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The German Army Field Blouse, by Carsten Fries

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    The German Army Field Blouse, by Carsten Fries

    My friend, Carsten Fries, has most graciously provided this Forum with the following wonderful article on the various patterns of the Third Reich Heer Feldbluse. Hopefully, we will add to Articles at a later date.

    The German Army Field Blouse (Feldbluse) - 1933–45

    This article is intended to give a clear, concise overview of the evolution of the primary garment of German World War II army personnel. It is based almost entirely on primary-source information that was gathered at the German Bundesarchiv/Militärarchiv (BA/MA) in Freiburg between 2004 and 2006 within the scope of a larger writing project.

    A very brief review of the original uniform regulation sources may be helpful at this point. A comprehensive edition of Heeresdienstvorschrift (H.Dv.) 122, the German army service manual series that described uniform and equipment components in detail and set forth regulations for their wear and use, was not completed and publisheduntil 1934. In the interim, uniform and equipment updates were mainly announced in detailed Reichswehr-Ministerium directives and in the Heeresverordnungs-Blatt (army directives and instructions circular – abbreviated here as “HV-Blatt”). Post-1934 revisions and additions were generally (but not always) published in the Heeresverordnungs-Blatt and newly instituted Allgemeine Heeresmitteilungen (general army announcements – abbreviated here as “HM”) and were to be added to the H.Dv. 122 manuals as pasted-in supplements (Deckblätter). Hard-copy and microfiche holdings of the BA/MA include nearly complete series of both official periodicals and most of the H.Dv. 122 series and its supplements.

    By 1932, the German army had finally achieved a relative uniformity of appearance. World War I and transitional early Weimar-era clothing and equipment had been worn out and the understated field-gray service dress of the Reichsheer had become a generally accepted and familiar sight throughout Germany. The advent of the Third Reich the following year dissipated this harmonious image: The general issue of various new patterns of uniforms was overwhelmed by the rapid 1934–39 military expansion and the escalating material demands of what was to become a multi-front war. Evolving functionality, the uneven supply situation, and military “fashion” were also factors affecting the German army’s varied wartime uniform.

    The design of the field blouse introduced in the spring of 1933 [1] was based on the results of two series of comprehensive uniform and individual field equipment tests carried out by the Reichsheer. Company-sized contingents from all army branches participated in these. The initial model for enlisted personnel was a simple, relatively loose-fitting, five-button garment with four pleated patch pockets, a flat fall-down collar of basic cloth with a removable collar liner, adjustable slash cuffs, and four removable belt hooks on its front and back panels. Only the shoulders were lined. The first type of shoulder straps for enlisted personnel was pointed (a throwback to the shoulder strap style of the pre-1918 “old army”), made of basic cloth, and lacked branch piping. Modifications to the field blouse introduced prior to the war were:<O</O
    – Removable internal web straps were introduced in November 1934 to better support the belt hooks. The straps were threaded through slits in the shoulder lining cloth; their ends (with the attached hooks) corresponded with waist-high hemmed eyelets on the blouse’s front and back panels. It appears that they did not become general issue items until the summer of 1935. [2]<O</O
    – The collar was covered with field-gray badge cloth, as was the obverse of enlisted shoulder straps, and internal waist-adjustment tapes were to be added as of December 1934. [3] (The tapes were deleted in March 1936. [4])<O</O
    – The collar was ordered covered with dark bluish-green badge cloth in September 1935 as part of the general change of insignia backing cloth. [5] The obverse of enlisted shoulder straps was now also dark bluish-green badge cloth. <O</O
    – Lining cloth was added to front and back panels in December 1936. [6] This style, in combination with previous modifications, is generically known as the “M36” to collectors.<O</O
    – Further production of the pointed straps was phased out in November 1938 and still-existent supplies were to be used up by training units. [7] Piped shoulder straps with a rounded buttoning end were now also to be worn on the field blouse.<O</O
    Not all post-1939 changes were published in the Heeresverordnungs-Blatt or Allgemeine Heeresmitteilungen, but were apparently communicated directly to suppliers and depots by the army’s central clothing section (Heeres-Bekleidungs-Abteilung). Through 1943, the enlisted field blouse was modified as follows:<O</O
    – Coincident with the introduction of subdued insignia in April 1940, [8] the field blouse collar was again produced of basic cloth. This variation has been popularly termed “M41.”<O</O
    – A sixth button was added to the front buttoning panel in May 1941. [9]<O</O
    – Pocket pleats were deleted during 1942 (the “M42” style)<O></O>
    – Support straps were eliminated for mounted personnel in February 1940 and for bicyclist units in March 1942. [10] They were generally deleted in April 1943 [11] and replaced with short sewn-in cloth strips to hold the belt hooks. Straight pocket flaps and more capacious breast pockets were introduced that same year. This version of the field blouse is generally known as “M43.”<O</O
    The cotton lining material was changed to artificial silk by 1941. Degradation of basic cloth due to ever-increasing wartime shortages led to use of lower-quality wool material containing increasingly higher proportions of rayon and cellulose, and ultimately to the development of the short 1944-pattern field blouse (known among collectors as “M44”) and its introduction in September 1944. [12] The waist-length, two-pocket garment was similar in appearance to the British army battledress jacket and was generally worn with an open collar. Trials of the blouse were conducted at various service schools. It began making its appearance in front-line units toward the end of the war, albeit in insignificant numbers. It was most widely worn by enlisted replacement personnel arriving directly from recruit-training units. <O</O
    Final specifications were issued in March 1936 for the officers’ field blouse. [13] This differed in some respects from the enlisted version. It had French cuffs, an upper closure button arrangement and collar style like the parade tunic introduced the previous year, a two-piece back panel, and lacked belt hooks. Moreover, it was generally tailored of finer material, although versions primarily used for field duty were also made of field-gray basic cloth. Many junior officers opted to purchase issue enlisted field blouses from unit stores and subsequently have them tailored to be more form-fitting, and altered with the addition of French cuffs and officers’ insignia. A “decorated field blouse” (ausgeschmückte Feldbluse) with bright insignia and branch color–piped collar, buttoning panel, and upper cuff edges was introduced in July 1937. [14] It was to supersede the “old-style” Reichsheer walking-out tunic for social occasions and off-duty wear. Tailored, lightweight cotton moleskin field blouses were permitted for the warmer seasons. In 1943, after the enlisted field blouse was permitted to be worn with an open collar over a collared shirt (and tie), officers’ blouses were often tailored with open, non-closing lapels. Field-tailored examples made of German or captured gray, brown, or camouflaged shelter-quarter or tent cloth were also popular. A small number of officers wore converted enlisted or privately tailored 1944-pattern blouses. <O</O
    Both officers’ and enlisted field blouses were often altered by their wearers in ways that did not meet existing regulations. A practice by officers and NCOs already observed – and forbidden [15] – prior to the war was to shorten the blouse in a “sporty” manner to the point where the lower hem was just below the skirt pockets’ lower seam – doubtlessly widespread in mounted units to facilitate riding. On enlisted-issue blouses, the lower pockets’ side gussets were sometimes removed to give them a trimmer look. Moreover, after the collar cloth of the enlisted blouse was changed to field-gray basic cloth in 1940, it was often replaced with a privately tailored collar covered with dark bluish-green badge cloth. Prior to 1943, unauthorized open-collar wear was a constant irritation to the pedantic military authorities of rear and home front areas. [16]<O</O

    <HR align=left width="33%" SIZE=1>
    [1] RWM Az. 64 t 10V3 (VIa), Nr. 31/33, 4 May 1933. Cited in HV-Blatt 1936, Nr 349, “Bekleidung,” 31 March 1936. A copy of the introductory order itself could not be located.

    [2] First noted in HM 1934, Nr. 83, “Tornister aus Segeltuch,” 1 November 1934. Specifications and full description given in HM 1935, Nr. 268, “Tragegurte zur Feldbluse,” 11 June 1935.

    [3] HM 1934, Nr. 136, “Verwendung der Feldbluse zum Ausgehanzug,” 10 December 1934.

    [4] HV-Blatt 1936, Nr. 349, “Bekleidung,” 31 March 1936.

    [5] HM 1935, Nr. 505, “Bekleidung,” 10 September 1935.

    [6] HV-Blatt 1936, Nr. 1245, “Feldbluse,” 15 December 1936.

    [7] HV-Blatt 1938B, Nr. 452, “Änderung der Doppellitzen usw. zur Feldbluse für Unteroffiziere und Mannschaften,” 26 November 1938.

    [8] HM 1940, Nr. 554, “Dienstgradabzeichen für Unteroffiziere und Mannschaftten,” 25 April 1940.

    [9] HM 1941, Nr. 558, “Änderung des Schnittes der Feldbluse usw.,” 26 May 1941.

    [10] HM 1940, Nr. 216, “Gepäckerleichterung der Kavallerie,” 15 February 1940; HM 1942, Nr. 311, “Bekleidung und Ausrüstung,” 24 March 1942.

    [11] HM 1943, Nr. 364, “Einsparungen an Bekleidung und Ausrüstung,” 1 April 1943.

    [12] HM 1944, Nr. 603, “Neue Uniform,” 25 September 1944.

    [13] HV-Blatt 1936, Nr. 349, “Bekleidung,” 31 March 1936.

    [14] HV-Blatt 1937, Nr. 926, “Feldbluse für Offiziere usw.,” 12 July 1937. As of October 1937, senior officer candidates were also permitted to wear the blouse: HV-Blatt 1937B, Nr. 1324, “Feldbluse für Offiziere usw.,” 30 October 1937.

    [15] HM 1937, Nr. 157, “Anzug der Offiziere, Oberfähnriche und Wehrmachtbeamten (Heer),” 31 March 1937.

    [16] HM 1942, Nr. 795, “Trageweise der Feldbluse,” 31 August 1942.

    Copyright (c) 2007 by Carsten H. Fries<O</O

    Did you friend got all these informations from the new book about the feldbluse
    From J-P borg ???.
    The new book mention everything mentioned above ,which was also published in Militaria Magazine since about 2000.



      As I mentioned in the article, all of the source information was found in the German military archives while I was doing research for a different writing project. I wasn't aware that there was a new book out covering the same topic. Also, since I was deployed to various remote places with the US Navy until mid-2004, I had no regular access to Militaria Magazine (sadly, my school French is also generally not up to reading this publication with any degree of accuracy).

      Carsten Fries


        Originally posted by LHR1 View Post

        As I mentioned in the article, all of the source information was found in the German military archives while I was doing research for a different writing project. I wasn't aware that there was a new book out covering the same topic. Also, since I was deployed to various remote places with the US Navy until mid-2004, I had no regular access to Militaria Magazine (sadly, my school French is also generally not up to reading this publication with any degree of accuracy).

        Carsten Fries
        Well that is quite amazing that 2 writer are doing the same work at both ends of the world . The guys at MM started their work around the late 90's which has then been published in MM since 2000 and now coming into a book.
        Are you going to publish your work ? I hope you do soon The book by JP Borg is amazing and a must for tunic collectors ,it is about time to get solid references. The first to really do a little research was Eric Lefevre who's work can be found in the 20 years old book " La Wehrmacht ".
        Thank you for showing your research on the forum on the forum
        Best Regards


          Link to Feldbluse book

          Here is the link to the new book by Borg, it is comprehensive and covers much of the details mentioned above. It has has not yet been released for sale in the US. As a side note Militaria Magazine was always and still is a great source of collecting information, with the quality of the photographic content alone making it worth subscribing too even if French is not understood. Check out copies at military shows, very nice source of information.

          Collecting Nebeltruppe-Smoke Troops Items and Post-War Unit Histories


            Merci beaucoup !

            Bonjour Carsten Fries,

            I just receive the document you send to JPhilip, thank you very much for your help, I just want to write it and to say that I will be really proud and happy to complete the text you write here if you ask for !

            One more time thank you !

            Avec toute mon amitié



              Encore merci

              Soldat de Fer et Jhodgson,

              Thank you for your free adverts about the book to come !

              Now I just can hope that each of you will buy 10 examples !

              Sincérement merci, un peu de patience, il arrive !

              Amitiés de Laurent


                I bought this book the day after Christmas on Amazon with a gift certificate I had received. About every 2 weeks I get an E-mail pushing the date back a little further for its release. I'm hanging in there but wondering what the holdup is? I enjoy practicing my Francaise but would prefer an English version to pour over.


                  Does anyone have an update on the availability of Feldbluse yet ? I,ve just received another e-mail from amazon saying its been delayed again.


                    Hi Fokes,

                    I would like to say that if you have some time visit my website, I have a fairly good Artillery tunic in oberleutnant rank.




                      The book is now available in French.



                        Amazon Notification

                        Just received an e-mail from Amazon saying my copy of the book was sent!

                        Possibly the longest time I've ever had any item on order but should be worth the wait.


                          Thanks all I will be getting me one Thanks once more


                            Feldbluse has been available for several months at Barnes and Nobles. I highly recommend it!


                              Is this book just the same information printed and quoted in the uniform references from the last 20 yrs, back to Mollo, Bender, and Schlicht?


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