IBAN: UA423348510000026200404121108

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Rank insignia

Most rank insignia was manufactured in two versions - dress-quality for the Waffenrock, dress greatcoat and piped field tunic, and field-quality for the field tunic and field greatcoat.

For all uniforms general-officers wore dress-quality plaited shoulder-boards formed from two 4mm gold bullion (or, from 15 July 1938, golden-yellow 'celleon' thread) cords with one 4mm bright flat aluminium braid central cord on a bright-red branch colour facing-cloth backing. A Generalfeldmarschall had silver crossed stylised marshal's batons, other general-officers had 3-0 German silver or white aluminium pips 2.8-3.8cm wide. Branch insignia was in silver-plated aluminium. From 3 April 1941 all three cords of the Generalfeldmarschall were in bright gold or golden-yellow 'celleon' with miniature silver marshal's batons.

Dress-quality plaited shoulder-boards for field officers consisted of two 5mm wide bright flat aluminium braids on a branch colour facing-cloth backing and 2-0 pips 1.5cm, 2.0cm or 2.4cm wide, made of galvanically brassed aluminium, from 7 November 1935 gilt aluminium. During wartime they were made from golden galvanised or lacquered grey aluminium. Field-quality boards had matt aluminium, later feldgrau braid. M1935 branch insignia, introduced 10 September 1935, was, from 7 November 1935, made of brass-plated or gilt aluminium, and, during the war, of gold-coloured galvanised or lacquered grey aluminium or zinc alloy.

A tank-driver Gefreiter, exhausted by the Panzers' 'drive to the sea' through France in May 1940, enjoys a cigarette by his tank. He has not opted to wear his M1935 feldgrau field greatcoat over his M1934 special tank-crew uniform to protect it from the grime of battle. Note the drivers' goggles, civilian shirt and M1936 pullover. (Brian Davis Collection)

A classic view of a tank commander, wearing the 1934 special tank-crew uniform and the 1934 padded beret with tank commander's earphones. This officer is wearing the aluminium wire aiguillettes of a General Staff officer. France, May 1940. (Friedrich Herrmann)


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UnitsIn existenceBranch colourShoulder strap insigniaOther distinctions (comments)
Combat Troops - Staff (Kommandobehörde)
General Officers (Generate)1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Bright redNoneLarisch collar-patches, red trouser-stripes
Armed Forces High Command (OKW) officers1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940CrimsonNoneGold Kolben collar-patches, crimson stripes
Army High Command (OKH) officers1.9.1939-25.6.1940CrimsonNoneGold Kolben collar-patches, crimson stripes
General Staff (Generalstab) officers1.9.1939 -25.6.1940CrimsonNoneSilver Kolben collar-patches, crimson stripes
5 Army Group (Heeresgruppe) Staffs2.9.1939 - 25.6.1940WhiteG (Nord, Süd, A, B, C)
14 Army (Armee) Staffs1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940WhiteA / 1-10, 12, 14, 16, 18
2 Armoured Group (Panzergruppe) Staffs5.3.1940 - 25.6.1940WhiteXIX, XXII
33 Corps (Korps) Staffs1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940WhiteI-XXXIX series
6 Motorised Corps (Korps(mot.)) Staffs1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940WhiteXIV, XV, XIX, XXII, XXXIX, XXXXI
XVI Motorised Corps (Korps(mot.)) Staff1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940PinkXVI
Combat Troops Infantry (Infanterie)
143 Infantry (Infanterie) Division Staffs1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940WhiteD / 1 -557 series
431 Line Infantry (Infanterie) Regts.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940White1-664 series
Line Infantry (Infanterie) Regt. 171.9.1939 - 25.6.1940White17Brunswick skull cap-badge
4 Motorised (Inf.(mot.)) Division Staffs1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940WhiteD / 2, 13, 20, 29
12 Motorised (Infanterie(mot.)) Regts.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940White5, 15, 25, 33, 66, 69, 71, 76, 86, 90, 92-3
Infantry Regiment Groβdeutschland1.9.1939 - 30.9.1939WhiteGD monogramGroβdeutschland title
Motorized Regiment Groβdeutschland1.10.1939 - 25.6.1940WhiteGD monogramGroβdeutschland title
Hitler Escort (Führer-Begleit) Battalion29.9.1939-25.6.1940WhiteGD monogramFührer-Hauptquartier title (12.1939)
3 Anti-Aircraft (Flak) Bns.6.10.1939 - 25.6.1940WhiteFI / 31-2,46
6 Light Infantry (Jäger) Bns. in Infantry Regts.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Light green2 (I), 4 (II), 10(I), 15(III), 17(III), 83 (III)
4 Mountain (Gebirgs) Division Staffs1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Light greenD / 1-3, 6Edelweiss badges. Mountain cap
11 Mountain (Gebirgs) Regts.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Light green98-100, 136-143Edelweiss badges. Mountain cap
1 Commando Bn. (Bau-Lehr Bataillon zbV 800)10.1.1940 - 31.5.1940--Any appropriate uniform
1 Commando Regt. (Brandenburg zbV 800)1.6.1940 - 25.6.1940--Any appropriate uniform
Penal Bn. (Sonderabteilung I, II, IX, XIII) inmates8.1.1940 - 25.6.1940WhiteNone (no shoulder-straps)Uniforms without insignia
Combat Troops - Mobile Troops (Schnelle Truppen)
1 Cavalry (Kavallerie) Division Staff25.10.1939 - 25.6.1940Golden yellowD / 1
4 Mounted (Reiter) Regts.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Golden yellow1, 2, 21, 22Cavalry breeches & boots
4 Mobile (leichte) Divisional Staffs1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Golden yellowD / 1-4
7 Motorized Cav. (Kavallerieschützen) Regts.1.9.1939 -25.6.1940Golden yellowS/4, 6-11
4 Armoured (Panzer) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Pink33, 65-67Skull collar-patches, black
10 Armoured (Panzer) Division Staffs1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940PinkD / 1-10 (6.7.39)Skull collar-patches, black uniform
17 Armoured (Panzer) Regts.1.9.1939-25.6.1940Pink1-8, 10-11, 15, 23, 25, 31, 33, 35, 36Skull collar-patches, black uniform
1 Armoured Instruction (Panzer Lehr) Bn.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940PinkL1936 Spanien 1939 cuff-title
11 Motorised Rifle (Schützen) Regts.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940PinkS / 1-3, 12-4, 33, 69, 86, 110-1
7 Motorised Rifle (Schützen) Regts.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940PinkS / 4, 6-11(Ex-Motorised Cavalry Regts)
5 Motorcycle Recce. (Kradschützen) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940PinkK / 1-2, 6-8
Motorcycle Recce. (Kradschützen) Bn. 31.9.1939 - 25.6.1940PinkK / 3Dragoon eagle cap-badge
3 Armd Recce. (Panzeraufklärung) Bns.1.3.1940 -25.6.1940PinkA / 4-5, 8
15 Mounted Recce. (Aufklärung) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Golden yellowA / 54-187 series
Mounted Recce. (Aufklärung) Bn. 1791.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Golden yellowA / 179Dragoon eagle cap-badge
32 Div. Recce. (Divisionsaufklärung) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Golden yellowA / 1, 3-12, 14-9, 21-8, 30-2, 35, 44-6, 156
Div. Recce. (Divisionsaufklärung) Bns 33, 35- - 25.6.1940Golden yellowA / 33-4, 36Dragoon eagle cap-badge
10 Motorised Recce. (Aufklärung(mot.)) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Golden yellowA / 1-8, 20, 29
148 Antitank (Panzerabwehr) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940PinkP / 1-672 (divisional series)
144 Antitank (Panzerjäger) Bns.16.3.1940 - 25.6.1940PinkP / 1-672 (divisional series)
3 Mtn. Antitank (Gebirgspanzerabwehr) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940PinkP / 44, 47-8Edelweiss badges. Mountain cap
4 Mtn. Antitank (Gebirgspanzerjäger) Bns.21.3.1940 - 25.6.1940PinkP / 44, 47-8, 55Edelweiss badges. Mountain cap
Combat Troops - Artillery (Artillerie)
147 Artillery (Artillerie) Regts.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Bright red1-557 (divisional series)
4 Motorised Artillery (Artillerie (mot.)) Regts.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Bright red2, 13, 56/20, 29
4 Mtn. Artillery (Gebirgsartillerie) Regts.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Bright red79, 111-2, 118Edelweiss badges. Mountain cap
2 Mtd. Artillery (Reitende Artillerie) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Bright redR / 1-2Cavalry breeches & boots
1 Mtd. Artillery (Reitende Artillerie) Regt.10.1.1940 - 25.6.1940Bright redR / 1Cavalry breeches & boots
10 Armd. Artillery (Artillerie) Regts.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Bright red73-6, 78, 80, 90, 102-3, 116
40 Survey (Beobachtung) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Bright redB / 1-36, 39, 40, 43, 44
Ordnance officers (Offiziere(W))1.9.1939 -25.6.1940Bright redGold crossed cannon
3 Smoke (Nebel) Bns.1.9.1939 - 30.9.1939Bordeaux red1, 2, 5
9 Rocket Projector (Nebelwerfer) Bns.22.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Bordeaux red1-9
Combat Troops - Engineers (Pioniere)
148 Engineer (Pionier) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Black1-557 (divisional series)
4 Motorised Engineer (Pionier) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Black2, 13, 20, 29
5 Mtn. Engineer (Gebirgspionier) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Black54, 82, 83, 85, 91Edelweiss badges. Mountain cap.
10 Armd. Engineer (Pionier) Bns.1.9.1939 - 14.5.1940Black37-9, 49, 57-9, 79, 86, 89Skull collar patches. Black uniform
10 Armd. Engineer (Panzerpionier) Bns.10.5.1940 - 25.6.1940Black & white37-9, 49, 57-9, 79, 86, 89Skull collar-patches, black uniform
220 Pioneer (Bau) Bns.1.9.1939 - 22.12.1939None (1-360 sorties)RAD uniforms
220 Pioneer (Bau) Bns.23.12.1939 - 25.6.1940Light brown1-360 series
15 Fortress Pioneer (Festungsbau) Bns.9.12.1939 - 25.6.1940Black19-314 series
4 Fortress Engineer (Festungspionier) Bns.7.2.1940 - 25.6.1940Black305-8
Fortress Instructors (Festungswerkmeister)1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940CrimsonWhite FpBlack & white shoulder cords
5 Railway Eng. (Eisenbahnpionier) Regts.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940BlackE / 1-4, 68
Engineer Specialist Generals (Generating.))1.1.1940 - 25.6.1940Bright redSilver cogwheelLarisch collar-patches, red trouser-stripes
Engineer Specialist officers (Ingenieure)1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940OrangeGold cogwheel
Combat Troops - Signals (Nachrichtentruppe)
148 Signals (Nachrichten) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Lemon yellow1-557 (divisional series)
4 Motorised Signals (Nachrichten) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Lemon yellow2, 13, 20, 29
4 Mtn. Signals (Gebirgsnachrichten) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Lemon yellow54, 67-8, 91Edelweiss badges. Mountain cap
10 Armd Signals (Panzernachrichten) Bns.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Lemon yellow37-9, 77, 79, 82-5, 90Skull collar-patches, black uniform
1 Signals Instruction (Lehr) Battalion1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Lemon yellowL1936 Spanien 1939 cuff-title
14 War Correspondent (Propaganda) Coys.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Lemon yellow501-690 (Field Army series)Propagandakompanie cuff-title
Supply Troops (Versorgungstruppen)
608? Mot. Transport (Kraftwagen) Cols.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Light-blueN / 1-557 (divisional series)
920? Horsedrawn Transport (Fahr) Cols.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Light-blueN / 1-557 (divisional series)Cavalry breeches & boots
20 Mtn. Horsedrawn Transport (Fahr) Cols.1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Light-blueN / 79, 94, 111, 112Edelweiss badges. Mountain cap
Medical Corps (Sanitäts) General-Officers1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Bright redSilver Aesculapius staffLarisch collar-patches, red trouser-stripes
Medical Corps (Sanitäts) officers1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Dark-blueGold Aesculapius staffRed cross armband
166 Horsedr.Med. (Sanitäts) Coys-NCOs & men1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Dark-blue1-557 (divisional series)Red cross armband; medical cuff-badge
? Mot.Medical (Sanitäts) Coys - NCOs & men1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Dark-blue1-557 (divisional series)Red cross armband; medical cuff-badge
166 Field Hospitals (Feldlazarette) - NCOs & men1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Dark-blue1-557 (divisional series)Red cross armband; medical cuff-badge
Veterinary Corps (Veterin#228;r) General-Officers1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Bright redSilver snakeLarisch collar-patches, red trouser-stripes
Veterinary Corps (Veterin#228;r) officers1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940CrimsonGold snakeCavalry breeches & boots
Farrier Instructors (Hufbeschlaglehrmeister)1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940CrimsonWhite horseshoeYellow wool shoulder-pieces
148 Veterinary (Veterin#228;r) Coys - NCOs & men1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Crimson1-557 (divisional series)Cavalry breeches & boots
27 Guard (Wach) Bns.1.9.1939 - 31.3.1940White502-631 series
10 M.P (Feldgendarmerie) Bns.1.9.1939 - early 1940(None) 531, 541, 551, 561, 571, 581, 591, 682-3, 685Gendarmerie uniform; green armband
10 M.P. (Feldgendarmerie) Bns.Early 1940 - 25.6.1940Orange531, 541, 551, 561, 571, 581,591,682-3, 685Sleeve-badge & Feldgendarmerie title
10 M.P. (Feldgendarmerie) Traffic Control Bns.26.10.1939 - early 1940None (751-760)Gendarmerie uniform: pink armband
10 M.P. (Feldgendarmerie) Traffic Control Bns.Early 1940 - 25.6.1940Orange751-760Sleeve-badge & Feldgendarmerie title
201 M.P. (Feldgendarmerie) Troops1.9.1939 - early 1940None (1-557)Gendarmerie uniform: green armband
201 M.P. (Feldgendarmerie) TroopsEarly 1940 - 25.6.1940Orange1-557 (divisional series)Green armband
Army Patrol Service (Heeresstreifendienst)18.11.1939 - 25.6.1940Any colourOriginal unitAdjutant's lanyard
Security Troops (Sicherungstruppen)
24 Army Rear-Area Commanders (Korück)1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940WhiteK / 501-672 series, Norwegen
14 District Commands (OFK)1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940WhiteK / 540-680 seriesKommandantur gorget?
49 Territorial Rifle (Landesschützen) Regts.1.9.1939 - 31.3.1940White1 / 1-3 (Army District series)
21 Territorial Rifle (Landesschützen) Regts.1.4.1940 - 25.6.1940WhiteL / 22-183 series
306 Territorial Rifle (Landesschützen) Bns.1.9.1939 - 31.3.1940WhiteI / I-XII / XVIII (Army District series)
238 Territorial Rifle (Landesschützen) Bns.1.4.1940 - 25.6.1940WhiteL / 201-912 series
33 POW Camps - officers (Oflag)1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940WhiteKG / II / A-XXI / C (Army District series)
45 POW Camps - NCO's & men (Stalag)1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940WhiteKG / I / A-XXI / E (Army District series)
Army Officials (Heeresbeamten) - dark-green underlay (except chaplains) Special rank insignia
Court Martial (Reichskriegsgericht) Generals1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Bright redNoneLarisch collar-patches, green stripes
Court Martial (Reichskriegsgericht) Officials1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Bordeaux redNone
District Administration (Intendantur) Generals1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Bright redSilver HVLarisch collar-patches, green stripes
District Administration (Intendantur) Officials1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Bright redGold HV
Paymaster (Zahlmeister) Officials1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940WhiteGold HV
Field Postal Service (Feldpost) Generals1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Lemon yellowSilver FPLarisch collar-patches, green stripes
166 Field Post (Feldpost) Offices1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Lemon-yellowGold FP. (1-557 divisional series)
37 Field Sec.Pol. (Geheime Feldpolizei) Groups1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Light blueGold GFP (1-637 series)
Chaplain-General (Feldbischof)1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940VioletNo shoulder-boardsGold collar-patches, violet cap-band
Chaplains (Pfarrer)1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940VioletNo shoulder-boardsSilver collar-patches, violet cap-band
War Substantive Chaplains (Kriegspfarrer)1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940VioletNo shoulder-boardsViolet cap-band
Music Directors (Musikinspizienten)1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Bright redLyreGold Kolben patches: special shoulder-boards
Bandmaster officers (Musikmeister)1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Branch colourLyre / Number of attached regt./bn.Special shoulder-boards
Band NCOs & men (Musiker/Trompeter)1.9.1939 - 25.6.1940Branch colourNumber of attached regt./bn.Shoulder 'wings'
Special Officers and NCOs (Sonderf#252;hrer)1.9.1939 - 2.3.1940None (silver Aesculapius staff or snake)Uniform of attached unit
Special Officers and NCOs (Sonderf#252;hrer)21.3.1940 - 25.6.1940Grey-blueNone (silver Aesculapius staff or snake)'Old Prussian' patches, grey-blue cap-band

Dress-quality shoulder-boards for captains and subalterns consisted of two 7-8mm wide bright flat aluminium braids placed side-by-side on a branch colour facing-cloth backing with 2-0 gilt aluminium pips and branch insignia as for field officers. Field-quality boards had matt aluminium, later feldgrau braid.

Music Directors wore field officers' shoulder-boards with two 4mm wide bright flat aluminium braids with a 3mm wide bright-red central silk cord, all on a bright-red facing-cloth backing (from 18 February 1943 the branch colour as for bandmasters) with a gilt aluminium lyre and 1-0 gilt aluminium pips. Senior and Junior Bandmasters wore shoulder-boards consisting of five 7mm wide bright flat aluminium braids placed side-by-side, alternating with four 5mm bright red silk braids on a branch colour facing-cloth backing (white, light-green, bright red or golden-yellow or black) with a gilt aluminium lyre and up to two gilt aluminium pips. Field-quality boards had matt aluminium, later feldgrau braid.

Technical NCOs had distinctive plaited shoulder-boards with devices and pips in white aluminium; these were made from grey aluminium or zinc alloy during the war. From 23 September 1937 Farrier-Instructors wore interwoven triple golden-yellow woollen cords with a double golden-yellow woollen cord edging all on a crimson branch colour underlay, a horseshoe and 1-0 pips. From 9 January 1939 Fortress Engineer Foremen wore the same shoulder-boards in black artificial silk with a white artificial silk inner edging all on a black branch colour underlay, with a cogwheel (from 9 June 1939 a Gothic Fp) and 1-0 pips. On 7 May 1942 both sets of shoulder-boards were changed to red, with bright aluminium and red interwoven cords, with a double red cord edging. Farrier-instructors had a crimson underlay and a horseshoe, fortress-engineers a black underlay and Fp, and 2-1 pips.

Dress-quality rank insignia for senior NCOs consisted of 3-1 bright aluminium pips (1.8cm, 2cm or 2.4cm wide) on M1935 bluish dark-green cloth shoulder-straps, with branch colour piping and edged on all sides by 9mm wide bright aluminium 'single-diamond' pattern yarn braid introduced 10 September 1935. Field-quality rank insignia consisted of the same pips and braid on the M1933, M1934 and M1935 unpiped, and M1938 and M1940 piped field shoulder-straps. 9mm silver-grey artificial silk braid was also worn, with grey aluminium and zinc alloy pips during the war, and from 25 April 1940 feldgrau matt artificial silk or cellulose-fibre wool braid. Branch insignia was of the same metal as the pips. A Hauptfeldwebel/Hauptfeldwebeldiensttuer wore a second 1.5cm wide bright aluminium 'double-diamond' pattern yarn braid above the cuff of the Waffenrock, and two 9mm braids on the cuff of other uniforms.

Junior NCOs wore the same shoulder-straps and braids as senior NCOs, the Unterfeldwebel wearing braid around the shoulder-strap, the Unteroffizier omitting braid across the base of the strap. Dress-quality branch insignia was fully embroidered in the branch colour on the shoulder-strap, while field-quality insignia was in branch colour wool or cotton yarn, and from 19 March 1937, also in artificial silk, embroidered in a chain-stitch pattern. Engineers' black and Medical Corps' dark-blue unit insignia were outlined in white chain-stitch on bluish dark-green shoulder-straps to render them more visible. During the war the embroidery was often full flat thin yarn.

Other ranks wore the same shoulder-straps as junior NCOs, with branch colour branch insignia but without braids. The M1936 rank insignia consisted of chevrons, point-down, of 9mm NCO braid combined with embroidered silver-grey or aluminium thread pips (hand-embroidered bright aluminium bullion on privately purchased items). The insignia was sewn on to a triangular (circular for Obersoldat) backing of bluish dark-green facing-cloth, changed in May 1940 to feldgrau uniform cloth, and black for tank crew uniforms. This rank insignia was adopted on 25 September 1936 (with effect from 1 October 1936) and developed from the original Reichswehr system adopted 22 December 1920.

From 26 November 1938 rank insignia on the white and reed-green twill fatigue-uniforms consisted of 1cm wide feldgrau fabric and 'single diamond' braid with two thin black inner pipings. A Stabsfeldwebel wore a braid ring below two braid chevrons point-up, on each lower-sleeve; Hauptfeldwebel two rings; Oberfeldwebel, a ring and a chevron, Feldwebel, a ring only. Unterfeldwebel and Unteroffizier wore braid collar edging only. This NCO insignia was replaced by new sleeve rank insignia introduced 22 August 1942. Men wore chevrons of the same braid and feldgrau fabric, with braid pips sewn on to white or reed-green backings.

Two soldiers in M1935 field uniform, the NCO (left) carrying an MP28/II Schmeisser submachine gun, guard British prisoners in northern France, May 1940. Note the general absence of field equipment - M1938 gas mask canister and M1931 canvas bread-bag and bayonet - but no Y-straps. (Josef Charita)

IBAN: UA423348510000026200404121108

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