by JAMIE CROSS

With the outbreak of the Second World War and the rapid fall of Belgium, Holland and France, in 1940. Great Britain had to stand alone against the new modern German Army (Heer), Air force (Luftwaffe) and Navy (Kriegsmarine) . Standing alone and in need of large amounts of food stuffs, war materials etc., the only available option was the shipment of goods by sea. This engagement between our countries gave birth to two words linked whenever the Second World War was mentioned, the "Convoy" and the "Wolf pack".

Manufacturing and Technical Information

The "U" boat badge was instituted by the Commander in Chief of the Navy, Grand Admiral Raeder on 13th October 1939. The design of this badge follows an earlier award badge adopted at the end of the First World War. These awards all follow the same basic design of a wreath of gilded oak leaves encompassing a submarine. The First World War types have the boats bow on the right side and the flag to the stern on the left. The Second World War types have their bow facing left, with a deck gun and a flag to the back of the conning tower. Above the imperial type is the crown, whereas above the Third Reich type is the national emblem of the eagle and swastika. 

 

Photo Credit - MMiller

 

 

These badges were originally made of gilded brass or heavy tombak etc., but as the war dragged on later awards were made of fine zinc with a gilt wash that usually fades leaving the badge a gray color. At this point it is worth noting that on some badges the swastika was cut out. This was done on both early and late made badges. The badge was attached to the tunic by means of a pin, hinge and hook which was either soldered or cast into the badge when it was constructed, either horizontally or vertically and the pin could either be a round needle pin or a broad bladed pin.  So far we have seen the following makers marks on these awards:\

Solid swastika.  Cut out swastika.
  • 100 on the underside of the pin Schwerin.
  • F.o. Centre of U boat
  • 3 on the pin top side 
  • 5 on the pin top side.
  • RK in a circle at the Centre of U boat.
  • L/56 in Centre of U boat.
  • R.S. in Centre of U boat
  • W to the base of the badge under the hook.
  • WH
  • BSW
  • B & N L
  • L/13
  • L/53
  •  F.o. Centre of U boat
  •  Berlin 68 Centre of U boat
  • GWL in a circle at the Centre of U boat

 

Presentation, Wear and Documents

It was to be worn on the left breast of all service and dress jackets, jumpers and shirts. Embroidered versions also exist in golden yellow cotton/bullion thread on a blue woolen base cloth. The award can be encountered in a number of packets and boxes, the commonest are a paper packet of either blue or buff brown, with the award logo to the front and the makers name to the back. Other awards can be found in card or occasionally a case of high quality hinged simulated leather with a silk top lid, a flocked base and with a cut out to take the pin. 

All badges were issued with a citation, which incidentally are quite hard to find. Most have the "U" boat badge design to the top. 

Award Criteria

The badge was earned by a minimum of two engagements or sorties against the enemy, waved if wounded at the discretion of the boat commander, and as such was and still is a highly regarded and sought after award. It therefore could not be awarded to any desk jockey (A complaint many a "Tommy" made about their awards i.e. The Burma Star, etc.).

 Reproductions

As always these badges have been reproduced. One of the commonest has the makers name "Schwerin Berlin SW." These early fakes are made in brass but lack detail right to the extent of no propeller to the "U" boat. This error has now been corrected so you can now find Schwerin badges that are reproductions with and without propellers. One of the latest has the makers name of "Frank and Reif, Stuttgart." to the back. Fortunately this firm did not make the badge, so any with this mark are clear copies. The reproduction makers have also used most of the original makers marks with that of "Schwerin" being the most common. One reproduction badge has even been seen with the makers mark of "JMME" a renowned maker of Luftwaffee badges. So extreme care should be taken when buying this and indeed any badge.

REPRODUCTIONS


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