Kriegsmarine Feldgrau Shoulder Straps Rank and Distinctive Unit Insignia By Eduardo Delgado The feldgrau uniform was worn by all Kriegsmarine personnel while they received the infantry training and by land-based units, and all the enlisted personnel wore the shoulder straps with the outer garments, tunics and coats. The main land-based units of the Kriegsmarine along the war were: -
Coastal Artillery Battalions (KĂźstenartillerieabteilungen) Naval Antiaircraft Battalions (Marineartillerieflakabteilungen) Ship Cadre Battalions (Schiffsstammabteilungen) NCO Instruction Battalions (Marineunteroffizierlehrabteilungen) Disciplinary and War Special Battalions Aircraft Warning and Reporting Detachments (Flugmeldeabteilungen) Naval Transport Battalions (Marinekraftfahrabteilungen) Motorized Naval Signal Battalions (Motorisierte Marinenachrichtenabteilungen) Channel Guard Detachments (Kanlawachabteilungen) Naval Infantry Battalions and Divisions and Antitank Battalions (Marineinfanteriebataillon, Marineinfanteriedivisionen, Panzerjagdbataillon) Naval Engineering Units, including the Naval Engineering Battalions (Marinepionierbataillone), the Naval Fortress Engineer Battalions (Marinefestungspionierbataillone) and the Naval Construction Battalions (Marinebaubataillone).
In 1933 the Reichsmarine maintain the Kaiserlische Marine pointed end shoulder straps made in dark feldgrau cloth that were in use on all fieldgrey Navy garments since January 1921, and the evolution of the base color was very similar than in the Heer. -
From 1933 to 1934 shoulder straps in uniform feldgrau basic cloth, used mainly with the feldblose and maintaining the dark feldgrau cloth for the overcoats. From 1935 shoulder straps in bluish dark green cloth. From 1940 shoulder straps in uniform feldgrau basic cloth.
By regulations, the size of the shoulder straps goes from a length of 10,5 to 12,5 cm on detachable straps and 9,5 to 13,0 cm on sew-in ones, and a width of 5,5 to 5,8 cm. It's very unusual but sometimes we can find shoulder straps with rounded end wearing by Kriegsmarine unit men.
The sew-in shoulder straps were permitted on Grade I tunics, field blouses and greatcoats, used with the parade and waking out uniform. Detachable shoulder straps had a tongue for buttoning on, which was made of field-grey basic cloth and lining of grey cotton cloth, and those for greatcoats with double-laid lining cloth.
There are some stamps and labels that can be found on the back and the tongue of the shoulder straps, the naval clothing depot code, W. or K. (Wilhelmshaven or Kiel) plus the date, and the name tags of the owner embroidered in red.
Is rare to see, but some makers stamped the manufacturer information on the tongue lining with black or blue indelible ink. The left one is stamped WĂ„STI M, that stands for WĂ¤schestickerei (linen embroidery), in reference to the tongue material. The meaning of the M is unknown, could be a maker reference.
Shoulder boards were made in very different kind of fabric, and they were made also in occupied countries as Holland, Denmark or France using local cloths. We can find them made in the basic uniform cloth in wool, in moleskin or gabardine.
Rank insignias: Privates didnâ€™t have any rank insignia on the shoulder straps while the junior and senior NCOs had a 1 cm wide matte gold tress sewn at a distance of 1-2 mm from the edges, and folded at the corners, and senior NCOs had also silver pips with a side length of 1,1 cm, but is usual to find them smaller. We can find many different tress models in the NCOs shoulder straps:
The different combinations of tress and pips are as follow: -
Junior NCOs: Maat: tress sewn about the outer edge but none at the lower end. Obermaat: tress around the entire outer edge.
Senior NCOs: tress around the entire outer edge. Feldwebel – 1 pip below insigne Stabsfeldwebel – 2 pips, side by side, below insigne Oberfeldwebel – 2 pips, one above and one below the insigne Stabsoberfeldwebel – 3 pips, two below the insigne side by side and one above -
NCO Candidates: a tress loop around the base of the shoulder straps
Cadets: privates and junior NCO shoulder straps, and since May 5th, 1944, two sewn together loops of gold NCO tress around the base of the shoulder straps.
Fähnriche (junior officer candidates): as Obermaat, and since May 5th, 1944, two sewn together loops of gold NCO.
Oberfähnriche (senior officer candidates): as Oberfeldwebel.
Wartime officer candidates: two sewn together loops of gold NCO tress around the base of the shoulder straps.
Distinctive unit insignias: Units were distinguished by a different insignia centered on shoulder straps of enlisted men and senior and junior candidates; only the armored career NCOs continued to wear their career insignia as with the blue uniform. The insignia of the privates and junior NCOs were machine embroidered of gold-yellow wool, cotton or artificial silk thread, while the insignia of senior NCO were pressed of gold colored metal attached by means of prongs on the reverse. The insignias used during the early period maintain the Reichmarine style, the thread was thicker and the insignias were slightly larger in size. Metal insignias wore by senior NCOs were smaller than the embroidered versions to accommodate the rank pips. From 1940 shoulder straps with simplified insignias, without numbers, were used.
It is not rare to find shoulder straps of senior NCOs with embroidered unit insignia instead of the metal ones, which were worn usually in wartime by Obermaat promoted to Feldwebel rank, when regular metal insignias were not available. Also we can find reissued shoulder straps used by senior NCOs inside out after their promotion, or with the metal device placed over the embroidered insignias.
The distinctive unit insignia on shoulder straps of junior officer candidates were machine embroidered up to May 1944 when metal unit insignia were introduced. Battalion numbers were abolished during the war. There are war time pictures that evidence the use of numbers in the shoulder straps against regulations to indicate the Marine Artilleríe Abteilung (MAA). Anyway this was rarely seen. In this picture we can see a Matt wearing sew-in shoulders, with metal devices against regulation, and with the MAA number, also in metal, above them.
Coastal Artillery Battalions and Naval Antiaircraft Battalions
Up to March 13th, 1939
Since March 13th, 1939
Two crossed unfouled anchors with the battalion’s number above in roman numerals from I to VII1
An unfouled anchor with a winged flaming shell superposed and the battalion’s number above in arabic numerals
The Marine Artillerie Abteilung were formed in 1920 and disbanded in August 26th, 1939. I M.A.A. was located in Kiel, II in Wilhelmshaven, III in Swinemünde, IV in Cuxhaven, V in Pillau, VI in Emden and VII in Memel. 1
Two crossed unfouled anchors with the battalion’s Naval Station attachment above in Latin capital letters, “O” for the Baltic-Ostsee Station and “N” for the North SeaNordsee Station
Two crossed unfouled anchors with the battalion’s number above in Arabic numerals from 1 to 14
Two crossed unfouled anchors without number
A fouled anchor with the battalion’s number above in Arabic numerals (very rarely seen on period pictures)
Ship Cadre Battalions
NCO Instruction Battalions
This is the only period picture seen until now that shows the Arabic number in use.
Special Disciplinary Battalions (since November 9th, 1938) and War Special Battalions (since 1940)
Cadre personnel: unfouled anchors
Not cadre personnel: two crossed unfouled anchors with a latin letter “S” above (Not found yet)
Aircraft Reporting Detachments (since April 9th, 1938
Two crossed unfouled anchors with four lightning bolts crossed at the center by a wing and the number detachment in Arabic numerals above. Senior NCO used, as was regulated, a metallic device, an unfouled anchor superimposed with the four lightning bolts crossed at the center by a wing
In this picture we can see the very rare Aircraft Reporting Detachments shoulders in use, in this case from the 1st Abteilung.
Naval Transport Battalions
I have not found regulations about this distinctive unit insignia, but it is not rare to find feldgrau shoulders with an unfouled anchor with a wheel superimposed, embroidered or with metal device. In period pictures the use of a metal gothic â€œNâ€? device above can be observed, which could have been used by the 2.Marine Kraftfahr Lehrabteilung, but not proofs
Kanal (English Channel) Battalions
Two crossed unfouled anchors with the battalion attachment above in Latin capital letter, â€œKâ€? for Kanal. About this distinctive unit insignia I have not found regulations either, and only a few examples are known, so the identification is not clear, but could have been used by the Kanalwachabteilungen
These pictures show the rare Kanlawachabteilungen in use. Note the small size of the embroidered K in the left photo instead the bigger one in the below one. Note also in both photos the very uncommon use of non Kriegsmarine collar patches.
Even rarer, Kanalwachabteilungen shoulder boards with dark green backing in use.
Shoulder straps with black piping Naval Engineering Units
Special distinctive unit insignias: Some units added special distinctive insignias to their shoulders, but, as most of them were unofficial made, there isnâ€™t many information about them and only in war time pictures we can discover them.
Some unit/s added a bicolor tab, blue and white in my opinion, to their shoulder boards. I have seen some death announcement from Kriegsmarine men that were KIA in Narwa (Estonia) and some portraits took in Reval (Estonia), but I have no confirmation of this.
Rank and Distinctive Unit Insignia