High climbing shoes with rope or felt soles are issued when necessary.
(11) Camouflage clothing. Prior to 1941, white parkas or white suits were issued to mountain troops for operations in snow-covered regions. The present mountain parka and windproof trousers have a tan and a white side.
d. SPECIAL CLOTHING FOR MOTORCYCLISTS. Motorcyclists receive as supplementary clothing a raincoat, a pair of goggles, a pair of gauntlets, and, in winter, an extra sweater, wool oversocks, and a special coat. The gauntlets are of overcoat cloth with trigger finger. and may have leather palms. The footless oversocks come up high on the leg. The raincoat is a special, long, rubber coat, designed to be buttoned in a variety of ways to improve protection and to facilitate operation of the motorcycle (see motor vehicle coat in the color plates). This rubber coat also may be worn by drivers of light vehicles. In winter, a surcoat may be furnished — a heavy wool garment cut like the overcoat, but sufficiently large to be worn over all clothing including the overcoat. Recent surcoats have wool hoods.
e. SPECIAL CLOTHING FOR DRIVERS. Drivers of all types of vehicles receive motorcyclists' gauntlets, and for cold weather the surcoat. Drivers of horse transport also receive felt over-boots with wooden soles.
f. SUMMER UNIFORM. Prior to 1941, no uniform for field summer wear was issued. Since that date, uniforms developed for the Afrika Korps have been made available to troops operating in arid and tropical climates, such as prevail in Italy, Greece, the Crimea, and the Kuban delta. Mention already has been made of the adaptation of the normal field uniform and normal fatigues as a summer uniform. The summer field uniform proper includes the following items:
(1) Headgear. The first Afrika Korps troops were provided with tropical helmets and khaki cotton field caps in the cut of the old-style field uniform cap. These soon were replaced by a visored khaki cotton field cap copied from the mountain cap.
(2) Body clothing. Body clothing consists of loose-mesh rayon or cotton
undershorts and short-sleeved undershirt; a two-pocket, grayish-green or khaki
cotton shirt carrying shoulder-strap insignia; and khaki shorts or long trousers
with built-in cloth belts. Though shirtsleeves may be the uniform of the day, a
(3) Footgear. Desert boots with cloth tops are no longer necessary, but still may be encountered. High brown leather shoes are now the standard wear. Wool socks, rather than footwraps, are worn.
g. WINTER UNIFORMS. (1) Pre-1941 winter clothing. Prior to the winter
(2) Post-1941 winter clothing. As soon as the necessity for great quantities
of winter clothing became obvious, the German Army attempted numerous improvisations
based on many varieties of civilian, military, and captured clothing. Even
though a standard winter uniform was developed in 1942 and issued for the winter
(3) New winter uniform. The new winter uniform is designed to provide a comfortable combat uniform giving freedom of movement and use of equipment, yet offering protection against extreme cold and overheating during periods of exertion. The uniform is worn over the normal field uniform. Cartridge pouches are worn on the normal leather belt, under the skirt of the parka. This feature aids in providing essential body ventilation to prevent the accumulation of sweat. Several clips of ammunition are kept available in the parka pocket. The hooded parka has a waist belt, bottom drawstring, and double-buttoned flaps up the front that provide a windproof closure. A toque is worn under the steel helmet, and when the wind is strong, a stiff, felt face mask may be fitted. The trousers have two side pockets, and fairly short legs. These legs fit over special, white, rayon-canvas boots which have fabric soles and three-layer walls. The latter may be stuffed with straw or paper as added protection against cold and moisture. Since these boots are not suited for mud conditions, ski-mountain boots or felt boots with leather soles and facings may be used instead. The parka, toque, and trousers are issued in three weights. The most common is the medium weight, in which the material consists of two layers of windproof cloth with a rayon-wool interliner. The windproof cloth has the same water-repellent features as the latest mountain parka. Since the complete uniform contains only 9 per cent wool, the clothing is heavy for its warmth, and therefore not as efficient as the Germans had planned. The uniform originally had a white and a field-gray side, but by 1943 the need for better camouflage had become so apparent that a mottled design was substituted for the field-gray. Two designs of mottle are used—one is that of the normal shelter half, and the other is that of the Army camouflage jacket (Plate III). Both types are in use. To facilitate recognition, cloth bands in the color of the day may be buttoned to the sleeves of the parka.
h. CAMOUFLAGE CLOTHING. The original pre-war issue of a camouflage shelter
half proved insufficient for the camouflage of individuals. After considerable
improvisation on the part of field units, particularly in Italy, a standard
Army light-rayon camouflage jacket (Plate III) was issued and put into use
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