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Text by MARTIN WINDROW, Color plates by MICHAEL ROFFE. YEAR 1972
One of the architects of the Panzer arm, in normal General's service dress. The peaked cap, of fine-quality material, is field-grey - but slight variations in shade were common with items of this quality, a comment which applies with equal force to the tunic and breeches. The band is dark-green velvet, and the piping around crown seam and band is gold metallic thread. The eagle badge is woven in gold thread on a dark-green background; pressed gilt metal eagles were also common. (Before January 1943 the insignia on the General's cap were in silver metal or thread, although the other gold distinctions accompanied them.) The oak-leaf spray surrounding the national cockade is also in gold, as are the two cords.
The fine-quality tunic, frequently of a rather pale shade and sometimes almost approaching a blue-grey rather than a green-grey colour, has four pockets; the large pleated breast-pockets are external, the lower pair internal with slanted flaps. All buttons on the tunic are of gilt metal. The national emblem above the right breast-pocket is woven in gold thread on a dark-green ground. The turn-down collar is of dark-green cloth, with the large red collar patches of General's rank, embroidered in gold with the traditional oak-leaf motif. The red shoulder-strap underlay is common to General Officers of all branches; it bears a heavy plaited motif in mixed gold and silver cord, and two silver pips. The pegged breeches have the broad red stripes of General's rank down the outer seam - actually a thin line of red piping follows the seam itself, with a broad red stripe on either side.
The Ritterkreuz is worn at the throat. On the left breast are the 1939 Bar to the 1914-18 Iron Cross; the Iron Cross 1st Class; the 1914-18
Wound Badge in silver; and one of the rare (ninety-nine only) First World War Tank Assault Badges. This decoration was awarded in 1921 to crew members of tanks who had taken part in three or more actions during the First World War - an exclusive band indeed.
The mobility of the Panzer Division was only possible if advanced reconnaissance and internal control were maintained at all times. Motorcycle units were used in a variety of roles, including armed light reconnaissance, as well as providing a useful means of mobile liaison. For the protection of the motorcycle riders the German Army produced a voluminous coat of rubberized fabric, illustrated here as worn by a reconnaissance unit motor-cyclist after a hard journey in the Russian thaw. The full skirts of the coat could be pulled back between the legs and buttoned around the calves, giving warmth and protection while riding astride the bike. This is the reason for the somewhat 'pregnant' appearance of the rider - the cut of the coat when buttoned in this way is intended to allow comfort in the sitting position, not elegance when standing!
The coat has a broad turn-down collar of field- grey woollen material, and two pairs of silver-grey buttons on the chest; it is double-breasted for greater wind protection. No collar-patches are worn. The wrists have tight-buttoning bands, and there are two side-pockets, opening almost vertically. Civilian scarves were widely used throughout the Wehrmacht in the field. The gas-mask canister was worn around the neck by motorcyclists. The normal shoulder-straps are looped and buttoned to the coat - in this case piped in cavalry yellow, typical of a recce unit. Although such decorations would seldom be seen in the field, we have included in our figure the motorcyclist's shoulder tally - a Gothic 'K' (for Kraftrad) above his Abteilung number, both woven in the Waffenfarbe of the branch to which he is attached. Note the strapped leggings of canvas and leather worn over the boots.
A Panzer major studies his maps, slightly hampered by the cables and straps of earphones, throat microphones and field-glasses. Note silver-piped sidecap.
An N.C.O. - the rank corresponds roughly to sergeant - preparing to go out on the town while on leave. For 'walking out', the service tunic (Heeres Dienstanzug) was in practice worn much more frequently than the Waffenrock illustrated in Plate A1, although the latter was intended for walking out as well as parade wear.
The Schirmmütze for non-commissioned personnel is basically similar to the officer's model, although of poorer quality; the crown is smaller, the silver cords of the officer are replaced by a black gloss-leather chinstrap, and the badges are in a duller silver-grey alloy. The colours are the same, however; field-grey crown, dark-green band, and Waffenfarbe piping - in this case, the green of the armoured infantry. The 1936 service tunic with the dark-green collar is worn buttoned to the throat with this order of dress. The 9mm-wide silver braid distinguishes all ranks from Unteroffizier upwards, and reappears on the shoulder-straps; the braid follows the edge of the straps 'on all three sides', identifying the wearer's exact rank. The usual national emblem appears above the right breast-pocket, and the ribbon of the Iron Cross 2nd Class is worn in the second buttonhole. The six small eyelets in the front (and back) of the tunic are for the removable brass belt-hooks, normally fitted when field equipment is being worn, to help support the weight of the belt. Above the left breast-pocket are medal ribbons marking the soldier's service on the West Wall and in the first winter in Russia - the latter usually referred to as 'The Order of the Frozen Meat'. The bronze badge on the pocket is the SA Sports Badge, won during the soldier's prewar membership of the Sturmabteilungen or Storm Troopers. He wears no Assault Badge; his trade badge, the cloth insignia on the right forearm, identifies him as Zeugmeister - a clothing store N.C.O.! His Iron Cross is no doubt a memento of some unexpected encounter in the Russian winter, when Zhukov's Siberians penetrated deep behind German lines.