David A. Suter for Wehrmacht-Awards.com
The German Army in World War II used a number of different devices on shoulder straps and boards to indicate the unit the wearer belonged to. Without regard to the materials used, they fall into the general categories shown below. This section is divided up into 4 parts, based on these categories:
(Click on categories)
This part of the Strap and Board article is intended to be used as a reference guide to identify (hopefully) most all of the WWII German shoulder straps and boards that existed during the Third Reich. While this may sound fairly simple on the surface, the German Army apparently had a small section of bureaucrats whose job it was just to change things. These people should have been awarded the clerical equivalent of the Knight's Cross. Some units used different devices at different stages of the war, not to mention the changes to the classification of units themselves. And, of course, the same device on a different Waffenfarbe makes a lot of difference. And as for the colors, I have tried to standardize color designations. Some references refer to 'bright red,' 'orange red,' etc. I have just used 'red' and 'orange,' understanding that there were variations in the shades. In the case of the nightmare 'greens,' it becomes more complicated. There was light green, dark green, and grass green. Unfortunately, (except for the Official's dark green) there was much overlapping of color. To try and simplify matters, 'light green' and 'grass green,' etc. are just called 'green.' (An excellent visual overview of the various colors can be found on pages 308 and 309 of Uniforms and Traditions of the German Army, Volume 1 by LTC Jack Angolia and Adolf Schlicht.)
At this point however, a word of caution on the use of this section is necessary. This resource is designed to be used by someone who has a piece they are trying to identify, not the other way around. I used a number of sources to compile these lists, and in doing so I discovered that in some cases the same letter and Waffenfarbe were listed as both Gothic and Latin, with identical usage. I attribute this to the use of original wartime directives that may not have been clear. There are some devices listed (particularly in the Latin letter section) that I doubt ever actually existed. As an example, 'Fp' on red and lemon yellow are listed in both sections with the same use identification. I have never seen a Latin 'Fp' device. I have seen (and have) boards with the Gothic version, and the device is shown in the F.W. Assmann & Söhne Catalog. So, you ask, then why is the Latin 'Fp' listing in here at all? The simple answer is 'just to cover all the bases.' In addition, there are cases when a particular device may have been authorized, but was never actually produced. And finally, even though the list may indicate that a number should be displayed under a cypher, as a practical matter there was a limited amount of space available. If something 'had to go,' it was usually the number.
For straps and boards with multiple devices, the category is determined by the primary (upper) device. In many cases, each device would have three variants; embroidered enlisted, silver metal NCO, and gold metal officer. I have posted photos of as many examples as I currently have available to me, with the goal of eventually having at least one photo for every device (notwithstanding the 'existence' of the fantasy ones). Items that are 'published' have the citation noted, as well as the names of those collectors who have been so generous in sharing some of their items will the rest of us. To date, they are (in no particular order):
- Diane Schreiber
- COL Scott Pritchett
- Mike Pruett
- Tom Suter
- Wade Krawczyk
Items that aren't otherwise credited are, of course, mine. If there's something of mine you'd like a better (larger) photo of, just ask. If you have something in your collection that would 'fill a 'hole,' feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be credited. Also, please note that these four articles are not yet finished. They will be updated on a continuing basis as I find both the time and new information. Likewise, any error brought to my attention will be corrected.
And, finally, much credit goes to Seba. The fact that this article is here means that he was able to teach me how to used HTML codes and that I actually now know what WYSIWYG means.
All pictures from the David A. Suter collection unless otherwise noted.
Text and Content David A. Suter, Layout Sebastian Bianchi.
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